Discussion: American Liberals Continue to Whack Cheney

By Con George-Kotzabasis

It’s amusing to see all the passionate and incorrigible haters of Cheney to have a jab at him even “posthumously” Out of Office. Emily Bazelon on Slate Magazine speaks for all these haters but the context with ‘revenge’ belies what she says about Cheney. The latter did not say at anytime that the documents on torture should be ‘declassified,’ but once they were, they should not have been declassified selectively without also revealing the positive aspects of the harsh interrogations.

The Bush-Cheney administration prudently–knowing thy enemy–unlike the imprudent Obama who apparently lacks rudimentary knowledge of the kind of enemy America is fighting, were unwilling to disclose to their Islamist enemies some of the methods by which the key holy warriors held as enemy combatants were “spilling the beans.”

Halliburton says

Since the memos thus far released were all part of FoIA filings, it was not up to the administration to release them. Based on the Obama administration’s own FoIA policies, the memos had to be released. I might point out that Cheney’s own FoIA request is selective, listing only two documents, and then only some of the pages from those documents.

The “disclosing of interrogation methods” meme is claptrap. All of the methods the Bush administration sought to use are centuries old; SERE-derived methods are duplicates of torture used by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War. There’s nothing new to disclose.

Kotzabasis says

Certainly you are right that the memos according to President Obama’s FoIA policies had to be released since in January 21, 2009 he loosened Bush’s Executive order of November 2001 pursuant to national interests by repealing some provisions of the order. Cheney’s selectivity is consistent in this respect with the political acumen of the previous administration in being determined not to reveal to the enemy—even out of office– unlike Obama in office, its secret procedures in this matter.

As for the “disclosing of interrogation methods,” the sting of the “claptrap” is in you. To say, as you do, that these “methods…are centuries old…duplicates of torture used by the Chinese and North Koreans,” says more about the fertility of your imagination than of the complexity of the situation. Is it conceivable to you that Pentagon and CIA Intelligence confronting a unique enemy such as suicidal fanatical warriors would be using the same techniques and methods of the past without innovating new ones? But I suppose your intellectually barren answer would be “there is nothing new to disclose.”

Halliburton says

It’s certain that Cheney wants to keep portions of the reports he wants released secret, but I don’t have your faith in his judgment. After all, we are talking about the man who helped create the 1976 “Team B” report on the capabilities of the USSR, which was wrong on every detail, notably the nuclear-powered laser beam weapons the Soviets were supposedly building. Cheney also thought it a good idea to undercut Gorbachev in 1989, and Brent Scowcroft and James Baker squelched him. I’d be more likely to believe that Cheney doesn’t want portions of those reports released because they might undercut his assertions.

My “infertile imagination” seeks exceptional proof in the case of exceptional claims. Nothing about Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers is unique in history. Your claim that the CIA has some “new” methods of torture – “enhanced interrogation” if you wish – is an exceptional one, and would require exceptional proof. Only disclosure would provide that. It’s far more likely, however, that your imagination is overheated.

Kotzabasis says

I don’t want to go back to the past, mistakes can be made and only the Pope is infallible. And just as someone can be ‘serially’ correct in the past he is not bound to be correct all the time in the future. The same logic applies in inverse to Cheney.

But your belief is misplaced as already the portions of the reports released have “undercut” The Bush administration’s “assertions.” Cheney therefore is more concerned to prove that the “enhanced interrogation” did work in preventing the jihadists launching further attacks and releasing those memos that provide this evidence while ‘clinically’ isolating them from the overall intelligence that would be invaluable to the jihadists.

All the professionals in matters of war in contrast to laypersons consider al Qaeda to be a UNIQUE enemy. Of course there have been fanatics and their “fellow travelers” in all ages. But just give one example from ‘your own’ history where the mortal foes of a nation were operating within it clad in civilian clothes and in the carapace of cutting-edge technology and armed with the most modern deadly weapons, including potentially with nuclear ones, and crashing airbuses into the sky scrapers of a metropolis. If you cannot provide such an example of an enemy then you too must logically come to the conclusion that the holy warriors of Islam are verily unique foes.

In view of this incontrovertible fact do you consider an “exceptional claim” that needs “exceptional proof” that the intelligence services of a superpower such as America confronting such a ‘supernally’ dangerous enemy in times of asymmetrical warfare would not have developed new interrogation methods that would be appropriate in extracting vital information from their captives   saving thousands of lives? It would take lukewarm imagination to have come to this deduction.

Discussion with Norwegian Writer about what Kind of Society could “Bring On” an Apocalypse?

Kotzabasis says…

Krauthammer in his latest article on The Washington Post hit the nail on its head on the issue of the November 4 election. Indeed, and I’m paraphrasing, the crucial issue for Americans on November 4 will be to identify the lion-hearted and the lamb-hearted. If lacking the will or cognitive ability to make this identification and vote– out of irrational hate for Bush-Cheney and the Republicans as a result of their lack of understanding of the immeasurably intricate strategic situation that the Bush administration was placed in the aftermath of 9/11 and the ‘razor-edge’ difficult decisions it had to take to protect America from the deadliest of foes- for the “lamb” Obama, then America like sheep will be taken to the ‘slaughterhouse’.  And there will be no shortage of intellectual shepherds—one of them will be Steve Clemons holding almost the longest staff in his hand—to lead it to the abattoir. And ironically their arch enemy fanatical Islam will be licking its chops.

Posted by Paul Norheim

“some folks would like to move forward again…”

Kotzabasi apparently wants to move backward straight into the

Posted by kotzabasis Oct 25, 10:43PM – Link

Paul Norheim

Since you appear to be a ‘Nostradamus’ on apocalypses you should be able also to pose the right question about them. What kind of society has a greater potential to ‘bring on’ an apocalypse, a civilized one, such as America and Scandinavia are, of which you are one of its offshoots, or one that is versed and mired in religious fanaticism?

Posted by Paul Norheim Oct 26, 1:09AM – Link

OK Kotzabasis, I`ll try to answer this in a less polemical
because you actually raise a very interesting question.

What about one of those most “civilized” ones, like for example
Germany 70 years ago?

Cambodia 30 years ago?

Rwanda less than 15 years ago?

As you notice, I mentioned actual apocalypses in modern time,
not “potential” ones; some confined to a national scale, one of
them on a more or less global scale.
All of them had strong elements of ideological fanaticism –
which perhaps may be interpreted as a surrogate for religious
fanaticism. In the top leadership of the Rwandan genocide, it`s
said that religious hysteria (of a Christian type) played a certain
role as well, but I don`t think it was crucial.

You may also think of WW1, where a certain stupidity and lack
of fantasy among the European political and military leaders
may have played a role (most of the even thought that the
calamities would be over in a matter of weeks…)

In the nuclear age, I have no trouble seeing some of the bigger
powers, or even the biggest of them all, “bringing on” an
apocalypse, perhaps aided by a smaller state with a ruthless
leadership or leaders lacking judgment regarding dangers on a
geopolitical level. In a different political climate, the crisis in
Georgia may have escalated.
I could easily imagine several scenarios, some including states
where religious fanaticism certainly plays an important role,
some where religion plays no crucial role, or no role at all.

And one of those scenarios is the Global War on Terror – this
could bring on an apocalypse on a huge scale, due to lack of
sound judgement, BOTH from the “civilized” society and
societies “mired in religious fanaticism”. And as you may well
know, there are both moderate religious worshippers and
fanatics both in a country like, say Iran, and in a country like,
say USA – although this kind of fanaticism obviously may play a
more dangerous role in a theocracy. My point is: the division
between those mired in religious fanaticism and more sober
worshippers, does not respect national borders.

During the Cold War, the world was close to such a scenario at
least once (Kennedy/Khrushchev), and this had little to do with
religious fanaticism. I would say that ideological fanaticism of
various kinds presents a danger equal to religious fanaticism in
modernized societies.

One of the important questions during conflicts in the nuclear
age: what role do the mainstream media play? The role of
propaganda from both sides? And more important: how does
the leadership of a nation interpret the situation? How does it
balance threats with diplomacy? How does it interpret
intelligence and rumours?

And in cases of asymmetrical warfare, terrorism or failed states:
how does it avoid overreacting, or using a certain situation as
an excuse to legitimize other agendas?

My impression is that you, kotzabasis, have a rather simplistic
view on these matters. That you divide the world into two
forces: the civilized (”good”) world against the dangerous
societies “mired in religious fanaticism” (read: Islam). (Correct
me if I`m wrong in my assumptions).

In our contemporary world, I believe that the issues are much
more complicated than that. This is not to say that religious
fanaticism does not present a potential danger. Kashmir is just
one example of a hot spot where a fusion of nationalism and
religious fanaticism may be a crucial factor if it all blew up.

Iran may become very dangerous if it feels seriously threatened.
But so may Israel (and not due to “religious fanaticism”). Or
North Korea, in a state of paranoia, enforced by propaganda,
and lacking credible intelligence.

Even America may become dangerous if it should go in decline
– and if some hardliners in politics or in the army became
desperate to regain its hegemonic position. And if the GOP wins
this election and McCain`s VP candidate Sarah Palin should end
up as the woman in charge of the world’s only superpower, that
could be another example of an apocalyptical scenario where
religious fanaticism may play a role.

In fact, the potential apocalyptic scenarios are legion. However, I
doubt that Norway or Australia will play a crucial role in any of
those scenarios in the near future.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Posted by kotzabasis Oct 26, 6:59AM – Link

Paul, you have a very weak definition of “polemical” to consider my gentle ‘strokes’ upon you as being polemical. You would have been rejected as a weak ‘general’ under Gustavus the Great. You also have a very weird definition of a civilized society if you include as such Cambodia and Rwanda. As you well know a civilized society includes not only cultural factors but also political and juridical ones such as democracy and habeas corpus. Neither Cambodia nor Rwanda was in that category. Both of them were inflicted by apocalyptic “religious hysteria,” Cambodia’s rising from the Althusserian school of apocalyptic Marxism whose students included some of the future leaders of Cambodia such as Pol Pot and Khieu Samphan, and Rwanda’s partly from a primitive understanding of Christianity and tribal hatred which is the bane of Africa. Your examples by the way by an intellectual acrobatic lapse support the core of my argument, i.e., apocalypses are incubated and arise from religio-politico fanatical ideologies.

I also notice that your cognitive tools of analysis are rather blunt, refraining myself from the temptation to be polemical. You seem to be unaware that apocalypses have a greater potential to come from the deliberate action of religious and ideological beliefs than from the accidents of war due to the “stupidity and lack of fantasy among…political and military leaders.” No Western leader ever had an apocalyptic agenda nor was he imbued with ideological fanaticism, with the exception of Hitler and Stalin, but Ahmadinejad of Iran has such an agenda. This is the fundamental difference which you miss. But it’s obvious that you are not strong on fundamentals.

And you are not wrong in your “assumptions.” Once one identifies by the scrupulous method of historical knowledge and examples one’s irreconcilable, implacable, and malicious enemies one is compelled “knowing thy enemy” to make a clear and unequivocal stand between good and evil. The question is which is more “simplistic” to continue the ‘fine tuning’ of one’s intellectual deliberations, which obviously is your inclination, at a time when it’s simply evident who your real enemy is. “Ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action.” (Thucydides)
In your penultimate paragraph you fantasize when you depict the politically femme fatale Sarah Palin could potentially unravel an American “apocalyptical scenario.”

I enjoyed this civilized discussion sans name calling and sarcastic vitriol. But your apocalyptical equilibrium between fanatical Islam and the ‘pockets’ of religious and ideological fanaticism that exist in the West is dead wrong and has no historical legitimacy.

Posted by alan Oct 26, 9:12AM – Link

One curse that every President has had to bear is an **sh**e relative. It’s almost a given.

Posted by Paul Norheim Oct 26, 1:41PM – Link

Just a short reply now – I`m preparing for a trip to Berlin

Re: the misunderstandings…

What I meant to say was that I decided to answer in a less
polemical manner than I originally planned (it did not refer to
your post).

Secondly I did not intend to imply Cambodia or Rwanda under
your concept of “civilized” societies – only the one I explicitly
called civilized: Germany.

Thirdly: I mentioned that ideological fanaticism “may be
interpreted as a surrogate for religious fanaticism, and “that
ideological fanaticism of various kinds presents a danger equal
to religious fanaticism in modernized societies.”

You seem to agree. Fine.

And then you said: “You seem to be unaware that apocalypses
have a greater potential to come from the deliberate action of
religious and ideological beliefs than from the accidents of
war due to…”

I am well aware of the dangers of deliberate actions of religious
and ideological beliefs. This is the reason why I consider
Pakistan the potentially most dangerous country in the world at
the moment: a collapsing economy, a weak state control, strong
fundamentalist elements in the population, the military, the
intelligence and in various organizations (like al Qaeda and
Taliban) — if you add to that the risk that these elements
could obtain control over the nuclear arsenal, and the question
of Kashmir, there is a huge risk for an apocalyptical scenario.

The main point of my post above was to show that in the
nuclear age there are countless of other potential risks as well –
NOT involving religious fanaticism. And on that point, I guess
we disagree.

And then to the last misunderstanding: “You would have been
rejected as a weak ‘general’ under Gustavus the Great. (…)
“Ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one
was totally unfitted for action.” (Thucydides)

You seem to have misunderstood my role: I am not a man of
action involved in a war, I am a writer. A writer who, unlike you,
is not involved in a manichaean struggle of global proportions
“against one’s irreconcilable, implacable, and malicious

Life seems boring and trivial in Australia, as well as in Norway,
doesn`t it? You seem to have chosen Don Quijote`s strategy,
fighting a “war”, acting as if you were surrounded by enemies.
Must be entertaining for you.

In my next post, I`ll paste from an article in the New York
Times. Some food for thought, and somehow more directly
linked to Clemons’ original post.

Posted by Paul Norheim Oct 26, 1:48PM – Link

This one is for Kotzabasis, a column by Nicholas Kristof from NYT today, titled “The
Endorsement From Hell”.



Kotzabasis says

If you are a writer two things follow. First, you should have been able to pick another’s position from his writings. I did not pick my position out of trivial boredom in Australia nor as an escape to “entertainment” but after thinking many hours about it. And if you think that my position is a “Manichaean struggle” or a Quixotean attack on windmills after the dire transformative events of 9/11, then all I can say to you is that you are trivially shallow and intellectually flippant in your considerations. Secondly, if you are merely a writer avoiding action like a plague, then you should not be so judgemental about issues of war and pontificating on the latter ex cathedra.

Further, you would not pass a test in logic, and Plato would never allow you into his Academy. If you accept that 9/11 was an action of fanaticism in pursuit of the seventy-two virgins, how can you doubt that America’s and the West’s enemies are “irreconcilable, implacable, and malicious?”

I did not mention Germany as it was a special case, since you yourself made only a passing comment on it and concentrated your argument on Cambodia and Rwanda. The First World War had put an arrow into the pride heart of Germans, and the Great Depression had emptied their pockets. Thus civilized Germans at the time were susceptible to the slogan of “stab-in-the-back”, and to the beer hall seductions of Hitler’s unsurpassable oratorical skills. Not that such a special case cannot happen again. If American populist stadium politics in the presence of a current ‘Depression’ have their say and vote for Obama and his ‘changing’ and ‘transformative’ policies diminished America’s global power and weakened its stand against its enemies, then Obama could unwittingly become during his administration the sire of a future American Bonaparte. And America will in turn have on its calendar the Eighteenth of Brumaire all by courtesy of Obama.

Nicholas Kristof’s article in the New York Times is unworthy of a reply. It regurgitates and pays court to the politically and strategically bankrupt conventional wisdom of the chattering classes about the war on the extremists and continues, by implication, the mantra that the best strategy against militant fanatic Islam is to go to it with an olive branch in hand. As to the issue of jihadists recruits the answer is given by events in Iraq. Why al Qaeda and other jihadists groups are in dearth of recruits presently and use women and children as a substitute in their suicidal missions? The simple answer is that they have been defeated on the field of battle. This is the way to dry their well of recruits. 


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Merry Go Round Discussion with American Liberals Whether the War Has Being Won

Kotzabasis says…

How clever of professor Krugman and New York Times columnist to use his “Four legs good, two legs bad” drill to open a hole to the old debate about the levity of the decision of the Iraq war encapsulated in his “They attacked us, and we are going to strike back.” After failing in all his prognostications about the unwinnable war and showering for years with mockery and disparagement the proponents and supporters of the war, now that the war is being won and Iraq makes its first strides toward democracy –with its corollary that history might after all crown the neocons with the laurels of victory-all he finds to fill the holes of his rotationally fallacious argument is to revive the old squib of the non-connection of Saddam with Osama and hence the conspiratorial origin of the war.

Although there was ample evidence, as provided by the NIE report, of such connection between the intelligent services of Saddam and agents of Osama, the Bush administration after the 9/11 attack was more concerned that this rudimentary connection might take in the near future a gargantuan form that would gravely threaten the strategic interests of the US and indeed, its own land and its people. No astute and responsible government could disregard such a potential threat and not take the defensive-offensive measures to negate it. It was in such a context that the decision to go to war was taken. As well as on the further reason that it’s always more prudent to defeat an irreconcilable and implacable enemy while he is still weak, which is an irreversible canon of war.

Lafaytte says…

Saddam disliked Osama, see
here, a minor fact that seems to escape you.
Saddam could not abide Osama’s Saudi Salafist tendencies which for the larger part of Sunni Muslims outside of Saudi Arabia, was far too fundamental. Which is why, when Osama proffered troops in the war (1980-88) against their supposed common enemy (the Iranian Shiites), Saddam refused. And he was not such a fool as to partner with the man responsible for 9/11 later on.

Of course, such subtleties are beyond people who view the world only through the prism of Judeo-Christian religious history. In fact, these subtleties are at the very heart of the modern Muslim world.

But, subtlety is not the forte of this lead-headed administration, which is why Uncle Sam finds himself in very deep sneakers in the Middle East, embroiled in a war he cannot win and only loose with grace.

Kotzabasis says…

Of course Saddam was a secular leader. And indeed, he might have “disliked” and not “trusted’ fanatics. But the game of power politics, which Saddam played as a virtuoso in the Arab world, is not propelled by likes and dislikes. And talking of subtleties, Saddam could see the ascendancy of Osama’s fanatics in the Muslim world and wanted to have contact with them not because of a predilection of amity toward them but because he wanted to control them and use them for his own geopolitical goals. It’s this subtlety that escapes you. And it would be wise for someone who lives in a glass house not to throw stones at others, such as “this lead-headed administration”, as it’s obvious that subtlety is not your forte either.

Lafaytte says…

Once again you are showing your ignorance of Muslim mentality and its subtlety. You wouldn’t be the Ultimate Crusader perchance?

You justified the invasion of Iraq based upon a false argument – an improbable relationship between Hussein and bin Laden. We’ve been through this huckstering nonsense before. Why, on earth, bring it up again?

War in Iraq is indeed good for American business. I do hope you’ve invested your son in it.
Saddam could see the ascendancy of Osama’s fanatics in the Muslim world and wanted to have contact with them not because of a predilection of amity toward them but because he wanted to control them and USE them for his own geopolitical goals.

What is this you’re submission for a James Bond film?

It’s hallucinatory nonsense. Saddam simply wanted to maintain Sunni control over a country that was largely populated by Shiites (who outnumber the Sunnis by 3 to 1).

“And it would be wise for someone who lives in a glass house not to throw stones at others … as it’s obvious that subtlety is not your forte either.”

Yeah, right. I live in a glass house. Now you are actually getting funny. In fact hilarious.

Bruce Wilder says…

Kotzabasis: “I’m using the metrics of incontrovertible reality: Reduction of violence, the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, the defeat and disarming of the Mahdi militia, and the first strides of Iraq toward democracy . . . “

I think you are confusing the Right-wing Noise Machine’s continuing kabuki play version of the Iraq War with a reality, with which you are too little acquainted.

“Reduction in violence”, I guess, is the new peace, like pink is the new black — hopefully a short-lived fashion. You have scarcely any idea what the Mahdi Militia is, let alone why the U.S. should be the least bit interested in its vicissitudes.
Al Qaeda in Iraq?? “Defeating” Al Qaeda in Iraq is swatting a swarm of specially imported may flies with a $3 trillion sledge hammer, which we financed by borrowing from China — not the kind of pointless, extravagant and unnecessary victory any sane person would celebrate.

Kotzabasis says…

Bruce-Starting from the end of your post, victory over a mortal foe is priceless and only the historically fatuous would not celebrate. The “Mahdi Militia” being the major combative militia against the coalition forces and you say that “the US should be the least bit interested in its vicissitudes.” In what kind of strategic cuckoo land are you domiciled?

But two words of your post provide the key to the secrets of your heart, “hopefully” and “unnecessary.”

By ‘discolouring’ the “reduction of violence” by your intellectually invented colours or rather by ‘defining’ it, “like pink is the new black—hopefully (m.e.) a short-lived fashion,” you show pellucidly that your hope lies in a future increase of violence against the Iraqi people and the coalition forces, so you can justify your original misplaced antiwar stand and gratify as well your fervent anti-Bush emotions. And your unnecessary victory over a deadly irreconcilable enemy reveals your historical blindness and ignorance as well as your bereftness of foresight.

Lastly, ironically by your own ‘unborrowed’ sledge hammer you knock yourself off your pedestal of “institutional ethical injunctions” as an outcome of your ‘secret’ wish to see the US defeated in this war, which as a nation is the foundation of your institutional moral existence, according to your own philosophical standards. This is intellectual, spiritual, and ethical suicide at its best.

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