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robllawrence

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Everything posted by robllawrence

  1. It's all good. Someone needed to post an actual article. What I had was just the wire blurb. Unrelated, here's an article that says Obama calls for pretty much the Rob Lawrence plan. So I might be a raving lunatic, but at least I'm in good company. I especially like how he uses almost identical language to that I've used in this thread. Me thinks the Obama people are plagiarizing me. Maybe I oughta give them a call. (It's from Yahoo News...don't have the link cause I copied the article instead and I'm too lazy to open a new window.) CHICAGO - Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who is contemplating a run for the presidency, on Monday called for a "gradual and substantial" reduction of U.S. forces from Iraq that would begin in four to six months. Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama envisioned a flexible timetable for withdrawal linked to conditions on the ground in Iraq and based on the advice of U.S. commanders. He also called for intensified efforts to train Iraqi security forces, U.S. aid packages tied to Iraqi progress in reducing sectarian violence and new diplomacy with Syria and Iran. "I believe that it remains possible to salvage an acceptable outcome to this long and misguided war," he said. "But I have to be honest today, it will not be easy. For the fact is that there are no good options left in this war." Obama was not in the Senate when President Bush sought and received support from Congress in 2002 to use military force against Saddam Hussein. But he has publicly opposed the war since then. The results of this month's elections, the Illinois senator said, represented a repudiation of President Bush's policies. But he said the war has also ignited a new sense of isolationism among Americans that is risky in a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world. "We can't afford to be a country of isolationists in the 21st century," he said, arguing that it is "absolutely vital that we maintain a strong and active foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world." Obama was careful not to set a specific timetable for withdrawal of troops or suggest troop levels. "We cannot compromise on the safety of our troops, and we should be willing to adjust to realities on the ground," he said. He proposed redeploying troops to Northern Iraq and to other countries in the region. He recommended boosting troop strength in Afghanistan, "where our lack of focus and commitment of resources has led to an increasing deterioration of the security situation there." "For only through this phase redeployment can we send a clear message to the Iraqi factions that the United States is not going to hold together this country indefinitely — that it will be up to them to form a viable government that can effectively run and secure Iraq," he said. Obama rejected proposals to add more troops to Iraq, an idea advanced by Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., saying that without Iraqi cooperation "we would only be putting more of our soldiers in the crossfire of a civil war." Following the speech, Obama rejected the notion of reinstating the military draft, an idea put forth by Rep. Charles Rangel (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y. Obama said a volunteer military is adequate when the country has a national security strategy that makes sense. "What I don't want ... is a situation in which we have bad strategies and we institute a draft simply to throw more bodies at a bad strategy. That is not going to work," he said. Obama is one of several Democrats considering a run for the White House in 2008, which promises to be one of the most wide-open campaigns in decades. In recent polling, his numbers rival front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., but questions abound regarding his experience — he has served less than two years in the Senate. He said Monday he would decide in the next few months. The first-term senator said the Iraq war has underscored one lesson: "We should be more modest in our belief that we can impose democracy on a country through military force."
  2. I voted a surprising Scalia as well. Surprising because I disagree with him on almost everything. But, he's intelligent, consistent and interesting to disagree with. Problem is, so many dem appointees happened with a republican senate, and vice versa. So there's a lot of mushy middle on the court. Scalia stands out as a conservative lion. Thomas is as conservative, but doesn't have the legal chops yet. Sadly, there's no one on the other side that can carry the liberal torch. Stevens, I guess would be the closest, but good law comes when there is good argumentation and mutual respect. I just don't feel like this court has it.
  3. You know, I actually don't doubt this report, despite the fact that this puts me uncomfortably on the same side as Shuman. Turns out that wartime is a great time to join the military for the middle class and above. As a college grad, you get great moolah, officer status, and decent advancement. If you're in it for a career, war is good. Towards the end of grad school in Int'l relations, I thought the recruiter was going to offer me 72 virgins.
  4. Just politics as usual. It's Rangel's way of getting to give speeches about how it's poor black kids doing the fighting. I just read that the "super secret Pentagon meeting about Iraq report which doesn't yet have a title" is going to say that there are three options. They're calling them "Go big" -- send more troops and get the job done, "Go long" reduce the troops but commit for a longer war, and "Go home" -- withdraw at a moderate rate. I like it when life changing decisions about foreign policy can be reduced to an anaphoric sound bite.
  5. Update: all over the wires today is that Kissenger says victory in Iraq "no longer possible."
  6. That's great! Tell Daniel to email me I'd like to catch up.
  7. Well, at least he made it through confirmation hearings. But yeah, this never made any sense to me. I can understand why you'd want people that were pro military option at the DOD. But why would you not want people who were pro diplomatic option at State, and Internationalists at the UN. Wouldn't you WANT someone there that wanted that option to be successful? Or is it just outright blasphemy in the Bush administration to think that the UN ought to be doing...something?
  8. OK, let me peel this down rebuttal style. Some of this stuff I just simply don't want to spend the time on. Lame Duck -- perfect example, don't care. The general mocked for wanting more troops -- I remember that well. I remember thinking that even his estimate was low. It's a big country. Taking it with force and "shock and awe", great. Holding it against insurgents...you better bring your A game. Cambodia -- I was just illustrating a point. Incidentally, had we gotten out of Vietnam earlier, aside from saving lots of American and Vietnamese lives, we likely would have saved many Cambodian ones as well. But that's the last I'll say on it. Here's the meat and potatoes -- I'd want to have some inside information before giving a timetable. Obviously, I'm not working with Iraqi politicians on a daily basis, but someone is. Someone can say "they ought to be able to do it in x." My guess is that, and it's just a guess, it would be somewhere in the 18 month range. That also happens to coincide with reelection time...not that I'm cynical enough to think they would make a timeline like that...ok, yeah, I am. I bet someone suggests 18 months. But the next thing you mention is interesting to me, the Iraq/Iran block as a worst case scenario. It's funny because the whole point of us backing Saddam in the first place was that he was a counterweight to Iran. Your suggestion that we ought to take that into consideration completely negates the idea of regime change in the first place. C'mon, are you a Realist or aren't ya? In any case, the Sunni insurgents that are Saddam loyalists or Baathists are certainly NOT getting into bed with Iran after we leave, and the Shi'ites that we are attempting to support have much better relationships with Iran than the insurgents in many cases. Much more likely than an alliance between the two is a war between the two. I think there's a chance for Iran to annex the eastern side of Iraq, the west/northwest would be a new Sunni state of Iraq and the north would become Kurd. By the way, a war between Iraq and Israel is no more or less likely with, well really with either government. As for telling them we're going to leave so they can become targets, yeah, to some extent that is what I'm saying. However, first of all, as I said before, and even before the war, we never should have been involved in creating a new government there. And second, it's about acting like a sovereign nation. We can say to all, "We came in and cleaned house, we ousted the dude that was the tyrant, and we will give you some time to establish a new system. But you have to do it." The alternative is to literally double the number of troops there, and somehow miraculously convince the rest of the world to help. And yeah, that does show our weaknesses to some extent. Guess what? Even the great America has limitations. Going to wars like this is a really bad idea if for no other reason than that they expose them. Let it go -- this is great...just finish the line, man. Let it go, if it doesn't return, then it was never yours to begin with. We have to take a diplomatic approach to the world, not a militaristic one. The military should always be the last option. We never should have gone to Iraq to oust Saddam, he obviously was not a threat to us. Even assuming he DID have WMD, (which I don't think anyone really believed) then what. He's going to use it on us? No one seriously considered that. Why? Because it would give us the justification to pillage his country, or simply level it. Even if we did go, we should have made it clear that once he was out, the rest was up to them. Bush squandered huge popularity, international sympathy and support for actions in Afghanistan and most likely some other covert ops, to go after a two bit tyrant that no one outside the region cared about, AND that was working as a nice balance to others in the region that were a threat (why would he REALLY be interested in WMD?) He could have been dealt a slap on the wrist with some tactical strikes against suspected sites and he would have been back in the box. I'm sorry the country is a craphole, but a lot of the world is worse off. We do NOT have the resources to fix it all, no matter how much we'd like to. So we have to work with what we've got, and lead by example. Heck, our going to Iraq gave justification for all manner of tyrants to invade their neighbors. We have power. We need to use it responsibly. Media -- This isn't teaching them that we'll leave with some perseverance. Frankly, that lesson was learned a long time ago in SE Asia. And again, we never should have been in this situation. Since we are, do you remember that scene in The Godfather when Brando slapped around the guy at his daughter's wedding? "You can start by being a MAN!" That's what we need to say to the Iraqi government. Take your manpill, put together a military, and hold your cities together. You know, the police in Iraq are responsible for as much terrorism as the insurgents. It's true. They go into Sunni neighborhoods and wreak havoc. American soldiers have to train the police to do police work, then blockade certain areas and patrol them themselves. That's crap. It comes from deep religious divisions and an atmosphere of violence and intolerance. They have to decide that's not ok. We can't indoctrinate the entire country. If we put together a huge American presents there, created democratic institutions, and maintained peace every single day, it would still take decades before we could leave and the country not fall apart. And that was an inevitable conclusion before we ever came over. There was going to be a day where we would leave and the crap would hit the fan. They need to go through this part of it on their own. We can help, lead, point the way, even give military assistance. But it's got to be their struggle.
  9. -- Lame Duck -- You arguing semantics with me is like your argument over "novel" with whoever it is above. The point is simple. Bush has no power to enact his agenda. But if you insist on semantics, it's fairly common practice to call a two term president lame if after the last midterm it's an opposition Congress. Second, there are numerous references in fairly mainstream Op-Eds calling him a lame duck. (Actually, they don't seem to directly call him that, they say "if it quacks like a lame duck...") Third, the first hit on google for "lame duck definition" gets this: http://www.answers.com/topic/lame-duck 1.An elected officeholder or group continuing in office during the period between failure to win an election and the inauguration of a successor. An officeholder who has chosen not to run for reelection or is ineligible for reelection. 2. An ineffective person; a weakling. For sure, he fits the 1b definition since he can't run again. I'd say he fits the second definition, but it IS a matter of opinion I'll admit. -- "conventional war against a conventional army" -- Kissenger and everyone else knew it was or soon would be more than that. If we had sacked Baghdad and left, you'd be right. But Bush's initial claim was that Iraq was a place for us to fight the terrorists. "Fight them there or fight them here." We knew it wasn't "conventional." Even still, Vietnam started the same way. It was a defense of the democratic South against invasion from the NVA. Then came the Cong. If he didn't see that coming, he really must have been sleeping through the 60s. --Cambodia - Bwahahaha!!! Are you seriously holding on to the Domino theory? Even Kissenger admits it was short sighted and historically disproven. Look, we lost in Vietnam and Thailand, the Phillipines etc didn't join the conspiracy. Besides, COMMUNIST North Vietnam took care of the Khmer Rouge, not the CIA or anyone here. Then, by the way, COMMUNIST North Vietnam fought off COMMUNIST China, they didn't and still haven't invaded any country for the purpose of extending Communism. We didn't "deal with" the communist problem in the 80s, we outlasted it. If anything, we helped to create the problem we're in by meddling in central asia with the goal of stopping communism. I'm not a communist by the way. I think the reason we outlasted it is because our system works better to create wealth and they couldn't afford to keep up. -- Military readiness and the ability to maintain the war -- First, the reason I said it wasn't an option is because they (the dems) just won an election I think partially based on the idea they were going to change things. They can't politically stay the course. But since you went further, do you really think the military is having no problems meeting recruitment? No there aren't riots on campuses, but there weren't riots in 1964 either (well, not over Vietnam anyway.) Kent State wasn't until 1970!!! 2 years AFTER the casualties in Vietnam had peaked. Could we physically maintain a war there, yes, of course. But there would be (indeed, already have been) political repurcussions. --The "X" date -- This is the easy part. The hard part is saying it. Give them a reasonable amount of time to get their house in order. Having the deadline makes it more of a political reality. Worst case scenario? Seriously? Neither the Sunnis nor the Shia have the power to hold it together so there's a civil war. The country splits up along ethnic and religious lines (three states.) OK. Now what. You think those people might want to do business? Puppets don't last and nations take time and often blood to form. It might be time to let them squabble amongst themselves for awhile. Let alliances fall where they may. Once there is violence, and once it is clear the US won't be an occupying force, maybe they'll act like a sovereign nation(s). The real admission of the failure of current US policy is that you're "geopolitical reality" (which is that the US can place a democratic regime in the middle of Islam without any precedent) simply can't happen with US military power. We can't fiat that, no matter how much will we posess. We should have learned from every other experience we've had with nation building or regime change. It takes time, leadership, committment of all parties, and diplomacy to win the hearts and minds. Taking out power can happen with a gun, but replacing it can't. -- Guerrillas will fight more once we announce a timetable -- Look, it's a simple contract. So, let's say they attack more. We announce that because of attacks, the deadline changed. They'll get it. Lay low and we'll leave. That's what they want! Yes, it's a deal with the devil. It's hedging bets. Our bet is that the new government will get it together given some space. Their bet is that either it won't, or that they can make substantial in roads into that government without US involvement. But think again about Vietnam. There is no "clean" way out. There is no "peace with honor." You just can't hold a place forever, you have to let it try. (If you love it let it go, if it returns....) -- Public Opinion and Strategy -- I don't deny that public opinion can be useful to terrorists. At least that they often perceive it as such. It can be an ally when you are using limited means against a well armed enemy to publicize your cause. Of course, in reality, using terror to change public opinion against a cause almost always causes the opposite effect. Who doesn't want to Nuke the Bastards when seeing hostages beheaded? It's a strategy used by the desparate. The purpose though, is to show resolve. "We're committed, we'll kill journalists and stuff." (One major problem with a war against tyrants is that it often forces you to act as a tyrant. We never had the resolve...and what's more we were never able to show that we did. It's why homeland security is so different for us. WE WILL kill your family, your dog, your mayor and not feel bad about it if we feel threatened. They are attempting to justify similar actions back to us and we stand dumbfounded by their actions. To them, our tactics show our level of resolve, not our media.) Proof of all that is my initial point that the war WAS successful at first, and yet a committed and tyrannical opposition still rose up. Our media was not proof of our committment. -- OK, this one is to hylandd and Cat regarding the metaphor of Iraq/Vietnam -- no, of course it's not perfect. Were I using the war as a metaphor for the interplay between bipolar global powers, it would be a bad analogy, of course. But using it to guage American committment to a cause in the face of bad polls, or using it to guage the level of response by a committed guerrilla fighter, etc...and there are SOME consistent lessons. Somone once said we are always fighting the previous war. All wars have lessons in them. We shouldn't ignore them. good enough,
  10. A president with an opposition congress and senate, with approval in the 30s and no elections between now and leaving office...that's a lame duck. Let's see him bring out a strong conservative agenda in the next SOTU. You'd think Kissenger would have known that before he was a "consultant on bush policy", but maybe that's just me. If he knew it couldn't be won, why recommend it? As for public opinion, that's been "conventional wisdom" before the war...so goes public opinion, so goes the war. Which is why Colin Powell argued for having a planned operation and exit strategy before going. (It's not always true, see below) Face it, Americans don't have the stomach for prolonged warfare without a strong justification that involves national defense. They're coming for my family? Bolt up the windows and get my rifle. You want to send me to Iraq because some bad dude is doing bad stuff to some other people that you used to claim were bad dudes....well, we better be home by Christmas. Oh and I do have to clarify one historical point. The problem in Cambodia after Vietnam? We didn't clean it up later, the North Vietnamese did. Absolutely not an option. Even if it were right, they couldn't do it. The option I'm voting for is this: hard diplomacy with the Iraqis (YOU WILL be ready to go on x date...we'll be leaving) and a major change in our relationships with our allies. I think you're right (and I guess Kissenger is too) about guerrilla warfare. The way out is to let them let us out. With a public statement about timeframe, they will wait us out. They'd rather play nice for awhile until US troops are out before making a power grab. That time will give the Iraqis the time they need (or it won't, but it would be up to them.) It would also allow the Europeans to make the business and diplomatic relationships happen. I have no idea where you're getting your numbers. But we didn't lose 200,000 in Vietnam. Altogether we lost about 55,000 over about 15 years. Maybe you're thinking of injuries at 300,000. Comparing US involvement in Vietnam to Iraq, the casualty rate is actually higher in Iraq at this stage in the war. The KIA in Vietnam from 1961-1965 was 1,864. As for the murder rate in the US, you're comparing a population of 140,000 troops to about 300 million in the US. Regarding this "if you build it, they will come" mentality, you seem to forget that the initial invasion and even the first year and a half or so of the war were seen as wildly successful. We took Baghdad in how many days? Public opinion didn't turn the war sour. The war soured and so did public opinion. And the problem is exactly what you were referring to above...it's much easier to take an area than it is to hold it in the face of an unfriendly local population. It doesn't get easier if we pretend we're winning. The people we're fighting aren't waiting for OUR media to report discontent in the US. If you're trying to get a guy to blow himself up in front of a police station, you don't need to show him CNN polls saying Americans want out. This is, I assume, more Kissenger talk. He was convinced of this in regards to Vietnam. Read Robert McNamara. He visited NV leaders decades after the war and made basically this same claim (that the North was waging a war of attrition to turn the public opinion in the US against a war.) The leaders said to him in essence, you just don't get it. We were fighting for a cause, it didn't matter what opinion in the US was. You killed 2 million North Vietnamese, if you'd killed 2 million more we still would be fighting. That's the reason it's hard to win against guerrillas...resolve. If we want out of Iraq in this decade or the next, we can't do it by force.
  11. Ok, well, in fairness the person I was thinking about was in the National Guard, and that was about 10 years ago or so. Also, doesn't the Navy advertise taking classes while on ship? Pretty sure they do. Doesn't mean by any stretch that the classes aren't legit. Just that there are incentives for getting credits.
  12. That feeds Rayl's argument that they are taking credits for promotion points, but have no desire to complete a degree. Chris aren't there some college "classes" that are pretty much short seminars that are offered at some bases for just this sort of thing? Seems like some friends of mine were taking classes that were basically a lieutenant lecturing on military doctrine for a few days and badda bing, they had 3 college credits. In any case, I don't think anyone (even Kerry) was saying the military was somewhere to go to stop thinking or learning. Just that if a person didn't study they'd be more forced to join the military if they wanted an education and might get "stuck in Iraq."
  13. What the hell has gone wrong with my thread?
  14. OK, so the Dems have control of Congress. They've promised change in Iraq. So two questions arise. 1) What SHOULD be US policy towards Iraq? 2) What will actually happen now with a Dem congress and a lame duck Rep president?
  15. Hey, son of a gun, you're right. Sorry, it's been about 20 years since I read it. Still, I think you get the gist. It's always interesting to me how we demonize one side while supporting the other, then flip it when it fits our needs. That's why people have a problem telling the difference. We're lead to believe that one is the enemy and the other is a group of moderates who just want democracy and peace...at the same time, we ignore any mention of philosophical differences so we can make the "good" muslims whoever we happen to be supporting at the time.
  16. Not really. There are lots of ways that messages can be slowed up along the way causing them to reach the server at about the same time. This is especially true if there is a lot of traffic, or for example with a dial-up connection (as might be used from a hotel room.)
  17. I think both of these guys would be awesome for this. I'd be willing to help out where I can on grunt work, but I'm currently working a LOT. Not something I want to take on as a "thing" but if you had something you wanted to farm out here and there I'd volunteer if I can. Also, I live close to the H-man so I'd be willing to be a sounding board/grunt to help him.
  18. 1. Extra Extra, Washington Post milks beltway gossip. 2. The article says the same thing I did...that even if the original "source" is Armitage, "if Mr. Fitzgerald's account is correct, they [Cheney and Libby]were careless about handling information that was classified." 3. I love how it claims that the person most responsible for ending Valerie Plame's career was her husband for TAKING the job knowing that her identity would be at risk...that people would ask questions about why he was chosen and she would be the answer. I guess it's too much for him (and her) to ask the people who classified her position in the first place to simply say that he was in a unique position to gather that info and NOT release her identity?
  19. I thought it was kinda crappy interview. Safer acted all tough with him, but ended up just letting him say whatever he wanted. He got run over. Example: he tried to pin him down on whether he would accept or wanted a relationship with the US. Amadinajad says it was the US that ended that relationship 26 years ago...Eh, wait a minute. Safer might have for example pointed out that we did that as a response to, you know, Islamic fundamentalists taking over our embassy and kidnapping our workers there. Amadinajad says they just want nuclear power because energy will be the significant issue of the next century and that the US not wanting them to have it proves that we are against Islam and that we're trying to keep them powerless...this is right after admitting that he wanted Israel to be wiped off the map. Gee, why ELSE might the US have an issue with Iran (who has huge oil reserves) having nuclear power? I think he is a smart and capable politician, and he probably has some relevant things to say as a critique of US policy. But I didn't see much in that interview of significance.
  20. I hope this topic gets picked, although as a student of IR and trade I have a few problems with it. First, those countries are places where US trade is basically non existent. I mean, "increase" trade to Cuba for example means lifting the embargo to some extent or another. There's one case with a matter of degrees. Second, I wish it had been some places where trade barriers are a problem for, you know, TRADE reasons. Not because of the politics. For example, it would be nice to get into the merits of trade to Asia or Africa. Then, the discussion would be on global free trade and market forces versus corporate mercantilism which is the heart of the free trade debate. Instead, we're gonna hear a lot about sanctions and other means of using trade as a force for change in countries where that's not the heart of our foreign policy (military might is) and the place where that IS the heart of our policy (China) we can't talk about. Just doesn't make sense to me. Not that there won't be plenty to talk about, it's just that if we're going to have a topic called "globalization", it would be nice to have some avenue to talk about the WTO, (GATT), NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA, MercoSur, the EU, the IMF or some of the dozen top trade issues that typically are involved in that discussion like tariffs, common markets, currency valuations and standards, behind the border tariffs, health and safety standards, slave and prison labor, environmental standards, wage standards.... Most of those issues aren't a factor, and the ones that are will be shadowed by strategic factors. Also, before anyone (Shu) claims that I'm a complete pinko leftist, I'm a huge supporter of free market trade. Protectionism doesn't work, and the best way to sell more cars from Detroit is to make markets in Asia, Africa and South America that can afford to buy them. But it's a process that has to be delicately and slowly advanced. There ARE costs to progress, even though it's inevitable. And most importantly for this discussion, there is plenty of ground on both sides to debate.
  21. I thought that said Mulletocracy. I don't know what that means, but I can just see the Ayotollah driving around in a Camaro listening to Lynard Skynard.
  22. = http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/25/news/economy/econ_outlook/index.htm "I'm not bold enough to say we're heading for a recession," said Paul Kasriel, chief economist, Northern Trust. "But I think we're on the edge." Kasriel has a forecast of only 2.6 percent growth in the second quarter. [actual growth reported on Friday was 2.5%] "I would characterize housing as in a recession right now, and in this cycle, it's been a more significant factor in the expansion than in past expansions," Kasriel said. "So the weakness in housing is serious."
  23. I agree. We pay taxes because having an educated populous is a public good, not as payment for services rendered. As for NFLers being locked out of the NCFCA, PogoJedi points out that public school students don't pay anything for the upkeep of the NCFCA. But wait, the NCFCA is an all volunteer organization and everyone does the work without compensation so...what's there to pay for besides travel expenses and perhaps entry fees, which I'm sure they WOULD pay. How about this, if I get my public school debate team to work a fundraiser for the organisation, can we enter your tournaments then? (The implications for church and state from having a debate team work a carwash for a christian homeschooling group are mindboggling by the way.)
  24. Actually, who says they have to go pro to recoup that expense? If a kid goes to Harvard on a debate scholarship, $20,000 is chump change. And of course, there's that other benefit which might not otherwise have been possible...a Harvard education.
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