May 22, 2004

STRENGTH (part 2)

Tracking down and cornering the cause of this unending, mindless attack on one’s own society -- this urge to suicide, this mindless assault on the very idea of strength, this death wish -- leads us down many winding and serpentine paths. I for one do not believe in conspiracies. So what could possibly explain why so many people feel the need to attack the most free and expressive society in the world and glorify the most awful and odious?

One analogy continues to fascinate me:

We know that allergies result when the defense mechanisms of the body’s immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells, falsely recognizing them as foreign and dangerous. The body’s defenses essentially go to war against the body itself.

Here’s what intrigues me: new research seems to indicate that the cleaner and more sanitary the environment we live in becomes, the more likely we are to develop allergies. Allergies appear in much, much lower numbers among farm kids, who are exposed to all manner of infectious elements -– not to mention the cuts and scrapes and so on caused by actual, physical work. And as we become more and more obsessed with ‘disinfecting’ everything in sight, allergies skyrocket.

What seems to be happening is this: the more we are exposed to real infection, the easier it is for the immune system to identify foreign cells from host cells, since there are dangerous foreign cells in abundance. These infectious agents constantly demand new antibody production, and the line between “host” and “other” is clearly and continuously redefined. In excessively antiseptic environments, that level of discrimination appears to break down due to lack of use, and the body’s immune system turns on itself.

These allergy attacks range from the mildly annoying to the almost instantaneously fatal.

And a serious and potentially fatal allergy attack is precisely what I believe is happening to Western Civilization today.

Consider this:

If you genuinely, honestly believe you can compare George Bush to Adolph Hitler, it is only because you are so removed from exposure to the genuine horrors of the Nazi regime -– routine street beatings, confiscation and destruction of businesses, homes and property, then deportation and extermination of millions of your own countrymen -- that you are functionally incapable of the most basic and fundamental level of discrimination. If you can compare Abu Ghraib to a Nazi death camp with a straight face, then you have never been to Abu Ghraib, or a Nazi death camp, or either -– that is patently obvious, and it would be comically so if the stakes were not so monumentally high. Having never been exposed to genuine evil, you have literally no conception whatsoever of what it looks and smells and tastes like.

(Immigrant Americans from Poland or Russia or Cuba, or Iraq, for that manner, exhibit virtually none of this madness. They know what a real secret police presence feels like.)

Let me clarify this if I may. Senator Kennedy claims Abu Ghraib is simply Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers “under new management -– U.S. management.” Taking him at his word -– a somewhat iffy proposition right out of the gate -– he apparently cannot see the difference between the humiliation and bullying of enemy combatants, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, and the gleeful, mocking murder, torture and gang rape of over 300,000 innocent men, women and children -- which is something worse. So Senator, here is a helpful analogy which you may find useful: the difference is about the same as pulling over and leaving a young female secretary on the curb in the rain, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, vs. leaving her trapped in the car at the bottom of a river while you look at the bubbles and ponder the political repercussions.

Which is something worse, Senator.

Americans living today have never known torture or oppression or state-sponsored murder, and so it becomes nothing more than a rhetorical concept for most of us. People who defend Saddam and Kim and Castro have no idea at all about what that life entails. None. And so, in their safe and antiseptic little worlds of coffee shops and chat rooms, it all reduces to rhetoric. And since, in the end, it’s nothing but words anyway, they feel they can win an argument because their rhetoric goes up to eleven.


In extreme cases -– sadly rising in frequency -- these people not only hate America, they hate everything. They see nothing in American history beyond slavery and the Indian Wars. They often claim to live, or would prefer to live, in more refined, decent and civilized nations, like Canada and Britain and New Zealand: as if white, English-speaking Canadians grew out of the ground like corn on an empty, Indian- and Eskimo-free horizon, or the thousand years of English conquest over India, China, Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Wales was in a parallel universe, or that the warlike Maoris invaded and took over the North and South Islands from the peaceful, indigenous white settlers. As if France were not the most blood-soaked patch of land on the surface of the earth, as if Russia’s leaders never so much as raised a hand against its own suffering people, as if Scandinavia was not the epicenter of centuries of rape, pillage, murder and misery, as if the Aztecs said gracias in Castilian Spanish as they cut the living hearts out of their prisoners. As if the Spanish themselves had never known the Inquisition, Italy no Papal Wars or Duces or Ethiopias, as if Belgium had no Leopold and Leopold no Congo, as if Germany…well.

As if African slaves were only held by whites and Christians, as if Japan has practiced nothing but calligraphy and origami for a millennia, as if South America was a spotless white linen of freedom of expression and individual rights, as if China was a champion of democracy and the common man, as if Indians never spat on anyone, as if, as if…as if the entire bloody history of conquest and war and displacement were the unique domain of America alone, or, equally absurd, that we deserve to die for not being born perfect and without sin -– as they, in their own self-obsessed, one-person Universes expect everyone else to be.

And so they trot out every single example of human atrocity as if they were Atticus Finch sweating under the heat in that courtroom in their mind; these snipers and critics and ‘activists’ who have no plans of their own, no solutions, no answers to these dirty and difficult and eternal issues, and so sit in the warm cocoon of perfection afforded the man who attempts nothing. And while better men and women -– better men and women by every measure -– struggle and fight and bleed to make the world a better and safer place, they grow more and more disconnected from the essential ugliness and brutality that is half -– and only half -– of this flawed and broken and hopeful and noble human existence.

And because we are all born with this legion of devils inside every heart, more than anything else in the world they hate themselves. Carrying all the guilt of the world on their stooped and broken spirits, their eyes cast so far down that they can see nothing of nobility or progress or redemption of any kind, these people are broken. They are miserable, bitter, cynical husks. And we all know what misery craves.

See them for what they are: nothing more than the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons: Worst. Country. Ever.

They are useless people. They have heeded the last and final boarding call and pushed back from the gate of reality. They have left the building.

Don’t argue with them, don’t engage them. They want to make this about rhetoric and sophistry, which they fetishize, and not about the simple difference between right and wrong, which is a world where they cast no reflection.

So is this nation, this culture, worth fighting for? Are our lives even worth defending?

Let me offer two answers; one hard-headed, pointy and practical; the other warm and fuzzy and easy to cuddle up to.

Okay, left brain: this is for you.

Hardly a person reading this has not sat, probably many times, on board a commercial jetliner, munching a terrible sandwich while watching television on a little screen at seven miles above the earth moving faster than the musket ball that ended the life of Sullivan Ballou.

The sheer mundane frequency of this miracle should be enough on it’s own, but I ask you to look much deeper.

Think, for a moment, about the endlessly intricate, stunning web of trust, cooperation and genius required to make this happen. Drop the obvious elements like the pilots and the air traffic controllers. Forget the armies of people who set their alarms every day to go and build, fly and maintain these wonders.

What about the chemist who determined the correct mixture to get that reprehensible purple dye just right for the fabric on the seat back covers? Who engraved DIANE’s name tag? How many hundreds of men cut how many grooves in how many trees to make the rubber that seals the handles on the restroom faucets? What were the names of the aerodynamicists who designed the wing section before the one actually finalized in the design of the airplane? Who made the air traffic controller’s coffee? What were the first words spoken between the parents of the person who cleaned and vacuumed your seat?

What were the names of the guys that laid the cement for the VOR station you’re navigating by, back in the 60’s? Who churned the butter in that little plastic container? Somebody forged the bolts that hold down that seat seven rows up. Who? Who delicately put into place that little paper diaphragm in the microphone the flight attendant is boring you with? The person who dry-cleaned the co-pilots uniform -– nice guy? Creep? Who pumped the gas into the little tug that pushed the plane back at the gate? Come to think of it, this crappy TV show you’re watching? Who edits this garbage? What do we know about that guy?

You don’t see any of this, of course. You think nothing of it. But there it is. And this molecular structure does not run as deep anywhere else in the world. You’re it. You in 37B.

Now ask yourself if those five hooded murderers, those 19 hijackers, and those endless seas of raving, chanting, flag-burning lunatics could, together, manufacture one #2 pencil. You know, a perfect, yellow, three-cent pencil -– including the dyes for the enamel paint, the glues and presses for the wood, the mined copper alloy for the band, the chemists to make the graphite and then there is the eraser -– and no one knows what that is made of.

This web that keeps us alive and safe and free needs many things to thrive. Trust. Communication. Mutual respect. Genius. Hard work. And mostly passion.

Fear will kill it all. It will fall apart and unravel into smoke.

All the virtues of science, all the genius of seven thousand years is refined and built into the structure of this Western Society. If we lose this now, humanity will not see it return. To paraphrase Jimmy Doolittle, a great pilot and greater patriot, “we could never be this lucky again.”

And finally, for you soft-hearted, touchy-feely right brain types: a small quiz. Don’t worry: no grades, no trick questions, and no time limit.

If you are a Feminist: Do you think that women should be treated with respect and equality in all matters, and allowed to reach their fullest potential as individuals by making their own decisions? Or do you think that they should be kept locked in the back room, that they should suffer beating or death for being seen in the company of a man not their husband or relative, that they should never be allowed to study or drive a car, and that they must remain covered head to foot when outdoors?

I’m for the former. Which are you for?

If you are a homosexual: do you believe that sexual orientation is a private matter between consenting adults, that all people deserve the same measure of dignity and respect, and that you should be allowed to live your life and love the person you choose without intimidation and fear? Or do you believe that homosexuals are an abomination in the eyes of a vengeful God and should therefore be executed?

I’m going with “A” on this one, too. What do you think?

If you are an artist, a writer or a singer: do you feel that free expression is the soul of the artistic impulse, that artists have the right to explore whatever depths of emotion or feeling that their muse may drive them to, and that the free expression of the artistic impulse should never be inhibited no matter how offensive others may find your personal journey? Or do you believe that society should place strict limits on what is permissible expression artistically, and that some entire studies -– music, for example -– should be removed from society to prevent moral decay and people straying from the Word of God?

I’m taking the first one again.

So my real question is, if you agree that the former choices are better than the latter, why do so many of you take the side of murdering theocrats like the Taliban, or state-sponsored terror regimes like Saddam’s when they are in opposition to a culture that provides legal and cultural protections and freedoms unparalleled in human history?

I’d really like an answer, if you can spare the time. And so would a lot of folks.

Now while we’re changing the sets and costumes for the final act, how about a brief intermission? Let’s take a hypothetical, shall we? Something we’ve all seen on the old idiot box?

Breaking News!

Police are at the scene of an urban standoff. Here are the details as they come in:

We can see right away that this is not a good neighborhood. Crime is rampant, and, as in most crime-ridden communities, a lot of nasty stuff goes on every day.

Now it seems that one lunatic -– your standard heavily-armed psychopathic loner -– last week had gone next door and shot the hell out of the neighbors. Of course, those neighbors were not exactly the Cunninghams or the Waltons, so there was no 911 call…but still.

Anyway, it’s a few hours later and it looks like he’s done it again: now he claims he owns the entire back yard of the people out back. SkyCam 6 is running aerial footage of him kicking down the fence, going into the neighbor's house and shots being fired. The camera work on the ground is shaky as the crews duck for cover, but you can hear the screams from inside. Lots of covered bodies seen coming out and being placed in ambulances.

The police arrive, and now he starts shooting at them; just goddam unloading on them. They shoot back, forcing him back into his house; he is severely wounded. They tell him to disarm and come out with his hands up. He shoots out the windows and keeps taking potshots at the police.

A tense standoff occurs. 13 hours go by, during which time, the neighborhood Roach Coach arrives on the scene. The police allow the man inside to buy food as a gesture of goodwill. The guy in the roach coach sells him a turkey sandwich for $150 and a can of Coke for $75.

As the standoff continues, we can hear him shooting his family inside. The screams are muffled; sounds like he’s got them down in the basement. A few of them manage to make it out the side and back doors; one or two escape. Most are shot in the back. And as the hours grind on, the shots, and the screams, continue. So do the potshots at the police cordon outside.

Finally, the police realize that they cannot afford to wait any longer. The negotiations have accomplished nothing except to give the lunatic more time to shoot more of his own family members and presumably reload. The only one arguing to continue negotiations is the guy running the Roach Coach: he’s made more money selling $80 hot dogs and $200 ice cream sandwiches for 13 hours than he has in his entire career.

The police make a final offer: come out with your hands up! The response is yet more potshots. The SWAT team gets into position.

They storm the house! Gunfire! Screaming!

The Crazed Loner runs out the front door, lowers his assault rifle at the police, and is cut down in a hail of bullets.

A liberal arrives on the scene, now that the danger has passed and the area is secured. He walks over to the dead lunatic, removes the gun from his hand, pulls back the bolt on the lever…empty! He removes the magazine. Empty too!

“This man could not have hurt anyone,” he shrieks! “The gun wasn’t loaded! He was murdered in cold blood!”

He turns to the TV audience, grabbing the microphone from the reporter…no, wait. Looking closely, I now see that the reporter has gestured wildly for him to step into frame and he is handing him the microphone, smiling, and making ‘go on’ gestures.

“Did he come into the police chief’s home and try to kill him? He did not!!

The liberal is really getting religion now. He visibly shakes; his eyes bulge and his forehead goes white with rage! “The man who ordered this assault,” he screams, spittle flying in righteous indignation, knew all along that this gun was empty!!”

“He lied!! He lied and people died!!”

There was a time when a person making a statement as ridiculous as that would be tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. It would have been good for a laugh for all concerned. In fact, if the social consciences of today had one particle of the wit and genius that Mark Twain had, they might have said, as he did: “if it weren’t for the honor and glory of the thing, I’d just as soon walk.”

Sadly, these are different times. Why, just one of these fellers I’ve seen on TV would take the feathers from 150 geese and four miles of highway asphalt to cover adequately.

No, today such mock-serious people drive to work in new Hondas with GREENPEACE stickers on the bumper; they get 35 mpg to your SUV’s 26 mpg, so they are Saving the Planet while you are trading Blood for Oil. See how easy it is?

Remember all the outrage there was from these people about a pre-emptive war? Remember how President Bush was vilified on the left for floating the very idea that in a world of hidden weapons and shadowy, deniable delivery systems that we might have to attack an enemy before he has the capacity to cause us incalculable harm? Remember all the flak he caught for that?

The Cambridge dictionary defines Pre-emptive as something that is done before other people can act, especially to prevent them from doing something else.

So I’d like to know how it is a lie that we didn’t find something we told everyone in advance we were determined to stop pre-emptively. One -– one -- of the reasons for going to Iraq was to prevent Saddam from acquiring and using Weapons of Mass Destruction, weapons that no one denies he once had, he once used, and continuously tried to obtain again. No serious person can deny this.

We have prevented Saddam, and Iraq, from acquiring and using Weapons of Mass Destruction. The only other way to prevent him from doing so would have been to continue the sanctions, and the torture, and the mass murder -– indefinitely. That’s fine, as far as some people are concerned. So long as they don’t have to watch GWB on TV anymore.

It is true that Saddam had managed to convince the President, and the Congress, that he was further along with these programs than he actually was. In fact, it appears that many in his own regime had lied to him regarding this progress, and these lies and communications were intercepted, analyzed, compared to his known previous efforts, and presented to the President and the Congress. Those politicians now howling that President Bush lied to them were accessing the same information he had. The record of them condemning Saddam’s WMD programs has filled volumes. Presumably, even a Congressman is capable of weighing evidence and making his own decision. Page after page after page shows they reached the same decision, based on the same evidence, that the President, the former President, the British Prime Minister, The Secretaries of State and Defense, and countless other bright people from all across the political spectrum had done.

Does anybody actually think that the President would make such a case, knowing full well that no WMD’s existed? Do you honestly think he planned this action based on a lie, and therefore pinned his entire political career and the Nation’s credibility on the hope that everyone in the world would forget if none showed up?

The WMD intelligence was clearly at fault regarding Saddam’s progress toward WMD’s. This does not affect by one particle the fact that Saddam had repeatedly used chemical weapons, had at one time a universally acknowledged nuclear weapons program, and had enormous amounts of biological weapons material the destruction of which he could not provide documentation for. These are undeniable facts.

And if you are one of the people howling with outrage over the fact that significant WMD’s were not discovered, perhaps in the future we can count on your support the next time some genius wants to gut and field dress the entire military intelligence establishment.

Saddam’s progress was irrelevant to the motivation. The man had used them before, and if he obtained them, would use them, or threaten to use them as he has done time and again. He was pre-emptively -– don’t forget the outrage! -– stopped in these designs, and so the risk of an Iraqi nuclear or germ or gas attack on the US or his neighbors has dropped to zero. Maybe the threat was overrated, based on his previous predilections. But that threat is zero now. I spell that M-I-S-S-I-O-N A-C-C-O-M-P-L-I-S-H-E-D.

We’ve become hated overseas for this pre-emptive action, and it often seems to me that this alone is why so many Americans have opposed it; not because it was necessarily the right or wrong thing to do in and of itself, but because it makes us unpopular. This is our vital weakness, this desire to be loved by the rest of the world. How many currently opposed to the War in Iraq would have changed their minds had it been cheered and applauded by the French and the Germans?

But what difference would that have made to the rightness or wrongness of the action?

Consider this: we know, for a fact, from records and interviews with top German OKW (Army High Command -- Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) commanders, that large segments of the Nazi army command structure were violently opposed to Adolph Hitler’s decision to violate the Treaty of Versailles by placing a small contingent of troops in the demilitarized Rhineland. These Generals, in interviews after the war, had agreed that if the French had placed so much as a platoon in their way and contested this violation, Hitler would have been immediately overthrown in a military coup. These officers were astonished that the French made no such response. Hitler knew his enemy far better than they did.

A platoon. 30 or 40 soldiers, applied to simply stand in the way, would have seen Hitler overthrown. So think about this…

What if President Franklin Roosevelt, seeing this failure to enforce Versailles -– which, like UN 1441 et al., was an international agreement designed to contain a militant and dangerous nation -– decided to unilaterally place a regiment or two in the Rhineland and force the Germans to comply with the agreement they had signed?

What would have happened is this: the widespread and extremely vocal pacifist establishment would have decried it as an unwarranted act of aggression against a far weaker foe who was, after all, only moving within the bounds of his own country. We would have been accused of beating up on a poor, battered and defeated nation whose leader had done nothing but build roads and schools and hospitals, all because our President feared the international competition or still harbored a sick desire for revenge against a weak and essentially harmless member of the family of nations.

Americans, rather than being loved as the good-natured liberators of 1944 and ’45, would be hated as swaggering militant aggressors wherever they went. And what would we have to show for it?

Nothing but the prevention of 50-odd million deaths and the destruction of a continent.

I swear to God, you just can’t please some people.

The United States and her many allies went to war in Iraq for many reasons besides preventing Iraq from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction; not the least of which was to give the United Nations a chance to show itself for what many wanted to believe it really was: a champion of world security, willing to enforce its resolutions to preserve peace and stability... rather than a morally, intellectually and financially corrupt debating society with no goal other than tony Uptown addresses for cousins of tin-pot dictators and a chance to bash the West from the pulpit in its very heart.

Two more bear mentioning. I believe that one of the unstated reasons for this war was to return the oil wealth of Iraq to the Iraqi people, to rebuild their infrastructure and fund the restoration of the fabric of their society. To those who claim we launched this war to steal their oil I refer you to your local gas pump.

Oil is an essential resource for modern society. To those on the far left, all I can say is that without oil there would be no trucks to deliver the entitlement checks. The United States remains dependent on foreign oil -– both less so and more so than other industrialized nations. Those of you howling about the improprieties of this as an ethical basis for war had best be reading these words in book form by candlelight. Anyone using electricity to do so while they whine about ethics are hypocrites who as usual want to have things both ways in order to preserve that essential fix of moral superiority that seems to be the only thing to make life worth living for the Bitching Classes.

Liberating Iraq from the depredations of a madman accomplishes many political goals: first, it means we can remove the troops from the Sacred Sands of Saud. They were there, at the Kingdom’s reluctant request, to make sure that Saddam didn’t go postal again and pull a Kuwait to the southwest this time, instead of the southeast. Presumably, this will make the nasty stain on the cave wall at Tora Bora rather pleased. It was the only coherent political demand Osama bin Laden ever made in his life.

More importantly, I believe it is part of the Administration’s daring, farsighted and unspoken vision to establish a replacement supply for Saudi Arabian oil. Once that economic pistol is removed from our heads we will be in a better position to deal with the very heart and source of all this unpleasantness. We pay for the oil and gasoline we use. Being able to send that money via the gas pump to an Iraqi school or hospital, while at the same time putting us gradually into a position where we can ask some pointed questions of our Saudi buddies without fear of economic meltdown… well, that’s just a twofer. But that is a story for another time.

Finally, there is the moral argument. Not just the liberation of Iraq from three decades of fear and torture that reached down to every single person in that poor, battered and abused land. We who have never lived in fear might have expected more from the Iraqis during this past year, but we do not know what three decades of terror will do to a people, and we are having this discussion today because many among us are determined that we shall never know.

When the brave and the bold lie in shallow graves next to their wives and husbands and children, where does that leave Iraq in its search for a Washington or Jefferson, or a Lincoln, or a Roosevelt, a Truman or a Reagan? We who will stand up and fight for freedom do so because it is what our fathers and their fathers have done, and as Lincoln so hauntingly described, the Mystic Cords of Memory do indeed stretch back from every battlefield and patriot’s grave to touch the hearts of we who are alive today. How deep would our courage lie had they been taken out in the night among screams and squealing tires, never to return?

There are many who are claiming that the moral argument came only after the WMD’s turned up missing. Re-reading my own thoughts on this matter, I found them co-existent and roughly equal. Having attacked one side of the rationale for faulty intelligence, they now attempt to discredit the other half for the mortal crime of having not given it top billing.

Again, to the crossroads of our being: the North launched the Civil War to restore the Union. Many in the North opposed abolition at the outset. But the war changed them. And on that night those soldiers turned south toward eventual victory, it was the Battle Hymn of the Republic they were singing.

As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free

The war, and its awful arithmetic, had elevated them and Lincoln too. The Better Angels of our Nature had touched us, once again.

The primary reason for us to be in Iraq is not to liberate her people so that they can be free. It is, quite bluntly, to liberate her people so that we can be free.

Freedom, prosperity and progress are antithetical to the Death Cult rising in that region and spreading its hatred and violence throughout the world. Iraq presents an opportunity, a chance, for a different way. A free and stable and prospering Iraq demonstrates to everyone on this Earth that Arab society can be free of both secular and theological totalitarianism alike. A functioning, modern Iraq, where people can live their lives free of fear and oppression, where they can worship as they themselves see fit without imposing their beliefs on a neighbor or having them imposed on oneself, where they can perform the simple miracles of going to work each day, earning a living and coming home to a night of television with the family without knowing terror every second of every day: that is what will set them free.

Syria, Iran, Al Qaeda and all the rest fear this very greatly. If we succeed in Iraq -– we and the Iraqis, together -– they know that their own downtrodden and oppressed people will start asking pointed questions about their own corrupt and joyless societies. And when it is possible to be a Muslim, and have a sense of quiet pride that does not come from death and revenge but from hard work and a safe and prospering family…well, I believe -– we, many of us believe -– that they will follow Frankie’s advice.

They will Choose Life.

They are human, like we are. They will choose life over death. I believe this with all my heart.

My friends and my countrymen, this is one of those rare things worth fighting for. It is worth dying for. It is even worth killing for.

Take the number of people Saddam has murdered in unmarked graves -– at least 300,000 and rising, and add to that the number of his own conscripts he has killed in wars against Iran and the various coalition forces deployed against him.

No less than a million Iraqis have died at his hands. No less than that, surely.

In the twenty-five years or so that he has had absolute power, that averages to 40,000 men, women and children a year -– no less.

This past year, despite the number of casualties we inflicted, there were perhaps thirty thousand Iraqis who were not killed because we invaded that country. Next year there will be forty thousand more -– forty thousand who will survive, and have children, and grandchildren, because we did what we did in 2003. And the year after that, another forty thousand will live. Ten years from now, which in the world of our critics might have been year three of Uday or Qusay’s reign, there will be five hundred thousand people alive -– because of us. Because of what we did. Because of what we are fighting and dying to do today.

Don’t abandon those people. Do not make meaningless the deaths of our own sons and daughters -– and, for that matter, their sons and daughters. We can end this thing for the nearly unbearable, awful, horrific cost of around a thousand American lives -– and not a bill far, far worse, which will come due to us if we fail now. We -– humanity -– can prevail. We must not lose hope. We must not abandon our ideals. Disgrace and dishonor such as Abu Ghraib we can learn from, and correct, and redeem. Do not abandon this fight now. Not while we are winning. Not while success is within our reach but not yet within our grasp. Not this time.

This is the right thing to do. And we must continue to do it. We must.

Find the strength. We have it in abundance. Find it. Hold on to it. In our hearts -– as in the hearts of that very different and yet identical people we have bound ourselves to in this endeavor -– victory and salvation lie. Together, we together -– we are the weapons, we are the targets, and we are the battlefield.

Throughout this collection I have done my best to try and show how deeply my life has been affected by the miracle that is this country and the family that is her people.

We have been doing a lot of arguing lately, this family. Many things have been said in anger. Well, these are critical, dangerous times…we can all agree on that much, at least.

But we are a family, whether we like each other or not. We are in this together. I would never urge any free man or woman to take sides contrary to their principles, and our principles vary as widely as our places of origins, our accents and our skin colors -– no two exactly the same.

I am asking you now, as one voice among millions -– nothing more -– not to cease criticizing the government, the President, or our actions in Iraq. Without the crucible of heated debate among passionate believers, we will lose our way.

All I ask is this:

Do not destroy this house. Do not destroy this house to make a point. It is a magnificent house, a grand and sturdy home to us all. Do not let the stains upon her floor cause you to set her aflame. We have fought amongst ourselves for as long as we have been a people; that will never change, and in its own unpleasant, annoying and wonderful way, it should never change.

But for our sake and for those across the oceans: argue about the paint. Argue about the sleeping arrangements. Argue about how best to wash those stains where they appear.

But for the sake of all who have gone before us here, and all who will come after: help me defend this house.

It is a great pleasure for me to add Belmont Club to the roll of WINGMEN on the right sidebar. I owe a great deal of my current optimism to him and his steadfast and extremely well-thought-out analyses. Wretchard, it is an honor to be on the same side as you.

Posted by Proteus at May 22, 2004 4:33 AM

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Now let's see some distributed intelligence and basic human decency! Don't make me come down there every five minutes!


Well, this one nearly killed me.

Just a quick moment to review the house rules for the regulars:

As always, treat any serious opposition with respect and the understanding that they are a guest in uncertain terrain.

However, if (when) we encounter someone without the basic decency or intelligence to argue like adults -- in other words, a major scumbag -- I would ask my regular commentores to just ignore the nasty spill until either trusty GHS or I can disinfect the place.

Such people come in here and say such things because they are desperate for attention. They are looking for your angry response. Do us all a favor and don't give it to them.

As I mentioned in the essay, such people do not cast a moral reflection. They are here to feed on your outrage.

To those who have opposing viewpoints, and can present them without taking cheap shots, I think you will find a very refined company here, and they will give you back whatever respect you bring.

All of this is irrelevent to me, of course, since I am going to sleep for the next four days.

Make us proud.



(plus..I'm #2! Neener neener!)

(oops, posted this first to wrong thread, sorry)
Great great great piece! I read it quickly, and now will read it very carefully. Bill, you have the right stuff...many thanks.
PS--a quibble--do you really mean "abject victory?" Look up "abject" and


You never cease to amaze me in your ability to give form to what is in my heart.

Well done and well worth the wait!

A magnificent piece of work!

Bill--what a breathtaking essay! Thank you for placing Fallujah and the "quagmire" into perspective, and for providing a fresh dose of courage and confidence for us. You are truly awesome. I think what I love most about your writing is the sheer, joyous, enthusiastic American-ness of your approach. We Americans have the privilege of affecting the entire history of civilization, and it's going to be fun! The barbarians are willing to die for their god? Let them think carefully about this: Americans are literally willing to die for EACH OTHER. Our police officers, firemen, soldiers, and everyday citizens will step into harm's way to protect or rescue those in danger. Let's roll!

Dear BillBC

I'm glad I decided to give it a final read before I crashed for a year -- it gave me a chance to catch your comment and make the correction.

Many thanks.

Good night all. Be back in a dozen or so.


This essay is my first experience with your writing and all I can say is wow. You have managed to help me to organize my disjointed thoughts and tie together the various strings that are common to the current conflict. I want you to know that I appreciate all the thought and effort that went into this piece. Keep up the good work.

Well done. I can see why that took four sessions. Bravo.

Now go finish that book!


Great stuff. It's very easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the news. This happens in three phases:

Phase 1: NPR (and it drives me nuts, but it's the only radio news for grownups), Big Media, and the usual suspects spend about 90% of its time tearing our side down. As we all have been trained to have short attention spans, it works in the short term. Doubts creep in.

Phase 2 is where most of us get so sick of it that we tune out, dismissing the spinning, but also unplugging from thinking about the war at all. A pox on both your houses.

Phase 3 is when someone like you reminds us about what we're doing in the big picture, and provides the moral clarity that gets lost in the news smog.

I live in Omaha, NE and have two young kids. My daughter is 2 and a half, and she is the definition of joy itself. Happy, fun, exploring, bright, and full of love. In discussing her future, she has decided that she when she grows up, she will be a supermodel princess, then a CEO, then President, then a philanthropist. (OK, I helped with the philanthropist part.)

We're fighting this war because there are people who will stop at nothing to ensure that this little sun of glowing love, fun, and imagination will live like a 12th century housemaid-concubine.

And they mean it. They won't win-- they can't win. But they're willing to take as many of us down as they can with them. And I have pancakes to make, birthday parties to throw, customers to serve, second honeymoons to take, games of catch to play in the backyard, skinned knees to kiss, prom dates to intimidate, weddings to pay for, and grandchildren to pin hopes on. The real enemy of radical Islam isn't Halliburton, Skull & Bones, or Paul Wolfowitz. It's our ordinary development-dwelling, mall shopping family in Omaha. And hundreds of thousands like us.

And a last thought-- the reason why the bitter left is so bitter is narcissism and failure. In general, these people are expensively educated and have been told since birth that they were very, very special. Obviously, they would reach real positions of power in the world. Unfortunately for them, power and success in the world usually comes to people who are willing to sweat for it; it doesn't come as a gift-with-purchase with their Masters degree.

Well, something must be wrong-- if I'm not in a position of real power, two things must have happened. First of all, the system is broken-- there MUST be something wrong if I'm not in charge. Second, the hot shame of underperformance fuels real rancor. Therefore, GWB is not just an idiot-- he's a vicious murdering idiot.

Well, Mr. Whittle, if I can quote Gatsby, "You're worth the whole lot of them put together."

Thanks for doing what you do.

Thank You!

That's all I can say!


Occasionally I get the feeling we need more men like Sullivan Ballou... then I stop and think: we have thousands and millions of them. Some are already in uniform. Many more have already served and are now too old or too broken to rejoin the service.

And some are like the impossibly young highschool girl who rang up my grocery purchases the other day, who is in the Delayed Entry Program, who enlisted with no particular MOS in mind, just "the needs of the service," and who knows she'll be going - and wants to be going - overseas when her training is complete.

With such people standing out in front, we owe them nothing less than to keep "the house" ready for their eventual return.

So... when does the book come out?

Well worth the wait, Bill. Wow! I wish I had half your clarity. I'll eagerly await the book form of your collection.

Wow. Completely effing awesome.

Thank you for a wonderful essay, Mr. Whittle. I needed some spine-stiffening and some things to say to those in my circle who don't understanad the war. You provided both.

Damnit, Bill, you've made a liar out of me. I promised my readers (both of them) that my blog would be politics-free on the weekends. But I simply have to link to this.

You finest work, no question. Thanks for saying, and saying well, what so many of us are thinking.


Genius again in how you put such grand thoughts into words.

I have been reading Starship Troopers, and in it a teacher explains to his class how people are not born with any innate morals; they need to learn them, and it's possible for people to grow up and be adults who lack them. That's a scary thought to me as it has a lot of implications in this world I don't really want to consider. As a Christian, I believe their value in each life, but I just can't understand the mindset of the radical Islamists who seem to lack the simple human decency I like to think everyone has.

Anyway, you got me thinking and I guess I'm just babbling right now as I try to put things together. What I do know is this is an important war, and we all have to do our part either at home or abroad to make sure we win.

Thanks again for your essays.

Mr. Whittle, you are the MOAB of the blogosphere.
Another Excellent essay.


Excellent Book, Starship Troopers.

I read the news every day and I am terrified. Deep down scared. I see people within the country I hold so dear trying to kill it as hard as they can, and it seems to be working.

Then I read blogs every day. Instapundit, LGF, USS Clueless, IMAO, Belmont Club, Blackfive, and this one. (many others of course) And suddenly, I'm not so scared. Nervous, but hopeful. And in IMAO's case, laughing my butt off. (Thanks Frank)

Mr. Whittle, thank you so very much - you've honestly kept me from despair.

Bill I'm printing this and sending to my son at Ft. Campbell -with your permission (and credit etc.). They're getting prepared again- for Iraq and Afghanistan later this summer. I know many of them are so angry and discouraged by what they've seen in the media since their return they've tuned out. They will completely love reading "STRENGTH".

Your piece is so compelling I just realized what time it is and why I'm so hungry..duuuhhh...isn't lunch around noon? I should have known better, eh?

Ohmygawd, I'm in awe, Bill -- of your ability to elicit a sober response from Frank J.

P.S. I like the "To Kill a Mockingbird" reference, among many other things.


You're right - that WAS indeed a long article. And it was absolutely brilliant. I'm not going to attempt to recap the pieces I liked best (although "their rhetoric goes to eleven" would be up there near the top).

This country (and the West) needs to seriously "butch up" if we hope to finish what needs to be done. Articles like this will help that cause (or at a minimum help shake some people out of the funk they've been in for the past month).


Bill: Congrats on another "sparker". Your essays MUST be read by a greater audience. Let us know when the book is ready!!

Wow...I absolutely and unequivocably agree with every word, and that's pretty damn rare! (actually--> null set!):)
Bill Whittle, you are cool to the chromosomes, dude!

A nap? A NAP? Good gawd, man, there's a war on!

OK, 24 hours, then back to work.

It was a beauty, my friend, a beauty.

"Strength" gives us hope, and I think it bolsters our ability to fight off wave after wave of unreasoning trolls.

Bill is one of those people that he writes about. He may not see it, but tis true, nonetheless. Strong, trustworthy, a true American Patriot, core values and vision.
Salute, Mr. Whittle.

What they all said, and more.

And, my friend, you have just penned the greatest smackdown of Ted Kennedy EVER.

As an artist, musician, and intuitive thinker, I'd like to address the question of why so many of my compatriots just don't get it:

I think it's a failure of imagination. Seriously.

Many of our so-called creative types are very well-versed at their particular type of creation, but only within a pre-defined framework that they don't even know exists. (Do fish have a word for water?) They have never been seriously challenged in their worldview - and I don't mean merely confronted with opposing viewpoints, but actively put into a situation where they are challenged and preferably severely uncomfortable, with time to think about the implications - and are incapable of understanding that other viewpoints might be viable, not merely the deranged rantings of a demented or ignorant mind.

It's good for people to get their heads spun at certain points. It's not usually pleasant - I speak from experience - but it's invaluable experience. And even if one's bounds aren't particularly stretched by such growing experiences, at least the experience shows the person that the boundaries are there...

What the Rifleman said... I'm sending that one to Sean Hannity.

Bill, again I am in awe. I am not fit to hold the reams of paper required to print one of your essays, so I guess I'll just have to settle for inhaling some of your fiberglass dust. It took me a little bit to get in the swing, but once I did... wow, and WOW!

Hate to cast a little gloom, but this situation will persist until Islam collectively reads these conservative loonies out of the religion. As long as the "Mad Mullahs" are allowed to remain as respected clergy, and their minions are treated as legitimate by the majority, these conflicts will recur.

We need to find a way to persuade them of the beneficial rewards of excising this disease from their body religious.


Well said. You should be writing for President Bush.

Your clarity is a treasure. Thank you.

I sat dumfounded at the end of reading your thoughts.

So, I read the comments and felt like I had come
home, home with people who are struggling with
the media, the politicians who we can not trust
to make the strong decisions. The decisions that
are so needed to be made by a man who sees the
future as it could be if we quit and the way it
could be if we continue. It is him who makes the
strong, couragous decisions, and so far, the president has clearly done that, no misake there.
He has to decide to send troops, knowing they
could be lost, and I know the feels the pain of
every loss,as he cares so much for his troops.

Now, I will read the words again, and see even
more positive thoughts to keep me from stalling.

I will bookmark it, and when it gets hard to
understand what is really happening I will return
and read it again and again.

Thank you

That just stopped me cold. I think that is, far and away, the finest essay about what is at stake now, today, that I have read on or off the Net in --- well I don't know how long. I've already linked in three excerpts. As for a more personal commentary on what you've achieved here, that will have to wait for a re-reading and some reflection.

This deserves and will get the widest possible linking and republication we can manage. I hope everyone else reading it will join me in seeing that that happens as quickly as possible.

Out soon with the others in book form? I'll take a dozen for starters.

Rich says We need to find a way to persuade them of the beneficial rewards of excising this disease from their body religious.

How do we define the rewards in terms that they'll understand and desire? They appear to have such a different concept of "reward" than most Westerners.

Would it be an utter waste of our breath and time?

Bill, I would love to meet you and shake your hand and buy you a beer! You magnificent son of a bitch!!! This is exactly how I feel and have felt for years. You seemingly reached into my soul and pulled it out and put it into words that not only make sense but wax eloquent.

The verbiage in this essay is straight from the heart and I know you are MY kind of patriot - not a bible thumping egotist but, an honest to God patriot who only cares for the general good and not himself. This is what I have always tried to do and failed miserably.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and as I look at the flag from my WWII era fathers funeral I know that this country will survive and prosper as long as people like you keep the candle, nay blowtorch of Liberty and freedom and Love of fellow man alive and in peoples hearts.

Brilliant Article !!!....You've said it is an honor to be enlightened by such a great thinker....Thanks Bill

An A+ for you, sir, for an inspiring, stirring piece. Knew I loved this country (especially since spending time abroad), but your essay reawakened those feelings.

Bill Whittle: I have to say one more thing-- organic analogies are the best metaphor for me-- I wuvved the allergy analog-- When all the dust up about lgf being a 'hate site' was going on I defended my comrades using an immune system metaphor, in that lgf is like the flash response T-cells and leucocytes that give early warning of a viral attack. I'm dizzy from reading so many words that I agree with at the same time. And, I just *knighted* you at lgf! :-)

Great essay Bill.

The only agency that will destroy this wonderful civilisation, a Universal civilisation as V.S.Naipaul puts it, is US.

So let us debate as angrily as we wish but let us not destroy the house that allows us this freedom. Islam will win only if we allow it to win, by us debasing and destroying the ground rules by which this Unique civilisation works. Those ground rules based on trust, from the method of debate, to the trust in the chemist who synthesis the polymer fibre that makes the composite in the wing of an airplane.

Thank you for putting all this in much the same manner as Sullivan Ballou did in his letter of love and duty to his family and country.

Let's really go to work, as a group, to pass this essay around. Here's the code. Just copy and paste.

THIS LINK: <a title="Eject! Eject! Eject!: STRENGTH (part 1)" href=""> STRENGTH (part 1)</a> NOW.

THIS LINK: <a title="Eject! Eject! Eject!: STRENGTH (part 2)" href=""> STRENGTH (part 2)</a> NEXT.

Great essay. Really.

One small series of omissions that I noted: While I agree with you that LGF is the most widely known site that routinely furnishes the CyberWest with the horses' mouths hate routinely spewed at us from the Islamofascists and their zombically memebotic minions, and the cowed, kowtowed and cowardly responses that issue from some sections of Western society, four other sites also perform complementary services, and they and their owners are likewise impugned and vilified for their valuable service. These are:

MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute)

Daniel Pipes

Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch (Both by Robert Spencer)

A new site is also being formed over at Winds of Change, to be called Hate Watch:

If mention of these sites is not included in your essay, at least readers of your comments will now be aware of their existence and have the opportunity to check them out.

Bill, I'm convinced this is your best work yet. Would that I could write half--nay, a TENTH--as well as you.

Recent events have left me frustrated with those of our country that simply refuse to see what we're up against. It makes me want to put up signs, billboards all over the country, containing various images...images of Nick Berg's head being removed from his body, images of those women being stoned to death for adultery that you mentioned in one of your previous essays, images of Saddam putting bullets into the heads of innocent Iraqis, I'm sure you can think of many more examples...and, on each one, just one simple caption: THIS IS THE ENEMY!

See, so many people seem to be convinced that George W. Bush is the enemy, I just wonder if they've lost their perspective. Or lost their minds. Whichever. Maybe a little reminder would help.

Over on Electric Minds, we have a lot of discussions about Iraq, about the war, about terrorism. And, recently, we've had people complain that it's not fun these days, because we spend so much time discussing the war. Not me; I've been arguing the anti-idiotarian side for quite some time, accompanied by my wife (a regular LGF reader) and a couple of others. What I wish everyone would keep in mind is that Electric Minds itself is an example of everything the Islamists hate; a place for people to discuss all manner of topics without fear of censorship, a place to argue, or to wax poetic, or simply to have fun. I don't suppose there's any equivalent of EMinds in Riyadh, or Teheran, or Damascus, or Gaza...but, thanks to the efforts of our brave young men and women, one day, there may very well be one in Baghdad. And the whole world will benefit thereby.

Looking forward to the release of your book, and also looking to see how much of our Christmas shopping we can get done early once it comes out :-).

just fucking amazing.

you print it

I will buy it.

As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free

Of course nowadays they cross out "die" and make it "let us live to make men free," since the concept of dying for a greater cause is so abhorrent that we can't even sing it in a 100+ year-old song anymore.

Your article echoed my thoughts.

I also enjoy Belmont Club and his analysis of the liberation of Iraq. I believe that we need patience and perseverance to claim ultimate victory there. Our soldiers understand that, so must too.

Also, I have come to realize the doubt that is subliminally suggested constantly by the media. As a writer I realize that when people attempt to change the meaning of words they attempt to change reality and presently the elite media is playing that game--Iraq is Vietnam.

So I decided that:

A vote For Bush is a vote Against elite media.


Bill, I always end up reading your essays through tears, and this one beats them all. I am a dual citizen of Taiwan and the United States, and I'm used to just saying I'm Taiwanese. But your many essays make me proud to say that I'm American. No hyphens, no qualifications, just an American.

Thank you once again Mister Whittle.

Jeezus Krist I wish I could write like you.

You take what we all have been trying to say, trying to get across and you wrap it up in a nice, coherent, neat essay that, even though we've been trying to say it, it still causes our jaws to smack to the floor with its briliance.

You are an inspiration to writers and wanna be's everywhere Bill.


I'm pleased to report that all my liberal friends have received an e-mail with the link. Flame-retardant suit to be donned shortly.

I also printed out a copy of the essay and included it in a care package to a fellow serving in Iraq.

Next weekend, Operation Gratitude will create care packages to go overseas. I'll ask if they want me to bring copies of the essay to add to the boxes.

More ideas?

Damn. Just, damn.

Bill, I got such a surge of hope and confidence reading this, that I am going to sit down, and do something archaic: I am going to write a handwritten letter, in my best penmanship, to the President of These United States. (Does anyone even remember when we used to say These United States?) I know I will never get a response...except possibly an offer to donate to the reelection of W, but what the hey, reading you is a kind of catharsis I wish to pass on to everyone I meet. Will you write something about being the new kind of subversive? I have teenagers who are solidly pro war and deeply patriotic...and they feel a little subversive, because most of their peers are all lemmings in the Bushitler Brigades.

From: Ripper
To: Turbo
Subject: "Strength"

Message reads:

You Rock.

PS - I have a 3" ASI, 40-350 kts that needs a home.

Excellent essay!

I loved your crazed man analogy, and it reminds me how so many liberals are essentially arguing the absurd. Would they insist that a mayor and police chief be sacked, or indeed jailed, anytime the police fail to find a drug stash when they raid the house of a mass murder? Even if the murderer was taking pot shots at them once a week (SAMs in Iraq) and had a bunch of bodies buried in his basement? I take that back, many of them advocate both. "Free Mumia!!!"

153 Jihad Holy War Verses in the Koran, Compiled by Yoel Natan

That was really good. You truly have a gift Bill.

I wonder how long a link to this essay on Kos or DU would last. Hmmmm.

Bravissimo. As usual.

I'm left choking and gasping in the vacuum your essays leave in my brain as you race by. Also as usual, I've linked Strength, and emailed it to everyone I know with functioning synapses (a small pool, that one).

Thank you, Bill. Sincerely.

Speechless...anything I say now would fail miserably at expressing what is bursting out of my heart.


Thanks, once again.

Thank you for this beautiful and important piece.


Where do I order the book? I need dozens.

Thank you, sir.

Mr. Whittle,
as a regular lurker to your site, i must say this is one of your very best.
however, your analogy to the red sox, although apt, hurt. i know this is not big picture (see SBD for forest from trees), but please take pity on us poor sox fans.
not fit to hold a candle to you,
random sox fan

Remember this great country WILL fall unless We The People stand up and support it.
Do your civic duty in November and vote.
The enemy within is counting on the apathy of the average person to carry their cause.
If you don't vote that's as good as two votes for the opposition member that does.

Absotively fucking brilliant

Thank God we have people like you on our side.

Another outstanding piece of work beautifully written. Thank you.

Great job as usual Bill,

I agree with Kevin, I wish you were writting speechs for GWB, this is what he needs to say.

Ok, so after I read it again, I decided to call my son at Ft. Campbell instead of e- or snail mail. He listened while I read- interrupted several times with shouts of joyous agreement. His unit- (and others I'm sure) are really wondering if anyone "gets it"..and they worry.

You can be sure your essay will now be passed through the 101st AB like a cold 6-pack on a hot night.

Thank you Bill- you made one soldier a happy man today :)

son of a bitch

that was, well, perfect.

My first visit to your site, thankyou for this piece. I am inspired.

Strength is one damn fine essay, and all I have to say concerning the war is this: "Evil prevails when good men do nothing."

Keep up the good work!

I was gonna be a smartass and say, "This is it?!"

And I will.

This. Is. IT.

This is common sense in it's best form.

This is what the population needs to see and hear.

You have my gratitude, my appreciation and when this book gets published, my money.

Your book will be a primer for people who feel the need to speak out about the greatness of this country, yet lack the words or eloquence. Until they find them, they can proudly hand a dog-eared copy of this book to someone and pass along your words. I know I'll be passing it out.

Thank you again, Bill.


Oh, and the comment on Ted Kennedy... :)

Nuthin' but Net.

Nice work.

Absolutely fabulous.


Will it come to this, to paraphrase Gen. Phil Sherican, The only good Arab is a dead Arab?

Phenomenal, Bill.

Keep us posted on the book.

(I want an autographed copy!)

Perfect, Bill. Just perfect.

You are a national treasure. Thank you.

When exactly is the book coming out? Your eager public awaits.

(And thanks for the bullseye on Ted Kennedy.)

KICK...ASS. And funny. Thanks for this.

This is what I just posted on my blog:

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

I just sat and read the piece. About four pages into it I felt the need to read it out loud.

It demands to be read out loud.

On television. On radio. On street corners.

In auditoriums on college campuses and in high schools.

In Madison Square Garden before a capacity crowd.

In Carnegie Hall.

Before Parliament, by Tony Blair.

Before a joint session of Congress. By the author.

And it needs to be translated into the languages of the Middle East and read over loudspeakers there, instead of the call to prayer.

Bill Whittle goes to eleven.

Absolutely wonderful essay.

However, I do have one minor quibble: wasn't the German Officer's plot regarding Czechoslovakia, not the Rhineland?

kevin baker is right. it's written for the spoken voice.

do a 3 minute tape of it and enter it in kabc's "talk show idol" contest.

elizabeth, what are you doing up at this hour? grab a bottle, and hit the crib, kiddo.

Mr. Whittle:

I've submitted the link to your essay to; they have taken to running a blogtruth of the day.

You, sir, have written the truth, and writ it in letters visible from space. I'm printing a copy up to go over the reloading table, next to the Declaration, the Constitution, and My Rifle (the Marine Rifleman's Creed).

We can't be beat...but suicide is sadly an option.

Proud to be a citizen of a country that cranks out folks like you.

Andy Jones
Orem, Utah

Well now. That was amazing.

Y'know, if you actually PUBLISH this book of yours that I've been hearing so much about, it's not entirely inconceivable that I might buy it.

*poke, poke*

At last. You hit the nail on the head in your explanation of the muslim thought process, and why we are so abhorrent to them. We stepped into a hornet's nest, and they will continue mindlessly stinging to the last bee, and they are raising the succeeding generation of bees as they fight. Mind you, if we hadn't gone there, sooner or later they would have come here, because we are an affront to their sensibilities.
But you know all that, and said it brilliantly. Big Tom


This is in the must read category for all.

Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

Fantastic, well-reasoned and superbly articulated!

I have 5 months of work calling me in Europe, after which I shall return, because I courteously asked you months ago to let me take your work to a wider public, to our mutual benefit, and you introduced me to your lawyer.

But I'll knock on your door again, money where my mouth is, and see if I can interest you in taking this powerful, REAL message to a wider public!

Brilliant, just plain brilliant. No other words for it, I'm stunned and all out of eloquence. You've surpassed even yourself on this one.

*standing ovation*

what more can be said?

*continuing standing ovation*

Kirk Parker:

Re your historical quibble - no, I think Bill has it correct. Hitler's re-militarization of the Rhineland (in 1936, IIRC, well before his annexation of Czechoslovakia) was his first finger in the collective eye of the democracies. At the time, the Wehrmacht was still small, the Nazi rearmament program had just gotten started, and the forces Hitler had at his disposal were relatively weak, especially vs. the French, who at the time had the largest armored force on the European continent. But once he saw that the democracies had no intention of responding to his move with force, he knew he could go for broke.

You know, i ordered Pickett to divide and swing around the flanks, but that egotisical bastard instead decided to be a showboat and commence a charge up the center of the union line.

Now thanks to him states have lost the right to decide anything for themselves,and not only is it the federal government that prevents such, we see activist federal judges making laws on the fly.

But what does my surrendur mean in the grand scheme of things?

Did Jefferson Davis sign a formal surrendur?


God Bless Dubya, and death to the terrorists, especially those that murdered their own citizens at Waco over an allegedly unpaid $200 tax stamp on hypothetical rifles.

While Clinton diddled, terrorists plotted....

I took two "sittings" to read it, but it was well worth it..
I too, raged at the supposed ineffectiveness of the military command at Falluhah, and recently at Karbalah, Najaf, etc..
You have given me something to think about, another side to the reasons for their actions.. I understand now there may be reasons for their restraint..
I don't like it, but I now understand it..

Thanks.. I will check out your other writings as well. You are not only a good writer, but a clear thinker.. I like that..

Astounding! You told me on the phone what you were trying to write in this essay, and I nodded, "uh-huh." But Jiminy Crickets, what a final translation! Wow!

Pure gold, dude. Not a wasted word.

Crank that book out, ask any price, and enjoy the well-deserved rewards.

To Kirk Parker: it WAS the Rhineland that was in question here. Actually, I was surprised that Bill didn't mention the fact that Hitler himself admitted the same thing, at the Burgerbraukellar, during one of their annual celebrations of the abortive "Beer Hall Putsch" that had gotten him jailed a year or two before. He himself confided that had anyone offered up ANY resistance at all (during his march into the Rhineland demilitarized zone), his troops would have been turned back, his own political credibility would have been destroyed, and the hated Weimar Republic would likely have returned to power.

I love it. Great, GREAT stuff, Bill.


Many thanks from a stunned reader in England.

I missed both breakfast and lunch to read this essay without interruption, yet emerged refreshed and nourished in unexpected ways.

Oh. Gee, Well, in that case what would YOU recommend, Dal?

While you raise some valid points, especially re: the Iraq war, you don't touch on my reason for opposing the war.

This war is costing us billions upon billions of dollars. It has us running budget defecits. All the while, our economy is stagnant, and unemployment isn't getting any better.

Don't you think that money would have been better spent getting our house in order before we go off and try to get another person's house in order?

I recorded an audio of History for my brother, who is dyslexic. He is brilliant but his brain wiring doesn't allow him to read. He's a member of Library for the Blind, but they of course don't do Whittle. So I did. (With Bill's permission, of course.)

With his permission I'll be doing the same with Strength. You simply cannot believe how good his words sound when spoken aloud. As someone who has read aloud her entire life -- first to my little brother and now to my own children -- I know brilliance when I hear it.

Thanks, Bill, for your beautiful words. I'll be buying many copies of the book. Hopefully you can make it available in audio as well.

I enjoyed the logical, "backed by facts" argument up until the point when he had to start dropping the "f" bomb. What is up wid dat?

While I agree that radical islam is a free society's enemy and must be dealt a mortal blow, it is not the only enemy of our great country. The author correctly identified "a" threat. He also states, "it is us or them". I totally agree they cannot be left alone, it is a fact they want want one of two things; to kill us or enslave us.

In my opinion, our President is charged by the law of our land to go after any person or any group, foreign or domestic, that would threaten the lives and liberty of any citizen of this great country. I believe George Bush is the man to work behind the scenes with countries like Saudi Arabia (et al) and the man to make the tough decisions to go "in country" after brutal regimes like the one that was just booted out of power in Iraq. We need to take the fight to them and not wait until it shows up in Your Town, USA to do something about it.

I believe we need to be patient and persistent, pick our battles and eliminate or debilitate the threats. We have our highly trained and highly skilled armed forces doing what they do best. I hope and pray we will let them pursue those that would kill us given the chance. I hope and pray we will continue to support them and provide encouragement through the darker hours of the fight.

Bill--I just finished reading this for the second time, more slowly than the first...I just had to gulp it down the first time, and I read it more slowly the second. You really have a gift--a real gift, and I'm speaking as someone who has written several books. I wish I could write as clearly and forcefully as you do. The smackdown of Edward Kennedy just made me gasp. I'm Canadian, and much of the time I'm ashamed of my country's government. Damn I wish we had someone like you here...I'm buying your book for sure...thanks...


Apart from all the falsehoods, your argument has a lot of merit.

Economy: five consecutive quarters of growth.

Unemployment: lowest since the mid-1990s (when the dotcom thing was going full steam).

Avg. salary: increasing because of low unemployment.

Budget deficits: a result of CONGRESS overspending on non-essential social programs and pork.

And finally: our house IS in order. You and your type just can't see it.

How long WOULD you like it to take before we could crush these Islamist asswipes? (Never mind, I know your answer to the question already: "Forever".)

Have a nice day.

That's really a great essay- I needed a good smack in the face. I'm so glad you're getting published. Its important that the VRWC bloggers get their voice into the main stream media to oppose the allience of the jihadiis, the hard left, the media, academia, eurotrash and the Democrats.


Incredible essay from an extremely talented writer with amazing insight. As a fellow Gator I am so PROUD of what you have accomplished with Eject! Eject! Eject! and your impact on the global internet community. This essay will be read for YEARS along with your earlier works as it is your finest work to date.

I would love to meet you sometimes and if you make it back to Hogtown for any of the games let me know and I will let you know where our tailgate is and you have a seat at the game!

Go Gators and God Bless America!

As I scrolled down the pages of "Strength" the words I kept hearing in my mind were "Yes", "That's right", and "Amen" and then I reached the final statement and there can only be one other thing to say: Yes Bill I'll help you defend this house.

As Paul Revere rode through the countryside yelling "the british are coming" so should we ride through our own countrysides shouting " the truth is here - read Stength and join the cause."

America can celebrate that we have men both here and in foreign lands (and I include both sexes in the "men") who know, understand and are willing to make sure this house stands.

Bravo Bill. Bravo!

Kim de Toit:

Is there a paticular reason why you got nasty? I asked a fair question, and you got rude.

So try this on for size. Oil prices are spiking through the roof. Not the President's fault, but we need to take into account the kind of ripple effect this is going to have on prices.

Also, while the unemployment numbers are falling, these numbers mask the fact that a fair chunk of working adults are working part-time jobs, maybe two or three of them, to support their families. This skews the curve. While the GDP growth is looking good, and we can assume that we can get back 100,000 jobs a month, we still aren't gonna regain the number of jobs we had before he took office until the new year, and they won't be jobs of anywhere close to the quality that we had.

You call that having our house in order?

If the house next door (just a spark jump away) is burning, I am not going to be in my house making my bed. It can wait until more pressing theats are addressed, especially since I haven't made it in years!

Which party outsourced all our forest products jobs, all our oil drilling jobs, all our pipeline jobs?

Trying to address iFrag's points...

Oil prices are rising, true, mostly due to an increase in oil demand in China (their demand for raw materials is going through the roof to keep up their growth pace). To increase supply, we have two legitimate choices: we can drill in Alaska, or we can try to sort out this mess in the Middle East and have a more stable supply from there. Personally, I favor both, but one out of two is better than 0 for 2. Not running up a deficit has little affect on oil prices.

Unemployment numbers are falling, as you recognized, but I challenge the notion that the quality of jobs are falling. Traditionally, the jobs recovery lags the GDP recovery by several months, which explained the weak job numbers of last fall/winter.

As you say, we will probably have lower employment numbers in November than we had in 2000. Most of these lost jobs are cyclical in nature, though, and not structural. People complain about outsourcing, but we are not losing a significant amount of jobs overseas, and the net effect on the economy is positive (lower prices, higher real wages). People in some sectors will be hurt, but with help and work will be able to move into more productive fields.

We will probably never see unemployment as low as it was in the mid 90s. A combination of a computer-related boom and low oil prices combined to make for a rather nice positive supply shock, which enabled us to increase employment without the usual inflationary consequences. Still, our present employment situation is not nearly as bad as the media makes it out to be. Remember the 70s? I don't (I wasn't alive), but the numbers were infinitely worse.

Lastly, I don't see how not spending money on the war would make the economy better. Deficits are a problem, but government spending is fiscally expansionary, which will increase GDP and decrease unemployment. Of course, as we near full employment, we don't want to overspend, or we'll end up with too much inflation. And government borrowing does crowd out investment, so is bad in the long run. Still, spending on the Iraq war has little affect on the economic picture today. I believe that it is more important than much of the money that is being spent on social legislation today, and much less too.

Ah, sorry about the italics. My HTML is no good, it appears. And as far as Walter's point: if something can be done relatively cheaper abroad, we are better off having it done there. It benefits both parties.

I know, it might seem counterintuitive, but that the simple economics of the thing.

I printed the essay for my friends. thankx.

And Bill--thanks for the great article!

Richard - However, Iraq isn't right next door. It's half a town away.

Bob - That's the thing, though. The offshoring deal, while it might be trickle right now, will become a flood. I live in NC, and I've seen the effects that textile mill closings have on the local economy. It's damn near impossible to find a decent job outside of the metropolitan areas right now.

As far as running large defecits, Greenspan's been speaking about how these budget defecits can impact and damage the economy not just in the long run. If we weren't doing something that Bush railed against during the election ("nation-building"), we at least wouldn't be running defecits this large.

Walter - People of both parties supported NAFTA. Don't try to pin it on one side or the other.

Here's a question: who are you trying to convince?

You've already won over the choir, so to speak, as is clear from the adulatory comments. But you don't address the skeptic's concerns very well, I don't think.

The skeptic (about Iraq) doesn't generally disagree with you on many points: that the Islamists are dangerous; that the war on terror is important; that we need to fight and win etc.

Where a skeptic like me has concerns is the connection between Iraq and the war on terror. Indeed, the more seriously one takes the Al Qaeda/radical Islam threat, the easier it is to get mad about the fact that we invaded a country whose AQ/Islamist connections were minimal. Now we've created a vacuum and the "foreign fighters" are pouring gleefully in. The GWB admin's many promises and assertions about the war have largely been wrong. IIt's a big expensive bloody mess and many skeptics remain convinced that it simply didn't need to happen, and that it will continue to drain our resources (financial, political, emotional, military, and of course human) for years if not decades to come.

Now it's happened, of course, and we have to live with it, and many people clearly agree with your prescription: that we must continue kicking ass until all kickable asses are thoroughly kicked.

But the skeptic has heard promises of ass-kicking long before we got into this war, and you can't blame "Big Media" for making it clear that the asses don't stand still for their punishment. An essay like yours, to someone who isn't predisposed to agree with you, sounds like hopeful breast-beating, shot through with a healthy dose of America-blaming (e.g. convenient targets like the media, liberals, the skeptics, the anti-war folks, etc - Americans all). The arguments are all things we've heard before, and you don't really address the serious questions many of us have.

And indeed, to my ear there's a real nasty undertone here, which makes you sound shrill and defensive.

So, for what it's worth, that's my critique: you've written an excellent red-meat screed for the converted, but you're not likely to win many converts from the other side until you grapple with their concern that Iraq is in fact an enormous, expensive, bloody distraction from the war you properly want to fight: the war against radical Islam.

If the spark can leap to New York, it most certainly is next door.


The one constant is change. Yes, textile work has gone overseas. People in textile heavy areas suffer. We no longer smelt steel here. Steel producing jobs went away.

There is no guarantee that the job you've done your whole life won't become obsolete or move to where it can be done cheaper. Those are uncomfortable facts that Americans like to overlook. The cooper's trade is gone. So is blacksmithing. North Carolina's industry has shifted, and yes, it's moved to the cities like Charlotte.

This is true for much of the country. And we are not the only country "outsourcing." Alpharetta Georgia has a quite large Siemens AG presence, does it not? New Berlin Wisconsin not only hosts domestic Allen-Bradley, but foreign ABB. Houston Texas is home to Toshiba. Tennessee has Toyota plants.

Shall I go on?

Iraq might not be right next door, but it's right in the middle of our outspoken enemies, and it's served notice to them that we're aware of them, and willing to face them.

We can spend billions now, or everything we have later.

I know what my choice is.


You wrote: Indeed, the more seriously one takes the Al Qaeda/radical Islam threat, the easier it is to get mad about the fact that we invaded a country whose AQ/Islamist connections were minimal. Now we've created a vacuum and the "foreign fighters" are pouring gleefully in.

Minimal, but not non-existant. We invaded Iraq and overthrew Hussein, if you like, as an extension of the 1991 Gulf War which Hussein was in violation of the treaty terms to. We invaded Afghanistan - heart of the Al Qaeda threat for pretty damned good reason that no one faulted us for. We now straddle Iran - one locus of the radical Islam threat.

And the "foreign fighter" pour in and face...

OUR FIGHTERS. The American military, not American civilians. On THEIR SOIL, not ours.

You assert: "The GWB admin's many promises and assertions about the war have largely been wrong."

I assert that if GWB stood before a joint session of Congress and network TV and said what Bill Whittle just said, or Steven Den Beste has said, the entirety of Islamic nations would actually rise up.

Is that what you want? Or would you, as I do, prefer to beat them a bit more stealthily by convincing them - eventually - that attacking us is just not a good idea?

"It's a big expensive bloody mess and many skeptics remain convinced that it simply didn't need to happen, and that it will continue to drain our resources (financial, political, emotional, military, and of course human) for years if not decades to come."

Wars are that way. This is, if you haven't noticed (and so many of you haven't,) World War IV. And like World War III - the "Cold War," fought over decades mostly in third-party nations with proxy forces - it will take decades and it will cost billions, AND IT IS NECESSARY.

And it's started. There are two choices now: Carry it through to completion, or surrender.

Unless and until you recognize that fact, you will not be "the loyal opposition," which we need to keep us pointed in the right direction, you will be "the other side," which we need to defeat.

Hmmm.. Shakes his head..

brings it home for me.

"Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong."


Comet, anyone who claims that firing a depleted Uranium round is like "leaving plutonium rods around" is playing for an audience and had a political agenda.

In a force of 135,000 people you can manage to find a few who will say anything. I may refer you in this matter to certain presidential candidates who claimed that their entire tour consisted of "war crimes" when it got them attention, and who now claim they may have "exaggerated just a teeny bit" now that the attention is suddenly counter-productive to certain candidate's continuing political ambitions.

To Beetroot, and all the other "sceptics":

I do hate to shatter those rose-coloured glasses of yours, but you are by no means a "sceptic" with all that hand-wringing about "costs". Some PC users decided that purchasing the next upgrade of Norton AntiVirus would be "too expensive"...then Sassar hit. Suddenly, AntiVirus doesn't look quite so expensive anymore.

As for all your questions...really now. Some may not have specifically been answered here, per se, but they certainly have been answered elsewhere ad nauseum. It sounds as if you really don't expect an actual fact-based answer, but instead are inflating yourself up to be "sceptical". Well, there's a massive difference between being a sceptic and simply facing the wall and not paying attention to anything that fails to conform to your tidy worldview. Again, it's a matter of perspective...which Bill had already addressed. If you can't remember, go back and read it again. And this time, don't skim -- I can tell when you've skimmed.

As for this: "And indeed, to my ear there's a real nasty undertone here, which makes you sound shrill and defensive." That's entirely due to the fact that that is what you want to hear primarily because it leads you into some painful self-examination, which is something liberals rarely do since it tends to lead to the Dark Side (conservatism). I'm not particularly worried about converting dyed-in-the-wool liberals, since they tend to prove incapable of logical thought or moral reasoning to begin with. However, to someone who sits on the fence and whose resolve is wavering...this essay went a long way into reassuring these people that the actions of the US and the current administration were and are moral and logical. Bill's essay sounded to me as if the purpose was to address the most beloved of the left's memes and put them to rest once and for all. And they have....unless you are a hardcore leftist and are physically incapable of thinking any other way.

The journalist in the first article, Chris Hedges, is a strange duck. Some folks I've worked with who know him say he focuses unhealthily on the Bad Things About Soldiers whether or not there's complete truth to it.
The guy Massey talked about has been getting more disconnected from reality and more hyperbolic with his remarks. I predict flameout in 3...2...1...

I know this isn't about economics, but I feel the need to address the 'offshoring' or 'outsourcing' thing. Sure, we are losing jobs to where they are done cheaper. But arguing that this is, in the long run, a bad thing is like arguing that automation is a bad thing. Sure, it takes lower paying jobs away, and people do lose their jobs. However, in the long run, everybody is better off, productivity/standard of living rises. Where would we be without the Industrial Revolution? We sure would have a lot more jobs... but our standard of living would be a lot lower.

It's the theory of comparative advantage... it's best for countries that can produce some things comparatively cheaper to produce them, and others produce things they can produce comparatively cheaper, and trade.

More than that, the jobs we are "losing" to India and elsewhere are coming back to us, as they become richer and import more of our products.

Regarding the negative effects of government spending, it's true that it will crowd out investment. However, another massive attack on American soil would put a dent in consumption, too, and hurt the economy. If you don't feel that the war in Iraq will keep us any safer, then the deficit spending could be considered unjustified. However, I believe that there is ample evidence that the Iraq invasion was important to the defense of this country, and deficits pale in comparison to thousands of deaths.

Really, the only argument against us invading Iraq is that it hasn't made it safer, an argument that I think has been ably refuted by many far more eloquent than me. Terrorism is down worldwide, we have proved (so far) that we were willing to confront Islamism, and the notion that Osama and Saddam wouldn't collaborate because of the religious/secular divide is, well, silly. Hitler and Stalin cooperated.

Bill, "Strength" was the reward I received for my very first visit to your site. Thank-you for so wonderfully articulating what so many of us feel.

-phil (A Canadian who's proud to call the US a friend, and neighbour.)

Sheesh.. every time I read one or your essays, I want to apply for a green card and move to the US, pronto! Tnx Bill!


And if you love what you see in Bill's writing and want to come here to become an American like that, there are plenty of us that would want to help you achieve that goal. We might not be able to bring much more than welcome greetings, but you'd not be alone and friendless, that's for sure!

Wow. Very, very impressive. You're like a more sprawling version of Victor Davis Hansen here. I just hope that this essay gets into as many hands as possible.

Not a lot of criticism?

Isn't balanced discussion necessary to help debate and discuss a point?

I'd like to discuss a few of your points about radical Islam.

Point 1:
I believe Iraq was a secular dictatorship before the war. I won't hesitate to also say that I believe it was a horribly corrupt and dangerous dictatoriship. However "radical Islam" was not tolerated in Saddam's Iraq.

Thus I find it difficult to follow the connection between defending against Radical Islam, and going to war in Iraq. Could you please elaborate?

Point 2:
I find sentences like "The only thing that will appease them is your blood. All of it. Remember that." as polarizing and destructive as the worst rhetoric you can find in any Arab country.

Yes, many angry people hate American policy, a subset also hate Americans, a smaller subset would want to harm American military, and a very sick few would want to kill American civilians.

Hate is a strong emotion. If Osama Bin Ladin was in your living room would you kill him?
It's hard for me to know how I would react.

However, I believe the vast majority of these angry people do NOT really want to kill all Americans. They want to get their kids to school, and pay the bills, and make a better life for themselves and their families.

I believe that suggesting that this is a major bloodwar only helps to incite both sides to further violence and is thus non-productive.

I hope we can have some worthwhile dialog about my points above.

Phil, as another Canadian like you I'll echo your second sentence. (This isn't my first visit to Bill's site...).

Bill... Brilliant work.

"Islamist" may be a threat, but I don't see how the invasion of Iraq solves this. You shure do a lot of tough talking for a man who sits on his ass in America while American boys die and over 11,000 civilians (who "we" are trying to "save") are dead. Why don't you, Lileks and Instapundit join up? Chickenhawks forever!


that "chickenhawk" accusation has been covered numerous times on this site. Do some homework before making accusations, OK?

SixFootPole, if you can not see how bringing democracy to Iraq is relevant to the so-called War on Terror™ then I suggest you actually read "Strength" before posting in its comments section.


DJB, It's good to meet another right-minded Canuckian... Lord knows there are few of us, these days (at least here in eastern part of the country, anyway).

I'm looking forward to a June 28th federal election, where I can give my country a present (on my birthday of all days) of a vote for the new Conservative Party.

NAFTA did not kill California's forest products industry. It was asshat Greenies who prefer trees burning to trees being converted to lumber. Oil drilling is opposed because someone just might make a dollar doing it, and nuclear power is opposed because Doonsbury said to, because those natural draft cooling towers are going to melt down any minute.
It is a pity there is no way we can let the liberals freeze in the dark they brought on without joining them.

Joel: I'll take a shot at your points.

"I believe Iraq was a secular dictatorship before the war. I won't hesitate to also say that I believe it was a horribly corrupt and dangerous dictatoriship. However "radical Islam" was not tolerated in Saddam's Iraq."

Radical Islam was not tolerated IN Iraq, but that doesn't mean that Saddam would not ally with radical Islamists who had similar goals. Hitler sent Communists to concentration camps, but allied with Stalin to fight the west. There is no reason that Saddam, who was looking to blunt American power so he could dominate the region, would not ally with radical Islamists who also wanted to bloody America. Remember, he gave thousands of dollars to the families radical Islamists who blew up Jews. He was certainly a hub of anti-Americanism in the area, and a symbol of somebody who had stood up to the Americans and survived. By taking him out, we made clear that we DO have the resolve, despite Mogadishu, Beruit and the Gulf War. People in general will think twice before continiuing down the same path.

"Yes, many angry people hate American policy, a subset also hate Americans, a smaller subset would want to harm American military, and a very sick few would want to kill American civilians."

Bill is talking about the radical Islamist extremists, not all Muslims. Nonetheless, remember the rejoicing in the Arab world after 9/11? Palestinians dancing in the streets, etc. etc. Not just "a very sick few," but quite a lot of people.

"Hate is a strong emotion. If Osama Bin Ladin was in your living room would you kill him?
It's hard for me to know how I would react."

I don't want to attack you personally, but that's an example of what I would consider cowardly. I understand it's for "moral" reasons, or because you don't think you could kill a person, etc., but it reminds me of the woman who got stabbed in the road while passerby did nothing. Better not to get involved, who knows why this guy was killing her, maybe he had a bad childhood, on and on. I can tell you that if Osama was in my living room, I would do everything I could to kill him. He'd want to kill you in a second, even if he didn't he's already responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, are you somehow a better person for not wanting to kill him too? I would call that stupid and cowardly. (Again, not meaning to attack you, you were civil and deserve civility in return, just explaining my point of view.)

"However, I believe the vast majority of these angry people do NOT really want to kill all Americans. They want to get their kids to school, and pay the bills, and make a better life for themselves and their families."

I would say that that's applying western reasoning to a civilization that is not based on the same values as ours. I think Bill addresses this very well in his essay. Maybe if shown freedom and given an option, they would want all these great things. But as it stands now, their lifestyle and actions show something very different.

And I think that the great thing this essay does is incite this side to violence. The other side is already doing its best to kill us, and has been for over a decade. We start to fight back, and half the country is trying to bring us back to a pre 9/11 mindset. I applaud Bill for showing that this isn't a viable alternative.

Sorry, that was me. Name didn't show up, but want to give you all somebody to yell at when you don't agree.


I agree with you that "Islamist" is a threat. I also think that the invasion of Iraq could have been conducted in a different way, but I can't say so much about the military aspects and strategical decisions of the war, because I am not a expert on military warfare. You would probably label me as a "chickenhawk." If you are interested in my views on this topic, please read my post, THE BATTLE OF IDEAS: CHICKENHAWKS VERSUS PACIFICISTS.

Best Premises,

Martin Lindeskog - American in Spirit.
Gothenburg, Sweden (a.k.a the socialist "paradise").

Oil does our autos little good when we can't convert it to gasoline. Our refining capacity is grossly inadequate for our present needs, and will be even more inadequate for our future ones. We need to build more US refineries; we haven't built a new one in over 20 years.

Bill, 50 years ago this month I graduated from boot camp at Parris Island. I've been emotionally proud to be an american every day since that day. I still get chills and tears at the sight of Old Glory or when I hear the National Anthem. You have just raised the bar. I don't know how to be any prouder than I was, but today I am!

Thank You,
Ed Poinsett
Demorest, GA

I will fight to my death to achieve victory for nothing else will matter if I do not.

Thanks for boosting my morale.

Ansar al Islam operated out of Iraq. Found fuseluge in an Ansar al Islam training camp a few miles outside Baghdad ring a bell? They are considered Radical Islamists. What evidence have you to prove your premise that Radical Islamists have no connection with Iraq?

You may have missed one of Bill's major points, 40,000 Iraqis per year(at least) were murdered over the course of the last few decades at the hands of their ruthless dictator. A dictator who, by the way, permitted Ansar al Islam to train on his soil while providing sanctuary to a few Al Queda pals. A dictator who also made a killing by using the oil-for-food vouchers to line the pockets of quite a few worldly oil barons, politicians, humanitarians, and the like. Does the name Kujo Annan mean anything to you? George Galloway? Just to name a few.

Quite fankly, I am surprised at the total lack of activism towards the oil-for-food scandal by the anti-war activists when, apparently, they had been lied to all these years by their trusted 'allies'. All the lies yet, the anti-war activists are not even asking for an apology.

Ed Poinsett
Thank you for your service to our country. I am very proud of you.

I respect what you said, but it is too redundant. You said the same stuff over and over again.

'Remember this'

'All I have to say is this'

Plus, the cursing doesn't help it out.

Wow. I've been lurking here for the past year or so, and as usual STRENGTH has lived up to the amazing standards I've come to expect. I'm currently in flight training at NAS Pensacola, and it seems lately that every time I come up for air after another marathon study session the media has more wonderful things to say about my comrades in arms who decided to single-handedly besmirch the uniform over at Abu Ghraib. You're absolutely right; there's always a few bad eggs in the bunch. But I detect an undercurrent of glee in the media these days, as if Abu Ghraib was just another chance to rub the Administration's mistakes in the world's collective nose. It's like it's all a game to those people. Find the nastiest stuff out there to rile up John Q. Public, and watch the ratings skyrocket and the advertising dollars roll in. Sorry, folks. Here, it's personal. I've got college and high school classmates with boots on the ground inside Iraq as I type this, and and other one just around the corner on a minesweeper out of Bahrain. And there are people who are trying to tar us with the same brush as the Waffen-SS. But you're right. It's a question of who can hold the line the longest. I pray to God that we as a nation don't drop the ball, because in this case I do believe the future and soul of the house we call America is at stake.

At any rate, thanks for the breath of fresh air. Now I can tolerate CNN for awhile longer. My twenty bucks are yours as soon as I find out where I can buy the book!

"Hitler: It is easy enough to talk of war while we are sitting here in our comfortable easy chairs. But war means endless misery for millions. Do you want to take this responsibility upon yourself, Herr Schuschnigg? Don't think for one moment that anybody on earth is going to thwart my decisions. Italy? I see eye to eye with Mussolini. The closest ties of friendship bind me to Italy. And England? England will not move one finger for Austria. ... And France? Well, three years ago we marched on the Rhineland with a handful of battalions. That was the time I risked everything. If France had stopped us then, we would have had to retreat perhaps 60 kilometers or so."

Dear Six Foot Pole,

As I stated over many pages, removing Saddam means:

1. we don't need troops in Saudi Arabia
2. we have an alternative to Saudi Oil; wahabbism is funded by the Saudis and they need to be dealt with.
3. A free, stable, democratic and prosperous Iraq provides the only achievable, desirable alternative to the fundamentalism sweeping the region to due their internal social and economic failure.

See, this is how you respond to an argument: with an argument The second you threw that "chickenhawk" slander around, I knew you were out of ideas. Out of facts. Out of history. Out of integrity. I could go on, but the day is short.

So I will assume that if you are not a doctor you may not discuss health care treatment. If you are not a member of congress then political issues and national policy are off the plate for you, you hypocrite. And so on.

In point of fact, sir, using your own logic and tone, the only thing you seem qualified to comment on is the rising rate of illigitimate births.

The fact that I have attempted to enlist 3 times in the course of my life is irrelevent to the speciousness of your argument. You cast no moral reflection. You are clearly a bitter and defeated man.

I feel sorry for you.

Sorry for the double post:

Roots of the failure of French diplomacy:

How European governments manage (and are constrained by) the past:

You know you've made points with a liberal when the only criticism of your essay is that it is "redundant." It is also amusing to me that the people from whom the ACLU get most of their money start complaining about cursing. Exactly when did polite discourse become prized among the left. Somewhere between "The FISH Cheer" and Ted Rall, perhaps?

We need to watch our motherfucking language, people.

Thanks for the shout-out to Major Sullivan Ballou, who, back home, was Speaker of the House. This was a man who, with everything to live for (family, money, political power) gave it all up for a chance to save his country. Soul of a poet; heart of a true patriot and not the sunshine variety.

Much like Pat Tillman.

Continue to give them the grape, Captain Whittle.

SixFootPole, aside from the fact that Bill DID try to join the military on several occasions (mentioned in previous essays and comment streams), trying to fly military aircraft for the Air Force (but stymied by vision problems), AND aside from the fact that he's now 45 years old and just a tad beyond most acceptable age and physical qualifications, AND aside from the fact that if I could express myself half as well as Bill, I'd have said the exact same things with every bit of his vehemence, including his occasional profanity, and I DID serve in the military for 12 years (which I suspect that YOU did not), your "argument" is one that sounds like the last desperate flip-of-the-bird from someone who has no better argument to offer. Or was "... 'Islamist' may be a threat, but I don't see how the invasion of Iraq solves this..." -- was THAT your big counterargument to all of Bill's points?

Saddam didn't have to BE or even LIKE fundamental Islam in order to sponsor it, harbor its fugitives, help train its fanatical membership, or use it as a "plausibly deniable" conduit for his own designs. Iraq didn't have to be the birthplace or the headquarters of "Radical Islam" in order to be a potent and outspoken enemy of this nation. And if you don't think that the U.S. FINALLY making good on its warnings and threats, and eliminating one of the strongest of the "strongmen" in that general cabal has sent a staggering message to every terrorist sympathizer, sponsor and patron, then you're just not paying attention.

Good to see that you're reading the good stuff anyway.


Thanks buddy.

We would do well to remember the warning of a Holocaust survivor: "If someone says they want to kill you, believe them."

Wow, SFP, you should feel honored to be personally *skewered* like that... quit while you're only a little behind... really; you're WAY out of your depth.

And to Joel...

"Hate is a strong emotion. If Osama Bin Ladin was in your living room would you kill him? It's hard for me to know how I would react."

I'm very proud of this difference between you and me.

Dear Lord, that was brilliant and insightful. The President should read this entire essay on national television - he'd get re-elected in a landslide!

I don't know how you do it Bill, but you just keep getting better and better and better. I WILL buy your book when it is out, because such clarity and honest hard-hitting writing deserves, nay, demands a reward!

Thank you so much, and please, don't ever stop!

I dunno....

This (I'm including part one) article, essay, whatever, needs to be published as widely as possible. How can this be accomplished?

As for the attempt to join the military smear...(I admit, I skipped a lot so I don't know exactly what is going on with that.)

My father was born with a heart defect. Doctors told my grandmother that he'd be dead before he was five.

At the age of ten, they told her he'd be dead before he was twenty.

His older brother fought in WWII while he was in school. When Korea came around, he tried to join the army. Denied, for medical reasons.

He tried to join the Navy. Denied, for medical reasons.

He tried to join the Air forced. Denied, for medical reasons.

He was drafted by the Marines.

At the end of his boot camp, less than two weeks to go to graduation, he came down with pnuemonia. The doctors freaked out when thay looked at his heart. He was kicked out of the Marines (only a week to go to graduation from boot camp) with a medical discharge. That honorable discharge from the Marines was one of dad's proudest possesions. He didn't get to serve....but he damned well tried.

What makes this funny....My father died a year ago, at the age of 77, after a 35 year career in the coal mining industry.

It makes me wonder about the standards we use to determine who can and cannot fight.

I should mention that that 35 year career was followed by a loooooong retirement.

Well. Whew!

I don't have the words to express my appreciation. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this magnificent addition to your body of work.

I too am waiting impatiently for your book to be released, as I want to re-read it many many times, and printing it out from the net just ain't as good.

As to the Osama question... has anyone seen him lately? Mark Steyn has said that he's dead already, and I think Mr. Whittle wrote something to the effect of "stains on the wall in Tora Bora"- (I have only rushed thru one reading so far so that's IIRC) & that's where I think he- or what's left of him- is too.

But there are lots of others out there who need killin'.

Thanks again Bill- you are a national treasure.

A link to this was posted in a thread at RightNation.US. Am I ever glad I checked this out! Simply wonderful!


Also don't underestimate the effect of disillusioned "fighters" going back to their homelands and spreading the word that they were regarded as pests, criminals and suckers/victims by the Iraqis, as has been reported many times by the anti-war press.

In any case, Saddam was practically the only major world figure to laud the 9/11 attackers, (even Arafat was quick to denounce them) and he declared sympathy with the enemies of the West. The notion that his "secularism" trumped his instincts for political survival is belied by the fact that the money from the oil-for-food scam that didn't go to Kofi Annan's son, his palaces and his weapons was used in the construction of giant mosques. Secular Baathism was a Stalinist/Nazi hybrid of convenience, based on the notion that interfaith squabbles between Christians and Moslems were slowing down the Arab task of killing Jews. After the political and military failures of the Baathist/Pan-Arabist cause, militant Islam has been the Middle Eastern ideology of the day in one form or other for the past two decades. Saddam was perfectly happy to wrap himself in any flag, green, brown or red, that advanced his cause, i.e. his dictatorial power over Iraqis.

That was an excellent post. It encapsulated much of my sentiments on the subject with both eloquence and forcefullness.

One point bothers me, however. I consider that calling anti-war (or more accurately anti-nuclear weapons) folk as narcissistic, self indulging people who are the center of their own universe may not be entirely accurate (but certainly applicable in a lot of cases).

Consider the results of a major nuclear exchange> Al Queida obtains a device, detonates it in the USA in a major metropolitan area, and has taken steps to make it appear as if it were either Russia or China.

The prospects are too horrific to imagine. Logical opposition to the war are fine, but from what I have seen in the Blogosphere, they ignore the notion that the best way to prevent war is to be ready and willing to fight one and to smack down the enemies before they become too aggressive.

The analogy of the Rhineland occupation is particularly appropriate, but fails to take into account the anti-war sentiment that was prevalent in Europe at the time.

The continent had as part of its institutional memory millions of casualties, and no one was in the mood for actions that were likely to result in yet more.

History has proven otherwise, and I cannot expect everyone to have been able to predict the outcome. It was obvious only in hindsight.

So, those are just my thoughts on an impossibly huge subject; in all, a great piece, and I hope that someone on CNN decides to air it, just to irritate Ted Kennedy.

P.S. is under construction.

Wow, what a long post. Obviously heartfelt, and soul-searching. And I guess under the circumstances, soul searching is well and truly called for.

I haven't heard such a lengthy, painful rationalization since the Clintonites were trying to explain what the meaning of "is" is.

Frustratingly, your core values are right on the mark: Radical Islam and the terrorism they breed are extraordinarily dangerous. We have a right and an obligation to defend ourselves. But those core values do not point at the neocon apology you so carefully try to construct. Instead, they reinforce precisely how CORRECT John McCain, John Kerry, Colin Powell and Richard Clarke have been. And are.

Put aside your partisan wishful thinking for a moment and look at what these leaders have actually been saying. These are people with *actual* military experience, who are absolutely committed to protecting America against terrorism, and who do not shy away from the need to use military force to defend ourselves.

But they are FED UP WITH THE LIES!

(Lies? Or incompetent wishful-thinking make believe? I guess they get the benefit of the doubt and they're not liars after all.)

WMD? Make believe. Greeted as liberators? Make believe. Troop requirements? Make believe. Post-war planning? Make believe. Chalabi as ally? Make believe. Roadmap? Make believe. Abu Grahib just a few bad apples? Make believe. At least nobody got killed? Make believe.

Terrorism a top priority before 9/11 (notwithstanding Rice's planned speech that SAME DAY to promote missile defense programs)??? Make believe.

Put aside your partisan thinking that only Bushies can love our country. Face the reality that John Kerry is NOT running a campaign of abandonment or withdrawal. Kerry is NOT Michael Moore. He is not Howard Dean. Wishing that Kerry is hostile to either our troops OR our mission... doesn't make it so. That's just more make believe.

Face the reality that we are in a catastrophe because *this* administration PUT US HERE.

Face the reality that this administration SQUANDERED the good will and moral high ground that America enjoyed after 9/11.

Remember how this country pulled together in the aftermath of 9/11. That was wonderful. Inspiring. Remember how the war against the Taliban received true bipartisan support, and widespread support in both the US and international communities. Amazing. Unprecedented.

And now this. Lies? Make believe? Incompetence? Who can tell the difference any more?

Face the reality that there is only one way to hold this administration accountable.

Awesome, Bill. Easily your best piece of writing since "Trinity", and maybe your best piece period, though I think I still like "Freedom" best.

Some notes about your allergy analogy...

One of the other theories about the origin of allergies is that it's a result of an immune system hyperactive in its defense against cancer. Cancer is the single greatest threat to any living thing; the system of DNA replication is heavily laden with redundancies and anti-cancer mechanisms, and still your immune system is probably stopping the beginning of cancer somewhere in your body several times a week if not several times a day by killing the defective cells. And indeed, there is an inverse relationship between rates of allergies in individuals and rates of cancer; and not only that, but allergy sufferers are more likely to fight off a tumor and survive than their nonallergic counterparts.

Zealous in their defense against homegrown evil, there are those who would destroy the body in one catastrophic autoimmune response rather than tolerate even a slight resemblance to cancer.

The other thing about allergies is that they snowball. Allergies increase in their severity with each exposure, which is why one taste of peanut might give a person hives but the next might kill him outright. If you're allergic to one thing, the odds are you're allergic to others, and the odds are also pretty good that you'll develop more over the course of your life. (Which explains why I seem to spend more and more time each year desperately searching for an allergy medication that actually works so I can be functional when the wind happens to kick up, but I digress.) I'm sure you can see where the analogy can be stretched a bit more, and it's a damn good one.

Brilliant, poignant, outstanding essay (like all of those you write).

One teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy nit to pick: you spoke disparagingly of Belgian nannies in Pert 1 (I'm not sure why you chose to pick on the Belgians, but no matter). I myself, had a Belgian nanny for some years, when both my parents were working (I was born in 1959, she was with us from roughly 1962 to 1965). Far from teaching me to sulk and pout, she broke me of many self-indulgent habits. I have stayed in toch with her (as did my parents, until they died) to this day.

Of course, she was of my parents' generation. So she had an experience that was just a trifle different than our parents had: the War. We had the War, which we fought Over There. They had the War, the Occupation, the Liberation, and the Reconstruction. Life in Belgium between 1940 and 1950 was not exactly The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit.

Indeed, among her generation, the commonplace when decrying some new disgusting self-indulgent behavior among the young was, "Ils n'ont pas connu la guerre...ils n'ont pas connu l'occupation." ("They have no experience of the War...they have no experience of the Occupation.").

I could tell you a few sea stories, but...they'll keep.

So...please: in the future, pick on some other nationality. Today's Belgium is not the Belgium of yesteryear, it is true, but neither are we: nor should we interpret the imbecile blatherings of their political leadership for the sentiments of an entire people.

"Hate is a strong emotion. If Osama Bin Ladin was in your living room would you kill him?
It's hard for me to know how I would react".

He'd be dead here. And anyone who showed up with him, be it a pack of Islamokazis or just CNN looking for a ratings coup. This conflict isn't about finding a peace, but about defeating a worldwide movement that threatens our lives and freedoms. The concept of "if you aren't with us, you are against us" isn't jingoism here. It's a flat statement of fact. What our the worldwide liberal left has chosen to call imperialism or jingoism is actually our declared intent to not submit to barbarism. If their political philosophy prevents them from aligning with that sentiment, then they shouldn't be terribly insulted that they are ignored.

"Strength" is an admirable address of the question "Why must we fight?". An outstanding address, actually.

This is a wonderful discussion and all that, but if the above italicized sentence is a part of your internal philosophical debate, could you please cut and paste it and put it at the header of your post?

It will save folks like me trying to read pertinent opinions a lot of time. Thanks!

Tremendous essay, Mr. Whittle.

Wow. I hate to be redundant, but...

Bill, congratulations. Another fantastic piece.

BTW: I want an autographed copy as well.

Oh, and Outraged, now that I've had a chance to read the thread as well as the essay:

It is very difficult to take your accusations of being blinded to reality seriously when your comments clearly demonstrate that you either did not actually read the essay or merely skimmed it waiting for your chance to leap, given that easily half of your "points" are already addressed within.

Or, more briefly: Pot. Kettle. Black.

"Americans have fought against submission and Tyranny since there have been Americans. That’s what we do. That is who we are."

The crux of it all.

I am, as others have already said over and over, in complete awe of the way this essay expressed so succinctly the ideas that I have not been able to find words to express, but it is there in my heart, nonetheless. I will do all I can to spread links to this essay and will be looking forward to being able to buy the book.

I am new to the blogging world (I feel like I have been in a hundred-year sleep and just awoke). I have been toying at my own blog, but may not hang due to not being able to express my feelings that well. I think I might better serve my country (since I am too danged old to join the military) by trying to seek truth and be one of the hands and voices that help to pass it around.

Thank you for your voice and for sharing this with all of us. I feel priviledged to be able to call you a fellow American.


A democratic and hopefully successful Iraq in the Middle East will be the big pay back for the terror attacks, and the financing of extremism by the Saudis.
Democracy, the gift that keeps giving.

Dear Outraged,

All your assertions? Make believe.

See how easy it is?

As I said, there have been massive blunders, stupifying errors and hair-rending mistake. There will be more, and probably worse. I'm sorry they do not meaure up to your standards.

I'm sure that your plan of action is perfect in your mind. I'm sure that were your best ideas put into actual practice, reality and Murphy would give me ample apportunity to point hout how make-believe your assumptions were.

That's the beautiful thing about being a critic. I could ask you what you would have done differently, and you could give me a long, well-reasoned list. And none of it -- NONE -- would look the same after a year of field testing.

By the way, your make-believe list is seriously flawed. I would expect you are trying to see things that are not there. I would have to call that...

Oh, never mind. You are the Lord of Rhetoric. Congratulations. Now get out of the way. There is messy, faulty, error-riddled, accident-prone work to do.

Outraged -

You make yourself hard to take seriously, when you say:

Put aside your partisan thinking that only Bushies can love our country.

You disparage partisanship while simultaneously engaging in it. That's just pathetic.

Face the reality that this administration SQUANDERED the good will and moral high ground that America enjoyed after 9/11.

America was hated before 9/11 just as we're hated now. Any "good will" that is dependent upon our victimhood isn't worth a damn (and here, I'll engaged in a little partisanship), and anyone but a liberal would know that.

Kerry seems to think that the proper role of U.S. foreign policy is to enable us to win a popularity contest in the UN. Firstly, the UN is impotent and pointless, so who cares? And secondly, as long as we're the richest country on the planet, all the have-nots are going to be angry with us regardless. Fcuk world opinion, let's do the right thing - which is, BTW, to kick the shiat out of Fundamentalist Islamists, seeing as how they're already fighting a war against the entire West. I have no wish to appease or compromise with those who think the laws of Allah trump manmade, democratically enacted laws. Formerly, I would have ignored the fcukers, but 9/11 changed all that. I say we keep kicking them 'til they're dead.

Repetition /= Argument

Reading Outraged's post, I visualized a crazed speaker beating the everloving crap out of his podium, screaming "MAKE BELIEVE!" with every blow. Amusing for sure, but not too convincing I'm afraid.

Dear Bill,

Yes, there HAVE BEEN massive blunders, stupifying errors and hair-rending mistake. There will be more, and probably worse.

I don't know about you, but *I'm* not looking for perfection. I *know* it's a messy world out there, AND that we still have work to do.

Hey, if this had been just one or two massive blunders and stupifying errors, it would be one thing. Not enough to justify the Monday morning quarterbacking that some would engage in. Look, we elect a leader, we delegate to that leader certain prerogatives and authority, and we expect some failures along with the successes. But we expect the leader to ACKNOWLEDGE the mistakes, instead of trying to pretend that they weren't mistakes at all.

And when it's error after error after error after error... we expect that the leader will not only recognize the mistakes, but also LEARN from the mistakes... adjust. (Maybe even hold SOMEONE accountable?)

But not in this administration. The denial is pervasive. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Bush was as forthright AS YOU about the mistakes that have been made, it would be HUGE.)

Did you see the President speechless for thirty seconds when lobbed a softball question about what his biggest mistake was? He COULDN'T THINK OF ONE. Not even one.

Remember when Ronald Reagan admitted his mistake with the Iran-Contra deal? That's a big thing.

Well, like I said, there's only one way to hold accountable an administration that commits a seemingly unending string of massive blunders, then refuses to own up to them.

"Congratulations. Now get out of the way."

Sorry. I guess I hit a little too close to home, eh?


I am a 17 year old high school student, who is deeply patriotic and pro-war. I am registered Republican and will be voting for George Bush this fall. I am ashamed of the victimizing attitude which my generation has adopted. I just want to let you know that not all of us are like that, and I for one am certainly not. Next year I am taking ROTC classes at my college, working towards an officers comission in the Army. It will be an honor to serve this great nation and to do my part to help fight terrorism. Thank you Mr. Wittle for this amazing essay, as it was the best thing I've read since the latest Harry Potter book.

Man Whittle,
There are times when you bring tears to my eyes, this time you also gave me chills.
Please don't die tragicly young in that ridiculous plane of yours.

Dear Holly,

Relax! I am already too old to die tragically young. I can only die ruefully middle-aged now. But I'll be careful anyway; thanks.

Lord of Rhetoric:

See, you are a reasonable person. One can have a conversation with, and learn something from you.

I don't know anything about the Dubya incident you described. I do know this: If President Bush were to say, tomorrow, "You know, upon reflection I was wrong about _____," would we ever, EVER hear the end of it? EVER? These are the consequences of bumper-sticker ideology. BUSH LIED. NO BLOOD FOR OIL. I live in Santa Monica and see these all the time; every day. I do not see similar simplistic claptrap from the right, but perhaps that is because there are so few conservatives where I live.

Maybe he didn't see any errors. Maybe he saw nothing but errors. And by the way, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ERROR YOU HAVE COMMITTED, MR. PRESIDENT? is not what I would call a 'softball' question. MR. BUSH, HOW DO YOU LIKE THE NEW PUPPY? or HOW DO THE TEXAS RANGERS LOOK THIS YEAR? Those are softball questions.

US Grant was the subject of enormous criticism during the Civil War. He had a low regard for the delicacies of casualty rates, for example. But when people were calling for his head, Lincoln said : "I cannot spare this man; he fights."

I was a McCain supporter in 2000. I still think he would have been a much better choice. Bush was the man we were dealt. He has many flaws. But I believe these are serious times, and I will therefor cut him a GREAT deal of slack, because I cannot spare this man: he fights.


Thanks so much. Excellent essay. I will send as many as I can to this.

Semper Fi

Well, Mr. Whittle, your rhetoric on this one certainly went up to eleven. Too bad it's so long on passion and so short on facts.

"If President Bush were to say, tomorrow, "You know, upon reflection I was wrong about _____," would we ever, EVER hear the end of it? EVER?"


Ronald Reagan did exactly that.

And did we ever hear the end of it? (I guess so :-)

(Wait a minute. President Bush is afraid to admit mistakes because he's afraid of a few bumper stickers in Santa Monica... Nah, I'm not going there...)

Cut him some slack? Here's the quiz: You own a company. You hire a manager who makes massive blunders and stupifying errors. Astonishingly, he doesn't seem to notice. Worse, when you ask about the errors, he tells you that his plan is to keep doing exactly what he's been doing.

Choice A) Go Donald Trump on him. Bring in someone who knows how to fight and who promises to continue the fight. (Take a few moments and read what Kerry actually says--not what others tell you he said. I think you'll find that Kerry is a lot closer to McCain than he's given credit for: Kerry explicitly endorses the military option in Iraq and has specifically rejected the bailout-withdraw-appease recommendations of various Rushbait lefties. Remember, Kerry is not Nader. Arguing against Nader's views, then pretending that they're Kerry's views is just being dishonest with yourself.)

Or Choice B) Cut this manager some MORE slack. Despite what he's done, say these words: "I cannot spare this man."

(Uhhh, "I cannot spare this man?") I'm going with "A" on this one, too. What do you think?

I just wish I could step into an alternate universe and see the reaction if Mr. Bush had, when asked about his biggest mistake, answered "I failed to take into account how much a biased media could affect the public's perception of the war"

Just like Bush's comment (paraphrased): "you're making the assumption that you [the media] speak for the American people". Freaking priceless.

Great essay Mr. Whittle. Duly linked to on my blog. Hope to see you up there on daypop.



We expect a little better than that if you are going to play here. There are one or two facts in that essay; I put them there.

Your comment:

STYLE: (Judges?) Ooooohhh, 1.2 out of a possible ten. Sorry Gregg, you do not advance to the next round. You will recieve, as our parting gift, a brand-new Assertionator 9000 smug-shooter. Thanks for playing!

Outraged, Kerry has said he wants to turn this over to the UN. He wants to bring on board "allies" who made tons of money on Oil for Palaces to "advise" us. Allies who's domestic policies can be summed up as IGNORE THOSE ECONOMIC NUMBERS! LOOK AT LES AMERICAINS! Wonder what they'll advise? He says whatever he wants to whoever he thinks will vote for him. He has voted against just about every military bill that came before him -- which is saying something, because the fact is, the man doesn't vote too damn often. I did not read this at Ann Coulter's site, nor did I recieve instructions from Rush's swirling spiral eyes. Do me the credit of allowing that I can read.

I would rather have a man that does the right thing badly than one that does the wrong thing effortlessly. But hey, I'm simple-minded that way. Go figure. I don't believe Kerry is fit for command, and I figured that out without the advantage of having served under him.

So, in summary: Kerry as an iron-willed War commander: make believe. Kerry as a champion of the military: make believe. Kerry as a man counted on to stand up to do what's unpopular, even if it is right? Make believe. Kerry as a champion of US interests in the face of international pressure? Make believe.

And Christ, outraged...has the man ever held a JOB? Does his economic package consist of marrying Japan, and then dumping her if China becomes available? And do you honestly think that a man with the vanity to take so much botox that he looks like his face is melting really has the tough hide needed to endure a rocky and at times unpopular course? Make believe is not strong enough for what you are saying. I would advance you to DELUSIONAL, proceeding, based on what I expect from your immediate response, to PSYCHOTIC.

Quick one. Iraq may not have been directly involved with terrorist attacks against the US but there are 3 very good reasons that we went there first.

1) Saddam lost a war. He agreed to meet certain demands in order to stay in power. He repeatedly failed to live up to his side of the bargain and did a lot of saber rattling while he was at it. That was enough to convince me. It has nothing to do with the war on terror though.

2) The people of Iraq needed some help. 40,000 of them each year can be glad Saddam isn't in power any longer. This also has nothing to do with the war on terror but stands alone as a valid reason for an outside force to intervene.

3) We need the oil. Not for profits. We need Iraqi oil to flow our way so we don't have to rely on Saudi oil as we do now. The Saudi government should be a major target in the war on terror. The problem is if we were to go after them right away without securing another source of oil the war would stop 2 weeks in and the US would likely come to a screeching halt. Bill said it in this wonderful essay (and he's not the first to point it out), our reliance on Saudi oil is like a gun at the head of the US. Remove the gun and we can stand up and make them re-think their policies of terror support. This alone might not be enough reason to invade Iraq as it has nothing to do with the actions of Iraq or its former leader. It does have direct bearing on the war on terror though and as such can not be overlooked.

Something for Outraged:
I'd say Bush should have answered that question only if he had previously been asked "What has been your greatest success?" or if there was even a remote chance of it being asked. As it was I'll chalk that question up to baiting which is just unsportman-like (call it unprofessional) and unworthy of a response.

Sitting here as an part-"owner" of this company that Bush is currently managing I personally think he's doing the best he can given the circumstances. As such I'll give him my vote to "keep doing exactly what he's been doing". Mistakes happen. Expect more of them before this is over. We are not, however, on a losing path right now. Progress is being made regardless of what the vast majority of media outlets would have you believe.

More innocent Iraqi's have been killed in this war than 9/11. There are countless prisoners who have been murdered in Iraq, Afghanista, and Guam --- military even ruled them homicides - thing is they don't treat it seriously at all - if it was an American killed - i.e. Berg -- they are vowing to hunt them down. It is appaling what is going on - things need to be done better. If another country came in to the United States in the name of freedom (no matter how good or bad it is), then killed 40 people at a wedding party, what would you do? If U.S. prisoners where raped, sodomized, or murdered what would you think?

The U.S. tried 3 times based on now known faulty intelligence to kill Saddam with bombs - knowing full well that it was targeting residential areas - and, dozens of children where found dead - that is just disgusting. Substitute an American life for each Iraqi life - actualy, substitute your daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother - whoever - no, would you not be furious at what the U.S. is doing? Things have to be done better.

Also, this war was a fabrication of the civilian leadership of the pentagon and those exiles that the U.S. is even hunting down now. GREAT WAR!!! You going after the people who told you to attack the country. Makes a lot of sense.

Bill Whittle, what sort of sick man are you? How dare you say that strength can come from within and from doing what is right..... How dare you contradict what the "intelligent ones" say.... The Media, the Left, the bleeding hearts, now they are the only ones who know what true strength is... they know the strength of the thousand unsaid words that follow the picture of a dead child, they know the endless bloody drops of despair that can be wrung from the thought of an Iragi prisoner in ladies undies. Yet here you are trying to make us believe that plain honest thinking can beat that. Oh the stupidity...

Why don't you listen to those like Mithu, Mithu "know's" that those killed in Iraq were innocent... innocent - don't you see....Mithu "know's" that if only you'd stop they wouldn't hate you. If America understood nuance it could do things oh so... so... so... "better" !

But this plain thinking and speaking... this talk of things like Duty. Honor. Courage.... That's so old hat.... there can't be anyone who believes that anymore .... can there?

Well I'm glad to see there is. Bill Its good to see someone cut through the crap. You've written something good. I've just reread your "Strength" because, damn it, I wanted to check on why...for the last 24 hours you've had me humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic when I'm not even an American!

More power to your book and more power to those who'll stand up and do what's right regardless of what "intelligent" people say.

Best wishes

I consider you part of my American family, you are always welome in our house.

Keep humming, I hear your music.

Best Wishes to you

You know you've made points with a liberal when the only criticism of your essay is that it is "redundant."

First off, I am not liberal, so you just made an ass out of yourself by assuming such a horrible thing.

I see, I cannot make a critical comment without being labeled and dismissed. Why does this happen all the time? If us conservatives want to be known not to label and dismiss, then prove it.

If something has something to say, has an opinion, it does not make them liberal to question a conservative. The notion is retarded.

Overall interesting, and inspirational read Bill. However, there are quite a few points to take issue with, only time for a couple here:

"[USA] and her many allies went to war in Iraq for many reasons besides preventing Iraq from developing WMD"

How soon we forget. By far, our #1 "reason" for the war was not to prevent developement of WMD, but to find already-developed WMD. This was hammered, over and over and over. Subtle distinction, but one you gloss over.

Just like GWB, you seem to have forgotten completely about a little man named Osama Bin Laden. OK there is one mention of him, in fact a compliment of his demand for US troops to leave Saudi Arabia.

Brings to mind the words of GWB:

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."

-- George W. Bush 9-13-2001

"I don't know where he (bin Laden) is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."

-- George W. Bush 3-13-2002

Dead or alive, he doesn't care? Since when?!?!

But really, you have a very active mind, and I enjoy your writings.

thanks, and see you at the US premier of Farenheit 9/11! ;-)


Lordy, I went to bed at almost midnight, and came back to the computer just after sunrise, and there were another 30 comments in the thread. Wow!

Unfortunately, there were just TOO MANY points to address in one posting... thankfully, most of them had already been met by our well-spoken regulars, and I could let them go.

But "mithu" -- man, talk about a Case In Point. Bill, I think you need to go back through your essay and drop little footnote links to mithu's comment, each of them titled "Case In Point." Almost every issue about emotional, short-sighted, reactionary thinking was illustrated in living color in that one posting. A perfect example. What a service you have wrought for us here, mithu.

Mithu: "More innocent Iraqi's have been killed in this war than 9/11." Tah-dahh! We're now "wronger" than they were.

Mithu: "There are countless prisoners who have been murdered in Iraq, Afghanista[n], and "Guam" [presumably you meant "Guantanamo" and not the Pacific island] --- military even ruled them homicides - thing is they don't treat it seriously at all..." Don't treat it seriously? They've been under a searing spotlight since Day One. Commanders have been reviewed and replaced and have had to testify before Congress almost continuously. What more should we be doing? Executing Americans to balance the books?

Mithu: "It is appaling what is going on - things need to be done better." Like how? MORE continuous review and command intervention? More media scrutiny? This is already an unprecedented operation in terms of the amount of public (media) access, civilian review, and Monday morning quarterbacking. World War II would still be going on if IT had been this hamstrung. Or do you mean "things need to be done more morally, or conscientiously, or more nobly?" Again, this is already unprecedented in the extent to which non-military targets have been avoided at great cost, collateral damage kept to a minimum (yes, a minimum -- research some past wars if you want to see what an unconstrained campaign looks like), and local people given the benefit of the doubt, all too often to our own detriment.

Mithu: "If another country came in to the United States in the name of freedom (no matter how good or bad it is), then killed 40 people at a wedding party, what would you do?" I'd be damned pissed, I would. Yeppers. Just like they are. And I'd get just as little satisfaction -- because there IS no satisfaction that COULD be gleaned from that. Those deaths were just as horrible and wasteful as any American's, from any battlefield, that was the result of friendly fire, for instance. And that happens all the time too. Please, feel free to leap up and demand reparations for those deaths as well.

Mithu: "If U.S. prisoners where raped, sodomized, or murdered what would you think?" You mean like the torturing and murdering and outrageous abuse that (again) has happened to Americans in EVERY war, from the prison camp at Andersonville in the Civil War, to the Bataan Death March, to the Stalags of Nazi Germany? Or do you mean like the rape, sodomization, and murders that go on almost constantly in regular old American jails and prisons across the country every day? What do I think? Horrible! Unacceptable! Punish those that are guilty, remove and replace those that allowed it to happen, and move the hell on. And what does that have to do with the rightness of the overall cause?

Mithu: "The U.S. tried 3 times based on now known faulty intelligence to kill Saddam with bombs - knowing full well that it was targeting residential areas..." That's right -- we sent bombs and missiles into those areas KNOWING that the information was flat wrong. Brilliant. "... and, dozens of children where found dead - that is just disgusting." And there it is! The inevitable "abused children" card, played at least once in every hand. Gotta' get that in there, just to spread that misdirected outrage around.

Mithu: "Substitute an American life for each Iraqi life - actualy, substitute your daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother - whoever - no, would you not be furious at what the U.S. is doing?" Of course I'd be furious if someone I knew was killed by someone else for ANY reason, including drunk driving, a drug overdose, a robbery gone wrong, or an elbow to the temple during a half-court basketball game that caused a terminal stroke. Of COURSE I'd be furious! But so what? What does their (or my) anger have to do with anything? Try (as this essay has repeatedly asked you to try) to see beyond the short-term, short-range, arm's-length, emotional, knee-jerk perspective, and look at the bigger picture (which I will not repeat again here).

Mithu: "Also, this war was a fabrication of the civilian leadership of the pentagon and those exiles that the U.S. is even hunting down now." Well, if you say so...

Mithu: "You going after the people who told you to attack the country. Makes a lot of sense." No, actually that sentence made no sense at all.

Wow. Almost every point about defeatist thinking and self-loathing spelled out and cast in bronze for all to see.

Thank-you, mithu. Bill couldn't have illustrated the point better himself.


Lovely thread, and wonderful to see some off-the-cuff Whittle chainsaw work. Whirr, sparks, ice chips, sculpture. Wow!

Whoever said they wouldn't know what to do if they had Osama in their livingroom reminds me of a little tale in The Dead Zone, by Stephen King.

John Smith, who has a psychic gift and knows a politician will commit mass murder, asks an ancient WWII vet at a wedding what he would do if he could go back in time and see Hitler as a baby in a cradle.

The frail old man takes out his pen knife, opens it, and jabs it downward. "I'd shove it into that baby's heart," the old man says fiercely. Then he pauses, and looks up at an astonished John Smith.

"And then I'd twist the blade," he says.

Great Hairy Silverback...damn...I'd sure not want to be on the other side of an argument with you...sure glad I agree with you...keep it up...

These posts are great. Keep 'em coming...I'm learning a lot...

Bill- I -sincerely- hope this essay gets into the President's hands before his speech tonight! Any hope of that? As always, Wonderful!


FDR deliberately violated international law (and the American tradition of the freedom of the seas for all) by having the U.S. Navy patrol international waters and convoy belligerant merchant ships prior to 12/7/41.

After the war, the U.S. launched Operation Paperclip and forcibly repatriated hundreds of thousands of people back to the Soviet Union to suffer and die in the Gulags.

By your reasoning, our involvement in WWII was therefore utterly immoral and we thus need to re-install the Nazis in power in Germany.

Learn to think and learn real history, not the totalitarian-loving anti-humanistic filth of Howard Zinn.

Undoubtedly among the top 3 pieces I have read on the world situation today. You are a fantastic writer and I will look with eagerness for your work in printed format so I can buy it for a lot of people I know.

Thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort with this.

Great Essay, Buying the book. But why pick on the song about Superman?

I don't know the politics of the Five for Fighting, but I know a lot about Superman, and I think you missed the mark. Perhaps this analysis fits the essay better.

The major you wrote of, as well as the fine men and women serving in our armed forces, are not Superman. Superman is indeed just a construct, the ultimate immigrant orphan come to America to make good.

But he's no fool. He has doubt. He, like our soldiers, sees the impossible praise heaped upon him - the adoring worship and the impossible demands. Yes, he has detractors, but they are fools, unwilling or unable to carry his burdens.

So he has super strength, and vision, and he can fly and see through walls. But how does that make him Super? He's just a man. Just a human being.

What makes him SUper is he has these doubts, and still goes out and fights evil, precisely because he waS raised by honest parents in Smallville.

HUman beings have moments of doubt. Concerns that their choices are false, that we throw away our lives for nothing more than a flag draped coffin and a kind word from old men at the VFW. For false praise.

What makes us Americans, is not out superior military and economic strength. It is our values. Our people. The people you describe in loving detail through your essays.

I don't wish to quibble about song interpretation in the face of such a magnificent essay. The nuance of the song can be debated, but I feel it important to remind your readers that the heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan are not supermen. They are men of doubt - who choose, choose to do the right thing. Choose to believe, to orphan their children and set down their lives.

Not mindless automatons believing themselves impervious to defeat. They have looked into the dark self-loathing of so many of the Baby-boomer generation and said, "not me," and thus earned our everlasting gratitude - if not by name - than in the love letters of a Civil War major from Rhode Island with whom they share a common bond.

Bill, just to add my voice to the overwhelmingly large choir...this was fantastic. And, although I've read every one of the Silent America essays as they were written, I'm still buying the book. Actually, several, because they'll make great gifts.

Wonderful essay, Bill.

Now would you please hurry up and get that book printed so we can make you rich and famous ?

Bill, one thing you mentioned in your essay - allergies - reminded me of a run in with a couple of those 'hot house' types a few years ago. Instead of relating the entire event here, I'll just post the link:

Great essay, Bill! I'm still waiting on the book...

Osama bin Liner + my living room + myself =

a complete remodeling before my wife gets home.

And without one second of doubt.

Moral paralysis and equivalency is the rot at the core of the domestic enemies of this Nation.
And they are the enemy as much as are the jihadis. Absent the Bush hatred and socialist elitism of the mass media and academia and the screaming of the psychotic left, how long do you think it would take us to so thoroughly crush islamonazism that the problem would cease?

Whatever your judgement, it would be far less than it will, than it must, take with so much irrational, cowardly footdragging. The opposition resembles nothing so much as a three year old throwing a tantrum in public, kicking and screaming because the demands of civilization are inconvenient to its selfish desires and difficult to attain and accomplish.

I believe that, back when Mr. Whittle first blazed across our intellectual firmament, it may have been I who first deemed him to be a National Treasure. I wrote to him and said so, and proclaimed it elsewhere. It would be my Honor and Pleasure to have been the first, if so, but I'm certainly only one among many now.
And that gives me the greater pleasure indeed.

I have always found the spoken word in your writing, Bill. As I read this essay, I could hear and see myself reading it aloud to all my old friends who are so determindedly and willfully clinging to some sixties parqdigm, because you express so well what so many of us could only dream of being able to say. It has the cadence, the rhythm and breath of the spoken word, the opportunity for dramatic pause and emphasis that enhance the message. One can only wonder what a Ronald Reagan could do with material like this!

Somebody please send this to George Bush. He's making an "important speech" tonight to try to spell out the policy for Iraq and the WoT. I'll bet the farm it won't hold a candle to this essay, but it should. He needs all the help he can get when it comes to public speaking.

Thanks again, Bill. I needed that. The Nation needs to hear that.

Jon Tickner

Words fail me. Fortunately, they never seem to fail you. Thanks for these posts. They should be required reading for everyone in this country.

Keep us posted on the book. It'll be a keeper.

Wow. Just wow.

Thanks for making tactile thoughts and emotions that have been present but unorganized in me.

First time visitor, now a regular.


Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Thought not as articulate as Bill, here are my thoughts on the matter:

The war in Iraq is becoming increasingly unpopular. Stories of
> prisoner abuse, mounting casualties, and perceived lack of control
> featured daily in the media. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Americans
> follow the lead of the media increasingly compare Iraq to Vietnam.
> Indeed, if allowed to continue unchecked, these notions could become
> self-fulfilling prophecy. Step back for a moment. The brutal
> of American Nick Berg should be a moment of clarity for the American
> people. Nick Berg's killers were Al Qaeda. The man speaking on the
> videotape of this savagery is Abu Zarqawi, no Iraqi freedom fighter,
> new recruit inspired by "American adventurism," but a lieutenant of
> Bin Laden's. This man not only savagely executed Nick Berg, but is
> credited with coordinating much of the violence and unrest within
> Zarqawi is Al Qaeda. Zarqawi is an officer in an organization that
> declared war on the US and the western world. An organization that
> demonstrated the seriousness of its declaration with attacks against
> over two decades. Yes, Al Qaeda is in Iraq.
> Regardless of what you think about the reasoning or rationale behind
> going to Iraq in the first place, it is now clear that Iraq is a
> battleground in the war on terror. Our enemy in Iraq is the same
> who carried out the first World Trade Center bombing, shot down our
> Blackhawks and drug our soldier's lifeless bodies through the streets
> Mogadishu Somalia, destroyed the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia,
bombed our
> embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdered and maimed our soldiers on
> USS Cole, and shocked us all on September Eleventh. United by fear,
> outrage and grief we collectively resolved to defeat international
> terrorism. For the first time, we took the fight to the terrorists
> than reacting to them.
> Had anyone asked in the days following 9/11, most of us would have
> been convinced that another attack on our homeland was imminent. No
> would have thought that we would be able to advance two years and
> months into the future without another attack. Yet we at home have
> remained safe and secure from terror. Why? Bin Laden is on the run.
> busy plotting his survival and his escape from one cave to the next,
> has little time to plot his next attack. Likewise, the terrorists
> decided to fight us in Iraq rather than attacking us at home. Our
men and
> women, trained to fight and protect us, are killing the terrorist on
> streets of Baghdad; denying them the opportunity to kill us on Main
> Street. Victory in Iraq is imperative to the war on terror. Victory
> Iraq is essential to the security of the US.
> We the silent majority can not remain silent, as we did during the
> Vietnam war. Vietnam was not lost in the jungles and rice paddies of
> Vietnam; it was lost at home. As the vocal minority turned public
> against the war, our enemy was encouraged and our military was
> by politicians and their political concerns. Although the Vietcong
> defeated the US Army in major combat action, they did break our
> will. This is the modus operandi of guerilla fighters. They cannot
> defeat a more powerful enemy, but they can force him to retreat by
> breaking his will. The terrorists are guerillas. All of the
> in the world could not defeat the United States military in an open
> but through repeated pin pricks they hope to break our national will.
> seems they already have some allies in our media and among some
> politicians.
> It is therefore up to us, the great silent majority, to salvage our
> national will. We must and resolve to support this war, our troops
> our President. Failure is an option only if we want to live like the
> Israelis, with checkpoints, metal detectors, armed guards at movie
> theaters, national ID cards and an assorted asunder of measures
> to keep us secure while trampling on the freedoms we currently take
> granted. The Patriot Act will be but the tip of the iceberg. This
is not
> freedom, this is not America and this is not an option. Ask
yourself, as
> Patrick Henry did, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet, to be
purchased at
> the price of chains and slavery?" Patrick Henry concluded..."Forbid
> Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
> me liberty or give me death!"
> Right now there are 200,000 men and women in Iraq and many thousands
> more in our armed forces around the world who believe these
> They believe them so completely that, as you read this, they risk
> lives for our liberty and our security. If you agree, it is time to
> action. If you know a soldier, sailor or airman e-mail or write
them, let
> them know. I personally have a cousin overseas and a friend in Iraq.
> friend has been in Iraq, separated from his wife for nearly 18
months. I
> would like to send this letter to him, and let them know what I think
> about what they are doing over there. I would like to let them know
> it is important and that the national will is behind them. I would
> like to show them proof that his is the sentiment of the majority.
If you
> would like to help, type your name at the bottom of this e-mail and
> it back to, then forward it to your friends and
> them do the same. I'd like for them to have as many supporters as
> possible by Memorial Day.
> More importantly, if you are reading this and you agree, resolve to
> our national will strong. Write your newspapers, call talk shows,
> and, most importantly, if you hear someone compare this war to
> stop them. This is a war for our security and our freedom; the enemy
> Iraq is Al Qaeda. Remind them of this, because this only becomes
> Vietnam if we, the silent majority let it. Our collective voice can
> solidify our national will, strengthen our resolve and deny victory
to the
> terrorists. Let the silent majority be silent no longer.
> Matt Wolf

Best. Essay. Ever.

Is there anyway we can get this in MP3 format? You know, like "Books on Tape"?

That way I can play it over and over again. Over my speakers. At work.

Thanks Bill. If you're ever in Tampa, beer's on me.

Saddam's MANY connections to al Qaeda:

Catalogue of Atrocities by Saddam and the Taliban:
Example: "Massacre at Yakaolang -- Taliban forces committed a massacre in Yakaolang in January 2001. The victims were primarily Hazaras. The massacre began on January 8, 2001, and continued for four days. The Taliban detained about 300 civilian adult males, including staff members of local humanitarian organizations. The men were herded to assembly points, and then shot by firing squad in public view. According to Human Rights Watch, about 170 men are confirmed to have been killed.
According to Amnesty International, eyewitnesses reported the deliberate killing of dozens of civilians hiding in a mosque: Taliban soldiers fired rockets into a mosque where some 73 women, children and elderly men had taken shelter. (Source: State Department)

Major reason(s) for going into Iraq: 12 years and 17 Resolutions by the pussyfooting around UN - and 1481.

PS: France, Russia, etc., didn't join us because of financial reasons - read UNSCAM!


This is my first time at this site - thank you for providing such a great forum.

Thoroughly enjoyed your essay and looking forward to the book.

I agree with you about the UN. They have a lot to answer to: Rwanda, the UN swampy quagmire in Bosnia, the Palestinian Ghetto's, etc., the US Scam Oil for Food program notwithstanding. Rogue States as Chairs of Human Rights Committees and the Security Council? A total mockery of Democracy. A bunch of third-worlders - imo!

Thank you so much for this essay. It was just the sort of thing I needed to hear on this Monday morning.

I'm so glad we have eloquent writers such as yourself who fan the flames of love and pride in our country. I've spent far too much time arguing with those who wish to cover it in darkness and muck, but I can't help but try... becuase they have votes, too.

Excellent essay making some very good points. More than one very careful analyst has fingered the Middle East as the starting point of the next world war, and I think you're right on the mark about radical Islam. I do not think that most of the Moslem people in the streets are our enemies; however, I have no doubt that their "religious" leaders are everyone's enemies, including the enemy of their own people. Fanatics are like that, be they Moslem, Hindu, Sikh, or ostensibly-Christian. (I say ostensibly because I think the Christos would have been horrified and aghast had he somehow foreseen the evil, hatred, bigotry and persecution that his name would be invoked to justify.)

I would, however, like to make just three comments.

1. We had PLENTY of perfectly valid, sustainable, documentable reasons for taking out Saddam Hussein and his homicidal sons. I posit, in fact, that the world would be a better place had we gone ahead and done so in 1991.
So why was there a need, instead, to predicate the war SOLELY on a claim of WMD that, try as we might, we just couldn't seem to come up with any verifiable evidence for, and half the little evidence we *could* scrape up was known to be falsified? (We just arrested one of the scumbags doing the falsifying, when we finally figured out he'd been trying all along to dupe us into creating a situation in which he could sieze power in Iraq.)
If we WANTED to set ourselves up and intentionally weaken our credibility on the world stage, we could hardly have come up with a better way.

2. I applaud our military for what they're doing in Iraq. I despise the fact that the man who sent them there to give freedom to the Iraqis thinks he has to take our own freedom away here at home in order for there to be enough to go around. What's the problem here, does George Bush think freedom is like hazardous waste, to be cleaned up wherever it is found and shipped overseas? At the rate we're going, by the time this is all over and done with, Iraq will have a constitution, and the US won't. THIS, not anything that happens in Iraq, is what I detest about George W. Bush and his religious-right handlers. He may be freeing Iraq, but he's destroying the principles and rights our country was founded on. (If you disagree, take a few minutes to ponder these four words: "Designated free speech zone.")
In the words of one pundit, "Why don't we just give Iraq *our* Constitution? It's not like we're *using* it...."

3. In the final analysis, Christianity isn't too different from Islam. Christianity, too, has its mullahs -- uh, excuse me, evangelists -- who call for the extermination of homosexuals as offenders against God. Christianity, too, has historically never hesitated to proselytize with the sword. Christianity, too, wishes to silence whole areas of expression as sinful or blasphemous. Christianity, too, thinks that the world is divided into two houses -- "the faithful", those who have joined any specified Christian spokesman's favored sect, and "everyone else", all of whom are going to burn in hell for eternity.
I have a quite simple personal theorem about this: Individual spirituality is almost always good, and helps provide a moral compass and a respect for life. Organized mass religion, regardless of the specific religion, is almost always bad; it has too much tendency to become just another destructive political ideology. The human race would, I believe, be in much better shape overall had organized religion never arisen.

Excellent, as usual.


I was just thinking a couple days ago that it had been months since I'd heard an "All your base" reference, and that was a good thing. The last thing we need is for that whole craze to start up again. [grin]

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to put all this into words.

Free Speech Zones are nothing new, and are not unique to the Bush Administration. Clinton used them, and they were used during the 2000 national conventions. I believe they were put in place following the Seattle/WTO riots to try and control crowds. Considering the high-voltage of the upcoming election and the chaos that will surround both national conventions, I'm not so sure they're a terrible idea. I'm no fan of stifling dissent, but nobody wants a destructive riot.

Am I the only one worried that New York will be set aflame during the GOP National Convention? Some people are calling for a million protesters.

Democratic National Convention sets up free speech zones

I can't disagree over the organized religion bit, but unfortunately what can be done? You can't outlaw religion.

I think there is one aspect of our war policy that is understated, that should not remain simply 'understood'. Dubya must clearly state that he will not allow the Gulf States to go nuclear -- under pain of unilateral US remedy. He must state this without regard for those who argue that the Gulf Muslim states have the sovereign right to arms themselves as they see fit. This argument must be treated as simply 'not applicable' just as such 'sovereign freedom' would not be accorded any other sick, retarded children who behave as the Middle East Police States have behaved during the course of the last 50 years.

I know "outraged" has been smacked-down plenty already but, being in my 19th year in the U.S. Air Force, I had to reply to his statement:

"Abu Grahib just a few bad apples? Make believe."

It's been a pleasure serving to protect your right to free speech. I don't regret a day of it...even when nutjobs like you falsely smear the U.S. military.

Sleep tight tonight, "outraged"; we "bad apples" are on the job.

Inspiring and dead on. Thanks; that one came right when it was needed.

For the US-hating trolls here: If there is yet a sentient soul among you able to admit that Islamofascism is quite real, and merely the most recent replay of barbarism's repeated attacks on civilization, I'll listen to your arguments. Until then, I have quit listening. To NPR, to the major news networks, to most newspapers. All are full of passive submission to fascism. For now, all my news and ideas come from the net and books. And especially great essays like this one.

Like Mr. Whittle, I take no small comfort in the repeated misreadings of Western Civilization made by barbarians. They seem never to grasp this simple lesson: We fight to win. Until then, we do not stop. Ever. Not until you quit or are dead. We do not stop. Ever.

Brilliant. Just. Brilliant.

Thank you.

S. Clark

"In the final analysis, Christianity isn't too different from Islam."

I disagree with your analysis, at least with respect to Christianity today and Islam today.

"Christianity, too, has its mullahs -- uh, excuse me, evangelists -- who call for the extermination of homosexuals as offenders against God."

The percentage of Christian evangelists who actually call for violence against or extermination of homosexuals is vanishingly small. (And please don't talk to me about Fred Phelps. His congregation consists of him and his family, he's simply a very well-organized and well-practiced jackass.) Violence against any group is not advocated or tolerated by ANY significant Christian group in America or anywhere else in the developed world that I know of. Judge the modern religion on whether the structure itself and the majority of its adherents accept and sanction violence against the rebel, not whether or not there exists any lunatic at all that does.

" Christianity, too, wishes to silence whole areas of expression as sinful or blasphemous."

There is a difference between writing angry newsletters and letters to your local political leaders and having people publically tortured or executed. Moral equivalence sucks, people.

"Organized mass religion, regardless of the specific religion, is almost always bad; it has too much tendency to become just another destructive political ideology."

I fear nothing more than the Methodists down the street. Fortunately, they're still at war with the Catholics after that Easter Bunny incident broke the cease fire, so I think I and my little family of infidels are safe for the time being.

Look, religion and religious thinking are basically built into humanity, as is tribalism. Religion itself is simply one manifestation; elsewhere you have only to look at political ideologies, "cause" ideologies, hell, sports-team ideologies. It is our nature and instinct to band into groups around a common identity. What matters is not that urge itself- and getting rid of it is a hopeless cause- but what people do with it. What are their morals? What is their culture? What will and won't they do or tolerate? Forget what they say- what do they DO?

I get as tired hearing the mutterings of my "fellow" atheists about the destructiveness of religion itself as I do hearing ignorant religious folk who go on about how all atheists are bitter, miserable people/child molesters/liberals. That streak of tribalism is usually unbecoming no matter which version it is.

Bill. Whittle.

Let his name and works be known throughout the land.

Let his name be inscribed in honor upon pylon and obelisk.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Nicely writ Bill.

"Organized mass religion, regardless of the specific religion, is almost always bad; it has too much tendency to become just another destructive political ideology."

Which is why we have to watch out for all those Amish terrorists.

Richard R: LOLOL! Well, Phil Stracchino did say "almost always." ;^)

Krakatoa: Welcome to the Golden State! Good to see you again.

First thing I've ever read here and I'm just speachless. That was amazing. I only wish I could write like that.

For links to news, views, politics, and government, bookmark All Things Political. For my comments and rants on the days events, check out my Blog.

Powerful stuff, right at the heart of the matter.

Permit me a quibble. Though "Superman" by Five for Fighting became a post-9/11 anthem symbolic of a wounded, self-doubting America, that could hardly have been the intent of songwriter John Ondrasik, who wrote it the previous year. Ondrasik consistently praises American troops in his interviews, and titled his most recent album "The Battle for Everything." Asked to explain why he picked that title, he replied tersely, "Because it is."

We may have a mole in the music industry. Don't tell anybody...

"playing defense in an urban environment by Marines whose skill and tactics stagger credulity for their expertise and success"

Bill, did you mean "against Marines" instead of "by Marines"?

Wow. Damn good story. Cought links from Anti-Idiotarian Rottwieler and Geekwitha.45.

a lot of what you say makes sense and i agree with it. Muslim extremists are indeed a danger to us on a daily basis. Islam is a repressive, arcaic set of religious and social strictures (although many of those strictures are cultural rather than religious). repressive, all controlling, religious based societies do, indeed, fail to produce the energy, imagination and determination needed to even conceive of the society we have. that said, is the society we have all that great? there is greatness here: self-sacrifice, bravery, intelligence, determination, caring, giving. but there is also one helluva lot of greed, selfaggrandizement, cowardice, arrogance, selfpity and laziness. there are two realities here and ignoring either is dangerous. but you don't. much to your credit.
i do know the difference between George W. and Adolf and i don't confuse the two. but that doesn't keep me from thinking George W. an incompetant boob and jerk. not a facist in any sense. but still, in his own small way, dangerous.
and i do not, absolutely do not support the Taliban or any of the Radical Muslim extremists who want only my death and the destruction of my country. i'm not an idiot. why would i support or even sympathise with them. but i also do not support the Israelies who have completely lost the moral highground they used to hold. they, too are not facists, but they have become, tyranical, arrogant and bullies. they don't own the land just because they may or may not have lived on it thousands of years ago. it's never that simple.
and i also cannot support a war that makes no sense to me. a war that seems to have little to with honor or democracy, but rather the injured pride of a prominent family and, of course, oil. that's not enough to justify killing people. to inject ourselves into a situation, while terrible, none of our business. we are not nd should not be the world's policeman. for one thing, we do not have the resources or the lives to take care of every injustice. there are so many in the world that we must pick and choose, which is inherently unjust and (i know the word takes a lot of shit theses days) unfair. who decides which fire we try to put out? what are the criteria? remember Somalia? we went in without any real knowledge of what were getting into and never did understand what was going on. and probably never will.
what you say about the difference in thinking is all too true in that situation and this more recent one. which is why democracy, a very western concept simply does not work in nonwestern situations. it doesn't fit with the traditional mindsets and cultural insecurities of so many other peoples. it's a bad fit. it becomes corrupt, it rots from within and then it collapses into chaos and destruction. it is a great concept that simply doesn't work everywhere. nothing will work everywhere. some things, like Communism, have worked nowhere.
we yearn for respect and even love and try to buy it it or coerce it, but what we don't get is that it's not there to be bought of forced. we need to get over our insecurities.
yes, this is a vastly selfish, unrealistic, selfserving, narcissistic society. too many don't know shit about history and don't care. outside of their own narrow needs and cravings, too many people can't see beyond the ends of their dicks (not very far indeed). we have become a nation of victims, of whiners with the need to blame someone else for our problems. or even blame everything on ancient prejudices. but even with all that, there are heros and there are good people who do what they can to help (even if it's the wrong things). there is greatness in our past and the possibility of greatness in our future, but it all depends on our willingness to see ourselves as we actually are. we think we're the best, but we're really just better than some in some ways and worse than others in other ways. it's reality. arrogance is never respected and weakness is never loved.
so, with respect, you're right and you're not.
non support of this war does not equate with support for people whose only purpose in life is to destroy us. opinions are just opinions. your opinions and mine. they are not solutions and they do not, and should not brand someone a traitor (which is really as rancid a term as facist).
if wars actually solved anything, i'd be all for them. facists still exist. tyrany is still healthy. racial cleansing still goes on. people still die terribly and uselessly. so, what's changed? the personalities? big deal!
honor is real and love is possible and giving is good, but none of them exist well with arrogance.
be well and prosper.

This was my first visit, having been referred to your site by 'Protein Wisdom', and more astounded I could not be. Just when my simple mind thought I had reached the end of your vision, another appeared below it, and yet again, and again...
A phenomenal piece of work that forced me to think, and led me to cry. Upon reaching the photos above, I found myself glued to the picture of the poor soul who took that long first step. I found myself imagining, again, what must have gone through his mind, and how many times he must have leaned forward, and then stepped back because of his will to survive, before finally succumbing to his fate, at the moment of his choosing. The daydream alone can make me quiver and weep like a little girl...I cannot imagine living that moment.

I REMEMBER...this is why we're fighting.

As for PAUL STINCHFIELD, if your post above was indication of all that you took away from this piece, then God be with you.

"If bin laden was in my living room, what would I do"?
Well, since I live in the middle of the block, in a small town full of americans, mr. bindeadalongtime would never make it to my house. If he was able to teleport to my humble abode however, he would die.

Thank you,

I'm looking forward to the book.

I know "outraged" has been smacked-down plenty already...

Hmmm. Didn't feel like I've been smacked down at all. A little name calling ("delusional"? "psychotic"? Wow :-), plus a lot of denial and a bunch of wishful thinking... but haven't heard anybody try and pretend that the massive blunders didn't happen or that the President is suddenly trying to learn from his mistakes.

> "Abu Grahib just a few bad apples? Make believe."

It's been a pleasure serving to protect your right to free speech. I don't regret a day of it...even when nutjobs like you falsely smear the U.S. military. Sleep tight tonight, "outraged"; we "bad apples" are on the job.

Hehe, that's cute. Shades of Jack Nicholson telling us we CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! :-)

Of course, I never suggested that the entire U.S. military is culpable at Abu Ghraib. They're not. (Before you call me a nutjob, look at what I *actually* said, not what you wish I said.)

As a matter of fact, the military by and large has handled itself with honor, professionalism and respect. The problem with this war is its civilian leadership. The military didn't underestimate troop requirements. The military didn't predict we'd be greeted as liberators. The military didn't botch the planning for post-war Iraq. The military didn't make promises about weapons of mass destruction. The military didn't make deals with Chalabi. Civilian leadership, dude.

On the other hand, the idea that it was just seven bad-apple reservists who are responsible for the thousands of instances of prisoner abuse is simply not believable. General Taguba's report shows that it goes way beyond just the Abu Ghraib Seven. John Warner's hearings reveal involvements that go further and further up the chain of command. The photos that come out with each passing day show more than just the original seven. And now we're getting reports of suffocations and deaths? Not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan, too?

Sorry dude. This ain't just seven bad apples.

(Have you *seen* how angry John Warner and John McCain are? Not exactly your usual anti-war lefties.)

As much as you and Bill seem to want to argue against Ralph Nader's points of view (hey, that's like shootin' fish in a barrel), that's not the point. More and more Americans are getting fed up with what the Dub is feedin' us. I'm not talkin' about the lefties--they've been over there all along. I'm talkin' about people who *supported* this President all along. People who (how did the phrase go?) cut him a GREAT deal of slack in the past.

Well, the four-year contract is up, and it's time for a reckoning. You can believe, as Bill apparently chooses to, that Kerry is a habitual liar. I would suggest, however, that this is a conveniently two-dimensional viewpoint that isn't going to enjoy widespread support throughout the entire country.

This is really simple. The buck stops here. If Bush doesn't want the buck to stop on *his* desk, then the buck stops on ours.

P.S. Bush could *so* win this election in a landslide. Dump Cheney and draft McCain. Or dump Perle, Feith, Rice and Rumsfeld in a festival of buck-stops-here moral outrage. This country *thrives* on genuine leaders who have the moral courage to admit their own mistakes and move quickly to take corrective action.


You may have actually made some reasonable argument in that thicket, but son; Go to school. Learn some rules of grammar, punctuation, etc. When you are Faulkner you can write with run-ons, no punctuation and no capitalization and then maybe I'll read it.


As a 20 Year Navy Vet, thank you for your insightful work. Having been so graciously sent to the Naval War College by the taxpayers, your points are well thought out and demonstrate a great understanding of the ebb and flow of human events, as well as the nature of war. Not only was it a good document, it was laced with the spirit of freedom and selflessness the has been grown in the great melting pot we call our Nation.

BTW, I extracted the letter from Major Ballou and emailed it to my pastor last night, to which the reply came back: "Perfect stuff for the funeral I have to preach this week I think!" I had titled the email "Timeless Words" not having a clue what I was doing, so your research will most likely be passed along soon.

I'll be anxiously awaiting your book!


"In the final analysis, Christianity isn't too different from Islam."

If you take enough steps back, maybe you're right. The traditions have some general similarities (ethical monotheism, revelation as a source of truth as opposed to the introspection of the Eastern religions), but, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Or, in this case, the suicide bomber is in the details.

Yesterday, I took a house-hunting drive that led me to a particularly red-state (OK, fine, "extreme redneck") corner of San Bernardino County, having finally been home-price-gouged into exile from my native Costa Mesa. (Yeah, yeah, supply and demand and all that, but it still hurts to lose your hometown because you can't spend $850,000 on a three-bedroom Brady Bunch relic.) It seemed every second house had a hand-painted Bible verse on a sign in the front yard. And these weren't your ordinary life-affirming Methodist scriptural pleasantries about cups runnething over and lions lying down with their lunch; the vast majority were of the "nonbelievers are [literally] damned fools" variety.

I got the sneaking suspicion that my particular religious heritage (a mildly quirky, though gentrified, homegrown American tradition) wouldn't exactly be welcomed, and that I might well have to walk home from church past helpful picketers hoping to save my soul from hell by informing me that I'm going there.

But so what? The worst these guys would ever do would to be rude. And the proper response to someone telling you you're going to hell is to advise him to go there himself. Nobody with an ounce of spine should fear even one of the misguidedly intolerant variety of evangelical.

I can't say the same thing about that hypothetical person's Muslim counterpart. And it does seem to me that the class of Muslims that the elites brand "moderate" is WAY more extreme than the American fundamentalists that those same elites attack as a threat to everything good.

I mean, if the elites treat a man's refusal to be convinced by the evidence for evolution as something worthy of the secular version of hellfire, how in the world can they call "moderate" a Muslim who is even more close-minded? Which they do. Routinely.

I've had the pleasure of working with some truly moderate Muslims; we had lots of fun fishing aforementioned rednecks out of the devious waters off Newport Beach. But really, Omar wasn't a "moderate" Muslim. He was a liberal Muslim. Their liberals correspond to our moderates; their "moderates" correspond to our fundamentalists, and their fundamentalists are in a class by themselves (and maybe Eric Rudolph, Ed Decker, and Fred Phelps on one of his bad days.)

To say there's no difference between Islam and Christianity, because they're both mass religious movements theoretically subject to abuses, is like saying there's no difference between communism and liberalism.

As I said, the devil is in the details.

Oh, and Bill -- Thanks.


I skimmed this article the first time through, and even in hitting what I thought were the relevant passages, I was so struck by the truth of what you were saying that I took on faith that the essay was brilliant in total, and proceeded to send it to a mailing list far and wide.

I went back and thoroughly read it after sending the email. This was one of the best essays I've read in a long time. It struck so many chords, I’d swear a symphony was playing in my head.

I’ve been having an email discussion with a libertarian friend of mine - a highly intelligent, articulate individual. We’ve been going back and forth about the Iraq War, terrorism, Radical Islam. He is so angry with what he views as total incompetence on Bush's part in prosecuting this War and the neo-cons in and out of the administration. He convinced that Bush is instituting policies in this country that destroy us from the inside, and, along with the dimwit Republicans in the Congress, are trying to out-Democrat the Democrats with pork barrel spending and entitlement programs. He laments the demise of our Constitution even as we tell the world that we are going to give the Iraqi's one (No 2nd Amendment for them, don’t ya know). He has fully subscribed to the notion the “We have met the enemy and he is us.” He would ordinarily vote for a libertarian candidate, however this year he is voting for Kerry, and every Democrat he can, and hopes it sends a loud message to the Republicans, especially those in Congress that if you’re going to act like Democrats, why not have the real thing. Don’t talk like individualists, and act like statists. He’s looking at polls and seeing a Kerry/Democrat landslide in November. And, in his world, if this is what it takes for Republicans and lovers of liberty to get off their ass and become a Constitutional, free-market country, then so be it.

There is a lot of truth in what he says.

In any other year, I, too would be screaming the libertarian, non-intervention line, voting for any candidate the LP offered, demanding that our own government get out of our way, and let us live our lives in peace, with minimal taxation and regulation. I still want that America. I want the Constitution to mean something tangible, not, as Scalia stated, what 5 justices say it means on any given day. I want peace, prosperity, and freedom.

9/11 changed everything. Many years ago, I lived in NY, and worked in the Wall Street area, and I can’t count the number of times I went up to the very top of the World Trade Center, ate at the Window on the World, or had meetings with business colleagues. When those towers came down libertarian theory went out the window. The 2x4 hit me upside the head, and it only takes one.

Like many in this country I want Mecca and Medina turned into a sheet of glass. I want our ammo and bombs dipped in pig blood prior to being issued to the troops and made known to everyone in the Arab world. I’d even take out ads on al-Jazeera to announce that all enemy corpses would be buried face down in a grave with pig parts. As Unintended Consequences author John Ross stated recently when writing about Abu Grhraib, “Those pictures said volumes. They said "We're your worst fucking nightmare: We're Americans.  Our women are stronger than your men. Our littlest women will strip naked the strongest men you can muster, and make fun of their puny cocks while enjoying a cigarette. Our women love to get naked, love sex, and revel in the sexual prowess of their American male partners. They'll put impotent "men" like you naked on leashes whenever they want. America is the most powerful country in the world, and guess what? Women control 70% of its money and 100% of its pussy. What are you going to do about it? Behead some Jewish "contractor"? Fat lot of good that's going to do. We'll put on some hearings for show, but you know the truth: we'll do whatever we want whenever we want, and we'll have our women do it. Just for fun. Think we're kidding? Wait 'til you see our beer ads." I want Sherman, Pershing, and Patton looking down on us and smiling.

However. However. This country doesn't have the stomach to be the nastiest MF on the block. Political correctness runs rampant. Blue states contain 50% of the population. The media would be up in arms.

So, we do the best we can and we never, ever give up.

To paraphrase Picard, "I will not sacrifice my country, my family, nor my friends. We've made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire nations and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! And *I* will make them pay for what they've done."

Thank you for your thoughts and willingness to put "pen to paper". You are a true wordsmith.


Thanks A.R.L.! It's been much more of an adventure than I cared for, but no less than I expected.

This for the Whittle fans: Outraged seems to be at least operating civilly, albeit a tad smugly. Granted his arguments have been addressed on other comment threads, and it appears that no-one (including myself -- a 2800 mile move takes it out of you :P) feels particularly inclined to debate him point by point, but there's really nothing to be gained in personal attacks. A hint for those that wish to debate him though: His argument is concrete, IF you accept his premises. Premises which do have a certain amount of truth, but lack in scope and context.

I am consistently amazed by G. Bush's example of civility when faced with so many barbed and leading questions by the press corps. In this, at least, I would think Outraged would agree Pres. Bush is setting a fine example.

A link on the subject of civil discourse:


Best essays you have ever written.

When I listened to the President's address tonight, I had the feeling that we are going to make it as planned, in spite of the screaming hysteria of the press and the slavering insanity of those who would have us tamely submit to the imposition of 12th century barbarism.

The best test of any culture is its products. It is hard to find a culture with fewer useful products than Islam.

I can't wait to buy your book.

hmm. reminds me of my crazy uncle saddam.

jmflynny: If you think that a simple, plain note about what seemed to be a typo betrays any opinion at all about the merits of Bill's essay, then I hope that you learn to be less quick to jump to combative conclusions. Not every conversation has to be an argument, much less a fight.

I said nothing more about the essay because I had not yet finished reading it and because I had as yet nothing more substantial to contribute than a simple "awesome"--which seemed redundant after the flood of opinions already posted. And even now I find that there is nothing I can contribute that has not already been thoroughly covered in those 200-plus comments. But since you asked so kindly, I will state that I emphatically agree with what Bill wrote and look forward to buying the book. I stand in awe of his rhetorical skills and am deeply thankful that America still has such intelligent and patriotic citizens.

Lord, thank you for Bill Whittle.

Anyone who reads this essay and still does not get it is willfully choosing not to see.

Well, "Outraged," I can see your opinions are cast in stone (as are most of mine). So there's not much that's going to be accomplished by us pointing out YOUR wishful thinking, or YOUR denials, or YOUR selective viewpoints, only to be followed by you returning the favor, over and over and over again. ("You're a doo-doo-head!""No, YOU'RE a doo-doo-head!""I know you are, but what am I?""I'm rubber, you're glue," ad infinitum.) So I won't try and tell you why you're wrong (IMO). Instead, I'll tell you why I think the way I do.

First, I spent 12 years in the military. No, that doesn't make me a military genius, a grand strategist, or a zealous supporter of every action they ever take. But it does mean that I am intimately familiar with the ilk, the "breed." And as it turns out, they're no different from anybody else! In fact, they ARE everybody else. They're just uniquely trained regular-old American citizens. Just like you and your buddies -- and your goofy neighbor you still don't understand, and the bullies you had to grow up with, and the pig-headed immigrant who ran the corner deli. Good and bad, they're all represented in our volunteer military.

So, in my experience, the "bad apples" exist in precisely the same ratio withIN the military as they do withOUT. In other words, if we had an all-CIVILIAN presence over there, there would be precisely the same degree (or tendancy toward) abuse, negligence, greed, and self-aggrandizement, ONLY WORSE... because there would be nowhere near the same disciplinary control as there is in the military, nor respect for authority, obligatory or even resented as it may be.

The only real difference then is the extent of command control -- the people in the trenches being the same as the people here on the homeland streets -- and when that command control slips, too much leash can be let out on too many people who are working in a really nasty environment. And that sucks. It's embarrassing to the military and to me personally.

But the point of bringing this up is not to minimize the outrageousness of their actions, but to explain why saying that "we've got more than just a few bad apples over there" is like saying "we've got more than just a few normal people over there." Normal humans who have, in a nasty situation, let their lesser nature get the better of them. Parlaying this into something endemic or systemic is just wrong -- and it's factually incorrect.

This incident ("these incidentS," if you'd rather) suck. They're an embarrassment and a stain on America's honor in general. But there's nothing new here, and certainly nothing unique (to America) or historically unprecedented. By all means, punish the guilty, relieve the negligent, and show the world that this is not who we are as a culture. But beyond that, this is just not a relevant issue in the bigger picture. And pointing to it as one of the signs or symptoms of the general "wrongness" of our cause over there is ridiculous, tiresome, and a wasteful distraction.

As for President Bush -- I, for one, didn't vote for him. I didn't like what I saw in 2000, and was not impressed all the way through 9/11/01. Even after his first post-attack speeches, I wasn't convinced I was hearing anything more than the same old bluster and professional indignation that every hollow "leader" before him had shown. Even the threats and the military build-up that preceded the invasion of Afghanistan looked like just so much bluff and showmanship to me -- I'd seen it all before. But once he actually moved -- moved the military into action, slapped America awake and said "I'm serious!," made the world take a collective gasp, and most importantly, FINALLY, actually, really DID SOMETHING about this spreading plague -- THEN he got my respect. And he still has it.

He did what I wanted my president to do, he did what he SAID he was going to do, and he put a world full of complacent leaders and diplomats on notice -- it MEANS something now when America says, "Cross that line, and I'm stompin' on your twinkie." It didn't mean a thing before 2001. And every two-bit hate-monger with access to explosives knew it. They know something different now. And that's more important than most people realize.

Did George Bush make mistakes? Certainly -- he being human and all. Were they as monumental and prolific and continuous as you say they were? IMO, not even close. This is where YOUR wishful thinking comes in (again, In My Opinion) -- because of your distaste and contempt for the man, ANYthing that happens that is not ideal is AT BEST a massive blunder, and at worst, the result of the lies of an inherently evil and incompetent man. And I don't buy that -- and not because of some blind love I have for him.

I agree with Bill -- our collective memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt would be completely different if he'd taken the singular, unpopular step of unilaterally stepping in where the French would not (and understandably so, at the time), and had placed American troops in Hitler's way when he marched a handful of Wehrmacht troops into the Rhineland. History would have been completely rewritten, with a world (and decades) full of second-guessers completely unable to even imagine the 50 million-plus lives that were saved by that one obnoxious, intrusive little gesture of FDR's. Instead, he is beloved -- and all he had to do was lead us into a full-blown global conflagration to help pull us back from the brink of a disaster.

Personally, I think that's just exactly what GW has done here and now -- he's taken that obnoxious, intrusive, unpopular, unilateral step, and stopped a process of escalation that I think would have proven disastrous in the long run. Of course, we'll never know how truly far things would have gone if we hadn't gone to war, and personally, I'm glad I'll never have to find out. But, given the choice in November of voting for a leader who has proven he's willing to take that unpopular but vital step, versus a "leader" who'll begrudgingly CONTINUE what someone else has started solely because it would be political and diplomatic suicide NOT to, well... warts and all, I'll still take the former.

He's doing what I want -- what I EXPECT -- the leader of this nation to do. He's doing it as well as any mortal being, relying on other mortal beings -- with all the vast-but-still-limited resources and assets at their disposal -- could do it. If Al Gore had been in office, and he'd defied my predictions by taking the same steps with the same courage and resilience as President Bush, then I'd be voting for Al Gore in November. Regardless of Kerry's "willingness" to carry on what GW started, (a) I don't think he's got the chutzpa to have started it on his own, and (b) even if he did, I don't think he'd do it any better than GW did, simply because he'd be relying on the same intelligence, evidence, and advice, and so would trip over all the same roots that GW did along the way.

In other words, the BEST I could hope for from someone else is that they'd do just what George is doing now -- and I can get George to do that just fine, just like he's already proven he will.


well put GHS!

With regards to President Bush and "lies" etc, the thing about Bush that I've found most refreshing in a politician is his willingness to say what he means and mean what he says. As GHS said above,

He did what I wanted my president to do, he did what he SAID he was going to do, and he put a world full of complacent leaders and diplomats on notice -- it MEANS something now when America says, "Cross that line, and I'm stompin' on your twinkie."
He's said himself that he "doesn't do nuance."

And this Sacramento Bee piece from last may has the best quotation concerning the world's reaction to Bush I've yet read:

"What is a little disconcerting for the French is an American president who seems to be principled," said Jean Duchesne, an English literature professor at Condorcet College in Paris. "The idea that politics should be based on principles is unimaginable because principles lead to ideology, and ideology is dangerous."
Well, Wahabist Islamic ideology certainly is, and it seems the only thing that will actively oppose it is a principled, idealist AMERICA. Ideology has its place. Simplisme has its place. PRINCIPLES have their place.

And in John Kerry we have a waffling politician who will say whatever he thinks needs to be said to win the popularity contest, whether it's the Presidential election or the favor of the (thoroughly corrupt and useless) UN.

I'm not completely happy with Bush's domestic agenda. I think the description of "Best Democrat President in Decades" is tellingly accurate on that score. But despite the mistakes that occur in any conflict, Bush is doing the right thing for the right reasons in the RIGHT WAY.

As someone said above, the worst mistake he's made so far? "Misunderestimating" how much damage the leftist, defeatist, "QUAGMIRE!" screaming press could inflict.

ProudDuck -

NHHS, Mesa or Estancia? (I was NHHS 79)

Hey Brainiacs on both side of the issues. Off topic but an opportunity to make some money off your debating skills. An essay contest on outsourcing:

You must be either a full time student of any age, or 25 years old or younger.

Richard R,

I was OVHS 89 and now live a couple blocks from NHHS. Small world (c:

I can't even find the words to praise this essay - indeed - all your essays - enough. I once wrote you that, as a writer, I find myself feeling very small in the face of your ideas and your skill.

That has changed - you are a true inspiration, as a writer, but more-importantly as an American.

I await the opportunity to purchase several copies of your book to give to friends and family.

Godspeed, sir.

"Anyone who reads this essay and still does not get it is willfully choosing not to see." ~Analog Mouse

Yep, that sums it up just about perfectly A.M.

RL - Yep, especially when you know that my mom still lives at Tustin and 20th, and I was on the cover of Kitplanes and Private Pilot before they were sold off. OVHS? Ocean View?

Richard R,

Si, Ocean Zoo.
Your mom lives about seven blocks north and four blocks west of me.

Oh, Hairy One;
your comments about the mindset of the world re FDR had he called Hitler's bluff made me think a bit further about Alternate Histories.

Lots of people sneer at science fiction writing because it indulges in so much "escapist" fantasy, and is often so space-opera-ish and preachy. But almost all of it takes off from some crucial (however apparently trivial-at-the-time) change in what did or is now expected to happen. There are quite a few "Alternate Histories" specifically written about major wars, from pre-Roman ones on up, and the consequences. These are often particularly sneered at by critics of the genre. But I recommend it for those trying to grapple with what is going on now, and will for the foreseeable future.

Honestly, it makes me laugh when politicians and others answer press questions with, "I don't deal in hypotheticals." Just about any human activity of any significance, however, does deal in hypotheticals, from science to financial planning to--a fortiori--politics. Consideration of alternatives, and contingencies, and planning "in depth", are PRECISELY the consideration of alternative hypotheses. Hypotheticals are, in a very meaningful sense, what the Iraqi war is all about. That's one way of rephrasing what "pre-emptive" means, too. You can't be sure what you're causing or avoiding in advance, and after the fact you can't necessarily (like the Alternate FDR) prove that you avoided something horrible, but nevertheless you MUST choose between hypotheticals IN ADVANCE.

That's what they're for. And without them, you're left with the S-R existence of an animal, or the passively dependent existence of the Eloi. [H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.]


RE: STRENGTH (part 2) | Main
May 22, 2004
STRENGTH (part 1)


The simple truth is that every nation, every individual is imperfect. Even when we vanquish the extreme Moslems, America has lots of work to do on Herself. Two glaring examples are to treat the masses honestly with their money, not to allow corrupt corporations to steal it (ENRON ETC ETC ETC), & to use honest money, not printing of useless paper with no backing,(see U.S. Rep Ron Paul & Commandmandt against having false weights & measures) which defLATES the earnings and savings of Americans. Secondly the monopolistic disease care system.. Fourteen hundred Ameericans die every DAY from cancer. Thomas Jefferson wanted to include an amendment in the U.S. Constitution providing for protection of medical diversity. It did not pass. Fourteen hundred Americans die every day from cancer. Twelve States license Naturopathic Doctors, which is progress. If we could save 10% of the 1400, that is 140 Americans daily, 51,100 annually, equal to 17 World Trade Center victims each year. . The problem is not essentially the Extreme Moslems; who we will adress suitably.. The problems is that the Moral Code is not followed. And I am not excluded from the requirement to do right. I struggle with this every day. Let us not puff ourselve with pride. Look at the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. The Presidential Seal depicts the Star of David, Inside the Star are thirteen other Stars representing the 13 Colonies. We are a nation founded on ethical principles (Declaration of Independence/Constitution), which is founded on Judeo/Christian or Christian or Jewish values,, whichever way you choose to see it. This Star in the Presidential Seal is the symbol of our requirement to honor the Book in many important waya; or more simply honor the 10 Commandmants. The progress of Humanity will improve, but will take many years. While we swat the flies of Islam, we must clean up our own swamp, and the flies will have less to be attractred to.

You know, I'd like to see the day when our country has the strength and conviction to stop funding holy warriors like the mujahidin, from which bin Laden's organization sprung, and Saddam (pre-Iraq war 1) in the first place. Let's face it, our country's Middle Eastern policy of the past 60 years has played an enormous role in the current state of affairs.

The anti-Soviet mujahidin rebellion organized, radicalized, and operated via American funding. The politics of holy war were used to help motivate widespread resistence to the Soviet Union and their godless communism. We armed violent Islam. Now, that radical, violent ideology has turned on us.

Saddam Hussein received funding and weapons, including WMD, from the US. He deployed those weapons against Iran & his people while we did *nothing*. Why? Despite his behavior he was an ally all the way until he invaded Kuwait. Funny his use of chemical weapons against Iranians wasn't such a horrendous events to anyone back then. Let's not forget, radical Islamic Iran emerged in political response to our meddling in their politics too. Anyone remember the Shah's US & British backed dictatorship that led to the Islamic revolution there?

Yes, violent religious fanatics of all stripes are a danger to freedom and should be dealt with. Unfortunately we are now paying the price of our country's involvement with and support of brutal regimes and fanaticized resistance movements. Does it make it right they seek to destroy you and I for the sins of our government? No, but is it surprising that these factions exist? It is disingenuous at best to argue that anti-Americanism in the Middle East sprung out of the ground without provocation. Are we really that self-centered to believe the world works like that?

Yep, we have to see Iraq through now and hope for the best, but our real test of strength is whether or not we can stop exporting war, extremism and support for brutal dictatorships. The world already knows we can destroy things for own self-interest.

By the way, what happens when anti- Americanism in Iraq results in the election of a radical Islamic government? Not arguing agasinst freedom and democracy here but given the penchant for our Mid Eastern dealings to blow up in our faces, it is a distinct possibility.

Holy Cow! First trip to your site. What a smack down, Bill. You pretty much nailed everything I was taught in my youth and believe as an adult. American.

I am so glad I stumbled upon you. I'm sending an e-mail link to all the other patriots I know. Will go back and re-read "Strength" again for content. I had to go through it the first time with a white hot vengeance.

You're a national treasure Bill. Now, on to digest the rest of your thoughts. Hell, even the site lice here are almost civil, even though they still have no facts, or logic.

Fantastic! You had me alternately laughing out loud and putting a tear in my eye. I shared your Kennedy bit with link on a board since we were talking about what an utter ASS he is. I have trouble understanding the HateBush people. This guy has been nothing but a straight shooter and has lead with compassion and strength. While we may all have disagreements pertaining to spending etc., one has to list priorities, and brother, let me tell ya, breathing is a priority for me.

My cousin was a stewardess on the first flight that hit Tower 1. Instead of her loving family, the last person she saw was ATTA. I will never forget the day I woke up.

I have bookmarked you and you cannot escape.

Richard R -- NHHS, class of '90. Grew up about a block from your mom, it sounds like.

Damn fine piece of writing. It shines, it sparkles, it has been polished to perfection. Anyone who is considering buying a copy of Bill Whittles collection of essays should think again; surely you know of a few ignorant and obtuse souls who could use a copy of their own. So buy several and pass them around.

Thanks Bill!


Norman Hauptman writes:
We are a nation founded on ethical principles (Declaration of Independence/Constitution), which is founded on Judeo/Christian or Christian or Jewish values,, whichever way you choose to see it. This Star in the Presidential Seal is the symbol of our requirement to honor the Book in many important waya; or more simply honor the 10 Commandmants.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

I'm afraid the Constitution of the United States overrides your interpretation of the picture on the dollar bill.

Above was mine.

I get as tired hearing the mutterings of my "fellow" atheists about the destructiveness of religion itself as I do hearing ignorant religious folk who go on about how all atheists are bitter, miserable people/child molesters/liberals. That streak of tribalism is usually unbecoming no matter which version it is.

I personally have found that there is no such thing as a true "atheist" -- everyone worships something, be it science (as a concept, anyway), individuality, or - in the case of liberal-leaning atheists - themselves. It's simply hardwired into our very circuitry as human beings. And there has been quite a bit of violent fundamentalism coming from atheistic circles as well, so much that I'm sure I don't have to bring up examples.

So to say that "organised religion" is responsible for all the ills of the world would also be to say that the lack of organised religion has done the same thing. It's a very ignorant (unfortunately, all too common) mistake to make. You may as well mourn the rise of the secular humanism that is destroying societies as we post if you're going to be intellectually honest about that kind of stance.


my condolences.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

I'm afraid the Constitution of the United States overrides your interpretation of the picture on the dollar bill.

However, the religion of secular humanist atheism is doing just that. Therefore, preventing others from practising their religion (which oftentimes requires open displays of faith) is in fact establishing a state religion -- that of secular humanist atheism. Hardly something the Founding Fathers envisioned.

What's more, the law was intended to keep national politics out of faith, not to strip the government of faith itself.

J repeats the mantra that we armed Radical Islam.

All one has to do is look at any of the armies and air forces in the region -- Syria, Eqypt, Jordan, and most especially, Iraq -- to see that the weapons deployed against the United States were AK-47's, MiG's, T-72's, ChiCom RPG's and Mirages. The Soviets and the French arm these countries.

US arms supplies to the Muhajedeen in Afghanistan consisted of some rifles, a few machine guns, and lots of Stinger missiles. None of these are being used against us in significant numbers.

I, for one, and getting a little tired of this lie, and wonder why we keep allowing it to pass unchallenged.

GHS makes some wonderful points about bad apples both inside the military and outside. He hits the nail on the head when he talks about the critical difference: discipline, command control, respect, honor.

"But the point of bringing this up is not to minimize the outrageousness of their actions, but to explain why saying that "we've got more than just a few bad apples over there" is like saying "we've got more than just a few normal people over there."


"Parlaying this into something endemic or systemic is just wrong -- and it's factually incorrect."


This is precisely the point I made to the offended Mr. Pax. I *didn't* try to parlay it into something endemic or systemic. Indeed, what I said *specifically* was that the military has handled itself with honor, professionalism and respect. What I *said* was that all these abuses were the result of more than just seven reservists. What I said, as part of the *litany* of make believe that this civilian leadership has bought into, is that Abu Ghraib wasn't just a few bad apples.

"I won't try and tell you why you're wrong (IMO). Instead, I'll tell you why I think the way I do. First, I spent 12 years in the military..."

I understand. And agree. On almost every point you make and conclusion you draw.

Here's where I differ:

"But beyond that, this is just not a relevant issue in the bigger picture."

I disagree. Because in the bigger picture, the civilian leadership tries to pretend that none of these problems are problems. As I said before, if Dubya would show even ONE OUNCE of the moral courage that Bill did in his essay--to ADMIT the screw-ups and try to learn from their mistakes--it would be completely different. These people seem genetically incapable of admitting mistakes. They seem to exhibit NONE of the curiosity that Bill displays in any two paragraphs. Maybe they're curious and courageous in private. Maybe they're learning from their mistakes behind closed doors. Maybe they're ... what? They've made critical improvements and they DON'T WANT TO TELL US?


"And pointing to [this issue] as one of the signs or symptoms of the general "wrongness" of our cause over there is ridiculous, tiresome, and a wasteful distraction."

Once again, you're arguing with Ralph Nader. Which is easy, but not the point. Nader says that our cause over there is wrong. I not only didn't say that, I said just the opposite. Indeed, the whole point to my too-short-to-have-scope-or-context post (thanks, krakatoa!) is that Kerry, along with other veterans with actual military experience like McCain and Warner, AGREES WITH YOU about our cause over there.

Just because Air America spouts the Nader drivel doesn't mean Kerry agrees with them. Any more than Rush likening the Abu Ghraib abuses to a fraternity initiation means that Bush buys into that either.

(I know--it's frustrating when someone you don't like actually agrees with you. So annoying. :-)

"Did George Bush make mistakes? Certainly -- he being human and all. Were they as monumental and prolific and continuous as you say they were? IMO, not even close. This is where YOUR wishful thinking comes in (again, In My Opinion) -- because of your distaste and contempt for the man, ANYthing that happens that is not ideal is AT BEST a massive blunder, and at worst, the result of the lies of an inherently evil and incompetent man."

Hmmm. Maybe I missed something here. I don't remember going *there* at all. Actually, I don't have patience for all that partisan polarization that paints *either* of these candidates as two-dimensional morons. Call me naive, but I don't buy either Rush *or* Franken. Both of these candidates have records of accomplishment, service and dedication to this country... each in their different ways, of course, each with different views on critically important issues (and each coming with some prickly baggage)... but both with a palpable love for this country and the values that have made her strong. Neither of these men are villains.

What I do remember saying was that we elect a leader, we delegate to that leader certain prerogatives and authority, and we expect some failures along with the successes. What I remember saying is that this change in opinion is coming from people who *supported* this President all along. People who (how did the phrase go?) cut him a GREAT deal of slack in the past. (Me not willing to change my mind? I remember rattling off a list of things Bush COULD DO TOMORROW to win in a landslide!) You guys gotta remember that while the partisans argue from positions at the extremes, there are positions somewhere in the middle. Just because someone thinks Bush need to be held accountable at the voting booth doesn't mean that they love Nader. More and more folks in the center are thinking it's time for Bush to go, and if you argue with them like they're Nader's Raiders, they're gonna look at you like you're Just Not Listening.

My wishful thinking? I wish the litany of blunders wasn't as long as it's been. I wish George Bush had spent more time actively engaged in his wartime decisions, rather than outsourcing them to the neocons. I wish the Dub had found some way to listen to his own military! Commander in Chief? Man. *Every* retired CENTCOM (except the one who has a financial stake in the matter) has gone on record saying that this administration--the civilian leadership--went against the specific advice (and dare we call it the EXPERIENCED advice) of our U.S. military.

Like I said before, no wonder McCain and Warner are hopping mad.

Me, too.

Don't get me wrong--I respect your opinion that you don't believe John Kerry. That you'd rather have the devil you know than the devil you don't. That's your choice and it's completely fair. (There are times when I feel the same way.)

But this is gettin' just a little too weird for me. I'm a lot more into accountability. Screw up? Hey we all make mistakes--let's see what ya learned... But screw up a LOT and *still* tell me you're not gonna change? Dude.

(And don't tell me you're afraid of those bumper stickers in Santa Monica. :-) Call in the Donald, 'cause it's getting plain and simple.

Buck? Stops here.

I don't doubt that other nations participated in arming of radical Islam. Of course they did. I never intended to imply otherwise. Those nations and their citizens must account for their own activities.

However, the US did activiely participate in both the material and ideological groundwork of the current state of affairs in the Middle East. We provided direct support of Saddam's Iraq to fight Iran. This is one of the prime instances various people cite for Saddam's willingness to use the chemical weapons we sold him. We provided direct suppport of the mujahidin in Afghanistan against the Soviets, in the process firing up the jihad from which bin Laden emerged. We replaced the government of Iraq and put the Shah back into power. Did these places and other Middle Eastern nations take funding & weapons from other nations? Sure. Does that absolve the US? No. To believe so would be moral relativism. Again, it doesn't justify murder either. Unfortunately, we have contributed to a powder keg that is unsurprisingly blowing up. My point was that we need policy consistent with our founding principles.

My suggestion, my hope, is that eventually the US, its policymakers, and electorate wake up to the fact that our actions abroad have serious, long term reprecussions. Therefore, we need our government to act in accordance to our stated principles of democracy, freedom, etc. It is a denial of the facts to believe that our government has not been (or is not) involved in less than honorable, wise and just activities in the name of its material interests.

Too often people like to act as if America is a pristine saint amid a sea of savages and evil-doers as we spread 'truth, justice and the American way.' Often our leaders do just the opposite. We pay the price. That is neither a right nor left nor Republican nor Democrat phenomenon but a bipartisan failure.

I, for one, am more than tired of illogic that argues America's priorities are always just and without flaw. Since when did democracy necessitate consorting with dictators and thugs? If it isn't ok now, why then?

A final point. If you give one lunatic a gun and tell him it is ok to kill infidels in the name of god, and he turns and shoots you because you don't believe what he does, are you to blame? At least partially? Does it matter that you intended him to shoot different infidels than you?

"Occasionally I get the feeling we need more men like Sullivan Ballou... then I stop and think: we have thousands and millions of them. Some are already in uniform. Many more have already served and are now too old or too broken to rejoin the service"

I'd like to point out that those of us who did serve, and are now too old and fat or who can't serve on the front lines still have a vital place in this effort.

Our Service members are out there manning the ramparts - it's up to US to make it a worthwhile place to defend.

Be kind to your neighbors. Stand up for all that is good and decent. Be firm in your beliefs. Volunteer your time or money. And so forth.


Incredible essay. Thank You very much!
There is some pompous ignorant drivel that is found in the comment thread. I will ignore them until the blood letting begins.

Brian says it's up to US to make it a worthwhile place to defend.

Be kind to your neighbors. Stand up for all that is good and decent. Be firm in your beliefs. Volunteer your time or money. And so forth.

Good point. Actions speak louder than words. We like to talk a lot around here, but we need to get off our duffs, too.

j -

The burden of proof normally rests on the accuser. If you have any evidence supporting the assertion that the US provided chemical weapons to Iraqi, would you please produce it? The US provided indirect support, primarily satellite imagery and other technical intelligence to the Iraqis during their war with Iran. The US did so because Iraq, while venal, was the primary military counter-weight to Iran, and through raging incompetence was in real danger of losing the war. Lesser of two evils.
I also disagree with your assertion that the US encouraged radical islam by aiding the Afghani's. The US attempted to nurture & strengthen existing resistence to Soviet occupation. Given the somewhat unique nature of the United States' origin, the idea of an armed citizen-militia ousting foreign occupation was naturally appealing. With 20/20 hindsight, recruiting so many foreigners wasn't a good idea. The mujhadeen were not the first, and won't be the last political movement to drift far from its original goals & principles.
I don't think it's practical to simply disengage ourselves from anyone who doesn't measure up to our lofty standards. Is it better to sit by and ignore the entire world, or to at least attempt to effect changes for the better, using the instrumentalities that are available?

Outraged -
GHS said most of what I was going to say, but...
I'm all for accountability, but I apparently don't believe things are as bad on the ground as you do. Secondly, and more importantly, to use your CEO analogy, it's not like we've got a box of resumes to go through. Nader is the perennial pest who shows up at board meetings every year advocating things like tearing down the parking garage and passing out free bicycle helmets to all the employees to stop global warming. Kerry is the board member who has voted against every single security improvement since he married his way into the boardroom. The lighting at the doors? He voted against it. The security cameras? He voted against buying and installing them, and voted against hiring security gaurds to monitor them.
I haven't voted for a presidential candidate since Allan Keyes ran in my state's primary. Since then, I voted against Clinton, against Bush (in the R. primary) and then against Gore. And while I'm no fan of Bush, I'll be voting against the candidate who voted against the military and against the intelligence community more often and more consistently than any other senator. A long time ago, he performed an heoric act and saved a SpOps soldier's life. Since then he's devoted his entire life to slandering and weakening our military and intelligence establishment. Electing Kerry to run a war is like appointing a known arsonist to be fire chief.

re WMD. I have some degree of familiarity with the field of intelligence gathering and analysis. Intelligence is always ambiguous, always contains uncertainty, and is subject to interpretation. Did the government misinterpret the intelligence? It seems so. Did the administration over-sell the intelligence? Apparently. Did they make huge political blunder by putting too much emphasis on WMD? Hell yes. But it is undisputed that the Ba’athist regime had a CW program in the past, and used CW's against enemies both foreign and domestic. And Hussein was acting as if he had active (if covert) Chemical, Biological, and/or Radiological weapons programs: restricting inspectors’ access, intimidating inspectors… Perhaps he was bluffing. Perhaps he simply enjoyed playing the part of defiant underdog hero. Some suggest he was being deceived by his underlings. But Hussein's own behavior certainly reinforced other indicators of CBR programs.
It now appears that some of our human intelligence (HUMINT) was being manipulated for someone else's hidden agenda. That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast. If the CIA’s ability to develop HUMINT resources hadn’t been hobbled over the past few decades (with Kerry's approval in the senate), then perhaps the analysts would’ve had the luxury of being able to compare reports from disparate sources. But they didn’t have that luxury. The only HUMINT available was the exile group. And they're being punished. Accountability.

re the prison situation. By all accounts, the MP’s were poorly (or un-) supervised. Some officers need to be reprimanded for negligence or dereliction. My suspicion is that some clever intel types put some ideas into the heads of some not-too-bright people, a few of whom probably grew up tormenting small animals. Unsupervised idiots = things getting out of hand. Boy, I bet that Lyndie England's family's proud.
Has anyone else noticed that one of the seven MP’s is a prison guard in civilian life? Was he applying the principles of his civilian job to the task at hand? Was he doing things he wished he could do on the job back home? I hope the warden of the prison where this embarrassment works in civilian life is asking those questions. Has anyone seen news media looking into this angle? Wonder why not.

I researched Bin Laden in order to create a character for my first novel (Ground Zero, Putnam, 1998.) I figured Bin Laden would make a good starter dough for my bad guy, Fouad Muallah. This was well before 9-11 but after Bin Laden bombed the WTC the first time.

The Mujahadeen of Afghanistan were proud, intelligent, brave soldiers who fought for the liberation of their country against the Soviets. When the different leaders of the Afghan tribes were being helped with arms and training by our CIA, a young rich snot named Osama Bin Laden was in... Beruit, Lebanon.

There he partied like Snoop Dog. He wore John Travolta ice cream suits, snorted cocaine, danced at discos and vainly tried to engage the interest of pretty blonde European and American girls. Since he was not only homely but ugly in spirit, he didn't find much luck with the ladies. But money he had in plenty. Money his family paid for him to stay away from Saudi Arabia. He was not a pampered rich son of a Saudi family -- he was the illegitimate child of one of Bin Laden's concubines. In a land where rich men have many wives, Bin Laden's dad never married his mother.

After the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan the exhausted country had little government and the warring tribes now turned on each other. Into this anarchy came rich, suddenly devout Bin Laden, having traded his Travolta suit for dazzling white robes. With money, with other rich friends, with expensive SUVs and plenty of arms, he took over the country and the Taliban was born. He built no schools, no roads, no power plants. He squatted in this land like a buzzard feasting off a carcass and there he remained until we splattered him across the landscape at Tora Bora.

So don't try the whole "CIA trained and funded Bin Laden in the Aghan war" on me. It's a lie. Bin Laden's whole life was a lie. Trying to blame America for Bin Laden is a loathsome, despicable lie.

ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. Another great essay, keep em coming. You've made me laugh ,cry and sometimes my heart swelled with such pride that I could hardly breathe.

I promise, I will TRY to keep this one short.

First, to "Outraged:" I realize that there are limitations to this medium of dialogue, not the least of which is the likelihood of misreading intent. We're all guilty of it, myself most definitely included. So when you replied by saying that you "...said *specifically* that the military has handled itself with honor, professionalism and respect...", etc., etc., etc., YOU'RE forgetting that *I* specifically said "... So I won't try and tell you why you're wrong (IMO). Instead, I'll tell you why I think the way I do."

In other words, I wasn't saying that those were all points YOU'D made. I was listing what kinds of points I reject, in general, in principle, and explaining why. Those were (MOSTLY) MY opinions, not examinations of yours... with one or two obvious exceptions. And on those one or two, I think we're both willing to agree to disagree.

I too am very middle-of-the-road. If this effort against global terrorism wasn't in play, I suspect I would have little good to say about the current administration, regardless of who held the top seat. And I would probably be just as ambivalent come November as I was four Novembers ago -- might as well flip a coin. But this war IS a central issue right now, and, in one of those areas where you and I DO disagree, I DON'T think it is being mishandled, at least not anywhere near as badly as you do.

I know all about the incompetence attributed to Lincoln throughout all four years of the Civil War (and he "dabbled" a lot more in the planning of major campaigns than GW ever even considered)-- see the opening paragraphs of Bill's essay "HISTORY" for further comparisons. Military disaster after military disaster followed the Union throughout the first few years, at FAR greater human cost. But I think that, in the final analysis, there can be little doubt that the outcome was still positive, beneficial to all (including the "conquered" South), and above all, worthy of the sacrifices, the stumbling blocks that had to be overcome, the errors that had to be corrected, and the unpopular fortitude and singleminded direction of the President. I also don't believe that the President (or ANY leader, for that matter) has any obligation (or any practical REASON, other than reclaiming popularity) to admit mistakes. If President Bush NEVER concedes his "mistaken-riddled" track record, it shouldn't effect anything but his popular "image." It has nothing to do with the efficacy of his leadership. Granted, in the U.S., his popularity will become more relevant come election time, but for me -- FOR ME -- it will play no part whatsoever in my decision to vote for him.

He's doing the job -- THE job -- the hard job, the dirty job, the job nobody else seems willing to accept, the job that *I* consider the most important job RIGHT NOW -- and he's doing it as well as I think ANYONE could, including his possible replacement. And while you might welcome his replacement, I would not -- and in the end, I suspect you'd find little satisfaction from the shift in leadership yourself.

Now, to "j": to all your references to our past collusions with reprehensible governments, movements, and/or leaders, I say, first of all, SO WHAT? Other than pointing out the obvious -- that the stain left from some of those alliances is coming back to haunt us now -- what difference does that point make now? How does that help us NOW?

When you're trying to hold back an aggressive superpower with nuclear capabilities and a publicly proclaimed policy towards world domination, as well as a gleeful disregard for your own protestations (as we were with the Soviets throughout the Cold War), you don't -- you CAN'T -- just kick their door in and shout "That's enough!" If you don't want to let the thermonuclear genie out of the bottle, you hold that superpower at bay with whatever lesser means you have at your disposal. And if that includes subverting susceptible governments in vulnerable areas, or backing questionable belligerents to see the red tide stemmed, or funding less-than-likeable despots to sway their allegiances, then, in lieu of inviting a global holocaust, you play by the rules of the game at hand.

Those political choices were the ugly necessities of the times. They're ugly and embarrassing to look back upon, but just be glad you're ABLE to look back on them in disgust without wearing protective anti-radiation gear or peering out of your bunker through a periscope. We tippy-toed through that Cold War by the skin of our teeth, and ONLY because we chose to DANCE with the devil rather than poke him in the eye. But in the end, again, SO WHAT? What difference does acknowledging our past affiliations make now? "Okay! We admit! We screwed up and did obnoxious things for a long time, justifiable or otherwise! We promise we'll never do them again!"

Now what? Nothing changed. Moot point.

But, point #2: I'm always amazed by people who, on the one hand, are outraged by our shitty choices of friends in the past, and at the same time, on the other hand, they're outraged by our "duplicity" for having now chosen to sever those same shitty alliances. What BACK-STABBERS we are!

I, for one, am damned glad we're being more selective these days.

There were more points of yours I wanted to address, but this has already turned into another friggin' epic, so I'm going to shut up now.

For those who, in a previous comment stream, actually had an interest in Bill's aviation-related "travelogue," just thought you'd like to hear an update -- I took his advice and "went for it."

I soloed last Monday.

I'm off on vaykay now, and will, for one week anyway, not have access to my "clay shooter." Bill, you'll either need to send the "keys to the kingdom" again so that I can install them on this laptop, or you'll have to do all the whittling yourself.

Pun intended.


"I personally have found that there is no such thing as a true "atheist""

A-theist. One who does not believe in a deity, i.e. an intelligent supernatural force. I don't. Basic defintion met. End of discussion, whether you choose to try and redefine the word or not. It's as broad a defintion as "theist" and those who meet it are as varied a group as Christians, Pagans, Hindus, and Muslims are. Pointing out that there are those among who've replaced one fundamentalist identity with another is therefore moot.

And I don't "worship" science. To worship means to praise and adore without criticism, and the precise reason I respect it is because there is no aspect of it which is beyond reasonable investigation. Nor do I think it is everything- ALL it is is a system of investigation of natural law. By its own terms and definitions it's confined to tangible, physical reality. It cannot say anything about morality. It cannot say anything about cosmology. It shouldn't.

"You may as well mourn the rise of the secular humanism that is destroying societies as we post if you're going to be intellectually honest about that kind of stance."

Please provide some support for your assertion that secular humanism is responsible for societal ills.

"However, the religion of secular humanist atheism is doing just that."

Be specific, please.

Q: Cluster bombs are also controversial. U.N. commissions have called for a ban. Were you acquainted with cluster bombs?
A: I had one of my Marines in my battalion who lost his leg from an ICBM.
Q: What's an ICBM?
A: A multi-purpose cluster bomb.
This man has been in the armed forces for 12 years?
InterContinental Ballistic Missiles tend to remove more than your leg...


How nice of you to throw a bone to the U.S. military about acting with honor AFTER you smear us (BTW, my comment to your ridiculous rant came well before your more gracious comments about the military...not after as you tried to imply).

As for your not noticing any "smack-down", I think Bill's original reply to you qualifies. Sorry you missed it.

As to whether or not you're a "nutjob", well, I guess that's for a mental health professional to really decide. Of course, I'm not an expert on nutjobs...I just use the old rule of thumb, if it quacks like a duck... .

As for your comparison of me to Col Nathan Jessup in "A Few Good Men", I'd have to say you're a little off the mark. If I had to pick a Jack Nicholson movie character that more accurately describes me, I'd rather go with Jake Gittes. Hell, even Randall McMurphy would be closer than Jessup!


"Regardless of Kerry's "willingness" to carry on what GW started, (a) I don't think he's got the chutzpa to have started it on his own, and (b) even if he did, I don't think he'd do it any better than GW did, simply because he'd be relying on the same intelligence, evidence, and advice...

Maybe the same raw data, but the same advice? I don't think so at all.

Unless the Dub cleans house over at Neocon Central--sends 'em packing down the same road as their bud Chalabi--then the advice aspect is gonna be 180 degrees different.

Maybe this isn't *all* I need to know about the Dub's civilian advisors, but it sure sums up *my* vote in the Fall:

General Tommy Franks on Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith: "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth."

I think a *lot* of the military--especially military families back home--are sick and tired of ... well, the advice from the neocons. And a leader who backs 'em up Every Time.

Like I said before, clean out the neocons (or bring in McCain who would do it for you--since you don't have the stomach to do it yourself), and Dub wins this election in a landslide.

P.S. Here's my prediction: instead of cleaning house and changing advisors, the Dub will sacrifice exactly one of the neocon pack to the Abu Ghraib mess--which ironically might be the one blunder they weren't connected to--and trundle along down this same sad path.

You call that STRENGTH? I call it WEAKNESS.

Hehe :-)

"How nice of you to throw a bone to the U.S. military about acting with honor AFTER you smear us"

Hey Pax,

Go back and read my first post. Not a single word in there about the military. It's all about the civilian leadership.

The crack about Abu Ghriab? It's not the military that's been trying to paint this as just seven reservists! General Taguba's report was blistering. But what happened when Taguba's report hit the civilians? "A few bad apples." That's what.

Do your reading, dude. Don't jump at every chance to take offense.

"I do not see similar simplistic claptrap from the right, but perhaps that is because there are so few conservatives where I live."

sorry if someone covered this time to read all the comments. but...

....we consider these truths to be self-evident.

Had to run for a sec.
Conservative thought requires commonsense.
The far left needs bumper stickers like kindergarden flashcards.

Looks like you've also attracted all the Grima Wormtongues posting their Enlightenment, Concern, and Compassion (TM -- BUSH IS HITLER! BUSH IS HITLER!) out of their mommies' basements while they wait for their next welfare check.

Look at the Nick Berg video with Gothmog's voice-over in that scene from Return of the King: "The Age of Man is Over. The Age of the Orc has Begun." All you need to do is add "Allah-U Akbar!"

Outraged, et al.

I think what you find here in support for Bush is support for ACTION over WORDS.

You seem to have the opinion that the actions taken so far have been disastrous, but you are focusing on all the bad things reported, and precious few of the good that goes unreported.

But even accepting the MSM portrayal of select events, I would not be persuaded that the Bush Admin's actions were incorrect, because I can objectively look at the situation and see it is better there in almost every single way.

The end of the Cold War was not nearly as simple a transition as Clinton believed it, and I will be the first to admit that had a Republican been in office, the same mistakes would probably have been made in regards to the festering problem of Islamic extremism. Getting public support for the kind of Action and MONEY required to deal with that problem required something on the scale of, oh, the demolishing of a couple skyscrapers on our home soil for instance.

So I have to reject completely the pointing of fingers backwards to somehow attribute blame for the mess in the Middle East. I think it makes for an excellent debate, but it offers nothing in terms of a solution.

I am left with looking at the mess we have today and trying to determine who can best deal with it.

You claim, with select examples, that Bush's policies have been a disaster.

You claim that Kerry would be a better leader. Explain to me please why I should vote for Kerry.

Exactly what is it you find in Kerry's history that tells you he would prosecute this war on terror at all, much less with the necessary violence?

Kerry himself has proclaimed this to be a law enforcement issue, and that he would defer to the U.N. on all apects of HIS war on terrorism.

Does this bother you in the least, considering the oil for food scandal, and the farce that is the international court?

Tell me how to ignore Kerry's atrocious voting record on intelligence and military spending. Tell me how to believe that he will have any credence on military matters given his post-Vietnam actions. Explain to me also how his domestic policy would improve the economy, given his string of failed proclamations on the state of the current economy.

See, here's what I think. I think for many people on the left, there will never be an admission that anything Bush does could be construed in a good light. I think that there is a large number of liberals who honestly don't believe the Islamo-fascist threat is for real. I think that no matter how much you show and tell these people the truth, they will cover their eyes and ears singing 'lalalalalala, Bush lied'.

Likewise you find the same on the Right. I am one of the few people I know with coservative leanings who can see some Good in Pres. Clinton. The man had actual good intentions, despite being a narcissist, and we saw flashes of his potential for good in so many things, such as his attempt for peace between the Palestinians and Israel. It's really not his fault that Arafat was such an evil bastard. The effort was sincere and deserving of much praise.

I think that what really matters in this country, and for the future of this country and the world, is those people in the middle, like you find on this site among others, who can admit weaknesses in their horse, but have done an educated and objective analysis of today's problems and have come to the rational conclusion that their horse is the best one to take us to the end.

We are people who are open to new ideas, but we are not people who are going to be convinced by arguments whose premises are so shaky as blanket proclamations that every Bush action has been wrong. Let's face it. That kind of track record is nigh on impossible and making that kind of statement will almost invariably paint you as a crackpot in the minds of the intelligent. An argument built on such an easily disprovable premise is destined for failure.

"You call that STRENGTH? I call it WEAKNESS."

Well, first of all, Outraged, since that final statement of yours was referring to the P.S. that preceded it -- which consisted of your prediction about what the President would do between now and November about his "neocon infestation" -- it's only as valid as the prediction itself, which, at the very least, has as yet to be seen. And that's as politely as I can put that. But aside from what I think of your prediction, that statement means nothing in the context of this essay or this debate, since that issue has nothing to do with what 'STRENGTH' was about (and so that's NOT "what I'd call STRENGTH").

"STRENGTH," as it applies in this essay, is about us -- the influential voting American citizenry -- having the resilience and patience to see beyond the inflammatory and occasionally heart-breaking debacles (as Bill said at the top of his essay, "’s only a catastrophe. It’s nothing more than a major disaster."), and keep our collective eye on the prize. And "the prize" is a hell of a lot bigger than any of the worst- or best-intentioned bungles along the way.

Replace all the POW guards in Iraq and level Abu Ghraib, and somebody else will still wind up doing something stupid, cruel, self-destructive, or generally outrageous further down the line. Oust a courageous, proactive leader who's doing the best he can with what he's got (regardless of what you feel about "his best" or the quality of "what he's got"), and you'll just move in a new human, with his own slate of foibles and inadequacies (AND strengths), who'll stumble through his own mistakes and misjudgments and misplayed hands, but who will HOPEFULLY follow through to the only viable end to this thing... but then again, might not. Neither of these furthers the greater cause or serves a higher vision, but if these are what we choose to focus on, then EITHER of them could cripple it. And if you think we've got catastrophes and disasters now, wait'll you see what backing out, begging apologies, gutting our command echelons, and leaving a vacuum in the Middle East produces.

I know that's not what you're advocating, and I know those aren't your words. But that IS what "STRENGTH" is about. Big picture, long-term objectives -- the eradication of a lingering, spreading, previously untouchable virus, and hopefully, the restoration of a once-noble civilization -- recognition that we are not by-definition "evil" because we've finally resorted to extreme lengths to resolve an issue that everyone wants resolved, but that no one else will or CAN resolve themselves.

Bill's not declaring President Bush to be the pinnacle of perfection, nor every American citizen or soldier to be a saint, nor every gesture to be painless. But there is a noble and attainable goal here, being pursued by the only nation with the power and the will to do it, led by the only President in decades with the fortitude to step up and DO it, and sustained in its endeavors by the only people whose opinions really count. And right now, it's those people that need to show their STRENGTH -- not the military (everybody knows it'll do whatever we ask of it), and not the President (clearly he's got that "singlemindedness gene"), but US. WE'RE the ones that can bring this whole thing tumbling down, by following wherever the reins are jerked. And WE'RE the ones who can see this through, regardless of ANY individual acts of stupidity on either side of the ocean.

That's the STRENGTH that Bill is calling for here. That's the very real STRENGTH that we possess. And that's what the essay "STRENGTH" was all about.

And you may call that WEAKNESS, but I sure as hell don't.

Vote for who you want. But as Bill said, "Do not destroy this house."


What krakatoa said.

Here are some more thoughts.

1. I never said we funded or trained bin Laden. I said that we provided material and ideological support for the mujahidin from which bin Laden's organization emerged after the pull-out of the Soviet Union. The mujahidin recruited from around the Middle East as a 'holy war' against the godless Soviet friendly government & Soviet invaders/'interventionists' of Afghanistan. The recruitment scheme utilized Islamistic language of holy war and holy warriors. What bin Laden was specifically doing at the time of our initial involvement is probably irrelevant. My point is that we assisted, along with other nations and religious nuts, a context more that suitable for people like bin Laden to emerge. Does bin Laden being a hypocrite somehow legitimate our own hypocrisy? Is that what you're implying? Don't put words in my mouth to make your point. I wasn't "Trying to blame America for Bin Laden." I was trying discuss the broader historical context of relationships.

2. Radicalist Islam had also emerged in post-Shah Iran. Considerable anti-US sentiment was bred there in response (a) to the US backed dictator & thug, the Shah of Iran, and (b) the US's backing of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Again we provided military and economic support to a brutal thug to fight the nuts that ovethrew our other brutal thug. Sounds like high-minded plan to me.

3. The pull-out of Afghanistan involved both the US and USSR which resulted in a failed state ripe for Islamist take over & terrorist activity. It also serves as a prime example of the waste of the Cold War where other, weaker nations are used as pawns. Yeah, the Soviets used them, but we sure didn't help once the commies were out. We've continued this pattern of abuse and neglect by refocusing on Iraq while Afghanistan becomes another failed nation.

4. So what? So we need to find better solutions to international problems than what we've been doing. If we're worried about radicalist religious movements taking over countries or commies taking over, how about foreign policy that fosters positive change? How about instead of selling and giving other countries weapons to do our dirty work, how about we actively participate in some real economic growth? By economic assistance I don't mean lopsided treaties that allow US & corporations to figuratively stripe-mine their resources by mobilizing underpaid & undereducated workers. How about we stop exporting double standards? How about exporting workers' rights, environmental protections, health care and all those other benefits we demand at home? How about we stop turning a blind eye to their war crimes? Stable economies and democratic institutions seem to be better resistors to commies & fanatics than puppet regimes and death squads.

5. Post-WW2 US-Soviet relations were obviously a disaster fostered by mutual distrust and competition for controlling important resources (oil), part of everyone's interests in the Middle East to be sure. I do find it funny though that the threat of nuclear holocaust is raised in that context when the US is the only nation to have ever actually used one against another country. Is that to say the USSR wasn't bent of 'global domination'? No, but does that mean we weren't or aren't? Isn't that the whole point of the post-Cold War neocon strategy?

6. So what does reflecting on the past have to do with anything? Well, it helps us understand today and how we got here. I seem to remember something about forgetting the past and being doomed to repeat it. What game are we playing with Saudi Arabia right now? Certainly they're no beacon of justice or democratic ideals, yet our nation and leaders have hopped into bed with them in the blink of an eye. Wonder why? Could it be the oil?

7. The argument that we must do rotten things to get what we want (allies, oil, whatever) reeks of moral relativism. Do any of you want to argue that the end justifies the means? So to battle some disagreable regime elsewhere or gain some chunk of land, we should prop up dictators that send their people to die so our hands can be clean? Supporting fascists and death squads is an agreeable alternative to what? Socialists and death squards? It appears the standard of judgement is based on (1) who the actor is, America, and (2) whose lives are being spared, Americans. This is a moral worldview? I don't think so. It is the ugly spectre of nationalism, a relativist viewpoint that legitimates action based on the State and national pride. As long as we believe the flag justifies any misdeed perpetrated by our national, we'll never achieve peace or truly be strong.

8. For the record, my only point was that the US needs to re-evaluate its international priorities when we engage other nations. Does the past *justify* 9/11 or Berg getting his head hacked off? No it doesn't. Only a fool would argue that. Have our past actions contributed to the current impasse. You bet they have. Can we do better? Yes we can. Will we? Not until we find the moral strength to do so. My whole reason behind posting a comment was to say we need to find that moral conviction to truly lead.


"I do find it funny though that the threat of nuclear holocaust is raised in that context when the US is the only nation to have ever actually used one against another country."

And I find it funny that the aforementioned use of nuclear weapons is raised without mentioning the context of their use.

Which aspect of the context of their use? Against Japan to quickly end the war without invasion or as a demonstration of force against the Soviet Union with whom we expected post-war differences following the dissolution of our alliance?

With regard to the Soviet Union, which was the implied context, we anted that chip did we not? That was my point in regards to the previous comment concerning thermonuclear war.

You have hit it on the head , it is great to read the truth that the media won't put out there. I have been supporting the troops before and after the conflict started and will continue to stand out and piss off the lefisits that will try to get us killed by appeasement.

Bill, you dog. You picked Saturday to post this latest magnificent essay, the very morning I disassembled my computer in preparation for The Move. By the time I was able to access the net again, there were dang near 300 comments. I guess it's a good thing that I packed up the "distraction with a keyboard" before checking your site; I'd still be packing and cleaning the old place. To quote a friend from my e-mail pile, "Moving rots." Anyway....

Brilliant points, as usual. I can't believe that you don't re-read your essays. You seem to have spent so much time gazing at your bust of Salieri ("Power") that you have convinced yourself that it is a mirror. Not so, old boy. Not so by half.

j, having dug a hole, is now earnestly digging deeper. Or, having one foot in mouth, is now jamming the other into the same orifice.

Read your history, j, or better yet talk to a WWII vet. Doesn't anyone do research anymore? We dropped the first bomb on Hiroshima because the deaths of American troops in the invasion of Japan was projected to be in the hundreds of thousands. Casualties total were anticipated to be in the millions.

After we dropped the first bomb on August 6th and destroyed Hiroshima, the Japanese government refused to surrender. They knew we had just destroyed a city with a bomb, but they still refused to surrender. Three days later, August 9th, the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Our arsenal was empty, but the Japanese didn't know that. (Good thing we didn't have Dan Rather around -- he would have let them know.) The Imperial Japanese surrendered unconditionally and the war was over.

We didn't drop the bomb because we wanted to know if it made a pretty boom. We didn't drop it to scare the Soviets who at that time were bled so white their troops were dining on the frozen remains of their companions. We dropped it to end the frickin' war, you loser.

Your default position is that America is evil, j, and that everything we do has a nefarious purpose, and for that I can only advise you: Re-read Strength. Again. And then read it again until you understand it.

What Bonnie said!

Still, not surprised by what J writes...afterall, isn't this what's been taught in our schools for the last 20 years or more!



I think I speak for everyone here when I say: Huh?

I don't think I've seen a run-on sentence that long and at the same time, empty, in quite some time.


There are reasons that YOU will not get a response here, $87billionback.

1) Picking out spelling and grammar mistakes is absurd and points to an inability to argue issues. Everyone makes those kinds of errors ("instead" is one word and you leave a space before parentheses) so hacking on Bill for them isn't going to get you far here.

2) "Chickenhawk" is just name-calling, plain and simple. It's an easy way out for those who (once again) aren't able to successfully argue an issue. Almost everyone who posts here was in the military, tried to join the military, or would join the military in a heartbeat if asked to do so. Perhaps in lesser forums such tactics have elicited the angry response you were hoping for, but here it will only get you ignored; we know a dodge when we see one.

If you look back you'll see that folks like J and Outraged got plenty of complete, thoughful responses that were not in any sense "running away". If you'd like to get one too you're going to have to do better than the "Chickenhawk! Bad Speller!" combination.


Krakatoa, your responses in this thread have been excellent. They're always excellent, but you've outdone yourself this time. You are a clear thinker and an eloquent writer, sir, and I salute you for it.

GHS, Bonnie, and a half-dozen others have also done a great job. The only thing that impresses me more than Bill's essays are Bill's readers. Polite, concise, sober, and smart; "liberal" trolls and Bush-bashers have such a hard time here because they're met with a mixture of civility and reason that is pure poison to them.

Bill's essays are beyond outstanding and we've all told him so. But there are commentors here that do an equally amazing job of reinforcing points and refuting bullshit, and you guys deserve a beer - which I'll buy you anytime you're in Tampa. I'm proud that we'll be voting for the same man come November.


Where is Osama?
Where is Osama?
It is time for sane people to pull their head out of the sand. Focus on the fact that this administration is willing to send young men and women to their death in an irrelevant country to keep our attention from their monumental failure.
Where is Osama?
Where is Osama?

Bonnie, once again your comment is irrelevant to the argument I have put forward. If you scroll up a few posts you'll see that I specifically stated that one of the aspects of atomic bomb context, one of the goals, was to end the war with Japan. In fact, that wast the *first* goal that I mentioned. Your comment explaining that is redundant. I have no argument with that.

Unfortunately, you are positing a one-dimensional understanding of events and history that just isn't sustainable. Do you honestly believe that actions have only a singular intended purpose or that they can achieve only one goal? That seems to be what you're asserting when you write "We dropped it to end the frickin' war, you loser" as if you stating a position I've already agreed with somehow invalidates a second position. The Truman administration fully recognized the ramifications of dropping those bombs in regards to ending the war and the reaction it would have among other nations. While that may not have been the major motivating goal, it was certainly a major benefit. It was an *aspect* of the action, which it what I said earlier. To say that they we were blind to the fact that the Soviet Union was our next major confrontation and that the atom bomb use in Japan wouldn't have an impact is either naive or delusional.

Your second error is your assertion that I believe America is evil and has evil goals. That is exactly *not* what I have argued. What I have argued is that our actions aren't always in keeping with our stated convictions and, pay attention here, we should do more to make our actions, foreign policy, etc., amenable to our beliefs. I made this argument based on US complicity through foreign policy in the current situation in the Middle East. In short, our foreign policy has consequences that can blow up in our faces. Poor choices and poor responses to world events that are not in keeping with our national ideals do not help America in the long run. Why is that offensive to anyone?

One the biggest problems in this regard is short-sightedness which is expressed in the inability to see consequences of our actions. I believe this short-sightedness is anchored, at least partially, in many but not all Americans' inability to take to the time to consider context and history. Careful thought and deliberation is often cast aside for instant responses without regard to their effect other than accomplishing immediate goals. I suppose it goes back to how many times you have to touch the hot eye of the stove before you realize you're going to get burned. When will we learn?

The other big problem, which I've mentioned before, is expressed in your smear of my position. It is unfortunate that you equate criticism of our nation and its goals with believing that America is evil. I definitely do not believe that our nation is evil. I do believe that our nation, like the rest of them, has been less than moral in its goals & behaviors at various points in time. I also sincerely believe that blind faith and nationalism do *not* make our nation strong in a meaningful way. True strength will always lie in our willingless to act on principles rather than merely acting and then justifying with the flag later no matter how misguided or wrong those actions were. Willfully ignoring problems and refusing to take steps to correct them is what is evil. Believing that the US can do no wrong and that our flag flying over any action justifies that action is evil. Am I accusing you of this Bonnie? No, but this appears to be the sentiment you are expressing. Is that intentional? I hope not. That is unfortunate if that is truly your belief.

Bonnie, my final comment is that I am seriously disappointed that you have choosen to engage in name-calling and personal attacks and that others have opted support that. At no point have I called any of you 'a loser' or accused you of being anti-American. I have tried to be careful and avoid accusing anyone of blind faith or nationalism in my previous posts by keeping my sentences pointed toward a non-existent third-person rather than at specific individuals. Your characterization of my 'default position', along with your previous accusation that I said 'the US funded bin Laden' (I didn't' say that), demonstrates your willingness to attribute statements and sentiments to me that I have not expressed. It is a nice use of strawmen to avoid considering broader arguments but it doesn't nothing to advance your point. Actually, I'm not sure what your point is since you haven't stated anything relevant to my argument.

(This was longer than I intended. Hopefully I got all of the typos.)

Okay, I think I'm gonna get some serious flak for what I'm gonna post...but here goes.
I agree with most of what Bill posted - I agree with Fallujah, al-Gharaib, the war in Iraq, and the reporter story (funny one). My only area of disagreement is Bill's opinions with regard to Islam as a religion.
First of all, Bill, you are correct that Islam means "submission", not "peace". You simply left out a central fact; it means submission to the will of GOD - not men. Doesn't every religion, at least every monotheistic religion, demand submission to God? So I am not offended by Islam meaning submission.
Islam has a lot of rules about stuff like what to eat, but so does Christianity. We have Lent where they have Ramadan. We're not supposed to eat fish on certain days. And the Jews have just about exactly the same laws with regard to food. Is there anything wrong with their religion?
You also criticized the Koran's military orientation. My only answer to that is to reread the Bible. Especially the parts about slavery in Egypt and Exodus. The Jews, as I recall, established themselves in Canaan by killing the locals; God told them it was their promised land. Or, to paraphrase, go in and fuck all those locals; it's your land now. How is that different from Islamic conquest? What about killing every single infant in Egypt, as if every single one of them was somehow responsible for the Pharaoh's actions? Don't you find that somewhat revulsive? And yet neither of us has any moral problems with Judaism. So why Islam?
The Prophet wasn't jsut a military commander either. As I recall he did a lot to improve the position of...women! He limited the number of marriages to four, where prior Arabian tradition allowed and encouraged massive orgies every night. Nor did he ever take another wife as long as Khadijah (his wife) lived, and she had quite a lot of influence over his life.
What about the five pillars of Islam? CHARITY, for instance?
What about proclaiming that all men are equal, regardless of color? The Bible never does that. Nor do any religions.
Okay, so what do I believe with regard to Islam? I believe it's a religion like any other, which is presently undergoing its adolensence - the same stage that Christianity was at in the Middle Ages. Christianity, in its radical form, exterminated millions of its own (and still does, in Ireland), along with Jews, Muslims and Animists in America. Does that make it a bad religion? I think not.
Bill, I think you are making the very same error as the islamists. That is, you are dissecting the Koran looking for words which, in a literal meaning, confirm your belief that Islam is an evil religion. If you're into that, the Bible also states that the Earth is the center of the universe. People said that therefore, it was incompatible with science - and the Church killed people to protect that doctrine. Well, the way the world turned out has proven them wrong.
BTW. A word about our primary adversary, Osama Bin Laden. Do you think he represents their religion? Wrong. Osama was born in a family of rich Saudi businessmen. He was a rich and easy-living billionaire who decided to spend his money on financing jihads. The guy has no religious credentials whatsoever. You read his fatwas as if that was what they were. It's not. He doesn't have the authority to issue fatwas. It's as gortesque as it would be for Bill Gates to step up and say that, in the name of Christian religion, abortion is okay.
Al-Sadr does have religious credentials, but he is outnumbered by moderates like Sistani in Iraq. He and his sponsor, Khamenei, represent nothing but the Reverend Parris and Judge Danforth of the Middle East. Like the aforementioned characters, they fundamentally misunderstand their religion.
To summarize, Islam is undergoing its Middle Ages era - actually, due to Western influence, the problem, I think, is less severe over there than Europe used to be.

J, your post is both thoughtful and civil. It also completely misses the point that people have been trying to make to both you and Outraged.

Everything you've said is predicated upon the belief that our invasion of Iraq was either shortsighted and selfish (at best) or unjust and larcenous (at worst; you've made it plain enough that you don't think it was "evil"). You have to understand that the majority opinion here is that IT WAS NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

You are correct that America, like other nations, can do unfair and immoral things; no one here is claming that US citizenship confers infalibility. But the point is that the invasion of Iraq was neither unfair nor immoral. It was not shortsighted or unjust or "evil" either. THE INVASION OF IRAQ IS A RISKY, COURAGEOUS, FORESIGHTED ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE ROOT CAUSE OF TERROISM. It is, plainly and simply, an attempt to replace one of the most brutal regimes in the world with a western-style secular democracy. If such democracy can take root there, it stands a good chance of toppling (or at least softening up) all of the other weak, brutal tribal dictatorships in the region - many of which are generators of terrorism. Iraq was not chosen because it was such a generator of terrorism - though I think it goes without saying Saddam would have been happy to aid our enemies if he had the chance - it was chosen because it was murderous, disgusting thug state that nonetheless had a fairly good infrastructure and educated population. Iraq is the kind of place that democracy can take hold, and it badly needed a regime change anyway.

We were told before all of this started that there would be costs. I personally cringe at every death. But CASUALTIES and MISTAKES are part of war. All of the troubles facing us in Iraq are not utter catastrophies spelling certain doom for democracy. They are just part of the terrible cost that has to be paid to defeat Islamo-Fascism. They are the mistakes that are inevitable when people - not Gods, but people - have to make hard decisions with imperfect knowledge. It sucks that we're in this position, but I don't see any better road we could have taken.

When I think about how much better things could be right now, I don't wish that President Bush had made perfect decisions. I don't wish that every one of our soldiers was flawlessly moral. I know those things are impossible.



Very nice, response, j, although you forgot one thing: Threads like this are written, not spoken. Thus they can be re-read.

You wrote: "I'd like to see the day when our country has the strength and conviction to stop funding holy warriors like the mujahidin, from which bin Laden's organization sprung."

Wrong! Alas, honey -- you posted it. And you're absolutely wrong. More than ignorance, your statement betrays an inherent anti-American bias. Somehow, somehow, America is always at fault.

How about this: "Saddam Hussein received funding and weapons, including WMD, from the US. He deployed those weapons against Iran & his people while we did *nothing*."
Or this: "Our real test of strength is whether or not we can stop exporting war, extremism and support for brutal dictatorships. The world already knows we can destroy things for own self-interest."

Your own words betray your ugly feelings towards America. You try to insult me by calling me a flag waver. So I am, and I take no insult in it.

Also, frankly, I'm happy to call you a loser again. You need to read Strength. You need to shift your default position. You need to defend this house.

Oops, that was Bonnie on the post above. Sorry.

Thanks for the comments S & Bonnie. I, of course, have a few replies.

First, I think you're misreading my intentions in my original and subsequent post. S argues:

"Everything you've said is predicated upon the belief that our invasion of Iraq was either shortsighted and selfish (at best) or unjust and larcenous (at worst; you've made it plain enough that you don't think it was "evil"). You have to understand that the majority opinion here is that IT WAS NONE OF THOSE THINGS."

Actually, I've never stated my opinion of the invasion of Iraq here. I stated my opinion in regard to the precursors of the current situation in regard to fanatical Islam, terrorism and the Middle East. My goal was the discussion of strength in a wider context of diachronic analysis. Specifically, the current situation in Iraq is grounded, in part, policy failures of the past. Again, I've specifically said that we need to re-evaluate our priorties.

The post-war rebuilding proccess in Iraq, I believe, could potentially be a demonstration of new foreign policy priorities but only if democratization actually occurs and Iraq doesn't become a puppet regime. Whether anyone was for or against the war is now irrelevant in regards to rebuilding. We must help the Iraqis succeed in that respect. Do I think there are other paths that could have been taken rather than invading Iraq? I do. Do I think the whole thing could have been planned better? I do, especially some consideration of the 'on the ground' political complexities. Do I think there is *much* to be learned from our past activities in regards to rebuilding Iraq and connecting to the world. Definitely.

S, I also wish the fanatics had not murdered 3000+ people on 9/11. I wish they'd stop murdering people everywhere. I don't believe anyone deserved that and I don't think we should tar and feather the politicians (our leaders) for its occurrence. We simply need to re-evaluate our policy and priorities and connect them to our ideals more frequently. When I asked the question about arming one lunatic a few posts ago, I meant that in all sincerity. I think it is a significant problem that has yet to be addressed.

To Bonnie, specifically:

I assume the first quote is intended to counter my claim that I never said the US funded bin Laden. To that I say: please re-read the very text you quoted. I specifically said we funded the mujahidin and indicated that bin Laden's organization sprung from that previous collective of radicalized holy warriors. That is a distinctly different claim than saying "we funded bin Laden." What it claims is that we participated in the material and ideological arming of an apparatus that would eventually give birth to bin Laden's organization. Heck, you can even say bin Laden seized it if you want, but it doesn't falsify the claim that we helped create the context for modern Islamic terrorism. Your attempt to pin the 'we funded bin Laden' line on me isn't working.

Your second two quotes again prove nothing. Your argument still rests on assumption that criticizing the US's policy and actions means 'I hate America'. That is so far from logical thought and reality that it is barely worth discussing. All you have done is ignore the specificity of *any* of my positions so that you can smear me as anti-American. A further demonstration of your inattention to my argument is that you think I'm calling you a 'flag waver'. I mentioned the flag in the context of justification of actions, not as something you're waving. I made a point in saying I *wasn't* accusing you of that. I wasn't trying to insult you.

There is a distinct difference between patriotism and nationalism. Patriots see their country, love it, recognize its strengths and flaws and seek to fix the problems. Nationalists see their country in blind faith as perfect, justifying all actions under the flag as just in the name the country, the national good. It is the latter sentiment I was speaking of, not 'flag waving', though nationalism certainly does deploy heavy symbolism to overshadow thought and discourse. Again, your willingness to misrepresent my argument and me as anti-American is both morally and intellectually dishonest. I find it offensive.

If it makes you feel better to call me a loser and anti-American without confronting my opinions, go for it. I guess I can't stop you from disengaging intellectually.

To everyone else, sorry of this post was extra-angry sounding.

Oops. Last line should read "...sorry if..."


In all likelyhood, I disagree with you on a vast array of specifics. That said, I am in complete agreement on this point:

"The post-war rebuilding proccess in Iraq, I believe, could potentially be a demonstration of new foreign policy priorities but only if democratization actually occurs and Iraq doesn't become a puppet regime. Whether anyone was for or against the war is now irrelevant in regards to rebuilding. We must help the Iraqis succeed in that respect."

Part of the problem, as far as I can tell, is that the impulse to learn from previous mistakes can be mistaken for the impression of ranting and senseless criticism. For there are some who simply dress up vitriol in the garb of constructive commentary.

Thus, I appreciate the fact that you are taking the time to explain and clarify your remarks. For it takes people from all over to do that if we are going to make much progress on things that matter.

One thing that I do feel compelled to note is that there is a time for revision and redressing grievances. There is a time to reflect on lessons learned. In a life or death situation, that time is now. In something that is not life or death, but is ongoing, the time for self-criticism may be after the contest in question is resolved.

What many here are reacting to is the feeling that the timing of the critique is specifically intended to harm, rather than help. Moreover, folks who, as suggested above, give critique without the intent of actually helping may use much of the same language that you use, but have willfully chosen to make their comments at an unhelpful time. This makes it difficult for the rest of us to sit and divine the underlying nature of what you're saying - we hear word very similar to those used by folks who really don't have the best interests of the entire nation at heart.

That said, I'll get around to substantive responses to your points later.

First: brilliant essay! I was referred here by an online friend, both directly and (through his posting a link to this essay on another site) indirectly, and this is phenomenal exposition.

Next: I've seen a lot of rhetoric thrown around about 'neocons'. I refer all and sundry to a Wall Street Journal article available at the following URL:


"Some (people), you just can't reach."

- I forget, but it's not mine.

Hey 87 Billion,

I want you to read this before security shows you the door.

Notice vigorous debate going on here between other people of differing opinions. This is an enthusiastic argument, and you can hear it recede into the distance because you are not a champion of truth and justice. You are just a loud, bitter, obnoxious drunk at a party. You being thrown out into the street is not a measure of people's inability or fear of engaging you...frankly, it's your breath. And your BO. Both of which are overpowering. So I'm going to have to ask you to step outside; there's a good fellow.

Were you in the armed services, pray? I suspect not. So you are not qualified to comment on them. You are an armchair 'activist.' You are a Laz-E-Boy, plaster-of-paris rebel.

More than anything, of course, you are a coward. You are a coward because I am willing to provide my own name, and an address where I may be reached, while you do not.

The reason you do not is because you are afraid. You are afraid to face the same responses that I face daily. You have not the moral courage to show your face. Argue and spin that simple fact all you want to. You are a coward. You have no integrity.

You cast no moral reflection. You are not worthy of this discussion, and so you will be escorted outside, so that you may stagger and shout into the rain.

(and would the rest of you please ignore these ravings until the police arrive? This is a desperate cry for the attention this loser cannot get anywhere else, and I have had experience with this breed before.)

Hehe! Notice how much of this amazingly insular "discussion" has deteriorated into "that's not what I said"? That's because some of you JUST AREN'T LISTENING. You don't seem to respond to actual discussion points--instead, you make up an argument that you *can* win. (Which is cool... if I were you, maybe that's what I'd be doing, too :-)

Just one more example for those who are trying to keep up:

"J, your post is both thoughtful and civil. It also completely misses the point that people have been trying to make to both you and Outraged. Everything you've said is predicated upon the belief that our invasion of Iraq was either shortsighted and selfish (at best) or unjust and larcenous (at worst..."

What part of *any* Outraged post up there says that our invasion of Iraq was shortsighted, selfish, unjust or larcenous? What I've said isn't predicated on that at all. So congratulations on completely smacking down Ralph Nader and thanks for your interest in foreign relations please call again. Yeesh.

So here's a quick summary: Civilian neocons playing make believe lead us into blunders and catastrophe. President asleep at the wheel holds no one accountable and shows no outward inclination to learn from past mistakes or adjust his plans in any way. McCain and Warner hopping mad. (Outraged is hopping mad, too.) Whittle implores us not to tear down this house, telling us that criticizing the Dub too much or voting against him is going to tear down this country(!)... thereby making support for the Prez a litmus test for STRENGTH. Some of you either buy what the Bill is sellin' or you just can't accept anything that Kerry says, so you're sticking with the Dub. Which is cool, that's your opinion, and I genuinely hope that you'll vote your conscience in the Fall. (Personally, I think that citizens voting their conscience is the *real* source of America's strength.) Some, however--not many in Bill's blog coterie here, but more and more around the country--think that holding George accountable is the right thing to do. In the only way that we can.

Buck stops here, kids.

By the way, as I watch some of the arguments as they develop in this Comments section, I can't help but guess that more than a few of you really *hate* some of the news that keeps coming out of our civilian leadership these days. Bill brings up these catastrophes... and each new round of pictures, or each new Chalabi, it just makes you sick to your stomach. You think to yourself "How could they BE so stupid?!!!" Don't they realize what that does to America?? You can barely make it through the first few pages of the Taguba report because it makes you sick. The Sy Hersch articles? Oh PLEASE let them turn out to be false. And you don't even DARE read Richard Clarke's book because it's written first-hand from the inside and it paints a picture that's just horrible. Maybe he got some kind of grudge or somethin'? Woodward's book? Just forget it--don't want to go there at all. And now the media is reporting on all of these mistakes over and over and over? Don't they realize how terrible, how gut-wrenching, how disgusting these stories are? Sure the foreign media is gonna jump all over this, but why does the *American* media keep twisting the knife? Don't they realize what they're doing? Don't they understand?? Finally, BW writes this wonderful uplifting piece about STRENGTH that acknowledges how sick these blunders and disasters honestly make us feel, but he shows us a path... he gives us a rationale that helps us sleep better at night and feel better about sticking with OUR GUY. Unfortunately, some guy who calls himself Outraged comes waltzin' into Bill's house and criticizes our STRENGTH... pushing all these same hot buttons all over again! Twisting the knife like some delusional, psychotic nutjob. Outraged, don't you understand how it makes us feel? Can't you just GIVE IT A REST???


I'll bet a bunch of you don't feel that way at all. But I'll bet some of you do.


Sometimes, it takes more strength to face the bad news, and take the difficult steps to actually do something about it.

The buck stops here."

If that sign isn't on the President's desk, then it's on ours. Show your strength.

And no matter which way you feel about it, vote. Vote your conscience.

Wow, eight or nine posts from the OUTRAGED FOR KERRY campaign -- remember, even though he's left and nutty, he's not as left and nutty as Ralph Nader!

Anybody changed their mind as a result of all these emissions?


Didn't think so.

Might want to re-think your strategy at this point, Outraged. First of all, the name -- poor Q ratings. Re-tool that.

Secondly every element of your strategy for the occupation of the E3 comments has been met with failure, disater and ruin -- you are, in fact, a recruiting agent for Republicans.

Shouldn't you admit that your entire campaign has been an endless series of blunders, missteps and lost opportunities, and call for yourself to step down?

Outraged, you plans to gain support forKerry has only hardened the opposition -- YOU'RE FIRED.

Hey Bill, nice to hear from you again.

"Wow, eight or nine posts from the OUTRAGED FOR KERRY campaign..."

Didn't realize there was a limit for people who disagree with you.

"Outraged, you plans to gain support forKerry has only hardened the opposition -- YOU'RE FIRED."

Hit a little too close to home, did I? I was afraid of that. I suppose this is how you welcome differing opinions and civil discourse?

"Anybody changed their mind as a result of all these emissions? No? Didn't think so."

Pretty quick to answer on behalf of your readers. I'll bet they're glad you're on duty to tell them what to think.

Pretty sad, Bill.

Compare your note to my last line: "no matter which way you feel about it, vote. Vote your conscience."

Nice reply. *I've* been smacked down. Peace out, dude.


Four days of pointless arguing! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

Didn't like YOU'RE FIRED? Who's the one making all the Donald references? Who cames in here shouting "make believe!"

NOW you want to act offended?

Give me a break.

Hey, Miss Fair Play? Perhaps you can send me an e-mail list of say 50-100 of your friends, so that I can send THEM eight or nine lengthy e-mails telling them how deluded they are for voting Kerry, and then, when they have the temerity to say WE HEARD WHAT YOU SAID AND WE DON'T AGREE, then I get to tell them how Outraged has told them all what to think! Sheeple! Robots!

God, what a hypocrite. I do give you credit for having found your ideal candidate: the guy who wants everything his way all the time (Pro-military! Anti-military! Threw them away! No, wait -- kept them!), and will say anything and play any role to get it.

But, I do thank you for for conforming to the stereotype of the ill-mannered liberal moralizer, who, when her arguments fail to get any traction, screams VICTIM! as she wraps herself in the mantle of her own smug little event horizon of condescention.

PS -- Did I say banned? Is that what you thought I said?

I'm sorry, Allison -- let me clarify. I'm not banning you, and I'm not afraid of you. I'm just TIRED of you. You GRATE. You sound like a chain saw trying to cut througha steel pipe. You started with insults and invective and have carried on this pointless he said / she said argument for almost a week. You say nothing new. Nobody seems to be convinced. I am having a very hard time, skimming these comments, figuring out what you are accomplishing other than being very, VERY pleased with the attention you gain just from being contrary. I find that a very adolescent attitude.

I'm sure you tell yourself that you have us scared, or that you're TOO CONTROVERSIAL FOR BILL TO HANDLE -- don't flatter yourself. You're BORING me.

But if that's all you've got, then hey, knock yourself out.


I just wanted to chime in with my 1/50th of a dollar, and note that the reason I have responded to j and not you is by two fold. First, your posts are full of sound and fury. Second, not only do you fail to do anything about the hectoring tone of your posts, you seem deeply unaware that there is any vitriol at all.

I am quite anxious to respond more fully to J's posts, because he not only has kept a very rational tone, he has also taken the time to clarify his remarks and has worked very hard at creating a usable, functioning dialog, rather than a spiteful polemic.



Outraged, when I posted this:

"J, your post is both thoughtful and civil. It also completely misses the point that people have been trying to make to both you and Outraged. Everything you've said is predicated upon the belief that our invasion of Iraq was either shortsighted and selfish (at best) or unjust and larcenous (at worst..."

I was speaking specifically to J, not to you. The reason I included your name in there was because I wanted to differentiate between you two and the common trolls like "$87billion". I didn't mean that you and J were arguing the exact same points. But the snide rhetoric you decided to spew as a result of your misunderstanding says quite a lot about you - thanks for clearing that up.

At least it did get you to sum up your argument, which amounts to "The neocons have screwed everything up - largely because of flaws inherent to their ideaology - and everything that Bill and his readers believe in is nothing but an attempt to avoid confronting the ugly truth of their failure".

You believe that Bill's point in writing STRENGTH was to "give us a rationale that helps us sleep better at night and feel better about sticking with OUR GUY". I can't know what's in Bill's head, but I do know that my understanding of STRENGTH was much different. My opinion is that you either can't or won't see the essay as anything but propaganda, because doing so would force you to admit that the truth contained therein runs very deep.

You go on to say that "Sometimes, it takes more strength to face the bad news, and take the difficult steps to actually do something about it." This is precisely what Bill's essay IS ALL ABOUT. The bad news that has to be faced is that we are at war - a war we did not start - with a culture that hates us simply because of who we are. And the steps that have to be taken to do something about it are 1) Elimination of the immideate terrorist threat from Al Queada, 2) Establishment of a secular democracy in Arabia from which reform can spread, and 3) Encouraging the aforementioned reform through diplomacy that is backed up by the very real threat of force.

You seem to belive that the only things which currently "need to be faced" are the mistakes that WE'VE made (mistakes that ARE being faced by this administration, every minute of every day, whether you believe it or not). Bill and the rest of us are arguing that there is a far larger picture which you and the rest of the left are ignoring while you wring your hands over these details.

Do abuses (like Abu Ghraib) and mistakes (like friendly fire accidents) need to be investigated and prevented? Of course they do. Are they anywhere near as important as the larger issues of establishing a secular democracy in Arabia and crushing Al Queada? NO THEY ARE NOT.

STRENGTH, to me, is about doing what it takes to finish the ugly, dirty job we've had forced upon us by the Islamo-Facsists IN SPITE OF THE OCCASIONAL MISTAKES, ABUSES, AND FAILURES. People are not perfect so we're never going to prevent those things from happing altogether, but I'm happy enough that they happen far less to the US Military than they ever have to any other army anywhere, anywhen.

I'm not sure there's really anything more to discuss, Outraged. You appear dead set on seeing only the mistakes and setbacks, and laying blame for all of it (and more) on "neocon strategy". You've be told plenty of times that others here believe such mistakes and setbacks are possible - even probable - in ANYONES strategy, and that most other strategies would be far worse than the Bush Administration's. Unless you have something new to say or come to the sudden realization that there are indeed flaws in your argument, we've reached an impass.

You are caught in a burning building and you're yelling at the firemen because their waterhoses have ruined your neighbor's rug.

And for the record, I assure you that I will be voting my conscience in November. No urging from the Kerry camp is required.


Pretty quick to answer on behalf of your readers. I'll bet they're glad you're on duty to tell them what to think.

Maybe you shouldn't project so much.

But please, continue the "i'm an outraged martyr pity me" act, if you wish.

Oh, btw. If someone points out that you're helping your enemy more than your friends, maybe you should stop and think before presuming it "hit close to home". But no, you're too convinced of your righteousness so you'll only get worse.


Bill, there is probably nothing I can say that hasn't been said already in these comments ... but I must add my name to the roll call.

You are among a choice few who have renewed my faith in America. You have helped me to believe that, despite appearances, there are still countrymen of mine who do not despise what is good and inspiring in our history.

I can take comfort in knowing that in my country there are still those who understand that we were made for greater things than amassing goods and making debater's points; that as benefactors of the most free and among the most prosperous civilizations in history, we have a duty of care to protect our freedoms, even at great cost, even for others who have not heretofore been blessed as we have.

Yes, many among us have gone over to the dark side, seeing in the slow and painful progress of western civilization over the centuries, and particularly in our own American experiment in humane society, nothing but its failures. They do not understand that failure, self-serving and inability to live up to the highest ideals are part of the human condition. Nor do they understand that the best of our people have striven to create not some fantasy Utopia (requiring an all-powerful central authority to force "perfection" on individuals by ruling every aspect of their lives), but a pragmatically sound society in which the best of our humanity is given a wide-open range and the worst is, to the extent possible, kept within strict bounds.

I don't think most of my countrymen and -women have gone over to the dark side, but many are simply ignorant and their characters unformed, thanks to our dumbed-down, politically correct educational system and mass media. If anything can reach these people and nudge them into a deeper understanding and worthier aspirations, your eloquent words can -- and, I hope and trust, in many cases will.


"To say that they we were blind to the fact that the Soviet Union was our next major confrontation and that the atom bomb use in Japan wouldn't have an impact is either naive or delusional."

And the point of that is what? It seems to me that you're suggesting that if the Truman administration recognized the Soviets might take notice of our possession of the atom bomb, and restrain themselves accordingly, that somehow de-legitimizes its use.

That might be the case if, and only if, the bomb would not have been used, but for that recognition. That is, one could make the case that while using the bomb to end the ghastly war without the millions of deaths that would have resulted otherwise would have been legitimate, it would have been less legitimate if the deciding concern had been the desire to make a show of force against a future rival. If there were any evidence of figures in the Truman administration saying, "well, the Japanese are finished , and will probably surrender bomb or no bomb, but let's drop it anyway to impress the Sovs," that would be a moral problem.

But there is no evidence that the bomb would not have been used, even if we had thought the Soviets were our bosom friends and would remain so. Is it possible the bomb could have had the same war-ending effect if it had been dropped on an unpopulated area (say, across the bay from Tokyo)? I wonder. Edward Teller apparently thought so. But when I spoke of "context," I was referring to the tendency of a global war like World War II to brutalize both sides. Remember, at the outset of the war, British air force generals were even skitchy about destroying "private property" like the Krupp works. But when the Axis powers demonstrated they had no such scruples, the Allies naturally followed suit -- to do otherwise would be to put themselves at an unacceptable disadvantage. And so the Allies, because of their ultimate greater strength, wound up inflicting firestorms that made the London blitzes look like pinpricks.

I guess what I was trying to say, when insisting that you consider the use of the atom bomb in context, was that the default setting of Western democracies is not total war -- but once the bar of a conflict has been raised to that level, they fight at that level, with horrible effectiveness.

I very much enjoyed the new essay (both parts)...right up there with your best writing.

I especially liked the Superman analogy. Reminds me a little bit of one of the Robocop sequels. Godawful movies, I know, but there was an interesting scene when a committee decided to add a bunch of politically correct programing to Robocop, making him more palatable to the public. The resulting crime wave from being uable to enforce the law seems very much like what we see today.

Sometimes feelings and 5 minute attention spans need to take a back seat to getting the job done, something that a lot of people have forgotten.

Anyway, nice to read some new stuff, and I'm eagerly awaiting the book. Anymore Pasadena speakings in the works?

Just as troll-bait, let me throw some chum into the waters of the WMD debate. (Listen up, "Outraged", whoever you are, this bit is for you.) There are precisely 2 possibilities:

1) Iraq/Saddam did not have WMDs.
2) Iraq/Saddam had WMDs.

I favor the latter, as does history. Regardless, these 2 irrefutable possibilities lead to a huge number of sub-possibilities. I trust Bill's loyal legion of readers to figure out most of them, but I'll spell out one just for the trolls. Don't say I never did anything pour vous.

Suppose that Iraq/Saddam did not have any WMDs. (To do this, you must oh-so-conveniently ignore the gassing of the Kurds in 1991. But then again, no one has ever held leftoids to any high standards of intellectual honesty.) Saddam had given every indication that he either already had WMDs or was very, very close to acquiring them. (Thanks a heap, Wen Ho Li.) And since the CIA had been hamstrung during the last 25 or so years, there were almost no human intellegence assets in place. (Thanks a heap, Senator Church.) We relied on electronic intercepts (elint) for our info. Saddam could have called the gardener(s) of his palace(s) every day for the last decade and asked "Where is the nuke?" and the CIA would have reported it. Added to the data about the aluminum tubes and high-speed centrifuges that he had gone out of his way to purchase, it sure looked like Iraq was about to become the ump-teenth nuclear power.

But this is the timeline in which he did NOT have WMDs. So. The Butcher of Baghdad was bluffing. He was holding two deuces (Ouday and Qusay) and a Joker (Mohammed al-Shaff, AKA Baghdad Bob) while Dubya had four aces (Cheney, Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld) right from the deal. Someone should have told Saddam that you should never, ever bluff a Texan.

At this point, let me paraphrase (read "Badly Mangle) James Lileks. If we had backed down from this bluff, then 15 or 20 years down the road, the best-case scenario was either Ouday or Qusay as the head of state, with a full armory of WMDs at their sociopathic disposal. Best. Case. Scenario.

As I said on the day foreign newspapers covered the unearthing of the mass graves of CHILDREN in Iraq, while our sainted media treated us to 24.7 replays of Martha Stewart doing the "Perp-walk", SCREW the WMDs, we were right to invade Iraq.

Oops, one minor quibble: at the end, it should have been "24/7 coverage."


Dear Bill:

Thank you for this essay on America's STRENGTH and for everything else you've ever written. Also for all the comments you've drawn.


You quoted & wrote:

""To say that they we were blind to the fact that the Soviet Union was our next major confrontation and that the atom bomb use in Japan wouldn't have an impact is either naive or delusional."

And the point of that is what? It seems to me that you're suggesting that if the Truman administration recognized the Soviets might take notice of our possession of the atom bomb, and restrain themselves accordingly, that somehow de-legitimizes its use."

Sorry for any confusion. That wasn't my goal. The whole WW2 & nuclear war tangent began with GreatHairySilverback's comments regarding of the Soviet Unions plans for world domination, the thermonuclear war threats and their relationship to our Cold War activities in the Middle East. His argument was that our activities were necessary to stop the 'red tide' and avoid global nuclear holocaust. My initial comment, perhaps a little too dismissively flippant, was that I found it funny that the nuclear threat was raised as justification when the US was the only nation to actually use one.

My point wasn't to justify the USSR's seeming willlingness to use them but to again point out that we had a hand in bringing an unfortunate situation to fruition. I think the important context of the evolution of the current Middle Eastern situation has its roots in the Cold War and our & the USSR's activities. We could easily make a case for cultural disruption as a result of colonialsm, but I think the Cold War, obviously, has the most immediate bearing.

Your mention of the context of their use resulted in my question of which aspect. By identifying two aspects, I offended Bonnie & was attacked for daring to suggest multiple intentions, goals, aspects of the context of the Japan bombings. In trying to clarify, I made the statement you most recently quoted.

Ok. What the heck did I drag all of that out for? The reason I retraced all of that is to say I don't think the Truman administration's recognition of the 'Soviet effect' de-legitimizes its use. Certainly ending the war with Japan was our primary and most immediate goal. That whole tangent of atom bombs on Japan was in defense of multiple aspects as worthy of consideration.

I agree that it would de-legitimize the event had intimidating a third party (USSR) been the prime motivating factor. I also agree that it wasn't the prime motivating factor. I actually agree with all of what you've written in the last post. Particularly, the last paragraph I found to be rather insightful. Hopefully that clears up what I meant in regard to the Japan and the atomic bomb in WW2.

Hopefully I didn't brush past anything important trying to retrace how this happened.

Bravo Romeo Delta,

I agree with you that the mis-impression of ranting and senseless criticism is a common one and that critique is often viewed as intentionally harmful rather than helpful. The magnitude of misinterpretation and difficult reactions seems to be positively correlated to the perceived sanctity of the topic and its relation to any given crisis at the time. However, I think this is a primarily emotional response and while natural, is counter-productive compared to a rational response. Sure, a lot of jerks may agree with any of us and present poorly reasoned rantings in the language we might use. This happens across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the emotional response, while likely well-meaning, obscures legitimate discourse from lunatic ravings. The speaker has a responsibility only for their own words. The listener, if they choose to engage, has the burden of discerning the meaningful from the meaningless.

I'm not accusing you of any of this, I'm just stating my thoughts. Too often we all brush aside things worth hearing because the speakers 'sound like those idiot whacko (insert your least favorite political orientation here) nutjobs' and miss out on intellectual growth. I know I've been guilty of it.

My second thought in regard to your post is to disagree with your timing of self-criticism. Certainly, there are constraints on this process dependent on the immediacy of the situation. I doubt I'd do much re-evaulating of my posts here, for example, in the potentially last split seconds of my life. (No offense to anyone here.) But, I think in most instances, reflection must be a part of the process of action. There is no stop-time in which events do not occur and thus every instance is potentially signficant history worth contemplating. Is that an excuse of navel-gazing? I don't think so, but there is a difference between navel-gazing and deliberate consideration of past actions and consequences. Without sufficient reflection at the most appropriate times, when things are occurring, we're bumbling along without a real purpose. It is the difference between realizing events have histories and actions have consequences, immediate and long-term, and just acting based on the immediate and rationalizing any ill consequences after the fact as an unfortunate corollary of a 'necessary' task. It seems everyone, including those that formulate our national policy, too often do the latter rather than the former. I think this is a mistake and a weakness. I thikn that was my original goal, however poorly expressed.



Sorry I haven't gotten back to your major points, but as far as the timing issue goes, let me break down and use an analogy here.

After a military engagement, commanders in the field often have what is called an "After Action Review" in which they reviewed what went well, what didn't, and what they should do next time. During that period, it is quite helpful for a junior to pop up and ask "I'm not certain why we did that. It would have seemed to make more sense to do something else."

During the middle of battle, conversely, a junior might choose to take the initative and attack a target of opportunity, or refrain from movment or attack if the situation on the ground varies wildly from that anticipated.

Where these two sets of behavior come into conflict is when the junior officer recieves an order from his commander and replies "Hmm.. That's an interesting idea. But I think I want to do something else." Or if he should reply "I really don't see the point of your order, but I am, however, concerned with the geopolitical threat posed by X, so I'll go tackle that."

That's the point at which 'taking the initiative' starts becoming quite counterproductive. Right now, since we are involved in Iraq, we have to be a bit caareful if we want to make our course corrections helpful rather than counterproductive.

One of the points that your post reminds me of is the difference between policies created for use by the public policy community and policies created by academia. The ones for use in the public policy community emphasize certain traits, such as succinctness, frugality, simplicity, and so on. The ones generated by academia tend much more towards documentation, new insights, nuance, argumentation, and such. The big difference between them, in the end analysis is that you can spend several years on a dissertation, but if you spend several years on policy, your policy will have long been overtaken by events.

So, at the end of the day on the sharp end of things, folks do the best they can today, try to do better tomorrow, and learn from yesterday.

.............Once again, your writing makes me Proud to call myself an American.

I have renewed strength and energy to go foward once again into my small corner of the world, and do my daily job with the knowlege that this grand experiment is indeed worth living and dying for.

Thank you Mr. Whittle for your clairfying views.

Not to hijack the comments, but HEY BILL!

Were you aware that fellow blogger Rich from Shots Across the Bow has taken the plunge into entrepreneurship as a micropublisher?

Have you secured a publisher for Silent America yet?

Somewhere back there in one of j's first posts he alluded to the fact that we tolerate in Saudi Arabia a government that we should seek to remove.

What game are we playing with Saudi Arabia
right now? Certainly they're no beacon of
justice or democratic ideals, yet our nation
and leaders have hopped into bed with them in
the blink of an eye. Wonder why? Could it be
the oil?

The obvious flaw here is that if we sought to force the Saudis to moderate or moved in and ousted them by force what we would hear is: It's blood for oil!

This is a no win situation for a Republican administration. But the truth is; of course it's about the oil you stupid jerks! The world's economy depends on it. If all these guys were doing was herding goats and killing each other we wouldn't give a rat's ass.

OT, but I thought this should be announced:

Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21

Way to go, guys!!!HOOAH!

Sapper Mike

Mr. Whittle, it took me this long to read (and reread) (and reread) your latest. You, sir, are the kind of person I want my sons to grow up to be. If you are ever in the Raleigh, NC area, you will not buy a beer the entire time you're here. I am also asking to be added to the list of those who will definitely buy your book. Words like these need to be immortalized in print.

My next to oldest son is currently stationed in Yuma at the Marine Corps Air Station learning to service Harriers. I told him about your blog, and he has read several of the essays. I asked him about them the other day, and he said he's told a bunch of his fellow Marines, including his CO, about it and told them they had to read it. Word is getting out, Mr. Whittle. Keep up the good work!

Thank you. I needed that.

Not to be a dick or anything, but if you believe so strongly in what you wrote, why not go over there and serve as "liberator" yourself? You clearly have the pedigree and moxie.

Are you asking other people's children to go over there for something YOU believe in?

Jim L.

I have tried to enlist in the US armed forces three times, but that has no bearing whosoever on the issue. Not to be a dick or anything, but I find this "chickenhawk" bullshit to be the last refuge of elitist scumbags who have run out of arguments. I perceive that my US citizenship gives me a right to say what I want without having to okay it with the faculty or student body at Michigan State University.

Don't you dare begin to lecture me about the military. I have more contact with active duty service men and women in a week than I suspect you will have in a lifetime. It is your attitude, and not mine, that the in they main find repulsive and destructive to themselves and their families.

However, I will give you credit for signing your own name and providing an address for a response. That in itself puts you several fathoms above the mud-dwelling worms that usually make these arguments.

Go Gators.

Your article is magnificent. I want to print it and read it again. I sincerely hope you sent this to the major newspapers for possible publication, more people need to read it.

Thanks again for your piercing insights and sheer common sense..a true appeal to reason.

Bill Whittle for President!

Seriously. What would it take to get a grassroots movement underway? There's 4 years of lead-time to get airborne, so-to-speak. If this isn't The Right Stuff, I don't know what is.

This article reads like it was written by an Intifada propagandist with all the words changed in all the right places to make it Neocon propaganda. You need all the same qualities of perseverence, all the same beliefs in your history and destiny. Dont kid yourself that war has a wrong side and a right side. Its the same on both sides. Them or us. Why not cut the crap and just say that? Beacuse its not true? how come the other side doesnt believe your beliefs then? Truth is geographical.

"Dont kid yourself that war has a wrong side and a right side. Its the same on both sides. Them or us."

Odd, our side believes in religious tolerance and the equality of women. Theirs believes in a totalitarian theocracy and the subjugation of women. It's not the same on both sides, and if you can make that argument it says something about your mental balance.

Damned straight "them or us." I choose us. No moral equivalence at all, period.

"Truth is geographical" my ass. PERCEPTION is geographical. Truth is truth, regardless of location. Bill speaks truth. That makes more effective propaganda than lies. Or moral equivocation.

Try again.

Um, one small quibble to a fantastic overall read. "Thus" is in itself an adverb. "Thusly" is therefore redundant and hence not really a word. (You use it before the 9-11 insert.) It's in the dictionary for the same reason "alright" is: it's been misused so often that a foundation of legitimacy has arisen underneath it. Whereas, however, "alright" is an abbreviation in a language that values brevity, "thusly" is an addition that dilutes a wonderfully terse word. I recommend you change it, but, of course, it's your essay to do with what you like.

As a not-yet-recovering liberal, I really like reading your stuff for the clarity and perspective it offers. Fine job.

There seems to be a belief, fostered by such as John Kerry, that soldiers should be allowed to decide which wars are just and which are not, and thereby elect not to advance with their comrades. I wonder what Major Ballou would think of such men.

"Beacuse its not true? how come the other side doesnt believe your beliefs then? Truth is geographical."

The fallacy here is the idea that all people will always recognize truth.

There are people who don't believe men walked on the moon. By Simon's logic, this means it's not literally "true" that Apollos 11-17 (minus 13) made it there.

The fact that some truths are hard to discover doesn't excuse us from trying to discover them, and stand for what we conclude is right and true as far as it is given to us to see the right.

Dear Bill,

This is an overdue note of thanks. Overdue, because ever since I read 'Strength', I've marvelled at how well you've done at zeroing in (literarily, not literally :-)> on the foundation issues of the ongoing battle.

To be candid, I can understand 'the enemy without' much more easily than 'the enemy within'.... The latter, if there are enough of them, and if they prevail, will walk Western civilisation to its doom, smirking self-righteously all the way.

For instance... the Wall St. Journal today posed a question for its readers: 'How would you judge the media coverage of Reagan's death?'

Among the responses was the following. To my mind, it is so fraudulently assembled and presented as to deserve some kind of award for specious reasoning. What shines through is not the author's brilliance, but a sniffy denial of the realities of survival in what has always been, and always will be, a dangerous world... where mortal dangers must be recognised and faced down.

Please keep that throttle right up to the panel, power hard on, (my old learn-to-fly Cessna 150 comes to mind)), and don' ever quit.

Best regards,


Here it is, in all its malevolent glory:

3195.4 in reply to 3195.1

Ronald Reagan was very fortunate in that he was at the right place at the right time. He's given credit for "defeating Communism" by taking a strong stance and frightening his opposite numbers with SDI. If things had gone a little differently his provocative actions might have had tragic consequences. And just because the corrupt system of the Soviet Union collapsed does not mean that our system is perfect and not open to improvement. Robert MacNamara repeatedly makes the point that "we were just lucky" when he and John Kennedy got tough with the Russians in October 1962 that their tactics did not result in Armageddon, and the same could be said in respect to the Reagan administration.
Actually, Ronald Reagan has a lot to do with our present difficulties in Iraq. When Ronald Reagan said he wanted people to feel good about being American there was something going on more pernicious than at first meets the eye. Ronald Reagan was not an intellectual; it isn't a requirement for being a good president. FDR was not an intellectual. But the problem was that Reagan wanted to see the world as a movie script with black and white issues and characters and (in historical dramas) with inconvenient facts re-written. In just about all Westerns, the indians were treacherous and violent and the white settlers were virtuous and courageous. I believe that the involved issues are too complex for all land to be herewith immediately returned to the indians, but we need to be aware that a big part of the traditional "story of America" is a lie covering up a tragic history of persecution and murder. Reagan wanted to intoxicate people with the myth of America, as he himself was intoxicated, and I think that the present warm fuzzy feeling most people seem to feel about him is an index of the success he achieved. He felt his job was to make the people feel good. Maybe his job should have been to make the people be good.

In foreign policy terms, the dichotomy can be seen in the two fictional treatments of Edward Lansdale, the counterintelligence operative who is largely credited with the creation of South Vietnam. "The Ugly American" was a flattering treatment that painted a picture of selfless foreign service professionals trying to keep Vietnam free from Communism to enjoy the blessings of living the American way. Graham Greene wrote in response "The Quiet American", a nuanced treatment in which he portrays unsophisticated US agents over their heads in a culture they don't understand and their ignorant interference results in tragedy. I believe that events in Vietnam would bear out Greene's view, but many conservatives cherish to this day a "Remember the Alamo" romantic view of Vietnam as a pure chivalric quest that was treacherously thwarted by corrupt intellectuals at home who would not let the US military take the necessary steps to win the war.

George Bush wanted to see Iraq as an old time Hollywood movie. Hey, it worked for Reagan. The problem was that the Iraqis had a different script. The Bush people saw Ahmed Chalabi as sort of like Paul Muni in "Juarez", a foreigner who was thoroughly Americanized and they could feel comfortable with him in the role of "statesman". They didn't realize that he was a rogue more akin perhaps to a role played by Akim Tamiroff in an old Warner Brothers movie or by Eli Wallach in those Clint Eastwood spagetti Westerns. Bush uses cinematic gestures; a favorite of his is the narrowed eyes when he's dead serious. A favorite of Reagan's was the jaunty swagger from the waist when he was giving presidential addresses.

Why did confusing myth with reality work for Reagan and not for Bush? You can't discount luck but also times have changed. I think a major difference today is the Internet; if it had existed 30 years ago Viet Cong cells in the US might have flown the planes into the WTC. But it still comes back to MacNamara: we were just lucky in the Cuban Missile Crisis and we were lucky in the fall of the Soviet Union. The only real solution to complex international problems is very un-sexy, mundane negotiation which the United Nations is perfectly suited to. The day of foreign policy cowboys is over; we have got to say to them, "Don't call us. We'll call you."

I have but this to say in response to that:

"Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker."

Pardon my French.

Dear Bill,

When we used a Sullivan Ballou excerpt in our wedding vows 8 years ago, I could not contemplate at that time that the ideals there embodied would resonate so profoundly in my lifetime. And thanks for introducing it to so many who have been unaware of its existence.

Except for the recent immigrants from places that have truly known repression, I think most Americans simply lack the creativity to imagine just how bad things can be. And correspondingly, a failure to grasp the extent of commitment, sacrifice, and of course strength required to address the threat at hand.

Thusly, we then have slogans posing as policies and a complete absence of actual solutions. If we did choose to fight fire with fire, I think that "no genocide" would trump the "no war" crowd's feable attempts to impose their guilt-ridden, middle-class, suburban rationale and methods of conflict resolution on the world and the bad characters in it.

What I cannot imagine as a father of a two year old, is the dedication of these men and women currently engaged in the same sacrifice as Ballou. Not just being away for a year or more, but the prospect of not returning at all. Perhaps your terrific site could be a vehicle for the people who want to show their gratitude to the families of the fallen by routing charitable donations to them. I for one am willing to give, and I have done so for other causes such as Spirit of America which helps Iraqis, but I think more should be done for these soldiers' families. Someone willing to start a movement?

Dear Bill,

I've read most of your works and I plan to read everything else soon. You work is important not just because it provides a clear, well-thought-out guide to the real issues and ideas of our day, but also it provides a look into the thought processes of the enemy, both western and Islamic. Your work exposes how poisonous thinking has infected quite a few people in the western world. Your works on confidence and magical thinking are a real wake up call for me. I think you have hit the mark on why the western world wants to sabotage itself. I'm not so worried about nutbag Islamists, as I am about our own people and our allias forgetting that freedom is not free. You have to work to earn it, and you have to work to keep it. Otherwise someone is going to take it away . Keep up the good work.

I alway seem to be the last one to read your great essays, Bill, and 200,000 posts preceed mine, so anything I could say has been said. I will say one thing, I will never give up taking care of this house, nor defending it, for someday our people will come home. I want them to be as proud of me as I am of them. I do not mind hostile debate on either side, but we better learn to see what we hate most, clearly, or perhaps more importantly, who taught the hate, or we risk losing all we care for. Again, great essay, Bill, and all those who joined in.

A smart woman taught me, keep your friends and family close, keep your enemies closer...I never have figured that one out.


Dear Bill,

I think I love you.

Dear Bill,

Thank you for this excellent essay. I have great admiration for your writing, which is always insightful, elegant, and inspiring. I have to wonder about one argument you made though, and that is when you claim that all the masses of ranting lunatics together could not manufacture one #2 pencil. While I understand your point quite well, I have to wonder whether all the Republicans who will attend this year’s convention could together manufacture that pencil? Or if all the College Republicans in clubs across the country could? Or the staff of Fox News, Front Page Mag, and NRO put together? Or any group of Protest Warriors who show up to counter protest? Or all conservative bloggers working together for that matter? Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending the raving “peace” protestors, as I have nothing but contempt for most of them. And I am not at all talking about the terrorist monsters, who rely parasitically on Western technological achievements to carry out their depraved and horrific deeds. I just don’t think that this example is entirely valid as a proof of the Left’s incompetence.


PS: I am sorry if this has already been discussed here, I have not read all of the comments in this thread.

I will to protect our house, Bill Whittle!

--Phil, naturalized American-American, born in Russia

when do we get to read more? and i thought it a very cognizant and perceptive analysis. good job!

To Stace W and those of you who wish to donate to the families of those serving in our armed forces, go to the Freedom Alliance page

for links to donate.

Thank you very much for that Bill.
Over Teamspeak today I had an argument with a person who thinks that Kerry is far better than Bush, who believes Clinton was one of the best Presidents.
And... I just sat there dumbfounded.
How in God's Green Earth can anyone think that?!

I told him, he's wrong, he cannot possibly be correct. Sure Bush made a couple mistakes, but he didn't deny them, he didn't try to hide them.
He didn't betray the Soldiers of America. He is am an of his word.
He doesn't cheat on his wife, or lie in Court.

And this person just sat there for a second, and said the same thing.
And I got so filled with rage that I had to leave the Channel. I just left.

Thank you for this Essay, for it has calmed my rage and I can coherently think again.
Should ever this Great Nation need a Guide Book, I think you should write it.

I have always looked for a possibility to find information as quick as I can. Now there is the internet. Thanks have a good time again.

To answer your question, Iran has build a fantastic facility for recycling newspaper into pencils, showing their commitment to the Kyoto protocol and world harmony. Hopefully the U.S. will catch up soon. Hope this helps! Here's more info about the factory:

In the 5th paragraph after proteus exasperates that "you just can't please some people", he suggests that Bush's vision includes getting oil imports down so that we can ask some pointed questions of our "Saudi Buddies".

What are the pointed questions that Proteus would like Bush to ask our "Saudi Buddies"?
What support did you give to Bin Laden and Al Queada?
Bush, and his supporters in Congress have never been too eager to look into that question. I wonder what answers they might have come up with if Bush, who has never shown any reluctance to hold suspected "enemy combatants" without charge, held onto the 100+ members of the Saudi Royal family who were flown out of the U. S. on Sept. 12.
After enumerating Saddams crimes, somewhere in his posting, Proteus mentions Kim Jong Il, North Koreas dictator. But he never details his crimes.
I'm wondering if the million Iraqis killed by Saddam matter as much as the 2 million North Koreans killed by Kim Jong Il through famine in the period 92-95, or the WMD's Kim flaunts before the world and the U. S.

To continue the above:
Why not finish the Korean war?
If we're going to fight the enemy, then let's find the enemy, wherever that search may take us or our soldiers, without reguard to what relationships maybe broken.
Exactly what has been secured as a result of our intervention in Iraq is yet to be seen. Hoping that something will happen that will make it all seem worthwhile in the longrun has proven costly. Not least to our ability to respond to other more worthy recipients of our force. The North Koreans know this all to well.
(Moamar Quadaffi wants back in the world Community for the economic benefit. I think he already knew we couldn't respond militarily to his WMD program by the time he opted out.)

Iran seems likely to be the next wmd problem. Are we, under the leadership of Bush, going to waltz in there for yet another round of the flight suit president proclaiming "Mission Accomplished". Don't hear any sabers rattling in that direction.
Why not? Could it be that we're still stuck in Iraq? Could the intelligence apparatus that gave us a preview of what we'd see in Iraq still be in place?
Any other problems?

I'm not sure what Proteus wanted to accomplish, mission or otherwise, with his lengthy essay. Do he and some of the other liberal nation builder types who've commented think the problem is here with people who can't quite see as clearly as they do?
My, My. I thought the problem was WITH THE INSURGENTS IN IRAQ.
Our problem seems to be that our intelligence services that are supposed to be directing our actions there simply don't understand these people.
One thing is clear: The insurgents are certainly not concerned with public opinion. Their fanaticism, whether driven by economic desperation or unreasoning hatred of the west, leads them to the conclusion that bullets and bombs are the solution for any disagreements that arise between them, and any faction that opposes them.
In essence, they don't care what we do so long as they believe they can off themselves while taking somebody with them.
We don't need tanks; we need snipers. We don't need demonstrations to support our troops; we need the intelligence to direct their firepower with absolute precision.
We want to bring swift and certain death to our enemies, not glory and martyrdom.
So long as the enemy believes he can win glory and martyrdom, he will continue.
It seems to me that trying to convince each other that we're right is a waste of time. Our efforts might be better directed spent writing to those responsible for the nations intelligence services.
On the day we can say that the enemy knows that we know exactly what they're doing, where and when they're doing it, the war on terrorism will be won.
Standing around telling ourselves how great we are won't move us one inch closer to day.
Of course we could try writing to the insuregents to tell them how wrong they are, and how great we are. But I doubt that it'd do any good.
Look forward to your responses. See you on the swiftboat. JAT

I'll be sure and do that, I'd be very interested in looking at what you've done. Thanks


I wrote President Bush asking him to hold off on the invasion till the inspectors had finished their work. By this I do not mean they should sit on their behinds waiting for the end of the world.(Though some of my brother officers in the other swiftboats will insist otherwise.)
I would rather that our forces be used in the event that Saddam had impeded the swift movement of inspectors to any site of their choosing. Forces would move slowly, siezing the sites peicemeal, allowing inspectors to move about as needed. Then leave when done.
I think this could've been done with a minimal loss of life, and cost. When over the inspection would've reavealed that either Saddam had something or that he had nothing. Or he would've been doumb enough to try to stop the insprctors, and justify his removal from the country along with his inner cabal.
If Saddam has nothing, his people rise up against him, and he's gone. Or we take him out, and he's gone. But the objective is never to end up occupying the country. But to facilitate inspections, and remove any obstacles to them.
This, however, requires intelligence. And without such intelligence, we'd end up with a long occupation, with a fishing expedition for Saddam, and a huge mess for us to clean up.
I thought they'd find some weapons. They haven't even found that.
I didn't know how right I'd be. In any case, I concluded that I hoped all would go well for the sake of the troops who'd be sent in.
Not that I seriously expect that the President is going to listen to me. Not when he has so many other geniuses to listen to.
But, I'm hoping that Proteus, Spock, Kirk, whoever decide to write the President, and express their support for his actions. But to look first before you leap.


What Bush has to overcome is that he seems quite willing to demand of others what he flatly refuses to demand of himself. Namely, the willingness to put yourself in harms way for the sake of the country. It's not just him, either.
Bush's entire inner circle is made up of people who run around honoring veterans while they(and their children) flatly refuse to share their sacrifice.
The one exception is Colin Powell. Of course it's an open secret that Powell will leave should Bush recieve a second term. Powell is no longer one of the insiders.
Isn't it something that the whole of Bush's inner circle is made up of people who never put themselves in harms way for their country. For someone as image conscious as Bush, that would seem to be a problem.
Clinton never ordered a single soldier to his death,(The Clintons were cleared of responsability for Vince Foster by Ken Starr) and Kerry at least leaves the impression that he would never demand of others what he wouldn't demand of himself.
There are many ways to dishonor a soldier. I think the public is starting to believe that sending a soldier for a cause your not willing to fight for yourself, or do not understand yourself, is one of them.
Even Bush had to mention the Swift Boat Veterans specificly in his rather broad sided objection to independent group ads.
For more see WILLIAM B. ROOD article on what happened in 1969. He was actually close enough to see what happened the day John Kerry earned his medals. Lo and behold it conforms to what the swift boat critics said about John Kerry back in 1969, and what they said about him in 1996 when, trapped in a tight senate race, Kerry called upon his swift boat critics to confirm his heroism under fire. They stood before the television cameras and did just that.
But time will tell what the public will believe. However, Mark, what if the public comes to believe that patriotism is something that you act on, rather than dressing up in a flight suit to talk about? Will this leave you enraged?
Look forward to your response. JAT


So you are saying that the litmus test of a president is whether or not they will pull a sword from a scabbard and take to the battlefield alongside the soldiers under their command? I guess Lincoln should have been leading the charge at Gettysburg? I guess Roosevelt should have been rolling up the beaches at Normandy? I guess Clinton, well, er,...

No. A president has every right to demand action from his soldiers; that's why he's called the Commander in Chief. What matters to me is that we have a president willing to make tough decisions in defense of his country and act on them with conviction. Someone who understands when action is necessary and words have done all they can.

I find it interesting that the biggest problem Bush's opponents have with him is the Mission Accomplished Flight Suit episode. A year and a half later and it's all they can talk about to say how "wrong" he was. Bill addressed that subject in this very article.

You seem willing to regurgitate every empty argument that Michael Moore makes in his "documentary", namely Bush being in cahoots with the Saudis, and the irksome implication that the members of Congress are unwilling to "send their children" to fight their wars for them. Since when are children "sent" to war by their parents, like it's daycare or something?

It's a volunteer army, pal, every member a consenting adult and willing to be there. I am proud of each and every one of them. You are right in one thing, There are many ways to dishonor a soldier. One of them is to make their sacrifices mean nothing by calling for their retreat while they are well on their way to meeting their objective.

Some final thoughts:
Before the invasion, I got into a discussion with some friends. They passionatley defended President Bush predicting that the entire middle East would be sucking our kneecaps shortly after,
Bin Laden would be caught, Iraqi oil would pay for our trouble, and the Republicans would be holding their convention in Baghdad.
I replied that I hoped they were right. But that the main doubt I had about all this was that we were fighting some elses fight. We were going into this like we did in Vietnam, and in "Operation Restore Hope" in Africa. If the leading Mid east states weren't going to give more than token assisitance to us, say what they want to, they obviuosly didn't see him as a threat. Did they know something we didn't?
We're doing it alone, without provocation, and if it goes south, we end up owning the country, and only God knows how we'd get out of there with our dignity intact, and our security insured. And our intelligence services seem pretty lame, more prone to making excuses than to giving useful information.
And we don't seem to be commiting enough resources to do the job. Bush fired that General who said we needed twice the number of troops to do the job that Bush was committing. He wasn't preparing the country for the long hard fight ahead.
And what do we do about the North Koreans or Bin Laden if we're all tied up with Iraq?
Seeing that tempatures were rising, I decided to leave off there and let my friends celebrate our victory.
At first, things went well, and everyone was smiles. But as time went on, and things started looking alot tougher than Bush let on, conversation about the whole matter was dropped. They simply stopped talking about it. Talk these days turns mostly to healthcare and job security.
Time and events obviously taught them what logic, and good sense could not. The same has obviously happened here.
Comments which would have brought thundering criticism from all sides only a short time ago now only garners polite curiosity. Events are moving against Bush.
I suppose I am writing the epitaph for this comment column. It's last significant contribution.
Neocons are just that. Cons. They are liberals masking as conservatives. Bush spending, expansion of governmental reach, and refusal to pay for his programs rivals that of any democrat. When conservatives abandon the principle of pay as you go and embrace personalities instead who promise everything with no one having to pay for it, they cease to be conservatives. And they leave things in ruins.
A final comment for Bill Whittle: Your May 23 posting 10:33 pm posting concludes:
"I was a McCain supporter in 2000. I still think he would have been a much better choice. Bush was the man we were dealt. He has many flaws. But I believe these are serious times, and I will therefore cut him a great deal of slack because I cannot spare this man. He fights."
I agree with you wholeheartedly up to the word times. I don't understand how a man who refused to put himself in harms way for his country can so successfully turn the brotherhood of those people who did against one of their own, a pow for 7 years. I understand less how someone like you, who claims to be able to see through all the B.S. can defend him after that.
Bush fights...for himself. If there are other issues at stake, he sends someone else. If he loses to Kerry, that'll be the primary reason.

Perhaps I spoke too soon about epitaphs. There may be life here yet. Could get interesting. Look forward to your responses.
Apollo PT, I am not calling for retreat. Bush put our foot in this mess, and retreat is not an option. God only knows what the terrorists would do if they thought they won. I want our forces to engage the enemy, vigorously and with out mercy.
I have nothing but respect for the efforts of our soldiers over there. But I would like to know, and the rest of the country would like to know as well, exactly what is their mission? When can it be declared completed? What is it going to cost us? How is it to be payed for?
What do we do about the Iranians, and North Koreans who seem to be taking advantage of our being tied up in Iraq? Where's the intelligence to assist our brave fighting men so that they may bring their efforts to a swift and successful conclusion.
Any suggestions?
Look forward to your responses.

Our mission was to remove Saddam Hussein's terrorist-supporting regime from power. Mission Accomplished. The US being the generous nation it is, learning the lesson of cleaning up it's own messes, we have stayed on to assist the transition of power to a democratic government. Mission Accomplished. A democracy in its infancy which is under attack from "insurgents" looking to cash in on the vacuum of power and confusion of a country that has never known the freedoms it now has, and needs our protection. That mission will be accomplished when we are asked to leave by a free and independent Iraqi government, because they are able to handle the rats themselves. Have patience, it is happening:

What is it going to cost us? I don't know about the latest monetary costs but in 17 months of hostilities, less than 1000 American lives. Every single one of them regrettable, but keep in mind that on Sept. 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam claimed 23,100 souls. In one day. I'd say we're doing much better now.

What do we do about the Iranians, and North Koreans who seem to be taking advantage of our being tied up in Iraq? If, by taking advantage of, you mean crapping their pants in fear that they will be next to fall, I say we keep on doing what we're doing. These scurrilous attacks on our efforts to bring freedom to an area of oppression are not the actions of a proud people defending their homeland from occupation. They are the desperate acts of fevered egos who realize that the success of democracy in Iraq means their days of totalitarian power are numbered.

Of course they fight us, with all they have, and they don't care who gets in their way. They have killed far more civilians in the streets of Baghdad with their suicide bombs than any of our stray bullets, and I predict it won't be long before the civilians have had enough. Whether they will have had enough of us or them is where the real battle is being fought. Our success hinges on the people having had enough of THEM. I wonder why the media seems so intent on losing that battle for us?


Every time I hear some new lie the left has crafted, or even the right attacking the liar instead of the lie, I come back here for some perspective. Bravo on another brilliant piece! You and me, and those like us, are the reason why humanity will "live long and prosper" well into the forseeable future. Thanks again for your perspective and insight.

You stated: "Don’t abandon those people. Do not make meaningless the deaths of our own sons and daughters – and, for that matter, their sons and daughters. We can end this thing for the nearly unbearable, awful, horrific cost of less than a thousand American lives".

I was always concerned by the use of that number in your essay. My position is that NO number of deaths can be imposed upon the value of freedom. Yet, too many of us place an arbitrary value upon the freedoms of others. Whereby, my freedom and well being is worth more than someone elses. Why did you have to put a number on it?

Powerful writing. I actually had a lump in my throat when you asked for help defending this house.

Catching up on your previous essays today. I just loved this:

"[T]hey get 35 mpg to your SUV’s 26 mpg, so they are Saving the Planet while you are trading Blood for Oil. See how easy it is?"

I recently moved to the People's Republic of Eugene, and am currently having to deal with the vagaries of the Eugene Water and Energy Board--a budding Marxist outfit run by a band of aging hippies if ever such a one existed. One of their proudest efforts is EWEB Windpower, a "practical" way to feel good about using energy. If you want a good kneeslapper, read the whole FAQ:

Boiled down, it essentially says, "You can choose to buy power from conventional sources at our regular rates, or you can elect to pay more to receive exactly the same power, plus a bonus illusory Mantle of Eco-Enlightenment for underwriting someone else's windpower generation scheme."

The most hilarious question in this FAQ (for my money, at least) is "Do the specific electrons generated in Wyoming come to my business or residence?"

These, sadly, are the kinds of people we are up against.

Is this like a guestbook?

Powerful. Your writing is incredibly powerful Bill, the last page in particular having moved me to tears. It brought to mind the sadness that I feel for liberal friends of mine, whom I fear will never be able to understand your perspectives on strength and sacrifice. It just isn't their world view, and it freightens me that so many of our youth today seem to share the same blindness.

However, I find in you a kindred spirit and I take comfort from your words, as they bolster my belief that there ARE others out there who are still willing to defend our way of life and all that we stand for. So much in the media claims otherwise that it's at times difficult to keep perspective. Thank you for providing a patriotic "touch stone" of sorts. For that I am grateful.