So Joe Lieberman lost to Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary. Ned’s a businessman in the telecommunications industry and has served as a selectman in the town of Greenwich Connecticut. Joe, obviously, is currently a Senator from Connecticut and was formerly Al Gore’s vice-presidential running mate.
Advance Indiana put up a post along the lines of “If Lamont wins, America loses” on account of his opposition to the war in Iraq means he’s weak on terrorism or something. I may be paraphrasing AI unfairly, go read that post for the full argument. Suffice it to say that I agree with AI on a lot of issues, but not this one. stAllio! puts up a counter-post with which I’m more sympathetic.
Today Advance Indiana puts up another post discussing the Lamont primary victory and Lieberman’s plans to take a second bite at the apple by running as an independent. Along the way, AI characterizes Lamont as an “extremist.” I don’t know much about Lamont, but what I’ve heard doesn’t amount to extremism. So I asked which views of Lamont were “extreme.” The response I got from AI boiled down to, essentially, Lamont’s view that we should get our troops out of Iraq and the fact that he was supported by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who are, I am told, anti-Semites. I fail to find this convincing evidence of “extremism,” since I think desiring to bring the troops home is fairly mainstream, and I’d need more than just guilt by association to brand Lamont as an anti-Semite. (Incidentally, anti-Semitism seems to be a big political issue in the blogosphere lately; check out this thoughtful post on the subject at the Whiskey Bar.) No big story here – I respect AI generally, disagree with on this issue particularly, I asked a question, got a response, and it’s about a Connecticut political race anyway. No big deal, time to move on.
I wouldn’t have bothered with a blog post, except for an anonymous comment responding to my question that amused me by capturing succingtly a lot of what I dislike about what passes for political discourse these days:
If you have to ask what’s extreme about Ned Lamond, you might just be a little extreme yourself…
Unless that’s just someone having a little fun by pretending to be a caricature, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the person enjoys the fair and balanced reporting of Fox News.
Maybe it’s just me but I would call pre-emptive invasion/occupations based on cherry-picked false intelligence and getting tens of thousands of brave young kids killed and maimed for this administration’s mideast crusade pretty extreme and apparently the majority of Americans agree according to the polls that show a majority of Americans think we never should have invaded Iraq. Does that make the majority an extreme fringe element?
As I’m typing this now I’m watching Republican party chairman Ken Melhman using the same “cut and run” ,linking 9/11 to Iraq … rhetoric. This record is not only broken it’s warped too. Did anybody happen to catch Doonesbury’s great cartoon Sunday about this administration’s use of false arguments? A classic.
This administration is so desperate to keep control of the House that they’ve got white house spokesman Tony Snow saying a vote for Joe Lieberman’s opponent Lamont was a vote for another 9/11. I wonder how the families of the victims of 9/11 feel about this administration using their dead loved ones as a tool for their objectives to invade countries and win elections? For that matter who is their real “war” against, so called terrorism or their political opponents? Just wondering?
Jeff Pruitt says
I thought this administration was about “spreading democracy”? That seemed to be quite a showing in Connecticut – around 50% turnout for a non-presidential primary. Perhaps there just needed to be a few machine guns around to “get out the vote” for Lieberman.
The reality is that last night’s primary sent a powerful message to DC insiders and incumbants. NOBODY is safe – fear can be a great motivator…
…according to the polls that show a majority of Americans think we never should have invaded Iraq.
I agree that is what the polls say now. I might even agree with it myself. However, that majority was for invading Iraq when it was up for debate before we did it. Now that the damage is done we can’t just pack up and leave. We did it in the first Gulf war, and we should learn from that.
So, just hypothetically, what happens if we do just pack up and leave? I mean to America’s interests. I’m a little selfish and not much of a bleeding heart, so the best interests of Iraqis aren’t a high priority of mine.
How do the consequences of pulling out to America’s interests compare to the expense, lives of soldiers, and further antagonism to the Middle East that our staying will cost?
IMO, it will cause more harm to the image of the US to leave now than to stay and help rebuild. Sure, invading in the first place caused ill will to the US, but leaving now would do more harm.
I think we can all agree that Iraq’s internal systems were running better before the invasion than now. Imagine we replaced Bush tomorrow, and the new Pres said “Sorry, the previous President was a dumba**. We’re going home now, good luck with picking up our mess”
We might not be able to salvage GOOD feelings and intentions to us now, we may have far oversteped that possibility. However, the condition Iraq is in when we leave will decide how many young Iraqis stay and try to build a worker’s life or leave and become our enemy.
I think we can also all agree that the harder and poorer life is in Iraq, the more people (by no means all or even most) will choose to become martyers (sp?). If you don’t have much to loose, why not get revenge? If you have a home, a job, and a family, then why go off and be a terrorist?
It makes sense to suppose that being poor and miserable might tend to enhance the chances of one’s deciding to become a terrorist. (Though, I seem to recall reading that many of the current crop of terrorists came from the ranks of the well-educated middle to upper class). However, I’ve gotta think that having an occupying Army in your country would tend to encourage a lot of hostility as well. I know that if the Iraqi Army were occupying Indiana, I’d be royally pissed, regardless of their intentions.
I wonder if we could make things better by pulling out and simply writing a check for half of what we’re currently spending and turning it over to Iraq or some trusted world organization (if such a beast exists) to improve the lot of Iraqis. (That’s just a hypothetical. In the real world, I’m sure that even if it cost half as much and did more good, it would be politically more unpopular than spending twice as much on military force to obtain lesser results.)
It would be nice if we could know the consequences of our actions in advance – sometimes our best guesses and our best intentions in this regard are equally wrong.
We always need to bear in mind that the U.S. and the Iraqis are not the only actors involved there – I wish there was a scorecard that would tell who all the players are, and what they are doing.
My thinking is colored by the fact that I have come to believe that there are organized groups whose values tell them it would be virtuous to kill me and my family for living our lives as we do now.
And, I think that we are fighting these groups in Iraq, to an extent that is not always clear. Recent revelations about some of the press coverage on such events makes me question how well informed I am (or can be) to make useful judgements and pronouncements about such problems.
I wish I knew a short, easy way for us to address current problems that would not cause future grief – but I have not seen anyone who convinces me that they are the possessor of that particular magic bullet.
The tragedy is that those groups were pretty well under control in Iraq before, precisely because Saddam was a sadistic tyrant without any particular interest in religion other than as window dressing.
Jeff Pruitt says
Well the new neoCon talking points have emerged.
1)Iran is making a power grab to control the entire region
2)If we leave Iraq then Iran’s influence will slowly take over the country
3)Iran will use their new power in the region as leverage in any nuclear weapons negotiations
4)We can’t let Iran take over the region so we must stay in Iraq
The reasons to stay the course in Iraq have changed so many times it’s almost comical…
A common comment is that we need to stay in Iraq ‘to finish the job’. But what exactly is ‘the job’? If it was deposing Saddam, it seems that job is finished. If it was ferreting out WMDs, that job seems to be finished as well. If it was offering assistance in the establishment of a democratically elected regime, that’s at least partially finished. It’s inconsistent for our forces to be there acting counter to the wishes of the duly elected officials.
It also seems that the US adminstration felt it would be a good idea to fight Islamic extremism in Asia instead of here. Only history will tell whether this strategy weakened Islamic extremism or strengthened it, but occupying an essentially hostile foreign nation seems like the kind of job that’s only over when you quit. On the other hand, it certainly appears that (at least at this point) continuation of the war is weakening America.
One premise for the continued occupation of Iraq seems to be that doing so is essential until the three major communities in the country have “learned to live together” under a stable, democratic regime. Such a regime, we are told, will strengthen the cause of peace in the region. In other words, Iraq must be kept together no matter the cost to achieve an ideological goal which, it is assumed, will produce a desirable end.
Taken in isolation though, the existence of three large, mutually hostile communities in Iraq, would suggest partition. Morally a strong case for Kurdish independence (and Kurdistan seems to be the only relatively peaceful part of the country) can be made, in part based on the British promise of independence to the Kurds for their help against Turkey in World War I.
Kurdish independence is of course opposed by the Turks, who as it now happens are our rather unreliable ally, but who control sea access to Ukraine and Georgia, countries whom we don’t want to see fall back under the sway of Russia. So we are not supposed to offend the Turks.
A partitioned Iraq would also supposedly be a pushover for Iran.
However, at this point the United States has virtually no freedom of action on account of the ongoing conflict and our commitment of troops. I would vote for partition, assurances of security and withdrawal.
Let’s leave. Turkish Kurds can join northern Iraqi Kurds in a greater Kurdistan, then promptly go on the defensive against Turkey. Syria can absorb the Sunnis. Iran can absorb the Shi’ites. Then they can all collectively hate us from a distance, which is exactly what they were doing before the invasion. You remember, back when a couple of F-16 sorties per day kept them all in check (otherwise known as the “grave and gathering danger” era–but actually was a danger that wasn’t in fact grave and seriously failed to gather). Of course, now they have a pretty good reason or two to hate us. Can’t say I blame them.
Another point that the administration failed to consider was that by invading Iraq, we would be tying our forces down there, preventing us from using our military as a deterrent against other powers pursuing WMDs, eg. Iran.