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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A "policy" in shambles

The Bush administration's failures were on vivid display in Rawalpindi, Pakistan yesterday as we saw just how well one of our "friends" takes care of our interests.

Consider this passage from the New York Times story about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:
The attack bore hallmarks of the Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan. But witnesses described a sniper firing from a nearby building, raising questions about how well the government had protected her in a usually well-guarded garrison town and fueling speculation that government sympathizers had played a part.
George W. Bush has staked our foreign policy and the "global war on terrorism" represented by al Qaeda on Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan. The president and former general -- who seized power in a military coup and who recently declared then lifted emergency rule in advances of elections -- is the Bush vision of "democracy."

That makes Bush and his foreign policy and national security "teams" complicit in Bhutto's murder. They lured her back to the country only to see her killed in full or in part because of the actions of those fearful of what her election as prime minister would mean to their rule.

And it would have meant something all right: a woman prime minister in a country trending to the radical Islam?

The Republican presidential candidates are sure to launch their fear-mongering screeds in the days leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire -- touting their desire to follow the path Bush has charted toward "world peace."

Fight them over there and all that garbage. And Bhutto's assassination clearly points out what a load of garbage that is. Pakistan is now even more of a tinder box, ready to crash and burn into failed state status -- particularly when Musharraf likely re-imposes emergency rules and cancels the election.

Let's carefully examine the fat-headedness of the Bush policy:
  • Rushing headlong into Iraq while leaving the real terrorist haven of Afghanistan to simmer and bubble and slowly envelope its neighbor Pakistan (with the complicity of Musharraf and his intelligence apparatus);
  • Ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian tinderbox that is at the root of all Islamic policy issues until virtually the last minute;
  • Coddling our "friends" in Saudi Arabia, a nation which provided 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers and which has stood on a platform of radical Islam that nurtured none other than Osama bin Laden.
Consider this the next time Rudy bloviates or Mitt machinates. The world was in tough shape before the Bush-Cheney team took over our foreign policy "leadership." Now it teeters on the edge of something as frightening as I can recall since the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Quite a legacy W.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Outraged Liberal" is clearly self-medicating.

Could the outraged liberal possibly explain - in a little more detail - how President Bush's policies caused Al Queda or whichever radical islamist to assasinate Benazir Bhutto?
Include the details of how President Kerry, or even President Gore could or would have prevented this type of behavior from radical islam.

December 28, 2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon, it's really very simple. Bush took his eyes off the real problems -- with al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan -- to pursue a disastrous course of action in Iraq.

That disaster has only fueled the radical Islamist movement by creating more "martyrs" and the long-touted if somewhat overblown threat of "Al Qaeda in Iraq."

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden and his pals survived at Tora Bora and rebuilt a jihad army that is threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan. That effort has been aided and abetted -- if only through a blind eye -- by Musharraf's intelligence services.

And you may note it was not me but others -- now including Musharraf's own people -- who are blaming al Qaeda for the assassination.

President Gore would not have gone off into Iraq to deal with a problem that existed in Afghanistan. President Kerry would have tried to clean up Bush's mess -- although that may not be possible.

Neither would have pandered to the fundamentalist Christian elements in the Republican Party that love to toss around words like "Crusades" to tick off virtually all Muslims, not just the radical fringe.

No medication necessary to reach those conclusions either. All it requires is reading what has happened over the last six-plus years.

December 29, 2007 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for replying to my feedback.

Your reply was, however, predictable. I have heard the "eye off the ball" argument many times. I have also heard the "only fueled radical Islamist movement" argument as well.

Both arguments are simply not true.

I will leave it to a much more eloquent author than I to explain. In July of 2005, Victor Davis Hanson, military historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford Univeristy, wrote an outstanding article that addresses your false premises, and more, at the following link:


Please read it with an open mind and critical thinking cap.


Randy D. White
Grantham, NH

January 02, 2008 2:05 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Randy, thanks for the link but I'm afraid we will continue to disagree.

Hanson posit things that I consider false:

"Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power."

Nope. bin Laden and Ahmadinejad are bad men no matter what your political leanings. They are absolutely wrong. We agree on that but not on tactics to end their tyranny.

"Our second shackle is utopian pacifism—‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’"

Sorry again. I was saying (and I believe a lot of my fellow lefty travelers agree) that Afghanistan was justified in an effort to take on bin Laden. Iraq was a reckless adventure that took troops and materiel away -- not to mention a boneheaded tactical blunder at Tora Bora.

There were many of us who, much to our regret now, agreed based on the false intelligence provided by George Bush, that going into Iraq was a necessary evil.

"The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit."

Multiculturalism is a favorite conservative hobby horse. The error here was trying to impose a western value -- democracy -- in a region that is not prepared for it. Maybe in the future but not now.

And we have certainly tolerated other cultures when it suited our political goals (right wing Latin American dictators like Pinochet come to mind).

If left and right learned how to speak with each other -- as we are trying to do here -- rather than fling epithets, which is what passes for "debate" on cable scream fests, we would find we share many values in common but have differences on how to achieve them.

Maybe we can start something?

January 03, 2008 5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outraged Liberal, it's cleat that we will continue to disagree.

For the sake of discussion however, let's look at the scenario that you support(ed).

In October of 2003, the United States military invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of taking out the Taliban - supporters of al Queda and Osama bin Laden. Within a very short time, the Taliban were defeated militarily. Now, lets assume that we put the same number of resources in Afghanistan that we placed in Iraq, the goal being to find, capture, or kill, bin Laden.

Do you claim that our continued presence in Afghanistan would NOT have fueled the radical Islamist movement?

Can you declare with any certainty, that we would have captured or killed bin Laden?

Does staying in Afghanistan - which is what you have stated to have been a better course of action that that of President Bush - pacify the radical Islamist or somehow make the United States safer? Even if we pulled out 100% once bin Laden was caputred or killed?

My answer is, no, it would not have. Radical Islamists have shown, by their actions over the past 30+ years, that their hatred of the West remains strong, regardless of western policies, passive or aggresive. They have shown by actions and words that jihad against western interests will continue.

Hence, fighting in Afghanistan, or Iraq, makes little difference.

I remain in disagreement with your original point, which is that Bhutto's assasination was somehow directly related to Bush's policies. As if, radical Islamists would have otherwise welcomed Bhutto into Islamabad.

What specifically would you do, to deal with the radical Islam? Avoid blaming US policies, past and present. What exactly is the way to prevent a madman from detonating a nuke in New York City?


January 03, 2008 10:38 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Hypotheticals are tough, because for starters I disagree that the Taliban were defeated. They retreated and regrouped and we turned our attention elsewhere instead of following through on our original intent to get bin Laden "dead or alive."

And we most certainly fueled recruitment for additional jihadists and martyrs by our actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is, obviously, no answer for Islamic radicalism as there is no answer for any ideology or religion that accepts suicide and mass murder as acceptable tools. Let's look at Oklahoma City as another example of the inability to deter someone hellbent on destruction.

(OK, there are nukes, which is what we did in Japan, but I will not defend that. My reading of history is the Japanese were already defeated, but that's a whole different argument :-))

While I don't know what the solution to extremism is, I do know that one thing you should not do is wave red flags in front of bulls. Our support of dictators like Mubarak and the Shah; our acceptance of torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib and our overall inability to acknowledge mistakes has inflamed not just the radicals but the folks in the so-called Arab "street."

What is our popularity level in Turkey -- something like 9 percent????

We need a Dale Carnegie course on winning friends and influencing people. I have already agreed that there are appropriate times and places for military intervention too.

Bush's support for a questionable "democrat" like Musharraf -- like his support for the House of Saud and their radical Islamists -- may well be seen as a strategic or tactical decision for which there was no alternative.

But since that's blaming past or present policy I guess my answer is that I would attempt to isolate and remove the threat (Special Forces work just fine) and set a strong example of what is good behavior.


January 03, 2008 7:53 PM  

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