March 12, 2005
Cobb v Schneider
In a rare moment, I entangle myself on someone else's blog. In giving advice to someone believed to be a fifth grader, I whacked a manifesto by Dan Schneider reference by Drezner. Of course, I had to use fifth grade English. Schneider whacks back, so I'm bringing it over here for grown folks.
Pt1- I state 'However, not many wars can claim to be relatively clear cut as those two.' What do you not understand about the qualifier 'relatively'?
I think that a moderately proficient historian can come up with as many complications on American involvement in WW2 as you give for Iraq. In fact a cursory view would suggest that the same ones could be employed. I simply think you picked a very poor premise, and I like Hitchens and symbolic logic wonks are particularly attuned to the fact that a false premise taken as axiomatically true can logically support any conclusion one wishes.
Pt 2- I actually grant the Pres the best of motives, and defend the First Lady, if you actually read the piece. Even granting he's simply wrong, the war was and is unsupportable- as I show by vetting the Joint Resolution. In fact, to show how off-center you are, as are Leftists, when I've tried to send or link the piece to political/anti-war websites many refused to allow it because I wd not declare myself a Liberal and/or they did not like that I did not solely blame Bush for the war, but also the cowardly, anomic Left. And it's worth noting that I differentiate between Cons & the Right & The Left & Liberals, because I quote from a flaming Reaganaut who is against the war, as are all true conservatives. You can call yourself a con and be for the war, but that ain't gonna make you one. Both extremes are noxious, but the Right's worse cuz they're the powerholders who've consigned so many to needless deaths.
I think that the reasons for and against the war stand or fail on their own logic, and I am one of those who detests the idea of reverse-engineering ideology from one's affinity or aversion to the prosecution of this war. In this, I am saying that geopolitics are different from domestic politics and I don't buy that one's position on the war should put one into a proper square back at home. Nobody on the Left suggested we shouldn't war because somebody might get tortured, but suddenly it became derigeur to cite Abu Ghraib's inevitability once news broke. That's not Left, that's reactionary. It's one of the reasons I bring up Hitchens whose position on an American imperial imperative stumps most folks.
Pt3- the piece is subtitled as an Attack, but even so it is open about it and states '6)I hope this essay can become a template to help argue the Anti-War cause against the incessant Orwellian revisionism and lies that are fundaments needed to propagate war, regardless of whether your opposition is based in conservative or liberal politics, or mere pragmatism and a rejection of deceit and delusion, as mine is. I offer specific talking points, often apolitical, and provide sloganeering hooks to win converts.' I am up front about my aim, far more than you are in this post when you claim, 'I strongly believe that the author believes that anyone who disagrees with his position is evil, stupid or both.'
I find it very difficult to believe that anyone who has read the PNAC manifesto and understood neoconservative sway over GWBush's foreign policy would suggest that the ulterior geopolitics involved were not transparent. That is to say that anyone who took seriously the neologism of 'WMD' as proximate cause for the engagement is either starkly fresh to America's long-term interests in the region or precisely the type of political naif for whom rhetoric is dumbed down. In other words, I dismiss as naive everything that suggests deception, dishonesty or Orwellian revisionism and lies were part of a conspiracy of post-hoc rationale. A final confrontation with Saddam Huessein was inevitable. I like Scott Ritter's take. (http://www.mdcbowen.org/cobb/archives/001651.html)
I think your article does a whole lot of piling-on and engages in a surfeit of short paragraphs which don't stand on their own, but when taken together appear to be a mountain of logic. I must confess not to have the patience to check each of your boulders for soundness although I have certain piled together mountains of my own over time. But I think you wanted to bury us all at once and/or force us to deal with the mass of rubble. Sorry, not all of us need to be attacked.
As time allows, we can actually whack at the boulders over here. It's always good practice to talk about the subject when it appears. But let's really get into the White Man's Burden thing, shall we?
Posted by mbowen at March 12, 2005 01:01 AM
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Tracked on March 12, 2005 10:13 AM
One can always come up with excuses- the point is that WW2 or the Civil War were relatively clear cut. take away slavery and there is no Civil War- period. The States' Rights were over the rights to slavery- not over the number of state's legislators, and while, yes, I acknowledge apoligists can point to Versailles as the real start of WW2, I cd equally argue the Franco-Prussian war, or Napoleon's madness, or Frank-Teuton aggressions, or when Grog sligged Grok with a club.
The qualifier is key, and you've still not scknowledged that. That's semiotically ok, but not an argument in itself.
Main Entry: need·less
: not needed : UNNECESSARY
- need·less·ly adverb
- need·less·ness noun
Again, as I say in my piece. If you support the war, you're the one with the burden of proof to state that the deaths were NEEDED!
'Nobody on the Left suggested we shouldn't war because somebody might get tortured, but suddenly it became derigeur to cite Abu Ghraib's inevitability once news broke. That's not Left, that's reactionary.'
Absolutely. No argument. Let me ask- if you really read the piece you know that I blast the Left, and a quick scan of my site will show that, esp. in the arts, I revile the PC Mafia that is choking our younger generation w platitudes.
But, that is not relevant to the stated reasons for the war, which I show are almost wholly w/o merit. I play on their field, and grant Bush the assumptions he makes.
Cobb- you are correct in yr assertion that GWB's politics are transparent to many- you, or me. Guess what? I've read your site some times, and even when disagreeing I can state, no asskissing involved- you're smarter than Joe Average. Even when I think you're wrong you can defend your position reasonably. I love Bill Buckley for this fact. An Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, or Bill Maher cannot.
The masses are gullible and polls still show many believe there were WMDs. You may dismiss it, but Bush knows he has to get the DSL loving poor slobs on board, and detailed explanations won't do. Sloganeering does, and I deal with that within.
The short paragraphs are filled with informmation, and you can disagree with conclusions, but the premises are based upon the pro-war camp's.
I wanted to deal with facts, not assertions. The problem w blogs is that they engage in sportswriterese, not essays that formally present facts, discuss pro and con, and them conclude. It seems that your frustration has more to do with not being weaned off the blogosphere's sloganeering and easy answers than it does with my 'mountain'.
And whose fault is that? I did not attack you, and it's interesting to note that you would even state that. Dean Esmay or Ward Churchill or the Dems and Reps might feel attacked, but you- a reader? Again, that feeling comes from you, not the piece, and is why discourse has so fractured. People personalize.
I attack, and this includes my arts views, bad opinions or bad art. I care not whether the person is bad or good. I'll praise a great poem or painting by a Himmler, were one to surface. Evil in one field has naught to do with excellence in another.
This is why I do not vote lesser of evils, and rejected both Bush and Kerry. Were more people to do this we wd take back this country from the coporate interests, and let me state- terrorism will be passe in a decade or two, and the real 21st Century threat of global corporations will still be glaring at the world.
And they will not be so easily defeated. By all means, though, please, let's talk of the White Man's Burden, or the Couch Potato's Burden, or the burden of anybody who feels that they havve a right to impose will over another, even if claiming it's for one's own good.
Seems to me some boys in Rome and China and Moscow had similar thoughts once upon the.... DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 12, 2005 07:34 AM
... making popcorn, watching the next round ...
Posted by: Scott Ferguson at March 12, 2005 09:26 AM
I tell you what, let's just do pros and cons here. I support the war for a few simple reasons and devalue criticisms for a variety of reasons. Forget what the average Joe thinks because the very idea that Joe has a hand in deciding matters of war and peace is an idea that has been oversold from day one.
I do take the idea of the peasantry very seriously and I don't believe that they can be placated, only put to use in better or worse plans, including economic, religious, or military plans. Any of those devolve to core theories and core authorities, and I think that is inevitable - a consequence of how the physical universe works. And so in today's world that boils down to the interests of civilizations. We represent the Western First World.
George W. Bush did not 'start an unnecessary war' he finished an incomplete war whose hostilities never ceased. You say without slavery, the Civil War would not have taken place. I say without Saddam Hussein, the Iraq War would not have taken place. I say that if the causes for other major American military conflicts can be viewed as 'relatively' simple, then so can Iraq. Iraq was a rogue state under Saddam Hussein, and as such it needed to be put down. Simple.
American soldiers are not disposable, however they are expendable. When they fight they NEED to fight to the death. So no American or coalition soldier's death is 'needless'. Their deaths are a calculated part of the expense of war. In our war planning, we do force reduction estimates. It's part of the cost. Because it's WAR, death is needed, and it became war when Bush42 moved against the invasion of Kuwait. Sanctions would never work against a warrior like Saddam.
As I've said several times, I think we can sustain the current attrition rate indefinitely. There will be a political cost to this when American soldiers casualties exceeds those in the WTC.
I don't buy the White Man's Burden argument at all; it has been deracinated to a standard Western Utilitarian argument. In other words, it's a cost/benefit analysis on American geopolitical bottom line. Race may alter the reporting and poltical perception, but it is not central or significant to the geopolitical calculation.
To suggest that the 'brownsity' of the people in any country makes them a target implies that the conflict of civilizations is racial, but the geopolitical interest of the US is not racial superiority. It couldn't be, given the way our own armed forces are constituted.
Posted by: cobb at March 12, 2005 10:50 AM
Pt #1- I say w/o GWB there'd be no war. 12 years and Bush 1 & Clinton saw no need. 9/11 gave Bush an excuse to spread his Jesus lovin' creed about.
Also- Osama was the real target, and Afghanistan's war has foundered w the waste in Iraq. I still support the Afghan War. Let's shift all the Iraq forces there and get him.
There are many rogue states, and those that violate UN sanctions far worse than Saddam. Let's get them, too. Why not? What does Iraq have that Liberia doesn't?
Of course a soldier knows he can die, but certain wars need to be fought. Your reason for war shows nothing exceptional about Iraq. Let's deal w the real reasons Iraq is a greater target- revenge for daddy, oil, a need for a proxy state....
No WMB? Hmm....sems to me we destabilized alot of white Euro countries just a couple of decades ago. And the WMB argument is rife in the Right Wing blogosphere- usually expressed as, 'We have to help those people, they need to learn democracy, and good citizenship, etc. C'mon. The Right Wing's paternalism makes a joke about what they claim of the Left.
The problem is that if you go too far to the left or the right you meet on the dark side of the globe. We don't live in Flatland, but Sphereland.
Racism, as you know, is not merely suggestions of superiority, but intimations of subordination.
Let's see what happens if a theocracy is 'democratically elected'. Bet there'll be a Tonkin Gulf like incident and the Cavalry will charge in.
As I said in the piece, I'd love to see things smell like roses, but human nature does not change overnight, and GWB is no Messiah.
And thru it all Osama is still smilin' like a baby! DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 12, 2005 11:10 AM
'I do take the idea of the peasantry very seriously and I don't believe that they can be placated, only put to use in better or worse plans, including economic, religious, or military plans.'
Uncle Joe would have loved that bit of political analysis.
Fuck the poor- give'em some guns and some shields- or just guns, in this war's case, and let's just go w the army we got.
In the great 1999 film of the South Park tv show I believe they called such geopoliticking Operation: Get Behind The Darkies! DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 12, 2005 11:21 AM
Both left and right agreed after 9/11 that terrorism would spread amongst Arabs and Muslims with any beef against the US. I'm sure you recall the 'Baby Bin Laden' theories which have now been discredited. It turns out the Powell was more prescient than ever when he said that states that sponsor terrorists were more important targets than going after terrorist cells. This is the critical difference.
What Iraq has that Liberia doesn't is borders with states that are globally important to the US. It *had* a million man army. It had an Air Force and medium range missiles. It also had plenty of cover for islamic jihadists like Al-Zarqawi who are in fact foreign terrorists.
GWBush doesn't have to be a messiah, just a president who does what he says he will do and support the policies he was elected to enable. He's doing just that.
Posted by: Cobb at March 12, 2005 07:41 PM
Powell- Mr. I Wanna Be Adlai Stevenson in regard to WMDs?
'states that sponsor terrorists were more important targets than going after terrorist cells. This is the critical difference'- So, when do we invade Northern Ireland, Indonesia, North Korea, and Pakistan? Hmm?
'globally important'- say it Cobb, go ahead- o-i-l. It'll be a purgative.
Iraq was also a paper tiger and Saddam was measuring his dick against Khameini's.
Unfortunately for your theories, the jihadists were in Saudi Arabia, not Iraq- UNTIL the war! Reread my analogy to Capone and Dillinger. This claim is simply not factually true, and you either know it and are propagandizing, or ignorant of it, and going along with the BS. Saddam supported Hezbollah-like groups that were no threat to us. So did, BTW, Sinn Fein! Let's go kill those bogtrotters, then.
You see, the fact is that there was nothing unique to Iraq- save for oil and Bush's vendetta against Saddam. Don't get me wrong- he had every right to wanna kill a guy who took out his father.
But, wd it not have been infinitely smarter and more effective to recruit Arab spies, then have someone go in and assassinate the bastard? Why did 100+k, and even cons now admit to the 100k mark, innocent Iraqis have to die for this?
Your last sentence is remarkably de-ethicized. It also applies to Mussolini.
Again, though- the Joint Resolution is a hollow document, as I showed, but even were it not, we've accomplished our goals. GET OUT! The rest is theirs to win or lose- stop getting Americans killed!
Ancillary point- Do you believe Iran has nukes- even though the same guys who sd Saddam didn't also say they don't? And if so, how many deceptions does it take for you to see you've been fooled? DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 13, 2005 06:46 AM
Oil is significant, but not proximate. There's no money in it for decades even given the best of all circumstances. See my Crude Calculations here.
Posted by: Cobb at March 13, 2005 01:45 PM
Osama isn't smiling. He's hiding in caves, and will be for the rest of his miserable life, unless we catch him before he dies. He will NEVER be able to stop hiding. Do you know how long Carlos the Jackal was inactive before he was caught? Now he's in prison forever.
Also - if there were no WMDs, how did Hussein kill >100,000 Kurds? With evil thoughts? "We didn't find them" is NOT equivalent to "there never were any".
Posted by: Laura at March 13, 2005 05:17 PM
So, I take it Belfast can put away the searchlights? DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 13, 2005 06:15 PM
Osama may be in caves- unless he's paid a calling card to any of the anti-American Dynasts his family parties with. And he seems pretty damn smug to me.
As for WMDs- if you read my essay- there's no doubt he had them in the 80s and thru the Gulf War. But he didn't have them in the years b4 this one. The sanctions worked, as did the inspections.
Blix, El Baradei and Kay were right. Pro-warriors were wrong. Deal with it. Go ahead- if Cobb can say oil, you can say 'wrong'. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 13, 2005 06:49 PM
PS- who sold Saddam the WMDs anyway? Oh, yeah- Reagan! Another reason for the old fool to burn. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 13, 2005 06:51 PM
I haven't spent a lot of time here for a couple reasons. The main one is technical. Somehow in getting rid of spam, I've done some overkill and I can't even make comments as often as I'd like. Dan I see you've figured a way around it.
The second is that I'm trying to determine whether or not you're a pacifist, for which I grant you can be against any war on principle. But if not, then I need to bring you around to what you see as the flaws in my reasons for support, and I'll do the same for your reasons for opposition.
Belfast is not, was not and will not be a part of the equation. I leave that whole situation with Clinton and I think he did a good job. As it is, Sinn Fein is having a hell of a time dealing with a rinky-dink murder and their whole politics is being called into question. Bush did the right thing by inviting the victims and not Gerry Adams to the White House, so SF needs to clean up their act. Nevertheless, I think it is reasonable to hold them to a higher standard since they are further along in the peace process. BTW, Stakeknife has been outed. (see cryptome.org)
Posted by: Cobb at March 13, 2005 06:58 PM
Don't know about spam- my first post yester took 12+ hours to appear. I'm not a pacifist. Early in my piece I delineate that along w my views on WW2, etc. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 14, 2005 04:59 AM
"Osama ... seems pretty damn smug to me."
You've talked to him lately?
"The sanctions worked, as did the inspections."
What inspections? Hussein kicked the inspectors out, remember? If he hadn't we'd have known that he had in fact destroyed or at least moved the WMDs.
"PS- who sold Saddam the WMDs anyway? Oh, yeah- Reagan!" Ronald Reagan sold Hussein the nerve gas he used to kill the Kurds? I think you're confusing him with the French, Germans, and Russians.
Posted by: Laura at March 14, 2005 11:00 AM
Osama- Videotape to influence election- Hello-o-o-o-o (echoic reverb!) assorted proclamations the last few months. hardly a man in perpetual fear. Our intelligence is not exactly world class, recall.
Hans Blix, Mo El Baradei were in country and inspecting until told it was too dangerous to stay- a few days b4 the war. Or did that fact slip by?
WMDs- No, it was Reagan in the 80s. The others didn't get involved until after the Kurd incident and we stopped. In fact, it was Rumsfeld who was the go between.
Ain't revisionism a lovely thing, though?
Thanks for the postcard from Bizzaro World. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 14, 2005 07:23 PM
How long does it take for replies to get posted? It's been nearly 18 hours since I replied to Laura. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 15, 2005 10:57 AM
Dan, you ARE an active promoter of your theories, aren't you? I've skimmed it a bit, maybe I'll read it all later. (Thanks for you comments on MY blog.)
But I know I don't believe a lot of what you'll say, like:
"But, our hubris allowed our soldiers to invade Iraq in far too few numbers, with far too little protection and support."
There should be a way of knowing if "too few" is true or not -- a measurable number. Like American Deaths.
For me, the main cost of the inevitable war against oil-funded Islamofascism is in American deaths.
Cobb, thanks for mentioning the WTC death toll; I often cite 2500 as a number of deaths for "grading" Pres. Bush. If he gets to a democracy in Iraq with less, he gets an "A" -- if it's more but less than 5000 he gets a "B"; more but less than 10 000, he gets a "C".
Right now, at some 1500, it looks like Bush scores a 93 -- "A". I know this makes folks uncomfortable, but I prefer honest grading to dishonest posing around it.
Every body bag is a tragedy. War is hell. But to claim "too few" troops implicitly means: "if we had more troops there, fewer would have died". Which may be true, but there would certainly have been more targets, even more poorly trained, armed, and protected, so it might well NOT be true.
Here's the point: how few have to die before you admit that Bush's plan to topple Saddam, as implemented, was a great success?
I've seen no Bush-critic answer this question. I suspect because when they say Zero, they know it's an Unreal Perfection alternative. But when they attempt to be realistic, and admit that "some" must die, when they put any number less than 1000, it's pretty ridiculous. The US military loses hundreds of soldiers each year just to accidents.
The key issues are whether or not Saddam was evil (though most Bush critics pay lip service to this one), whether or not continued containment wasn't a better strategy, and whether invasion won't increase the anti-American terror.
Containment was already breaking down, how many stories were there about Iraqi babies dying because of sanctions? (Few such orgs now admit the babies were dying because of evil Saddam stealing the food-for-oil wealth, and bribing the UN.)
Invasion DID create an Iraqi democracy. How much in human rights? Nobody knows yet (such uncertainty seems to be one reason so many support the more certain dictators).
Bush is going after dictatorship terror states -- the real root causes.
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at March 17, 2005 03:45 AM
As I said on yr blog:
Re: too few. Most field generals thought 200K plus were needed- it was Rumsfeld's choice for less. However, common sense tells you it will always take more to occupy than conquer a country.
As far as your grading system, you have to account for the fact that we now know 9/11 was preventable, had we not been so smug and had the airlines had proper security measures in place. To analogize, if terrorists are rabid dogs, they alone are not responsible for biting you if you choose to run naked into their pack.
"Every body bag is a tragedy. War is hell. But to claim "too few" troops implicitly means: "if we had more troops there, fewer would have died". Which may be true, but there would certainly have been more targets, even more poorly trained, armed, and protected, so it might well NOT be true."
That's your inference, not my implication. Even when I supported the war I had doubts about the Bush folks ability to run it well. More troops would have meant in, pacify, set up, and get out ASAP. More may have died in the initial invasion, but the job since wd have been easier.
"Here's the point: how few have to die before Bush's plan to topple Saddam, as implemented, is seen as a great success?"
Here's the real problem- this whole war is a feint. Wgy have we let Osama's trail grow so cold that he can, w impunity, mock us at will? Iraq had nothing to do w 9/11. That is a fact- like it or not. We went in on false premises and 100k people are dead- 30-40x more than we lost on 9/11. For what?
We will have to leave Iraq sooner or later, and there will likely be a civil war. Leave sooner, let them hash it out, and go after Osama! Send the troops back to Afghanistan and kill off the poppy trade.
But, no. As I said in the piece, we are on the hook, like in Vietnam. Reason has left the building, w Elvis.
As for how many. Zero is a good answer when you acknowledge this war had nothing to do with terror, but oil, revenge, and the crafting of a puppet state.
When Saddam's statue toppled I was thinking maybe this was like the Berlin Wall, and that imagery has kept alot of Rightists deluded. It was not, and the situations are very different.
"The key issues are whether or not Saddam was evil (though most Bush critics pay lip service to this one), whether or not continued containment wasn't a better strategy, and whether invasion won't increase the anti-American terror."
Wrong. Saddam was a red herring. A paper lion. As for containment- we now know it worked VERY well. And terror has increased in Iraq. The question of when it comes back over here is probably, unfortunately, when, not if.
"Containment was already breaking down, how many stories were there about Iraqi babies dying because of sanctions? (Few such orgs now admit the babies were dying because of evil Saddam stealing the food-for-oil wealth, and bribing the UN.)"
Containment's aim was to muzzle Saddam. That worked. That he starved his own people is on his conscience, not ours- that's a confusion of two separate issues, and the UN, using your argument, has far more guilt in that regard than the US.
You see, I can read shades of gray. This is why my article is so good, because I read all the arguments pro and con, then and now, and stay on focus. Too many go off on tangents.
"Invasion DID create an Iraqi democracy. How much in human rights? Nobody knows yet (such uncertainty seems to be one reason so many support the more certain dictators)."
Democracy where folk don't know who or what they're voting for. This is why it's Glory Hole Democracy.
"Bush is going after dictatorship terror states -- the real root causes. Faster, please."
The real root cause is dictatorships supported by American and Western corporations. This is why Latin Americans hate us to this day. Saddam was our boy. We'd not give a damn of the MidEast had Nixon or Ford implemented policies to wean us off oil. Now we're gonna fuck up the Arctic. No vision. Bush is sorely lacking, as were his predecessors back to JFK.
As I state in my piece we buddy up to & support dictatorships to this day, so your last claim of Bush is demonstrably false.
The real reason is not terror, but oil. It's a bitch to admit the screeching Left was right all along, cuz even were they proven wrong, as they were in other areas, they'd refuse to admit it. BUT, that does not make them automatically wrong, and this time they got it right. Oy!
BTW- I promote no THEORIES in my piece, merely conclusions. DAN
Posted by: Dan Schneider at March 17, 2005 01:49 PM