A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An Answer To Mr. Anonymous

In the two posts immediately below this, I have had a lively discussion with very persistant gentleman who signs himself only as Anonymous. His final volley is so meaty that it really deserves another full post to address it. Here is what he has to say:

“…. but who, under the current circumstances can seriously call this war a just cause being effectively pursued?"

I will. I will call this war a just cause. I served some years in the U.S military yet not recently. I recall my first assignment. I had some fear about its locale and I asked a young USAF NCO, a career man, what he thought about remote assignments. His answer was: “Sir, wherever they plant the flag, I will serve.”

And, I dare suggest that:

Mr. Lincoln would answer these questions thusly: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

[I have shortened the Gettysburg Address here. I know it well. Mr. Anonymous knows it well. And we can presume that you know it well, too. --ed.]

...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Of course those words do not apply to today’s applications but nonetheless, the cause is the same: Liberty Liberty Liberty

So I would suggest that if you seek to know for whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for Liberty----not Saddam.

Liberty is not going to happen by accident via permission slips to the likes of Saddam, or Assad, or Kim Jong Il.

The point is not whether you disagree with GWB.

The question is how committed are you to Liberty?

John Kerry was never the answer because he could not answer the questions Liberty asks.

All he had was his medals which he threw away before he didn't throw them away.

Since 9-11 our choices are few. One of which is Liberty.

I know which side I am on. I suspect your position isn't the same side. That's how I see it.

So, what can I say to Mr. Anonymous? How committed am I to liberty? Quite committed, thank you. I am also committed to a few other things: clear thinking, basic honesty & moral conduct, good sense, and realism about results. So let's take them in order.

Clear Thinking:

Liberty is more than a mere word to wave around like a flag. It is a condition that exists only when the people who are "liberated" demand it for themselves. We are lucky here in that we do demand it and, generally speaking, have demanded it for some time now. But it cannot be given to anyone on a platter and by military force. The people whom you liberate must believe in it and take it for themselves. You can topple a tyrant, but you can't make people free.

Consider the following: Saddam Hussein came to power in an election.

Consider this also: the Iranian fundamentalist revolution against the Shah of Iran was a popular revolt.

Until the Iraqis step up and take it for themselves, no one will give them "Liberty". All anyone can give them is a chance to step forward. Have we given them that chance? Certainly. But the Liberty they get from it is solely up to them, not us.

Basic Honesty & Moral Conduct:

Liberty is mere licence without this. Government is mere arbitrary and capricious rule without this. Freedom is mere anarchy without this. I stand for Liberty, but not for licence. I stand for Government, but not for rule. I stand for Freedom, but not for anarchy.

You presume to quote Abraham Lincoln. Nothing I know from history suggests that Lincoln lied in any way to pursue the objective of preserving the Union through war.

George W. Bush lied to invade Iraq. He lied repeatedly. He lied flagrantly. He lied unashamedly. And he did so for six solid months. Since May 1, 2005 the evidence of this has been inescapable and unequivocal. I haven't seen anywhere in your comments where you have the face to deny this or dispute it.

I don't merely "disagree" with George W. Bush, I brand him as morally corrupt. By lying to make war, he has turned Liberty into licence. By lying to make war, he has turned Government into rule. By lying to make war, he has turned Freedom into anarchy. And this would be the case no matter how many tyrants he toppled.

But the fundamental dishonesty is not confined to the President alone. You make the point that a soldier's duty is to willingly serve and you make it with a fine rhetorical flourish: “Sir, wherever they plant the flag, I will serve.”

Well, wherever they plant the flag, will you insist on paying for it?

Or will you merely be content to let the government put it on the Visa Card no matter how much more the ultimate cost will be to your country and your children.

You wouldn't have had to do this. You could have insisted that the "tax relief" that the President distributed with such grand largesse, was a bad idea in a time of serious war. After all, after 9/11 "everything changed", right? Just like after Pearl Harbor everything changed, right? Well, surprise. As far as your civilian sacrifice, my civilian sacrifice, and everybody else's civilian sacrifice, nothing changed in the least. Did you object to this?

Did any of the War Cheerleaders, on blogs, on Fox News, on the Clear Channel Network, in the National Review, in the Weekly Standard, in the New York Post, in the Washington Times, or on Town Hall object to it? Not that I have heard. I invite you to correct me, if you have heard differently.

You have the nerve above to insinuate that I have no love for Liberty or my country. You had the nerve previously to insinuate, twice, in the face of my direct written statement to the contrary, that I did not support the investigation and arrest of terrorists. Finally, you had the nerve to ask me if I would have served in the military when I was young and, presumably, why I didn't. I answered you. I haven't yet heard you evaluate my reply.

You further have the nerve to denigrate the service of a fellow officer who took men into armed combat and got them back alive. Would your NCO have asked any more of you in the same situation? Whatever his other faults as a human being, John Kerry did that. The men whom he brought back alive attest to it. What he did was no more than other officers did, but he did do it.

I don't know whether you had the opportunity to do this or not. Maybe you did. If you did you would be worthy of any man's respect for doing so, and certainly worthy of any fellow officer's respect for doing so. And this would be the case whatever other reasons they might have for disliking you.

Now I am used to insinuations about my lack of love for Liberty and my country, and I don't take it personally. But nothing speaks louder of your fundamental self-deception and lapse from basic honesty than the fact that you have done this.

I repeat what I said in the post below:

Not one of our team of War Cheerleaders in this country--whether on a blog, in a pulpit, on an editorial page, or on a cable news program--has had the gall to tell those young men and women in Atlanta that they should sign up, that they have no reason in the world to doubt the President. Sergeant Davis can't tell them that, either.

We all know why. You know why. I know why. Sergeant Davis knows why. The War Cheerleaders know why, too, though they cannot face it. What they are saying, whether they will admit it or not, is that, from Sea to Shining Sea, we have a noble war, with positive consequences, which will change the world--as long as somebody else fights it and somebody else pays for it.

I see no reason to alter that statement or exclude you from it. Can you give me one?

Good Sense:

The worst thing that lying to yourself and to others does is that it rots your brain. In my reply to your question about my military service I said the following:

Who wants to join an army where nobody in charge has enough sense to locate and lock up all the loose firearms, ammunition, and explosives before insurgents could steal them? And this even when they had six clear months to do so.

Why did America do this in Iraq? The evidence about the matter is now unequivocal. Nobody upon nobody took the trouble to plan or prepare for the aftermath of war. Why? Because it would have inconveniently pointed out how much of a problem invading Iraq was going to be to a President who had already determined to do so come hell or high water.

When you make war on this basis you do it badly. Period. We did it badly. Period. I have yet to hear you assert that we have done it or are doing it well.

Let me amplify this a little bit. Over one year before hostilities, on February 13, 2002, in an anonymous "deep background" briefing, it was stated that the President intended to invade Iraq. There was 10 clear months between April 2002, the time Tony Blair and George W. Bush first discussed "regime change" in Iraq face to face, and when we finally went to war. Four months later in July 2002, when Tony Blair and his advisers met, the U. S. Military was already making preliminary attacks to tempt Saddam to retaliate, but still no planning was being done.

When we invaded in March 2003, there is a maddening story about an Army lieutenant colonel doing a Powerpoint slide briefing days before the invasion where the last slide, about the post-war plans read, To Be Provided.

From the time the Mission was declared Accomplished by George W. Bush on May 1, 2003 there was six months to November 2003 when armed resistance to the American presence in Iraq reached the critical mass of a full blown insurgency. Eighteen months were available to make a coordinated plan to forstall that insurgency, and absolutely nothing was done about it.

And the consequences? We virtually solicited disgruntled Iraqis to form an insurgency and we also made sure that it was one of the best armed insurgencies in history. Can you bring to bear any facts which contradict this statement?

In my youth I watched on the news the constant fatuous attempts of U. S. Military spokesmen to deny we were losing the Vietnam war, when the facts being reported from the field contradicted these reports at every turn.

In my youth I read the comment from one of those spokesmen about the village that was "destroyed in order to save it."

Vice President Cheney said the following as late as this Memorial Day:

I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

Realism About Results:

In Vietnam the most inane self-deception about the truth in the field was practiced by the commander of our forces, General William Westmoreland. Luckily, this is not the case today, whatever foolish pap the Vice President spouts on television.

The people who are in charge of the military in Iraq, such as Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman, and Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander have this to say about the current situation:

"I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that ... this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said last week, in a comment that echoes what other senior officers say. "It's going to be settled in the political process."

Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, expressed similar sentiments, calling the military's efforts "the Pillsbury Doughboy idea" - pressing the insurgency in one area only causes it to rise elsewhere.

I repeat, until the Iraqis step up and take it for themselves, no one will give them Liberty. All anyone can give them is a chance to step forward.

So far, the majority of Iraqis who have stepped forward to take anything, have stepped forward to resist our presence there with armed force. It needent have been this way, we could have prevented it, we didn't prevent it, and no ranting about spreading democracy or advancing liberty will paper over that fact.

Abraham Lincoln is always fun to quote. When the commander of the Union forces was General Joe Hooker, the President would recieve dispatches from the field puffing up Hooker's activity, dillegence, and effectiveness in pursuing the war. The good general would sign them, "Hooker, Headquarters in the Saddle." After reading one of them, the President remarked to Secretary of War Stimson, "The only problem with Hooker is that his headquarters are where his hindquarters ought to be."

These days, this problem, at least, seems to be more prevalent in Washington than in Bagdhad.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In no particular order, I shall attempt to reply to the points I feel important:

You are correct, Liberty is more than a mere word. But you are wrong in assuming that it is a condition that exists only when people who are “liberated” demand it for themselves. South Korea, Japan, Taiwan were liberated by the military forces of WW II and the Constitutions they have adopted have provided them a dream of a democratic process. Their Liberty was not solely a process of themselves alone. Hirohito in the face of Liberty--- bowed ---to save his nation. Japan came out with a good result.

Saddam was never an elected “democratic” government any more than Cuba is in spite of the fact that Castro has never lost an election. Saddam was and is a tyrant. But you are correct, the people whom you liberate must believe in it. It requires a very long education process and specific conditions. And thirty years of Saddam abuse colors the mind and conscience of the Iraqi. Hope seems dismal, yet hope is not non-existent. Bush will be gone in a few more years but the Iraqi in his heart of hearts may find the word Liberty does mean something other than Bush lied. And the lib-left Bush bashing and leftist hatred will of course continue if political history continues as is.

My fine ‘rhetorical flourish’ as you call it, was not made for purposes of argument. They were the actual words of a military enlisted man I met that changed my understanding of the US military that many civilians will never understand. That may have been why I stayed in the military so long. So, what I said was not dishonest. Your interpretation is incorrect if that is how you understood it..

“So far, the majority of Iraqis who have stepped forward to take anything, have stepped forward to resist our presence there with armed force”.

False, Nearly nine million voters showed for the First Iraqi Elections in January 2005. None came with AK 47’s or suicide bombs strapped to their bodies. And many came in defiance of threats of retaliation to their families.

Saddam is gone. Get over it.

Here is the breakdown:

The United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite alliance backed by Shiite Muslim clergy): 4,075,295

The Kurdistan Alliance (coalition of two Kurdish factions): 2,175,551

The Iraqi List (headed by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi): 1,168,943

Iraqis (headed by interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer): 150,680

The Turkomen Iraqi Front: 93,480
National Independent Elites and Cadres Party: 69,938

The Communist Party: 69,920

The Islamic Kurdish Society: 60,592

Nearly nine million ballots cast-------

Note: notably absent, the Sunni’s most of who were staunch supporters of Saddam and from which Insurgency (terrorists) obtain recruits, not exclusive however of other radical factions..

Asking whether you would have entered the military was not an insinuation. Yes, you are free not to join the military and speak out as any citizen has. That isn’t my background.

Yes, I have avoided the Bush, Bush lied questions because it makes no sense to me. The water is over the dam. That is why my first post comment on these subjects was Clinton’s response:

May 18, 2005

”Former President Clinton said Wednesday the political changes in Iraq, including parliamentary elections in January, will help bring stability to the region.

Clinton met with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a number of Danish lawmakers during his visit. The former president spoke with reporters before flying to Jordan for a poverty conference.

"The Sunnis and the Shiites, the Kurds and all the various tribes can work out accommodations that will allow them to build a stable society, I think that will be good for Iraq and good for the Middle East," Clinton said at the end of a two-day visit to Denmark.

In January, Iraq held the its first democratic parliamentary elections to choose a 275-member National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

"There is no point living in the past," Clinton said. "Look at where we are now. Everyone, all freedom-loving people would be better off with a genuinely representative, effective, free government in Iraq whatever your feelings are about what went on before."

I’m not interested in the War Cheerleaders, on blogs, on Fox News, on the Clear Channel Network, in the National Review, in the Weekly Standard, in the New York Post, in the Washington Times, or on Town Halls. I did not vote for George Bush the last election. I do not have to defend him. And I do think Kerry would have been disastrous.

Other than that I voted for Bush against Al Gore. I did not vote for him against John Kerry. And I will never vote for John Kerry. BY the way, he still hasn't signed the 180 form which is supposed to release his military records to his home address which I'm sure he will one of these days and carefully edit out parts not considered amenable to public disclosure.

But, alas, my political stance seems mostly useless. California is a blue state. The electoral votes go to the democrat here. My vote is functionally void. So I voted my conscience and didn’t vote for Bush or Kerry.

Nor do I believe a person ought NOT join the military because they believe in Liberty or because Sgt. Davis “told Bush lies’ (sob, sob, sob) .

I was raised to believe that 18 year olds ought act like adults.

Now there’s a challenge.

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