Wednesday, May 3, 2006

It's About Contempt

Time has an essay by a woman named Caitlin Flanagan, a liberal Democrat and supporter of many of the correct causes, who feels herself being driven, by Democrats, into the Republican party. You'll have to read her entire essay to see why, but she concludes with this:

The Democrats made a huge tactical error a few decades ago. In the middle of doing the great work of the '60s--civil rights, women's liberation, gay inclusion--we decided to stigmatize the white male. The union dues--paying, churchgoing, beer-drinking family man got nothing but ridicule and venom from us. So he dumped us. And he took the wife and kids with him.

And now here we are, living in a country with a political and economic agenda we deplore, losing election after election and wondering why.

It's the contempt, stupid.

I'm sure there are lots of women like her in the Democrat party who feel estranged because the Democrats have abandoned traditional liberalism for a radical leftism that carries the banner of every minority group with a grievance, no matter how bizarre. This abandonment of traditional values in favor of pushing the envelope of social revolution is alien to what many people in the country believe is just and fair. As long as the Democrats are perceived as the party of "anything goes" they will continue to lose voters who, in terms of their values if not in terms of the policies they would enact, are intuitively conservative.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.

Our Congress Is In Control

In 1970 the US clearly saw that it had a dependence on oil that was owned by members of OPEC and the dependence was detrimental to our security as a nation. 36 years later we are revisiting the issue only to see that there is still no will on the part of our congress to truly do anything about it. Rather we read news like this.

The price gouging legislation passed 389-34. It must now go to the Senate for a vote. The White House has not weighed in on the legislation.

So now our congress is trying to do something about "price gouging" on oil. It might be funny if it wasn't so sad. We've alienated most of the oil-producing world with our military belligerence and our dollar hegemony and now congress is looking to penalize the oil companies because the resulting high price of oil may be unfounded???!!!

Before the vote, lawmakers looking for ways to get ahead of public outrage before the November midterm election expressed their support.

Democrats are sure to raise the issue in the fall elections. The president and Republican leaders are trying to buttress anger against the majority party by crafting a strategy that will help take the sting out of prices. Senate Republicans on Tuesday suggested a $100 per driver rebate to help pay for gas. House Majority Leader John Boehner called the suggestion insulting.

Good for the House Majority Leader. It's not only insulting, it's stupid.

Now we're getting closer to the real issue...disgruntled voters. Heaven forbid the American public holds the incumbents responsible and tosses them out into the street (where they belong) come election day. We've had 36 years to develop an independent energy policy that freed us from dependence on OPEC and we have done nothing.

As I stated before here the oil companies make only a fraction on sales of what some internet companies make. But it looks like the oil companies will be the scapegoat that pays the price for the sins of our government.

This is democracy in action. Elected officals making legislation in the hope of votes. Ultimately, the many deciding, by their vote, what will be. Democracy is three wolves and a lamb voting for what they'll have for dinner.

Why We Can't Just Leave

Byron responds to our post on 4/30 titled Can You Live With That? wherein we close by asking two questions of the antiwar protestors:

Here are two questions every protestor should be required to answer before they get their official protestor certificate: "What do you think will happen in, and to, Iraq once American forces are withdrawn?" And secondly, "Can you live with that?"

Byron's entire reply is posted on the feedback page, but the gravamen of his e-mail is that in focussing on a couple of looney signs held by antiwar protestors last weekend (one announced that "Bush is more evil than bin Laden") we're only making ourselves irrelevant to the discussion about the war. He says this:

But my reason for writing is to suggest that some anti-interventionist folk believe, rightly or wrongly, but sincerely, that U.S. troops are making things worse. They have indeed asked themselves the first question (although they may not have researched the geo-politics of it all very well, I don't konw.) But they believe that what will happen if we leave will be better for the people than if we stay. Call it naive if you will, but it isn't as if they haven't considered that. If they didn't think it mattered, they wouldn't be protesting. They protest because they think we are in the wrong.

The second answer follows from the first. If they think that things will be better off without our troops there, then, obviously, they will happily say that they can live with those (better) consequences.

Rather than imply that protesters are all as muddled as the odd sign-carrier you ... highlighted, why not tackle the serious anti-war policy think tanks, critical Pentagon staffers, etc, that have, in fact, speculated on these things, and thought hard about them. To imply that the peaceniks aren't caring enough, or smart enough, to grapple with these tough questions may post well on the conservative side of the blogopshere, but it doesn't really contribute to the discussion much.

Ouch. The fact is, though, we have several times posted on what the likely consequences of withdrawing from Iraq would be, most recently here, but also here and elsewhere (including numerous personal communications with Byron). Byron suggests we're picking on easy targets by pointing out the foolishness of some of the signs carried by protestors of the war demanding that we get out of Iraq without giving any thought to the consequences of such a move. He suggests that we should take on "the serious anti-war policy think tanks, critical Pentagon staffers, etc, that have, in fact, speculated on these things, and thought hard about them." Perhaps so, but I can't imagine the word "serious" appearing in the same sentence as any recommendation that we withdraw from Iraq before it is stable. He also notes that many on the left believe that our presence is only making things worse for the people there, but it's difficult to see how this could be so, or how withdrawing would be better for anyone except the jihadis.

Iraq has rich oil resources, a fractious population, and predatory neighbors. Anyone who thinks that we could withdraw and leave Iraq to placidly work out its problems is living in a fantasy world and is ipso facto quite unserious. Given Arab temperament and history a very likely consequence of an American withdrawal would be some or all of the following:

Various Shia militias would be at each others' throats in a struggle for control. Al-Sistani and "Mookie" al-Sadr would be forced either to fight each other or acquiesce to the other's dominance of the Shia population. That latter isn't likely. There is also the prospect of a probable civil war between Shia and Sunni as the Shia seek to redress old grievances and the Sunnis seek to regain the power they had under Saddam. Such a war would rip Iraq apart and would have the potential to cause, both directly and indirectly, the deaths of tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people. Anti-war people would have us believe that a state of civil war exists even now in Iraq. If they think that then surely they don't think that the struggle for power would diminish once we had left.

Whoever wins the civil war will probably proceed to eliminate anyone thought to be colluding with the other side. Vengeance will insist on the blood of one's enemies and this attempt to avenge the deaths of friends and family will certainly extend the slaughter.

Al-Qaeda, whose numbers have been attrited by coalition operations in Anbar province, will pour back into Iraq to seek to establish a base of operations and safe haven there. Their presence will add to the chaos and bloodshed, and they would likely take their revenge on anyone who had been cooperating with the coalition or the current government. Such unfortunates and their families would provide enough fodder to keep the head-slicers busy for weeks and months.

These are merely the probable internal consequences of our premature withdrawal. There would likely be additional strategic sources of chaos and destruction.

Turkey may well be inclined to sieze the opportunity of a military vacuum in an essentially defenseless Iraq to move against the Kurds in order to eliminate the Kurdish irritations on their eastern border. Iran will almost certainly move into the southern oil fields around Basra and maybe in the Kurdish north as well. Syria will see an opportunity to grab a chunk of territory from western Iraq along with some oil wealth. Saudi Arabia will no doubt be tempted to join in the fun. There is little likelihood that the Iraqi military will be in any condition to effectively deter these incursions, especially if there is civil war raging in the country, and there is precious little reason to think that all that oil wealth will be just left to sit in place without Iraq's neighbors succumbing to the temptation to claim it for there own.

In short, there is a very high probability that our withdrawal will precipitate utter chaos and perpetual violence in Iraq. There will be little or no food, water, electricity, or medical care for the population. Disease and starvation will be rampant. The people will be living in constant fear of grisly death. The hardships visited upon the Iraqi people by the sanctions of the 1990s, which so outraged the left, will be seen as minor inconveniences compared to what would likely follow upon the removal of American troops.

These are the immediate aftershocks it is prudent to expect following an American departure, but the long term consequences are also frightening. As Victor Davis Hanson points out a stable Iraq is probably our only hope of avoiding the necessity of war with Iran. If Iraq is stable and democratic its example will ripple across the border into Iran and may cause the Iranian people to demand a true democracy in Tehran. A collapsing, chaotic Iraq, on the other hand, will only serve to spur Iran on in its determination to establish an Islamic hegemony in the region, to develop nuclear weapons, and to destroy Israel.

Moreover, an Iraq in turmoil would become an ideal training and staging ground for terrorists. Turbulent, failed states are their favored milieu, and once we've left we would certainly be loath to go back, certainly if it were to engage in more combat with the terrorists who would infest the country.

Not all of these things may happen if the U.S. withdraws prematurely, of course, but they very easily could. Surely the probability is high that at least some of them will. In other words, we do the Iraqi people a grave disservice if we abandon them before they're ready to fend for themselves. It would be a colossal betrayal. The notion that we're making things worse by being there is unsupported by any evidence of which I am aware and seems instead to be a claim necessitated by the bizarre assumption that America corrupts whatever it touches.

The left must assume that if we leave Iraq the imams and baathists will solve their problems peacefully and with a minimum of suffering inflicted on the people. It has to be asked, though, what there is in Iraqi (or Arab) history which affords any justification for this assumption? The fact that there is absolutely no warrant for such an optimistic scenario leads me to believe that the left, in believing that we can just abandon the Iraqi people and everything will be relatively copacetic, is either incredibly naive or they simply don't care about what happens to the Iraqis when we pull out.

Perhaps some reader is aware of a serious analysis done by left-wing anti-war think tanks or disenchanted pentagon staffers, such as Byron describes, which would indicate that the concerns we've expressed above are groundless. Maybe there is an argument for pulling out that makes sense and gives us reason to think that none of these awful consequences would ensue. I haven't seen one yet, but if anyone knows of one I hope it'll be passed along.

NEWS FLASH: Dick Cheney is Human!

When the next issue of Vanity Fair hits the stands enemies of the current administration will be disappointed to learn that the caricature of Dick Cheney that they have conjured for the last five years is nothing at all like the reality, not that that revelation will make any difference to them. Drudge has this about the Vanity Fair article:

In her new memoir, Now It's My Turn, Mary Cheney writes that when she told her parents she was gay, the first words out of her father's mouth were exactly the ones that I wanted to hear: 'You're my daughter, and I love you, and I just want you to be happy.'

Vanity Fair editor Todd Purdum reports that Mary Cheney tells her story in a voice very much like her father's, and that she came out to her parents when she was a junior in high school, on a day when, after breaking up with her first girlfriend, she skipped school, ran a red light, and crashed the family car. Cheney writes that her mother hugged her, but then burst into tears, worried that she would face a life of pain and prejudice.

When Purdum asks the vice president whether he thinks gay people are born that way, Cheney scrunches up his mouth, fixes him with a look that says "Nice try," then says: "I'm not going to get into that. Those are deeply personal questions. You can ask."

Mary Cheney tells Purdum that her father "has very little tolerance for bull****, pardon my French." She also says that one common reaction from people who have read the manuscript of her book is 'Wow, you guys really have this close-knit, loving family,' and it always strikes me as 'Yeah, of course we do.' It was very surprising to me that people would think we didn't.

Purdum asks Cheney if, during his darkest night, he has even a little doubt about the administration's course. "No," he tells Purdum. "I think we've done what needed to be done." Of the debate over whether or not the administration hyped the pre-war intelligence, Cheney says, "In the end, you can argue about the quality of the intelligence and so forth, but ... I look at that whole spectrum of possibilities and options, and I think we did the right thing."

Cheney rejects the caricature of him as the power behind the throne, insisting, "I think we have created a system that works for this president and for me, in terms of my ability to be able to contribute and participate in the process." When Purdum says that the cartoon characterization of him must not be accurate, Cheney says, "My image might be better out there, this caricature you talk about might be avoided, if I spent more time as a public figure trying to improve my image, but that's not why I'm here."

Doesn't sound much like Darth Vader, does he?