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September 24, 2004

Hearts and Minds

This is going to be a long post, and I'm sorry. But I'm very, very angry.

Yesterday, history was made. Iraq's new interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi addressed both houses of Congress in our nation's capitol. It was the culmination of several years of sweat, blood, tears, and agonizing fear - a long-dreamed for moment that many thought would never come to pass. It has been purchased, proudly, with the lifeblood of the finest men and women this country has to offer:

It's my honor to come to Congress and to thank this nation and its people for making our cause your cause, our struggle your struggle. Before I turn to my government's plan for Iraq, I have three important messages for you today.
First, we are succeeding in Iraq. It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding.
I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing. They focus on the tragedies, such as the brutal and barbaric murder of two American hostages this week.
We are fighting for freedom and democracy, ours and yours. Every day, we strengthen the institutions that will protect our new democracy, and every day, we grow in strength and determination to defeat the terrorists and their barbarism.
The second message is quite simple and one that I would like to deliver directly from my people to yours: Thank you, America. I have come here to thank you and to promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain.
The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful. They are grateful to be rid of Saddam Hussein and the torture and brutality he forced upon us, grateful for the chance to build a better future for our families, our country and our region. We Iraqis are grateful to you, America, for your leadership and your sacrifice for our liberation and our opportunity to start anew.
Third, I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed...My friends, today we are better off, you are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.

This man, called by some the Lion of Baghdad, deserved the best of us. From some, he received nothing but the petty, sneering condescension of a Boston Brahmin. The presidential candidate, clearly itching to show off his finesse and display the vast reserves of foreign policy expertise gained during his 19-year Senate career, used the latest French diplomatic techniques to call Mr. Allawi a liar. Way to win hearts and minds, Mr. Kerry:

I think the prime minister is, obviously, contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country,” Kerry said. “The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story.”

This callous treatment of a small, powerless nation should not surprise us. This is the same candidate who snootily dismissed loyal coalition allies like Australia as "...some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted" Charles Krauthammer comments:

This snide and reckless put-down more than undermines our best friends abroad. It demonstrates the cynicism of Kerry's promise to broaden our coalition in Iraq. If this is how Kerry repays America's closest allies -- ridiculing the likes of Tony Blair and John Howard -- who does he think is going to step up tomorrow to be America's friend?
The only thing that distinguishes Kerry's Iraq proposals from Bush's is his promise to deploy his unique, near-mystical ability to bring in new allies to fight and pay for the war in Iraq -- to "make Iraq the world's responsibility" and get others to "share the burden," as he said this week at New York University.
Yet even Richard Holbrooke, a top Kerry foreign policy adviser, admits that the president of France is not going to call up President Kerry and say, "How many divisions should I send to Iraq?"
Nor will anyone else. Kerry abuses America's closest friends while courting those, like Germany and France, that have deliberately undermined America before, during and after the war. What lessons are leaders abroad to draw from this when President Kerry asks them -- pretty please in his most mellifluous French -- to put themselves on the line for the United States?

With so many fingers in the wind, it must be a challenge to track of them all. Senator Kerry tells the American people he will bring the troops home, then promises them he'll somehow convince nations like France and Germany to send troops to Iraq. Why they should suddenly be willing to send troops, when we are pulling them out is a mystery to me -- does he think Europeans don't read our newspapers?

I am reminded of a line in one of my favorite movies, The Lion In Winter. Eleanor of Acquitaine wants to overthrow her husband and escape from prison. Her three sons are plotting to take the throne. One son, Geoffrey, is playing the other two sons against each other, hoping they'll take each other out, leaving him with the throne. As they form a temporary alliance to place her oldest son on the throne, she suddenly becomes suspicious:

"Or...you can tell me, Geoff, have you figured out a way of selling everyone to everybody?"
"Not yet Mummy... but I'm working on it."

If I thought Kerry were smarter, I'd say he was doing the same thing. But I believe he just panders to whoever holds the knife at the moment and hopes the bill won't come due. That may have worked in the Senate, but I don't think the White House is the place for silly little games.

And I don't believe it's too much to expect that with a war going on and the prospect of peace in the Middle East for the first time in decades, Mr. Kerry could put aside partisan politics just this once and extend the hand of friendship to Iraq as she joins the community of democratic nations.

Mr. Bush is a fair target.

Calling Mr. Allawi a liar was beyond the pale.

UPDATE: Dale Franks has a few snarky comments on Kerry's diplomatic technique.

- Cassandra

September 24, 2004 at 08:33 AM | Permalink

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Comments

""I think the prime minister is, obviously, contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country,” Kerry said." Without realizing it,is Kerry saying, this is the battleground the Muslims have chosen? This is the place they will concentrate their forces to show the Americans can be defeated. Despite is well self-proclaimed military expertise, I doubt that is what is on his mind.

Kerry, to be honest, is just jumping into the liberal knee-jerk reaction of - if the American's are involved, it must be wrong. He used it 30 years ago, and he is back to using it again. Hey, let's face the facts, it did work to make him a Senator. Of course, the risk factor for a Democrat running for the Senate in Massachusetts isn't exactly too high on the scale.

Despite what I hear, and despite what I see, I honestly think America is way ahead of being hoodwinked by John Kerry and company.

Posted by: RIslander at Sep 24, 2004 9:08:48 AM

I hope so. I'd like to think so. I hear people I like and respect parroting his negative rhetoric and it scares the you-know-what out of me.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 9:35:39 AM

Don't kid yourself. You are going to be up late into the am of Nov 3 waiting to find out who is going to lead us in the next Presidentail term.

Posted by: KJ at Sep 24, 2004 9:42:06 AM

...and waiting for the ensuing court battles to play out in Florida for weeks to come...

Oh joy.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 9:55:05 AM

Bush is going to lead us, why do you think the moonbats have been so angry? They pretty much had it figured out since the Dean Scream.
They know Bush is going to win and that there`s nothing they can do about it.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at Sep 24, 2004 10:01:26 AM

Don't get cocky, joat.

The Dems have all the gloves off. It's been a real dirty campaign so far, and anything else they might pull wouldn't suprise me.

But W is still 8 points ahead after all the crap so far.

Posted by: purple raider at Sep 24, 2004 10:44:01 AM

tom, no profanity please. We try to keep it semi-clean as you don't know if kids might be reading.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 12:16:44 PM

I don't want to start a screeming match here, but Kerry has explained how he would get other countries envolved. He has stated that he would share say in the rebuilding of Iraq, which is one of the points France, Germany, and others have been so outraged by. Some are against this idea, because we have paid the cost of freeing Iraq almost entirely alone. I see their point, but what is the cost of failure? Is our pride worth failure? Can we be the bigger country here?

Posted by: jim at Sep 24, 2004 12:24:34 PM

How will Kerry get France and Germany involved? I'm confused?

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 12:28:25 PM

Would a simple "Oh, Please do?"....
Kerry would be a disaster for this country.
The stench of liberal rhetoric can never be anything but angry and mentally vacant.
Don't you guys ever get tired of being so unpleasant?
Don't you ever get tired of blaming Bush?

Liberals that are angry remind me of infant temper tantrums.

People are beginning to wise up all over the world.

Cass,
You are fighting a losing battle. When you ask a liberal to be polite it only angers them more because it is beyond their grasp.

Bush Stole the election? Alien Abductions,Bigfoot and Batboy...Weekly World News fodder is more believable.

And no I am not a Republican...

But - I am smart enough to realise that voting for Bush makes more sense than voting for Kerry.

Anyone with half a conscience can see that.

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at Sep 24, 2004 12:34:10 PM

Harden :)

I'm under no illusions about winning. I don't have to win. I simply refuse to change my behavior, or to alter the rules of my house.

And jim, as long as everyone manages to be reasonably civilized and respectful, there's never a need for a screaming match. The odds that you're going to change my mind (or I'm going to change yours) are slim. We can have a rational discussion, if that is the aim.

If someone wants a fight, they've come to the wrong venue - that's not what this place is about. Life is too short for that kind of silliness. And hopefully you are not that kind of person anyway.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 12:42:21 PM

Jim,
In all fairness, I have to agree with Cassandra on this one (suprise?). Germany and France have almost no 'strategic lift' capacity to give them the logistics necessary to sustain a military force in country, in Iraq. Even if they were 'willing' (which they aren't), they could only sustain a small force. France is probably about stretched to the limit with its present deployments in Afica (such as the Ivory Coast).
France had a reasonable amount of logistical support they could muster in the '91 Gulf War, but that has atrophied due to lack of money. Germany is restrained in deploying troops outside of NATO by law (could be changed, they are deployed in Afganistan, but there is an approved NATO contingent there).
Lastly, the public in neither country would support a deployment, even if it was physically possible. The attitude in France toward our actions in Iraq is extremely NEGATIVE, and not much better in Germany. The media in those countries (and most of western Europe) have gone to great lengths to demonize our efforts in Iraq, and have led the public down this path. I don't think that Mr. Kerry can turn that around overnight. If you have never visited the linked sight on Cass's page (Medienkritik) it can be very enlightening about some Germans' viewpoints.

As far as European countries making money on the re-building, I think that many Euro countries (like Siemens) are making money and doing business, but as subcontractors, etc.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Sep 24, 2004 12:44:23 PM

Sweet!

Dr. Stuhl, while it is frustrating that people don't see things the same way, it is pretty obvious that intelligent, conscientious people are on both sides of this issue. Implying that those who disagree with you are not as smart as you or have no conscious is a rather simplified explanation. The idea is that people should debate the issues, not pretend they are more inclined than others who don't come to the same conclusions as you.

Posted by: jim at Sep 24, 2004 12:53:50 PM

tom, for the sake of any young people who might be reading (although I do hope they aren't, as this isn't a children's site, but not all parents monitor their children on the Internet, so it's just as well to be cautious) let me say this:

The only "hate" I keep seeing is your constant insults. I'm not sure where all the hostility is coming from, but you seem very keen on provoking a reaction or picking a fight.

You're not going to get one from me. Insults come a dime a dozen - if one doesn't learn to ignore them as a child, then one doesn't get very far in life. They generally reveal far more about the speaker than about the recipient.

Again, if you're interested in conversation, please make a point and stick to the subject at hand. If your only reason for being here is to be provocative and act as an irritant, you are failing miserably. I am on the point of, not banning you, but merely ignoring you as one ignores a buzzing fly. I would hate to do that, as you are not an insect, but, I presume, a human being. That said, if you have a coherent point to make, by all means proceed.

If not, please take it elsewhere. A person of manners does not outstay his welcome and is considerate enough to observe the rules and tries not to annoy other people unduly. I presume you are adult enough to take my point, as you were kind enough to take my point earlier about not swearing, and I was grateful for that.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 1:07:37 PM

Great post. I linked. And huge kudos for quoting The Lion in Winter, which is the single best Christmas movie ever made, the essential annual antidote to It's a Wonderful Life.

Posted by: Jack at Sep 24, 2004 1:32:16 PM

"The reason why we're angry is we believe in justice, not oppression."

Well, Iraq certainly was not a place of justice, and was a place of oppression, before the war. And if terrorist quit trying to kill civilians, police officers and US soldiers, and let us leave, they could have a democratically elected government. Which, no matter what the left says, is what all people not interested in appointing a like minded dictator would prefer.


"Dialogue, not intimidation."

From whom? This cite is not about intimidation at all. Ever try to raise a conservative sign at a peace protest? Get ready for physical violence, spitting and shoving. By the peace protesters.

"Helping your fellow man, not finding ways to loot him."

Well, again, comparing Iraq is a no-brainer. Looting is taking from someone. The left's adgenda is based on looting. As you point out in your next paragraph about taxes.

"Protecting the earth, not finding new ways to ravage it."

What has Bush done in this regard? Really. Give me an example. Not sign Kyoto? Neither did Clinton, and it sat on his desk for some time. The arsenic regs? Then why did Clinton sign them on the last day of office? Because he knew that they were unneeded and costly, and it would be an immediate PR problem for Bush when he did the right thing. Think about it. Clinton had those on his desk a long time, too. He would never have signed them if Gore was stepping in next.

"the rich[est] 1% in this country (including John Kerry, which proves he has a heart if he's voting against his economic best interests) get taxed WAY too little and wield way too much of the power."

I don't have the numbers right now, but the richest 1% pay earn a much smaller percentage of the income than the percentage of taxes that they pay. It is like 17% of income, and 33% of income taxes (that may be the top 5% - it has been a few months since I saw the IRS's figures on this). Since Bush I was President, that spread (% income/% taxes) has increased, with a very slight decrease with Bush W's tax cut. The point is, when is it enough? This number I do remember -- the top 50% of income earners pays 96% of the income taxes. That is right - 50% of the income earners pay 4% of the taxes. It will be a very bad day when a majority of the people do not pay any income taxes. Frankly, fairness and justice (sound familiar) would dictate that no one gets a free ride, that everyone who benefits from government pays into it at some level. The rich, frankly, do pay their fair share. Only envy could lead one to say otherwise.

Posted by: KJ at Sep 24, 2004 2:19:35 PM

Cassandra, you say: "But I believe he just panders to whoever holds the knife at the moment and hopes the bill won't come due. That may have worked in the Senate, but I don't think the White House is the place for silly little games.

Brilliantly put! This is the essence of why Kerry is unlikely to become President, and if he should happen to, wouldn't be a good one. The man has functioned virtually his entire adult life in an institution of priviledge where rules that have nothing to do with th ereal world hold sway, and where words assume an importance all out of whack with reality.

John Kerry is a courtesan. His orotund speaking style is only a symptom of the real core truth about him... he is a deeply shallow man. Yes, deeply shallow. There is no fire in this man except for the chase to find the magic words that will win the debate. And if new words are needed tomorrow for a new audience or situation, then they will be found, and if they connect with a set of ideas that contradict yesterday's fiercely held beliefs, well too bad - the debate is the thing, not some abstract truth.

The evidence for the above is overwhelming, IMHO. How bizarre, that in an election year where they were up against an incumbent who the conventional wisdom said was an incoherent dolt and seriously vulnerable, the dems should select Kerry, a candidate who seems to aspire to please everyone, and in doing so, pleases so few. What does that say about the ideological foundations of the party, and about its depth?

Posted by: Daver at Sep 24, 2004 2:25:47 PM

I think it is important to point out that, while Kerry is willing to say about anything to a particular group, he does have beliefs that evident from his voting record. He is a taxer, a spender (except on the military and intelligence), does not favor the no-brainer military actions (like GWI), and does not favor businesses. And this is what we learned about him when he actually bothered to show up and vote.

Posted by: KJ at Sep 24, 2004 2:38:29 PM

KJ: I don't believe I've seen that many words out of you in a while. You should get fired up more often :)

tom, I have to head into a con call in a minute, but let me say this quickly and I'll respond at more length later. I do believe Bush is a deeply moral and idealistic man - you may disagree and that's your right, and we can each cite facts to back our POV. But my husband is a Marine and he (and I) believe that what we're doing over there is morally right - so right we're both willing so see him die for it if needed. It doesn't get more deeply-held than that. And even more difficult, because he's a senior officer, he may (and has) had to send others off to die. When he himself can't go.

That's a decision Bush too has had to make. And it's easy to take cheap shots at someone who makes that decision, but I've lived with some who lives with that decision and I know for a fact the toll it takes. The nightmares and sleepless nights. I've had to go tell a widow her husband is dead at 2 am and see the look of shock and horror on her face. And watch it change over the months to anger, then sadness, then resignation, then acceptance, and finally, peace. But the sadness never fully passes. And you never get over the hurt yourself. Or the guilt.

Anyone who believes Bush doesn't feel that pain is wrong. I've lived it, my husband has lived it, and military people know that pain and instinctively recognize it in his face.

You may make fun of me for saying it tom, but you'll be wrong. I don't have to convince you.

I know. I know it.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 2:44:09 PM

Some tunes never go out of style. When I was taking my first Poli Sci course in college, I clearly recall that it was the more conservative members of the class who had a higher regard for the capabilities of their fellow citizens. Those leaning to the Left tended to think of the unwashed masses as far to stupid to know what was good for them.

I do not recall hearing of any college campus where the Right ran around screaming and throwing tantrums to have their way. Unfortunately, members of the Left cannot make the same statement. Unfortunately, they moved on to take the same sort of actions to the national political level.

The Left is caught using forgeries to prove a point. The fact that the point, true or not, has never been proved has nothing to do with the issue. No, what does count is the fact that the charge - any charge - was made, and the Right is making a lot of noise to cover up the charge.

What happened to the good old days when a President could be accused of raping a woman and it really was not news because it was "old" news.

No, things have not changed, at all. The Left accused the Right of doing what the Left has done all along. The Left went out of its way to disenfranchise the military vote, but the Right stole the election.

Posted by: RIslander at Sep 24, 2004 3:01:02 PM

Yo!
The real interests France and Germany (and us too) have is in control over Eurasia and the resources found there. It is a believed that the one who controls this part of the world, controls the world. This isn't something I'm making up, it's a widely held belief. I suspect this is one of the biggest reasons why they (and the U.N.) are angry they weren't envolved. Bringing NATO in is on the table if this power is shared last I heard.

Look at "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives"

As far as the morality of Bush is concerned, I believe it is possible. I'm torn at times wondering if he's a cold calculated person or just unrealistic. It very well could be the latter. Fighting evil is well enough intentioned, but if it enables the fanatical to amass thousands of misinformed to join terrorist ranks, then you are doing more harm than good. Besides, there's lots of evil in the world. We have our own fair share right here at home. Wouldn't our resources have been better spent elsewhere?

Now, it's too late to back out. Despite many right-wing claims Kerry is not saying we pull troups out immediately. His plan is to bring in other powers by putting bargaining chips back on the table that have been taken off by the current administration, or were never there to begin with. If this is successful, his plan would be to have us out in four years.

We've tried it Bush's way. We were told we'd be welcomed by the Iraqi people -- I just assumed it wouldn't be with RPG's.

j-out!

Posted by: jim at Sep 24, 2004 4:51:55 PM

jim,
Again it comes around to the point "who's troops" are going to come into Iraq.

Let's look at some nations that actually have reasonalbly sized standing armies that COULD contribute.
China (PRC)
India (Thought about it earlier, but then said "Nahhh!")
Russia (Opposed us like France and Germany and had a vested interest in Saddam; he owed them LOTS of money, which the new government might renounce)
S. Korea (busy at home, no doubt, but in Iraq NOW)
Pakistan (troubles at home too. Remember they were in Somalia, and their fellow Muslims murdered 20-some in July 1993?)
Turkey, just over the border; not wanted by the Iraqis.

So who is left?
Upon listening to Gen. Tommy Franks (ret.) promote his book, he remarked that the (now reviled) "Mission Accomplished" speech by Pres. Bush was meant to tell some of our 'silent' allies that it was now ok to send in support troops, and we had expected ~several hundred thousand (from who? we don't know), apparently promised before or during the invasion. So, who screwed the pooch? Any guesses who was going to go in and then changed their minds? At least, as I remember it, India was out in the open about it.

Again, if 25 million Iraqis were really opposed to us, i think you would see substantially more casualties on the part of us and our allies. look at the casualty numbers and locations. The great majority of the casualties we have taken since April (month by month) have been in Al - Anbar Province (location of Fallujah, Ramadi, Samara, in short, the heart of the Sunni triangle). That is the only part of the country that is really strife torn (and some neighborhoods in Baghdad).
Basra? Kirkuk?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Sep 24, 2004 5:13:41 PM

Cass, my son is a Navy SEAL who has fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, recently returning to CONUS. It is his opinion, and this is not scientific, that a sizable majority of those who do the fighting are the most supportive of our president. Odd, isn't it, that these very warriors should be so supportive of a detestable commander-in-chief? Tom Paine and his cohorts need to use some common sense here. Thomas Paine was a revolutionary who fought to SAVE this nation. The very existence of our freedoms are at stake here, again, and the attempt to destroy this president is execrable. The march of terror to our shores didn't start on 9/11/01 and it won't end soon. This war is really just beginning and it will be a long, hard slog. Tom, get on board for the fight instead of being a professional contrarian. We'll welcome you with open arms.

Posted by: sky king at Sep 24, 2004 5:22:18 PM

The bizarre opinion of most liberals who come here, at least, is that military people are simple-minded automatons who just do what they're told.

We all apparently get frontal lobotomies when we accept our commissions, sign our enlistment papers, marry officers or enlisted men, or what have you. We haven't an independent bone in our bodies and aren't capable of rational thought. We have no doubts about anything -- just add water, point, and shoot.

This, of course, is ridiculous. My husband and I had long, heated discusssions in the days leading up to the war. We read, and talked. Both our childhood best friends are liberal Democrats. We spent long hours in correspondence with them, arguing over whether it was right to go to war. The discussions were not rancorous. We are still close.

I was initially inclined against war. I had two sons who might have ended up over there, although as it turned out, they're not now. Bush didn't convince me. Powell didn't convince me. Of everything I heard and read, it was George Schultz who cast the deciding vote. I took a long, long time to make up my mind - this is not a decision one makes lightly. But making up my mind, I have never once regretted the decision.

I still believe with all my heart (and more importantly, with all my mind) that we did the right thing.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 5:30:39 PM

People outside the military don't understand. They should be in the room, just once, at the Marine Corps Ball, and feel the room shake when their Commander in Chief's picture is flashed on the wall.

It's not fake - there is genuine love and respect for the man. I've been with the military for 23 years, through Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and now Bush 43. I've never seen anything like this before - never. And it goes both ways - I think that's part of the secret.

The Unit was telling me the other day about the registration drive at the Pentagon. He said that no one would ever believe how impartially it is done - he is a real stickler for that sort of thing. Many of the junior enlisted ranks are Democrats, so it is extremely important to get everyone registered to vote, and even more important that there be no suggestion of pressure to vote in any particular direction.

He said it has been just phenomenal - the only pressure is to register. The word is: we don't care HOW you vote. No one can see you when you cast your vote.

But your duty as an American citizen is to cast your vote, so register. And exercise your right to vote. He was really proud of the DOD.

Posted by: Cassandra at Sep 24, 2004 5:40:15 PM