Friday, December 10, 2004

Beating a Drum -- UPDATE

UPDATE: I'm topping this because I like most of my answers (shameless b-stard that I am) and because Jonah Goldberg cuts Kevin Drum a new one in this fine G-file, which may elucidate some of Drum's biases that underlie the premises to these questions.

Kevin Drum posed eight questions to conservatives regarding Iraq and national security. Here are the questions, with The Monk's answers:

1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

Democracy: Yes; tolerance: no if that means accepting Israel's existence as a Jewish state or religious tolerance within the Islamic world but if it means tolerating democratic ideas, then yes.

2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

The underlying premise of this question is disturbing: that Bush has to "do more" to distance himself from Falwell's and Robertson's than he did when Bush blasted their comments right after each one made his ludicrous remarks. Republican leaders also blasted Falwell and Robertson.

I fail to understand why Bush must distance himself from their "followers". The implication is that no one who follows Falwell or Robertson has the mental capacity, free will, or inquisitive nature to evaluate what those men say and then act independently. Is the corollary that liberals should distance themselves from International ANSWER, Islamic Solidarity Movement, and Michael Moore? Democrats and liberals do not decry these groups but Republicans and conservatives speak out against Falwell and Robertson. Evaluate that on your own.

3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

This is a common trope of the left: if we attack Iraq, why not North Korea; if we seek democracy in Iraq, why not Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Simply said, all in good time. Not every trouble spot in the world can be dealt with on the same timetable. And note that liberals never ask "why not democracy in Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Cuba".

And yes, establishing freedom and democracy is and should be a core conservative belief.

4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

This is rather stupid because it presumes the "War for oil" nonsense. That argument is easily negated: the oil flow from Iraq was greater, steadier and more reliable under Saddam and certainly much cheaper in US blood and treasure. The Cheney task force records on this question are irrelevant. I think that everything Bush has done speaks volumes about how important it is to spread freedom and liberty in the Middle East.

5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

This question is merely a denigration of a Christian theological concept. I do not think that this theological concept is per se unreasonable even though I do not personally believe it. The notion that Christian right-wingers are nutty because they hold Christian beliefs defies logic. The Judeo-Christian heritage of the West is what has led to freedom, democracy, equality, technological and scientific advancement, and the sound political systems needed to maintain progress. Without this Judeo-Christian foundation, what would there be? Strong-man systems like those in Latin America? Backward totalitarian regimes like those in the Muslim world? Communist dictatorships like in China and Vietnam? Perish the thought.

6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

Yes to both. Iran has made its intentions to build and use nuclear weapons very clear. If regime change in Iran can be done without such military force, do it.

7) If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

This is a deliberately vague question. If a wholly stable Iraq in 2007 says we are fine and need no more US troops, fine. If this means withdrawal on Jan. 31, 2005, no. But that latter possibility will not occur.

8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

Considering Mylroie's groundbreaking work connecting Iraq to the first WTC bombing, her voluminous and tireless research, the information she's uncovered that does suggest Iraqi involvement in 9-11-01 and her results, I think that dismissing her theories as "crackpot" shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the questioner. Few are better at connecting the dots in this area than Mylroie and no serious discrediting of her work exists.

HT: Dean Esmay.

How 'bout questions for liberals? Check out Dean Esmay at the link by the hat-tip.

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