Scholars and Rogues, How to win the Iraq war debate against your dumb friends.
Recently I was arguing with one of my dumber friends about the Iraq war. He loves Bush and thinks bigger bombs is the answer in Iraq. I wasn’t gaining any ground in the argument until I used a simple analogy. I said, “Your solution is like shattering an expensive vase and then saying, ‘We need to keep smashing it until it’s fixed.’”
I stumped him. He was silent. So here’s a brief list of other analogies you can use on your dumb friends. And the truth is, I’ve seen similar ones work on some of the smartest political pundits.
Actually, I'm not sure if I know anyone who supports the war any more, although I know people with varying views about how one extricates from it. If they do support it, they're awful quiet about it. Statistically, you'd expect there would be a number in the student body, but then I don't spend that much time talking politics with students. Maybe I should?
I wasn't going to post anything on this sad milestone of 4,000 US military fatalities in Iraq. The number is at once numbing, infuriating, obscene, and vastly under-stated, as it leaves out the non-military US fatalities, many many US military casualties whose injuries will plague them and their families for the next sixty or more years, the physically raped US civilian workers with no recourse, the metaphorically raped US taxpayers, the many tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed, who knows how many Iraqi civilians injured, the millions of Iraqis displaced or forced into exile, and on and on.
And then I saw this: Crooks and Liars » Cheney on 4000 American Dead: “They Volunteered”
And so I posted something after all.
It looks to me as if the big winner in the Fallon firing (and even Steve Clemons says it is a firing) is Adm. Fallon's nominal subordinate Gen. David Petraeus. It didn't look good for Petraeus to have his boss on a different page; it revealed Petraeus's spin for what it was.
And it's important for Petraeus to look good: not primarily because he's at least a long-shot contender for the vice-presidential slot on the McCain ticket, but because Petraeus is the key to the administration's domestic strategy for the fall.
Bush desperately wants a Republican to succeed him, not just to avoid the visible repudiation but also to keep the scandals under the rug. The linchpin of the political strategy is to tar the Democrats as not just weak on defense but part of the Dolchstoßlegende (stab in the back) tendency. And the man who's going to do much of the heavy lifting for Bush is Petraeus, who's currently hoping to do another round of testimony on the Hill on or about 9/11/08 — just as the electoral season kicks into high gear.
(Why the Democrats would allow this testimony on such a charged date is beyond me, but there's no understanding the political death wishes and spinelessness of our Senators. They allowed it last year.)
[Update (3/12): I'm told this year's testimony is actually scheduled for April 8 and 9 — the dates that US forces took Baghdad and the Saddam statue came down. Another triumph of Democratic planing.]
At PrawfBlawg (like the blog, hate the name), Steve Vladeck has a very insightful post on two cases pending before the Supreme Court: Did Omar and Munaf Just Become the Same Case?
Steve being a friend, I know he'll forgive me for my quoting it in full:
Over at Opinio Juris, Kevin Heller has news of an immensely important development — the Iraqi Court of Cassation's reversal of Mohammed Munaf's conviction by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (the “CCC-I”). Munaf's habeas petition is one of two brought by U.S. citizens detained in Iraq set to be argued before the Supreme Court later this month (and in which I co-authored an amicus brief in support of the federal courts' jurisdiction).
Significantly, the distinction between Munaf and the other detainee — Omar — relied upon by the D.C. Circuit was Munaf's conviction by the CCC-I… the lower courts concluded that, where the U.S. citizen-detainee had not been tried and convicted (Omar), there was jurisdiction; where he had, there wasn't (Munaf).
If Munaf's conviction has now been reversed, that has the potential to change the whole complexion of the two cases; now, both present a challenge to “pure” executive detention, without the wrinkle added by Munaf's conviction (subsequent to the filing of his habeas petition). Indeed, Munaf's almost becomes the stronger case, since his, unlike Omar's, is not in the posture of a grant of a preliminary injunction…
How will the government respond? Will the Supreme Court now just decide Omar, and vacate and remand Munaf for further proceedings not inconsistent therewith?
One thing is for sure: If this all pans out, the reversal of Munaf's conviction serves to reinforce the deep flaws in his trial in the first place, and the reason why federal judicial review of his detention via habeas was—and continues to be—so critical in his case.