Buckley: we cannot win in Iraq

I have been repeating like a monomaniac for the last year that Bush’s post-Hussein Iraq policy, if not a deliberate fraud, is a monstrous self-deception, a folie à deux, with the two partners in the folly being Bush on one side and his legions of conservative devotees on the other. Bush’s followers have been worshipping him for his resolute and determined conduct of a “war” in Iraq that is not a war—not a military campaign aimed at victory over the enemy, but only a holding action. I’ve said Bush is neither carrying out in practice, nor articulating in theory, any policy that could reasonably be expected to lead to the pacification of Iraq and the possibility of a self-sustaining government being set up in that country. I’ve been saying that we need either to expand the whole concept of the war in order to win in Iraq, or, if we determined that that was not possible, to adopt an entirely different approach to the war such as I’ve been proposing at VFR from time to time. I had not reached any definite conclusion myself about the possibility of a victory in Iraq. But now an influential opinion-maker who, like me, supported the invasion of Iraq, has reached the definite conclusion that the war cannot be won.

In a column published yesterday at National Review Online (“Algeria Warned Us”), William Buckley discusses, as an analogy to the Iraq situation, the terrorist war in Algeria in the late 1950s and early 1960s that finally forced de Gaulle to abandon that country (which had been a fully integrated province of France) to the rule of terrorist Moslem revolutionarists. De Gaulle surrendered Algeria because he was unwilling to contemplate the frightful methods that would have been required for victory. Returning to Iraq, Buckley observes:

[W]hether the next step will be taken by Mr. Bush or President Kerry, one thing is predictable. It is that the insurrectionists can’t be defeated by any means we would consent to use.

Buckley quietly drops this bombshell into the last sentence of his column. If he is correct, and if more and more people including supporters of the initial Iraq invasion come to believe that he is correct, then a Kerry presidency (get out of Iraq sooner rather than merely later, as Bush would inevitably have to do in any case) would not necessarily be such a disaster after all, at least in the long run. In fact, I made a similar point in a comment I posted earlier today:

Let’s say that Kerry did lose Iraq, as Mr. Baum says would happen. Is Bush pursuing a strategy that can win it? I’ve argued that, given his soft and not-fully-thought-out approach to the war, he doesn’t have a strategy that can win it. All he has is a holding action, holding the wolf by the ears. We have to stay in Iraq absorbing terrorist attacks forever, in order to prop up whatever government they create there. That’s Bush’s policy as far as I can see it. So if we lost Iraq, which would admittedly be a disaster, that would also clear the decks for a new approach. The “war on terror” would not have ended at that point, it would still have to be continued, and a better Republican might replace Kerry in 2008 and launch a more serious global and domestic strategy in this war, not based on occupying and democratizing Moslem countries (Bush) or on appeasement and UN-worship (Kerry) but on (to give my preferred strategy) isolating the Moslem world and attacking and overturning specific Moslem regimes if they cause us trouble, though without occupying them or seeking to reshape their politics from within.

Of course, a withdrawal from Iraq would be most harmful, pumping up the jihadist side and demoralizing our own, says Randall Parker at Parapundit. Nevertheless, like myself, Parker recognizes that, however bad it looks, such a withdrawal may be unavoidable. One way to prevent it from becoming a humiliating rout would be to pursue an approach that was discussed at VFR some time ago, of not leaving Iraq entirely but moving our forces away from major population centers in the center of the country to a base in Kurdistan, where Americans would be more welcome. Iraq might very well slip into a civil war, and that would be all right would us, as we could tilt to the side we favored and so influence events without being directly responsible for them or becoming the object of general Iraqi resentment, as we are now. Influencing events in Iraq from the sidelines, and influencing events in the whole Persian Gulf region from the sidelines (either from the suggested base in Kurdistan or elsewhere), is the formula I’m suggesting as a possible alternative to Bush’s policy of occupy and democratize.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 27, 2004 06:26 PM | Send

I totally agree with Mr. Auster. The disastrous course of Bush’s Iraq policy became clear to me when he wouldn’t use force to clean out Fallujah and the Shiite strongholds in Baghdad(“Sadr City”). GWB is repeating De Gaulle’s mistakes in Algeria, Begin’s mistakes in Lebanon, and Sharon’s mistakes in Gaza.

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 27, 2004 7:09 PM

So, Mr. Auster proposes to overturn a Taliban regime after they overturn WTC and to overturn Saddam after he detonates his bombs in some U.S. city and to overturn the Iranian regime after it does the same. Mr. Kerry would be proud of giving this advice. And what would Saddam do after such a retaliation lasting a few hours or days? He would come out of his hole and become a new Saladdin to the Arabs. This administration’s strategy is the only strategy.

Posted by: M. Sobolewski on October 27, 2004 7:30 PM

I thought the current strategy was to hold on long enough to train the Iraqi armed forces (which seems to slowly be happening), then launch full scale stranglehold-style attacks on major resistance centers. The idea here is that US troops will win the battles, but Iraqi forces will take the mosques, plant the victory flag, and handle long term security duties. If we go into one or two major resistance centers with serious, deadly force backed by Iraqi manpower, I suspect the resistance will crumble.

Posted by: Dan on October 27, 2004 7:58 PM

Right now, no one is sure of the proper strategy to follow to contain aggressive Islam. President Bush is so poor at explaining to the public what he is doing that no one can be sure just what his strategy is. I think it is still a lot to early to condemn the Iraq war as a failure. This opinion piece by Spengler is interesting. But perhaps it is only “tongue in cheek”.


Posted by: bartelson on October 27, 2004 8:02 PM

“So, Mr. Auster proposes to overturn a Taliban regime after they overturn WTC…” - isn’t that what Dubya did? He didn’t go after the Taliban until after 9-11.
Mr. Sobolewski, it’s apparent to everyone, even the most stringent neocon, that the campaign in Iraq is disastrous. The only country that benifited from this campaign is Iran and its mullahcracy.

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 27, 2004 8:05 PM

Buckley’s comment was very insightful, and the comparison with Algeria apt. Typically, Bush’s talk is much tougher than his action. He isn’t agressively destroying enemy forces, but fighting the world’s first PC war - a holding action whose hallmark is sensitivity to the enemy.

While terrorists have kidnapped and beheaded scores of Americans and allies, we now give captured terrorists full habeas corpus rights to shop for liberal judges in US civilian courts. How many terrorists have been tried and executed under the military tribunals that were talked about so much after 9/11? Zero. In fact, we’re releasing them so they can go and join up with their comrades in order to appease Eloi allies like Blair.

Bush, like all liberals, simply cannot face the fact that Islamic jihadis are truly ruthless and will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. While not sinking to Kerry’s level of treating the jihadis as a law enforcement matter under the corrupt UN, Bush nonetheless can’t bring himself to see the basic nature of our enemy. He still assumes that they will come to reason at some point, if we apply limited force. This is quite consistent with his attitude towards the “Palestinians” as well.

Posted by: Carl on October 27, 2004 8:41 PM

Bush’s Middle Eastern policy is one big utopia. He thinks that giving the “Palestinians” a terrorist state of their own will magically end the ingrained and religiously mandated Islamic antisemitism. I don’t know why he’s called the “most pro-Israel U.S. President”. I’d say his record with Israel is only marginally better than Clinton’s and Carter’s.

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 27, 2004 8:49 PM

I’ve added a new final paragraph to the article in which I discuss the Kurdistan alternative, which would soften the perceived humiliation of an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and, possibly, turn the withdrawal to our long-term advantage.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on October 27, 2004 9:56 PM

Mr. Auster,
The Kurdistan alternative is a great plan. Unfortunately, the neocons with their messianic arrogance will probably refuse to do this and will stick by their friends from the Iraqi National Congress while the situation worsens and becomes more and more uncontrollable. If Kerry is elected, he’ll probably pursue the same policy as GWB. The only thing Kerry will do differently is that he’ll organize a summit and beg France and Germany to send troops to Iraq.

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 27, 2004 10:40 PM

“I’ve added a new final paragraph to the article in which I discuss the Kurdistan alternative”

Which article is this?

I have written a lot about Kurdistan on my blog, if anyone wants to eee my views on the matter.

Essentially, it boils down to the fact that I am certain that the Kurds will declare independence sooner or later. Either we work with them and Turkey to bring this about (probably by transferring Turkish Kurds to Iraq) or else the Kurds will drag Turkey into this war.

Posted by: Michael Jose on October 27, 2004 11:00 PM

If I’m reading VFR correctly, he is claiming that we cannot win the war in Iraq unless we become ruthless killers on a greater scale. I don’t disagree. What he misses is that Americans are not ruthless killers. But he also misses a larger point. Whether Americans can be motivated to fight in the first place is the fundamental question and its answer will determine the winner of the global war. Why provoke a hyperpower unless you really believed he would wilt under attack? The irony is that the more vicious and deadly an enemy’s attack is the more likely America WILL NOT return in kind. Follow this logically to the end and one envisions a nuclear attack in an America city by a terrorist network and a nation paralyzed. Who believes, as was the stated intention involving any nuclear attack during the Cold War, that America could or would return that nuclear strike to the enemy? And this is where VFR sees but a fraction of the bigger picture. The question is of pre-emption and whether America and its leadership can summon the courage to attack our enemies first. President Bush has shown he understands this axiom while John Kerry has not. It seems that the best way to defeat a barbaric enemy that believes his adversary is weak and cowardly is to come to his front doorstep and asking for a fight.

Posted by: thordaddy on October 27, 2004 11:44 PM

Thordaddy’s remark is most odd. He first makes the point that America (I assume he means the majority of Americans by this) have become weak and PC and will refuse to strike back at the jihadis - even if they set off a nuke in a US city. So far, I can’t disagree. Two generations of leftist control of public schools has certainly poisoned and dumbed-down great numbers of the electorate.

Then Thordaddy springs the surprise and starts talking about the axiom of pre-emption, and how Bush supports it and Kerry doesn’t. So far so good. But the larger point is that pre-emption is useless if you charge in to fight a PC war while leaving your borders wide open to those who would strike us. Thordaddy misses the point entirely. It’s not that Bush is a coward, or even an incompetant. The problem is that he is a liberal who is utterly clueless about the true nature of the enemy and their ultimate goals and desires. Pre-emptive or not, we’re fighting a PC war and allowing terrorists to be freed by judicial fiat. If Bush were a courageous conservative, which is certainly not the case, he would tell the Supreme Court to go to hell and start executing some of the terrorists held at Gitmo.

Posted by: Carl on October 28, 2004 12:53 AM

Many of the problems being experienced in Iraq — the various “no-go” zones in the Sunni triangle — are a direct result of the affair with Turkey, where France and her allies delayed its admission into the EU to deter them from allowing American forces to invade Iraq from the north. As well as the military adapted to the refusal to allow its troops safe passage, it was not enough, and we are still dealing with the results of that diplomatic fiasco to this day.

That being said, US forces would have little reason to take cities such as Falluja without native Iraqi police forces, patriotic and unable to bear the brand “foreigner,” to hold them. Looking at news from people on the ground, the US military’s current strategy is clear. They are building Iraqi support from elsewhere, training police forces and arraying government diplomatic pressure against the hot zones. The message is clear: give up your weapons and your violent rhetoric or face an invasion with the full support of the Iraqi government. Some cities have been pacified with this method, and successfully held, and it’s now being applied against Falluja et al.

Whether Bush is intelligent enough to articulate this is, to me, irrelevent. It makes sound military sense to me, and I firmly believe that the Army has done and is doing a terrific job subduing Iraq, based on what I’ve read from its commanders, the reporters on the ground, various Iraqi blogs and the more unbiased among foreign news sources, and Rumsfeld (whom I find to be very blunt, honest, truthful, and informative).

Especially with the new information coming out about Bush’s intelligence, I find it entirely plausible that Bush’s alleged organizational skills and leadership affinity do infact exist and play a large part in his success — he DOES manage people well and he DOES like making decisions, so he is not at all unhappy to announce a conclusion that his administration has arrived at as his own.

Some of the inside players, like the globalists and the neoconservatives, are not exactly the conservatism we want, but I trust those people even though I disagree with them. I can’t say the same for any recent member of the Democratic party.

Posted by: Jonathan Neill on October 28, 2004 12:59 AM

I question whether we will get Iraqi troops who are actually loyal to us… unless of course the Iraqi Security Forces are just another word for Kurdish pershmega.

Posted by: Michael Jose on October 28, 2004 2:04 AM

I agree the politically correct method of war as evidenced by Vietnam, Korea, and Iraq is foolish. The victor gets to write the history not the defeated.

Thanks to Mr. Auster for resuming his moderation.

Posted by: Paul Henri on October 28, 2004 2:12 AM

Bill Clinton succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in Haïti, and regretted not doing the same in Rwanda. G W Bush attempts in Mesopotamia what LBJ did in Indochina.

Anyone else get the impression that Clinton has read his Lothrop Stoddard and Bush has not?

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on October 28, 2004 2:44 AM

I’m not sure an analogy with Algeria is a correct one. In Algeria local Arab wanted to kick French out and have fun for himself. Fact that there were 3 million (that’s the number I recall) French in Algeria, most born there, mattered none to the Arab. It was either Arab or French who will rule.
Of course once French left, Algeria fell apart.

In Iraq we have old rulers, Sunny, and prospective rulers, Shia. Kurds seem to content to protect their own domain and stay out of the Arab fight. US tries to make it clear that we don’t want to stay and we want ‘democratic’ (ie Shia) rulers. Sunny don’t like it, it is understandable. Shia like it, but so far have failed to fight to get it. Unless Shia are cowards genetically, why would not they with US support raise a semi-competent army, proficient enough to crash Sunny resistance? I still think this is the most likely scenario. Shia are bound by no rules of civilized conduct. A current conspiracy theory among Shia is that US is in bed with Sunny. Proof of that is the fact that Falluja is still exists. As far as Shia are concerned if US wuld be on their side, US would vaporize Felluja. It is clear that if Shia had power, Felluja would not be with us by now.

Like I said before, at the end we might get a semi-thuggish Shia regime with a thin veneer of democracy. The regime will not be too hostile to the US. Kurds will have their de-facto independent state in which USA should build all bases we need to keep order in the Middle East.

This is probably the best scenario we realistically can hope for. Our position in the Middle East will be a little better: ME minus Saddam plus Shia-mullas in Iraq. But various costs are enormous and damage is done. As result other bad players will have more room for trouble making.

Bush, neocons and Repubs will declare it a tremendous victory, comparable to the victory in the Cold War. No one will believe them.

Posted by: Mik on October 28, 2004 4:52 AM

People seem to believe that if Fallujah and other such cities can be subdued, the terror insurgency will be defeated. But the terror insurgency existed before those cities became the major trouble spots they are today. I see no reason to believe that the suppression of Fallujah, Samarra et al., by itself, would end the terror attacks. It would be great if that were true. But the impression I have is that the insurgency, while getting particular support from specific cities like Fallujah, operates pretty much a liberty throughout large areas of Iraq. I have zero confidence in the current American leadership’s actions and statements regarding their efforts against the insurgency.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on October 28, 2004 7:05 AM

There is a basic problem with any strategy in Iraq. The overwhelming majority of the population does not want us there. Bush’s strategy such as it is, was predicated on us being welcomed. We may set up a government that suits us. The problem is that it doesn’t suit the Iraqis.

Yes, Bush has a strategy. His PC method of waging the war is the strategy.

Posted by: David on October 28, 2004 11:11 AM

Sobolewski: you’re dead wrong about Saddam being another Salah-ad-Din. Saladin, unlike Saddam, was a Kurd, and also unlike Saddam, was religious and a pretty decent general — though not on the level of Richard I.

What amazes me most about Bush supporters is how they know nothing — literally, in most cases — about the Middle East, but then make claims like Sobolewski’s that this administration’s strategy is the only acceptable one. These people need to admit to everyone that they know nothing about the Middle East. Then they should recognize that they have tremendously hurt the United States by supporting Bush and his invasion of Iraq. Finally they need to apologize to their countrymen and all the families of our dead troops.

I remember sitting in economics class last year as the invasion began and listening to my faux-libertarian professor spout his public-choice nonsense about how Saddam would take the rational way out and go into exile like other leaders have in the past. I also remember at the same time period sitting in my class on Modern Islamic Political Thought, with an Iranian teacher, who when asked about what he thought would happen, said “Saddam isn’t going anywhere.” This, while not terribly important in its specifics, shows to me the attitudes that Bush’s cabal and the American people as a whole exhibited in the run-up to war. The people who know about the region, its politics and history, were not consulted. In fact, their advice not to invade Iraq was ignored. Instead, the neoconservatives in the government, in their hubris, who knew nothing but their own ridiculous ideology went ahead — against common sense and the warnings of so many — in invading.

Who but a total ignoramus would have maintained that Saddam was a threat to the United States? I am amazed over and over, day after day, at the people who think Saddam was poised to attack the United States, and even more at the people who continue to say such things. What’s even more grotesque to me are the people who think that atrocities in other countries are grounds for gearing up our military and going to war — which means losing our money and our soldiers. This is a profound departure from the traditional American attitude to the rest of the world. It used to be considered best to remain neutral in everything that did not directly threaten our country, but that is now no longer true. The neoconservatives, instead of admitting how damn wrong they were in fomenting this war, have tried desperately to latch onto any reason to justify it. The worst part is that the American people have bought it.

The saddest thing about this whole episode in is that the United States will be defeated in Iraq. It’s inevitable. That doesn’t say whether it is good or bad. That’s just what is going to happen. The anti-war Left will be vindicated, and the Left as a whole will continue to benefit from the enormous boon that the Bush presidency has given them.

Posted by: John Ring on October 28, 2004 11:40 AM

In my opinio, there are two ways to solve this mess: we either brutally crush the jihadis and establish an authoritarian, majority-Shiite government or we withdraw to Kurdistan and maybe southernmost Iraq (a belt from the Kuwait border to Basra).

Posted by: Eugene Girin on October 28, 2004 4:45 PM

Chad, you make erroneous assumptions. I said Americans were not ruthless killers and not “weak and PC.” That only applies to about a third of the country and subsequently they have become temporary allies with Islamic jihad. The majority of Americans are fighters but most only when provoked. America needs to become a provocateur of violence if it is to ultimately defeat this enemy. Why assume that a Kerry Administration will even fight? VFR’s concern about fighting more aggressively becomes moot and so do your concerns over a PC war.

The message you are sending and it is echoed by VFR is essentially that a surrender is better than a PC war. You say President Bush is “clueless” about the “true nature” of our enemy and yet he has shown the most fundamental understanding of the enemy. He has shown that he is willing to be a provocateur of violence even in the face of fierce opposition. An opposition that is comprised mostly of leftist, pacifists and the enemy or their sympathizers. What is more chilling to enemy convinced of its adversary’s decadence and weakness than an adversary that will show up to your front doorstep looking for a fight?

But the opposition is also increasely being filled with those similar to VFR. Those that are disaffected because we aren’t fighting hard enough/smart enough. Yet, what will a Kerry Administration offer? And how is this complaint by VFR anymore credible than Kerry’s rhetoric about fighting tougher and smarter?

We have a war in Iraq and you are undermining a President that has at least shown a willingness to fight and thereby helping to elect for surrender. Is a surrender really better than a PC war?

There is still a 50/50 debate going on about whether we should fight at all and you guys are tipping that debate in the wrong direction while worrying about “winning the war.” That’s odd!

Posted by: thordaddy on October 28, 2004 5:10 PM

Thordaddy, I don’t think it is accurate to say that those of us at VFR are taking the leftist/pacifist position that we should surrender to the jihadis. As Mr. Auster has stated many, many times, we need to actually DEFEAT the jihadis decisively. Bush deserved credit insofar as he was willing to strike the enemy unilaterally.

The problem arises with the action that has been taken since we toppled Saddam’s regime. We’ve held back and refused to crush the enemy. We’ve been far too solicitous of Muslim feelings. Instead, Bush is obsessed with “staying the course” while we attempt to graft “democracy”, an idea utterly alien to the Muslim world, onto a medieval, tribalist culture. Rather than setting up an independent state for our loyal allies the Kurds (and also as punishment for the Turkish refusal to allow our troops to invade from the north), and setting a sufficiently powerful strongman in place to rule the remaining Arabs, we insist on keeping the mongrel state in place. It took the British 150 years to influence India to the point where it functions reasonably well as a more-or-less free country. Are we prepared to stay in Iraq for the next century and a half? I think not, since we’re very nearly falling apart at the seams here at home.

While Bush is a firm believer in multiculturalism, Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds are not. True to form, Iraqi Arab Muslims have already started an ethnic cleansing campaign against the small Assyrian, Nestorian, and Maronite Christian minority living there. Bush’s opposition to jihadis is a practical matter, an unprincipled exception to his underlying liberalism. After all, it wasn’t John Kerry who uttered one of the stupidest phrases in world history “Islam…is a religion of peace”, it was Bush. Given enough time, Bush’s position will end up very similar to that of Kerry because he has no real philosophical basis to oppose either jihad or the leftist liebestod of surrender to it.

Posted by: Carl on October 28, 2004 8:07 PM

Carl, your last statement is revealing. It is a statement of ultimate defeat. It is as pleasing to the ears of leftist pacifists as it is Islamic Jihad. The problem is that only one man is preparing to lead America understands that America must provoke violence against the enemy and you will pick with your vote or lack thereof. Given Kerry’s history, it is virtually guaranteed that he will not take ANY fight to the enemy. It is even questionable whether he will fight upon being attack. A nuclear attack on an American city during a Kerry Administration and one shutters at the thought of complete paralysis. Would Kerry use nukes in return? Where would he drop them? And this is where you put the cart before the horse. You, like VFR, assume we will continue to fight and therefore wish to concentrate on how we should fight. I’m saying that you need to make sure we have a fighter, first! Your lament about a PC war is nothing more than an indication that our front is fragile and many Americans aren’t on war footing. This should be the primary concern when debating about ultimate victory. You see the glass half empty but if you really believed what you say then the glass should be half full because this nation has been galvanized enough to provoke violence against an enemy even though it is thoroughly emersed in a PC mentality.

I didn’t mean to suggest that those on the right that are demanding a more ruthless attack on jihad are taking the leftist/pacifist position but instead suggest that its practical consequences are very much similar. Your criticism may be legitimate but it may also be counterproductive to winning because it may help Kerry to victory.

You say we need to defeat the enemy decisively and suggest the president isn’t doing this. Why? Because we haven’t won yet? Why not believe he is doing what is politically allowable? Afterall, President Bush isn’t making decisions in a vacuum and has faced a continuous and relentless enemy both at home and abroad. To believe he can do any and everything suggested upon request reminds one of the tendency of liberals to require instant gratification.

How can an indecisive American electorate defeat an enemy decisively?

Posted by: thordaddy on October 28, 2004 9:12 PM

Thordaddy, I think you are misunderstanding me at least a bit. I cannot, and will not, vote for John Kerry. He is dreadful beyond description. I am also considerably doubtful about the scenario that some readers here have brought up about there being a chance of a real conservative coming to power in the Republican party in the wake of a Bush defeat next Tuesday. We have de-facto Democratic control of both houses of Congress thanks to the large number of leftists and liberals who happen to list the small “R” next to their names. A Kerry regime with that crowd’s connivance could very well bring the nation to its knees altogether. Perhaps I am putting the cart before the horse to that extent. I would advocate voting for Bush unless one happened to live in a hopelessly liberal state which he has no chance of carrying, in which case conservatives should send him a message by voting for someone else (not Kerry).

This election shouldn’t be a close contest. It was Bush’s to lose - and Kerry is an unbelieveably bad candidate. Why is this so? It is Bush’s innate liberalism that has the potential to send conservatives running for Peroutka, Badnarik or staying home in disgust. He goes to war against the jihadis, but wants to invite them into the country as cheap labor. We were left open to attack on 9/11 thanks to gross incompetance of numerous government bureaucrats, many of whom worked (and still support) Bill Clinton. Has he fired a single one? On 9/18/01, there should have been a fair number of government employees from the State and Justice Depts. looking for an honest job.

It is Bush who needs to come up with a workable, realistic plan to defeat the jihadis and establish some sort of stable regime or regimes on the ground in Iraq. We all know what Kerry will do. My great fear is that Bush, because he is a liberal with nothing but the shifting ground of his pragmatism to stand upon, cannot fathom the basic implacable nature of jihadism and will end up with a position not far from Kerry’s. Buish needs to get some conservative advisors for a switch. He needs to repent of his liberalism.

Posted by: Carl on October 28, 2004 10:04 PM

Carl, there is no doubt that we see eye to eye more than not and I shared your great skepticism of President Bush when he first entered office and entertained amnesty for illegal aliens. I am still in opposition to Bush’s outlook and yet it is, if only in degree, more palatable to Kerry’s unmitigated vision of open borders in that at least Bush may suffer great political fallout for his decision within his base whereas Kerry won’t. Add to that the rate and intensity of completely erasing the border and one can at least concede that a Bush presidency provides a greater opportunity for rebuttal and rejection.

You say President Bush needs to bring forward a “workable” and “realistic” plan yet seem amnesic about a large portion of the electorate being irrational, i.e. liberal. A large portion of the American electorate doesn’t want to fight and hence we have a PC war. This is the political reality but I think instead of seeing this as a negative it should be viewed as a positive with the intention of corralling more Americans for this provocative fight. I don’t see VFR as corralling the American people so as to help unleash the political nooses around Bush’s neck. I see VFR as putting forth a view that Bush is compromised and therefore can’t win and that will inevitably create an even more fragile front and a greater likelihood of defeat.

I think we need to get the fighter back in office and save our criticism for November 3. If John Kerry comes to office it might not even matter because those like VFR will have no clout in pressing for a more hawkish stance. Instead of having something to work with we will have nothing to work with.

Posted by: thordaddy on October 28, 2004 10:49 PM

Thordaddy, perhaps I am being too optimistic about the American electorate. How else could Kerry even be a serious contender? If Kerry wins, we at VFR might not have to worry about spending too much time blogging - as Kerry and Co. would be more than willing to use the deadly force of government power to shut it down.

I think perhaps you over-estimate the influence of VFR in discouraging conservatives (liberals hardly ever dare to darken the virtual door here) to get out and vote.

Posted by: Carl on October 28, 2004 11:02 PM

Kerry is a contender because we are a very divided nation in a time of war and that is no coincidence. I don’t think in an election this tight one can over-estimate the power that even a blog like this can have especially on Bush’s conservative base. Words have great consequences and nothing is a greater example of this than the 20+ points drop in support for the Iraq War. This was an intentional effort by both leftists like Kerry looking to regain power and Islamic Jihad looking to blunt our attack and not just a lack of competence or coherency on behalf of the president. I think VFR needs to close ranks until November 3 and not encourage conservatives to either stay home or vote for a conservative candidate that will not win. My primary concern is to get the fighter back in the ring and then we can sit ringside and bombard him with our strategic war wisdom.

Posted by: thordaddy on October 28, 2004 11:30 PM

I don’t resent the poster’s concern about my anti-Bush stand. I recognize, given how bad the left is, that my criticisms of Bush could strike well-meaning people as very wrong-headed. But I don’t see any likelihood of Bush’s leadership improving in a second term. With his “certainty” that he keeps boasting about in his interviews, he is on an ego afflatus, and after his re-election it will get worse. He has no larger strategy for the war other than what we’re already doing. But people on the right keep cooing over him because at least he’s “strong” and “stands for America.” In other words, anyone better than the anti-American left is great. Thus our standards of leadership get determined by the insane left. Talk about defining deviance down.

So I hold to my position, which I admit is a complicated and difficult position to hold. On a gut level, I dread and fear a Kerry presidency. But my mind tells me that it is only through a Bush loss that there will be any long term hope of conservatism finding itself again.

I stiill expect, however (though with less assurance than previously) that Bush will be re-elected.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on October 29, 2004 12:36 AM

And I don’t resent Lawrence Auster’s criticisms although I think they miss several crucial points. I am certainly to the right of Bush and agree with VFR almost exclusively. But, if the aim is to win the war then the anti-Bush stance seems highly counter-productive. It becomes almost indistinguishable from the practical consequences of the enemy’s propaganda.

But then, Mr. Auster suggests that his real motivation is the potential of a conservative revival due to a Bush loss sometime in the future. Ironically, it was his “gut” that has him fearing a Kerry presidency when it should be his “mind” given Kerry’s egregious predilections. His “gut” should have told him that the conservative revival will proceed from the grassroots level whether W wins or loses. It’s the nature of conservatism.

Mr. Auster, we must choose. We can imagine greater leaders. I believe you’ve made a great case against President Bush in the world of politics and punditry. Many Americans think Kerry has done the same thing. But the question is whether Kerry will be better for us in the real world. Am I willing to risk 8 years of a Kerry presidency in the hopes of a conservative revival and as a pre-emption against the further inflation of Bush’s ego? (And I thought all that “certainty” stuff was red meat to make his critics go wild. Has any president so liberal drove so many real liberal absolutely berserk thereby exposing their radicalism?) Not when it is all but certain that a Kerry presidency would mean a loss of the war because we WON’T even fight.

Posted by: thordaddy on October 29, 2004 1:16 AM

Thordaddy raises a point that has left me open-mouthed on many an occaision: the white-hot hatred of Bush by the left. They hate him much more than they did Reagan, Why is that? Reagan was less sympathetic to their worldview than Bush. Reagan never went to Africa (the left’s favorite continent), genuflected before African kleptocrats and effectively assented to the idea that pre-1965 America was evil beyond redemption - opening the door for a federal bailout of his corporate pals from slavery reparations lawsuits and promising 15 billion tax dollars to line the pockets of the kleptocrats (for supposedly fighting AIDS). Reagan never parroted Marxist slogans like “diversity is our strength” after the Supreme Court legitimized permanent racial socialism.

As I see it, those of us at VFR have more reason to despise the man than leftists like Soros do. Bush even signed Soros’ bought-and-paid-for “campaign finance reform” into law - thrusting a dagger into the heart of the first amendment at the same time. For this and other manifestations of his innate liberalism, we at VFR vigorously criticize him. Even so, it doesn’t reach the level of pure hatred one can observe in leftist attacks. We’re not willing to create phony Texas National Guard memos, after all. Despite my lack of respect for him, despite the fact that I view him as a corrupt liberal pol, I can’t say that I hate him. He has his good points. He’s not utterly irredeemable, after all. What gives? What is his unforgiveable sin?

The left ought to be cheering him. He’s given them most of what they desire, though not all. One would think at least they would just shut up and quietly vote for Kerry next Tuesday. I guess the death wish trumps all with today’s leftists. They are truly insane. At least Bush wants to live. Kerry wants to die - and take all of us with him. That’s why I’ll hold my nose and vote for Bush. I do so only for the sake of my countrymen and he preservation of the nation as I have little respect for the man. What a sorry state we are in.

Posted by: Carl on October 29, 2004 3:25 AM

Carl, I think you are reluctant to state the obvious. The left hates Bush because he is a credible threat to their power both in the short and long-term depending on this election. He is at his core an enemy of the left because he is fundamentally a great ally of the right. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t pander to some of their desires. The question is whether that short-term capitulation has any long-term benefits. What if that 15 billion to Africa in AIDS money leads to an 18% black vote as opposed to a 9% black vote for Bush. Would that margin then provide President Bush an opportunity to appoint 3 conservative Supreme Court judges in the next term? Or, what if he allied with George Soros and John McCain to sign campaign finance law. But lo-an-behold, Soros’ connection exposes the Democratic Party as frauds concerning money and elections and your political thorn, McCain, has put forth an adbominable and corrupt piece of legislation thereby all but assuring his support for the war to maintain any conservative credibility. In the meanwhile, the greatest consequence of that legislation was a 5 million dollar Swift Boat 527 effort that had more impact than 10’s of millions of leftist money.

I think Bush is right on the fundamental issues of life and war. As long as a president believes in the sacredness of life and therefore promotes the continuation of American progeny and likewise believes that American has the inherent right of pre-emption against our would be killers then I am with that president. That’s a president that believes in giving the American people the opportunity to choose their own destiny as an individual and in society. In fact, I think the president believes in these 2 principles so strongly that it has naturally led to the immense consternation of the left for they believe in neither.

Posted by: thordaddy on October 29, 2004 4:20 AM

“But lo-an-behold, Soros’ connection exposes the Democratic Party as frauds concerning money and elections and your political thorn, McCain, has put forth an adbominable and corrupt piece of legislation thereby all but assuring his support for the war to maintain any conservative credibility.”

I don’t see the Soros connection dissuading anyone from voting for Kerry (the only people who seem to care a lot are people who wouldn’t vote for Kerry anyway). As for McCain, he was the preferred candidate in 2000 for many of the neocons (e.g. Bill Kristol). The idea that he would have been against the war, but that Bush maneuvered him so as to force him to support it, doesn’t hold water.

Posted by: Michael Jose on October 29, 2004 6:49 AM
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