11/10/2004

Bits and pieces of a great Hullabaloo

Hullabaloo: ...So what else is new? We are dealing with an absolutist culture that demands total capitulation or nothing. Compromise will not work and it certainly will not work on these "values" issues. (Indeed, I think it's part of what makes us look weak to some other factions who might be willing to vote for us.) This is the same old shit over and over and over again. We backed off on the death penalty, gun control, welfare, affirmative action and here we are with a new slate of issues about gays. Tomorrow it will be creationism. Until we realize that their condition is that we FULLY EMBRACE their cultural dominance in both word and deed, they will not be satisfied.

It is not enough that they be left alone to do what they choose. We must join them and do it thoroughly and with fervor. No amount of tweaking will work. Their real beef is psychological and tribal. Issues are fungible.

...we prove our bona fides to the red states:

A suburban American school board found itself in court Monday after it tried to placate Christian fundamentalist parents by placing a sticker on its science textbooks saying evolution was "a theory, not a fact."

...In dozens of interviews since the election, grass-roots activists in Ohio, Michigan and Florida credited President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, with setting a clear goal that became a mantra among conservatives: To win, Bush had to draw 4 million more evangelicals to the polls than he did in 2000. But they also described a mobilization of evangelical Protestants and conservative Roman Catholics that took off under its own power.

This is interesting because it's exactly what the Democrats have been criticized for all these years --- being a coalition of single issue consituencies developing their own agendas, not working well with others and creating havoc on the ability to govern when the party is in power.

...Meanwhile, for the first time in memory, the Democrats put away their differences and worked together. And much to my surprise and delight, I'm not seeing the circular firing squad nearly as vicious as it usually is after a loss. Perhaps we can hang tough long enough for the Republicans to get a taste of governing with single issue constituencies for a while.

How Bush Almost Let It Slip Away :By Taegan Goddard on 2004 Campaign
Charles Krauthammer gets it exactly right:
"Bush wagered it all on Iraq and nearly lost his presidency. The 2004 election hinged on Iraq, in three political incarnations: Iraq, the war; Iraq, the first presidential debate; Iraq, the media magnet for countless bad news stories. Together they very nearly overthrew Bush.

"It certainly was not John Kerry doing the overthrowing. The only reason it was tight is that the Democrats picked a candidate singularly weak on Iraq... He could never articulate a consistent and coherent alternative policy. The entire Democratic Convention was an exercise in avoiding the issue. Kerry spent four days talking not about Iraq but about Vietnam. This glaring non sequitur gave Kerry the distinction of having a convention with no bounce."


Ashcroft Resigns -Atrios 5:57 PM in the Eschaton.
Sadly, it's not a moment for jubilation. They'll likely find someone who's actually much more competent about throwing away civil liberties and who is more popular.



Juan Cole: The Iraqi Islamic Party lead by Muhsin Abdul Hamid, has been among the few Sunni Muslim groups willing to cooperate (even if rather lukewarmly) with the Americans. It is now threatening to pull out of the Allawi caretaker government. The IIP had also been the main force urging Sunni Arabs to participate in the elections scheduled for January, and had been opposed in this stance by the Association of Muslim Scholars. That the Iraqi Islamic Party is now contemplating leaving the Allawi government raises the question of whether a mass Sunni Arab boycott of the elections is in the offing, thus fatally weakening the legitimacy of any new government.

Liberal hawk Pollack's threatening a storm in Iran via NYT: This IS why we re-elected Bush ISN'T IT?!
...So how do we come up with a coherent plan for Iran? A good place to start would be by analyzing the smart moves and the many mistakes America made over the last 14 years with another member of the so-called Axis of evil: Iraq. There are some obvious similarities between the goals and methods of these two countries, and Iran learned a great deal from Iraq's efforts to deceive the international community about its weapons programs. If we are to meet the challenge from Iran, there are four main lessons to be learned:

Beware the siren song of easy regime change. Throughout the 1990's, many Americans claimed that Saddam Hussein's regime was so hated by the Iraqi people that merely committing our foreign policy to regime change, arming a small band of insurgents and perhaps providing them with air support would be enough to topple the government. In the end, of course, it required a full-scale ground invasion to do so, and even the size of that effort has proved inadequate.

Similarly, there is good evidence that most Iranians want a different form of government, but there is little evidence that they are ready to take up arms against their rulers. Most Iranians simply don't want to go through another revolution. While Iranians on the whole are probably the most pro-American Muslims in the region, they are also fiercely nationalistic. Given our experience in Iraq, we should assume they would resist any effort by America to interfere in their domestic affairs.

A diplomatic solution is far preferable to a military one. Though the problems America faces in Iraq today would likely be argument enough against invading another Middle Eastern state, there's another reason to hold off on attacking Iran: we do not have a realistic military option there. Our troops are spread thin, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards could mount a far more potent military insurgency than the rebels in Iraq. Nor do strategic air strikes on nuclear targets seem like a viable alternative. One lesson Iran learned from Iraq was to widely disperse its nuclear facilities, duplicate them, hide them and harden them. Today we do not know enough about Iran's nuclear network to know if a widespread air campaign could even set it back significantly, while we doubtless would face retaliation from Iran in the form of terrorist attacks and an all-out clandestine war by Iranian agents in Iraq.

A multilateral approach can produce results where a unilateral course may fail. The key element in Saddam Hussein's decision to give up his nonconventional weapons programs - or at least put them on ice - was the willingness of the French, Russians and Chinese to agree, in the wake of the Persian Gulf war, to a system of inspections and economic penalties built around the idea that sanctions would remain as long as the inspectors kept finding elements of the regime's illegal weapons programs.

...Looking at the Iraq example, the bottom line for Iran is that we have to act now, while we still have some options left that might persuade the mullahs in Tehran to slow or halt their nuclear program. But we must get our allies on board immediately, and get firm commitments from them should Iran go back on its word in the future. The last thing we want to do three or five or ten years from now is to be bickering at the Security Council while Iran joins the nuclear club.

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