Thursday, January 31, 2008

Democratic Debates Redux

Once again I happened to catch the Democratic debates. They're just so much fun to watch! (note, I know these aren't exact quotes, but they're reasonably accurate)
It took a Clinton to clean up after the last Bush - Clinton
'Scuse me? It was Clinton that let Saddam ignore UN resolutions, ignore no-fly zones, and hamstring weapons inspections to the point that it was actually plausible that he could have WMD. Not to mention essentially ignoring the first WTC bombing, the USS Cole, and a number of other terrorism incidents. Awesome cleanup job, let's definitely do that again!
We should not maintain bases in Iraq.
(... several sentences... )
We need to maintain a strike force in Iraq. - Obama
So what are the soldiers going to do, float in the air? Maybe we can base them off of zeppelins! Brilliant. In any event, we have bases almost everywhere else in the world, and few other areas are as strategically important as the middle east. Why wouldn't we want bases there? If cost is an issue, close the ones in Germany and let the Europeans can handle themselves.

Bush should have finished what he started, before leaving office. - Clinton
So a president shouldn't start anything that won't be done before the end of their term? Nothing that would take longer than 4 years at most? That's just asinine.
Read between the lines -- she wants Bush to get this over with now, because if she does get elected it becomes her war to lose. If she pulls out when it's on a path to winning, then it's on her. If she doesn't pull out, the Democratic base will be pissed. If she stays in and it ends up going reasonably well, then Bush has to get some of the credit. She needs Bush to get out before she gets in because otherwise she's in a no-win political situation.

It was priceless watching Hillary basically make the case for the Iraq war while trying not to admit that Bush wasn't insane. Not to mention an impressive lesson on doubletalk.

Sadly, I still haven't caught a Republican debate. I imagine they're just as amusing.


Gordon said...

Absolutely, the Republicans have Ron Paul, who channels Ross Perot most excellently, and Mike Huckabee, who's positively scary. Put that man in charge of the black suitcase and I'm moving to the Moon.
"and hamstring weapons inspections to the point that it was actually plausible that he could have WMD"
Plausible maybe to anyone who didn't actually have access to the intelligence. Recall also that Scott Ritter (chief weapons inspector) was on record saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program. The administration and most of the GOP candidates are now pooh-poohing the latest NIE because the intelligence services grew a backbone and are willing to speak truth to power again.
As far as ending what he started, the quote is "It's the most irresponsible abdication of what should be a presidential commitment to end what he started." Can't say I blame her. Nobody wants to be Gerald Ford & Jimmy Carter, inheriting a post-war recession. The problem is that entertaining the idea of being President requires sufficient hubris to blind oneself to the realities of the job.

BeaKeR said...

Hi Gordon, nice to hear from you again!

Yes, there are definitely things that scare me on the Republican side as well, and I'm sure sometime between now and November I'll have my shot at them as well.

Regarding the WMD charge, most of Congress at the time, including the ones that did have access to the intelligence, found it plausible. And according to the FBI agent that interrogated Saddam he was trying his best to look like he had them, while retaining the capability and intention to go for it again when things quieted down. Just because it turns out he didn't have them doesn't mean that it was an implausible notion at the time.

Nicki0731 said...

I'm staying out of the arena with you, but would like to commend you on the use of asinine. It has always been one of my favorites should definitely be more widely used.

Bangabeng said...

Well, here I am…following you onto your blog to get a good debate out of you. For such a small post, you sure manage to squeeze a whole lot of “What the hell” in. The root of my frustration is, “…it was actually plausible that he could have WMD”. I am amazed, amazed that this is an actual rational. Does the plausibility argument only apply to Bush and Americans or can anyone play?
It’s plausible that Bush is a criminal, Americans will invade other countries without provocation, blah, blah, and blah…you get the point. Should other countries retaliate against the plausibility of a rogue super-power? Should a man go to prison because it is plausible that he’s committed a crime? A country should not go to war because it’s plausible that another country has WMD’s.
The dictionary defines “plausible” as, “superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious”. This is a reasonable reason for war? You know it is possible for both Bush and Hillary to be wrong, you don’t have to defend either. It is also possible for you to be wrong; you don’t have to travel into this world of absurdity just because you were afraid of a third-world country. A third-world country that would destroy the richest, most powerful country in the world, lol.

BeaKeR said...

Thanks for reading & commenting.

Your main point seems to be that plausibility was not good enough justification for the Iraq invasion. Obviously I don't agree.

Plausibility could be defined as a non-zero chance - there was a non-zero chance that he had the weapons. There was a chance that he would use them or give them to someone that would. The possibilty of someone killing a bunch of Americans is a national defense risk, and it's the job of the government to mitigate those risks.

The responsible thing for the government to do was to investigate. They did that, with inspectors, satellites and probably some espionage. They still couldn't rule out the possiblity that he had weapons and would use them. So what was the government supposed to do, ignore the possibility and hope noting bad happened? Hope no sarin gas appeared in a subway, no radiological bombs went off in a city center? That doesn't seem like a good idea. So they took the last course of action, which was to basically go in and have a look. Since Saddam wasn't inclined to let us do that, and he had an army, it became a war.

So yes, we went to war on a possiblity, a chance, a plausible scenario. But what else do you want? Certainty? The only way to be certain would be to wait for the attack. And that's a bit too late, isn't it?

To comment on your other "plausibility" examples...
"It's plausible that Bush is a criminal." -- Not plausible enough to impeach him. If it was plausible enough, he'd go on trial. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much what we did with Iraq. First through the UN and the IAEA, but after they kicked out the inspectors we didn't have many options.

"Should other countries retaliate against the plausibility of a rogue super-power?" - Yes. But we're not really "rogue" are we? It's not like we smacked some innocent bystander. We didn't invade Canada or even Cuba. Saddam openly supported terrorism, to the point of sending checks to the families of suicide bombers. He had had WMD in the past. He went on about how terrible the US is. In short, he spent a lot of time making himself look like a threat.

"Should a man go to prison because it is plausible that he’s committed a crime?" - No. But it might be wise to stick him in jail for a few days and look into the matter, yes? Maybe go through his house and see what you find? Search and arrest warrants are issued on the plausibility that someone committed a crime. It's harder to go through a countries closets, but that's basically what we did.

"A country should not go to war because it’s plausible that another country has WMD’s." - Really? Should we have just waited and hoped that nothing bad happened? Is that really a better plan?

"A third-world country that would destroy the richest, most powerful country in the world," - I don't think anyone claimed they could destroy us. Just that they could kill a lot of us. Isn't that still a valid reason for concern? Isn't that a valid reason for self-defense? Or do you have to wait until you're on the brink before you can actually do anything?

Bangabeng said...

Why aren't you fighting? You are able body, and obviously believe it was justified.
These high minded, what if arguments for getting people killed would be a little more valid if “you” were willing to put your life at risk.
It is plausible that you’ve stolen from your job, let’s put you disciplinary review, or lay you off without pay until we find out whether or not it’s true.

Stop being such a coward, the world doesn’t sleep and breathe America….it’s all hype; they don’t hate you for your freedom.

Grow some balls, and have a nice day :-)

BeaKeR said...

I see that we've stopped debating the merits of our positions and started debating the merit of my character. So may I assume that you're conceding your position is indefensible? :)

Actually, I'm not sure we're even debating my character. Obviously I feel strongly enough to debate the decision on a website. It's a pretty big jump from that to enlisting in the military.

But since we're posing unfounded questions, if you feel that strongly about the whole thing then why aren't you in Washington lobbying Congress and picketing the White House?