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   PoliticsForeign Affairs Discussion Group


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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148893)10/24/2004 11:11:43 PM
From: Michael Watkins
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I find it difficult to rationalize the actions of an administration whose leader would find it abhorrent to destroy a single living embryo in a test tube, yet has no problems sending the country into a war where over a thousand troops, and many thousands of innocent civilians will be killed and are being killed, justified on evidence that was misleading and ultimately proved false.

I never claimed Saddam wasn't a repugnant dictator - but plunging the region into destabilizing turmoil via an unjustified war was not the way to deal with him. Bush may repeat "Iraq is the central focus in the war on terror" over and over again but that simply is not true. His own CIA report confirmed that.

His policy train wreck called Iraq has, unfortunately, opened up a *new* front in the war on terror.

Our government decisions have always taken our national interests

Hmnn, that's just a bit too much faith for me to swallow. It rings a little too strongly of "We're from the Government and we are here to help" -- i.e. policy is set by people and people screw up, sometimes enormously so. Just look at the past half decade for example after example of both good, and horrific, government decisions.

Aside from error in judgement, theres also the issue of power and corruption. Sadly, we've seen examples of where power corrupts in the past. We know that corporate interests weigh heavily on virtually all administrations - whether it results in actual corruption or simply undue influence on policy is a matter for great debate.

What's the old prosecutors line? Follow the money...

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148894)10/24/2004 11:14:40 PM
From: Michael Watkins
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That's not my intent. My intent is to show that duplicity is not found in the actions only of one nation. The US is every bit as guilty of this as any other major military power.

Its you, not me, that seeks to set out one country at a higher plane than another. I think, in general, all have the same faults. If the US comes up more often than some others, its only a reflection on the sheer enormity of its wealth, power, and influence.

Until some Star Trek utopia wanders along I'll keep my skeptical hat on which reminds me that power corrupts.

In the meantime, Bush apologists are trying - using whatever dirt they can find - to distract the discussion away from their boy's failings and dirt. I won't be distracted.

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To: SBHX who wrote (148895)10/24/2004 11:27:25 PM
From: Michael Watkins
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I'm not going to apologize for stating the obvious - some people *do* have a simplistic view on the world, which they obtain from a news sound bite here or there, if at all.

Truth be told two of my best friends are blissfully unaware of the complexity of the world; one intentionally leaves himself that way. They drive me crazy, particularly when they react with amazement "I didn't know that" when we chit chat on issues over coffee.

Unfortunately an uninformed public is a compliant public not likely to hold politicians to account until *after* the damage is done. We need government that is truly accountable during their administration, not 4 years later at the polls.

What do we do now? That is indeed the question. Hopefully there'll be a reason to have plenty of discussions on this. Frankly, if the current administration remains in place I don't see that happening.

The simplistic answer is a change of leadership for one. Clearly that doesn't address the complexity of extracting the country from this mess.

Equally important as a first step, I would say, is changing the "followership" - i.e. - the people need to be engaged in a truthful discussion over how/what/why we got to this place and how/what/when are we going to do about it. The people need to become much more aware and involved and not just every four years.

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148816)10/24/2004 11:31:20 PM
From: Sam
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Nadine,
Compared with the protests against going into Iraq, protests against Afghanistan were miniscule. Most people understood that once the Taliban sided with Al Qaeda, that was it.

Iraq was a totally different story, despite efforts by so many to make it all part of the same fight.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (148896)10/24/2004 11:33:16 PM
From: Michael Watkins
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"A whistle-blower objected to the government's Halliburton deals-and says now she's paying for it.

As the Corps's top contract specialist, the letter says, Greenhouse had noted reservations on dozens of procurement documents over seven years. But it was only after she took exception to the Halliburton deal that she was warned not to do so anymore. The letter states that the major general who admonished her, Robert Griffin, later admitted in a sworn statement that her comments on contracts had "caused trouble" for the Army and that, given the controversy surrounding the contract, it was "intolerable" and "had to stop."


But Scott, the government acts with nothing but the highest morality - so this can't be true!

After all, she was merely the
Army Corps of Engineers top contract specialist, privy to all the details of the contract. What would she know?

[sarcasm off]

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To: Win Smith who wrote (148899)10/24/2004 11:36:03 PM
From: Michael Watkins
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United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.

Yes, just another example of how the world, and Iraq, is safer.

I've lost track of the number of reported screw ups - they are coming in so fast now the mind reels...

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To: Michael Watkins who wrote (148902)10/24/2004 11:48:05 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
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justified on evidence that was misleading and ultimately proved false.


Very slippery use of language, very common too. Used to prove that any information that turned out to be false must have been known to be false beforehand and therefore counts as a lie, since the only proper foreign policy is conducted using hindsight. The evidence that Saddam had CW, BW, and very probably still active NW programs was universally believed by intelligence services before the war. UNIVERSALLY.

Had Bush ignored this evidence, and then something happened, you would have been first in line condemning him for not "connecting the dots".

His policy train wreck called Iraq has, unfortunately, opened up a *new* front in the war on terror.

That's a good feature. I much prefer the front in Baghdad to Manhattan. Do you suppose Zarqawi would be selling shoes in Baghdad if we hadn't invaded?

It rings a little too strongly of "We're from the Government and we are here to help"

Huh? All I was trying to say was that the US judged its actions by its perceived nation interests, and occasionally did things for humanitarian reasons too. I wouldn't have thought this was a controversial statement. No implication of perfect judgment or rectitude was implied.

What's the old prosecutors line? Follow the money...


Absolutely. In Iraq, the money said, lift sanctions and buy the oil under market rates! We didn't follow the money. But the French sure did.

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To: Michael Watkins who wrote (148903)10/24/2004 11:57:19 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
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The US is every bit as guilty of this as any other major military power.

Its you, not me, that seeks to set out one country at a higher plane than another. I think, in general, all have the same faults. If the US comes up more often than some others, its only a reflection on the sheer enormity of its wealth, power, and influence.


I think I sense the logic here. Only the US is a major military power, so only they are capable of real faults. Different countries can and do behave quite differently, with different virtues and faults. America sees the world and behaves quite differently from most of Europe. America and Europe behave differently from the Arab world. You're trying to sweep differences under the rug.

I won't be distracted.


No, you'll remain so obsessed that you cannot look around you. Voting for Kerry because you don't like the way Bush handled the war is like a Union supporter voting for McClellan in 1864 because he didn't like the way Lincoln handled the Civil War (and boy were there some doozies of mistakes in that one, that cost thousands and thousands of lives). It makes no sense to chuck out one guy for mistakes in handling the war effort if you replace him with someone who intends to lose the war.

McClellan said he intended to negotiate. Kerry is not so honest, but I'm certain he intends to bail. I've seen him in operation for 18 years; when he is faced with opposition, he chooses the way of least resistance. Besides, he sees everything through the lens of Vietnam.

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To: Sam who wrote (148905)10/25/2004 12:01:01 AM
From: Nadine Carroll
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Compared with the protests against going into Iraq, protests against Afghanistan were miniscule. Most people understood that once the Taliban sided with Al Qaeda, that was it.


They were much smaller but not miniscule. The main point is that the left in Europe and America did NOT support the war, as they now claim they did; they opposed it as they reflexively oppose any use of American military power. The position of the left after 9/11 was to say we should ask ourselves 'why they hate us' and change our policies. Certainly NOT to go to war.

It's the dishonest attempt to rewrite a history that's barely three years old that annoys me.

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To: Michael Watkins who wrote (148904)10/25/2004 12:15:44 AM
From: SBHX
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the people need to be engaged in a truthful discussion over how/what/why we got to this place and how/what/when are we going to do about it. The people need to become much more aware and involved and not just every four years.

But I think this time your approach is not very practical is it? I mean even corporations operating with smaller logistics than a nation only publishes an annual report once a year.

We elect our government figures to do their jobs, and during their mandate, we can question them and expect answers, but given the complexity of what they have to face, for us to second guess their every move at short intervals would create an unworkable scenario --- an ungovernable country.

If they do make egregious wrongs, we can get rid of them, and this has happened in the past. How can there be so little trust in your institutions of government?

I do agree with you that after Nov 3rd, there is a need to open up the discussion on how this happened, and how it can be improved. If you look at what McCain and other republicans have asked just before CampKerry seized on it as a political advantage, there is every indication that Bush in '05 onwards would have to operate with a lot more humility and circumspection.

So yes, no WMD has hurt Bush significantly. This is really why the polls are so close.

As for your premise that a change in leadership (ie: Kerry) is going to fix it, then you have missed several noteworthy ideas here :

1. The coalition Bush assembled is fragile, these leaders have taken substantial political risk to support the US with a war that is unpopular at home. Your true friends are the ones who will stick with you when the going is tough and outcome uncertain. The ones who turn away at the first sign of danger are not your friends.

2. Kerry has worked very hard to fracture and destroy this coalition. By calling them coerced and corrupt, he had made the positions of these foreign leaders even more difficult, after all, if a presidential contender can be so disdainful of them, then how can they sell being part of this coalition to their own citizens at home?

3. Kerry's sister worked against John Howard in the Australian federal election by warning australians that they must not support the war on terror, that it has made them less safe (Diana Kerry Sep '04). Australia is the only country in the world that has supported the US in every single coalition and conflict, this is an ally no intelligent US leader can afford to turn away. If this had worked and John Howard's party turned back at the polls, the other party would have been indebted to John Kerry, this helps JK politically, but note that the other party has promised to have their troops from Iraq home in 6 months. So, if what Kerry wanted happened, the US coalition in Iraq would have lost a valuable ally. This is where JK's and US's interests are diametrically opposed. Regardless, John Howard won by a landslide and I'm wondering what he thinks of John Kerry now.

4. Remember the corrupt and coerced statement? Well Poland's president didn't take kindly to it and protested publicly, and some have wondered if Michigan's polish minority will think kindly of John Kerry's slight. Again, no intelligent leader versed in even rudimentary foreign policy will insult allies and work against US interests for the sake of a sound bite.

5. Allawi, for all intents and purposes is US's best hope for stability in Iraq. It is hard enough for Allawi and his administration to function with what they are facing --- they can only succeed if they have the trust of the Iraqis and a plurality of ME leaders. Yet, JK's camp pointedly talked about puppetry. This discredits Allawi's legitimacy, which brings forth a bigger problem worthy of debate. I think this is a very strong argument Kerry has decided that Allawi is the equivalent of Nguyen van Thieu, that Iraq in Kerry's mind, is already lost, a second vietnam. Otherwise, why else would he discount his legitimacy so easily?

With the above foreign policy misadventures from Kerry just in the past 6 months, ignoring his senate record (which is somewhat insubstantial), I must conclude that as bad as GWB is, JK is much much worse.

Whether he wants to or not, a JK administration has already sown the seeds for a (1) collapse of the coalition in Iraq, (2) a dishonorable retreat from Iraq. My conclusion : Iraq will become a second vietnam under a Kerry administration.

I just don't know if America can bear the stigma of a second vietnam.

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