Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Answers For Kevin Drum

I'm a bit late to the game, but Kevin Drum posts some "Questions for Conservatives" that he believes will be of service in promoting a "brutally honest conversation" among those of us who must be in his mind terribly misguided. The questions themselves ooze with condescension, and the existence of the list itself, seems to imply that the level of intellectual rigour on the conservative side is a bit lacking. This, when the liberal side of thought spans from the Daily Kos to Sigh.

My take for what its worth:

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?

I'm not sure that any conservative has ever suggested that American military power is exclusively the way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East. I am sure, however, that 40 years of diplomacy, negotiations, and sumits have failed to do the trick. The sad fact is, that the cultures of the Middle East have one way or another led to government by tyrants and kleptocrats, sprawling poverty, growing ignorance, and the horrendous treatment of women as property.

Conservatives have rightly recognized that American foreign policy in the Middle East must be backed by American resolve, and yes, American power. As one arm of our strategic thrust, the removal of Saddam and corresponding establishment of an American Military presence in the middle of the region has completely changed the calculus of power. The next step of free elections in Iraq will now begin to change the thinking of those that have previously had to live under the repressive regimes of the middle east. Have you noted that the notorious Arab street remains relatively silent towards our "occupation". Having seen the changes, read the reports from all sides, and witnessed the steady progress towards freedom I am now more than ever certain that this is the right approach. I'm equally more certain that this will be a costly, and lengthy enterprise. Well worth it though.

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?

Why would I worry about this. While I don't agree with my liberal counterparts on many if not most issues, I would assume that they're sufficiently sophisticated to know that Republicans represent a multitude of backgrounds, and come to our party for a variety of reasons. In many cases there are those such as myself who tend to vote Republican because the Democrats simply do not offer a viable alternative. It's sad, but largely true, that the intellectual rigour on the left departed long ago, beginning with the conversion of the neocons whom you guys so love to hate.

I assume by "their followers" you mean conservative Christians. Why would President Bush want to distance himself from these people. They try to live morally, believe in God, and want the best for their country. You may not agree with all they support and want to accomplish, and neither do I, but I support their right to promote their views, welcome their contribution to the political discourse and I would hope that you do too.

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.

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?

This is really kind of a mess of a question, since it seems to imply that if President Bush's policy towards Iraq and Afghanistan is different than that towards Pakistan and Saudi Arabia then its very inconsistency reveals it to be corrupt. Sorry, can't play that game Kev. You should be sufficiently sophisticated to understand how each situation requires its own tactical response. You should also understand that all these individual tactical responses are related at the strategic level.

I will however point out, that if President Bush only wanted a stable oil supply he would have followed the advice of the French and many liberals in the U.S. and simply removed sanctions in return for sweetheart deals from Saddam.

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.

Thanks for the implication that I'm not inclined to be honest. Sorry, I have little or no interest in these records though.

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?

Wow, you must have access to the theories of those I've never met. I would have thought that any Christian would assume that if the Second Coming were going to begin, worldly issues such as those you describe would have little or no impact on it's occurence. I'm a pretty religious guy, and I must tell you I've never heard this theory. I have heard though, that there shouldn't be any compromises with Palestinians until they stop blowing people up. Can't say I disagree.

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?

At this point I don't believe that an invasion of Iran is the clear first choice in the event that they build nuclear weapons. I would be more inclined to begin with tactical air strikes against the appropriate facilities, prior to actual weapon production. This would also not require a military draft.

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.

Here is that implication of dishonesty again. What's the problem Kev? My answer doesn't change with the situation or the audience. You must be confusing me with John Kerry.

At any rate, I will support the draw down of our troops only when we can be reasonably certain that the country can be secured with Iraqi forces and police. I would like to see us move towards this moment as quickly as possible.

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?

You mean the Laurie Mylroie who served as Clinton's Iraq advisor during the 1992 campaign? Sorry, I couldn't help one dig.

None-the-less, if so, I must say that I'm not very familiar with her theories, but I don't write off Saddam's association with terror quite as easily as it seems you do. For example, Saddam supported the families of suicide bombers with $50,000 payments. Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas had found sanctuary in pre-war Iraq. Of course Zarqawi, went to Iraq for treatment of wounds suffered in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion. As they say, "where there's smoke......"

Have at it folks!

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