Monday, May 16, 2005

Grand Strategy

[UPDATE: Welcome, atrios readers!]

From Chapomatic, we find that one Prof. Gaddis, a historian at Yale, has given a speech at Middlebury College, entitled "The Past and Future of American Grand Strategy", in which he analyzes the Bush administration's grand strategy as put into practice and as enunciated in the remarkable, but little-noted, Second Inaugural Address.

This is important because Gaddis has been extremely critical of the Bush administration, and has been called (somewhat to his own surprise) into the White House to give constructive advice DIRECTLY to President Bush.

Bush apparently got interested in what Gaddis had to say based on his book. Which means yes, Bush actually reads, and he listens to well-reasoned critics. He made his staff read it too.

This is truly a remarkable story.

Here is the professor's amusing, erudite, and informative speech:
The Past and Future of American Grand Strategy

Professor John Gaddis
Charles S. Grant Lecture
Middlebury College
4/21/05

You’ve all been to movies that carry the disclaimer: “Contains material that some may find disturbing. This lecture may require such a warning.

I’ve learned to be careful about this ever since, a couple of years ago, I gave a talk at Harvard and a very distinguished professor whose name most of us know announced, quite majestically, after I’d finished: “I’ve been at this university for 47 years, and I have never heard a presentation with which I disagreed more.”

So please be advised of the following: “This lecture will contain material that some may consider to be complimentary toward the Bush administration. It may, therefore, strike some listeners as unsettling, naïve, partisan, propagandistic, chauvinistic, muddle-headed, or paid for by Karl Rove.”

Let me deal with that last allegation right off the bat.

It is a matter of public record that I did, on January 10th, attend a meeting at the White House at which several journalists and academics were invited to discuss the course of our Middle Eastern policies over the next four years – together with what the President should say in his upcoming inaugural address.

In the interests of full disclosure, I can confirm that I paid my own way down and back, plus taxi and hotel accommodations. I did not attend under an alias. I did, however, accept lunch with the group in the White House mess. And, at the suggestion of Mr. Rove, I consumed a dessert listed on the menu as a “chocolate freedom tart.” Prior to the United Nations debate over the invasion of Iraq, I understand, this dessert had a French name.

That, however, is the extent to which I have accepted compensation from the White House.

I should say something, though, about how this invitation came about, because it will lead into one of the major themes of today’s lecture, which is that of unexpectedness.

The story begins with the publication of my book, Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, which appeared a year ago last March.

Late in June, I had a cryptic e-mail from a former student, now working in the White House speech-writing shop: “the boss has read your book, and has told all of us to read it.”

I wasn’t quite sure which boss he meant, but soon there was a call from Condi Rice which cleared things up: “The President has read your book, and has told all of us to read it. Could you come down and brief the National Security Council staff?”

I of course said yes, but then started quickly flipping through the book to review what I’d actually said about the President and his policies. Here are some sample quotes:

I said that he had “failed miserably” in getting United Nations support for the invasion of Iraq.

I said that his solutions to complex problems tended to be “breathtakingly simple.”

I said that the phrase “axis of evil” originated “in overzealous speechwriting rather than careful thought.”

I said that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had “diminished, in advance, the credibility of whatever future intelligence claims Bush and Blair might make.”

I said that the so-called “coalition of the willing” there had been “more of a joke than a reality.”

I said that, “within a little more than a year and a half, the United States had exchanged its long-established reputation as the principal stabilizer of the international system for one as its chief destabilizer.”

And I said that although great grand strategists know the uses of “shock and awe,” they also know when to stop. Here I cited the example of Otto von Bismarck, who had shattered the post-1815 European state system in order to make possible the unification of Germany in 1871, but then had “replaced his destabilizing strategy with a new one aimed at consolidation and reassurance – at persuading his defeated enemies as well as nervous allies and alarmed bystanders that they would be better off living within the new system he had imposed on them than by continuing to fight or fear it.”

So I was not too sure how all of this was going to go over at the White House.

I did indeed meet with Condi and the NSC staff in mid-July for a lively discussion of points made in the book and possible future directions for the administration’s grand strategy.

At the end of it, she casually asked: “Could you spare a few minutes for the President?”

I allowed as how maybe I could, and so she took me into the Oval Office where the President and the Vice President were waiting.

I expected, at best, a handshake and photo op.

But the President said: “Sit down. Loved your book. Tell me more about Bismarck.”

There followed a twenty minute conversation with Bush asking all the questions. After which we found, cooling their heels outside, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Under-Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers. “This is Professor Gaddis,” the President said, waving the book at them. “I want you all to read his book.”

Well, I don’t know how you would have responded in such a situation, but I was somewhat surprised.

I’d been told, first of all, that the President never read anything beyond his daily press and intelligence digests. So it was certainly a surprise to find that he had read my book, and that he had done so ahead of his own staff. We’ve since learned, of course, that the President has a pretty eclectic reading list, ranging from Nathan Sharansky and Ron Chernow to Tom Wolfe.

I’d been told, second, that this was an administration that could not take criticism – that it listened only to people who agreed with it. But the criticisms I’d made didn’t seem to bother anyone.

And I’d been told that this was an administration that was incapable of changing direction, of learning from mistakes, of assessing its own performance. But the whole tone of the discussions was one of acknowledging that, while the overall direction of policy was right, much had gone wrong along the way, and that in the second term – if the voters were to grant one – there would have to be certain changes.

I had by this time already accepted an invitation from Foreign Affairs to write an assessment of Bush’s first-term grand strategy, with a view to predicting what the grand strategy of the next term – whether presided over by Bush or Kerry – was going to be.

So I went ahead and wrote that article, and it appeared shortly after the November election. Here are some of the things I said in that piece:

That “Washington’s policy of pre-emption has created the image of a global policeman who reports to no higher authority and no longer allows locks on citizens’ doors.” (This echoes a point made by John Ikenberry).

That “Bush’s decision to invade Iraq [in the absence of multinational consent] provoked complaints that great power was being wielded without great responsibility. (This echoes a point made by Spiderman).

That “It is always a bad idea to confuse power with wisdom: muscles are not brains. It is never a good idea to insult potential allies. . . . Nor is it wise to regard consultation as the endorsement of a course already set. The Bush administration was hardly the first to commit these errors. It was the first, however, to commit so many so often in a situation in which help from friends could have been so useful.”

That “[The Bush administration] has produced an overstretched military for which no ‘revolution in military affairs’ can compensate. It has left official obligations dangerously unfunded. And it has allowed an inexcusable laxity about legal procedures – at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere – to squander the moral advantage the United States possessed after September 11 and should have retained.”

And that the single greatest mistake the administration had made was to assume that it could shatter the status quo in the Middle East, and that the pieces would then realign themselves spontaneously in patterns favorable to American interests. Bismarck, I said, would never have made such an error.

So much for further invitations to the White House, I thought to myself – and actually said to my wife.

Before that issue of Foreign Affairs had even hit the newsstands, however, there was another invitation to come down – for the January 10th meeting I’ve already described.

I discovered that the piece had not only been read and circulated around the White House, but it had also been sent out to an e-mail distribution list for columnists and commentators that Karl Rove’s office maintains.

Whether the President has read it I don’t know – I didn’t see him on this occasion, and he was quoted recently as saying we shouldn’t assume that everyone reads Foreign Affairs. But it’s clear that his top advisers have certainly done so.

All of which brings me to the January 20th inaugural address, which we talked about at the January 10th meeting and which of course I awaited with some interest.

That’s why I found it so frustrating, at noon on Inauguration Day, to find that nobody in the Yale History Department had the speech on as it was being delivered. All the television sets were unplugged, and of course my generation of professors doesn’t know, on short notice, how to plug them in program them. So I missed it. The speech just wasn’t considered important.

I think that was wrong, because the second Bush inaugural constitutes the clearest explanation yet of where the administration is and what it hopes to do. It was carefully written, clearly delivered, and it bears close reading.

The first major point in it had to do with what the President called the “day of fire” that followed our “years of repose” after the end of the Cold War.

9/11, he argued, meant the end of isolationism once and for all. That event happened because of “ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder.”

Such ideologies, of course, have always existed. During the Cold War, though, they either lacked the ability to transform themselves into actions that could hurt us, or, where they were capable of such actions the countries espousing such ideologies could be identified and deterred, as in the case of the Soviet Union and China.

That was not true on 9/11. Decisions made by largely invisible individuals in a primitive country halfway around the world produced an attack that killed more Americans than the one the Japanese fleet carried out at Pearl Harbor sixty years earlier.

The only solution, the President has insisted, is to neutralize where possible, but to remove where necessary, regimes that embrace such ideologies. The objective, as the inaugural put it, should be to “expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant.” That means that “the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”

There follows, then, what I take to be the definitive statement of the Bush Doctrine: that “it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate aim of ending tyranny in our world.”

Several subsidiary points follow from this very big one:

That this is not exclusively, or even primarily the task of arms, though arms will certainly be used when required. The right of preemption, therefore, will remain, as will the option, where necessary, of preventive war. The implication, however, is that these are to be reluctantly resorted to, and rarely practiced.

This sounds like a new policy for the United States, but it really isn’t.

As I tried to show in Surprise, the principal method by which the United States became a continental hegemon during the 19th century was by preempting perceived dangers along an expanding frontier. The Spanish, the Mexicans, and the native Americans can tell you more about that.

The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1904, explicitly claimed the right to intervene in the Caribbean and Central America to preempt European intervention: the most avid practitioner of this right was Woodrow Wilson.

Nor was the right of preemption – or of preventive war – ever relinquished during the Cold War. It just wasn’t advertised, and fortunately (given the risks of escalation to nuclear war), it wasn’t practiced.

Nor is there any evidence that John Kerry, had he won the election last November, would have relinquished that right either.

So preemption is less revolutionary than it sounds: Bush is fully within the traditions of American foreign policy in claiming it as one of the methods available to him.

A second major point made in the inaugural is that the task of spreading democracy and ending tyranny requires help from allies: “division among free nations,” the President pointed out, “is a primary goal of freedom’s enemies.”

It is fair to say, I believe, that the administration never wanted to undertake preemption in Iraq unilaterally – or with only minimal multilateral support: hence its efforts, even if unsuccessful, at the United Nations.

The inaugural reaffirms that desire to act multilaterally, as does the appointment of Condi Rice as Secretary of State, as does President’s recent trip to Europe, as does his acknowledgement, while he was in Belgium, that he was actually eating “French fries.”

There will, however, be no multilateral veto on American action. John Kerry, after some confusion during the campaign, made it clear that that was his position also.

A third important point made in the inaugural is that the goal of ending tyranny does not require following an American blueprint: “when the soul of a nation finally speaks,” the President noted, “the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own.”

This represents a useful clarification of what the administration has said before: it’s an explicit acknowledgment that a “one size fits all” model is not what it has in mind.

There are lots of ways to get rid of tyrants – ranging from overthrowing them to persuading them to change their minds and institute reforms to letting them simply wither into irrelevance and die of old age. I understand Bush’s strategy as incorporating all of those approaches.

A fourth point is that the end of tyranny is not to be accomplished immediately, or even within this administration: is the work “of generations.”

This was a speech that sets a course, but it does not promise a quick arrival at the destination, nor does it preclude diversions and delays, even contradictions and reversals, along the way.

In this sense, it’s consistent with the great foreign policy addresses of previous presidents, like Wilson’s “world safe for democracy” speech, or Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” speech, or Kennedy’s “world safe for diversity” speech, none of which proclaimed an objective that was meant to be attained within the term of the administration in question – indeed in these instances, even within the lifetime of the presidents who set these great goals.

Finally, the Bush inaugural sought both to reassure and to disturb authoritarian allies.

They need not fear that we will try to depose them, for in many instances, we will need their help, as we will that of democratic allies.

However, they should not sleep too well in their beds at night, because in order to survive over the long run, they will need to learn to trust their own people: note the respectful but explicit warnings to this effect, in the State of the Union address, to Egypt and Saudi Arabia – something not heard from any previous American president.

In the end, the President claimed, that the triumph of freedom is assured, not because “history runs on the wheels of inevitability,” but because “it is human choices that move events.” (This is, I believe, the first time historical determinism has been considered and rejected in a presidential inaugural address.) And “freedom is the permanent choice of mankind.” Not just America. Of mankind.

So – what are we to make of all this? Let me try to answer that question by commenting on some of the criticisms of the inaugural that have been made during the weeks since it was delivered. Some have come from students and colleagues, some from the media, some reflect my own concerns.

First, that it was a nice speech, but that Bush’s credibility is zero: no one believes anything he says.

This is, to me, a somewhat puzzling comment, because Bush has generally done what he promised to do: he said he would overthrow the Taliban, that he would get rid of Saddam Hussein, that he would isolate Arafat as a way of restarting the Arab-Israeli peace process, that he would pressure Arab allies to move toward democracy, that he would promote the holding of elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq – and that he would protect the United States against future terrorist attacks. He has, in fact, done all of those things: it seems to me his credibility should, by now, be pretty high.

My guess is that there are two reasons why it isn’t.

One is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. But every intelligence agency in the world also believed that they were there, and it may be that Saddam Hussein believed that also. That they weren’t, was universally unexpected.

The recently released report of the Weapons of Mass Destruction – while it does not attempt to evaluate the Bush administration’s use of the intelligence it received – provides plenty of evidence that internal flaws within the American intelligence establishment were enough in and of themselves to produce a flawed product.

The Bush administration was no doubt unwise to emphasize WMD as much as it did as a justification for the war in Iraq – it had lots of other good reasons for going in. But deliberate deception has yet to be proven.

A second reason for challenging Bush’s credibility has been the persistence of allegations that it’s all being done for oil, or for Halliburton, or for the Carlyle Group, or whatever – in short, the Michael Moore view of history.

What I’ve never quite understood is why, if this is the case, the Bush administration didn’t simply follow the example of several of its predecessors, Republican and Democratic, and cut a deal with Saddam Hussein to secure access to all the oil we needed?

Had we done so, we would even have been acting multilaterally, for as we now know certain figures within the United Nations and among our European allies had already made such arrangements.

Why all the administration’s talk about democratization in the first place, then, if the Hollywood interpretation had been correct?

There is an old principle in logic known as Occam’s Razor: that the simplest explanation is usually the best one. I know this may sound shocking, but I think we ought at least to entertain the radical notion that the President means exactly what he says when he talks about democratization – and that what he means is what he believes.

But how can you say that, other critics have argued, in the light of the Bush administration’s obvious denials of basic human rights at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere?

That criticism holds up, it seems to me, only if you require, of presidential administrations, freedom from inconsistency – the absence throughout their term in office of gaps between aspirations and actual practices.

The historical record shows very few instances in which this has been achieved.

It was the Clinton administration, for example, that averted its eyes from the horrors in Rwanda, demanding that the word “genocide” not even be used in characterizing what plainly was that, lest telling the truth commit the United States to taking action.

It was the Reagan administration that flouted the will of Congress with the Iran-Contra scheme, and that averted its eyes from death squad massacres like the one at El Mozote.

It was the Nixon and Ford administrations that sought to overthrow the Allende government in Chile, and that averted their eyes from the actions of its successor.

It was the Kennedy administration that tried repeatedly to assassinate Fidel Castro, and that throttled the emergence of democracy in British Guiana.

It was the Roosevelt administration that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese-Americans, while treating Stalin’s Soviet Union as a glorious ally.

It was the Wilson administration that forced radicals into exile, and presided over the first great Red Scare.

It was Lincoln who suspended the right of habeus corpus during the Civil War.

And it was the Founding Fathers who wrote legal protections for slavery into the Constitution.

My point is not to condone the Bush administration’s abuses, for abuses they certainly have been: they were, in my view, illegal, immoral, and stupid, all at the same time. I only wish to point out that if the absence of hypocrisy is to be our standard in judging the performance of presidents, then we must also apply that standard to previous administrations whose record is often compared favorably – but forgetfully – with that of the current one.

But how can you say that, still other critics have argued, in the light of the Bush administration’s abysmal domestic record, as well as its obvious contempt for such praiseworthy initiatives as the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and so forth?

Well, first of all, I am talking about foreign policy, not domestic policy: we have had administrations in the past who accomplished great things in the international arena while conducting activities at home that no one would now defend: Nixon’s particularly comes to mind.

But that’s more of a fudge than an answer. A better one is that the American electorate does not appear overwhelmingly to have rejected Bush’s domestic policies, or his attitude toward international organizations. There’s nothing secret about them, as there was about so much of what Nixon was trying to do.

Finally, the administration’s positions on Kyoto and the ICC reflect an overwhelming consensus within the Senate of the United States, which would have to ratify the relevant treaties: there has never been a chance of getting those initiatives through the Senate in their present form. Which raises the question of why the Clinton administration signed onto them in the first place.

Whatever you think of the Bush administration’s domestic record, therefore, or of its position on international institutions, it’s hardly flouting the will of the people.

OK, some critics will insist, but isn’t the administration’s agenda still inconsistent with international law?

Only, I think, if you understand international law as unconditionally safeguarding sovereignty, whatever the abuses sovereigns may have committed.

But that principle began to be called into question by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and we have seen it further questioned by international actions that have violated sovereignty in the defense of human rights: in Bosnia in 1995, in Kosovo in 1999, in Afghanistan in 2001 – and as almost everyone would now wish had happened, in Rwanda in 1994 and in the Sudan today.

If you favor, or favored, those interventions, I’m not sure you can easily take the view that Saddam Hussein – one of the worst abusers of human rights on record – should have been left in power, especially since he had also demonstrated his serial contempt for over a dozen United Nations resolutions.

Unless, of course, you take the view a friend of mine recently expressed: that it was ok to be liberated by Clinton, but if you have to be liberated by Bush it’s better to remain oppressed.

All right, then, even if what the administration has done can be justified in terms of international law, isn’t it cultural imperialism?

Not anymore, it seems to me. It’s significant that the Bush Doctrine is now framed as a negative – freedom from tyranny – than as a positive: that you must all become democrats on the American model.

This brings the Bush policy into line with the famous distinction Isaiah Berlin once made between “negative” and “positive” liberty: negative liberty was the freedom to arrange your own life; positive liberty was the claim advanced by somebody else to know how to do that for you.

It’s also a shift in emphasis from preceding pronouncements of the administration, which did I think too easily assume the transferability of American practices and procedures – a point Fareed Zakaria made in his book The Future of Freedom..

I also detect in this some humbling effects of the Iraqi experience: that we didn’t know what we were doing when we first occupied the country; that we’ve had to adapt, based on what we’ve learned; that there’s been an increasing willingness to shift from the imposition of an ideology from the top down to the application of lessons learned from the bottom up.

The key to understanding the administration’s position now, I think, is this: that while everyone in the world may not know what democracy is, everyone certainly does know what tyranny entails.

The validity of that assumption became a lot clearer on January 30th, when even in the face of persistent insecurity, literally at the risk of their lives, Iraqis who’d not had the opportunity to vote in a free election for decades turned out to do so in percentages that compare favorably with the number of Americans who turned out to vote in their own far safer presidential election last November.

So while there may still be all kinds of disagreement about what kind of government will be best for Iraq, there is apparently agreement about one thing: tyranny is not that form of government.

That much the Bush administration has accomplished, and let us be clear about how that happened: without the invasion of Iraq – and without the sacrifices of a lot of Iraqi and American and British lives – it would never have happened. As even The New York Times, at last, has got around to admitting.

Are the costs worth it? Only time will tell, but as the President commented in his inaugural address – in what was surely the first time Dostoyevsky has ever been quoted in one – a fire has been ignited in the minds of men. And if recent events in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt, Ukraine, and even Kyrgysystan are any indication, that fire is spreading.

All right, my students and even some colleagues have argued, but isn’t idea of ending tyranny a departure from the more sensible policies the United States has followed in the past?

No way: there were echoes in Bush’s speech of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, Wilson’s Fourteen Points, FDR’s Four Freedoms, the Truman Doctrine, Kennedy’s inaugural, Reagan’s 1982 speech to the British Parliament, and any number of speeches by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

What is new is this: previous presidents tended to distinguish between ideals and interests. The expansion of freedom was an aspiration – but the interests of the United States lay elsewhere: in securing independence, suppressing secession, winning world wars, containment, deterrence, the maintenance of a balance of power, the promotion of capitalism, the encouragement of predictably pro-American regimes elsewhere, even if they didn’t meet our own standards for representative government and the defense of human rights.

Bush has now conflated ideals and interests. As he put it in the inaugural: “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.” Freedom itself is to be the strategy, not just the aspiration. It may, in this sense, be radical. It is hardly un-American.

But isn’t it impractical? However will we get to the point of ending tyranny throughout the world? How will we ever afford it, given our overstretched finances and our even more overstretched military?

That’s where Bush’s view of history comes in. As he pointed out in the inaugural address, the past four decades been defined by “the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen.” It is, he added, “an odd time” to doubt the continuation of this trend.

Or, to put it in terms my friend and neighbor Paul Kennedy – a former bookie’s runner – would be familiar with: if you had to place a bet on which form of government will expand its reach over the next four years – or, if you prefer, the next forty – where would you put your money: on the growth of tyranny, or on its further decline?

The test of a good grand strategy is to align itself with trends already underway, so that you minimize, as much as possible, what Clausewitz called “friction.” My bet is that we’ll encounter more friction from now on if we support tyrants than if we resist them. So it does seem to me that the Bush administration has placed its bet in the right place.

Doesn’t the Bush grand strategy violate John Quincy Adams’s great principle that “the United States goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy”?

Not really, and this brings us back to 9/11. Because the danger now is that the monsters from abroad, if nothing is done to counter them, will seek to destroy us here at home.

The trend in global politics is indeed toward democracy, but the trend could be reversed by just a few more well-placed attacks on the scale of 9/11 or greater, whether in this country or elsewhere. In this sense, the world itself is now like Iraq, in which the depredations of a few place all at risk.

Given the choice, the President insists, people will choose freedom. But tyrants and terrorists – even just a few of them – could still deny that choice for many if they were to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction. If we wait for them to act, it will be too late.

That’s why it’s necessary now – as it has not been in the past – to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. I suspect that even John Quincy, no shrinking violet, when confronted with this choice would have seen its logic.

So this is where we are: with great power has come a great aspiration, which is to end tyranny throughout the world.

The historians will decide, in the end, whether it meets Spiderman’s test of great responsibility – but this historian, for one, is leaning in the direction of saying, yes it does. It would be irresponsible, I think, to have such great power, and not to try to use it in this way.

This historian is also leaning, somewhat more controversially, in the direction of acknowledging that George W. Bush is likely to be remembered as the first great grand strategist of the 21st century. He is, however, somewhat ahead of most of his faculty colleagues and many – though by no means all – of his students in this respect

Let me suggest, though, that this would not be the first time professors and their students have been surprised to see grand strategies from unlikely sources.

Consider this comment from Henry Kissinger on one of Bush’s predecessors: “Reagan’s was an astonishing performance and, to academic observers, nearly incomprehensible. . . . When all was said and done, a president with the shallowest academic background was to develop a foreign policy of extraordinary consistency and relevance.”

But how could this be? How could the shallowness of academic training be an advantage in the conduct of grand strategy? This is a really disturbing idea, but I think we’d better begin pondering it because to paraphrase another great grand strategist, it’s beginning to look like déjà vu all over again.

So let me try to answer this question – why the academy finds leaders like Reagan and Bush so difficult to understand – somewhat in the spirit of Larry Summers, by tossing out a few provocations.

First, that grand strategy is, by its nature, an ecological enterprise. It requires taking information from a lot of different fields, evaluating it intuitively rather than systematically, and then acting. It is, in this sense, different from most academic training, which as it advances pushes students toward specialization, and then toward professionalization, by which I mean the ever deeper mastery of a diminishing number of things. To remain broad you’ve got to retain a certain shallowness – but beyond the level of undergraduate education and sometimes not even there, the academy is not particularly comfortable with that idea.

Second, grand strategy requires setting an objective and sticking to it. The academy does not take easily to that idea either. It asks us constantly to question our assumptions and reformulate our objectives. That’s fine to the extent that that sharpens our intellectual skills, and therefore prepares us for leadership. But it’s not the same thing as leadership: for that, you’ve got to say “here’s where we ought to be by such and such a time, and here’s how we’re going to get there.” Taking the position that, “on the one hand this, and on the other hand that,” as you might around a seminar table, won’t get you there. Nor will saying that you voted for the $87 billion appropriation before you voted against it.

Third, grand strategy requires the ability to respond rapidly to the unexpected. It acknowledges that trends can reverse themselves suddenly, that “tipping points” can occur, and that leaders must know how to exploit them. The academy loves this sort of thing when it happens on the basketball court or the hockey rink. In the classroom, though, it resists the idea: instead the emphasis is too often on theory, which promises predictability, and therefore no surprises. That’s why the academy tends to be so surprised when events like the end of the Cold War and 9/11 take place. Leaders, like athletes, have to be more agile.

Fourth, grand strategy requires the making of moral judgments, because that’s how leadership takes place: in that sense, it’s a faith-based initiative. You have to convince people that your aspirations correspond with their own, and that you’re serious about advancing them. You don’t lead by trying to persuade people that distinctions between good and evil are social constructions, that there are no universal standards for making them, that we should always try to understand the viewpoint of others, even when they are trying to kill us.

Finally, grand strategy requires great language. As the best leaders from Pericles through Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan have always known, words are themselves instruments of power. Their careful choice and courageous use can shake the stability of states, as when Reagan said, before anybody else, that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire” headed for the “ash-heap of history.” They can also undermine walls, as when Reagan famously demanded, against the advice of his own speech-writers, that Gorbachev tear one down.

But where, within the academy is the use of great language taught? Where would you go to learn how to make a great speech? Certainly not to political science, language, and literature departments at Yale, where as students advance they are spurred on toward ever higher levels of jargon-laden incomprehensibility. I think not even to my beloved History Department, where my colleagues seem more interested in the ways words reflect structures of power than in ways words challenge or even overthrow structures of power.

The art of rhetoric, within the academy, is largely a lost art – which probably helps to explain why the academy is as often as surprised as it is to discover that words really do still have meanings – and that consequences come from using them.

The Bush administration, however – like Reagan’s, Roosevelt’s, Wilson’s Lincoln’s – understands that words carry weight. It is choosing them carefully. It is applying them strategically. And to the surprise of its critics, is getting results. It would be a mistake, then, not to listen.

I myself, from time to time, like to listen to students, who often seem to understand, even when their teachers fail to teach them this, that words carry weight. As those of you who’ve read Surprise, Security, and the American Experience know, I ended that book by quoting two of my own undergraduates, the eloquence and seriousness of whose words moved me deeply in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. As it happened, I heard from both of them in the week after the Iraqi election – they’re former students now – and I’d like to let what they said stand as the conclusion to this talk.

Ewan MacDougall, ’03, is now a 2nd lieutenant in the Marines, serving in Iraq. Here’s an excerpt from his e-mail, sent just before he shipped out:

“Through the twists and turns of the last two years, I must admit that at times my faith, besieged by naysayers in the media and other elite circles both at home and abroad, faltered, though I never stopped supporting the president or the policy or the war. I doubted how much success we could achieve but still thought we should try our best. [The Iraqi elections showed that] Bush’s instincts, and my initial instincts to believe, were right. I’m very enthusiastic, not least about my work over the next half year, even if the results in Ramadi brought down the national average – if anything, my battalion’s going to the right place. See you soon.”

Sky Schouten, ’03, is now at the Harvard Law School. Here’s what he wrote:

“On Sunday, in Iraq, the US and its allies pulled off a liberal democratic equivalent of 9/11. Strategically speaking, there are many loose ends; there is momentum that can either be captured or wasted; in the process, we have deeply embittered many people, and they will resist our aims to the utmost; and if we are honest with ourselves, we do not particularly understand much about the broader society on which we are unleashing these shocking developments. Nonetheless, let me suggest: for the moment, we may be forgiven for pausing, smiling, and listening to the ground creak beneath the feet of our adversaries. After all, we are only human, and we are engaged in a long human struggle.”

I can’t do any better than these guys.
This is very heartening. This administration "gets it." Fallible humans though they may be, we've got some dedicated, very smart people working on these problems.

The cynicism of the Left is unwarranted and unhelpful.

If they'd offer reasonable suggestions, and real-world-based criticisms instead of fantasies, they'd get listened to and we'd all be better off.

But oh, it's just SOOOO much more fun to bang a drum and make a giant puppet head and chant "Halliburton!"

71 Comments:

Blogger John said...

You might be listened "too" if you spelled words correctly.

10:04 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally! Besides, it's all Newsweek's fault anyway.

10:07 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Gadfly said...

Gaddis said:

"One is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. But every intelligence agency in the world also believed that they were there, and it may be that Saddam Hussein believed that also. That they weren’t, was universally unexpected."

Really? Did he ask Hans Blix this? Or Scott Ritter? Or anybody else from the original UNSCOM team in the late 1990s?

Every intelligence agency in the world? Puhleeze.

10:31 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous PT Barnum said...

Kan I be a perfeser @ yale to? I kna rite gud, n I no all ubowt polytix.

10:31 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’m not sure you can easily take the view that Saddam Hussein – one of the worst abusers of human rights on record – should have been left in power, especially since he had also demonstrated his serial contempt for over a dozen United Nations resolutions."

Here's an exercise for you: Count the number of U.N. resolutions that Israel has demonstrated serial contempt for and get back to me...

This administration doesn't "get it" and neither does Gaddis.

10:52 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous Aaron G. Stock said...

I have significant disagreements with the conclusions Gaddis has drawn from world and domestic events. I have numerous criticisms of specific portions of Gaddis's piece, but rather than waste too much of my time (it's Saturday night, after all), I found my criticisms mostly boil down to two questions I have for him: If Gaddis were to tally each of the Bush Administration actions and inactions in one column (as neutrally as possible), and then line that up with all the Bush Administration rhetoric (I use that word in the neutral sense), would Gaddis conclude that the Bush Administration is truly headed in the direction it claims it wants to go? And could I check that list to ensure he didn't miss anything?

Does missing $8.8 billion in Iraq (and probably more) and not appearing to give a damn help the Administration's *stated* goals? Does the USA PATRIOT Act help the Administration's stated goals? Does going into Iraq without any plan of what to do once we're there help the Administration's stated goals? Has the allocation of money by Homeland Security helped the Administration's stated goals? Etc., etc.

I will, however, respond to one of Gaddis's sentences: "There's nothing secret about [Bush's domestic policies]."

Wow, you mean we'll finally get details of that energy policy meeting out there? We'll finally learn which Administration member leaked Valerie Plame's name? We'll know what Jim Guckert was doing at the White House? We'll learn all about the events leading up to and beyond 9/11? This is fantastic news, and surely a scoop!

It seems to me that Gaddis is being played.

I look forward to a President (Democratic or Republican) who operates on the belief that you don't overthrow tyranny by supporting dictators. You don't support democracy (or republics) by overthrowing popularly (and transparently) elected leaders.

11:08 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Steve J. said...

Follow up on GADFLY's post -

U.S. Allies Were Not Persuaded By U.S. Assertions on Iraq WMD
June 9, 2003
Institute for Science and International Security
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/usallieswmd.html

Despite the Bush Administration's assertions, allies of the United States did not fully agree with the Administration's assessment on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

For example, Russia was not convinced by either the September 24, 2002 British dossier or the October 4, 2002 CIA report. Lacking sufficient evidence, Russia dismissed the claims as a part of a "propaganda furor."2 Specifically targeting the CIA report, Putin said, "Fears are one thing, hard facts are another." He goes on to say, "Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we have not received any such information from our partners yet. This fact has also been supported by the information sent by the CIA to the US Congress."3 However, Putin was apprehensive about the possibility that Iraq may have WMDs and he therefore supported inspections. The Russian ambassador to London thought that the dossier was a document of concern. "It is impressive, but not always…convincing."4

French intelligence services did not come up with the same alarming assessment of Iraq and WMD as did the Britain and the United States. "According to secret agents at the DGSE, Saddam's Iraq does not represent any kind of nuclear threat at this time…It [the French assessment] contradicts the CIA's analysis…"5 French spies said that the Iraqi nuclear threat claimed by the United States was a "phony threat."6

11:11 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous Mark Wade Stone said...

Read the Downing Street memo much?

11:14 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous netro said...

"One is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. But every intelligence agency in the world also believed that they were there, and it may be that Saddam Hussein believed that also. That they weren’t, was universally unexpected."

The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), consistently tried to downplay the WMD madness but their efforts couldn't compete with Bolton's stovepipe operation.

11:18 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Dan said...

Everyone gets so excited about that Dostoevsky quote, and it's ironic because it's about burning down a village. As the village burns, the comment is made about the fire really being in the minds of men. The men in the book (Demons) are nihilists. So Bush's writers lifted a quote about an arson propagated by a destructive bunch who are deluded into thinking they have all the answers. It says more about Bush than he'd like it to I think.

11:27 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CRAPTACULAR!!!!

So much time wasted writing so much misinformation.

We are supposed to believe you were invited to the white house and recieved warmly even though you had made a half dozen critical comments about the president? Here's a thought, maybe they liked how you toadied up to them with the other 99% of bullshit you espoused here?

Telling them they didn't do a very good job rallying UN support probably did make them smile - they never gave a crap about UN support, and just went through the motions to get Blair on board.

I don't get how you spend about three zillion words talking about how bold Bush's second inaugural manifesto was in laying out a vision, only to say (correctly) it was already the course of history to happen anyway. Cool, why did we kill all those innocent Iraqis and Afghanis again? because if we could have just waited for the inevitable, it sure seems like it would have been a lot more practical.

Lessee - Closest Bush Allies in the War for Democracy...
Kingdom of Saud
Kingdom of Jordan
Dictatorship of Pakistan

Honorable Mention to Syria for extraordinary efforts in Extraordinary Rendition.

Only country not to condemn the overthrow of Democratically Elected Hugo Chaves? The United States under George Bush.

The only country to kidnap the elected leader of another country and turn his government over to a war criminal? The United States, under George Bush.

So, why is it cynical to think maybe Wunderkind George might not really care that much about democracy? Or do you mean "accurate" or "reality based" when you call people cynical.

I think you were called to the white house because you agree with George Bush and his handlers. not because you had slight moments of disagreement.

And Foreign Affairs must let anyone write for them these days.

11:59 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous piotr said...

Gaddis: One is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. But every intelligence agency in the world also believed that they were there, and it may be that Saddam Hussein believed that also. That they weren’t, was universally unexpected.

Others already cited the Russians and the French to the contrary. Germans warned us that "Curveball" seemed to by lying about bio-weapon labs. What caused Gaddis to conjecture that "Hussein believed that also"?

So at the crucial juncture of his speach, Gaddis resorted to a hyperbolical lie, a lie that parrots talking points of the Administration, and the lie that by its regular repetition demolishes Administration credibility on daily basis.

I could add more. Bush isolated Arafat all right, but there is very scant evidence for any "peace process". Sharon replaces settlements in Gaza with settlement expansion in West Bank and hardly talks with Palestinians. Perhaps it reflects a victory for Israel, but peace process it is not.

The actions and inactions in respect to Venezuela, Haiti, Guatemala, and Mexico suggest rather complete disregard for democracy. Running a concentration camp and a network of clandestine torture facilities, plus "extraordinary renditions" to such democratic stalwarts like Syria do not document high regard for democratic values either.

In Iraq there were elections. Bravo! But why Gaddis does not cite Afghan elections as a huge achievement? Because they preserved the rule of narco-warlords over the country-side. What is the reason to believe that Iraqi elections will fare better in the long run?

12:02 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There really is no fool like an old fool. Gaddis is obviously still giddy from being invited to sit with the grownups. Unfortunately, his giddiness seems to be causing selective amnesia. The whole bit about our going into Iraq to liberate the Iraqis is nothing more than a blatant rewrite of history. The rest of us remember Condi's not wanting the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud, or Bush's phony reference about Niger yellowcake, or Colin Powell's address to the U.N. that was fraught with inaccuracies (some would call them "lies"). We also remember the largest protests in the history of the world, that sought to plead with us against invading Iraq. We remember the words of Blix, Ritter and the others who tried to slow down our burning desire to kick in Sadaam's door.
To be perfectly clear, I don't criticize Gaddis for supporting the President. I criticize him for seeming to feel a need to distort the record in order to justify his desire to support the President. I honestly can't figure out if that's more despicable or pathetic.

12:11 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12004357&BRD=1389&PAG=461&dept_id=161952&rfi=6&xb=jogov
(from an article in the Hinesville, Georgia, Coastal Courier (the town where Ft. Stewart is located) on June 18, 2004. Note the quote in the middle about why the WMD story was absurd, and probably not even believed by the Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force in October of 2002).

"We need an exit strategy," he said. "We need to define a mission with a goal we can accomplish or leave. Our military is not designed as an army of occupation. It is designed to beat other nations' armies."

Finkelstein is running on the platform "Bring the troops home safe." He agreed with removing Saddam Hussein from power, but did not buy into the Bush administration's reasonings in the path to invasion.

He pointed to the growing Enron scandal, the budget surplus had been turned into a deficit and troubling economic news as reasons the Bush White House began turning its attention to Saddam Hussein.

"I felt at the time the whole thing was a political ploy," he said. "I knew the summer of 2002 and all the way up to 2003 that weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with it."

According to Finkelstein, how Iraq's neighbors, particularly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, reacted to the U.S. war plan should have been a signal. Turkey refused to let the U.S. base ground troops there to create a northern front during the invasion.

As such, the 4th Infantry Division, now home at Fort Hood, TX, did not enter Iraq until after Baghdad fell.

"Everyone was making noise about the intelligence being bad? That's absurd," he said. "If Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them, they would have been begging us to invade."

He also chided fellow Democrats for voting to authorize the use for force for President Bush to enforce United Nations resolutions Hussein was flaunting.

The Bush administration was using the threat of war to prop up its own candidates in a congressional election when the Republicans feared losing control of both houses, Finkelstein said.

"I bet you dollars to doughnuts none of them believed the administration would use the authorization to go to war," he said. "The Bush administration was pounding the drumbeat for war to win an election and it worked."

Hussein's war crimes against humanity were enough, Finkelstein said. His suggestion was to invade and occupy the southern oil fields and bargain them for custody of Hussein.

"I would not have stuck our military in a shooting gallery," he said.

12:17 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Christopher said...

Don't consider these other posts when (or if) you read mine, I don't agree with all of them. But please don't characterize the left as if all of them/us wave burning effigies of bush and boo Haliburton. Having just read John Gaddis' intelligent (but somewhat too forgiving) article, I was disheartened to read your reduction of your idealogical opponents to rowdy protesters. Please, treat every chance at insight into your opponent's minds as a blessing, it might not make you a good leader, but it will make you a better and less bitter person.

12:18 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Drew Thaler said...

It's a very interesting speech. He writes well, and gets some things right. But I disagree with some of Gaddis' major contentions... they seem like they come out of left field.

The 'failure of intelligence' that he uses to clear Mr. Bush on the WMD issue was by all accounts a conscious and ill-advised attempt to cherrypick facts to support a foregone conclusion. If the intelligence system failed, it was by allowing itself to be so easily gamed by political players when our country's reputation was on the line.

The bit about the Bush administration using rhetoric incredibly well is particularly odd; Mr. Bush is hardly nimble in any non-scripted forum. I'll grant that 'axis of evil' may have been strategic, but if 'crusade' was deliberately planned then it was done by someone both stupid and racist. The administration definitely has its moments with rhetoric, but it has had some massive blunders too.

As for Bush protecting the US against terrorist attacks, I think it's much too early to tell what effect he's having. Certainly global acts of terrorism are on the increase.

Another statement was perverse: although the American public has not overwhelmingly rejected Bush's policies to date, I think the trend is running more toward rejecting than not. His approval rating has been hovering at or just below 50% for a full year now, and it took some serious life-support to keep it propped up enough to get past the election. NCLB, Social Security, outsourcing; there are a lot of domestic issues that Bush is taking serious heat for.

While it's undeniably true that history is rewritten by the victors, Prof. Gaddis seems in an awful hurry to start revising it.

12:21 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Surprise, Security, and the American Experience" must cover the August 6th Memo, the Phoenix memo, Embry-Riddle Flight School, Jim Riddel the RNC Houston delegate for Bush whose family gave a rapist(Wayne Dumond) logistical support during a nasty Clinton smearing campaign in the runup to the '92 election and especially during the Lewinski scandal.

A Riddle was a TANG commander while Bush vanished his duty in texas? Do tell. The riddle family is a big time lobbyist for Bush and gave DUmond's wife a job while he was in jail for raping his niece? Do tell.

The Free Republic website went on a letter writing campaign to get Dumond freed from Arkansas Governor Huckabee's pen and he went on to kill and murder other women in red State areas? Do tell.

But I digress...

Mr.Murder

12:28 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the topic and your twisted logic of ethics in the Bush inquisition you celebrate.

Enough September 12th mentality, 52 warnings should be enough. Also the cancelled Sept.10th DoD flights and Ashcroft's cut to terrorism counterfunding should have no bearing on this grand vision.


Mr.Murder

12:31 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gaddis is a history professor??? He would make a great Bush propagandist, and he's willing to do it for free !!

12:32 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Condi Rice liked you book? Let me guess- it was on Exxon's required reading list. Oh, oh, oh wait I know- they probably backed its publisher if the Hearst blank check for underwriting didn't cover you.
Of course Standard new jersey has a generous office too.

Say ARAMCO's first ever director of public relations had the last Cheney, maybe they.... nevermind.

Mr.Murder

12:33 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger RepubAnon said...

Talk about lowered expectations! We're supposed to be impressed that George W Bush brought one (1) somewhat critical voice in as a guest lecturer for his 100% rubber stamp (oops! I meant "team-player") Cabinet?

Additionally, Gaddis' speech sounds as though it was written in the warm afterglow of the Iraqi elections before the terrorism racheted up again.

Most of the world and many US analysts doubted the conveniently distorted intelligence supplied by Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans with the assistance of John Bolton and others. George Tenet aside, "many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs." (Source: Washington Post Prewar Findings Worried Analysts, May 22, 2005.

About the only thing George Bush has accomplished is to bankrupt the United States by starting a war of aggression against a country posing little if any immediate threat. This has encouraged other countries posing greater threats, such as North Korea and Iran, to increase efforts to build nuclear weapons. I agree that one side effect has been to encourage people to rebel against authoritarian governments - but they are acting out of the newly-perceived weakness of the US in the face of determined rebels. If the Iraqis can defeat the full military might of the US, they think, we can certainly defeat our local despot's troops.

The current Bush Administration is adept at claiming credit for lucky accidents while blaming everything else on scapegoats like Newsweek. If they actually listened to the good Professor's criticisms and modified their behavior as a result, that would be good. To date, evidence suggests they either ignored his criticisms or used them to inspire additional censorship.

12:46 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That “[The Bush administration] has produced an overstretched military for which no ‘revolution in military affairs’ can compensate."
Well you do a great job of recruiting for him. the campus recruitment office probably has your number for endorsement as well!
"The only solution, the President has insisted, is to neutralize where possible, but to remove where necessary, regimes that embrace such ideologies. The objective, as the inaugural put it, should be to “expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant.” That means that “the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” "

Neutralize AQ Khan? Azbecistan killed how many people afer Rumsfeld's visit that provoked a screed of media intimidation by the mealy mouthed leader?

Run that by me again how israel is a Democracy when 51% of its population is Palestenian and they lack proportional representation and human rights. The Israelis also sponsor State terrorsim (Ms.Corrie) and we suffer the consequence for supporting it in so doing.

"As I tried to show in Surprise, the principal method by which the United States became a continental hegemon during the 19th century was by preempting perceived dangers along an expanding frontier. The Spanish, the Mexicans, and the native Americans can tell you more about that."

Again describe how Iraq is a terriroty we share borders with? That doesn't pass the snuff there bucko. Back to square one for legitmacy argument.

"The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1904, explicitly claimed the right to intervene in the Caribbean and Central America to preempt European intervention: the most avid practitioner of this right was Woodrow Wilson."

Iraq is in our Hemisphere? These Liberal elites teaching school didn't ever say that. Bush policy put the 'Gee' in Geography.

Explain again how we were told that Americans would masintain a presence in Iraq after the war, that war would be paid for in their oil, that flowers would be thrown and we could let them run the country on a short curve.
Let me guess- you've already signed up for USO duty at each of the 14 Iraqi airfields to help the GI Bill for the G.E.D. program since recruiters have taken to lying about diplomas to promise new recruits higher pay than what they'll really recieve. You've been in on the deal all along or what?

Mr.M

12:49 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Doug said...

this post was a joke, right?

Der Professor seems to have written his remarks immediately after the "we're turning a corner for the nth time" elections, which have not produced anything good.

And now the US is pressuring the Iraquis to "get their shit together" in determining their "own" destiny. Kinda puts another lie into the whole "well these baby steps, even if in what we consider the wrong direction, are the baby steps we libertising Americans want you to make.

And anyone who quotes or mentions Condi Rice in a positive light is an absolute idiot.

Your professor must have undeserved tenure, and you should wait until the "eleventh" hour to attempt scholarship.

12:55 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nor was the right of preemption – or of preventive war – ever relinquished during the Cold War. It just wasn’t advertised, and fortunately (given the risks of escalation to nuclear war), it wasn’t practiced."
Vietnam was based upon preemption in the context of the domino theory. Oh that's right, why worry about going there, Bush didn't and apparently neither did you.

Finally preemption is entirely different than occupation. legitimate preemption is understood, this was not a case of that. Your attempt to move the goalposts will not stand the test of time.


"A second major point made in the inaugural is that the task of spreading democracy and ending tyranny requires help from allies: “division among free nations,” the President pointed out, “is a primary goal of freedom’s enemies.” "

Division among free nations? But if the entire doctrine of preemption in our own interests is to be used how can one claim the participation of others in the process?
Your own syntax is befuddling.

He didn't say that division among allies is a primary goal of Iraq. He thinks freedom's enemies are the terrorists and that they run Iraq? Because it's sure as hell what he implies by using the scary imagery and vague wording in the context of this war and everyone knows the two were not related.

Saddam feared religious extremists as much as we did and his only hedge against them was to appear steadfastly vocal against Israel.
"It is fair to say, I believe, that the administration never wanted to undertake preemption in Iraq unilaterally – or with only minimal multilateral support: hence its efforts, even if unsuccessful, at the United Nations."
Tell me again how the Monroe doctrine agrees with acting in accord with Europe. Because that was where this argument started and now it flies in the face of that point.

"The inaugural reaffirms that desire to act multilaterally, as does the appointment of Condi Rice as Secretary of State, as does President’s recent trip to Europe, as does his acknowledgement, while he was in Belgium, that he was actually eating “French fries.” "

The inaugural does what? Acting multilaterally, like starting the war two days early and undermining the return vote of 1441?
Exxon's 2000 boarbmember is the Secretary of State, so it means any country with oil that wants to join is welcome to on our terms.
Bush's powerbrunch also includes a healthy serving of bullshit for desert as does your little screedhewn supporting humor.

"There will, however, be no multilateral veto on American action. John Kerry, after some confusion during the campaign, made it clear that that was his position also."
Quote when he said so, every statement he made opened with the terms of American soverignty its command structure.

" A third important point made in the inaugural is that the goal of ending tyranny does not require following an American blueprint: “when the soul of a nation finally speaks,” the President noted, “the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own.” "

So the instituion of slavery, and rich white landowners voting, don't have to be in their Constitution?
Thank goodness, that loophole would actually discourage a lot of Arabs from starting Democracy.

Mr.M

1:04 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This represents a useful clarification of what the administration has said before: it’s an explicit acknowledgment that a “one size fits all” model is not what it has in mind."

of course not. Oil can flow in 20, 22inch, , 20/21, 30/31, 32, and 34 inch pielines as per the trans-arabian pipeline which crosees the Saud nation and ends in lebanon, where freedom has arrived in the form of car bombs against anyone who happens to be close the Syrians who helped stabilize the land after Israel left it ruined and wrecked 248 Marines later.

"There are lots of ways to get rid of tyrants – ranging from overthrowing them to persuading them to change their minds and institute reforms to letting them simply wither into irrelevance and die of old age. I understand Bush’s strategy as incorporating all of those approaches."
No example made of any. if they change their minds then they aren't tyrants, unless it is the 80s and your name is Saddam and Rumsfeld likes you as a customer to Bechtel.

"A fourth point is that the end of tyranny is not to be accomplished immediately, or even within this administration: is the work “of generations.” "

So there you have it- a generation of war brought to you by the war of choice leader.

Mr.M

1:11 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To sell one's soul... for a chocolate freedom tart?

1:12 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This was a speech that sets a course, but it does not promise a quick arrival at the destination, nor does it preclude diversions and delays, even contradictions and reversals, along the way."


Turning the corner so many times you get lost? Must be in the green zone.

Really there isn't a great General worth his salt that would take your above poppycock and arrive at any kind of decisive level of discernment.
"In this sense, it’s consistent with the great foreign policy addresses of previous presidents, like Wilson’s “world safe for democracy” speech, or Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” speech, or Kennedy’s “world safe for diversity” speech, none of which proclaimed an objective that was meant to be attained within the term of the administration in question – indeed in these instances, even within the lifetime of the presidents who set these great goals. "

In this sense, it's consistent - you lost a lot of folks there. From this side of the war in terms of talking clearly, and over 1,600 others across the world.

"Finally, the Bush inaugural sought both to reassure and to disturb authoritarian allies.

They need not fear that we will try to depose them, for in many instances, we will need their help, as we will that of democratic allies."

What? The Saud King needs SOMEBODY to bend before him and kiss the ring.

"However, they should not sleep too well in their beds at night, because in order to survive over the long run, they will need to learn to trust their own people: note the respectful but explicit warnings to this effect, in the State of the Union address, to Egypt and Saudi Arabia – something not heard from any previous American president."

Where the hell did he did say that? QUOTE IT. The Saud women still cannot vote? Still must wear burkhas? Is it still illegal to practice any religion aside from Islam there? So if you get within 8 miles of Mecca like Richard Halliburton did just before world war two they'll have the King bring 2,000 staff, family,guards, and concubines out and recieve you outside that radius?

Mr.M

1:18 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Steve J. said...

"Finally, grand strategy requires great language."

"Is your children learning?" - g.w. bush

1:29 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Brent said...

An interesting read but upon even cursory reflection, reveals itself to be a pretty typical piece of propaganda. Too long (and much too late) to go through point by point and a number of other posters have already mentioned some of the more obvious distortions. What I will add are these two broad points:

1. WMD or not, the justifications for the necessity of invading Iraq as threat were always transparently fabricated. That is to say, even if one were to assume that all of the assertions about chemical and biological weapons were true (setting aside the more fanciful suggestions of threats from unmanned drones and the like) the idea that Saddam Hussein posed any real threat to us or our allies was quite laughable. At least it would be laughable if so many people, who should really have known better, hadn't taken it seriously. Noone who actually knew anything about Hussein or the region or of the nature of these weapons could really think that there was any realistic scenario in which Iraq could harm us or our interests. By 2000, Hussein barely had the military might to defend himself in his own country from nomads. When one starts from the rather obvious premise that Hussein, at worst, represented a third rate threat, in a world in which there were at least half a dozen more serious threats, then not much about the Administration policy seems based on any kind of honest assessment of the necessity or appropriateness of preemption in this case.

2. As with so many of these types of pieces, I am always left with the question, what would constitute failure for the Administration's defenders? How badly do things need to go, what would have to occur for any of these individuals to say "look, this policy isn't working." Or "look, this was a bad idea." The standard that Gaddis applies to Bush's credibility on these matters is really an extraordinary attempt to sidestep this question. I mean, is the standard of success by which his credibility to be judged really to be the fact that he delivered on the promise to remove Saddam Hussein from power, no matter how any of us might judge the cost of that removal. That seems grotesque to me to say the least.

1:35 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Gaddis of the Yale History Department writes about the Bush administration's Grand Strategy. Who is the fool, Bush or Gladdis?

1:37 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I"n the end, the President claimed, that the triumph of freedom is assured, not because “history runs on the wheels of inevitability,” but because “it is human choices that move events.” (This is, I believe, the first time historical determinism has been considered and rejected in a presidential inaugural address.) And “freedom is the permanent choice of mankind.” Not just America. Of mankind. "

So the "Triumph of Freedom" belongs to mankind... see we liberal thjought the triumph of the Will only belonged to Whites. Thanks for the clarification.


So chioce and freedom go hand and hand unless it is a domestic woman seeking abortion. Such consitent reason!

"This is, to me, a somewhat puzzling comment, because Bush has generally done what he promised to do: he said he would overthrow the Taliban, that he would get rid of Saddam Hussein, that he would isolate Arafat as a way of restarting the Arab-Israeli peace process, that he would pressure Arab allies to move toward democracy, that he would promote the holding of elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq – and that he would protect the United States against future terrorist attacks. He has, in fact, done all of those things: it seems to me his credibility should, by now, be pretty high."

Let's see- 42 million to the Taliban that Cheney had stricken from the record, and rule by warlords with record Heroin crops is an improvement?
Oh I forgot Rush Limbaugh has plans to snort it all up and end the supply. He should get a DEA badge like Elvis!
He did not say anything about Saddam going into his first 'term', ahhhh but August 6th changed everything.
Isolating Arafat really stalled any talks and set the table backwards. Arabs support Democracy where? Sauds allow women voters? Only one Arabic news network is not state run and you claim they are an enemy.

"My guess is that there are two reasons why it isn’t." One reason was enough for no election victory.

"One is that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. But every intelligence agency in the world also believed that they were there, and it may be that Saddam Hussein believed that also. That they weren’t, was universally unexpected."
Not to Russia, France, or Germany. not to MI6 who now says Bush people lied about INTEL when Bush tried to say the brits did and was actually their source and knew so.
"The recently released report of the Weapons of Mass Destruction – while it does not attempt to evaluate the Bush administration’s use of the intelligence it received – provides plenty of evidence that internal flaws within the American intelligence establishment were enough in and of themselves to produce a flawed product. "

Bush people. Botlon specifically. Curveball(hussein kamel and someone armed with excerpts of his 95 testimony who also knew English journalist Christopher hitchens and Mrs. Miller and Mylroi- Chalabi?).

The Department of Energy was the major input on the Niger story. near east affairs meant Cheney's Daughter was running this operation for State Dep't at the time, she is promoted to MidEast affairs.

"The Bush administration was no doubt unwise to emphasize WMD as much as it did as a justification for the war in Iraq – it had lots of other good reasons for going in. But deliberate deception has yet to be proven."

MI6 says otherwise. The Plame trial has not begun yet either.

" A second reason for challenging Bush’s credibility has been the persistence of allegations that it’s all being done for oil, or for Halliburton, or for the Carlyle Group, or whatever – in short, the Michael Moore view of history."
Halliburton family has set it sights on mideast oil almost a hundred years and was a partner to BP when they ceded Kuwait after the World Wars as part of a 50-50 split. Read about the Neutral zone violations of Iraqi land (square parcels of land orginally Iraq's shared between Saud/Kuwati and Iraqi/Kuwaiti and Saud/Iraqi parcels, each of which was capable of claiming revenues at times to inflate stock prices and expected growth projections/returns estimates. These zones were then slant drilled further into Iraq land using drill heads patented by the Tutwiler family who lived next to the Halliburtons in Memphi,TN.

The netural zone concessions of a 60 year lease include: Phillips Petrol 33.54%, Singal Oiland gas, 30.16%, Ashland oil and refining 12.70%, Ralph K. Davies 6.98%, J.S.Abercrombie 6.35%, Crescent Corp. 3.17%, Sunray Mid Continent Oil Co. 2.65%, Globe Oil and refining 1.59%, Lario Oil and Gas co. 1.59% and Pauley Petrol 1.27%
PLUS Getty Oil's 79% take in the Sauds share for a 60 years lease, other shareholders 21%.
Mr.M

1:43 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carlyle group?
"To a shower of gold, most thinmgs are pentrable." -Thomas Carlysle. Strange how COlin Powell told the taliban something similar.
The Mosul oil fields on the 1920s featured Standard oil concessions to the Rockefellors.
Kuwait and Britain shared generous concessions with the Mellon-Scaifes.

Tell us again about your quaint historical revision, you stuffy elitis asshat.

Mr.M

1:55 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But how can you say that, other critics have argued, in the light of the Bush administration’s obvious denials of basic human rights at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere?

That criticism holds up, it seems to me, only if you require, of presidential administrations, freedom from inconsistency – the absence throughout their term in office of gaps between aspirations and actual practices."

Incosistency = lying. Such an elitist way of terming this has given you the wrong license to merit such information exhcange.

"It was the Clinton administration, for example, that averted its eyes from the horrors in Rwanda, demanding that the word “genocide” not even be used in characterizing what plainly was that, lest telling the truth commit the United States to taking action."

Wag. The. Dog. Tell me again what George Bush said at that time- deregulation of utilities was a good idea?

You wanted to go there at the time?

Rwanda is the entire world's fault in terms of those who seek the benefits of globalism.

Notice iraq is doing the same thing- boiling into tribalism/ethnic/religious killings.

Mr.M

1:59 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger charlie don't surf said...

This speech is such a huge diversion from reality. Bush doesn't care about Iraq and Afghanistan anymore. Those wars are now on autopilot, and will continue as long as they can suck money from the treasury.

A military buildup in Guam is underway, with repositioning of stealth bombers, nuclear submarines, rapid reaction forces, etc. Guam is the launch point, the target is North Korea.

Aghanistan was the first domino. Iraq was the second. Bush is now planning the next war, against North Korea, to commence shortly before the next presidential election campaign. We now have eternal war for eternal peace.

2:04 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the humble self-depriciating passage in the middle of this essay, which stressed how those brilliant individuals who are burdened with a five-star Ivy League education have so many important things going on in their amazing minds that they tend to forget how words mean things.

Oh, the pain of being so much more enlightened than your fellow man!

These self-proclaimed policy geniuses are actually surprised when plain, simple rhetoric resonates among the unwashed masses.

So as a prole who worked three jobs through a measly land-grant state university among my fellow midwestern simpletons, I have but one question:

This douchebag TEACHES at YALE?

Bwaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

What a freaking tool.

2:09 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I'm not familar with Gaddis, I think he's probably being played. He may be a great historian, but that doesn't make him a great architect of foreign policy.

I would suggest to Gaddis that there are more reasons than he's willing to recognize for why people don't trust Bush. I find it difficult to narrow my own reason(s) down to such simple and sharply defined explanations as Gaddis has done. But my distrust of Bush goes back much further than the timeline given for Gaddis' reasons and they even pre-date the election in 2000 for that matter. If I had to narrow it down to something simple, however, my answer would be that deception is an integral part of Bush's character. Nothing that has happened since the inagauration in 2001 has surprised me and, in fact, I have found his administration to be very predictable. Understanding how Bush thinks -- as I believe that I do -- isn't something that I alone am able to do: most of his harshest critics seem to understand him all too well. The great confidence his critics hold in their understanding of Bush, which has been re-inforced time and again from watching their predictions come true, has given them the boldness needed to say things that others may construe as being radical; at least until they are proven correct once again.

2:11 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It was the Reagan administration that flouted the will of Congress with the Iran-Contra scheme, and that averted its eyes from death squad massacres like the one at El Mozote."
Don't forget the massize cartel assitance and money laundering at banks which went broke(Silverado).

"It was the Nixon and Ford administrations that sought to overthrow the Allende government in Chile, and that averted their eyes from the actions of its successor."
Nixon's only saving grace was environemntal policy, Ford had Cheney as his chief of staff and started the whittlin' down of the COnstituion changing the two third majroity to a supermajority to get his Congressional schmes going in regards to environmental policy for energy.


"It was the Kennedy administration that tried repeatedly to assassinate Fidel Castro, and that throttled the emergence of democracy in British Guiana."

Actually they didn't want Fidel dead, they got close enough to change his soap and make him lose hair until he looked something like Arlen Specter does today. they kept trying to provoke him knowing we kept too close a watch for him to strike premptively and using a Pentagon papers scenario to overstate his deployment ability.

Castro gave a hedge to an electoral state, an excuse for McCarthey, and ramped up esclation like we now try to make North Korea and excuse for.

"It was the Roosevelt administration that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese-Americans, while treating Stalin’s Soviet Union as a glorious ally."

Malkin says those incarcerations were like play and Stalin was never a glorious ally, the war made him an necessary evil.


"It was the Wilson administration that forced radicals into exile, and presided over the first great Red Scare."

Actually McCarthy was the red scare at its strongest, and the union busters beat Wilson to the punch as well.

"It was Lincoln who suspended the right of habeus corpus during the Civil War."
Ashcroft, Gonzales merits comparison today.

"And it was the Founding Fathers who wrote legal protections for slavery into the Constitution."

At the insistence of people whose profile fits what a lot of Republicans do today, the consession being that debts incurred by smaller middle Northern and New England colonies be honored for the slavery concession, the money built infrastructure, education, and industry.

So basically the vote of confidence northern colonies gave in self righteousness was bought in the same slave-soaked blood.

And France who supported us in the Independence effort went broke and suffered another revoltuion eventually in fundamental terms.

Mr.M

2:15 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Elaine Supkis said...

Gaddis is a total goofball. If "ending tyranny" were our "new" goal....Uzbekistan leaps to mind, for example.

We even have troops there! Massacres? Bush doesn't give a fig.

About WMD: Bush knew for a fact there were none. Saddam said there were none. Tony Blair wanted this confirmed, the UN went in, inspected and said there were none so Bush and Blair suddenly invaded.

Once they confirmed there were none. No sane military commander would have gone in if there were WMD there!

Look at North Korea. No invasion, no talk of invasion, dead silence. No oil there, too.

Oil: yea gads. How do fools like Gaddis get jobs at places like Yale? This inability to think things through seems to me to disqualify him from even cleaning toilets there. The oil men running America want to run OPEC. In between kissing and hugging Saudi Princes, they conspire to control oil militarily. Not to benefit America, but to LOOT America! Ask any American if they are happy with this!

Now American oil overlords get to set world oil prices. Isn't that lovely? And they get the profits from the oil in Iraq.

And the military/industrial complex LOVES the war in Iraq: makes them a $300+profit!

Follow the money trail.

Gaddis: he should become a prostitute openly. Like much of the media.

2:27 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Charles said...

So, exactly how has Bush changed policy?

He has continued to inflame partisan divisions by demanding that all of his judicial nominees be seated.

He has threatened a national publication into groveling, so that no one believes the press anymore.

He has made no move to indicate that he is going to allow Iraq to be anything more than an American dependency.

Anyone who thinks Bush is stupid is making a mistake. He scraped through college and business school, but scrape he did. But he is clever and not wise.

My guess is he contacted Gaddis to help create an image for his "legacy." It won't work. Things are getting worse.

2:33 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I only wish to point out that if the absence of hypocrisy is to be our standard in judging the performance of presidents, then we must also apply that standard to previous administrations whose record is often compared favorably – but forgetfully – with that of the current one."

War of choice on foreign soil really knows no comparison your premise is faulty.

"Well, first of all, I am talking about foreign policy, not domestic policy: we have had administrations in the past who accomplished great things in the international arena while conducting activities at home that no one would now defend: Nixon’s particularly comes to mind."

Escalation? Detente with a totalitarian state? Terrific comparisons. Complete witrh disclaimers.

"But that’s more of a fudge than an answer. A better one is that the American electorate does not appear overwhelmingly to have rejected Bush’s domestic policies, or his attitude toward international organizations. There’s nothing secret about them, as there was about so much of what Nixon was trying to do."

Energy task force documents, fake news stories in record amounts, Enron power scandals, press intimidation, press targeted abroad, wars based on lies, redacted Congressional records of taliban aid prior to 9-11, changing statistics to hide the bush recession BEFORE 9-11, lack of transparency in government as whole by the Congressional, Judicial, and Executive republicans, many on unprecedented scale.

"Which raises the question of why the Clinton administration signed onto them in the first place." Temperature's going up, the winde no longer drafts wWest to East for weather patterns, this is not anomoly it is a shift in patterns that hints of Climatological undoing, you best hope we don't miss a crop this Hemisphere with an unscheduled freeze since we no longer export Agriculture as a whole more than our intake.

Some idiot who cuts trees in the summer to prove he didn't steal votes in his borther's state and ignore terror warnings 52 times not counting the briefings he was in on 6 months prior in the Clinton administration's sharing of campaign INTEl makes him by far the man not to judge on domestic issues.

We were attacked after 9--1 you idiot. A plane crashed in Jersey, and Anthrax against people who opposed the war. Ohhh that's right it's okay to attack liberal Senators and Judges.
"Only, I think, if you understand international law as unconditionally safeguarding sovereignty, whatever the abuses sovereigns may have committed."

Saddam didn't control the upper or lower thirds of his own country he was not soverign anyways.



"But that principle began to be called into question by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and we have seen it further questioned by international actions that have violated sovereignty in the defense of human rights: in Bosnia in 1995, in Kosovo in 1999, in Afghanistan in 2001 – and as almost everyone would now wish had happened, in Rwanda in 1994 and in the Sudan today."

Bosnia, Kosovo record low casualties 1.4 million lives saved.
Afghanistan- warlord rule, record opium/heroin crops, and the country is run by unocal's top two regional directors in South Central Asia.
"you favor, or favored, those interventions, I’m not sure you can easily take the view that Saddam Hussein – one of the worst abusers of human rights on record – should have been left in power, especially since he had also demonstrated his serial contempt for over a dozen United Nations resolutions."
Saddam was in compliance- blix said so, Ritter was the hawk and kaye who tried to set up unanswerable riddles and prove negatives to gain interventional access.

"All right, then, even if what the administration has done can be justified in terms of international law, isn’t it cultural imperialism?" Well the oil companies appear to be an extension of colonial wealth, so yes.

"Not anymore, it seems to me. It’s significant that the Bush Doctrine is now framed as a negative – freedom from tyranny – than as a positive: that you must all become democrats on the American model."

That is a stupid contradictory statement on its face. Bush framed those terms, and you use those words as a negative? Spreadin' free dumbs is hard W.ork or did you get the memo?

Rove ghostwrites for you so well. Does gannon really give reacharounds to preppy men like you?

"I also detect in this some humbling effects of the Iraqi experience: that we didn’t know what we were doing when we first occupied the country; that we’ve had to adapt, based on what we’ve learned; that there’s been an increasing willingness to shift from the imposition of an ideology from the top down to the application of lessons learned from the bottom up."

Yeah right asshat. Kerry and Clark served from the bottom in their day. Adapt? Where did we adapt? Stay the course, freedom is on the march.

"The key to understanding the administration’s position now, I think, is this: that while everyone in the world may not know what democracy is, everyone certainly does know what tyranny entails."

Yeah and they know an American flag can be part of that picture thanks to your kind. Tyranny entails no justification whatsoever.
"The validity of that assumption became a lot clearer on January 30th, when even in the face of persistent insecurity, literally at the risk of their lives, Iraqis who’d not had the opportunity to vote in a free election for decades turned out to do so in percentages that compare favorably with the number of Americans who turned out to vote in their own far safer presidential election last November."

Let's see- the largest minority group didn't vote much at all, of course Republicans call that victory.

Those who did vote got food for it, starve them and offer food for vote then call it success. Some still refused food- a damning vote of confidence.

That as many Iraqis voted as Americans is a good sign in proportions? Does it matter if diebold counted both sets of votes?
"So while there may still be all kinds of disagreement about what kind of government will be best for Iraq, there is apparently agreement about one thing: tyranny is not that form of government."

Abu Gitmo, daily political and religious assassinations(many of whom are claiming state sponsored with US oversight) and Negroponte's bloody paws at work.

Yeah just great. Hey why don't you go there, stay there, walk the streets all over, chat with the locals, and blog back how well it goes?

Your belief doesn't pass the snuff test- go there yourself and live out the lie you pipe there.
Tyranny has yet to be proven eradicated, you present once again a false ignorant premise.


"Are the costs worth it?" Like your elitist self paid any of that price.

"And if recent events in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt, Ukraine, and even Kyrgysystan are any indication, that fire is spreading." Spreading all your stupid face. Afghanistan-run by two energy company execs, lebanon- end for the trans-arabian pipeline, Egypt- long term sovereign, Ukraine- oil coup ,K-streetstan a mass murder spree in the making.

The common thread is that each region has energy reserves the markets covet.
"Bush has now conflated ideals and interests. As he put it in the inaugural: “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.” Freedom itself is to be the strategy, not just the aspiration. It may, in this sense, be radical. It is hardly un-American."

Yeah the Sec of State is an Exxon boardmember turned oil baroness.
"But isn’t it impractical? However will we get to the point of ending tyranny throughout the world? How will we ever afford it, given our overstretched finances and our even more overstretched military?"

Ending tyranny- fairy tale theatre time. only the brave shining bush knight can go on this crusade. Brother Jeb is next! praise be Jeebus!
Your solution to the quandry is: "That’s where Bush’s view of history comes in. As he pointed out in the inaugural address, the past four decades been defined by “the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen.” It is, he added, “an odd time” to doubt the continuation of this trend."

Four decades of swift advance? As opposed to thirty years of sprawl and crawl?


"The test of a good grand strategy is to align itself with trends already underway, so that you minimize, as much as possible, what Clausewitz called “friction.” My bet is that we’ll encounter more friction from now on if we support tyrants than if we resist them. So it does seem to me that the Bush administration has placed its bet in the right place."
Yeah- as far away from the draft boards as he was in 'nam. that would be the right(wing) place. Karzai is a tyrant, Sharon is , a bunch of the bananna republics we are propping up against Venezuela.

You wouldn't tyranny from a teacup. The tepot dome revisited.

"Not really, and this brings us back to 9/11. Because the danger now is that the monsters from abroad, if nothing is done to counter them, will seek to destroy us here at home. "
It always does- back to 9-11. A real leader would have gotten over that by now. by the way, did he bring Osama to justice? Did you demand as much since that is a reason to constantly refer?

"The trend in global politics is indeed toward democracy, but the trend could be reversed by just a few more well-placed attacks on the scale of 9/11 or greater, whether in this country or elsewhere." I guess madrid doesn't count to you either asshat? "In this sense, the world itself is now like Iraq, in which the depredations of a few place all at risk." The few neocons put all at risk all right.

"Given the choice, the President insists, people will choose freedom. But tyrants and terrorists – even just a few of them – could still deny that choice for many if they were to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction. If we wait for them to act, it will be too late."

Israel has WMD, and they even attacked a US navy vessel. Where is the outrage and concern? if one, then every. Every instance you say requires action and Saddam was the example to set for oil, er freedom.

3:00 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The historians will decide, in the end, whether it meets Spiderman’s test of great responsibility – but this historian, for one, is leaning in the direction of saying, yes it does. It would be irresponsible, I think, to have such great power, and not to try to use it in this way."

Historians and spiderman. You asshat, comcis maven Stan Lane opposed 'nam. He didn't want to see our heros hurt, especially since many were kids he wrote stories for.
"This historian is also leaning, somewhat more controversially, in the direction of acknowledging that George W. Bush is likely to be remembered as the first great grand strategist of the 21st century. He is, however, somewhat ahead of most of his faculty colleagues and many – though by no means all – of his students in this respect."

Bush aheads of faculty and students- yeahhhhhh. Great grand strategist anything like great grand pa of depleted uranium birth defects? Anything like grand father and IG Farben'
s Auschwitz blend of aviation fuel (clean coal technology at work)?

"Consider this comment from Henry Kissinger on one of Bush’s predecessors: “Reagan’s was an astonishing performance and, to academic observers, nearly incomprehensible. . . . When all was said and done, a president with the shallowest academic background was to develop a foreign policy of extraordinary consistency and relevance.” "

Quoting a war criminal for his take on someone who wasn't a soldier, but played one on the Movies... how realty-centric can one get?
"But how could this be? How could the shallowness of academic training be an advantage in the conduct of grand strategy? This is a really disturbing idea, but I think we’d better begin pondering it because to paraphrase another great grand strategist, it’s beginning to look like déjà vu all over again."

Let me gues- a George Armstrong Custer quote.

"So let me try to answer this question – why the academy finds leaders like Reagan and Bush so difficult to understand – somewhat in the spirit of Larry Summers, by tossing out a few provocations."

Deficits really don't make sense to most folks, for starters...

Mr.M

3:08 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First, that grand strategy is, by its nature, an ecological enterprise. It requires taking information from a lot of different fields, evaluating it intuitively rather than systematically, and then acting. It is, in this sense, different from most academic training, which as it advances pushes students toward specialization, and then toward professionalization, by which I mean the ever deeper mastery of a diminishing number of things. To remain broad you’ve got to retain a certain shallowness – but beyond the level of undergraduate education and sometimes not even there, the academy is not particularly comfortable with that idea.
"

Pig meets lipstick. Saying bush combines knowledge is like saying his shit is savory because of the balance of wonderful foods his French chef cooks for White house meals over the last 5 years.

To remain broad you've got to remain shallow, ahhhhh Ahnold's secwet weppin' !

"Second, grand strategy requires setting an objective and sticking to it."
Only fools don't change, and you even claimed we had to adapt to succeed in Iraq earlier. If we had to adapt why stay the course? if we did not why is he still in the oval office?

Mr.M

3:12 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nor will saying that you voted for the $87 billion appropriation before you voted against it."


Now he's spent the 87 billion on flak jack vest and armodered humvess before he didn't. Which is a bigger sin?

"...instead the emphasis is too often on theory, which promises predictability, and therefore no surprises."
Theory or observation? Exactly where has action Bush has taken- a war of choice away from our Hemisphere, worked?
Let me guess- viet nam was a notch in the win column.

"That’s why the academy tends to be so surprised when events like the end of the Cold War and 9/11 take place. Leaders, like athletes, have to be more agile."
Then he must not be a leader or a great leader because he didn't see 9/11.The academy was surprised, Bush wasn't. Goat stories, antiair missle emplacements on his hotel roof, daddy meeting the Carlysle group Bin Ladens... all just coincidence.

3:18 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Steve said...

Right,
EVERYONE thought there were weapons of mass destruction and you can chalk it all up to intelligence failures, right (maybe if you were hanging out at Yale and don't even have internet access). In any case, it has now been proven that intelligence agencies knew it was bunk AND Bush "fixed" the intelligence.

Right,
Bush is in to Democracy building, except of course in Haiti, Venezuela, Uzbekistan and (pick your client state).

Right,
It's not about the oil. The fact that maps of the oil fields of Iraq had been drawn up even before Sept. 11 and that Cheney is still preventing us from seeing the rest of that info is a red herring. It's not about getting oil to the American people, true. It's about large oil companies getting control of the oil for their own profits. Were there other factors like Bush's obsession with showing his daddy he is a real man and the Armageddon religious right wing crowd (which very possibly includes Bush)? Of course.
I love the talking points about the left not having solutions. When the house is on fire, you don't talk about building a recreational center for the block, you try to put out the house fire. The fact that it seems to have been set deliberately doesn't mean you don't have to put it out first.

3:23 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys make great arguments, but you are all missing the bigger picture here.

The most important information we can get from this speech was mentioned in one comment above:

The douchebag TEACHES at YALE!!

3:24 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You don’t lead by trying to persuade people that distinctions between good and evil are social constructions, that there are no universal standards for making them, that we should always try to understand the viewpoint of others, even when they are trying to kill us."

So Mission Accomplished, hearts and minds are won by ignoring how those people believe. See also Florida in 2000 and Ohio '04.
"Their careful choice and courageous use can shake the stability of states, as when Reagan said, before anybody else, that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire” headed for the “ash-heap of history.” They can also undermine walls, as when Reagan famously demanded, against the advice of his own speech-writers, that Gorbachev tear one down."

Let's see- the Soviet union imploded, a boycott helped facilitate that more than anything else.
MTV over the iron curtain and other broadcast culture, the religion of traditional Catholics, and the speculative vision of people like Soros helped facilitate an Iron Curtain dissoltuion and quick infrastructural stability.

Reagan was a paranoid old bat who forgot what he was saying and tried to alienate Gorbachev. The Bush cabal delayed the wall's destruction to make it an election year occurrence, and the IMF extended loans to float this into being.

The fact remains the means of distrubtion was not sufficient for exchange to succeed in a strict model, commies are are the same current as fundies, both rigid idealogues that repel one another.

Too much alike, both modes of thought always have to be right.

Mr.M

3:26 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But where, within the academy is the use of great language taught? Where would you go to learn how to make a great speech? Certainly not to political science, language, and literature departments at Yale, where as students advance they are spurred on toward ever higher levels of jargon-laden incomprehensibility."
The above a prime example of such.He even used a Bushism in the final phrase.

"The Bush administration, however – like Reagan’s, Roosevelt’s, Wilson’s Lincoln’s – understands that words carry weight. It is choosing them carefully. It is applying them strategically. And to the surprise of its critics, is getting results. It would be a mistake, then, not to listen."

Hell I could watch Dobson and get the same dialogue. you act like it's some great new wording. it's the same tired cliches repeated with smirk and never challenged within the media.

"The cynicism of the Left is unwarranted and unhelpful."

Right after a soldier a compares the elections to liberal democrats in action.
The people I know who went say the place is best left alone where we don't become a target and get blamed for enforcing things.
Of course certain idealogues think polcie action is what the army is made for.
Mr.M

3:33 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But oh, it's just SOOOO much more fun to bang a drum and make a giant puppet head and chant "Halliburton!" "


Chant it 9.9 Billion times... you know how long that would take? Longer than the Earth is old, according to Moses Heston.

You won't pry the 'Hallibruton' chants from my cold, dead hands.

If you're an Ivy leaguer you cannot help being familiar with the names. All of the oil names, the INTEL people, Barksdales, Bres, the East Texas oiler impresario. You've got to be cosmopolitan about things. Lord knows Richard Halliburton was.
Then again you're afraid to get your feet wet. The front line will not see your footsteps there.
Mr.M

3:39 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger LiberalPride said...

Prof. Gaddis definitely makes a great apologist for the Bush administration. And should make hefty sums at right-wing talking heads speaking engagements.

However, what really stood out in his treatise, besides the obvious spin, was the following:

"But the President said: “Sit down. Loved your book. Tell me more about Bismarck.”"

First, my bet is Karl Rove read the book and then briefed the Prez. Karl Rove is a student of German history and it's empire-building efforts, primarily the Nazi (20th C.) and Bismarckian eras (19th C.). I know all about the Nazi efforts to remold the world to their image, but had to refresh my memory about Bismarck, and not just the Nazi warship.

But why the opening reference to Bismarck? So I did a Google search for "Bismarck" to try to understand how Bismarck's actions in the 19th century relate to the Bush administrations goals in the 21st century.

Hmmmmm. The following is from an infoplease.com listing.


"in order to secure adoption of the Prussian king's army program, which was then being strenuously opposed in parliament. Bismarck, in direct violation of the constitution, dissolved parliament and collected taxes for the army without parliamentary approval." (not much respect for the "rule of law" apparently).

"...he opposed the liberal movement, advocated unification of Germany under the aegis of Prussia, and defended the privileges of his elite social class, the Junkers." (Naawww, Bush isn't an elitist...is he?)

"Fear of France, skillfully propagated by Bismarck..." (Anyone for some Freedom Fries?)

"The antisocialist law passed in 1878 prohibited the circulation of socialist literature, empowered the police to break up socialist meetings, and put the trial and punishment of socialists under the jurisdiction of police courts." (Sounds like the precursor to the present Patriot Act).

"Bismarck, intent on provoking war with France, made the king's report of the conversation public (July 13) in his celebrated Ems dispatch, which he edited in a manner certain to provoke the French. France declared war on July 19, and the Franco-Prussian War began" (Edited intelligence to provoke a war? Where have I heard of something similar happening?)

"Between 1883 and 1887, despite violent opposition, laws were passed providing for sickness, accident, and old age insurance; limiting woman and child labor; and establishing maximum working hours. Bismarck's new economic policy also resulted in the rapid expansion of German commerce and industry and the acquisition of overseas colonies and spheres of influence." (The latter sounds Bushian (or is that Rovian?), especially with Iraq being the U.S.'s newest colony whose natural resources U.S. companies can exploit...or not, but the first sentence sounds almost progressive. Bismarck sided economically with the workers, stimulated productivity, and with Germany's increase in wealth, set out to do some old-fashioned empire-building. Bush, on the other hand, has sided with corporate CEO elitists, attacked employee social insurance programs, seems intent on rolling back labor laws to the point when there weren't any in force and racked up huge budget and trade deficits. At the same time, Bush has embarked America on an adventurous empire-building program with a short-changed military and disastrous diplomacy. Oh, well, maybe Prof. Gaddis can do a history rewrite to put some lipstick on this pig?).

4:22 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Dan said...

Hi there. This post was a great read. You're right that the Bush administration is smarter than people give them credit for. What I don't understand is how you seem to perceive that the left isn't doing anything productive. You seem to be fixated on protesters and other vocal and visible Michael Moore acolytes. But surely you must know that they don't truly represent the left, just as the shrill, moralizing fundamentalists don't truly represent the right. There are plenty of good ideas on the left, and plenty of level-headed thinkers (this speech is from one of them--the guy obviously still has huge gripes about the way Bush handled it).

Next time you use radical puppet-wavers to make generalizations about the left, think about the sort of people they use to make generalizations about conservatives, and take it on faith that the same fallacies apply to both sides, and look a little deeper.

4:45 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Natasha said...

Ah yes, it's 'the left' who's at fault for the Bush administration's inability to come up with reasonable policies.

The Republican victim mentality strikes again. Between the staff of the president's office, the deep bench of diplomats and foreign policy professionals in various government bureaucracies under the direct control of the president, majorities in both houses of Congress, and very close ties with foreign leaders from the region in question, it's not Bush's fault. In fact, it's incumbent on liberals to offer alternatives in a sufficiently polite and respectful manner.

For a refresher, here are some of the many things Democrats, liberals and progressives (as well as moderate Republicans and longtime State Dept. staffers in some cases) have suggested regarding Iraq in a wide variety of formats and 'tones':

-- Don't go. Hussein's most egregious abuses are about a decade past and he's boxed in so tight that not even the Kuwaitis are afraid of him anymore. It would be perceived as an unjustified war against a suffering Muslim country and our motives would never be trusted.

-- If you insist on going, come up with an airtight proof of imminent threat to somebody, frankly, anybody.

-- If you insist on going, make a factual case to the UN, and get other Arab states involved so that it doesn't look like a vengeful crusade.

-- If you insist on going, have clearly defined goals and an exit strategy.

-- If you insist on going, have a plan to keep the peace and maintain order so that civil society can continue on and vital services can be restored. (This one was one of the State Department's ideas, and Bush's team spent about an hour talking about it. An hour.)

-- Now that we're there, how about giving jobs to Iraqi firms (they were one of the more modern countries in the region, with advanced industries and employee skill sets) to keep unemployment down instead of handing everything over to Halliburton and Bechtel subsidiaries.

-- Now that we've set up our own rape rooms and torture chambers, try something novel like setting up a real inquiry that will identify those responsible in the chain of command and among the private contractors who were assuredly involved so that observers will get the idea that we meant it when we said we didn't approve of what happened.

Maybe none of these suggestions were delivered in an appropriately groveling fashion, but Bush shouldn't get a pass for bad policies merely because the other side was too snarky.

5:20 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush's total lack of credibility is not due entirely to missing WMD-- though that's a big one, since there were plenty of people (Scott Ritter, Hans Blix) who were calling for sanity at the time. And there's reason to believe Bush himself (and Blair) knew there weren't any WMD-- www.downingstreetmemo.com.

It's also because the war (and all of Bush's domestic policies) happened to benefit all of Bush's friends and donors (Halliburton, etc). To dismiss this fact as "the Michael Moore view" is weak-minded. There's nothing particularly left-wing, populist, or conspiratorial about old fashioned greed.

A more plausible Occam's razor explanation for the debacle in Iraq is that the two camps of the Bush administration-- the ideology driven Neocons and the profit driven Cheneyites (let's call them)-- found a common interest in invading Iraq. The Neocons wanted to do it on the cheap so they could move on to invade other countries, and the Cheneyites didn't particularly care if it succeeded or not, since they make money either way. And because Bush, contrary to Gaddis' hagiography in progress, is nothing more than the born-again fortunate son of an oil family in over his head, he listened to the advice of his "good friends" in his administration.

9:23 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous renska said...

The Grand Strategy, to me, is the Bush administration's attempt at creating a "new world vision" that provides cover for what they want to do anyway.

Take another look at what you've written, and then consider the Straussian leanings of many of Bush's advisors.

In this instance, I'll give the administration credit for this and this only: paying enough attention to (one of) their critics to successfully deflect them (him).

9:52 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger CJ said...

We're glad Bush read your book, or rather you think he read your book, but don't let it go to your head. Maybe his cronies just saw in you one of those suckers born every minute or someone in whom flattery would get them everywhere.

10:25 AM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Eric said...

... and the native Americans can tell you more about that.

OK. I have.
http://wampum.wabanaki.net/archives/002003.html

Note well: contain material that some may consider to be uncomplimentary toward the Gaddis scholarship.

There are decent modern European historians to read for the mid-19th century transformation of the German states and the Danish, Austrian, and French wars. Only an unusally gifted US academic would be worth reading on such well tended European academic ground.

10:29 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Troutski said...

Jesus, was this written from the planet Jupiter? By a blind and deaf alien? Or perhaps it was just really bad fiction.

11:08 AM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Christopher and Dan -- I appreciate your comments. I certainly do not believe the Republicans have all the answers, and that is why I am not one. I do believe there is room for, and a need for, a well-reasoned "loyal opposition", and was hoping to find the seeds of such criticism in the Gaddis article.

I don't think all non-Republicans are drum-beaters, but was referring to a certain segment that at the moment seems to have a disproportianate influence on the Democrat party (who's the DNC chairman now?), but isn't contributing anything useful.

Thanks for dropping by.

-- The Ten O'Clock Scholar

12:13 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Charles said...

There's one small problem on your analysis, Ten O'Clock Scholar.

A principled opposition has to be based on a different interpretation of the same set of facts. Facts are not there to be made up, and when they are, they turn around and bite one.

That's why there are budget and trade deficits equal to roughly 7% of the national income, deficits that will drastically reduce your real income in years to come.

That's why the war in Iraq rages on at about the same intensity as in the beginning, resulting in a dramatic rise in terrorist incidents.

That's why economic growth is sub-par, leading to a decline in US dominance.

The principled opposition is not the one that accepts some lies in order to maintain a fatally-damaged comity. The principled opposition is the one that says "To H--- with the liars and their lies."

You complain about Howard Dean, who is a decent man and, if you had a clue, a genuine centrist. You're about to get George Galloway.

But only if you're lucky.

12:41 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The speech was delivered on May 21; the Downing Street Memo has been out since May 1; and nearly 3 weeks was not long enough, it appears, for that information to inform Prof. Gaddis' remarks.

Granted, the Downing Street Memo (actually "minute," a more credible source as a historical record) has not gotten much press in the MSM, but one would think a historian would avail himself of more sources than the NYTimes.

12:47 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we know how Rush Limbaugh would sound if he had become a history professor.

Who do I see about recovering the 20 minutes I spent reading this intellectual apology on behalf of the Bush administration?

12:52 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous phang said...

Bush allegedly read a book in preparation for a speech...?!? And then made his speech based on that book. That seems to be the whole of Gaddis's narrative and argument.

Oh, and that linking of language and strategy (Mr. Gorbechov, tear down this wall, as if the wall weren't already on its way down, and it'd be lovely to hear someone say the same of Israel's fence)... According to common sense, actions speak louder.

But looking at the language, Bush promises to veto bills to extend embryonic stem cell research because, as he puts it, he won't support technology that "destroys a life to save lives". And yet he wants to spend billions on next-generation nukes. Apparently he didn't read another book before he made this latest boneheaded statement, or even check the latest proposed budget he sent to congress.

1:08 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Charles,

Thanks for being one of the few commenters here that are at least coherent, even if we disagree strongly.

I do not expect a principled opposition to accept lies. I don't believe I am doing so either. But I do assume the opposition will have a similar world-view, and will be operating on the same basic set of axioms

Namely, that the United States, for all its flaws, is still the "last, best hope for Mankind", and that we are engaged in an actual long-term war that to treat as a police action would be to return to the failed policies of the last 25 years, and that this is a war we ought to win without resorting to appeasement.

Even if one believes Bushco is just out for the oil, the answer is not a strategic retreat and accomodation of our enemies. That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

But the "lies" faction doesn't see the same enemies that I & the neocons do. Therefore there is no common ground, and no fruitful dialogue is possible.

Pragmatically, given which administration is actually in power, would it not be better for the opposition to try to at least guide the admin on the most optimal path towards the goal it will be seeking anyway? But of course they don't do that, they hope for the worst possible failure, rather than possibly helping the evil Rove administration!

That might be politics as usual, but given the threat we face, I see that hand-washing view to be shortsighted at best (we all are at risk, no matter what our political affiliation) and disloyal to the nation at worst. Because the stated destination -- the spread of Freedom and Modernity -- is good for everyone (except tyrants), no matter what the real motives behind that goal might be.

1:47 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous JR said...

Okay, fellow left-wingers: consider the source (NOT a negative comment--look at Gaddis's background and you might get it)

And Ten O'Clock Scholar: Thanks for posting this speech, but Gaddis is unfortunately discounting some factors that need serious consideration in the debate.

Gaddis is a pro at post-revisionism. When the Cold War ended, there was a revisionist trend in American scholarship. The early Cold War historians adopted the traditional "We're Right, They're Wrong, Communists Want to Take Over the World" mentality. In the late 60s, early 70s, historians began questioning that model, wondering how much was alarmism and how much was rhetoric. Well, Gaddis comes along after the Wall comes down, looks through some Soviet documents and realizes "hey, these guys really were trying to control world events." (Not that we weren't, but this isn't the real thrust of "We Now Know")

In this instance, though, Gaddis seems to be overlooking a preponderance of evidence that suggests the Administration distorted facts and coverage to bolster support for the war in Iraq, and unethically sought to distort or hype intelligence to suggest a relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq, and to show Saddam had a WMD program (a centrifuge buried undara a rose bush for a decade does not a research program make).

Plus, Gaddis seems to discount two key factors. First, the idea that the purpose of going to war in Iraq was to protect the US from terrorism is laughable. This was a statist goal against a state enemy, not against non-state terror groups (and it's undeniable that this war has significantly bolstered the recruitment of terrorist organizations including al Qaeda). Secondly, and less palatably, Gaddis is discounting a harsh realist argument that governed US Cold War policy for decades: not all dictatorships are counter to our national interest. Gaddis mentions the US-backed Pinochet coup in Chile, but doesn't discuss its implications outside of hemispheric hegemony.

The Allende coup was an example of the US government realizing that sometimes, in other countries, voters will choose leaders that suck from the US point of view. Democracy is the best option for any domestic selection of leadership, because all men are created equal and have a God-given right to self-determination. But from a foreign policy perspective, democracy around the world has screwed the US pretty frequently since the French Revolution. Diem in Vietnam, Allende in Chile, Mosaddegh in Iran, Chavez in Venezuela, Arbenz in Guatemala, Goulart in Brazil, Jagan in British Guyana, Lumumba in Congo, and Sharif in Pakistan(just to name a few) know what it's like to be elected democratically and deposed by the US or our proxies for not aligning closely enough with our interests. Make no mistake, the expansion of democracy and the promotion of US interests are not always linked (if they were, would Islam Karimov be included in the Coalition of the Willing?)

Further, some really fascinating scholarship emerged in the 90s that suggests that the process of democratizing is itself more perilous and more likely to cause civil and international wars than keeping a dictatorship intact (Snyder and Mansfield's "Democratization and the Danger of War" is a great piece with an empirical analysis of the risk inherent in democratic reform, which include hyper-nationalism, demoagoguery and the exploitation of ethnic tensions).

Gaddis has essentially presented an argument that awards the benefit of the doubt to an administration that has consistently screwed up whenever it had that benefit. We trusted Bush to get bin Laden, and we understaffed the effort in Afghanistan and largely skipped the siege of Tora Bora. We gave Bush the benefit of the doubt when he said with certainty that Saddam had WMDs, and we all know how that turned out. We gave Bush the benefit of the doubt when he said prisoner abuses were from a "few bad apples," though it's quickly become obvious that these problems are systemic and occurred in more than just Abu Ghraib. We gave him the benefit of the doubt on tax policy, medicaid, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, stem cell policy and voter verification. I think a little healthy skepticism might be in order where Bush is concerned.

That said, it's always a mistake to blow off what Gaddis says, because, like it or not, that's what much of the history of this era will probably say, and it's our job to understand their point of view so that, if we disagree, we can do so honestly and academically.

2:40 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

JR -- Thanks for posting!

That's EXACTLY the kind of "reasoned" dissent I've been saying we need more of, because yes indeed, the admin has dropped the ball on several occasions.

-- The Ten O'Clock Scholar

4:51 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you suggest that communists are not trying to dominate the world. They are! First the Republican party! Mission accomplished! Next, the world! Burn Bush and Halliburton in effigy if you must, but burn a Repubo-commie at the stake tody! Do it for God and country!

8:13 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I were joking. Anyone got a match?

From the American Conservative magazine. Too bad more so-called "conservatives" don't read it.

The Marxism of the Right

8:17 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Anonymous,

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say, but this is not by any means a libertarian blog and I agree with the link you supplied.

Healthy anti-Federalism is one thing, but closet anarchists are another.

9:24 PM, May 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

global warming will do more to wreck the planet and democracies and nations than anything OSB, iran, or north korea can do.

20 years from now this is what bush will be remembered for - doing nothing about the real threat to the future.

4:21 PM, May 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grief almighty, get to the end of these comments (highly entertaining), and we get the old warhorse "We're the last great hope for mankind" bullshit. Riiiight. Personally, European democracies are looking a lot better than ours right now. Just sayin', you know? Get a clue, and leave the country for a bit.

8:58 PM, May 23, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:28 PM, May 23, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Anonymi,

You know nothing.

9:46 PM, May 23, 2005  

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