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Friday, July 28, 2006

Growing consensus

Remember the XFL football player who wore "HE HATE ME" on his back where his name was supposed to go? Pretty soon that will be the official slogan of the United States.

If Bush had been President at the time, would the world have been singing "Springtime for Hitler"?

Comments (1)

Though the slogan "He Hate Me" is certainly appropriate in the Bush era with it's 'who needs to follow laws international or grammatical' attitude I still think the best slogan for the U.S. would be 'Screw You'.

Posted by: Tom at July 28, 2006 06:56 AM

Conservatives, fond of summarizing their views with catchphrases, have been real keen on "we don't negotiate with terrorists!". What gusto! What resolve! How very "Die Hard 2"!

Well, who DO you negotiate with?? Your allies? This illustrates exactly what passes for foreign policy under President Chucklenuts: "Kill 'em all!".

The people who hate us aren't confined to a country. It's now a battle of hearts and minds, whether or not we like it. You can't just 'kill 'em all' with a battle of attrition. No military might can squash a perception held by people. We're currently on the wrong side of history, and I'm afraid many Americans don't see it.

Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 11:09 AM

Did you see Blair and Bush talking today? There's a picture for the history books. Some generations get Churchill and Roosevelt.
We get the Limey and the Coconut.

Posted by: Bill McDonald at July 28, 2006 11:17 AM

maybe the US would have done a preemptive strike on the axis powers before pearl harbor and saved a bunch of lives.

Posted by: jyah13 at July 28, 2006 11:22 AM

Oh man, I hope that was a joke. If it wasn't, I'd say simply we wouldn't have any moral high-ground, no more than our enemies. Our role in WWII wouldn't be as glorious liberators, just aggressors. Neocons thought we could recapture that 'liberator' glory in Iraq. But they completely and utterly missed the difference.

Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 11:32 AM

You mean looking back now? The problem with preemptive strikes is that you can't see the future. A closer analogy to what you suggest is if we had attacked China instead of Japan prior to Pearl Harbor and then realized later we had made a big mistake for all the wrong reasons. That's Iraq.

Posted by: Bill McDonald at July 28, 2006 11:34 AM

Cliche alert, hind sight is 20/20. Bill is correct. If you want to use hindsight to justify bombing Japan and Germany then I will use hindsight to exclaim that W's foriegn policy has been f'd up since the day Iraq crossed his puny mind and he has done more damage to the US reputation around the World than Al Qaeda ever could. What a disaster!!

Posted by: Todd Hawes at July 28, 2006 12:50 PM

The NYT article you linked to also had quotes that tells the true cause of the current violence in the Middle East:

"But by taking on Israel, Hezbollah had instantly eclipsed Al Qaeda, analysts said. “Everyone will be asking, ‘Where is Al Qaeda now?’ ” said Adel al-Toraifi, a Saudi columnist and expert on Sunni extremists.

Mr. Rabbani of the International Crisis Group said Hezbollah’s ability to withstand the Israeli assault and to continue to lob missiles well into Israel exposed the weaknesses of Arab governments with far greater resources than Hezbollah.

“Public opinion says that if they are getting more on the battlefield than you are at the negotiating table, and you have so many more means at your disposal, then what the hell are you doing?” Mr. Rabbani said. “In comparison with the small embattled guerrilla movement, the Arab states seem to be standing idly by twiddling their thumbs.”

Does anyone doubt that the stated desire of Hezbollah and the majority of the Arab world is the utter and complete destruction of Israel? Does anyone doubt that the admitted desire of Hezbollah and the majority of the Arab world is to bring jihad not just to Israel, but to all non- believers and infidels around the world? It's what they themselves have stated. It's what they teach their children. It's what is published in their newspapers. It's why they are at war against the world now.

If there were another person in the office of the U.S. Presidency right now, it would not change these facts. You cannot blame the Bush doctrine on the current situation in the Middle East.

Remember, it was Islamist Sirhan Sirhan who murdered Robert Kennedy in 1968 due to Kennedy's support for Israel.

Posted by: Robert Canfield at July 28, 2006 01:06 PM

don't interrupt them with facts - they're busy

Posted by: rickyragg at July 28, 2006 01:17 PM

Conservatives, fond of summarizing their views with catchphrases...

Followed by:

"...battle of hearts and minds..."
"...wrong side of history..."

and my favorite, "...moral high ground..."

for thee but not for me, eh?

Posted by: rickyragg at July 28, 2006 01:28 PM

It's a NY Times article for crying out loud....consider the source. That massive Cairo mob surrounded by police shown in the NYT picture? What....a few hundred people demonstrating? Get real.

Posted by: Charlie in Gresham at July 28, 2006 01:43 PM


Good rhetoric, bad history. Even if we would have had the foresight to do such a thing, we lacked the capacity to accomplish it.

Mr. Canfield:

Try this variation on for size:

Does anyone doubt that the admitted desire of Salvation Army and the majority of the Christian world is to bring the Good News not just to Jews, but to all non-believers and infidels around the world? It's what they themselves have stated. It's what they teach their children. It's what is published in their newspapers.

Now, I'm not disputing the basic truth of what you say.* But it surely isn't quite so simple as that. (Just as my alteration is at least overly simple and probably quite wrong in places.)

Keep in mind that I used the Salvation Army in my example because a substantial part of Hezbollah is a charitable organization. I can't think of any organization in our society that compares well to it... but imagine the Salvation Army had an actual armed military wing, and had its own media outlet, and was also a viable political party. That'd be kinda-sorta like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It's a strange thing for us to imagine, because our culture prefers organizations that separate those roles. But bearing that combination in mind, we should pay attention to this question: when Israel bombs a Hezbollah target, are they bombing an armed outpost, a party office, or a homeless shelter? There seems to be some doubt.

[*: Nor am I supporting Hezbollah, nor any other militant or terrorist organization, nor even Israel. I think they're all behaving badly.]

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at July 28, 2006 02:00 PM

The thing that most conservatives don't realize is that America isn't powerful enough to take on the entire Middle East. We need the rest of the world to help us, and sadly, they're no longer listening.

Posted by: Justin at July 28, 2006 02:00 PM

"We need the rest of the world" - slight problem the rest of the world needs their oil so would not stir up too much trouble, even if they set off bombs in Madrid or riot in Paris. I think this is the reason Russia sells Iran most of their nuclear equipment which is kinda of hard to explain otherwise considering their proximity.

Posted by: Steve at July 28, 2006 02:11 PM


Perhaps I didn't put "We don't negotiate with terrorists!" as a catchphrase in its proper context. If I had done so, it would include this laundry list of empty-headed GOP gems:

"Mission Accomplished!"
"Tax Relief!" (for the rich!)
"Fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here!"
"Fiscal Conservatism!" (through record deficits!)
"Support the Troops!"
"blah, blah WAR on Terror! blah blah..."
"The DEATH tax!"
"Clear Skies Initiative!"
"No Child Left Behind!"

And not ONE truism in the entire bunch. Sure Dems can bore you with details, but the GOP has got deception down pat. It's like advertising execs were hired to create taglines that people remember even if the product is sh*t.

Did I forget one, anyone?

Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 02:24 PM

""... crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect..."

Posted by: tom at July 28, 2006 02:54 PM


If we had had the foresight maybe we could have had the capacity earlier.

Posted by: jyah13 at July 28, 2006 04:24 PM


If wishes were fishes, there would have been a lasting peace forged at Versailles in 1919. Or someone would have slapped the gun out of Prinzip's hand in 1914, or something that didn't involve hundreds of millions dying by force or famine over forty years.

Wishes aside, the fact is that no power in the 1930s was capable of achieving sufficient dominance to make a doctrine of "preemptive strike" actually work in the real world, and only two had the will to try anyway: one invaded Poland and France, and the other bombed Pearl Harbor. (It's an exclusive club that I'm not happy to join.)

The only reason preemption is working for us now is that we currently enjoy a vast dominance in military force. When that dominance fades in time, as dominant power always has before, will our grandchildren be pleased when the precedents we set are used against them?

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at July 28, 2006 04:52 PM


Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 04:57 PM

er... Amen to Alan's comment

Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 04:58 PM

Alan -- a nitpick:

The Salvation Army doesn't rain rockets down on neighborhoods or cut off your head if you decline their offer of the Good News. It doesn't offer charitable funds to the families of suicide bombers. Nor does it have an army or much political influence. I know you were cognizant of that from your "overly simple and probably quite wrong" phrase, but my concern is that it might appear to draw a moral equivalence between Christians, who might disagree with and want to change other faiths, and Hezbollah, which is blowing them up.

Posted by: Ken at July 28, 2006 05:35 PM

Bill M: "A closer analogy to what you suggest is if we had attacked China instead of Japan prior to Pearl Harbor and then realized later we had made a big mistake for all the wrong reasons."

Er... a closer analogy than that might be:

1) FDR receives intelligence briefing, "Imperial Japanese Navy determined to bomb U.S. from aircraft carriers", in November 1941.

2) Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

3) The U.S. invades China in 1943.

I'm just sayin'... ;-)

Posted by: David Wright at July 28, 2006 05:55 PM

TK: Not ONE truism in the bunch...

How about THREE truisms:

"Tax Relief"
"Death Tax"

All true. Misused, misapplied, misconstrued, generally poorly employed, to be sure. But true, nonetheless. At least as far as they go.

You're correct, however, that "bumper sticker slogans" invariably don't tell the whole story. Context is important.

John Kerry did flip-flop on many issues. But why? What circumstances may have changed, or what new information may have come to light that might cause a reasonable person to change his mind?

Bush did provide tax relief to everybody who paid income taxes. But at what cost? Who will ultimately pay the bill?

The estate tax is, practically speaking, a death tax. But why is that a bad thing? What is the real cost of repealing it? How does that fit in with other forms of tax inequity, and is changing the estate tax really the most important thing we could do to the tax code?

Republicans are hardly the only ones responsible for telling only part of the story in slogan format ("Nobody died when Clinton lied"). Which is not to excuse the practice on anybody's part. But claiming that the slogans are actually not true when strictly speaking they are true, is also disingenuous. You're conflating actual deception/BS with mere simplification.

Posted by: David Wright at July 28, 2006 06:08 PM


I generally agree with what you're saying. Happy that someone can see shades of grey...

Maybe those three aren't necessarily untrue, but certainly misused and overgeneralized to act as a smokescreen for details that most people don't bother to find. Details that, as I see it, are much more telling than bumper-sticker logic.

Posted by: TKrueg at July 28, 2006 06:22 PM

Ken: It's much more than a nitpick. I am aware that the Salvation Army does not have a military wing, and I tried to be quite clear about not drawing a moral equivalence. Apparently I failed. :-/

Still, in the Islamic world, it's said the Crusades still loom large in history and their view of Europe. Crusaders did rain down artillery on noncombatants and did cut off innocent heads. The militant wing of Christianity is much calmer these days, but the echoes of their past sins linger to our cost.

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at July 28, 2006 09:34 PM

"We may someday be practicing hindsight and wishing we had stepped in and helped maintain a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel for the sake of maintaining a stable Lebanon."

Another problem - I have Lebanese and Israeli friends, they had a stable government in Lebanon, until Iran/Syria decided it would be a nice beachhead to use against Israel. Hezbollah assassinated Hariri who tried to clear them out and now the gang runs the country. A ceasefire won't stay that way, at lease as long as Hezbollah is allowed free run in Lebanon.

Posted by: Steve at July 28, 2006 10:06 PM

I think you're saying the Islamic world still points to the Crusades as an example of what the infidels will do if the Muslims don't take care of the infidels first. I don't know if that's true or not -- I'm not disputing it, I just don't know. But at what point do we stop pointing to something that happened centuries ago to justify the murderous actions of today?

Also, I knew you were including the military aspect somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but you were also (I think) saying that both were charities and might have legitimate facilities that shouldn't be bombed. But to continue your analogy, if the Salvation Army had a thrift store in Vancouver, BC with Katyusha rockets in the basement, and those rockets were being shot at Seattle, I would have no trouble with our country doing what the Israelis are doing -- dropping leaflets on the area to tell civilians to get out, and then converting the thrift store into a crater.

Posted by: Ken at July 29, 2006 08:59 AM

Oops, I neglected to say I was responding to Alan...

Posted by: Ken at July 29, 2006 09:00 AM

"I think you're saying the Islamic world still points to the Crusades as an example of what the infidels will do if the Muslims don't take care of the infidels first."

Well, more that our protestations that Christianity is a religion of peace are likely to ring a bit hollow over there. Their own local history tells them a very different story. The irony is that we scorn Islam's claim to be a religion of peace, while brushing aside our own history. If we accept that Christian violence is an aberration (which I think is largely true, now) then it seems we should give Islam the same benefit of the doubt: suicide bombers and attacks against civillians do not represent mainstream Islam.

These terrors are political much more than they are Islamic. We tend to forget that.

"But at what point do we stop pointing to something that happened centuries ago to justify the murderous actions of today?"

Good question. How long do you suppose we're going to use 9/11 as an excuse to invade countries that had nothing to do with it? :-)

But yes, I agree that fighting over centuries-past injustices is generally not a good idea. So where does one draw the line? Five hundred years? Fifty? Five? Has the statue of limitations run out for the Sioux? How about the Armenians? How about the Chechens?

It's easy for the victors to let bygones be bygones. It's not so easy for the losers.

"[...] if the Salvation Army had a thrift store in Vancouver, BC with Katyusha rockets in the basement [...]"

And how could you be sure? Is it enough to just suspect it because the logo is over the door, or do you need eyes-on intel from a reliable agent? What if the thrift store was located in the ground floor of a multistory apartment building? If you give the civillians enough time to leave, don't you suppose any rockets would be moved by then, too? If so, then what's the point of bombing the place?

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Posted by: Wyatt Kyan at August 7, 2006 04:59 AM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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