Thursday, August 31, 2006

Two can play at that game...

From TPM:

Back to Iran. Talk of a unified Qaeda/Iran/Hezbollah/Syria menace is nonsense as a casual scan of actual Sunni jihadist views will make clear. As Fred Kaplan notes, if Churchill and FDR had operated with the Bush mentality, "they might not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union (out of a refusal to negotiate with evil Communists), and they might have therefore lost the war."

It's worse than that, though -- they might have proposed attacking the Soviet Union in the middle of the war because Bolshevism and Nazism were both species of Eurofascism.

I'm undecided as to the proper response to Iran, though I'm leaning hawkish. The problem is, everytime Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld open their mouths, I'm reminded that it's often better to do nothing than to have incompetent fools try to do the right thing.

3 Comments:

Blogger hurtleg said...

"As Fred Kaplan notes, if Churchill and FDR had operated with the Bush mentality, "they might not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union (out of a refusal to negotiate with evil Communists), and they might have therefore lost the war."

I reject the basis of this statement. Had Russia attacked the US as Germany had (the undeclared U-boat war in the Atlantic before Pearl Harbor) FDR and Churchill would not have aligned with the Soviet Union. Since the USSR had not attacked, an alliance of convenience was acceptable.

That is not the situation today. There is a split between radical Sunni Wahabism (Al Quada) and radical Shiite fascism (Hizbollah, Iran). Despite the ideological rift between them, both groups have concentrated on attacking Israel and the US, not each other (as in WWII).

The Sunni crazies have attacked the US on 9/11, the USS Cole, the US embassy bombings in Africa, 1st WTC bombing, London, Bali, Madrid, etc.

The Shiite crazies have attacked the US at the Khobar Towers in '96 in Saudi Arabia, US citizen kidnappings in Beruit in the 80's, the Marine Barracks bombing in '83, as well as the invasion of sovereign US territory in '79 (the US embassy in Tehran).

The whole basis of Kaplan's argument is wrong, thus the article is useless.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"The whole basis of Kaplan's argument is wrong, thus the article is useless."

If you had read the piece, you would understand that the actual basis of Kaplan's argument is calling out Rummy for his rhetorical gerrymandering - something you engage in here.

If you are rejecting Kaplan's use of historical speculation ("if Churchill and FDR had operated with the Bush mentality..."), then why would you engage in it yourself ("Had Russia attacked the US...")? At least Kaplan acknowledges the problems of second-guessing history by tempering his "what if" scenario with a "might" - you seem to "know" what FDR and Churchill would have done following a Soviet attack.

Kaplan ends his piece by perfectly encapsulating the misplaced priorities of the career politicians running this war:

"If the war on terror is a 'battle for the future of civilization,' and if the US needs allies to wage it, the president and his team would better spend their time luring allies than beating up on journalists and Democrats."

If anything, THIS is the basis of his argument; it is far from wrong, and far from useless.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I reject the basis of this statement. Had Russia attacked the US as Germany had (the undeclared U-boat war in the Atlantic before Pearl Harbor) FDR and Churchill would not have aligned with the Soviet Union. Since the USSR had not attacked, an alliance of convenience was acceptable."

OK, so it's straw man time again, I guess. Kaplan was obviously not calling for Americans to start buying Syrian war bonds for Uncle al-Assad. Rather, he was criticizing this incompetent administration for putting its love of swagger in front of the interests of the American people.

But since you're counting attacks on allies as attacks on the US, we had every reason to attack the Soviet Union during WWII, as their invasion and partition with Nazi Germany of a free and Democratic Poland certainly qualified them as a menacing enemy by your associational standards. As far as the UK was concerned, they should have attacked the Soviets in September of 1939 because of their mutual defense pact with Poland, and our historical relationship with the UK should have caused us to do the same. So, simply put, the basis of Kaplan's argument isn't wrong, and becomes more appropriate the deeper you dig into it.

But again, one-to-one comparisons aren't what the argument is about: the argument is about pointing out that this administration is too bogged down in tough talk and neocon prejudices to see a way through this crisis. Has Iran aggressed against us? Sure. Have we aggressed against Iran? Absolutely. History isn't about identifying the bright, shining, blameless party in a conflict (because there never is one) and then resolving the conflict entirely on that party's terms.

As you have been so fond of pointing out, this is a new conflict that requires new thinking and strategies. But what is new or innovative about a megalomaniacal group of civilian ideologues embarking on military campaigns while ignoring the counsel of their top military experts? There are probably half a dozen books out now by Bush admin. defectors that are in pretty tight agreement over how the Iraq campaign planning started prior to September 11, how the administration used deceptive claims to justify it, and how they steadfastly refused to use enough troops or to plan for the post-invasion phase of the operation. Why you look upon such a situation as benignly as you apparently do is beyond me.

1:56 PM  

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