Friday, February 21, 2003

Courtesy the Wizard of Whimsy

Competence and self-confidence

Here's a prophetic article from back in 2000 that I just discovered:
Confident You Are Competent? Think Again New York Times Syndicate DIANE WHITE January 20, 2000 For me, this week's most fascinating story was deep inside Tuesday's New York Times, a piece by Erica Goode headlined, ``Among the Inept, Researchers Discover Ignorance Is Bliss.'' It seems that studies by psychologists have found that most incompetent people have no idea they're incompetent. On the contrary, the researchers found that the incompetent are ``usually supremely confident of their abilities, more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.'' ... The two psychologists think that inept people are often self-assured because they lack self-monitoring skills, which are the same skills required for competence. Subjects who scored in the lowest quartile in tests of logic, English grammar, and humor were also the mostly likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they performed. ``Not only do (incompetent people) reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices,'' wrote Dr. Kruger, ``but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.'' The inept, then, are in an impossible position. Is there any hope for them? Or don't they care? Dunning and Kruger found that a short course in logical reasoning helped some of the subjects assess their performance more realistically. But it appears a lot more work must be done. Stamping out incompetence, especially among people who won't admit they're incompetent, could be a Herculean task. One of the obstacles to encouraging realistic self-assessment is that, in most situations, honest feedback is nonexistent. As Goode puts it, ``Social norms prevent most people from blurting out, `You stink!''
This goes a long way toward explaining several things: 1) Bush's sense of his own competence despite all evidence to the contrary. He doesn't have the ability to understand that he isn't very good at what he does. 2) The hesitancy to point out to him just how incompetent he is, especially in the press. People who are insecure about their own competence will have an especially hard time questioning the competence of someone who is self-assured. 3) Why so many people like him despite his incompetence. Because self-confidence is a very attractive quality for many people, especially people who lack confidence in their own abilities. The insecure look to the secure to provide them security. Thus the competent may actually be more trusting of the incompetent because the incompetent are less likely to publicly question their own competence. (It's also why assholes never seem to have problems getting women.)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Princess Bride fans will appreciate this. Picture courtesy suckful.

Arianna Huffington nails it as far as I'm concerned:
Boys, boys, you're all right. Sure, it's Daddy, oil, and imperialism, not to mention a messianic sense of righteous purpose, a deep-seated contempt for the peace movement, and, to be fair, the irrefutable fact that the world would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But there's also an overarching mentality feeding the administration's collective delusions, and it can be found by looking to corporate America's bottom line. The dots leading from Wall Street to the West Wing situation room are the ones that need connecting. There's money to be made in post-war Iraq, and the sooner we get the pesky war over with, the sooner we (by which I mean George Bush's corporate cronies) can start making it. The nugget of truth that former Bush economic guru Lawrence Lindsey let slip last fall shortly before he was shoved out the oval office door says it all. Momentarily forgetting that he was talking to the press and not his buddies in the White House, he admitted: "The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy."
This is the key to Bush-think. No matter how much criticism they are receiving now, if they successfully prosecute the upcoming invasion they believe that all will be forgiven and they can continue on, business as usual. They have already gone beyond the point of no return in this strategy. The invasion must proceed if there is to be any hope that they can put the Iraq matter behind them. The fact that they could be creating a situation of chaos that could take years to settle down is ultimately unimportant to these people. What they care about is what the immediate image will be right after the fall of Saddam. If it looks good on TV, then they will consider their actions leading up to that point to have been justified. The sad thing is, given our current media market, they are probably right. Which is why it needs to be made clear, now, before the invasion, that an attack on Iraq is the wrong action at this time regardless of the initial outcome. We need to make it clear that flushing Saddam out is not sufficient cause for declaring victory and then going home. We need to hold their feet to the fire even more after their grand and glorious victory. They key to the future belongs to whomever gets to define what "victory" means.

Bush Wins Business Support for Growth Plan ... "The White House has a reputation of taking names and exacting punishment," said one housing lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think this White House plays rougher [than predecessors], and I think they're proud of it."
Note the fact that this source wouldn't allow his name to be printed. Gee, I wonder why?

Now here's a nice change of pace story. I have never been that upset at the practice of movie theaters running one or two ads before movies. It's annoying, but not something I really get all het up about. However, in recent months the trend has become ridiculous. When my wife and I went to go see Two Towers in December the movie itself didn't start until 25 minutes after the billed show time. It was preceded by at least 6 commercials and at least 6 trailers. The audience was getting noticeably grouchy by the time we had seen our fifth MPAA label. Well, it appears someone is trying to do something about it.

Howard Fineman toys with a little bit of non-whoredom in an insightful column on Bush's reaction to the anti-war protests. I generally find Fineman's "journalism" to be wretch inducing because he focuses so much on appearance rather then substance and thus is easily fooled by Bush's "sweaty" form of politics. But I think he hits on a vital aspect of Bush's character in this piece: Dubya doesn't hate the opinions of others, he just doesn't think he has to care about them, and when they confront him directly he views their anger as validation of his own moral rectitude. Fineman relates an interesting anecdote on this matter (aside: Howard, of course, does not explain where he heard this story, so it is quite likely that it is another Rovian constructed story meant to inspire, but still...)
Bush wasn’t oblivious to social change. DKE was open to blacks and Jews, and the future president was aware of — and not afraid of — the thickening ethnic mix around him. Lanny Davis, a Yale friend (and Democratic political antagonist), tells a story that makes the point. A resident in their dorm was an immigrant from India. He wore weird outfits and was generally viewed as an exotic, even pathetic, character. One day in the dorm lounge, the outcast walked by a cluster that included Bush and some friends. “Why do they even let in somebody like that?” someone asked aloud. “It’s a waste of money trying to educate him.” Bush angrily turned on the questioner. “Don’t you ever say something like that in my presence again,” he snapped. “He’s got as much right to be here as you do.” It would be nice to say that Bush, his cross-cultural curiosity awakened, became fast friends with the fellow — that he plunged into the study of the history of India, its cultures and religions, that he traveled to the subcontinent to see it all for himself. Of course it didn’t happen; Bush entered the White House one of the least-traveled presidents in modern history. He wanted to be a gentleman, but that didn’t mean he really had to get to know the guy.
I suspect that Fineman understands as well as the rest of us that Bush is like this. The one thing I'm not to sure about is whether he thinks its just fine that he is.

John Judis has written a useful summation of Bush administration failures in this morning's LA Times.
This Road to Hell Is Paved With Bush's Bad Choices Misguided tax cuts hurt the economy, and diplomatic bungling resulted in our foreign policy crisis. By John B. Judis, John B. Judis is senior editor of the New Republic. With the Cold War's end, many Americans thought we could close our air raid shelters and take the trillions of dollars that had gone into the military and put them into making our lives better by turning toward the pursuit of happiness rather than the defense of our liberty. And some of that did happen in the last half of the 1990s, during the Clinton-era boom. But only three years into a new century, the United States finds itself plagued by rising unemployment, soaring budget deficits, constricted civil liberties, the threat of terrorist attack and the prospect of a war with, and occupation of, Iraq. We've gone from the best of times to the worst of times. The Bush administration tells us that it is entirely because of Al Qaeda and now Saddam Hussein that we face these difficulties, but the dark clouds that hang over our country are largely the result of Bush administration policies.
Judis makes several points to back up this assertion. Here's my take on them: 1) While the initial economic downturn may have been an inevitable letdown from the high-flying 90s, Bush's economic policies have been the perfect prescription for sustaining that downturn and making it long-term. 2) Bush's foreign policy has been a series of cart-before-the-horse train wrecks. (a) He pushed the idea of regime change in Iraq, quite possibly through invasion, before winning over allies to his position that Sadaam cannot be trusted. Thus giving everyone the justified suspicion that Bush has never been interested in a peaceful solution to the Iraqi problem. (b) Rather then use America's considerable influence to force both Israel and the Palestinians to the table to work out a mutually agreeable solution, Bush has instead bluntly sided with Israel to the point where few in the middle-east can ever trust America to be a neutral party in the conflict. (c) Those failings, combined with his de-prioritization of the hunt for al Qaeda, have produced an environment in which the threat from terrorism is even worse then it was before 9/11.

Mathew Yglesias makes an important point for all those who think that European opinion shouldn't matter:
Incidentally, if you're wondering why European public opinion matters, consider the fact that if the leaders of EU contries were under intense popular pressure to successfully invade Iraq that the Turkey could have been promised concessions on the issue of their accession to the EU in exchange for their cooperation in launching the invasion. Instead, we're going to have to go in under much more difficult circumstances that will probably put the lives of American servicemen at even greater risk than they would have been otherwise.
There are far to many people out there, especially in positions of power where their opinion can actually make a difference, who think that America is so powerful and so righteous in its cause that it really doesn't need the support of its allies to do what needs to be done. Mathew's example is a good one because it shows that working with our allies can make things a lot easier for the grunts in the field. Yes, maybe we can still get it all done on our own. But why should we put American lives at risk just to prove that we don't need to those stinkin' europeans?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The audacious courage of Mr Blair You cannot help but admire the Prime Minister's steadfast refusal to be intimidated by facts and figures Terry Jones Sunday September 22, 2002 The Observer I would like to pay a tribute to the courage of Tony Blair. During these dark days in the build-up to war against Iraq it is reassuring to find ourselves with a leader who demonstrates such fearlessness in the face of tremendous odds. Despite bitter opposition,Tony Blair has demonstrated that he will push ahead stalwartly with whatever the US intends to do. Even though the majority of his fellow countrymen are against the war (despite last week's propaganda campaign in the media), Mr Blair has shown not the slightest sign of wavering from his determination to do whatever Mr Bush wants. It is true that he has regrettably had to cave in over the question of debating the issue in Parliament, but he has fearlessly shown his contempt for the process by not allowing a vote. Mr Blair realises that he needs all the nerve he can command to resist demands for democratic discussion, if Mr Bush is to have any opportunity of dropping bombs on Iraq before the mid-term elections.

There's word out today that the White House is floating the idea of having Iraq pay for all the costs of Operation-Hide-Dubyas-Small-Dick. Hmmm... Getting the conquered foe to pay reparations. We all know how well that worked last time don't we?

The stupidity disease continues to spread.
Powell: Anti-War Nations 'Afraid' of Duty PARIS - Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) on Wednesday said countries like France that oppose swift military action against Iraq are afraid of upholding their responsibility to disarm Baghdad by force.
When Colin Powell drinks the kool-aid he gulps.

Digby blasts Friedman but good. He points out that he has no one to blame but himself for his frustration with the blunders of the Bush foreign policy team. After all, at one time, he actually praised their ham-handed bluster:
No, the axis-of-evil idea isn't thought through - but that's what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: "We know what you're cooking in your bathtubs. We don't know exactly what we're going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you're wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld - he's even crazier than you are." There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right. It is the only way we're going to get our turkey back.
Looks like we are losing the Turks after all Tom. How about that? Idiot.

Tim Dunlop cites a Stratfor article that says that the United States has committed to many of its forces already to the middle-east for it to pull back now without major embarassment.
So we will not be going to war to liberate Iraq, or to stop weapons of mass destruction or even to get our hands on oil. We're going because of the phases of the moon, the temperature of the sun, and because we'd look a bit silly if we bought the troops back now. IF these reasons are what it all truly comes down to, then what bigger indictment could there be of the boys and girls who have 'planned' all this? This isn't foreign policy; it's astrology.
This is pretty much what I said earlier. We are going to war in order to hide the fact that Bush has a small dick.

Our "good friend" Turkey

A week ago the Bushies were outraged that Belgium, France, and Germany would endanger "our good friend" Turkey when they vetoed the initial request for support in case they were attacked during the invasion of Iraq. Now Turkey is asking for more money, the right to put their troops a hundred miles into Iraqi territory (with no oversight) and asking for all off this in writing since America can't be trusted to keep its word in backroom deals. The U.S. response to their "good friend"?
U.S. loses patience as ships near Turkey can't unload troops SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM Wednesday, February 19, 2003 ANKARA — The United States has threatened to review its strategic relationship with Turkey unless Ankara immediately approves the deployment of tens of thousands of American troops now waiting on ships near Turkish ports.
Proving once again what complete and utter failures the Bush administration is at this foreign policy thing. Why did anyone ever think they had a clue about how to do this?

Telling it like it is

Tim Dunlop makes a more reasoned case for what I talked about yesterday in my response to Friedman's "Tell The Truth" column. Proving once again that a calm voice works better in the long run then a rant. But then it is so hard to be calm in situations like this. I came early to the anti-war camp, despite my desire to see Saddam removed from power, because I was not as hopeful as others that Bush could actually produce a rational foreign policy for dealing with Iraq. I've known pretty much since before the election that Bush was a fraud and an amateur and I was not convinced, as others were, that his "dream team" of foreign policy advisors would compensate for his deficiencies. You can have the best players in the world, but if the coach is an idiot then they might as well be third-string, injury-list substitutes for all the good it will do you. So many like Friedman have been looking for the silver lining that is Bush's dark cloud. I gave up a long time ago. It's about time the rest of the world wake up to reality. It's the Bush stupid.

The "impending war" in Iraq may, at one time, have been about oil. It may, at one time, have even been about setting up some kind of beacon of Democracy. But now it is becoming more about defending Bush's manhood. If he doesn't attack Iraq everyone will laugh at him. He knows this. So he must attack, regardless of what everyone else thinks.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Everyone Wants So Much To Believe In Santa Bush

Tell the Truth By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN ... I don't have much applause in me for China, Russia — or the Bush team either. I feel lately as if there are no adults in this room (except Tony Blair). No, this is not a plague-on-all-your-houses column. I side with those who believe we need to confront Saddam — but we have to do it right, with allies and staying power, and the Bush team has bungled that. The Bush folks are big on attitude, weak on strategy and terrible at diplomacy. I covered the first gulf war, in 1990-91. What I remember most are the seven trips I took with Secretary of State James A. Baker III around the world to watch him build — face-to-face — the coalition and public support for that war, before a shot was fired. Going to someone else's country is a sign you respect his opinion. This Bush team has done no such hands-on spade work. Its members think diplomacy is a phone call. They don't like to travel. Seeing senior Bush officials abroad for any length of time has become like rare-bird sightings. It's probably because they spend so much time infighting in Washington over policy, they're each afraid that if they leave town their opponents will change the locks on their office doors.
Friedman goes on to criticize the administration for (1) allowing the Korea situation to blow up while trying to deal with Iraq, (2) stomping on international treaties without offering alternatives, and (3) making tenuous connections, at best, between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. As in...
I am also very troubled by the way Bush officials have tried to justify this war on the grounds that Saddam is allied with Osama bin Laden or will be soon. There is simply no proof of that, and every time I hear them repeat it I think of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. You don't take the country to war on the wings of a lie.
Which is precisely what I have been saying all along. The difference between myself and Friedman is that he is still willing to support the Bush efforts despite the lies while I insist that we should never go to war if lies are used to justify it. Bush has already lost the public relations battle. He blew it pretty much from the first day he took office. It is obvious from this column that Friedman is struggling mightily to stay on the side of the Bush administration. He is still clutching the tenuous promise that the removal of Saddam could produce a Democratic Iraq that could be a model for the middle-east. But this is a pipe-dream at best and a dream that will be even harder to fulfill than simply continuing the containment regime.
Tell people the truth. Saddam does not threaten us today. He can be deterred. Taking him out is a war of choice — but it's a legitimate choice. It's because he is undermining the U.N., it's because if left alone he will seek weapons that will threaten all his neighbors, it's because you believe the people of Iraq deserve to be liberated from his tyranny, and it's because you intend to help Iraqis create a progressive state that could stimulate reform in the Arab/Muslim world, so that this region won't keep churning out angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam and are the real weapons of mass destruction.
The problem, my friend, is that this case will not sell because Americans do not want to invest that heavily in an idea with so little hope of becoming a reality. Furthermore, most people understand that it is a formula almost guaranteed to inflame hatred in the middle-east. I think even you understand that Tom. But you want so much to believe that Bush can do it that you are willing to give him the chance.
It is legitimate for Europeans to oppose such a war, but not simply by sticking a thumb in our eye and their heads in the sand. It's also legitimate for the Bush folks to focus the world on Saddam, but two years of their gratuitous bullying has made many people deaf to America's arguments. Too many people today no longer accept America's strength as a good thing. That is a bad thing.
And who is to blame for that? Bush and the people who have enabled him and his failed "diplomacy". People like Thomas Friedman, who want desperately to believe that Bush really could be the champion of a new kind of foreign policy. What they never understand is that Bush's entire foreign policy is as simple as this: do what I say and shut the fuck up.
Some of this we can't control. But some we can, which is why it's time for the Bush team to shape up — dial down the attitude, start selling this war on the truth, give us a budget that prepares the nation for a war abroad, not a party at home, and start doing everything possible to create a global context where we can confront Saddam without the world applauding for him.
To late Tom. Bush has burned so many bridges that even Colin Powell's reputation as the most trusted man in the world has been destroyed. It will take decades after this man leaves office to rebuild the kind of faith in America that existed when he took office, if it can be rebuilt at all. I do not envy the job Bush's successor will have. I just hope he (or she) will start in 2005 instead of 2009.

With Friends Like These...

U.S. Warns Turkey Against Blocking Iraq Plans By Ayla Jean Yackley and Nadim Ladki ANKARA, Turkey/BAGDDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. preparations for war with Iraq suffered a new setback Tuesday when Turkey dug in its heels in negotiations over its role as a launch pad for an invasion. ... White House spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said the standoff with Turkey, which is demanding twice the $26 billion in economic aid offered by Washington to cushion its economy from the effects of a war, would end "one way or another rather soon." "We continue to work with Turkey as a friend. But it is decision time," Fleischer said in Washington.
You know, if I were the suspicious sort, I would wonder if maybe the Bush foreign policy people aren't out of their league.

Jake Sexton has an excellent post up about the latest attempt to win the pro-war argument: The Shame Offensive.
The Iraq war isn't about oil, it's not about weapons of mass destruction, it's not about UN resolutions. It might have been a few days ago, but it's not anymore. Now the war is about defeating a tyrant and saving a nation's people from oppression. The hawks on the side of peace and freedom, and the doves are on the side of fascism and suffering.
Jake has noticed something that I have become sick of (it's what inspired my rant earlier this morning): when the other side can't win the argument on the facts they attempt to win by misrepresenting the position of the opposition. You see, we're not protesting because we are concerned that our country is lead by a gung-ho cowboy who would rather bomb a country back to the stone-age than admit that he might be wrong about his mission to bring peace to the world, whether his help is wanted or not. No, that's not it. And we aren't protesting because we believe this current campaign is being driven more by interests in securing oil revenues for Bush buddies and establishing an American hegemony in the middle-east that would allow us to dictate to that region, and the rest of the world, how they should live their lives. No, that's not it either. And we aren't protesting because we are concerned that said attempt to impose our will on the hotbed that is the middle-east will produce a firestorm of terrorism that will make 9/11 seem small by comparison. No, none of that is why we are protesting. We are protesting because we "don't think Saddam is a threat to peace" or we are "objectively pro-Saddam" or we "think Saddam can be trusted". All positions which are, of course, nonsense and which couldn't be further from the truth. But then we don't get to decide what our real motives are. It is up to daddy Bush and his Bushketeers to diagnose our problem and then, quite rightly, round us up for being the enemies of America. For, after all, if we really DO believe that kind of nonsense then we MUST be a threat to the safety of ordinary, decent Americans. Right? By God we should be locked up! I never realized just how much of a threat we actually are! Two plus two equals five. How could I have been so wrong?

Julian Sanchez has an interesting post up on his blog where he comes to term with the terrible thought that his government might actually lie about matters that could lead to the death of thousands. Up until now he didn't consider that a viable line of thought. But recent events have begun to make him wonder. I have argued many times against conspiratorial thinking because it is just to easy to read nefarious meanings behind innocuous events (read "Foucault's Pendulum" for an excellent story about the dangers involved in going overboard on these matters). The human brain is very good at reading patterns in the noise. It's part of what helps us to survive. But it is also very easy to see patterns where none actually exist (like hearing satanic messages when playing rock music backwards). But, even given my innate skepticism of conspiracy theories, this does not mean that I naively assume that the people who are my leaders aren't capable of the worst sort of atrocities. I can believe this and accept it without a feeling of horror because (1) history is so full of examples of leaders who commit atrocities and (2) I don't have any arrogant notion that my leaders are somehow immune to this behavior simply because they are my leaders. Hermann Goering had an interesting perspective on this (link via snopes, who confirms the quotes authenticity):
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Goering may have been a fat nazi fuck, but that does not mean he didn't know what he was talking about. As I suggested in my post below about Chris Matthews, people who think they are incapable of making the mistakes others have made in the past are, in fact, some of the most easily manipulated into doing just that. We want so much to believe that we are better than that that we are willing to dismiss all evidence to the contrary. So, just as the conspiracy kook might be to quick to read the worst into the actions of others. The "patriot" might be to willing to ignore the signs of evil that are around them. Not me. I've always been a cynic when it comes to human nature. I fully accept that my country can be just as capable of great evil as any other. So, when I see commentators on TV dismiss the (rarely broached) idea that the Bush administration might be deceiving us, I have to laugh at their naivete. And weep for our future.

Regarding the reaction of some to French intransigence, a poster on Table Talk (Mrs. Monsky) came up with a great analogy: "Bush is mad cause France is being that guy who tries to take away his car keys after a night out." And, like the drunk who insists that he is okay to drive, America is getting angry at the very people who are trying to keep us from getting ourselves killed (along with any passengers or pedestrians who get in the way).

Chris Mathews, Moralism, and The Music Man

From the recent Salon interview with Chris Mathews:
Some liberals still won't watch "Hardball," remembering the excesses of Matthews' impeachment shtick. In his new book, "What Liberal Media?" Nation press critic Eric Alterman insists Matthews is no better than Fox's O'Reilly, calling him "a showman rather than a journalist," though Matthews was a Washington correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner and then the Chronicle for 15 years. Like O'Reilly, Alterman notes, Matthews is never more apoplectic than when going after elitist liberals, especially Hillary Clinton, whom Matthews nicknamed "Evita." He once bragged to Ad Week, "You're never going to see Hillary Clinton on my show," because, he predicted, she wasn't man enough to face his hardball questions. But Hillary Clinton, at least, seems to have forgiven Matthews -- and he's sweetened on her, too. They sat down for an hour-long conversation late last year as part of the "Hardball College Tour," at State University of New York's Albany campus, and it was as flirtatious as a first date. In a long talk with Salon, Matthews admitted the New York senator has won him over with her hard work, but he says he still can't stand her husband. Still, with the Bush administration on the verge of war with Iraq, the "Hardball" host even admitted to second thoughts about his over-the-top crusade against Clinton, given the magnitude of the issues that threaten the nation today.
Matthews is a moralist. He saw in Clinton's behavior a manifestation of the decay of western civilization and it blinded him to all the faults of Clinton's enemies. He's also a member of the beltway cliche who, like David Broder, thought that Clinton came in and trashed their place. There are none so easy to manipulate as those who are so convinced of their own moral standing. It's how flim-flam artists like the salesman in "The Music Man" make their living: by playing to people's prejudices and sense of their own importance. George W. Bush is a master at it. The problem is that, once fooled, it becomes that much harder for a victim to come back because doing so requires admitting that you have been fooled. For Matthews to even come this close to admitting it is an indication of just how bad it has become.

Which is easier? War or Peace?

Earlier this morning I read a comment on a blog somewhere (sorry, lost track of where) that an invasion of Iraq and removal of Hussein has one advantage over a toughened inspections regime: the former would be over quicker than the latter, which means that the latter provides more opportunity for allies with weak knees to bag out of the inspection regime. But would the invasion solution really be any better in this respect? After all, there is more to winning in Iraq than just sweeping in and removing Hussein from power. Indeed, one main complaint against the U.S. position is that it doesn't address what happens afterward. There are many who suspect, with good reason, that once Hussein is out of there that America will lose interest and...well...bag out. This reminds me of a boast I sometimes hear coming from Bush supporters. They like to brag that Bush accomplished in Afghanistan in a matter of weeks what the entire Soviet military could not accomplish in over ten years. This is a dreadfully misinformed point of view. The Russians quickly "subdued" Afghanistan after the 1980 invasion and installed their puppet government. But, over the course of the next years, the Mujahadeen steadily wore them down until the Russians were forced to scurry back across the border. In other words, America's "success" in Afghanistan is, at this point, no better than Russia's "success" was by 1981. Winning the peace can be harder than winning the war. There are many who believe that fighting the war makes winning the peace just that much harder. I am, generally, among them. Is the chaos that will result from an attack on Iraq really that much easier to deal with than the situation we have right now? Or are we being driven by an ideology that prefers the chaos of war to the order of peace?

Profanity Alert!

Bush Says War Protesters Won't Deter Him By RON FOURNIER AP White House Correspondent February 18, 2003, 12:00 PM EST WASHINGTON -- President Bush declared on Tuesday that he wouldn't be deterred by global protests against war with Iraq, saying "I respectfully disagree" with those who doubt that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace.
pressure building...
He said such a war remains a final resort, but "the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option as far as I'm concerned."
building... building...
Bush said that the size of the protests against a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq was irrelevant. "Size of protest, it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based up on a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security -- in this case -- security of the people."
tick... tick... tick...
"Democracy is a beautiful thing," Bush said, adding that "people are allowed to express their opinion." "Some in the world don't view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace," he added. "I respectfully disagree."
God Fucking Dammit! When will some people get it through their thick skulls that opposing the administrations present course for war IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO SUPPORTING SADAAM HUSSEIN! Of COURSE Hussein is a threat to peace. I have said as much at multiple times. I have said I could support a campaign to remove Hussein from power. But I will not be lead into supporting war by jingoistic lies and patriotic fear-mongering! It's the lies you idiot! Why is that so hard for you to understand? When you lie you create distrust. When you lie you turn people AWAY from your position, EVEN IF IT IS THE RIGHT ONE! If the current effort to unseat Hussein fails because of a collapse of the international community then Hussein will have won and Bush will be to blame for it. By lying Bush is endangering the effort to remove Hussein from power. Indeed, his lies may be providing aid and comfort to Sadaam. It is that which pisses me off more then anything.

*Sigh* It looks like Chirac has been taking diplomacy lessons from Donald Rumsfeld.
Chirac lashes out at 'new Europe' BRUSSELS, Belgium -- French President Jacques Chirac has attacked eastern European countries hoping to join the EU, saying they missed a great opportunity to "shut up" when they signed letters backing the U.S. position on Iraq. France has been a leading voice against Washington's press for war in Iraq to disarm President Saddam Hussein and is insisting weapons inspectors in the country be given more time. But 13 countries either set to join the EU or in membership talks have signed letters supporting the United States. Chirac said: "These countries have been not very well behaved and rather reckless of the danger of aligning themselves too rapidly with the American position." "It is not really responsible behavior. It is not well brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet." "I felt they acted frivolously because entry into the European Union implies a minimum of understanding for the others," Chirac said. Chirac called the letters "infantile" and "dangerous," adding: "They missed a great opportunity to shut up."
While I agree with the French position on Iraq I am more then disappointed that Chirac would resort to this kind of rhetoric. Just because the pro-war side has to act like children does not mean we should emulate them. The countries that signed those letters have just as much right to express their opinion on this matter as anyone else. Chirac just set back the anti-war effort enormously by his stupid comments. The sad thing is that the media in the U.S. will trumpet this as an example of the immaturity of the French while completely ignoring the fact that Chirac's behavior is simply a mirror of that from the Bush administration officials. Where are the grownups in this debate?

I caught a little snippet of Blair this morning on TV expressing disappointment in "those who would seek to pull apart the alliances between America and Europe" (not an exact quote). I couldn't agree more Tony. The only problem is that we have a fundamental disagreement about exactly WHO is doing the "pulling apart". Just because so many in Europe (and American) disagree with your and George's proposed solution to the Iraq question does NOT meant that THEY are the ones pulling Europe and America apart. Being part of an alliance does not mean that everyone does what YOU think they should do. It means that everyone does what EVERYONE agrees should be done. It's callled a partnership, Tony. Look it up. Take your time. We can wait.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Some enterprising soul has put up a NoWarWiki.

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been busy at work and haven't been inspired enough to write anything.