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Author Topic: This Tricky Business Of War
TheRallanator
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Presented without comment, on account of I'm insanely lazy right now.

quote:
This Tricky Business of War

Because we're asked to make no sacrifices, and the soldiers are all volunteers, we civilians seem to regard America's wars as if they were someone else's hobby, as if they weren't our business, as if our bullets and bombs were being launched out into empty space.

But all our wars have consequences, and they last. Because of President Bush's commitment to replacing evil regimes with democratically elected ones, the whole Muslim world saw Muslims voting and getting the leaders that they chose. I think the street rebellions, starting in Tunisia and moving on through Egypt to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, are the direct consequence of that.

The people aspire to democracy -- or at least to a regime that leaves them alone and isn't corrupt. But that doesn't mean that these street revolts won't lead to (a) massacre by the present regime or (b) a takeover by an even worse Islamist regime like the Taliban. The savage dictators of Islamism are already organized; the forces of democracy are not.

So I understand and even share the impulse to prevent a monster like Gaddafi from slaughtering his own people and reestablishing his regime even more vengefully and repressively than before. Our intervention is, arguably, a Good Thing.

A good thing, but badly, badly done. The time for intervention was in the first three days, before Gaddafi could get his military forces, mercenary or local, into line. And when we did intervene, it was chaotically, as if the experienced military leaders were not even asked for their advice, and all the decisions were being made by people who had no idea of what military forces can do or should be asked to do.

No war plan survives the first contact with the enemy -- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a plan. We were surprised in Iraq by the ease of initial victory and by the ensuing insurgency, which was only strengthened by the dithering of our incompetent civilian leadership in-country.

But despite all the mistakes in the aftermath, our military entered Iraq with a clear and definite plan, with clearly defined objectives. Our military adapted to the shockingly fast evaporation of most of Saddam's forces, and then adapted again to the drastically revised mission when the insurgency began to take shape. They knew all along that the mission of nation-building would not be quick, and over time they learned how to respond effectively to the methods of the insurgents.

What is the goal in Libya? Regime change, obviously -- Gaddafi has to go! But we are also putting no boots on the ground. So ... who is going to keep order and prevent an Islamist group from replacing Gaddafi and reactivating his lapsed WMD programs? NATO?

We already know that few of our NATO allies have the power, the experience, or the will to sustain any kind of longterm military occupations -- their rules of engagement have made many of our "allies" worse than useless in Afghanistan, for instance.

It seems as if our President has exactly the same level of understanding of what the military is for and how to use it effectively as Clinton, another anti-war, anti-military president. Since they detest the military they have not studied military history. They think you just send in the bombers when other countries don't behave. This is ludicrously untrue.

The use of American force makes waves everywhere. Right now President Obama and the supposedly anti-war Left seem to think that as long as we're just bombing, and as long as our enemy is the evil Gaddafi, we're fine. But there's no such thing as "just bombing." Bombs land somewhere and they blow things up. But they don't occupy territory and they cause collateral damage and they can make us enemies.

On the other hand, American soldiers are generally such fine people, with such good judgment, that when they are on the ground they make friends for us. No, not our enemies -- they strike terror in our enemies' hearts. But the civilians, instead of being at risk of becoming collateral damage from faceless bombs, begin to see the Americans as their protectors and allies.

In the long run, that's what has worked in Iraq, and what worked in Afghanistan until an incompetent President announced our departure date and encouraged our enemies to wait us out.

Bombing alone "worked" in the Kosovo-Serbia thing, right? Wrong. Besides blowing up the Chinese embassy, the bombing did very little -- and nothing at all, for weeks. Serbian attacks on Kosovars actually stepped up for a time. And our goal wasn't regime change, it was to sever a portion of Serbia and make it independent. It was only because the Serbian government was still semi-rational that the bombing eventually accomplished something.

Maybe everything will work out fine in Libya. That would be nice. But what about the civilian revolt in Syria? That regime is every bit as evil and far more bloody-handed than Gaddafi's.

Back in 2002 I argued that it wasn't Iraq we needed to invade, it was Syria, a notorious sponsor of continuous terror operations against us and Israel. Since Saddam would definitely have entered a war between us and Syria, we would have toppled both regimes at once.

Imagine what recent years would have been like if Syria and Iraq had been liberated at once. Since Syria was the primary funnel of "foreign fighters" and weapons into Iraq, that source of support for insurgency wouldn't have existed. Syria wouldn't have spent the last decade supplying and supporting terrorist groups in Israel and Palestine. Lebanon would be a free country instead of a state half-ruled by terrorists.

But President Bush apparently only felt right about going to war against nations he could give ultimata. "Hand over Al-Qaeda or we'll topple you," he said to Afghanistan. "Let us see your WMDs or we'll topple you," he told Saddam. What could he tell Syria? We had known for years what they were doing. There was no ultimatum to issue. "You know what? We're sick of terrorism and you're one of the main sources of it. Get out of Damascus or die"?

That wasn't President Bush's style. Too bad -- we took out a vicious dictator in Iraq, it's true, but Syria, which was and is a far more active sponsor of terrorism, remained in business. And now once again we had a perfect opportunity to remove the evil Syrian regime, the most active sponsor of terror in the Arab world, and we ignore their massacre of rebels yet move against Gaddafi?

Here's the source of the semi-insane foreign policy decisions being muffed again and again by President Obama: He doesn't yet understand that he's President of the United States, and not just the richest member of an intellectual talking society consisting mostly of European snobs and idiots.

Look at how he embarked on this war. Before Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush went to Congress and made his case for war. In both cases he got resolutions authorizing the use of force, and however much Democrats might have pretended afterward that they opposed the war "all along," the support was bipartisan. Each such resolution was in fact, if not in wording, the declaration of war that the Constitution says that only Congress has the power to issue.

What did Obama do? He talked to some congressional leaders, yes, but asked for no legislative action. It's as if the Constitution doesn't exist with this man. Instead, he spent two long, miserable weeks -- the weeks when action would have been most effective -- and consulted with Europe.

What's wrong with this picture? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that America goes to war when Europe agrees that it's a good idea. It's nice to have allies, but there's no requirement. More to the point, even if every other country in the world (except, presumably, our immediate enemies) agree and give permission for America to go to war, they do not have an ounce of authority. I've read the Constitution -- recently, in fact -- and I'm quite sure of that.

But President Obama has such envy of other world leaders -- he wants to install European health care in America; he wishes he were like the Chinese dictator and didn't have to worry about opposition parties -- that it doesn't occur to him to learn how to govern America, using the methods prescribed in the Constitution.

The funny thing is that he would easily have gotten congressional approval, if he had even bothered to ask. The Republicans and the handful of pro-defense Democrats would have given him full consent to take action in Libya. The only reasons he didn't ask were, presumably, that he didn't think he needed Congress, and it would have embarrassed anti-war Democrats to be forced to either vote for a war or against their President.

If the enterprise in Libya fails -- if Gaddafi stays in power, or if the successor regime is even worse -- will anyone blame NATO? Oh, please. They will blame America, because without America nothing would have happened. The blame always goes to us ... and it should.

War is a terrible business. Bombing is not more sanitary than sending in troops, it's less sanitary. It gets our hands dirty without giving our soldiers a chance to make things better and to change the perception of our intervention. It happens that some -- perhaps most -- of the rebels against Gaddafi are glad and grateful for our highly-limited help; but if things turn sour, the gladness and gratitude will be replaced by a memory of the futility of what we did.

And the fact that we're bombing in Libya and not in Syria, Yemen, or Bahrain will also be remembered. The oppressed people who made their play for democracy in those nations will draw their conclusions. Libya has oil; Syria and Yemen do not. Bahrain does -- but their corrupt regime is our ally and gets a pass. Does America stand as a defender of freedom in their eyes? Or as the oil-hungry behemoth that doesn't care about them?

Worst of all, in my opinion, is the sheer irresponsibility of using our military with no clear mission, no congressional or constitutional authorization, and with no recognition that Obama is far worse than President Bush, whom the Left criticized so savagely as a warmonger.

The Left accused Bush of rushing into war, when the opposite was true. Yet they sit silent now, when with far less authority and without any clear mission, Obama sends our bombers to blow things up -- and people, too -- in Libya, while ignoring the rebellion in Syria that is just as justified and long overdue, against a regime that has caused far more harm to us and our allies.

Does President Obama even have a foreign policy? Or does he have to check with Europe to find out what he should do? Because it's Europe, not America, that would sell their sister for oil, caring nothing about democracy in Arab countries. How did we get a European President? This man doesn't even understand who we are, as a people, and yet he acts in our name and we, not he, will bear the longterm consequences.


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OpsanusTau
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LOL.
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Viking_Longship
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Terrible, one of the dumbest things he's written.

He could have made the legitiamte point that the POTUS should seek Congressional approval for military action without making comments about Europeans that would be considered racist were they not about white people.

Writing Ender's Game didn't make him the second coming of Sun Tzu. I wish he'd stick to things he has some experience of like education and theatre and off things he doesn't get like politics and war.

[ April 18, 2011, 12:43 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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TheRallanator
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He made a handful of good points in an otherwise bad article, but I think this one line:

quote:
But all our wars have consequences, and they last. Because of President Bush's commitment to replacing evil regimes with democratically elected ones, the whole Muslim world saw Muslims voting and getting the leaders that they chose. I think the street rebellions, starting in Tunisia and moving on through Egypt to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, are the direct consequence of that.
utterly negates any sense that he was in danger of making [Smile]
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Aris Katsaris
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The Muslim world supposedly never saw Muslims voting in Turkey, or Albania, or even frigging Palestine.

Such idiocy really makes me despair of the future of the whole human race. There's a certain type of American that can't believe any foreigner, (and especially third-world Muslims), can have any existence of their own. It must all be connected to an American action. At least any *good* bits. The bad bits are all Islam's fault, I'm sure.

What about the vote where South Sudan voted to break away from North Sudan? Is that also related to the Iraq invasion? Wasn't it related to their 30-year civil war instead?

It really makes me despair. I see someone say something SO IDIOTIC with a straight face... and I know there's no hope for the human race.

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TheRallanator
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But Aris, the muslim world got to see muslims voting in Afghanistan and Iraq where foreign occupiers spent tens of millions of dollars grooming and promoting pet candidates who could be relied on to promote the occupiers' interests. And they got to see muslims voting in Palestine when America, bastion of bringing democracy to the arab world, spat the dummy and went off to sulk about the winners being illegitimate because Hamas won instead of Fatah. These examples of US-approved democracy are surely what inspired the arab world this year [Smile]
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Viking_Longship
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Aris the problem is that he's written a system for himelf where he can't lose. If anyone disagrees with him it's because they're condesending elitists. It's never because he's making sweeping statements about things he only knows about through secondary, biased, sources like The Weekly Standard and the Economist.

[ April 24, 2011, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
The Muslim world supposedly never saw Muslims voting in Turkey, or Albania, or even frigging Palestine.

Such idiocy really makes me despair of the future of the whole human race. There's a certain type of American that can't believe any foreigner, (and especially third-world Muslims), can have any existence of their own. It must all be connected to an American action. At least any *good* bits. The bad bits are all Islam's fault, I'm sure.

What about the vote where South Sudan voted to break away from North Sudan? Is that also related to the Iraq invasion? Wasn't it related to their 30-year civil war instead?

It really makes me despair. I see someone say something SO IDIOTIC with a straight face... and I know there's no hope for the human race.

ぜつぼうした!!! Mr Card writing disparaging drivel has left me in despair!!

[ May 23, 2011, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: Blayne Bradley ]

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Wavecrest
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quote:

Since they detest the military they have not studied military history. They think you just send in the bombers when other countries don't behave. This is ludicrously untrue.

The use of American force makes waves everywhere. Right now President Obama and the supposedly anti-war Left seem to think that as long as we're just bombing, and as long as our enemy is the evil Gaddafi, we're fine. But there's no such thing as "just bombing." Bombs land somewhere and they blow things up. But they don't occupy territory and they cause collateral damage and they can make us enemies.

On the other hand, American soldiers are generally such fine people, with such good judgment, that when they are on the ground they make friends for us. No, not our enemies -- they strike terror in our enemies' hearts. But the civilians, instead of being at risk of becoming collateral damage from faceless bombs, begin to see the Americans as their protectors and allies.

I'm not going to lie and say that I'm a military expert or even extremely well-informed as to every single foreign affair going on, but by my understanding bombs are normally used to reduce death on our side.

Our military's presence in Iraq is not popular. Even Defense Secretary Gates has stated that its unpopularity has made it difficult for the country’s political leaders to ask for it to continue.

Again, though: I'm not an expert and I know it. So if someone would be kind enough to really explain the situation to me instead of me staring at this column and saying, "But we already have enemies there so the bombs are really just to save our soldiers' lives and not necessarily their civilians," I would really appreciate it. And thanks for reading my (probably very idiotic) two cents [Smile]

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AI Wessex
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Bombs kill people and destroy infrastructure. Any aftermath is a side effect. We may bomb with the intent of reducing subsequent collateral damage on our side, but it doesn't always work that well or at all. For instance, the US "shock and awe" bombing at the start of the second Iraq War was argued this way:
quote:
On March 19 [2003], the day the airstrikes got under way, U.S. Air Force Col. Gary L. Crowder, chief of strategy, concepts, and doctrine for the Air Combat Command, told reporters that the war would be an "effects-based" campaign. "The effects that we are trying to create," he explained, will be "to make it so apparent and so overwhelming at the very outset of potential military operations that the adversary quickly realizes that there is no real alternative here other than to fight and die or to give up." Once the Iraqis realize this, Crowder added, "[T]here will be a greater likelihood that they might choose not to fight for the regime."

Three days later, Army Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained further, "We are running an effects-based campaign that is partially kinetic, partially non-kinetic, partially information operations." The success of effects-based bombing is "not just whether there is a hole in the room of a building but whether or not the function that the element did before ceases to be effective. … In an effects-based campaign, we can achieve much shock and awe by hitting just critical points." This echoed Crowder, who had said that hitting a few key nodes would "collapse the system from the inside."

We dropped a lot of bombs in the first few days, but we were so far off in our understanding of their military strengths and deployments that the effect of that campaign was more light show than effective military strategy. Now, more than 8 years, 10's or 100's of 1000's of lives lost, and $1T later, how useful was that approach?

BTW, that was your first post here on Ornery. We have a traditional greeting: "You are Wrong!", but you didn't venture an opinion to make it true at the outset. Just be forewarned, then, that you are definitely wrong, but just haven't proven it yet [Smile] . In other words, welcome!

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Dirk
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It’s a shame that your commentaries, “The tricky business of war” are not as well thought out as your novels or the other commentaries I have read here. President Bush went in with clear military goals, persuaded the world and the country with made up facts, and accomplished his military goals immediately. Unfortunately, his goals were short sighted and unsupported by the world at large. He was forced to continue with a “coalition of the willing”, (weak and practically useless allies), and fund his wars with accounts that were not really there…
Obama is supporting his European allies who are leading the attacks on Gaddafi. I agree it is a short sighted and a possibly ill-fated adventure. But if we are to count on allies, perhaps we ought to support their efforts on occasion.
As far as Syria goes, how the hell are we going to pay that bill? Add more spending that does not really count on the books? The father of the latest Bush had the right idea and the right means. He had support from the rest of the world; he did not try and do it alone. Plus he had the “Mustards seed of intelligence” you spoke about in “Democracy in Egypt”. He did not march to Bagdad.
Is it possible for a politician ro pundit, (Right, Left, or GASP solution oriented), in our great country to spend as much time effort and money on solving a problem as they do on proving that the opposition is an “idiot” and un-American?
[FootInMouth]

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Greg Davidson
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Dirk, the tradition after your first post is to say that you are wrong (as described above), but I agree with you. So we both must be wrong.
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drewmie
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quote:
Because of President Bush's commitment to replacing evil regimes with democratically elected ones, the whole Muslim world saw Muslims voting and getting the leaders that they chose. I think the street rebellions, starting in Tunisia and moving on through Egypt to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, are the direct consequence of that.
Wow. I think he's completely mainlining the Kool-Aid these days. Nobody who actually knows ANYTHING about the region agrees with this. It shows how completely off the reservation he's gone.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
[qb] The Muslim world supposedly never saw Muslims voting in Turkey, or Albania, or even frigging Palestine.

Turks have voted for generations, albanians aren't Arabs and only marginally Muslim, and Arabs regard Palestinians as subhuman even though technically Arab.
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Aris Katsaris
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Sure, we can slightly fix OSC's argument for him. Perhaps when he talked about the Muslim world seeing Muslims vote, he truly meant about the Arab world specifically seeing Arabs specifically vote (and a particular type of Arabs at that, non-"subhuman" ones).

But it would still be inadequate -- I could note how not a single Arab protester seems to be mentioning Iraq as a good example. I could note how the Iranian (non-Arab) protests came first. How there've been a number of isolated uprisings against the regimes over the long decades, and the wider coordination seen in this one can be easily explained by the mere presence of social networks and media like Al Jazeera that unite the Arab world in communication.

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Pete at Home
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Iranians would identify with shiite Arabs in Iraq, neh?

"I offered a deal which included a full reaffirmation of the debt, and this was the response."

I suspect that Lebanon was the trigger for most of the arab world.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Iranians would identify with shiite Arabs in Iraq, neh?
If you're to argue they identified with the Shiite Arabs in Iraq, then give me evidence that they identified with the Shiite Arabs in Iraq. You may quote any of the Iranian protesters you want, where they reference these supposed parallels with their Iraqi Shiite brothers voting.

But right now it seems to me that when it comes to discussing the Iranian revolt, it was supposedly about identification with the Shiite faith -- but when it came to discussing the Arab Sunni revolts, the Sunni connections with the Turks, or the Albanians wasn't significant, because those weren't Arabs?

This seems to conveniently matter only when it comes to supporting OSC's pet theory, not when it contradicts it.

I hope you're not pretending to take ludicrous hypotheticals seriously (e.g. the magnetosphere boosting long-distance telepathy) just so you amuse yourself by tiring me out talking against absurdities. I'm currently too tired and too stressed for such crap, and I'll take intentional trolling against me as a hostile act, NOT as a thing done in good humor.

Most people's real beliefs are insane enough, without pretending at even more insanity.

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frogcat2
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Now that Libya is falling to the rebels (obviously supported from the outside) anybody want to predict how the Left and Right will take credit and/or point blame? I bet I know what Mr. Card will do...
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AI Wessex
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I think both the left and the right have some backtracking to do. Obama "led from the rear" on this issue pretty much from the beginning. Because his policy was so indirect and unaggressive, everyone complained that he was going too slowly, too fast, too boldly, like a coward. They're not congratulating him now, but are switching their stories. If they said he was too fast before, now they say he could have done this quicker; if he was too bold before, things would have worked themselves out better if he had pushed harder....yada^3. As Gingrich put it in early April, I know he's doing what I said he should do, but he's still wrong.

[ August 23, 2011, 07:55 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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Why does America need to lead everything?

(Not contradicting what you said, Al. I've changed my position; not my story; I have no criticism of how Obama handled Lybia.)

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AI Wessex
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Americans are prosperous, and like rich people they are used to getting their way. They go further and think there must be a reason for their prosperity and influence and choose to believe it must be because they are smart. And if you're rich and smart people really should listen to you and do what you say for their own good. It is generally true that even the most extraordinary people are just average in every other way. What rich people and prosperous nations aren't smart enough to realize is that being rich or prosperous doesn't mean that you are actually extraordinary in any way.

[ September 26, 2011, 03:50 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Sinex
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This column is a showcase of Mr. Card’s palpable distaste for Barack Obama, and more accurately, how palpable personal distaste can color one’s political judgment to such a degree that even the most intelligent of us will begin spouting nonsense before we know what happened -- if we aren’t careful.

There are several illustrations of this in the column and it is difficult to know where to begin cataloguing them all. The most straightforward is probably the criticism of Obama for not obtaining congressional approval for the use of force in Libya in one line and a criticism for not launching the invasion within three days in another. Card also sidesteps the fact that Bush launched a wholesale invasion of another nation with the intention of toppling its government and occupying it indefinitely without a declaration of war by pointing to a resolution passed by Congress authorizing the use of force. What Bush sought and (barely) obtained from Congress a year (nearly to the day) after the 9/11 attacks is far closer to the resolution unanimously passed by the Senate a year ago urging the establishment of an internationally administrated no-fly zone over Libya than it is to the formal war declaration envisioned by the Framers.

The repetition of the platitude of the superiority of “boots-on-the-ground” is absolutely mind-blowing. Any population will resent being bombed, but they will absolutely despise being occupied. This is a universal concept not subject to beliefs or feelings that foreign citizens should welcome the presence of American soldiers because they are, in general, extremely good human beings. They are still foreign occupiers, and the former or even continuing presence of the most evil dictator in the world isn’t going to change that. If neoconservatives (which, judging by Mr. Card’s column, it is apparently fair to label him) should have learned anything from the invasion and aftermath of Iraq, it is that democracy and good governance cannot be handed to a citizenry and expected to flourish. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Your country has to want it, and earn it, and want to keep what they have earned for it to succeed. In retrospect, this should have been fairly obvious.

Which is why it is still stranger, in my view, to contend that we should have instead invaded more and different countries. He picks Syria. Fine. Suppose I pick North Korea. Maybe someone else has a soft spot for Tibet, so we need to take on China. It is flabbergasting that he does not see the underlying fallacy of this thinking. Libya is a veritable stone’s throw away from France and Britain. Obama didn’t ask their permission to conduct military action, as Card suggests. He offered to support our allies in an operation which is and rightly should be their problem. Why must the American soldiers who volunteer to defend their homeland be shipped about the planet, policing every evil dictator who sprouts up in a world of six billion in Card’s equation if he is the one who purports to respect them so much? To be completely blunt, if the Israelis feared an Iraq with WMDs that could reach their soil, they should have launched their own invasion (which we could have supported absolutely) rather than forcing our soldiers to take the figurative lead on something that has almost nothing to do with our own national interests.

Put simply, Mr. Card’s column is astonishingly apologetic for the missteps of the Bush Administration while simultaneously condemning in the strongest possible terms the supposed ineptitude the Obama Administration for doing things like fulfilling campaign promises that got him elected. Sir, if you ever read this, if the Afghanis want a government other than the Taliban, they are going to have to institute one themselves. We can remain there for 5, 10, or 100 years, and that fact will still remain true. Obama didn’t “install” European health care – he explicitly campaigned for President on a massive health care reform package and adopted an approach that Mitt Romney and the Heritage Foundation basically invented and convinced Congress to pass it. And that’s exactly what the Constitution envisions. Would federally administrated health care be constitutional under an original intent reading of the Constitution? No. Would Medicare and Medicaid? No. Have there been several extremely questionable Supreme Court precedents stretching back to 1937 which, if followed, would absolutely compel the result of finding Obamacare constitutional? You betcha. We’ll see which direction it actually ends up going. But compulsory private insurance as European? No, sir. Not even close. Compulsory private insurance as Romneyian/Massachusettsian? Now you’ve got it.

Finally, Mr. Card’s assertion that the Bush Administration did a great job with Iraq because they made plans is absolutely incredible. No one who has read any of his books could ever accuse him of being a dullard, but this is the best single illustration of how incredibly unreasonable he is in the positions he takes in this column. I really think the whole thing comes down to this passage:
“Worst of all, in my opinion, is the sheer irresponsibility of using our military with no clear mission, no congressional or constitutional authorization, and with no recognition that Obama is far worse than President Bush, whom the Left criticized so savagely as a warmonger.”

There it is. That is the source of the column. Card personally identifies with Bush’s values far more than he identifies with Obama’s, and he finds the hypocrisy of the left in their utter lack of any criticism of any of the current President’s actions repugnant. I share this frustration. Bush wanted the right to detain anyone he deemed an enemy combatant indefinitely and left went absolutely bonkers. Obama asserts the right to execute said person and left is deafeningly silent. It drives me nuts too, which is why I’m voting for Ron Paul, who, say what you will about him, actually seems to attempt to follow what the Constitution says.

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