Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Mark Steyn writes:
Perusing reports of this month's World Naked Bike Ride in San Francisco, I was impressed by the way the acres of sagging mottled flesh stayed ruthlessly on message: "RE-ELECT GORE" was the slogan on one man's bottom, as fetchingly dimpled as a Palm Beach chad, while beneath the "GORE" of his butt his upper thighs proudly proclaimed "NO WAR" (left leg) "FOR OIL" (right). "I'D RATHER HAVE THIS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT" read one lady's naked torso with an arrow pointing down to the presidential material in question. What a bleak comment on the bitter divisions in our society that even so all-American a tradition as nude bicycling down Main Street should now be so nakedly partisan. It's as if the republic itself is now divided into a red buttock and a blue buttock permanently cleaved by the bicycle seat of war.
OK, that really has nothing to do with this post, but how could I excerpt any of this column without including that? It's the next paragraph that I'm interested in:
OK, this metaphor's jumped the bike path. Let me see if I can find some historical analogy. Ah, here we go: Back in 1559, devastated by the loss of her last continental possession, Mary Tudor, England's queen, said that when she died they would find "Calais" engraved on her heart. When the Democratic Party dies, you'll find "NO WAR FOR OIL" engraved on its upper thighs. Despite the Republicans' best efforts to self-destruct, I can't see the Democrats taking either the House or Senate this November. As I said a few months back, even a loser has to have someone to lose to, and the Dems refuse to fulfill even that minimum requirement. It may be true that on critical issues such as Iraq and immigration the GOP is divided. But it's a much bigger stretch to conclude that the beneficiary of those divisions is likely to be the Democratic Party, which is about the last place one would look for a serious position on either issue.
It comes off as childish, no? The way the Democrats incessantly criticize without offering any substantial or realistic alternative. Nothing is easier than to sit back and watch someone else attempt an incredibly complex task, point out every one of their mistakes, and then make the (non-falsifiable) assertion that you would have done it better.
It's even easier when it is a large government attempting to build a civil, liberal and modern society from the ashes of 30 years of barbarism in a part of the world that has never experienced such a thing. And oh yeah, murderous thugs willing to indiscriminately blow up innocent Iraqi civilians and saw off heads on the internet are running around, desperately trying to sabotage the whole thing.
Of course there are going to be mistakes (no war goes without them) and of course they should be highlighted, but it should be done so in a constructive manner, with goals for improvement. Sadly, criticisms are, far too often, used as a partisan club.
Do these critics have any alternative suggestions? Actually yes they do, but Wretchard and Blackfive make mincemeat out of them. Not because of a difference of opinion on effectiveness or strategy, but rather because of the respective strategies inability to reside within the realm of objective reality.
John Murtha embodies this absurdity when he suggests to Tim Russert that we could defend the Middle East from Okinawa:
MR. RUSSERT: But it’d be tough to have a timely response from Okinawa.
REP. MURTHA: Well, it—you know, they—when I say Okinawa, I, I’m saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly. And—and—when they don’t know we’re coming. There’s no question about it. And, and where those airplanes won’t—came from I can’t tell you, but, but I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn’t take very long for them to get in with cruise missiles or with, with fighter aircraft or, or attack aircraft, it doesn’t take any time at all. So we, we have done—this one particular operation, to say that that couldn’t have done, done—it was done from the outside, for heaven’s sakes.
The 'one particular operation' Murtha refers to is the bombing of Zarqawi. Similarly, Blackfive demolishes Murtha's plan with a simple map display, and these comments:
The straight yellow line extending across the middle of China and Iran is the distance from Okinawa to Baghdad as the crow flies which is approximately 4200 nautical miles. Obviously, the Chinese and the Iranians wouldn't be cool with that, but let's just roll with it. The max combat range for the F-16 with external fuel tanks and 2000 lbs of ordnance is 740 nautical miles so that's like a minimum of SIX midair refuelings in EACH direction.
This little display is hardly worth putting together, but I did it to demostrate that this man is dangerously deluded and not at all serious about an issue of critical national security significance. He is out there in the MSM just winging it and not being called to account whatsoever for statements that are so outlandish and absurd that they defy all attempts at comprehension.
So Murtha's proposition is logistically impossible, yet he seems unaware, or maybe he just doesn't care. Criticism panders.
The other alternative to the Bush strategy has been put forth by Democratic think tank, Center for American Progress. Like the Murtha/Okinawa plan, this one also mounts a serious challenge to the rules of logic. Wretchard performs his typically keen analysis and notes:
This is frightening in its own way, not only because it contains obvious internal contradictions (shown in the table below) but because it never comes to grips with the fundamental questions that have been raised, but never answered about the strategy in Iraq.
But read the whole thing. The details are quite interesting.
And just yesterday I came across one more plan put forth by the left. Aziz P over at Dean's World summarizes a strategy that seems strangely... familiar
1. ATTACK TERRORISTS
2. COUNTER JIHADIST PROPAGANDA
3. KEEP WMD FROM JIHADISTS (esp soviet nukes!)
4. EXCHANGE TERROR INFORMATION WITH FRIENDLY NATIONS
5. DISSEMINATE DEMOCRATIC IDEALS (note: not neccessarily democracy!) WORLDWIDE
6. EXERCISE GOODWILL TO THE POOR AND UNFORTUNATE
7. EXEMPLIFY GOOD DEMOCRACY
Fascinating is it not? This is generally what US policy has been since, oh about 2001. Not much alternative here. Follow the link to Dean's World for some good comments. Also, I want to note, that I would love for the left to actually jump on board with this, but given the rhetoric of leading Dems (Murtha, Kerry, Kennedy) that seems quite unlikely. As well, we all know that the devil is in the details, and as a commenter over at Dean's world notes, the list currently reads something like:
1. Make Strategic List
If you're keeping score, that's 1 suggestion that is logistically impossible, one that contains so many contradictions it says nothing at all, and one that bears a striking resemblance to what we are already doing.