abovenyquist's remarks are marked with a ">".
> We totally agree on that! We just disagree on the best way to
> deal with a
> large number of people who actively want to kill us, and I think I've
> figured out it comes from a difference in personalities:
I'm not so sure it's personality or our analysis of the root causes. I trace the conflict back to how Arab traditional culture is slowly eroding in the face of Hollywood movies and barbie dolls. Imposing a repressive regime by force is the only way to stop that so they have to attack or be destroyed by our soft power.
The alternative explanation--I've seen this from others, don't know if you hold to this, but it seems to fit with your comments below--is that the terrorists would live happily in their lands if they weren't offended by US attacks on their country / troops in Saudi / support of Israel. Under that theory we're safest by pulling back and no longer giving offense.
> 1) You are inherently an optimist, and believe that Iraq will
> work out,
> the middle east will stabalize, and that a chain of events
> will occur that
> will remove the root causes of Islamic terrorism, so it will not be an
> issue 30 years from now.
> That's a reasonable argument, which I find more reasonable
> than Fox New's
> inherent and automatic confabulation of the "War in Iraq"
> with the "War on Terror."
"Inherently an optimist" is not a typical description of me ;-)
I agree with the Fox News interpretation. Analogy: Iraq is to the War on Islamofascism (aka Terror) as the Italian campaign was to World War II. It's an intermediate objective taken as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal, not a separate goal in itself. Without the wider war I'd have a much harder time justifying a war purely to overthrow Saddam. There's a case for it but the cost:benefit is much worse.
And I'm not so much an optimist believing that the flowering of the middle east bound to happen, as someone feeling that the other end states are so horrible that we're morally obligated to try everything we can to avoid them.
Let me elaborate on that--I see this war having four possible outcomes:
1. The Arabs become good neighbors living in a democratic Middle East.
2. A Caliphate is established dominating a large part of the world and spreading Islamic values worldwide.
3. A worldwide catastrophe smashes civilization as a result of nuclear or biological warfare.
4. The Arabs are eliminated as a people.
Our current situation--a happy America living next door to a very unhappy Middle East--is unstable and will eventually fall into one of the ones above. The longer we stay in it the likelier 2 and 3 become as improving technology puts greater weapons into the hands of terrorists. 4 would assure our physical survival but would damage our souls, possibly beyond redemption, as least for our generation.
So I think we need to push as hard as possible for state 1, as a moral obligation. And if that's our goal there's no sense delaying the actions for it.
> 2) I am inherently an pessimist, and believe our an Iraq
> adventure will
> (a) destabalize the middle east and create an entire new generation of
> people who want to kill us, and (b) distract us from really
> dealing with
> the people who actively want to kill us. I'd rather that all
> those troops
> who are currently in Iraq been sent to where the terrorists
> actually are.
I share the neocon attitude of considering instability in the middle east a good thing . . . right now we've got a setup that produces a steady flow of suicide bombers.
As for hunting terrorists, we've got a lot of Al Qaeda types flooding into Iraq. So we don't have to send the troops after them, they're coming to us. The actual terrorist-hunting ops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, etc. aren't things armored divisions can be used for so I don't think the hunt for them has been hurt much.
The big difference in our forecasts is what the views of the next generation of Arabs will be. If we don't get a big net improvement we're headed for a very unpleasant world.
> My trouble with (2) is that now that are actually in, I can't
> come up with
> an exit plan. We're flat out stuck in Iraq and will bleed for
> years, and I don't see a way out of it.
My greatest fear for Iraq is that it gets handed over to the UN, which has done a miserable job in Bosnia and Kosovo. That would probably lead to a new strongman being emplaced which, on the terrorism front, would put is practically back at square one.
> My most pessimistic scenario includes us
> actually needing to move against North Korea - but by then,
> Bush will had
> "shot his wad" in Iraq, and the American public won't believe the
> administration when it says it needs to move against North
> Korea, even if
> it is a REAL threat, and our forces will be stretched too
> thin. It seems
> the American public is willing to give their President one or
> two silver bullets - and Bush spent his prematurely.
The problem with North Korea is that we can't move against it without China's permission. And China doesn't want US troops on its border.
I think presidents get 1-2 bullets per election. If Bush wins we can consider him reloaded. The strain on the military is a different matter. I'd be all for raising a couple of divisions of MPs and light infantry. I think we're going to need them.
> "I wanted the head of Osama bin Ladin, but all I got was this
> lousy occupation"
If we cut off the arms and legs I'm willing to do without the head . . .