Comments: Not Now, Thank You

I take it I was unsuccessful in explaining my position, then? For the record, I found your restraint to be quite admirable, although I of course cannot judge precisely how phenomonal it was.

I hope your hiatus will be a short one.

Posted by Andrew at August 25, 2004 09:56 AM

You were quite successful in explaining your position.

It's just that (I couldn't say this on your blog, but I feel free to say it on my own), your world view caused me to get up this morning, run outside, and make sure that I was, in fact, still located on that blue-green sort of oblong planet third out from the sun.

I understand your position now. I just find that understanding didn't lead to any points of common ground.

Posted by Anne at August 25, 2004 10:15 AM

I take it I was unsuccessful in explaining my position, then? For the record, I found your restraint to be quite admirable, although I of course cannot judge precisely how phenomonal it was.

I hope your hiatus will be a short one.

Posted by Andrew at August 25, 2004 10:38 AM

D'oh, sorry about the double post. I lost my internet connection and didn't see that the first one went through.

That's a pretty fundamental disconnect. Perhaps we could begin with a discussion of what we consider the facts at hand, and see work from there?

Posted by Andrew at August 25, 2004 10:46 AM

"I am, for instance, quite honestly, very disturbed by the implicit assumption in your post that domestic matters are just amazingly less important to the future of this country than making war."

That is what I find with my once in-the-middle friends who are now going to vote for Bush. They believe the war infinitely more important than domestic matters. Some (really, all) believe that the American economy is invulnerable and has no serious problems, nor will it ever have any problems. Most of these friends are a few years younger than I, young enough that they can't remember the Japan scare of the early 90s, the idea that America was going to be replaced by Japan as the world's big super power. My own worldview was shaped by the deindustrialization of the American economy in the 80s and then the absolutely stark economic dangers of the early 90s. Some of my younger friends have no memories of that, and they believe it is silly to worry about America domestically. Everything is super and always will be, or so they feel.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 25, 2004 02:20 PM

Otherwise intelligent people of my aquaintance who intend to vote for Bush insist that only Bush can save us from the perils of (Muslim) terrorists???? Duh. They seem incapable of understanding that Bush is generating more terrorists and at a faster rate than the USA military could possible defeat them (ie. that Bush is doing this by his own attitudes and actions).

Those people must be taking Bush at face value. They BELIEVE what he SAYS he has done and will continue to do -- instead of looking at what he's ACTUALLY done and is continuing to do.

Posted by AAA at August 25, 2004 11:58 PM

I've been thinking about this exchange, and the first thought that pops into my head, and which won't leave, is that the argument has several logical junctions at which we can disagree, and I for one disagree on almost all of them.

I disagree that the War With Islam (I'd use the acronym, but that would be confusing) is more important that domestic policy, particularly if you are concerned about constitutional rights.

I disagree that George W. Bush is doing a good job with regard to the War With Islam, as evidenced by his failure to actually eliminate the Taliban or establish a functional state in Afghanistant, and the immense power and influence in Iraq of....yes, Islamic leadership, including some highly politicized and US-hostile folks (and I don't just mean al-Sadr, by the way) and general failure to actually make the US look good even when we do something reasonably good for bad reasons. Our own Secretary of Defense said that we were winning the war on terrorism in a tactical sense, but losing in a strategic sense, because we were not winning allies or changing people's minds.

Finally, I disagree that War With Islam is in fact what's going to be the centerpiece of American life over the next two decades, and particularly disagree with the idea that an apocalyptic final conflict is inevitable. The Cold War is the best example I can think of (in which we fought several battles but never actually engaged in open war, while our prosperity and our enemy's flaws overtook them), and the differences (the global terror network model) suggest an even greater tendency to small-scale focused conflicts on the edges rather than large-scale direct confrontation.

I have to think more about the last bit: this is very sketchy still, and I want to try to meditate on the Irish situation as an example of a state-terrorist conflict resolved (sort of) without cataclysmic confrontation.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at August 26, 2004 02:56 AM

Jonathan, that about sums up my feelings as well. I said about as much over on Andrew's site.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 26, 2004 11:54 AM

Anne, your comment over on Andrew's is probably the longest comment I've ever seen anywhere. I suppose that must be in part why you have not posted much here on this blog for the last day or two.

I agreed with most of what you said over on Andrew's. I do have a tendency to nit-pick over details, which at first left me wondering if I could agree with this:

"We've left a legacy of poverty, repression, unemployment, and disease behind us in that part of the world. We turned our backs on the moderates, refused to let the people and the countries live their own lives, and have forced them to accept our presence in their midst so that we could keep our eyes on that all-important supply of oil. "

I do feel that the people of the Mideast and North Africa are angry and desperate, but I tend to put the blame more on their leadership than on American actions. Also the Soviet Union needs to take a large part of the blame, since a large part of American actions there were defensive in nature, trying to keep the Soviets from winning over more countries.

But still, I realize, broadly, you are right. We did turn our backs on moderates, time and again.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 26, 2004 12:01 PM

"Well, we could "morally" mind our own business, couldn't we? (At least, we could have at any time in the last fifty or sixty years. It's not quite an easy solution these days.)"

Anne, you could mean this several ways, so maybe you could clarify it. Is your opinion that the policy of containment, that is, containing communism, was a bad one? Do you feel it was immoral? Or do you feel that the policy was good, but some of the choices we made (supporting authoritarian strong-men so long as they were anti-communist) were poor choices? When you say we could "mind our own business" for the last 50 years, it sounds like you're rejecting the domino theory and the containment policy. Surely we had to do something to stop communist aggression?

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 26, 2004 12:06 PM

Lawrence,

My apologies for not responding to your own post on my site yet; I'm afraid I put all of my energy into addressing Anne's points thus far. I will attempt to respond to your own points either today or tomorrow.

Posted by Andrew at August 26, 2004 12:07 PM