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The Fine Line

Thursday, August 17, 2006 by Michael Reynolds


Why do we love Abivablog? This is why:
"I've got to blog this," I thought, looking up at the pylons of the George Washington Bridge, solid and shining against a picture-blue sky, as "Sexual Healing" played on the radio. I was dancing in the driver's seat, jigging, shimmying and cackling as my car expertly shouldered between a towering truck and bus. (Yes, I can drive and dance at the same time. I regard driving as a form of dancing and rock'n'roll as a navigational aid.)

A few hours before, I was thinking, "This is like being a slave to an idiot." And I knew he was feeling, "This is like being a beached manatee ordered to jump through hoops by a sadistic ringmaster." It was that bad. Then my helper came, the guy who will come whenever I want because I overpay him, the luxury I allow myself only once in a blue moon, the guy J doesn't like because he talks too much, but is pretty funny if you actually listen to him. I know he is strong, he is grateful, he is familiar, and when he's with J I leave the house without looking back and forget it all exists. I become an amnesiac, adrift without a past, without a home, and time slows way down as I drift to Starbucks, to the bus station, ride the bus for what seems like hours but is barely half an hour, get off in Teaneck and notice how good it smells, of trees and things -- if it smells this good just in Teaneck f**king New Jersey, think how good it will smell all the time in Chapel Hill, restoring this whole missing chunk of life."
Sadly, Annie is mistaken: in Chapel Hill the pollen is so bad no one smells anything.

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Victim Of Hype

by Michael Reynolds


I am tired of these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!

Sorry. I just . . . had to.

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Am I Hearing Things?

by Michael Reynolds

Say what?


I never defend the UN, but I have in the past defended the French. And I had hopes for Condoleezza Rice.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 -- France has rebuffed U.N. pleas to make a major contribution to a peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, setting back international efforts to send a credible military force to the region to police a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, according to U.N. and French officials.

French President Jacques Chirac instead committed Thursday to send a relatively small military engineering company of 200 soldiers to serve in a reinforced U.N. peacekeeping mission that is expected to grow to 15,000 strong and that will help Lebanon police a demilitarized zone in southern Lebanon. He also said that a force of 1,700 French troops and crew stationed in ships off the coast of Lebanon could be sent in to help the U.N. force during a crisis.

The French decision, which was first reported today in the Paris daily Le Monde, has thrown U.N. military planning into disarray on the eve of a major international meeting this afternoon of potential contributors to a U.N. force. It also seriously complicates U.N. efforts to get a vanguard force of peacekeepers from powerful European countries within the next two weeks.

Senior U.N. peacekeeping officials said they had hoped that a commitment to have French troops form the "backbone" of the U.N. peacekeeping mission would spur other countries to join.
The UN had hoped? Had hoped? This wasn't worked out in advance? The UN's diplomats, the French and Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton didn't have this signed, sealed and delivered? Are you fucking with me? We stopped this war and we didn't even have a plan in place for a peacekeeping force? Is that possible? Is everyone involved in this a liar, a coward or an imbecile? (You can choose more than one.)

They hoped? And on that basis they imposed a defeat on the Israelis and salvaged Hezbollah? I mean, honest to God, as low as my expectations are, this is quite simply incredible.

If the French are backing out of a done deal then Condi needs to come out and say it publicly. Otherwise she really needs to quit. Either the French are acting like backstabbing liars, or our State Department is setting a new low for incompetence. It's one or the other.

They hoped?

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No way. Really?

by Michael Reynolds


Slowly, slowly they learn . . .

Joe Scarborough, former Reaganite Congressman from, if memory serves, Infested Swamp, Florida, and now an MSNBC host, writes:
For the past six years George W. Bush has been the target of ridicule from liberal circles. But now, instead of laughing at Democrats’ ill-directed arrogance, Republicans are quietly joining the left in questioning the President’s intellectual prowess.

The biggest knock on Bush’s brain is his lack of intellectual curiosity. Former administration officials still close to the White House will tell you Mr. Bush detests dissent, embraces a narrow world view and is intellectually incurious.
George W. Bush narrow and incurious? Huh. Who'd have thought it?

Meanwhile Rich Lowry at the National Review, the Bible of the Paleo-cons, is starting to think maybe, just maybe Iraq has some elements in common with Vietnam:
For the past 30 years, left-right debate over America’s wars has traveled a well-worn rut. The Left says whatever war is in question is “another Vietnam,” while the Right denies it. After three decades of being serially wrong, in the Iraq war liberals might be making their first-ever correct diagnosis.

In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we face a vicious insurgency that has worn down the will of the American public. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we have failed to cut off the enemy from re-supply. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we have had ever-shifting military strategies. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we have had trouble building effective, clean governmental institutions in the soil of an alien culture. Most importantly, in Iraq, as in Vietnam, we face the prospect of defeat.
In fairness, as Lowry implies, the following were not "another Vietnam:" Panama, Granada, Haiti, Somalia, Colombia, Kosovo, Gulf 1, Afghanistan. But Lowry is a bit off about the consequences of defeat:
The consequences of that defeat would be remarkably similar to those in the wake of Vietnam. The prestige of the U.S. government would sink around the world, emboldening our enemies and creating a period of American doubt and retreat. A humanitarian catastrophe would likely befall Iraq, just as it did Vietnam. The only significant difference is that in Iraq, radical Islamists harbor ambitions to come to our shores and kill Americans, whereas the Viet Cong never wanted to follow us home.
That's kind of a major difference there, Rich. Next editorial maybe you'll come closer to accepting the fact that this is the greatest American foreign policy disaster since . . . well, since forever.

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That's Right, Tonga

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 by Michael Reynolds



Stuff going on in places you've never heard of:

Burundi:
A group of 600 Burundians, who had been living in Tanzania for more than two decades, has arrived in Burundi after the government in Dodoma expelled them for being in the country illegally, officials said.

"Some women came without their children, others were expelled with their children, leaving their husbands behind," Mohamed Feruzi, governor of Burundi's northeastern province of Muyinga, said on Sunday.

Guinea-Bissau:

Officials in Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday declared the once embattled nation's capital mine-free and said citizens were safe to roam anywhere in the city.

"The city of Bissau without mines represents a great satisfaction for all of its inhabitants," said Bissau Mayor Duarte Vieira during a special ceremony to mark the occasion.

The ceremony was held in a former minefield in the neighbourhood of Enterramento. The mines were sewn during Guinea-Bissau's 1998-1999 civil war.
Turkmenistan:
Turkmenistan's authoritarian leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, has promised a Mercedes to each of his ministers to mark the 15th anniversary of the country's independence in October.

«Each of you will receive a Mercedes car from me,» he told his ministers during a government meeting broadcast on national television on Saturday and Sunday. «The regional chiefs will receive a 4X4. But if you fulfil your duty and bring in the cotton harvest on time you will also receive a Mercedes,» the president added. There are 20 ministers in the Turkmen government, in addition to the five regional leaders. Despite its rich natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan is one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union, with 58 percent of the population living below the poverty line.
Gibraltar:
The GHA regrets Opposition criticism in respect to the installation of new revolving doors at the hospital entrance. This installation is one more aspect of the continuing programme of improvement of health facilities being carried out by the GHA.

The original design of the entrance was accepted and installed according to the programme of works. However, due to the influence of microclimatic conditions at the hospital entrance the new rotational door was proposed and accepted in the best interest of our patients and the working conditions of our staff.
Qatar:

Doha • Workers of Bilfinger Berger and Al Hamed were in for a major shock as they were carrying out excavations yesterday near the erstwhile Jaidah Petrol Station. The work was being carried out on behalf of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in connection with the multi-million riyal Doha expressway project.

While the stereotype goes that dig anywhere in Qatar and oil will bubble to the surface, this time, the workers found a huge cave mouth with a massive presence of water

Tooele County, Utah.

With the Senate in recess during August, Utah's longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is making his presence felt in Tooele County.

Hatch has battled vigorously to keep high-level nuclear waste out of Skull Valley. He said support for Private Fuel Storage's plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods on the Goshute Indian Reservation is waning considerably. "We've come a long way in that battle, but the plan is not dead yet. Fifty percent of the companies have pulled away from the temporary storage plan. Yucca Mountain is the only place where they have the methodologies to store the waste."

And of course, Tonga:
Oku kau he ongoongo fakamamahi ki he kau va'inga moe ngaahi kalapu ko e fakaha koia he CEO, Sakopo Lolohea kuo'osi 'a e $5 kilu hono fakamoleki he ta'u ni. Ko e pa'anga ko 'eni 'oku 'omai fakata'u he kautaha 'akapulu 'a mamani 'oku 'iloa ko e IRB. 'Oku nau 'omi 'a e $5 kilu he kamata'anga 'oe ta'u kotoa pe.
'I he lau 'a e sea fo'ou 'oe poate, Sangster Saulala na'a nau huatu ke kamata 'a e ngaue he mahina ni kuo talamai ia kuo'osi 'a e $5 kilu ia 'a e IRB. Pea ko e tu'u he taimi ni ko e pa'anga 'a e poate 'akapulu 'a Tonga ko e fo'i noa. Pea ko e me'apango ia ka 'oku lolotonga fai 'a e ngaue 'a e poate fo'ou ke fakama'opo'opo mai 'a e ngaahi feitu'u ne 'ave kiai 'a e pa'anga.

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Blame The Powerless

by Michael Reynolds

Who, me?


Okay, quiz time:

First, can anyone tell me what percentage of Mr. Bush's requests for military spending in Iraq have been granted? Anyone? That's right: 100%.

Now, can anyone tell me what percentage of US military actions in Iraq have been ordered by the Bush administration as opposed to, say, by the Daily Kos? Mmmm, no, not 60/40. The correct answer is 100%. One hundred percent of all the strategic and tactical moves in Iraq have been made by the Bush administration. 100%

So. The Bush administration gets 100% of what it asks for. It makes 100% of the decisions. And the reason things aren't going well is . . . the Democrats.

Here's what's funny about this, although maybe not funny hah hah: the Republicans claim they are the party of responsibility. Their amen corner in the blogosphere struts and postures as the real tough guys, the clear-eyed realists who stand firm for America, unafraid, unwavering. And then they cry that they are helpless in the face of the relentless power of . . . Howard Dean and Al Franken.

Mr. Bush's responsibility for the situation in Iraq: total.

The degree to which his party and his supporters in the blogosphere accept that fact: negligible.

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No Way Out

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

"By the rivers of Ba-by-lon. . ."

If we're Left we talk about lies, false premises, politicization and casualties. If we're Right we try to boil it down to "stay the course" vs. "cut and run." If we're moderate, or at least if we're this moderate, we rage about incompetence and missed opportunities.

Nobody talks much about what we do now.

There are four possible courses of action in Iraq:
  1. Stay the course. The weakness of this position is that we've never had a course to stay. We pulled off a lovely invasion, then botched the occupation. Mr. Rumsfeld denied we had an insurgency and refused to change our approach until the insurgency had sprouted like kudzu along a North Carolina freeway. We're on our third war in Iraq. We started with an invasion, we moved to an insurgency, and we are now in the ethnic cleansing/civil war stage. The way we fought the invasion doomed the occupation. The way we dealt with the insurgency may be fueling the civil war. So to argue that we should stay the course, a supporter would have to explain just what the course is and what it should be when we finally admit we're an eyelash away from an Iraqi 1860. Which brings us right back to figuring out what we think we should do next.
  2. Redeploy. The usual scenario for this involves moving ground troops out of Iraq into bases in Kuwait. The theory is that we'd hop back to Iraq whenever they annoyed us. This is absurd. When we leave Iraq the American people will be done with it. We will not re-invade. What is the idea here? That we'd leave Iraq in 2007 and then return in force in 2008? And what would we hope to accomplish by invading, leaving, then invading again? This is nothing but a face-saving dodge.
  3. Reload And Do It Right. This is what John McCain wants. What I want, too. The occupation was doomed by Don Rumsfeld's obsession with minimizing the invasion force, and by the entire administration's cheery Neo-Con Kool-Aid drinking binge. I assumed when we started this war, and when I supported it, that we were doing Japan 1945. It honestly never occurred to me that the adminsitration would have literally no plan for occupation and that they would simply not get what to me was self-evident: that the first rule of occupations is "place boot firmly on neck." But there is no way, not now, not with all that's happened, that we could convince the American people to go down this path. This ship has sailed.
  4. Cut and Run. It won't stop Iraq's descent into civil war, or Iraq's dismemberment, or Iran's extension of hegemony, or the Sunni portion of Iraq becoming a newer, richer Taliban Afghanistan. Pick your nightmare, but bear in mind: we could get all four.
The attentive reader will notice that there is no good answer here. Number 1 is probably doomed, number 2 is a face-saving lie, number 3 is politically impossible, and number 4 only guarantees that the fan and the fecal matter have a fateful meeting.

People ask why the Democrats don't come up with a plan. The answer is simply that Mr. Bush has so thoroughly fucked this up that there is no longer any solution. We're along for the ride now, having surrendered any strategic initiative. We are hoping to be rescued by the Iraqis.

That's the reality: we're hoping to be rescued by the people whose last smart move was writing Hammurabi's code, 3700 odd years ago.

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Hell No, We Won't Pleat.

by Michael Reynolds

I just went through my closet and culled clothing for Goodwill. Or as those of us who spent some of our formative years in the South say it, the Goodwill.

I'm culling not for weight loss -- although there's been some of that -- but for pleats. Pleats are over. They've been over for a couple of years now in the major cities but I haven't wanted to surrender my beloved Zanellas.

Product placement alert: Zanellas are the dress slacks God would wear if he didn't wear dresses. They cost a fortune, but you don't know just how nice a pair of slacks can be till you've worn Zanellas.

I'm naturally bitter about this culling because I never liked pleats to begin with. I resisted for years. I wore nothing but jeans because I hated pleats. They seemed, not to put too fine a point on it, a little fey, a little dandyish. (Yes, kind of like this entire post.)

But as the pleat plague wore on and on I had no choice but to give in. Occasionally I need to wear some grown up clothes, so I swallowed hard, drew out my trusty Amex card and bought in.

And now the fuckers switch to flat front. And now I no longer live in Chicago where the stores are only a year behind New York, I live in Chapel Hill where the lag is closer to four years, so I can't even buy replacements. No, not even at Nordstroms.

It's an outrage. At least I never fell for the short topcoat heresy, I've stiff-armed the bright pink-striped dress shirts with contrasting collars, and I successfully hedged my bets on the three button blazer.

In any case, we need to all pull together on this next time. In about three years the fashionistas will try to force us back into pleats. We need to stand firm. We need to stand together. Say no to pleats, now and forever.

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Just A Flesh Wound.

Monday, August 14, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

"Yeah, I'm dead. But it didn't hurt."

I've been taken to task for suggesting Al Qaeda really aren't all that good at killing Americans. (Just scroll down.)

I assumed that we all understood that it was a good thing to denigrate the power of our enemies. I guess not.

The Left uses those sorts of statements to support the proposition that we don't need to treat Al Qaeda as a serious problem and that we can all go back to bitching about, like, the corporations, man.

The Right, in order to keep up support for the war on terror -- and its retarded cousin, the Iraq war -- believe we should highlight the enemy's destructive power and feed the fear, fan the flames.

So. Let me explain why I wrote that post, and why I stand behind it.

Nothing in this world would make me happier than learning that we have at last flown a missile straight into Osama's cave, and straight up his ass, and reduced him to a red stain drip, drip, dripping from the rocks. When that day comes I will pop a bottle of Dom Perignon and drink a toast and laugh, laugh, laugh.

I am not a moral relativist. I believe in good and evil. Al Qaeda is evil. We, however stupid we may be at times, however poorly-led, are good. The United States of America, with all its many, many faults, is the best thing ever to have happened to civilization. Them bad, us good.

I'm not a moral relativist and I'm not squeamish: I want these people dead. I was a happy boy when Saddam's sons -- Bad and Worse -- turned up dead. I giggled like a schoolgirl when I learned Zarqawi had bought it. I went around happy all day. And when they cinch that rope up around Saddam's throat I'll dance the happy dance. Sometimes I worry that everyone has forgotten that Mullah Omar needs to die, too. I have a list.

But I don't like magnifying fear. I don't like cowering and flinching. I don't want to do the bad guy's job for them by making them ten feet tall and made of adamantium. The point of terrorism is to terrify and to the extent that we allow ourselves to be frightened, we do the enemy's work for them.

I believe in defiance in the face of fear. I didn't mind it when Mr. Bush said, "Bring it on."
I believe, although it doesn't make much sense really, that "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." My favorite Civil War quote, the possibly apocryphal remark of a Union soldier on the subject of General Grant: "Ulysses don't scare worth a damn." I believe in the loud, "Fuck you." They want us scared? Fuck 'em.

In addition to a probably pathological addiction to defiance as an attitude, I have a throw-back, antique sense of what men should be. I don't apologize, even to my feminist wife, for believing that men -- men in specific -- need to be able to manage their emotions, remain calm in a crisis, and suppress fear. If we aren't the ones keeping our shit together while some nut (a man, inevitably) is brandishing a gun, then I don't know what it is we do in this world that isn't done better by women. I'm old school in that. I'm John Wayne era.

When I get hit I want to say, in true John Wayne style, "It's nothin'. Just a flesh wound." I don't always pull that off, but that's what I aim for.

So, yes, I denigrate the destructive capabilities of our enemies. What other course should we take in the face of attempts to intimidate us? We're the Americans, for God's sake. If we aren't brave, who will be?

I'll repeat: Al Qaeda? They've killed 3,000 Americans in five years. Fewer people than die from bike accidents. They're not ten feet tall. They're not supermen. They're punks. And we're going to destroy them.

That attitude doesn't fit neatly into the Left's agenda, or the Right's agenda, but then again, fuck both of them, too. They got nuthin'.

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Nah. But Still.

by Michael Reynolds


How cool is this? Today, three years after we (my Chicago partners and I) shot the pilot for a political affairs TV show we have an expression of interest from the Chicago studio owned by the most powerful woman in the world. No names. Shhh.

Of course I've been around TV and documentaries long enough now to know that about 99% of things go nowhere. Still. Her people, my people. People!

You can see some rather badly chosen and not terribly representative snippets of the show here and here as well.

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Eye On The Blogs.

by Michael Reynolds

"Don't try to hide. I see you."

1) This is getting a little six degrees of separation since I am now commenting on a commentary on a commentary about a book I have no intention of reading . . . inhale . . . but Ambivablog has an inspiring, optimistic, well-written take on yet another fool with utopian ideals. Now, if you comment on that post here, you will be commenting on a commentary about a commentary about a commentary on a book. And Kevin Bacon will show up at your house and mix you a martini.

2) Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye is cranking out foreign policy posts someone ought to be paying him for. I'll call your attention to this one, but scan up and down the page. This blog's on fire.

3) My guy Alan Stewart Carl is writing with the kind of thoughtfulness and gravitas I so carefully avoid:
But today, after nearly a month of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, it is Hezbollah who claims victory. And now we see the future. Weaker nations and peoples have learned that it is futile to directly attack stronger nations and peoples. Instead, they wage battle through the asymmetry of terrorism. But because a terrorist organization follows no international laws and has no boundaries or government, these groups never have to surrender. As long as one man with a camcorder claims to be the representative of the group, the group survives. And, in the new paradigm, survival is victory.
Read it all. Or read most of it, the skip ahead. That's what I do.

4) He's pissing me off, but this is the kind of post Callimachus does better than anyone. In a topical piece on Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, he provides this terribly moving quote on the display of Brady's often graphic battlefield photos:
[Visitors crowded the gallery in] hushed, reverend [sic] groups … bending down to look in the pale faces of the dead, chained by the strange spell that dwells in dead men's eyes…. We would scarce choose to be in the gallery when one of the women bending over them should recognize a husband, a son, or a brother in the still, lifeless lines of bodies that lie ready for the gaping trenches.

5) Finally, for my fellow heathen, Dwindling in Unbelief racks up God's kill count, and contrasts it with Satan's. Thank to the always entertaining and often brilliant Uncredible Hallq for the link.

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Blog Wars 2006?

by Michael Reynolds


Wow, I'm writing this blog for what, a week? And already I'm on the verge of a blog feud?

The problem comes from this post. Which was responded to here. I then responded in his comments.

Now, here's the problem: I enjoyed an earlier feud with Dean Esmay at my previous blog because I think Esmay's an asshole. But I like Callimachus and his blog partner Reader I_A_M. I like them both, I respect them both. I don't really want a feud with Cal or with the Done With Mirrors blog, which is consistently one of the best-written, most informative blogs around. A compliment from Cal gave me the name for this blog.

So tell me: am I wrong? Am I being oversensitive?

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Bush's Red Queen Rules

Sunday, August 13, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

"Don't worry, it'll be a cakewalk."

Sy Hersh has a piece in the New Yorker that details American support for the Israeli invasion. You need to read it all because there's a lot of detail and nuance, and I don't want to leave you with the impression that the quotes I've used are comprehensive. That caveat having been offered . . .
The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

[...]

“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It’s not Congo—it’s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

[...]

The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.”
The bombing in Kosovo . . . by that most hated of right-wing bugaboos, Bill Clinton . . . was the model.
In the early discussions with American officials, I was told by the Middle East expert and the government consultant, the Israelis repeatedly pointed to the war in Kosovo as an example of what Israel would try to achieve. The NATO forces commanded by U.S. Army General Wesley Clark methodically bombed and strafed not only military targets but tunnels, bridges, and roads, in Kosovo and elsewhere in Serbia, for seventy-eight days before forcing Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo. “Israel studied the Kosovo war as its role model,” the government consultant said. “The Israelis told Condi Rice, ‘You did it in about seventy days, but we need half of that—thirty-five days.’ ”

There are, of course, vast differences between Lebanon and Kosovo. Clark, who retired from the military in 2000 and unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for the Presidency in 2004, took issue with the analogy: “If it’s true that the Israeli campaign is based on the American approach in Kosovo, then it missed the point. Ours was to use force to obtain a diplomatic objective—it was not about killing people.” Clark noted in a 2001 book, “Waging Modern War,” that it was the threat of a possible ground invasion as well as the bombing that forced the Serbs to end the war. He told me, “In my experience, air campaigns have to be backed, ultimately, by the will and capability to finish the job on the ground.”
(My bold throughout.)

As I said here the Israelis fought a Rumsfeld war. They got a Rumsfeld result. In this case they fought a Rumsfeld war that would theoretically instruct Rumsfeld on the efficacy of Rumsfeldism. Everyone who thinks Don Rumsfeld or anyone else in this administration has the sense to learn from this, read the following:
The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top—at the insistence of the White House—and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely,” he said. “It’s an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.’s strictures, and if you complain about it you’re out,” he said. “Cheney had a strong hand in this.”
The administration is still cherry-picking intel, shutting out the analysts in order to prove a proposition it has already decided must, for ideological and domestic political reasons, be true. This administration is run by the rules laid down by the Red Queen from Beyond the Looking Glass: "Verdict first, trial later!"

It is now quite clear that the adminsitration was actively contemplating yet another half-assed, half-committed, poorly-conceived war, this time with Iran. Still looking for war on the cheap.

It's beyond belief. They learn nothing. They are in denial so deep it's becoming evidence of mental illness.

There is no reason in theory that a bombing campaign can't work to disrupt Iranian nuclear plans. After all, a system of many parts, which presumably describes the Iranian nuclear effort, is fragile by nature. But that's theory. Over in reality we have a Shi'ite government in Iraq, pressed by radical Shi'ite militias, and an Iraqi Shi'ite population, all influenced to a degree by Iran. We have oil prices at peak. We have the Straits of Hormuz. We have Iranian missiles that can reach across the Persian Gulf to Saudi oil facilities. We have Hezbollah cells in the US.

We can take Iran down. But quickly? Easily? Without massive collateral damage? Without seeing Iraq explode? Without bombs going off in American malls? With Rumsfeld's famous all jets, no tanks version of war? Without increasing the size of the US military? No. No. Clearly no.

As I wrote here, this makes it 0 for 3 against Iran. Our first beating was suffered under Carter and Reagan. Mr. Bush has led us into two more defeats at the hands of the Mullahs. He's setting us up for yet another fiasco if he imagines that we can stand off in Kuwait and take Iran apart without bringing on a major war. That's not just Mr. Bush being stubborn. It's not just Mr. Bush being in deep denial. It's Mr. Bush being as crazy as the Red Queen.

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