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Many liberals were fine with Afghanistan, but not with Iraq. I think there were solid reasons for balking at Iraq. Here were some of mine, even as we were building up towards the land invasion:

- I was skeptical of the costs projected by the administration, both in monetary and human terms.
- I didn't see any connection between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
- I didn't see any real evidence of WMDs.
- I saw Bush's cowboy approach as potentially damaging both our credibility and our relationships with our allies.
- I saw the war, and especially our unilateral approach to the war, as ultimately creating more terrorists and endangering America.

By way of full disclosure, I am a pacifist of sorts (not against personal self-defense, but against massive use of state violence) but I am also capable of removing my pacifist hat and talking like a realist (my degree's in political science with an emphasis in international relations).

Ultimately, the war in Iraq is about increasing American hegemony over the Middle East. Ironically, this trend goes back to Carter, and has continued through each administration, Democrat or Republican. The U.S. is rightfully concerned about growing demand from China and India on shrinking oil supplies. U.S. global military and economic might is built in large part on easy access to cheap crude. I would rather the U.S. withdraw its dependence on such a troublesome and unpredictable supply.

I guess I'm trying to build a case that although I'm a liberal, I am concerned about security, and I see Iraq as a security concern. I might even argue that when Bush switched the justification of the war from WMDs to freeing the Iraqis, he transformed it from a security to a cultural concern on the Republican side.

John, I think these sorts of drawn-out affairs always see mission creep, in this case from the certainty of WMDs to a crusade to build a free and democratic Iraq. Now that they have a share of power in Washington again, Democrats will have to articulate (as you put so nicely) whether they, too, see Iraq as a security concern and, if so, what their plan or proposal is. "We need change" isn't enough anymore when you are suddenly the majority party. The rhetoric of the next month or two will be very revealing.

I personally thought it was a brilliant move for Harry Reid to ask Bush to host an Iraq "summit." The inevitable failure of such a conference poses no risk to Democrats but provides a perfect opening for the old "if we had a Democrat in the white house" line of argument.

I guess you see what you want to, but I would imagine that the Left is against the Iraq war for some of the following reasons:

1. The war comes at an incredible cost in terms of dollars and lives, but provides no tangible benefits to the U.S. (Ok, so this is really the conservative reason for opposing the war).

2. It was fairly clear even from the beginning that administration officials lacked even a basic understanding of the internal workings of the country.

3. The combination of shifting/flimsy rationales for the war and reason #2 eroded America's moral credibility in the world. Some think this could come back to hurt us if we should ever be involved in a non-elective war.

4. Viewing the war as exporting peace and freedom (strange that Iraq has yet to have either) at gunpoint or as a massive welfare project ("hey we're buildings schools and roads!") is a radical new direction for the U.S., and liberals are right to mistrust conservatives embarking on either endeavor.

I don't see how attributing any of the above reasons to culture wars reduces their significance in any way. The Left correctly predicted both 1) the tragic reality on the ground in Iraq, and 2) the new dismissiveness with which other powers in the world may now treat the U.S.

About the article - the argument that the left views the Iraq war incorrectly because opposition to the war is a defining element of the left lacks substance. The left has plenty of principled policy reasons for opposing the war that have more substance than simply to attack the conservatives.

Besides, I think most liberals are puzzled as to why this war is a "conservative" cause anyway. Traditional conservative principals (limited spending, prudence and negotiation in foreign affairs, foreign adventures calculated to increase real U.S. power) don't seem to apply to it.

An increasing majority of Americans realize that the war was a dumb idea, economically and politically. The fact that most of the left agrees with them means either that the left has more smart ideas these days or that the left is hopelessly shallow. I guess the neocon holdouts pathetically cling to the latter.

First of all, let's be clear that conservatives are NOT fighting insurgents and terrorists. It is folks like my brother (who is currently in Iraq training local police) who are fighting the insurgents and terrorists.

I thought the essay was interesting in some ways, but I believe the author is incorrect about the malleability of the middle. Both my brother and I (veterans both, moderates both) supported the war in Afghanistan but adamantly opposed the invasion of Iraq. At the time, we accepted the evidence of WMD, and even if those had proven true, we would still have opposed that invasion.

Our opposition came from having grown up in a house where one of the excellent books in our bookcase was A BELL FOR ADANO, by John Hersey. It talks about the US occupation of Italy following WWII, and the many challenges that occured, even though the town's administrator was an Italian-American who could speak the language fluently. The message and parallels were obvious.

Our opposition to the invasion of Iraq was that we saw no plans for winning the peace. Rumsfeld said it would take no more than six months at the outside of American involvement. We thought he was crazy. I'm sad to say that we were right.

And so my brother has been reactivated for a second year of active duty in the last five years, and risks his life daily while conservative commentators and politicians get to sleep comfortably in their warm beds with clean sheets.

So how do you anti-war types feel about US involvement in WWII? After all, it is a historical fact that Einstein (and others) overestimated the pace of German development of the original WMDs when giving advice to FDR. And German atrocities against the Jews ... well, that was someone else's problem, wasn't it? Do you think we made a mistake intervening in WWII in Europe? How do I distinguish your position from old-fashioned (and now discredited) isolationism?

And no one ever notes the fact that the US does, quite often, decide not to intervene. We held off going into Somalia for years. We held off intervening in the Balkans for a long time. The world response is ususally, "Hey, people are dying over there. The US should go do in and do something." So I see the real-world policy questions about specific interventions as much more complicated than is generally portrayed in the media or by armchair commentators like us.

PS: I'm not suggesting those few who announce and defend personal pacifism don't have a principled basis for doing so. I just don't think you can inflate that to a policy of national pacifism, nor do I think 20-20 hindsight critiquing of intervene-or-not decisions is (obviously) a viable real-time approach. I'm a great weather forecaster ... for yesterday's weather. It's easy.

I think there is a big advantage to having been dragged in kicking and screaming into any armed conflict. It gives you a moral high ground not unlike that of Captain Moroni. So I think isolationism is a healthy thing in that it applies strenuous brakes to intervening, then once you get pulled in, you go full bore, with none of this lukewarm VietNam, Iraq, get us out of there because we just aren't sure it is worth it business.

I'm not a pacifist or an isolationist, but comparing Iraq to WWII?

I would say that having a huge chunk of our Navy destroyed at Pearl Harbor and watching Nzi Germany gradually subsume central Europe and bomb London were pretty good excuses to go ahead and take the plunge for that war. Although some may have overestimated the German WMD threat, there were real tangible reasons for that war.

I am a republican who objected to the Iraq war from the beginning, so I am not just using hindsight. The problem with this war is that the administration had every chance to consider all available information ex ante, and deliberately chose not to - even to the extent of fabricating false information. Claiming that hindsight is 20/20 when you stayed purposely misinformed and actively misled others is as cynical as it gets.

When is "kicking and screaming" too late and futile? I mean, its not like WWII had anything to do with the U.S. even after Pearl Harbor. We could have shrugged it off and given in to Japan's request of leaving the Philipines.

"...nor do I think 20-20 hindsight critiquing of intervene-or-not decisions is (obviously) a viable real-time approach. I'm a great weather forecaster ... for yesterday's weather. It's easy."

In the case of Iraq, what happened came as absolutely no suprise to strategic planners at the Pentagon. If the Bush administration was surprised, it is only because they actively chose to ignore that advice and the lessons of history.

In March 2003, I wrote a column for my local newspaper in which I asked questions about the long-term consequences of the invasion, and "What happens next?" I talked about how our family considers the long-term costs when buying something like a home...an apt metaphor, since soldiers refer to death as "buying the farm." I take no joy in the fact that everything I predicted has come to pass.

So please don't try to pretend that the Iraq debacle was an unexpected as twists in the weather. That's like moving to South Florida and being surprised when a hurricane hits. It wasn't inevitable, but it was highly likely, and not a surprise to me (and if a small-town housewife could figure that out, based on reading Hersey's book and watching THE BATTLE FOR ALGIERS, then surely those smart folks running the country could anticipate that outcome, if they wanted to).

Naismith, we're all behind your brother and wish him and his fellow soldiers safety and good fortune. I have no doubt it's a difficult time for you and other family members. Support for our troops when they are in harm's way, serving on behalf of our country, should be given regardless of party or politics. Our pleasant policy discussions don't reach these personal issues.

Speaking of those pesky policy issues, if you really foresaw the extent of the difficulties that would develop in Iraq way back in March of 2003, good for you. Would you like to try your hand going forward instead of looking backward? If you're such a foreign policy wiz, would you like to take a crack at what we should do about Iran or North Korea? Do nothing? Apply unilateral pressure or sanctions? Work through the UN? Use Russia or China to pressure them? Make military threats, then wimp out when faced with sending in troops? Make military threats, then follow through? Skip the threats and just send in the troops if they successfully test WMDs and a delivery system, then start sabre-rattling?

On the WWII to Iraq comparison, it is more appropriate than is generally recognized. The threat of WMD was a significant factor in our strategic decisions during WWII: in our decision to commit massive resources to the Manhattan Project; and in our decision to bomb German heavy water production plants to slow down their development. Had Hitler, in 1941, not foolishly declared war on the US, we would have been in the same sort of difficult intervene-or-not scenario we face today [for Europe — war against Japan was a foregone conclusion after Dec. 7, 1941]. WWII only seems like an easy call because we're looking backward instead of forward.

There was a huge American movement against intervention, the America First movement. As for the postwar scenario ... we left troops in Germany too. They're still there! But it was a successful intervention, wasn't it?

"Our pleasant policy discussions don't reach these personal issues."

Frankly, I think that is a big part of the problem. In WWII, pretty much every healthy male served in uniform, including movie stars and professional athletes. Everyone in the country was invested in that war. In Vietnam, that all changed. The elite got deferrments for college, etc. and so politicians were no longer having to make decisions that involved their own children (Senator Gore being a rare example). That altered the nature of such policy discussions radically, and has most recently resulted in a "draft the neocons" movement.

When my brother and I first discussed the Iraqi invasion, our thoughts had nothing to do with his personal well-being as we were sure that he would not serve there, since he had just finished a year's deployment involving the Afghan campaign. Unfortunately, the military under Rumsfeld instituted stop-loss procedues that reneg soldier's contracts, keeping them in country longer than they were promised, calling up reservists like my brother for multiple tours.

This makes it so that an unfortunate few are carrying the burdens disproportionately, minimizing negative public opinion and allowing people like you to say that those personal issues have nothing to do with policy. If the military had followed the established procedures for personnel management, then so many more American families would have been involved that there might have been a public outcry.

"Speaking of those pesky policy issues, if you really foresaw the extent of the difficulties that would develop in Iraq way back in March of 2003, good for you. Would you like to try your hand going forward instead of looking backward? If you're such a foreign policy wiz, would you like to take a crack at what we should do about Iran or North Korea?"

Sure. First, I have not claimed to be a "foreign policy wiz." I'm not. That's why I find it so apalling that I could see the obvious and yet you claim the Bush administration could not.

But I think the approach is the same. You find experts and you listen to them, whether they say what you want or not. That has been the basic flaw of the Bush administration's approach. Most recently, when asked about the Lancet article regarding Iraqi death counts, Bush tossed off, "The medothology has been discredited." Well, no, actually that is the same methodology used to calculate things like the monthly US unemployment rate. It is a methodology that the US public health service teaches. Although some experts found the cluster sizes to be a bit large, that element of sample design was incorporated into the standard errors associated with the estimates. It happens that I subscribe to a public opinion research listserv, and the reaction from all sectors was very positive, and pointed to benchmarks that reflected the credibility (e.g., the cancer mortality using that methodology was similar to other estimates, the pre-invasion mortality estimates using this methodology track the CIA factbook).

So when someone "discredits" methodology that most experts find to be sound, I can't help wonder about the political filters being applied to other sources of data.

So this is how to solve the problem: You look for solutions that have long-term possibilities and are framed in a way that make them acceptable to the people involved. There are lots of real experts that could be called upon.

Ralph Peters is a policy wonk who used to work at the Pentagon. He retired from the Army because he got tired of his superiors not listening to him when he warned about the dangers of radical Islam. He was told that capitalism and the free market would solve all.

Oxford Research International is a public opinion research firm that specializes in emerging economies. I think they may already have done work in North Korea, in fact. Their take on the issues would certainly be informative.

And I am sure there are many others...

Then you listen to those sources, even if the picture they paint does not fit with your political notions. That's what I loved about the Bartlett white house; he was always hiring Republicans and even appointed one to the supreme court.

Naismith, two quick comments. First, appealing to experts won't solve anything. As a US President once noted (was it Carter?), on the tough questions there will always be experts on both sides — or on many sides. Politicians (or other decision makers) need to deal not only with their own biases (a considerable problem) but also with a whole spectrum of "expert" opinion to choose from. Consulting experts can make one better informed, but it rarely solves policy challenges in the manner you have in mind.

Second, my reference to "personal issues" was meant to indicate that, regardless of anyone's differing views (here or elsewhere) on policy issues, the vast majority support the US military personnel out serving in the front lines of an active conflict. It was meant to convey the point that, despite our differing policy views, I certainly wish nothing but good fortune and continued safety for your brother and others like him. I hope they all return safe and whole. The details of troop deployments and rotation are beyond the scope of this post, although it is obviously a sore point for those tagged for multiple deployments.

Final note: I'm not even sure we have differing policy views. I posted a link and brief comments to the First Things note because it was interesting. I didn't write the note. With 20-20 hindsight, everyone sees ways they would have done things differently. I'll bet Rumsfeld sees a dozen things he would have done differently.

Have you seen the documentary on McNamara? I watched it in 2004 but somehow never posted on it (the closest I came was the last paragraph of this post). However, the Wikipedia entry "The Fog of War" gives the film's 11 Rules culled from McNamara's experience as Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam years, and McNamara's own 10 Rules he prepared as a response and supplement to the film.

Dave, to be fair the Pentagon had done a fair bit of research as a matter of course on what an occupation would take. Bush and his team largely ignored it and downplayed the threat of an insurgency. That was a grave mistake and one they really should have known better on, or at least had contingency plans for.

In a sense Rumsfeld's theory was that the problem in Viet Nam was that the Americans were doing everything. Thus they were the target and it was easier to have an us vs. them mentality by the Vietnamese. The problem he neglected was in terms of how long it would take to have a functioning police and army. The particulars of how de-Baathification was done also was unwise. Even had Rumsfeld been correct in his strategy he neglected the period from the end of the invasion to the period when the Iraqis would stand up. By any account that would have been at least a year. He had no effective plan for that period.

Complete and utter BS.. Sorry.

I am LDS, and a Democrat. Democrats don't oppose the war because it is "Cultural War" issue. That is hogwash.

Democrats aren't opposed to war, Democrats are opposed to STUPID war. We were fine and supported Afghanistan, it made sense. We were attacked by Al Qaida, who were guests of the Taliban, and the Taliban wouldn't let us get to them. We had to take them out.

Iraq made NO sense. They had no WMD, they weren't involved in 9/11, and they were no threat to us. They were a STUPID distraction from the real issue, which was getting rid of Al Qaida.

We believe that when we invade someone and cause the deaths of 150,000 of them, and thousands of us, we had better have a really good reason. We didn't in the case of Iraq, and it has done nothing but destabilize the region, and build a new fertile ground for terrorists. Brilliant!

Thanks for the comments, Jolard. The "LDS and Democrat" thing is fine -- the Church would be better off with more Democrats, and the Dems would be better off with more Mormons. But when you shout (USING CAPS), I'm assuming your trying to incite a belligerent reply, so I will oblige.

Plenty of Democrats supported the Iraq incursion at the time it started. So by your own rule -- that Democrats don't support stupid wars -- Iraq is NOT a stupid war. Just ask Lieberman. Oh, and denying a two-term senator the nomination, then having him come back and defeat the "official" Democratic candidate in the election -- now that pegs out the stupid-meter. These are the folks you expect to exercise good judgment in Washington?

We have a representative government with a free press. So the stupidity label only works with hindsight. Anything patently stupid at the outset gets vetted and rejected. It really does. The Harriet Myers nomination. Hillary's socialized medicine scheme. John Kerry. Yes, democratic institutions work sometimes.

And if Iraq is now a stupid war ... well, let's see what your brilliant Dems do now that they have some influence. Wanna bet they change pretty much nothing regarding Iraq? Oh, they'll make some noises, but we'll still be there a year from now.

Dave,

Oh, and denying a two-term senator the nomination, then having him come back and defeat the "official" Democratic candidate in the election -- now that pegs out the stupid-meter

I'm assuming you mean Ned Lamont by this reference; but, I don't follow you exactly. If you mean to imply the Democratic party was somehow stupid for denying him the nomination I don't really see how you can fault the party for that. The party's hands were pretty much tied. If a candidate wins your sanctioned primary, you pretty much have to let him/her run in the general election.

Fortunately, both you and I share, shall we say, a bit more colorful representation in the U.S. Senate than Jumpin' Joe provides his CT constituents.

I agree with you, and fault the Democratic party for caving in to Bush on Iraq in the first place. There should have been greater opposition in the party against this incursion. But, they were weak, and followed the most politically expedient route.

Personally I think Congress as a whole abdicated its role in the war on terror from the get go. I believe Congress should have declared war on the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Congress should never have allowed George Bush resolutions or anything else. Follow the Constitution, and do it right. We should have done it right with the manpower necessary to finish the job there--then, perhaps Iraq may not have occurred. Abdicating its war making responsibility to one man, and a separate branch of government is unforgivable for the entire Congress--both parties.

Perhaps you are right that we may still be in Iraq a year from now. I hope not. The departure of Mr. Rumsfeld from defense was a good thing, and I think attributable to the recent power change in Congress. Even if a Democratic congress does nothing more than act as a legitimate check on this executive’s power it will be a good thing. I am hopeful the new Congress will seize this opportunity to make a difference so that a year from we won’t be in the same place we are today.

Dave, it's fine to talk about hindsight, but this adventure was ill conceived from the first. I strongly felt invasion of Iraq to be an extremely poor idea from the moment CNN started drooling over the prospect of a repeat of Operation Desert Storm (which footage, by the way, secured CNN's place among major news reporting institutions).

It was patently obvious that while Sadaam was a destabilizing influence on the Middle East, he was no more so than Iran, Afghanistan, or even Pakistan and Syria (to say nothing of the unaddressed Palestinian issue). Sadaam was trapped within his own country crippled by trade sanctions and repeated bombings within the "no-fly zone." He remained surly and beligerent, but was largely impotent. And we only had hints of WMDs. Neither would Sadaam have even been a terrible security concern to us WITH nukes. His ballistic missiles were only a regional threat and nowhere close to being intercontinental. The appropriate response would have been a working Missile Defense Shield (which Bush was already pushing) which we could have exported to Saudi Arabia and Israel (and even Japan and South Korea when it comes to that). The possibility of a "suitcase dirty bomb" or a "nuclear van" parked outside a sporting event was largely illusory. Dictators are actually a rather safe place to have hostile nukes. They keep them for sabre-rattling purposes and to extort pay-offs from their neighbors. But they don't go giving them to loose cannons like Osama bin Laden (who might just as quickly turn the weaponry on the dictator as on the US).

Assuming a Saddam with nukes, he was no more a threat than North Korea (less, as it turns out), Iran, or even Pakistan and Russia if it comes to that. There was little, if anything, to be gained from invading Iraq.

What is more, we already had a demanding military engagement in Afghanistan that was not finished yet (which I supported, by the way). It seemed patently obvious that we needed to do a good job in Afghanistan before the world would be fully supportive of other US strategic goals.

And yes, we did need "old Europe" to support us. The US is simply not strong enough to act unilaterally, and it has not been so since the commencement of the Korean War. The conservative dismissal of our traditional allies was stupid, stupid, stupid.

The idea that the US is "man enough to go it alone," militarily, diplomatically, or financially is adolescent thinking and only makes sense after you've downed several beers, listened to some block-headed conservative radio pundit, and read one too many Tom Clancy novels. But it's a strategy unworthy of a nation of responsible adults.

This is what made the Bush administration's stance even more pathetic. If they'd just waited a few more stinking months, the rest of the UN (at least those who matter) would have supported us in Iraq. But no. Bush had to play the big man.

Without financial and troop backing from Europe, and with our military stretched too thin, we risked destabilizing other equally important security commitments (which, as it turns out, we have).

I was thinking ALL of this before we even invaded Iraq. Just about everyone in the professional bureaucracy was thinking it too.

Unfortunately, Bush came into the White House intending to invade Iraq. September 11 was a mere excuse to rally public opinion behind his own little quest for political manhood. Any opinions to the contrary, and you weren't "being a team player."

Trainwreck. That's the only way to describe the Bush foreign policy. And if Bush hadn't been thinking like a fifteen year old, he should have seen it. I saw it for Peat's sake!

Events have born out almost every single one of the worries I had going into this. The only place I was wrong was in thinking that 1) Afghanistan would be a repeat of the Soviet invasion - it wasn't even close to that bloody or unsuccessful, and 2) that Iraq would turn into another Vietnam. Iraq is no Vietnam.

It's five times worse than Vietnam ever was.

God help us all.

Because Dave's right. The Democrats can't do much more than see this through. We've burned our bridges and any options that might have once been available are long gone.

Iraq simply HAS to work.

But it won't. Barring a miracle, it can't.

"Plenty of Democrats supported the Iraq incursion at the time it started."

Because they trusted the intelligence they had been presented, which was grossly inaccurate regarding key points, such as WMD.

"The idea that the US is "man enough to go it alone," militarily, diplomatically, or financially is adolescent thinking and only makes sense after you've downed several beers, listened to some block-headed conservative radio pundit, and read one too many Tom Clancy novels."

I would add, and listened to some country music. Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" and Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" both draw a connection between 9/11 and Saddam/Iraq. A connection that has no basis in reality.

(This is not a slam against country music in general. I did my grad work in Austin, and I used to love it...but the last few years, the pro-Bush propaganda is a bit much.)

All of the arguments for/against the Iraq war have been had out ad naseum in the Bloggernacle already. The consensus that this was a wasteful war for the U.S. to fight, and that this should have been known beforehand, is now shared by virtually all Democrats and a lot of Republicans. Those who are still sold on the original marketing campaign for the war are part of an ever shrinking minority.

The more interesting question is what to do now that we are in this mess, and are the Democrats capable of coming up with any useful ideas.

Normally, I would not trust the Democrats to come up with any good ideas because they are more ideologically divided than the Republicans have been for the past 8 years. Coming to some sort of consensus on Iraq would normally be nearly impossible with the new Congress. It so happens, however, that the Democrats will be able to take advantage of a useful device that will provide them with an otherwise elusive consensus on Iraq.

I think that the Democrats in congress will be nearly unanimous in endorsing the findings of the Iraq study group that are due to be reported shortly, no matter what those findings may be. This is a group dominated by true conservative leaders that served Reagan and the older Bush, and they were recruited by true conservatives to take George Bush to the woodshed on the Iraq issue. Their findings are expected to be a radical departure from George Bush's "stay the course" rhetoric.

I wonder why conservatives who still buy into the Iraq war as presently constituted don't feel more conflicted when they see how thoroughly Reagan-era conservatives disagree with Bush. This list includes James Baker, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Lawrence Eagleburger and the new defense secretary, Robert Gates.

Follow-up to #23 - I realize that the Iraq Study Group is bipartisan, but the conservatives on the group tend to be Reagan - Bush I era conservatives who believe that changing the course is necessary to make something of the mess in Iraq.

lief,

It's because, dumb as Bush's foreign policy agenda was, it provided something that's been lacking in previous incarnations of GOP Realist policy:

An inspiring world narrative and vision.

The US as the "arbiter of righteousness," waging a holy conflict against the forces of darkness wherever they may be.

Realism is a prudent and conservative strategy. But prudence is not exactly inspiring.

Honestly, I think conservatives everywhere were a little envious of the neo-liberals being able to claim all the "moral tone" in foreign policy. They wanted their own Wilsonian doctrine, doggonnit! Until conservativism could rediscover a "good war" along the lines of our triumph over Facism, the GOP could never fully shake the monkey of Vietnam off its back.

Thus was birthed Neoconservativism. A shallow, fallacious, and self destructive ideology that deserves a slow, painful, and ignomious death.

Seth,

Thanks for the exposition and reminder of the power of the good/evil narrative. Interesting that Ronald Reagan employed the same narrative at the end of the Cold War (calling the USSR the "evil empire"), but took a radically different approach to dealing with the evil than the current occupant has taken. Reagan aggressively engaged the enemy in dialogue through visits and summits in order to win the battle of ideas. Although the fall of USSR-based communism was more complex than this, keeping channels of dialogue open goes a long way towards winning wars without firing shots.

In contrast, Bush refuses to speak with governments he determines to be evil. One wonders what would happen with countries like Iran if Bush would simply engage them on areas of mutual interest, such as securing Iraq. Ignoring Iran and North Korea has been Bush's other foreign policy fiasco.

I think that the Iraq Study Group is expected to recommend increased dialogue with sometimes hostile but politically expedient countries like Iran and Syria. Reagan was smart enough to know that throwing around terms like "evil" is good for domestic consumption, but bad for actual foreign policy. That distinction seems to be lost on Bush.

Dave, I really have nothing of substance to add to this, but I wanted to thank you for posting it. I am so desperately ignorant of 'current events,' politics, and the like these days that I've lost the thread of it all. My husband occasionally tries to enlighten or inform me, but a unilateral explanation is less real to me than a discussion from varying sides of an issue.

I tried to get him to chime in on here, but he says that he's learned that political conversations with people who are not in a position to change policy have little yield for him. Too bad.

Even of those of you discussing it feel little personal yield, I just wanted to pipe up that someone else got something out of it.

Gee Naiah,

Who does your husband chat with?

Dick Cheney?

Hahaha, Seth, I should have put that in quotation marks. Basically, he's learned that chatting politics in general doesn't do him much good beyond a few extra blood pressure points. :)

That's true. I may have to lay off a bit myself for similar reasons.

Election season is like a trip to New York: nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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