Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Obama's Iraq speech: a salute, not a victory lap

Adam Serwer of the American Prospect is guest blogging on The Plum Line this week.

The message the White House wants you to take away from President Obama's Iraq speech last night is that the president is respectful and grateful for the troops' sacrifice. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to view this speech through an ideological prism -- while the president made sure to remind everyone that he kept his campaign promise to end the war, most of the speech was focused on honoring those who fought it.

That's appropriate. While much of the public discourse recently has focused on whether the president has done enough to inspire or placate his base, the end of combat operations in Iraq was not the right time to emphasize that Iraq was a "dumb war" that he opposed from the beginning. It was not a time to say I told you so.

Conversely, while conservatives are busy angrily denouncing the president for not giving more credit to Bush for implementing the surge -- by which they mean not acknowledging that conservatives were right -- that wouldn't have been appropriate either. This speech was about the commitment of those who actually served, not the better part of valor displayed by those who sat in front of their keyboards and hammered out empirical or ideological arguments for or against the war.

That's not to say that the speech was devoid of politics. Obama's style of politics is to pretend he's above politics, and this speech fits that mold. But the biggest reason not to rehash the argument over going to war in Iraq is that he won it already. It's part of why he's president. Obama doesn't need to convince the American people that the war in Iraq was a mistake, because a majority of Americans already believe that. Conservatives want to reargue the war from 2007 onward, but treating the Iraq war as though it began with the surge is a bit like running over someone on the street, backing up over the body a few times, and then demanding a special merit badge for finally deciding to call 911. And as I wrote yesterday, this still isn't really over.

The most disappointing part of the speech was that the president failed to acknowledge the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of the war. Doing so would not have diminished his tribute towards American servicemembers, but it would have been a helpful reminder that treating the rest of the world like a game of RISK has real human consequences. Unlike the president's refusal to reargue the war, his failure to acknowledge the suffering of Iraqi civilians -- more than an estimated 100,000 of whom died as a result -- is an inexcusable omission.

For more Post opinions on Obama's speech, read Richard Cohen's A speech without a theme, Michael Gerson's Historic moment, forgettable speech and Eugene Robinson's Obama's gravitas was great.

By Adam Serwer  |  September 1, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The politics of 'taking credit' for Iraq
Next: Florida Senate campaign hits Charlie Crist for Palin support

Comments

The best things about the speech were 1) the acknowledgement that our economic woes are tied to the Iraq Fiasco; and 2) the assurance that we are getting out of Afghanistan beginning next summer.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree entirely with wbgonne.

I also think this was a very well-written piece, Adam. My only gripe is that your critique of Obama's omission of the Iraqi people was too harsh. The speech comments on the future of the country, and how we are leaving it to them. That, imho, was satisfactory in its nod to the Iraqis.

But clearly the salute to the soldiers came across loud and clear. It was a brilliant move, but a genuine show of love and respect that I am so glad he went out of his way to make abundantly clear.

It would be interesting to compare the post-war treatment of the troops from Vietnam to today. The Left has obviously "grown up" in that respect and that makes me happy.

And lastly, I am also glad the Obama admin is taking care of them when they get home. That extra mile is really what it is all about. America is NOT a mindless war machine. We show coffins on the way home to the public and we take care of the vets and their families. THAT is genuine love of country and for that I applaud the Obama Administration.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Why do Quislings ignore the 22 other legitimate casus belli cited by a bi-partisan super-majority of Congress against Saddam: Saddam did try to kill a former American president; the U.N. embargo was violated (as were its inspection protocols); the 1991 accords were ignored; the genocide of brave Kurds did happen; suicide bombers were being given bounties; terrorists (including those involved into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) were given sanctuary by Saddam; and on and on.

Perhaps Quislings prefer the rape rooms of Qusay and Uday to the elected government of our new Iraqi allies?

But there’s no need to remind folks. Patriotic Americans are well aware that Leftists supported Saddam and al-Qaeda, you betcha'! BEHOLD! The Leftist-Fascist Hall of Shame @
http://www.zombietime.com/hall_of_shame/

Don’t be Saddam-apologists your whole lives, Quislings.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to view this speech through an ideological prism."
---------------------------------------------

Correct. But I always say that if you can't learn from your mistakes, then why even bother making them.

Posted by: CalD | September 1, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Adam...great post this morning thanks for getting us started on some great stuff.

@wbgonne...agree 100% with your two points.

@Ethan...man you are going to hate me after this post. First a minor disagreement...I think Adam was dead on with..
"Unlike the president's refusal to re-argue the war, his failure to acknowledge the suffering of Iraqi civilians -- more than an estimated 100,000 of whom died as a result -- is an inexcusable omission."

We've got to stop looking at other folks as just statistics...in the truest Christian sense...and correct me if I'm wrong Ethan but I believe Judaism feels the same way..
those 100,000+ Iraqi lives are just as important as the 4,000+ American lives. A human being is a human being and we should be completely ashamed, embarrassed and remorseful for what we allowed the Bush/Cheney Administration to do in our names. Watching a review of how we got into this war...and all the lying and manipulating that went on...realizing our economic woes after blowing ONE TRILLION dollars......I just feel sick...it's truly sad...it's such a major eff up that's it's beyond partisan politics. Bush can be thankful for Andrew Johnson...that's the only thing that will keep this arrogant loser from being judged the WORST president in this nation's history.

OT Ethan...but you'll have to forgive me.
I am a registered I. As I've shared earlier Charlie Crist's fathers MD office is right down the street from us. Last night my wife and I went to dinner at our club...which is actually the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg. The hotel has created a membership opportunity for locals to join and use the golf course and other facilities. We went to a small restaurant next to the pool where they have good salads and sandwiches. Only 5 people there when we stepped...two of them on the way out happened to be Governor Charlie Crist and his wife Carol. I shook his hand and told him he had our vote. He was profusely thankful and in a most sincere manner said.."I want you to know I don't take your vote for granted..I appreciate EVERY vote." I said if he hadn't converted to an I we wouldn't have been able to vote for him because of what has happened to the R party. He smiled and said, "I know exactly what you're talking about." And so forgive me Ethan...but I'm afraid the hometown ties are simply too much. Of course I still feel it's anybody but Marco..and so if Meek is leading Crist and needs my vote to stop Marco....

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Adam, I thought your points about the cost to the Iraqi people and the hubris of the snot-nosed mama's boys who thought the whole adventure was a game of RISK were very well taken, BTW. That's something really can't be repeated enough times.

Posted by: CalD | September 1, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Scorecard...Osama Bin Laden vs G.W. Bush

Goals and results of each...

OBL...make a huge publicity splash with 9/11.
A huge success

Lure America to react so stupidly they would attack a sovereign Middle Eastern Arab nation. Again a huge success

Lure America into expending so much money and energy on these foreign wars that our economy goes in the sh*&ter. Again a huge success

3 Goals for OBL...all achieved.

G.W. Bush goals for invasion of Iraq..

Retaliate for the connection between Iraq and the Al Qaeda 9/11 plotters...TOTAL FAILURE...there was NO connection!!!

Take out Saddams WMD. Again TOTAL FAILURE there were no WMD!!!!

Create a democracy in Iraq that could flower and spread to the rest of the M.E.
Again TOTAL FAILURE...elections were held five months ago...they were meaningless...the man who lost is still Prime Minister (with our support)and the winner is still trying to negotiate his way into government. Iraq remains on the edge of civil war...their infrastructure is a joke.

Ahhh but it gets better. Iran has now gained immeasurable influence in Iraq. The old law of intended consequences.

When is see the videotape of these losers Bush and Cheney spewing their lies...when I remember idiots like Paul Wolfiwitz saying the war would pay for itself and then see the Iraqi's selling their oil to our biggest competitor China while we struggle with a massive debt created by the Texas Cowboy....bring it on indeed!

OBL kicked Bush's arse all the way from Washington back to Crawford Texas by an rational metric. History is going to look at this war as not only incredibly stupid, and non productive...but also as barbaric and a crime against humanity...4,000 + American lives...100,000 + Iraqi lives.
This has been a human catastrophe and for what...an arrogant Texan full of hubris...the pocketbooks of Cheney and Rumsfeld who got millions and millions in personal wealth. This has been one of the most disgusting chapters in American history!!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse


The democrats simply do not appreciate the dangers around the world and how important national security policy is.


George Bush's major mistake was this: he thought it improper to criticize Bill Clinton's Middle East policy which left us open to 9/11.

- Bill Clinton and the democrats had an INSISTENCE that they were going to pull our intelligence forces out of the Middle East in the 90s - this kind of thinking went back to the Church hearings - that somehow our intelligence people were doing wrong around the world

- By 1998, there were intelligence people saying that the US was practically "blind" in the Middle East


What we have NOW, is Obama and the democrats seeking to RETURN to the attitude of the 1990s - when the US left itself BLIND AND UNDEFENDED in the Middle East.


The arrogance of Obama is HURTING the national security of the United States.


On important security issues, the United States can not AFFORD to have the ego of one person PREVENT proper policy considerations and decision-making from happening.


Last night, this situation was on full display - Obama is completely unable to exercise proper leadership - and it is CLEAR that proper policy decisions are not being made.


Obama is pulling out of the Middle East in an irresponsible way - through all the haze of Obama's obligatory words, Obama is insisting on leaving whether the proper benchmarks are met or not.


On one level, Obama is confusing al Queda, because this policy is stupid beyond belief - however the end result will be that the US will be left blind and undefended AGAIN.


Obama's speech last night was a national disgrace - and it is truly sad that Obama's lack of character has left this nation leader-less at this important time in our history.



.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Oops..UNintended consequences...typo...

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Lessons Learned

Surge: Good

Appeasement: Bad

Thank you, George Bush.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Adam Serwer has some very good points here

Obama absolutely has refused to say the Surge was a success - that is a character flaw. That goes directly to the "content of one's character."


Obama is unable to govern, unable to lead. The nation is at severe risk - and American lives are in danger - as a result of having someone which such a weak grasp of all the policy consideration - this situation is so much worse with Obama's character flaw that he is unwilling to change his partisan policy positions.


Obama is unbelievable.


Obama certainly deserves the blame for the next terrorist attack - because he is clearly unwilling to defend this nation properly.


.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Another inexcusable omission was Obama's failure to talk about the allies who fought next to us - Britain, Italy and the 30 other nations.


For someone who says he wants to repair relations around the world, there are no words to describe this outrageous act on the part of Obama.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"The most disappointing part of the speech was that the president failed to acknowledge the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of the war. Doing so would not have diminished his tribute towards American servicemembers, but it would have been a helpful reminder that treating the rest of the world like a game of RISK has real human consequences."

Boy, maybe it's just me, but that would have been grossly inappropriate for the president. And the reaction might have been pretty good left-of-center, but right-of-center, I think all of us would have been offended (and I would have had to take back all the nice things I said about Obama's speech; you people need to think of my needs more often).

Now, the further-and-further still left of the Democrat base would have loved it. But Obama is busy being the president of everybody, not just you. The elected GOP and much of the pundit class is busy catering to a similarly substantial, but still relatively narrow, swathe of their right-and-righter wing base. While polls indicate this strategy will help them at the polls in November, they really aren't building a base to govern from right now.

You really want the Democrats to take that approach--especially the president?

And there is another issue. I expect Obama didn't want to hand Republicans a snippet for them to play against every Democratic candidate leading up to November, or that they could easily paraphrase and exaggerate in attacking the Democrats in print and on the radio, and didn't particularly want to see another point or two shaved off the approval rating with independents.

But I expect he also took the approach of using that speech to thank the troops and touch on the hard work we have to do at home (something many conservatives are grousing about as a "campaign commercial" but seems entirely appropriate to me, not to mention typical of most presidents), and not to apologize for our role in the suffering of the Iraqi people or the previous administrations imperialism, because that was the entirely appropriate and presidential thing to do.

It's really not the place for the American president to recount or apologize for America's sins in public, even obliquely. Obama made the right call in that case, in my opinion. And kudos to him for doing so.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree the speech last night was appropriately addressed to the troops who have done everything and more that was expected of them. My comment last night was that I wished he had acknowledged the sacrifices the Iraqi people have made, but then we would also be forced to wonder if it was worth it to them. History will judge what we have done and I don't believe it will be overly kind to us but that's an issue yet to be resolved.

OT, here's a bit of interview time from Beck's rally. I really love this guy Chase's interview style.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/08/31/maybe-they-should-dress-up-as-pimps/

Posted by: lmsinca | September 1, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

@Kaddaffi &rainforest...

K thanks for using Quisling in the first line of your posts..allows me to scroll by your inane ignorant rants...

rainforest..thanks for double spacing everything...again I can quickly scroll pas your delusional moronic posts as well.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday some looney toon posted that we have WON the war in Iraq.

I have enumerated carefully what OBL's stated goals were and what he achieved...also G.W. Bush's goals and what he FAILED to achieve.

Can any of you rational (that leaves you out K and rainforest) righties tell me what we WON?

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Adam Serwer has another excellent point here which deserves examination and discussion.


Adam states: "Obama's style of politics is to pretend he's above politics," but Adam does say that poltics played a role in the speech.


The politics were all interlaced in the speech - the ONLY way Obama could have avoided politics would have been to be genuinely BIPARTISAN - admit the Surge was a success and give proper credit to George Bush's efforts to defend the nation after the grave terrorist attacks and fight the War on Terror.


Context matters.


This was NOT a political speech to democratic supports in some dusty community center basement - it was a military speech from the Oval Office - which REQUIRED OBAMA TO BE THE LEADER OF THE ENTIRE NATION.


It was entirely inappropriate for Obama to interlace POLITICS AND PARTISAN CONSIDERATIONS into this speech.


Obama was partisan in both what he mentioned - and what he purposely avoided. No discussion of the reasons going into the war (above at 9:10 there is a great comment on that) - and no discussion of the Surge.


If Obama wanted to be the LEADER of the nation - to represent the nation propertly, an HONEST discussion of these two issues was appropriate - it was entirely inappropriate to leave them out.


Obama is not maturing as President, he is not growing - Obama is reverting to a more pathetic state.


The Surge was a success - Obama looks like an idiot not admitting how wrong he was. There is a major difference between leaving a country in defeat (as Obama and Harry Reid had wanted) and leaving in victory and honor - Obama is a complete fool not to state that clearly - and the lack of that issue in his speech seriously calls Obama's judgement into question.


In addition, not discussing the REASONS why we went into Iraq - and giving proper credit to Bush for meeting those objections was wrong and mean. Obama could have said he disagreed. However one cannot "salute" a war and the troops and leave out the REASONS -


The result was that Obama was completely hallow. His speech was shallow and insincere.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

@rukidding: "Create a democracy in Iraq that could flower and spread to the rest of the M.E.
Again TOTAL FAILURE.."

Creating Democracy, and deposing a dictator, was the best argument, in my opinion, for the Iraq War. I never bought (and still don't buy) the argument that it was an "illegal" war or that we were somehow violating some immutable principal of sovereignty. I don't believe (actual, not imagined) dictatorships enjoy the protection of "sovereignty". They certainly don't enjoy, or deserve, any form of legal protection.

So, I was against it, initially, but my objections were very tepid. I was hopeful that maybe it would work, that it would become a Democracy and help spread Democracy through the middle-east, although this seemed foolishly optimistic to me, even at the time. Turns out it was, as you describe, a total failure. Or certainly looks likely to be.

An interesting point about the idea of installing Democracy in Iraq and having it result in lollipops and rainbows for everybody is that the very concept is inherently not conservative. As conservative understand things (at least, as this one does), too much government intervention is bad, because it's practically impossible to micromanage economies, and the human being inside them, to success. That is why command economies fail, it's why well-intentioned entitlements and regulations often have negative unintended consequences. The conservative solution? Don't interfere--let markets, and free people, making their own choices. Understanding that these will result in negative outcomes at times, as well.

It might be nice if the government could craft a utopia for everybody, of course, but as a practical matter, it just doesn't work.

Unless you're invading another country. Then it could work. Yeah, that's the ticket. ;)

Anyway, nice to see everybody--except that Save the Rainforest guy--this fine morning.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse


rukidding7

Thank you for making rude comments - I understand that you are upset and disappointed that the nation is rejecting your views.

Your main problem and character flaw is you actually believe that Obama got a mandate for his far left wing policies - instead the country voted for bipartisanship which means COMPROMISE.


I don't know if you are entirely LYING to yourself about that - however you really do not want to accept that Obama is a fraud. You are lashing out at people who had nothing to do with this fraud - with name-calling, sterotyping and hate.

No civil discussions from you


That is a character flaw.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

[rukidding7: "righties tell me what we WON?"]

lmao! Who's "we"?

You Leftist-Quislings didn't win anything. Even Obama has been forced to admit he was wrong about Iraq and call President Bush to thank him for his leadership and commitment. Mea maxi culpa!

But there’s no need to remind folks. Patriotic Americans are well aware that you Quislings supported Saddam and al-Qaeda, you betcha'! BEHOLD! The Leftist-Fascist Hall of Shame @
http://www.zombietime.com/hall_of_shame/

Don’t be Saddam-apologists and Qaeda-huggers your whole lives, Quislings.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@SaveTheRainforest: "Obama is not maturing as President, he is not growing - Obama is reverting to a more pathetic state."

Your opinion has been noted. Repeatedly. And is no more interesting the 15th time around than it was the first time.

@ruk: "Can any of you rational (that leaves you out K and rainforest) righties tell me what we WON?"

Careful, Ruk. My name starts with a "K".

As a practical matter, the mission--to defeat the Iraqi military and take control of the country--was accomplished when Bush stood in front of that "mission accomplished" banner. A banner that was, effectively, a big atta-boy to the troops. The folks that whine about that, to this day, have yet to convince me that was technically inaccurate or grossly inappropriate. We deposed Saddam, which was a kind-of victory, even though I don't believe he posed a particular threat to us.

Other than that, not much. However, our military men and women, by and large, carried out their mission with courage and honor, and I salute every last one of them, without caveats or a "but..." attached. They won their battles every day, and irrespective of the historical wisdom of the Iraq war, they won by being the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in the world. So, boo-yah! They served with distinction, and they served with honor.

Unfortunately, turning Iraq into a peaceful Democracy was likely a quixotic mission. I look forward to the rest of our military men and women coming home.

If ever again we go to war, it should not be a pre-emptive one, or one to create a Democracy out of wholecloth (no matter how noble the intention). When the Taliban refused to cooperate after 9/11, that was (in my opinion) the time to go to war.

This probably doesn't answer your question. But, keep in mind, some of the lions of conservatism (like the now departed, and greatly missed, William F. Buckley) were opposed to the Iraq war. The rumors are that George H.W. Bush was opposed. Certainly, Colin Powell was (while making the case for it to the U.N.). While Christopher Hitchens was for it.

So, it's not a totally left/right thing. Like, you know, tax cuts.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

rukidding7


Your comments are rude. Instead of defending your positions, you prefer name-calling, sterotyping and hate.


This is a forum for civil discussion.


How many more Americans have to die in terrorist attacks before the democrats agree to defend this nation properly???


Would you have preferred that Saddam Hussein was able to transfer CHEMICAL weapons to terrorists who used them in US cities ???


You KNOW the terrorists are still trying to bomb US cities - Times Square is one case where there were actually more than 3,000 people there that night - would you prefer these people to have CHEMICAL WEAPONS???


This is your logic.


What is unnerving about the democrats - they are NOT putting these policy discussions in the context of REASONED DEBATE of what is BEST for the SECURITY of the nation.

Instead, the democrats are PRIMARILY concerned with their overnight poll numbers - the democrats SEEK to make PARTISAN issues out of important and legitimate national security issues.


ALL this adds up to extremly irresponsible behavior on the part of democrats - putting American lives at risk for the sake of partisan considerations.


This is exactly why Obama was in the Oval Office with EGG all over his face last night - and he wasn't man enough to confront the issues.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

the president is respectful and grateful for the troops' sacrifice; words from above article.

We have two Presidents in one. Obama the speaking President and Obama the doing President.

From actual speech we have the speaking President.

Obama the speaking President; in his speech about Iraq and pulling our troops out of Iraq, talks about how there will be extremists that will set off bombs and how all of us are to be united in our support for the military. That is the speaking President. From his speech about Iraq.

Now for the doing President. President Obama halts prosecution of one of those accused extremists, a terrorist, that set off a bomb killing 17 servicemen aboard the USS Cole.

From article about doing President. Administration halts prosecution of alleged USS Cole bomber; the Justice Department said that "no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/26/AR2010082606353.html

Mr. speaking President you stated all of us are to be united in the support of our military, that should also include the doing President.

Posted by: Montana_Miles | September 1, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Obama needs to see his dentist after all that teeth grinding his Teleprompter caused him last night.

Was it just me or did it sound like Barry had half-chewed crowed stuck behind his back molars?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

kevin: "Unfortunately, turning Iraq into a peaceful Democracy was likely a quixotic mission."

Seems kinda counter-intuitive to think one can install "democracy" at the point of a gun...I'm just not sure what we accomplished, to be honest. Democracy in Iraq, IF it blooms, will probably not be recognizable to most Americans.

I thought the speech was pitch perfect in tone and content. I have no gripes about it, I think enough was said at this point in time, and it's almost kind of heartening to know that the punditry class on both sides of the aisle are complaining that enough wasn't said in praise of their posture. That tells me a lot.

On a personal basis, I felt rather sad after the speech. I think of the (roughly) 4 million refugees that resulted from a lack of planning to secure the peace. That was largely avoidable. I think about the indelible stain on our reputation of Abu Gahraib, which even Patraeus says is non-biodegradeable. Surely, that was avoidable.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | September 1, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin...

"I never bought (and still don't buy) the argument that it was an "illegal" war or that we were somehow violating some immutable principal of sovereignty. I don't believe (actual, not imagined) dictatorships enjoy the protection of "sovereignty". They certainly don't enjoy, or deserve, any form of legal protection."

And who determines who is a dictator under your scenario Kevin? Is Hugo Chavez of Venzuela a dictator? Many would call him that. Does that make Venezuela eligible for LEGAL attack? BTW Venezuela is judged as the 3rd happiest nation in the World in at least one major study.
http://thehappinessshow.com/HappiestCountries.htm

What is YOUR definition of a sovereign nation...people we agree with? Leaders who don't upset us? Are the leaders of China dictators and thus under the Kevin doctrine eligible for invasion? How about Vatican City..certainly one man rule there? Why did we pick Saddam? He was brutal but actually quite mild compared to Kim Il Sung. There were a large number of Iraqis who were well educated and fared quite well under Saddam. I'm not about to defend a torturous madman..however he actually pales compared to Kim Il Sung who has an ENTIRE nation ignorant and literally starving to death...and who by the way DOES POSSESS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Why are we not concerned about liberating STARVING people from an idiot who ALREADY HAS WMD? What give us such hubris that we think we can make such decisions? First we had the Bush doctrine...we're allowed to attack anybody who frightens us...and now the Kevin doctrine..we can LEGALLY attack any nation WE THINK think is governed by a dictator.

And so Kevin I truly appreciate your thoughtful response. Sadly I realize that a large contingent of thoughtful intelligent human beings believes exactly as you. IMHO the hubris of this country is what will lead to our downfall...can you say..Rome? Great Britain? Pride goes before the fall..and our hubris is truly becoming disgusting.

100,000+ deaths is a human catastrophe of Bibical proportion...and for what?
It is our fault...we should be wallowing in abject for our grievous sin...shouting mea culpa.

Yes Geo H.W. Bush and Colin Powell were smarter than young George the Stupid...Powell famously warning Geo the stupid that you break it you own it...now we're stuck with 50,000 in Iraq..God knows how many civilians and a price tag of billions a year for as far as the eye can see!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

@stf:the democrats SEEK to make PARTISAN issues out of important and legitimate national security issues.

Its a good thing that the republicans didn't shamelessly and relentlessly demagogue the "war on terrorism" for 3 election cycles (didn't work in 2006) by painting political opponents as unpatriotic, unamerican, terrorist sympathizers if they didn't line up behind 100% the truly irrational drive to war and the total mismanagement of the war's aftermath, not to mention pillorying anyone who objected to the gutting of the bill of rights in the name of "homeland security".

But its really the dems that are using the war and support for the national security state as a political weapon....I get it.../snark.

Posted by: srw3 | September 1, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

[Montana_Miles cited: "Administration halts prosecution of alleged USS Cole bomber"]

I thought Obama used a strange choice of words last night, "Our troops are the steel in our ship of state."

Given that al-Qaeda literally seared American sailors into the USS Cole frame, did Barry insert that as a sick pun?
http://bit.ly/cxKYnU

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse


The democrats FAIL to admit the deterrence-factor of Iraq.


Every Middle Eastern nation was put on notice that if they got too close to terrorists - they could be invaded too.


This is NO small issue. Many Gulf nations had parts of their government - wings of the royal families - aiding terrorist groups in one form or another.


There WAS a serious loyalty issue in the Middle East - the United States may have had the support of a nation's government - but at the same time agencies and offices of that government was aiding terrorist groups - many of which had "charities" as cover.


This "double-dealing" was a serious problem.


The invasion of Iraq reigned all this in - it put everyone on notice - that support of terrorist groups could have serious consequences for a government and nation.


The position of the democrats on Iraq as "Bush Lied" - as if that is the ONLY consideration in the Middle East is shallow and short-sighted. It leads to the false belief that if the US would only pull its troops out of the Middle East, the world would be safe.


The War on Terror is still going on - and it is serious.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Again all...we were attacked by 19 conspirators led by a relatively small group in Afghanistan. We chased that small group into Pakistan, Somalia and all over the world.

There has been NO verified situation where our military presence in either Iraq or Afghanistan has stopped a terrorist attack.
5th Stryker brigade...certainly heroes for doing their duty..as a Vietnam Vet I honor THEIR service...BUT I dishonor the immoral people who put them in harms way for NO GOOD REASON.

Again folks...the Mafia has done far more harm to our nation over the years than Al Qaeda..we did not attack Sicily!!!

Every terrorist attempt that has been foiled has been because of great police work or sheer luck on our part..NOT MILITARY ACTION!!!!

Imagine if we had simply used our brains to begin with. The first hijacking was in 1959..starting a spate of hijackings to Cuba...then the Arabs got in on the act...MY point..we had over 30 years of experience in hijackings before 9/11 and we couldn't figure out to bar the door to the cockpit before then. Everybody does understand that if we had simply figured out that one basic preventive measure...lock cockpit doors..AFTER 30 years of hijacking experience..there would have never been a 9/11. We blew the pooch on that one...can we use our brains going forward instead of those twin appendages hanging from the male anatomy?

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"maybe it's just me, but that would have been grossly inappropriate for the president. And the reaction might have been pretty good left-of-center, but right-of-center, I think all of us would have been offended"

Speaking as an American and not a Democrat, I totally agree with Kevin on this one and not with RUK or Adam.

I believe there are other ways of honoring the dead Iraqis -- many/most of which were killed in sectarian violence and terrorism and not by our troops -- and the Iraqi people. Primarily that would be, imho, by assisting them in developing the governmental and social institutions that keep the fabric of society together.

I was glad to see (but I forget where I read it) that we have actually INCREASED civilian assistance to Iraq as we have drawn down troops. This is a VERY IMPORTANT effort on Obama Administration's behalf that has unfortunately gone totally unnoticed. If I can find a link I will, but look for it, it's there.

So, again, I don't think we are neglecting the dead Iraqis. I just honestly don't think last night was the proper venue.

It IS a very important topic, however, and equally important imho are the refugees and folks seeking special immigrant visas in return for working with the Americans. We need to make sure those displaced Iraqis and those friendly, helpful Iraqis get the recognition and humanitarian support they deserve.

And RUK, you never have to apologize for your vote for any reason! Thank God we live in a Free Country! I obviously hope Kendrick Meek wins and if he does not and it's a contest between Rubio and Crist, I hope Florida has the good sense to reject Marco Rubio and instead elect the -- far more rational -- Charlie Crist. But Meek is definitely my guy because he is clearly the one most aligned with Democratic values.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

[Obama lied: ”Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has shortchanged investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.”]

THE FACTS: The war on terror contributed to the nation’s budget deficit— but not by as much as Obama suggests. The current annual deficit is now an estimated $1.5 trillion. But as recently as 2007, the budget deficit was just $161.5 billion. And that was years after war expenses were in place for both the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Most of the current deficit is due to the longest recession since the 1930s. It has seriously depressed tax revenues while increasing costs to the government (including social safety) net programs such as unemployment insurance and spending by the Obama administration on stimulus programs and on bailouts of banks and automakers.

The Pelosi-Obama-Reid (POR) economy kicked in during the latter part of June 2007, when its Congressional architects — Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid — decided that starving the economy of energy by refusing to allow more offshore drilling in the face of $4 gas prices was a winning political position. Pelosi claimed that because we couldn't totally "drill our way out of this," we shouldn't increase drilling at all. Reid put an exclamation point on Pelosi's stubbornness by insisting that fossil fuels are "making us sick."

Well, the only thing sickened by their policies was the US Economy. FDR tried massive public works programs during the Depression. All he did is prolong it for seven years. Japan tried government stimulus for 10 years running in the 1990s. It only resulted in "the lost decade."

What the POR triumverate should do is expand the tax cut element of the stimulus plan to include all incomes, ditch almost all of the alleged "investments," open up oil and gas exploration, and, eventually, watch the royalty money pour in.

I know; that's way too much to "hope" for from this POR triumverate.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"The most disappointing part of the speech was that..."

It was boring! Unbearable. Flatly delivered. Just rotten. Who cares about the content?

Posted by: sbj3 | September 1, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

SBJ,

I sincerely hope you're joking when you say, "Who cares about the content?"

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

@ruk: "And who determines who is a dictator under your scenario Kevin?"

Lack of Democracy.

"Is Hugo Chavez of Venzuela a dictator?"

Yes.

"Many would call him that. Does that make Venezuela eligible for LEGAL attack?"

Yes. Not that we should, or that it would serve the interests of America or it's people, but dictatorships aren't legitimate governments, in my opinion. There are only two forms of legitimate governments: Republics and direct democracies.

"BTW Venezuela is judged as the 3rd happiest nation in the World in at least one major study."

Yeah, it's amazing how happy folks are under dictators. I can't imagine there could be any coercion involved.

In any case, good for them. They are still illegitimate.

"What is YOUR definition of a sovereign nation...people we agree with?"

A sovereign nation is a nation where a significant portion of the people have an actual role in electing representation or voting directly on legislation. This can take a lot of forms. President for life generally isn't one of them. ;)

"Are the leaders of China dictators and thus under the Kevin doctrine eligible for invasion?"

In principal? I think it's arguable. However, the Kevin doctrine is not ignorant of practical realities. There is no good argument for invading any of those countries, as even small ones are a drain on our resources for no definitive outcome. A war with China is the last thing we should ever want, irrespective of their lack of a mandate to govern from their citizens.

"however he actually pales compared to Kim Il Sung"

I 100% agree. In terms of liberating oppressed people, Saddam would not rank very highly on the list. North Korea, obviously, representing a people who could unquestionably use a little operation freedom in their lives.

"Why are we not concerned about liberating STARVING people from an idiot who ALREADY HAS WMD?"

That would be the place to start, IMO. If we could reasonably expect a positive outcome, which I don't know that we can. Although, if attacked by North Korea, we should--and I think we will--defeat, depose and install. Short of an attack, I think we should speak softly and carry a big stick.

"we can LEGALLY attack any nation WE THINK think is governed by a dictator"

In principal. In practice, I think that would be highly ill-advised.

"Pride goes before the fall..and our hubris is truly becoming disgusting."

Well, you make call it pride. I just say representative government (or direct democracy) is necessary for governmental legitimacy. Without consent of the governed, regularly confirmed, I don't believe the government to be legitimate, sovereign, or entitle to any kind of international legal protections.

"100,000+ deaths is a human catastrophe of Bibical proportion...and for what?"

A right in principal does not mean wise in practice. Just to be clear. We should not have gone to war in Iraq, under the circumstances.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Man, the troll poop is thick these days at the Plum Line.

Here is an interesting tidbit about the "Humble Foreign Policy" during the Bush years and why we went to war: Guess how many times the Bushies changed rationales for invading? 27 times.

http://www.communication.illinois.edu/salthaus/largio_thesis.pdf

That anyone beleived any of them is remarkable. Bush and the neocons were like the Jon Lovitz SNL character Tommy "The Liar" Flanagan:

"Hello. My name is Tommy Flana-- er, Flanagan, yeah. ... Well, people have been wondering what I've been doing lately. Well, I've been doing a lot. Fact, uh, er, just last night I went to bed-- I mean, I went to Tibet! Yeah, that's it, and I - I went there to pick up my shirt at the laundry. And I had a thousand pieces of paper in my pocket. So I took one piece of paper out of my-- and I said, "Will this get me my shirt back?" And he said no. And I said, "Well, hey! Will this piece of paper get me my shirt back?" And the man at the laundry said no. And I said, "Well, gee, gee, how about this piece of paper? Will this get me my shirt back?" And he said -- "Yeah, that's the ticket!" ... [groans, cheers and applause for Tommy's trademark catch-phrase]

So I, uh, you know, I put my shirt on and I - I went for a hike and then - and then I fell down a glacier! Yeah, that's it. Twenty thousand fee-- er, miles! Yeah! ... And I was frozen in the ice -- to death. And the following Spring, I thawed out. And when I came to, who do you think was next to me? Amelia Earhart! Yeah. ... Yeah, and I said, "Hey, Amelia, how ya doin'?" And she said, "Mmm, not good." ... 'Cause her leg had been broken. But her plane had been preserved in the ice. And I said, "Well, if you let me fly your plane out of here, I'll come back for you." [confidentially] It was the only time I lied. ...

But I - I had to get out of there 'cause I was eatin' an apple-- I mean, I had an appointm-- I had an audition. Yeah. ... For "Boogie Nights" ... Yeah, that's it. Yeah, they, uh, they needed somebody for the last scene. ... So I pulled my pants down and I said, "Eh, what do you think?" And they said, ehhhhh, "You're overqualified." ... I said, "Oh, that's funny -- I was in a cold bath all day!" ... Yeah, that's the ticket. Yeah ..."

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@ruk: "Every terrorist attempt that has been foiled has been because of great police work or sheer luck on our part..NOT MILITARY ACTION!!!!"

I may be wrong, but I think some military action--specifically, drone attacks against Al Qaeda leaders, operatives, and training grounds--do work to prevent terrorism, and well before the ticking time bomb scenario where police work susses out the plot months, weeks, or even days before it was about to be pulled off. Necessarily, it would be difficult to point to a dozen plots that killing a dozen Al Qaeda leaders may have prevented, but the prevention is none-the-less real, for that.

And, while I may be wrong, it's pretty clear that the Obama administration agrees with me, based on what news has leaked out regarding drone strikes, which have increased, and arguably been more effective at disrupting Al Qaeda, that under Bush. While not requiring legions of troops (thank goodness), these still are military actions.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, the Palestinians elected Hamas. Is that democracy that we should recognize and support?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | September 1, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Man, the troll poop is thick these days at the Plum Line."

No kidding. Starve the beast(s).

Posted by: lmsinca | September 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@Ethan: Let me spell it out for you. The delivery was so poor that the content would not even register with most people.

I have no idea why he made this speech. I dislike Olbermann but he was funny: "This is a speech about the economy, titled "Iraq."

The AP notes: "Obama is reciting almost the exact language of the Bush administration’s rationale for the Iraq surge: to buy time and space for the Iraqis to reach political accommodations and to strengthen their own security forces. That’s quite a change from Obama’s stand as a presidential candidate, when he criticized it. Obama seems to be embracing the troop surge logic now, even though it’s clear that the Iraqis have yet to achieve the necessary level of reconciliation to form an enduring government."

This speech was an unforced error. Someone toss this man a lifeline, wave a white flag, throw in the towel...

Posted by: sbj3 | September 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

SaveTheRainforest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_igpyewuzQ

Thank God GWB didn't listen to Obama back then.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

@suekzoo: "Seems kinda counter-intuitive to think one can install 'democracy' at the point of a gun..."

Or, that it can be installed at all. Our representative government sprung forth from a hundred years of European enlightenment thinking, and we did the rebelling ourselves. Hard to do that for a countries citizenry from the outside, no matter how noble the impulse.

"I'm just not sure what we accomplished, to be honest. Democracy in Iraq, IF it blooms, will probably not be recognizable to most Americans."

If it is Democracy, it doesn't have to be recognizable to most Americans to be a success. They can collectively hate us--if it's a representative government, then that's their right. That's a better outcome, in my opinion, than the likely establishment of a theocracy and some Taliban-like government that stones women to death because they were rape victims, cuts off hands for petty crimes, and so on and so forth.

Unfortunately, if we aren't going to hang around, I don't think the persistence of even an ostensible democracy is likely.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

sbj: "This speech was an unforced error. Someone toss this man a lifeline, wave a white flag, throw in the towel..."

And if the end of the combat mission came and went without Obama saying a word about it, you and the rest of the complainers would be gnawing on that.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | September 1, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

@suekzoo1: "Kevin, the Palestinians elected Hamas. Is that democracy that we should recognize and support?"

In my opinion, they should be recognized and treated as a legitimate, legal government with a reasonably representative government structure. That doesn't mean we have to send them money, or give them moral support (any more than France should be obligated to support us when we decide to start nation building). But it does, indeed, mean they are a legitimate government.

We still might get into a row with them about lobbing missiles into Israel, as long as Israel is an ally, that sort of thing.

In some cases, given what we know, it may be impossible to see elections as legitimate (i.e., Iran). Even then, I think we need to be very careful about how we regard even the pretense of Democracy. Even that can be the seed that leads to real Democratic reforms.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

So in other words, you DO care about the content, you're just a pissant.

You're probably just mad that this speech solidifies, for at least a generation, the fact that the Democratic Party is strong on defense and in strong support of the troops.

Better get used to it because it is reality.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Bush is not the one who lied (for instance, the British Government DID learn Saddam Hussein had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa ; )

http://www.factcheck.org/article222.html

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@sue: "And if the end of the combat mission came and went without Obama saying a word about it, you and the rest of the complainers would be gnawing on that."

Two points: (1) "Combat" has hardly ended (see AP below). (2) Biden went to Iraq to do precisely the same and Obama already spoke at Ft. Hood.

"Peril remains for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops still in Iraq, who are likely if not certain to engage violent foes. Counterterrorism is chief among their continuing missions, pitting them against a lethal enemy. Several thousand special operations forces, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will continue to hunt and attempt to kill al-Qaida and other terrorist fighters — working closely with Iraqi forces. Obama said, “Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission,” while stopping short of a full accounting of the hazards ahead for U.S. troops."

Pointless speech.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I think we need to know exactly how much we went into debt to China for the Iraq war before we can declare the war a "victory" for our country.

Unfortunately so many of the costs were hidden that we will never know the total price. We do know that China profitted greatly by Bush's eagerness for war and China also ended up with the oil contracts in Iraq..without losing even one soldier's life.

Posted by: Beeliever | September 1, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"Conservatives want to reargue the war from 2007 onward, but treating the Iraq war as though it began with the surge is a bit like running over someone on the street, backing up over the body a few times, and then demanding a special merit badge for finally deciding to call 911."

Yes! Finally someone points out that you can't really celebrate the surge without pointing out the failures from 2003-2007 that brought upon the necessity of the surge!

Forget the fact that we didn't need to go to Iraq and shouldn't have while already fighting a war in Afghanistan, the truth is that if the war was run correctly the surge wouldn't have been needed. We had zero plan for the nation-building part after taking out Hussein and we didn't exactly have a great coalition to help us. Wasn't America something like 90% of the military there? We created a mess that didn't have to be there.

Posted by: lightgrw | September 1, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Beeliever: "Unfortunately so many of the costs were hidden that we will never know the total price. We do know that China profitted greatly by Bush's eagerness for war and China also ended up with the oil contracts in Iraq..without losing even one soldier's life."

Our military is also providing security in Afghanistan to the Chinese company mining for copper.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | September 1, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Kevin - I'm probably misreading your comment, so please feel free to correct me, but when you say:

"...dictatorships aren't legitimate governments, in my opinion. There are only two forms of legitimate governments: Republics and direct democracies."

I'm sorry, but who the heck are you or I to tell any other country what is legitimate and what is not?

I would agree that Democracy and Representative Republics are the BEST (hands down) form of government in the history of mankind, but I wouldn't say all other forms of Government are illegitimate.

You are pushing your values and beliefs on societies you have no knowledge of. If people don't want to be "free" you can't force freedom upon them without removing the same freedom you are trying to impose on them.

You and I both grew up in America. We share that. America was founded, in part, because of a deep dislike for the Monarchy and the caste system in Europe. One of the rationales for the estate tax and the progressive tax system is that we didn't want "American Royalty."

So it isn't surprising that you and I (I'm assuming) aren't fans of Monarchial governments, but to say they are illegitimate is silly. Ditto with theocracies. We may not like it, but it really isn’t any of our business how people half way around the world govern.


Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

OT:

Stocks Kick Off September on Strong Note

U.S. manufacturing activity expanded in August for the 13th straight month, with the ISM manufacturing PMI defying expectations to rise to 56.3, from 55.5 in July. The encouraging numbers were fueled by strong employment and production data.

"The fear has been that manufacturing would let us down, and that's where some of this erroneous double-dip stuff came from. These numbers show we're on track—not very fast, but back to where we were before the August malaise," said Jerry Webman, chief economist and senior investment officer with OppenheimerFunds.

The speed and intensity of the morning's increase took some traders by surprise.

"The market had been prepared for really negative numbers and these levels came in as a little bit of a surprise," said Roger Volz, director at BGC Financial.

[...]

"Employment is the real weak link in this developing virtuous cycle," said Mr. Webman of OppenheimerFunds. In spite of the weak numbers, he said the markets were boosted by some mergers and acquisitions activity, as well as companies exposed to global growth, pointing to sharp gains by Caterpillar and Alcoa. "If there are markets that are growing, U.S. companies can prosper, regardless of the domestic labor markets in the next few months."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703882304575465190438195712.html

In other words, you can freak out about the August employment numbers if you want... but the trend is that American manufacturing IS BACK and leading the recovery.

13 months in a row that manufacturing has grown. Let's see, 13 months ago is July 2009. Stimulus was signed in March 2009.
It takes some months for the money to find its way into the system. Makes sense. Thank you President Obama! Cleantech manufacturing is where it's at for the next generation of American prosperity!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Dow Jones is +250 on the manufacturing news.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Ethan2010:

The speech did no such thing.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 1, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Ethan - Awesome, thanks for that. Wasn't an economic report from China a big plus for the market today too?

I recently started looking into outfitting my house with solar panels. Living in the south means my electric bills during the summers are sky high. The cost is prohibitively expensive.

If we could get the price of solar panels for residential residences on par with the price of a new AC unit (between 5 and 10 K) a lot more home owners like me would make that investment. Not having to pay an electric bill every month... And then mate that up with a new wave of 100% electric cars...

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib: "I'm sorry, but who the heck are you or I to tell any other country what is legitimate and what is not?"

Well, when you put it that way . . . :)

Just my opinion. Who is anybody to tell anybody almost anything? I've given the issue some thought, that's the conclusion I've arrived at, I'm open to other arguments, and it's a completely abstract discussion because I'm never going to be in a position where my opinion on the issue matters to the broader world.

"but I wouldn't say all other forms of Government are illegitimate."

Well, some other form that includes regular consent of the governed (I'm not sure how to do this without elections, but I expect some form or surveys or polls could be incorporated into determining a mix of representatives in a government or something, which I would also regard as legitimate).

Without reasonable consent of the governed, you don't have a legitimate government.

"You are pushing your values and beliefs on societies you have no knowledge of. If people don't want to be 'free' you can't force freedom upon them without removing the same freedom you are trying to impose on them."

That's an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of living in an illegitimate government. :)

And I'm not saying we are obligated to impose freedom on anybody, or that we should, only that the sovereignty and mythical legality of totalitarian or fascist governments has no meaning to me, personally, and I think such objections to anything military action (or embargo, or what have you) are without merit.

"but to say they are illegitimate is silly"

Okee-dokee, but most monarchies have given way to the government being run in a representative fashion. I think it's part of an inevitable surrender to the reality that the governed must give their consent, or the government is ultimately illegitimate.

"Ditto with theocracies. We may not like it, but it really isn’t any of our business how people half way around the world govern."

Saying that such governments are illegitimate, and saying that we should make it our business as to how they are repressively governed, are two separate things. I'm dubious as to the latter.

However, should some overzealous cowboy decide he wants to annex Cuba, the supposed sovereignty of said country does not strike me as a relevant objection. There are, however, relevant objections. Is it in our best interest? Will it cost American lives? What will the effects on the citizens of Cuba be? Etc.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Dow Jones is +250 on the manufacturing news.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 11:57 AM
---------------------------------
Looking at the intraday chart of the Dow, at the open, trading gapped up 150 points (someone knew something), then when the manufacturing news came out, there was another movement straight up of another 100 points.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to judge the speech without a clear understanding of what the president hoped to accomplish with it.

If he hoped to instill confidence in his leadership during difficult times I doubt the needle on that particular meter moved much.

If he hoped to layout a clear cogent plan for the future, again, I doubt the meter moved much.

But if his goal was to give his liberal backers something to talk about other than Sarah Palin, the lousy economy and the looming disaster of election, he succeeded wildly.

Just look here. This is perfect opportunity for liberals to trot out their trite nostrums about Iraq, war, the military, the enemy and the cost of defending America.

Oh and of course the speech also offered the liberals an opportunity to engage in the style of name calling and ad homs they've learned to perfect since rank and file Americans rejected their agenda.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib: "If we could get the price of solar panels for residential residences on par with the price of a new AC unit (between 5 and 10 K) a lot more home owners like me would make that investment. Not having to pay an electric bill every month... And then mate that up with a new wave of 100% electric cars... "

There should be some serious money invested in solar panel efficiency, energy transmission efficiency, and energy storage efficiency. Those three things could end up providing jobs, a ton of cheap energy, and most of the innovations would be adaptable--wind energy efficiencies increase in 2050? We've already got the energy storage efficiencies and transmission efficiencies in place to take advantage of suddenly getting a ton of extra electricity from the plains. Turns out nuclear is the way to go? Still need to transmit the electricity, store it, and have infrastructure so folks can easily and rapidly recharge their cars.

And the sun is just a giant nuclear furnace throwing energy down at us constantly. If we could efficiently gather and store and transmit that energy . . . sigh.

Until such time, getting the electrical infrastructure in place is the way to go. It's like the universal currency of energy. If everything can be driven by electricity, everything benefits simultaneously from increased efficiencies, and the source energy can be anything. Clean coal can transition to natural gas can transition to nuclear can transition to solar-wind farms (this is my idea of miles of windmills with blades made up of solar panels--double whammy!). Or, large scale satellites that collect solar radiation outside the atmosphere and beam it down in the form of microwave energy . . . though planes better steer clear of the downdraft.

And so on. But the goal needs to be to make it happen, not provide "green jobs". Or we're just as likely to get the makework jobs, but the needed infrastructure never appears.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, skipsailing28, for bringing us back ON TOPIC ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 1, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

nisleib,

I didn't read the economic reports too carefully except for the manufacturing piece, but yes they did mention some good international economic news. Don't remember seeing China, but I remember seeing Australia as part of that good news.

Re: solar, I commend you on your efforts! Hang in there! There is a nation-wide effort to establish a system, similar to a home loan, that would enable home-owners to install solar panels WITHOUT the big up-front cost that makes renewable energy cost-prohibitive for many.

It's called PACE.

Try a google search for "PACE solar" or something like that.

Unfortunately Fannie/Freddie squashed PACE recently and that has generated significant controversy with many who have been following the development of PACE initiatives. It is a tricky issue when dealing with the financing of not a home, but a part of a home or, really, a home appliance.

This PACE issue really needs to be resolved and I strongly strongly encourage anyone with any interest in renewable energy to contact your reps/sens and demand that Congress comes to a resolution with the housing authorities (FHFA - Federal Housing Finance Agency) on the PACE issue asap.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Kevin - Agreed, mostly.

I think we need to move from homes that are "energy efficient" to homes that are "energy independent."

And yes, I just made that up.

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"There should be some serious money invested in solar panel efficiency, energy transmission efficiency, and energy storage efficiency."

There was.

It's called the stimulus.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

skippy...",since rank and file Americans rejected their agenda."

You mean those millions of Americans who voted for Obama and NOT McCain/Palin are not rank and file. What freaking country do you live in Skippy or did the last election simply not count...even though by recent historical comparisons was a landslide and didn't require a stacked Supreme Court to settle.

Skippy who dies and left you King? How is it that you figure YOU get to speak for rank and file Americans.

BTW skipper still waiting on what PRECISELY and SPECIFICALLY you think we won in Iraq?

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, nisleib, good stuff. I'd comment more on specifics but I don't have the time.

I'd LOVE it if we could see some posts on the political angle of renewable energy.

In fact, I've been pushing for more of that on "traditional" political blogs (TPM, here, others) for about 5 years now. I don't get why we don't talk more about critically important issues like energy and renewables. That is the political dialog this country needs more than any other imho.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Ethan - Maybe part of the problem is that it is "political."

I don't think it should be.

I get that Republicans like to pretend climate change is a conspiracy between all of the world's climate scientists and Al Gore, but that misses the point. Even if climate change was the result of a conspiracy (a laughable concept) there are still legitimate national security and economic reasons to move towards renewable energy.

I would love for every house to be fully self sufficient. When you buy electronics these days most of the good portable electronics are rechargeable. You don't have to bother with buying batteries to power the device. I honestly believe that housing should be the same way.

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe part of the problem is that it is "political.""

Well, I disagree. There needs to be a legislative solution to our energy issues, one way or another, so that makes it political by necessity.

I also don't see "political" as a pejorative term, especially on an issue like this one, among others. We have a political system precisely to devise solutions to complex problems like renewable energy.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"An interesting point about the idea of installing Democracy in Iraq and having it result in lollipops and rainbows for everybody is that the very concept is inherently not conservative. "

That's why it took neo-conservatives to come up with it.

Posted by: ScottC3 | September 1, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

yo, rukidding, when you gonna get some new insults? The good old Skippy slam just don't get it anymo'. Know what I'm saying ovah here?

the left liberal agenda has been rejected by the American public. This will be clear even to die hards such as you very shortly, as in aftah the election.

but hey, do carry on with the name calling and ad homs. It is who you are and you therefore cannot help yourself.

What did we win?

A war.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

sue:

"Seems kinda counter-intuitive to think one can install "democracy" at the point of a gun."

It was done in Japan. It was done in Germany. In fact, when talking about a country that is ruled by a dictator unwilling to give up his power, it is rather difficult for me to imagine that it could be done in any other way.

Posted by: ScottC3 | September 1, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ethan - Poor wording on my part, I meant to say "Partisan" not "political."

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Poor wording on my part, I meant to say "Partisan" not "political.""

Ah! Agreed!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, btw as Paul Wolfowitz pointed out in an OP ED yesterday, the conversion from dictatorship to democracy also occured in South Korea. The catalyst for this was the garrison of American troops.

It is my opinion that the left has such a low opinion of the American military that they will seek to denigrate everything that was done by them.

It is important to remember that to the die hard left America is the problem. And since they believe that, they must therefore believe that the American military is simply the tip of spear. No military, America would no longer be a problem.

Of course the citizens of the country would be laid bare to every depredation our adversaries can imagine, but that won't trouble the sleep of the liberals at all. As long as THEY aren't the ones who die, everything will be fine.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"It is my opinion that the left has such a low opinion of the American military"

And it is my opinion that you don't know what you are talking about and that you probably eat poop.

"It is important to remember that to the die hard left America is the problem."

It is also important to remember that you have no idea what you are talking about poop breath.

"As long as THEY aren't the ones who die, everything will be fine."

Remind me again, how many of the neocons that got us into this mess ever served in the military? Have you ever heard the term "Chicken Hawk?"

(I'm sorry for saying you eat poop, your dietary concerns are none of my business.)

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

wow. nisleib has brought name calling and ad homs to a new nadir. You go boy (girl?)

What an insightful response you provided. It is just too bad that this all the liberals have left.

I'm amazed that you didn't find a pretzel logic inspired way to call me a racist.

Soooo, carry on with the grade school playground nonsense. There is nothing better to show your rapier wit and penetrating insights.

Just too funny.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

SKIP No adhominem attacks..

"It is my opinion that the left has such a low opinion of the American military that they will seek to denigrate everything that was done by them."

This is the kind of statement that draws our wrath. It's offensive skip. I am a Vietnam Vet...have you served your country in uniform in a war zone. If not then don't try to lecture me about my love, respect or dislike of our military.

Our failures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR BRAVE MILITARY..and everything to do with freaking stupid politicians like Dick 5 deferment Cheney. Where was that chickenspit while I was in Vietnam. If you think some chicken hawk or someone who supports chicken hawks has the right to call anybody who disagrees with them "as having a low opinion of the military" you are totally mistaken and a total arsehole for even suggesting so.

You people are so effing braindead to come up with "liberals hate America" "liberals don't love our troops". Bite me loser.
Al Gore served in the military in Vietnam
John Kerry served in the military in Vietnam. How about G.W. Bush? Thought not. How about Dick the cowardly lion Cheney? Thought not.

I love my wife. She is not perfect. She loves me, I am not perfect. We both love our country but it is far from perfect.
This is what is SICK ARROGANT AND MOST OFFENSIVE about those on the right who try this misdirection. You're not patriotic
you don't support the troops.

How's this for an attack skip...you can either apologize for suggesting a Veteran doesn't support our troops or has a low opinion of our military or you are a complete obnoxious human being.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Skip - I was just trying to get to your level. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Now go brush your teeth.

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Then go ahead and be offended. then take delenda's advice and dig yourselves at the zombie hall of shame.

I didn't post that as anything other than my observation about how the left thinks.

Here's additional proof: in any discussion of spending cuts in America the left will invariably begin with the military. Years of sporting among the liberals has shown this repeatedly.

So by all means excersize your inallienable right to be offended. Then go visit zombie so you can get a reminder of how you've acted for the past decade.

I spent the first 16 years of my life in the US Navy pal. Yes, I served. 16 long years. Try growing up in the poverty that was the lot of the children of enlisted men in the 50's and 60's. When you've lived for 5 of your first 6 years in quonnsett HUTS you've served.

Spare me the smarm. thank you for your service but apparently the military's good effect on you wasn't very long lasting.

so you want to play the viet Nam blame game eh? I can almost understand that. After all the defeat of America in viet Nam was a great victory for the American left. Apparently the shame attendant with themass murders that occurred after we left doesn't get through your dogmatically rigid mind set. I'm sure legions of Hmong refugees and boat people thank you for your part in bringing misery to their lives.

Tell me, is Barrack Hussein Obama a chicken hawk? No military experience at all. No children in ROTC or whatever and yet he's sent how many brave Americans in harm's way. Where's the chicken hawk name calling now?

Frankly the left has done nothing other than play politics with the war in Iraq. Where are the protests against the fact that Barry is simply carrying on many of the policies upon which Bush relied. The hypocrasy is astounding.

so yeah, be offended. So what? All the name calling you guys engage in here inures those of us on the right to that kind of nonsense. Time to toughen up pal. If this is the best guys like you and nsleib have you're in for a rough ride come november.

You've got nothing on this one pal. The track record of your co religionist on the left is reprehensible.

Once again, go to zombie and dig yourself.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

@ScottC3: "That's why it took neo-conservatives to come up with it."

Which are big government conservatives, for the most part, thus why I don't consider myself a neocon. Although it was funny--for a while, it was apparently understood that "neocon" was a great epithet, and anytime I'd comment anywhere where there was anyone left of center, I'd be called a "neocon". Sometimes I'd patiently explain why that was not accurate, sometimes I'd just let it slide. But that has largely stopped, now. I'm not sure why.

@Ethan2010: "There was. It's called the stimulus."

Well, then, that whole renewable energy thing is solved, then. Good news!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 1, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I fully agree with the article. We should, however, remember this when we are fighting in Afghanistan. the decision to go to war is always problematic. Augustine's Just War Theory was based, not only on Christian concerns, but on real-life concerns. War brings about many changes in a country - mostly for evil. Years of life-taking cheapen the value of life. Positions become more rigid. War becomes a way of life. Not only is the economy and infrastructure of a nation ruined, but its political system, its values become distorted, and it is less and less able, as time goes on, to return to normalcy. If we had gone into Afghanistan only, with the purpose of getting the murders of 3000 U.S. citizens, we would probably have been alright. But these many years later, any moral arguments have no foundation in fact. It is doubtful that we can leave the country in better shape than when we entered there. We had not bothered to find out whether it was possible to create a democratic society out of a feudalistic tribal one, or whether the government in Kabul could even extend its influence over the rest of the nation. One of the dictums of Just War theology is that the end must justify the destruction caused top get there. Many deaths later, without any Clearly, after hudreds of thousands killed in Iraq and millions displaced, without any guarantee that the nation will be better-off, this is not the case in Iraq. Nor is it in Afghanistan. Neither can be called a Just War.

Posted by: garoth | September 1, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Skip Do you know what a chicken hawk is?

Obama did not lie us into an unnecessary war. But mostly he didn't say stupid macho bs like "bring it on". He doesn't play badarse.

Bush and Cheney however act really tough..when it SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE ON THE LINE.

Kudos to You Skip for your hard earned success. Thanks for your service to our country. Now try and figure out who the REAL patriots are and who is zooming who.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Durbin compared the thankless efforts of U.S. interrogators to the work of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings." This was not a flip comment by a Durbin caught on tape after a few drinks. He said this on the Senate floor, reading from a text, on June 14, 2005, amid the worst stretch of killings of American soldiers by terrorists inside Iraq.

Obviously, the Senator knew nothing about Nazis, Soviets, or Pol Pot. To compare the non-lethal interrogation of Islamist POWs to these skull-laden killing fields was so grossly unfair that Durbin should have immediately apologized not only to U.S. troops but to victims of the Nazis, the Soviets, and Pol Pot.

Was this the "patriotic opposition" President Obama had in mind?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Congressman John Murtha accused Marines of killing "innocent" Iraqi civilians "in cold blood." The Pennsylvania Democrat, himself a veteran, said that Marines from the 3rd Battalion were "cold blooded killers" who "murdered innocent civilians." So slanderous were Murtha's comments that the acquitted Marines filed a lawsuit.


Did Murtha pay a political price for these remarks? No. Even after that lawsuit, and after Murtha denounced his own constituents as "racists" and "rednecks," the Congressman cruised to easy reelection.

Was this the "patriotic opposition" President Obama had in mind?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

In December 2005, on CBS's "Face the Nation," the junior senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, insisted to Bob Schieffer: "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women."


In the War on Terror, John Kerry had reversed the terms: Who was guilty of terrorism? It was American troops; the terrorists were on our side.

Or, consider Kerry's degrading October 2006 statement, where he cracked this joke to a group of California college students: "We're here to talk about education. But I want to say something before that.... You know, education, if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

One might imagine such arrogance from some Ivy League elitist, educated at Columbia, having never held a gun or shaken a Marine's hand. Bear in mind, however, that this insult came from a Vietnam vet.

Was this the "patriotic opposition" President Obama had in mind?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy went to the Senate floor and declared: "On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked: ‘Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?' Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management -- U.S. management."

It was an utterly absurd, incredibly irresponsible analogy, with no semblance to reality, as any member of Congress with the most rudimentary knowledge of Saddam's "Republic of Fear" would know. The worst case of unauthorized abuse by U.S. personnel did not compare to the daily terror employed by Saddam against Iraqi women, children, Shiites, Marsh Arabs, Army deserters, dissidents, and on and on. Yet, that was Ted Kennedy's evaluation.

It's hard to hold back on Kennedy in this article. He was a walking, talking Nickelodeon of breathtaking statements on Iraq.

Was this the "patriotic opposition" President Obama had in mind?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Recall the wartime leadership of Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who literally thrilled Al-Qaeda when he called the president of the United States a "liar," a "loser," and declared "this war is lost."

Surely Reid paid a political price? Not at all. His reward: Senate Majority Leader.

Besting Reid was Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA). In October 2007, Stark, in addition to parroting Reid by calling the president a liar, also ripped America's troops for "blow[ing] up innocent people" and accused George W. Bush of desiring to send more American boys "to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

For the record, Stark made similar accusations against President Reagan regarding Grenada. Has Stark paid a political price for any of this? Nope: California's voters have re-elected him every two years for decades.

That's some patriotic opposition, eh?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 1, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but attempts to redefine the word you guys relied upon to label Cheney so that it now excludes BHO is not going to fly.

Just look at the original post. Here's a snippet:
"freaking stupid politicians like Dick 5 deferment Cheney. Where was that chickenspit while I was in Vietnam."

What you are pounding on is Cheney's lack of service. You said NOTHING about any lies. The definition remains as it was used during the Bush years stands. therefore I will continue to believe that all of that chicken hawk stuff was just a convenient way to demagogue the issue of Iraq.

As I've noted earlier the silence of the left on BHO's continuation of Bush policies proves my point. Has Mr Obama ever proclaimed that he would bring an end to rendition?

This is from that right wing rag, HuffPo:
"But Obama was consistently careful never to commit to ending the practice of rendition entirely. When the issue flared shortly after his inauguration, senior administration officials were quick to say that abuses including torture would end, but that "ordinary" renditions - the spiriting away of suspects from other countries without going through the formal process of extradition -- would be continued in a cleaned-up form"

Cleaned up enough to stop the complaining about it? How does this square with the stance that was taken during the Bush years?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Actually Skip Obama is not continuing Bush's policies. We no longer torture. We are committed to getting out of Afghanistan and again most importantly Skip you are missing the point....

According to wikipedia..
A chicken hawk is a political epithet used in the United States to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action, yet who actively avoided military service when of age.

Bush/Cheney lied us into an unnecessary war. They did so with bellicose language like "bring it on". They played the role of the village bully. Obama has not encouraged us to go to war...unlike lizard Cheney the evil spawn of ole torturing Dick..Obama is not jumping up and down threatening and posturing about going to war with Iran. If Israel gets into it win Iran I feel certain Obama would probably be forced into action...however he doesn't BRAG ABOUT IT..and especially doesn't do all that mouthing off up front.

Hillary Clinton is the closest thing the Dems have to a chicken hawk at the moment. If you called her a chicken hawk I couldn't argue because she was the main voice behind sending another 30,000 of our BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM into a hopeless quagmire in Afghanistan.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 1, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

So, based on your definition, Obama is a chickenhawk. Did he serve? No Does he actively support military action? Yes.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | September 2, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company