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August 11, 2006


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Frederick Hamilton

Sure people die every year from murder. Yep many thousands die every year on our highways. What is the point? I thought this was "Terrorism and Political Preferences".

Nice try to equate my belief that terrorism is best dealt with from strength and that means an afinity to Saddam. Great logic there.

The war in Iraq is an arguable point as to necessity. I am in the camp that Iraq and Saddam were a foci of death. To its own citizens and to America. WMD? Well now we are hearing they did have them after all. No liberals want to acknowledge that. Did Bush intentionally lie us into war? Makes for great Bush hating, but everybody else on the planet thought Saddam had WMD and was a real threat to the West. Britain, France, Democrats, Republicans. And Bush concretely new differently and "lied" us into the war. As I say, it will be nice when Nov08 arrives so all of you can be rid of the evil Bush. I guess it'll make you feel better. At least the fabricating President will be gone.

The terrorists won't be gone. So come on, lets have a real debate on the issues in the country. Should we start to profile as the Brits are starting to do? Should we have a more robust anti-terror approach like MI5 and MI6 in the UK? Should the NSA be able to wiretap at their "reasonable suspicion" or must every real time attempt to catch the untraceable international cell phones bought at Wal-Mart requre a court obtained probable cause warrant?

Yes, there were differences between Churchill's approach and Chamberlain's. Todays Islamic fascist terrorism is the previous generations Hitler. This fight we are in will take some very intense intelligence work and force intervention at times. Otherwise, the al Qaeda's, Hama's, Hezbollah's, Iran's and Syria's of the world will prevail.

I don't like war anymore than anyone else. I dislike the murder of 9/11, et al just like everyone else.

Let's get together and figure a way to eliminate the threat. How do we do it?


As I understand it Israel has already tried something like this with Palestinian suicide bombers by bulldozing their family homes. And the bombers are still admired or at least tolerated by a sizable percentage of the Palestinians. So in addition to its immorality, mass murder of innocent civilians has been ineffective in bringing about peace.

Israel did not "mass murder" the Palestinians. Bulldozing houses is not the same as mass murder of innocent civilians.

What was effective in greatly constraining the suicide bomber threat was the construction of the barrier between Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas, a barrier that is widely denounced on the Left as immoral.

Frederick Hamilton


The "right" I believe did want a more robust pursuit of bin Laden and al Qaeda than Clinton initiated. In fact, one of the Clinton administrations failings was in dealing successfully with al Qaeda/bin Laden or maybe we wouldn't have had 9/11. I certainly didn't ascribe to the Wag the Dog theory. Once it became clear his missle attack failed to hit bin Laden, I think he should have done a lot more. Hindsight is 20/20. It does prove the point that to make nice and try and talk and understand these crazies won't get you anywhere but dead.

The "right" would have supported Clinton to the hilt if he sent forces over to Afghanistan to pursue bin Laden and in the process destroy the terrorism supporting Taliban. I suspect 9/11 would clearly not have happened. The repressive, deadly Taliban would have been removed from providing a haven for bin Laden and his terrorist camps. Of course with added benefit of the Afghan people freed from the hellish Taliban regime. Again, hindsight is 20/20.

It is appropriate that we pursue terrorists and their enablers wherever they are. All of this will only stop when the consequences of the terrorist activity are too painful to continue for those countries that harbor and support them and for the terrorists and their supporters.


"WMD? Well now we are hearing they did have them after all. No liberals want to acknowledge that."

We are? Where? You mean teh 20 year old useless stockpile they found that had already been inventoried that Sean Hannity always references as "proof" they had teh WMDs? Or are you talking about something else? Certainly not the stockpiles and the active WMD programs the Bush administration was talking about in the lead up to the war.

"Did Bush intentionally lie us into war? Makes for great Bush hating, but everybody else on the planet thought Saddam had WMD and was a real threat to the West. Britain, France, Democrats, Republicans."

And where did Congress and the other countries come by all or most of their info?

How do we do it? Not be enaging in massive military campaigns and invasions of countries. That is why we are here. Why do people support a violent war and occupation that has little to do with terrorist that threaten Americans?

You are the one that needs to be answering questions, Frederick.

Frederick Hamilton

OK OK. I said the Iraq war is an arguable point as to necessity and appropriateness. Now that we are there, we should help the democratically elected government survive "if possible". I understand both sides of the Iraq war argument. I support the position that allowed for the war and the overthrow of Saddam. Had I been in Congress, I would have voted for the war (along with most Dems and Repubs). Will history judge Bush kindly with regard to Iraq? Obviously it depends on the denouement. If it becomes a stable democracy and a moderate nation within the Middle East Bush will be judged very favorably. If it is torn apart by sectarian violence and ends up Kurds to the North, Sunnis in the Baghdad triangle and Shiites in the south, Bush's administration will be right there with Carter, et al.

I do think we honor our promise of support to the new government as long as it looks like they can make it. No timetable. No ultimatums. Goodness, we still have 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers in South Korea to protect them. In that case, it probably is time to pull them out.

The Middle East is a very nasty bruttish region. Mostly Kings and dictators (called Presidents). If it weren't for Israel, I would say give the Arabs/Muslims there space and let them sort it out. If they want democracy, earn it. Otherwise live your miserable lives. But with one proviso. If you want to attack us or if you think you can have nukes to give to terrorists, then we will make that eventuality go away.

The only thing of strategic interest is the oil. Well it is high time we became independent in energy. 80% of our electricity nuclear, just like the French. Reprocess the used nuclear fuel rods as the French are doing. Drill for oil or natural gas wherever it can be found. The wells are safe and don't do a damn thing to the enviornment. Go with oil shale, and coal (a thousand years worth). Increase the gas mileage requirements of vehicles. And the anti-conservative position, place a very high import tax on foreign oil. Only foreign oil. Any oil or gas from American lands, tax free. If you want something to go away, just tax it.

Then voila. No dependence of foreign oil. If the Middle East wants to drink the oil or use it for barbaque's go for it. We don't want it.

In other words, the Middle East can go to hell. Now just this little problem with a delightful little democratic country called Israel that dearly loves to live in peace with its neighbors. The poor Israeli's haven't had a months peace since formed by the UN 60 years ago. That is the conundrum, isn't it. Possibly let Israel go? What do you think? Worth the defense? Sacrifice them to their neighbors? Israel has nukes and as a last resort over extermination will probably use them. Wouldn't you?

Ah yes, the Middle East, such a delightful place. So many easy answers.



Stop making things up. It's fairly easy to write things that are blatantly incorrect nearly 10 years after the fact. The Democrats...NOT the Republicans, were the ones who were pushing for more action in Afghanistan. You don't remember "It's better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all"? That wasn't a Republican who said that. You don't remember Clinton's Sec. of Def. going on and on and on and on about how the wag the dog theory was ridiculous, and how he couldn't believe it kept coming up, and how he was furious with the insinuation? Come on Frederick, you were alive then, pay attention. That you didn't ascribe to the wag the dog theory doesn't mean it wasn't blasted all over the news.

Next, President Bush was no better in dealing with that threat than President Clinton was, at least not until after 9/11. He took no steps to deal with the problems, and was relatively short-sighted when it came to preventing anything like this, even when he was warned of the possibility of this happening.

No one wants to sit down and talk with a bunch of terrorists. Don't say silly things. Have you ever read in the Democratic platform where it says that they want to "have a nice chat" with the terrorists? What people want to do is target the ACTUAL threat. Frederick, you need to answer the question as to why you still haven't addressed the problems that come about from NOT targeting the actual threat. Instead you have this inane "time will tell" philosophy, that does few people any good. Again, as I said before, you've just brushed off the fact that dead people keep piling up, but it seems to mean less to you because it's far away (and that it's a different culture?). Not so compassionate.

And Frederick, I'm quite unhappy with the way that you refer to the Middle East as if they were all a bunch of psycho terrorists. The entire population is not a terrorist cell, my friend. Not all of them want to destroy Americans and cut our heads off, though I'll bet more of them do now than before the Iraq war. Your "big stick" has caused more problems than it has solved, and these Weapons of Mass Destruction that have mysteriously been found is just another one of your fabrications. Cute.

So, anyway, hunt down the terrorists. Fine. But do it in a way that treats human life with some sort of dignity.



You write: "Sure people die every year from murder. Yep many thousands die every year on our highways. What is the point? I thought this was 'Terrorism and Political Preferences'."

The point is that "mortality salience" should point people in a direction where fewer lives are taken. However, that seems not to be the case. Sunstein writes,

"For example, judges who are reminded of their own mortality are likely to give stiffer sentences to even nonviolent offenders, and once so reminded, ordinary people are more likely to engage in racial stereotyping."

I'm simply pointing out an inconsistency in what appears to be human psychology--one that we should guard against to avoid injustice.

Next, you write, "Nice try to equate my belief that terrorism is best dealt with from strength and that means an afinity to Saddam. Great logic there."

Frederick, when threatened, you seem to prefer to immediately pull out the "big stick." Destroy them all, innocent or not. Saddam did the same.

In fact, Saddam's Baghdad was quite a bit safer than Bush's. This July had the highest death toll for Iraqi's since the war began, by the way. Sectarian violence is mounting, some in Iraq already consider it a civil war, and the U.S. hasn't been able to put a stop to it, even though more soldiers are being sent there. Again, like I've said before, all of this is just glossed over in your analysis. Swept under the rug. Like always.

Now, on to your "blame Bush" mentality. That's no different than the "Clinton had sex in the oval office" mentality. Partisan politics. It's the way it goes, unfortunately. That's why I can't agree with you that the Republicans would have "supported Clinton to the hilt" about anything. It's just not the way things go...

Frederick Hamilton


Well the point was that the threat of death is different for different activities and to compare murders, car deaths to a terrorist airline attack death is truly comparing apple to oranges. Or as Judge Richard Posner notes: "The first lesson is the shrewdness of al Qaeda and its affiliates in continuing to focus their destructive efforts on civil aviation. Death in a plane crash is one of the "dreaded" forms of death that psychologists remind us arouse far more fear than forms of death that are much more probable"

This whole terrorism situation is distinctly different from other cultural/medical/accidental forms of death. Plus, it would be political suicide for either Dems or Repubs to brush aside the terrorists now attacking throughout the world by simply saying that your chances of dying in a car accident are 100 times higher than a terrorist attack, so don't worry be happy. Man that's a non starter.

The fact that I support the big stick theory regarding terrorists and that you say "Frederick, when threatened, you seem to prefer to immediately pull out the "big stick." Destroy them all, innocent or not. Saddam did the same." Man talk about tarred by a broad innaccurate brush. Yes, when it comes to terrorists I favor the big stick. "Destroy them all, innocent or not." That was not me talking, that was your mind taking a bad track not mine. By your logic, FDR deciding to go to war and kill Japanese because fewer than 3,000 soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor would also be analagous to Saddam. More died on 9/11/01 than died on 12/7/41. Why the hell go to war against the Japanese? Why the hell go to war against the terrorists? I don't back away from the big stick for the terrorists. Killing innocents. Not me. Those are your comments not mine.

As to Saddams Baghdad being safer than Bush's. Wow. That is really off the mark. I suppose you could say Hitler's Normandy beach or Berlin were safer than FDR's. Lets see. 12,000,000 Iraqi's voted times 3 in free elections at the risk of death. A unity government is in place. The rape rooms have been closed. The killings in front of families by Saddams government has ceased. No more heads on spears in the town square. Saddams Baghdad safer than Bush's, a little over the top I would say.

No I am sorry, most credible critics of Clinton's response to the Cole bombing and bin Laden felt it was too little and as we now know cleary too late. Did Monica muddy up the waters with respect to bin Laden? Maybe. One could argue that Clinton was waging something but not a dog when he should have been a tad more focused on "wageing" a war on bin Ladin. I did not feel Clinton/Monica warranted anything other than embarrassment toward Clinton. Now, the lying to the grand jury, that brought Clinton disbarment, fines and an impeachment. I personally did not favor impeaching Clinton. Actually if not for his weakness regarding terrorism I think he was a pretty good President when he kept his pants on in the Oval Office. And I still hold that the country would have been behind Clinton if he pulled a Bush and invaded Afghanistan to destroy bin Laden and the Taliban. We'll never know for certain as all he did was send a couple of missles into the desert.

Peace. And for certain, destruction to the terrorists. The threat is real and they really want to kill you and I and other innocent Americans. Plus all the innocent Jewish men, women and children they can. Bad dudes.



You write: "This whole terrorism situation is distinctly different from other cultural/medical/accidental forms of death. Plus, it would be political suicide for either Dems or Repubs to brush aside the terrorists now attacking throughout the world by simply saying that your chances of dying in a car accident are 100 times higher than a terrorist attack, so don't worry be happy. Man that's a non starter."

I think you prove the point that I'm trying to show. There are greater problems than terrorism. Now, I think you've misunderstood why I bring this up. I point this out to show that sometimes, because we fear something a lot, that allows us to rush to judgements that aren't necessarily warranted, like running into Iraq, for example. This is absolutely NOT to say that we shouldn't "worry" about it and just "be happy." Nowhere have I said that. Now, you haven't argued the fact that our resources could be used elsewhere to counter this threat, and that they could be used more effectively to counter that threat, I assume because you agree.

For example, nearly every major European nation (the vast majority of which are NOT involved in Iraq) have made major arrests of suspected terrorists. If your argument is that you always need bombs to counter terrorism, then I'm afraid that you haven't taken the facts into account.

As far as the whole big stick/Saddam thing goes, I realize that you are not Saddam. However, you've got to realize that close to 1,000 people are dying in Iraq every week because of small bands that are out of control, so I think my contention that Baghdad was safer before the war stands. "Rape rooms" and people's heads on a stick have been replaced with kidnappings, car-bombs, beheadings, people being surrounded and murdered in mass...etc. We've replaced one dictator with a mass of hysterics. Yeah, the Iraq may have an elected government, but their guerillas aren't elected. The violent deaths that happen aren't sanctioned by this "unity government" (or at least let's hope not...). Anyway, I probably shouldn't have to bring this all up again, but (like always) it's blatantly not brought up in your rebuttal. One can only assume you don't care. So long as you're okay, the Middle East can "go to hell." That sounds to me like you don't make much of a distinction between "innocent" Middle East and "culpable" Middle East.

So, while you say the "innocent or not" comment was my own brain making it up, it's pretty clear that you see Middle Easterners (Israel excluded) on a plain that is not quite equal to people from the U.S. I'm sorry that's the case. Perhaps your "mortality salience" is allowing you to engage in "racial stereotyping." I disagree that this should be the case.

I know you realize that comparing Iraq to WWII is quite distinguishable. Japan directly attacked the United States. Iraq did not. Japan had also attacked many different countries in Asia, and were guilty of so many war crimes, it's nearly inconceiveable. Iraq had not. If you don't see the distinction, I can't help you there.

You say that "most 'credible critics' of Clinton's response to the Cole bombing and bin Ladin was too little." Well, I'm not exactly sure how you define credible (people who agree with you, perhaps). Whatever that may mean, I agree that Clinton could have and should have done more. However, Bush inherited that problem, and didn't do much either. 9/11 happened on HIS watch, with advanced warning. Granted, no one really believed it could happen, but if anyone should take these type of threats seriously, (especially AFTER Cole and the embassy bombings) it's the Commander in Chief. But he didn't. Now we're in a quagmire in the middle of nowhere with a country who neither had weapons of mass destruction, nor any ties to 9/11. Most distressing of all is your insistence that you'd still have voted to go to Iraq, even in light of all that's happened since then. By the way, a majority of Americans oppose that view according to recent polls.

And, for the last time, I realize that the "threat is real." Saying that over and over doesn't change the fact that Iraq was a mistake, or that we could be doing a better job of protecting ourselves in less violent, more clever ways.

Frederick Hamilton

I suspect we agree more than disagree. The reason I am still supportive of the Iraq war is that the the war was very well intentioned. WMD was never the first or only reason for ousting Saddam. It was Clinton policy for regime change. 9/11 changed the enviornment. I believe history will be quite kind to Bush 2. I still believe Iraq will end up a stable, democratic (in their form, not necessarily ours) government that is a non-threatening force and a force for good in the Middle East. If not then history will not be kind to Bush 2. As to popularity. In 1941 the draft passed by one vote. The war in Europe was unpopular and we Americans were very isolationist. A few months later we were at war with two nations. So much for popular opinion. We couldn't have ignored Japan after 12/7 but we could have allowed Hitler to have all of Europe. We didn't. 400,000 Americans gave their lives in World War II. Worth it? The Europeans think so. The Jewish people think so. Even the Japanese now probably think so. Germany and Japan are true democracies thanks to America. What matter is the denouement, isn't it. I have agreed that the necessity for the Iraq war is a fair argument. I supported it then and still do today. Doesn't make you right or me wrong. We are there. We owe those 12,000,000 voting Iraqi's and their fledgling democracy more support. Iraq will do well or poorly depending on the Iraqi's themselves. I think they will pull it off. I pray they will.

I also don't disagree with finding the best way to protect ourselves and our interests and our country from the terrorists. You agree that the threat is real. But you don't want to say it too often. There are those who argue passionately (not just right wingers) that you cannot say it enough. The old ostrich thing.

If in 08 we end up with a Dem as President, he/she will be just as robust with the terrorists as Bush/Cheney. Maybe more so. No Democrat will want to be labeled as the one who "lost it". In fact one interesting analysis I read said a Democrat prez would actually be more likely to engage in activities that would make the ACLU scream than a Repub. They will be insulated from criticism from their constituents. Who knows. Whomever is prez will be carrying that big stick. Will we some day sit and negotiate with al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Syria? Possibly, don't see it in the near term. In a few days, Iran will tell the UN, Europe and America to go stick it where the sun don't shine with their concerns about a nuclear bomb and Iran. How should we handle that? Should Iran be allowed nuclear weapons? They want to destroy Israel. Should we care?

Since you agree with me that Clinton should have done more, then I would say you are credible. With a little Googleing I could list those "credible" people who think Clinton and his administration failed the terrorism test. I am not making it up that many credible people are not enamored with the Clinton Administration effort toward bin Laden. Clinton had eight years. Bush had 9/11 in his eigth month.

I don't think we are in a quagmire in Iraq. The old VietNam analogy. The two are so different. The approaches so different. The casualties so different. The cost, probably the same in todays dollars. The outcome, not known yet with Iraq. The VietNam denouement was pretty awful. South Korea where we still have some 30,000 troops is a better outcome and quite possibly a better analogy.


Great work by British authorities?? Less than 2 months ago they got it completely wrong, raided a house with hundreds of police, shot a kid with his hands behind his back...only to find out the information on the house was wrong. And just over a year ago the police shot to death an innocent man in the subway.

The recent finding of a terror plot was definitely great work...but it goes to show it is a learning process where authorities will get it wrong along the way to trying to get it right. Getting emotional, whether positive or negative, is unacceptable..."natural" or not.



We agree on a substantial amount of things, fair enough. And I really enjoy talking with you about these issues, but we disagree on a lot too. You may think the war was well-intentioned, but I don't. I never thought that. I thought Bush rushed to judgement, and fixed the facts around what he wanted the outcome to be.

I thought that ever since I saw the 60 minutes (I know, I know...but not THAT episode) program talking about Bush's statements on the "aluminum tubes" that you'll remember were supposed to be taylor made for nuclear purposes. Anyway, those tubes, according to the report (and some scientist whose name I don't know) the aluminum tubes had nothing to do with nuclear weapons, and were actually unusable for that purpose. The story also covered Bush talking about some documents that showed Saddam had WMD since some-odd year (1992??). But the head of whatever agency it was that was supposed to have those documents said that he had never heard of them before, and to his knowledge did not exist.

After that, the more I watched Bush and the way he approached the war, the more certain I became that he was determined to go, regardless of what was actually true. When he went to the U.N., he asked FIRST for a declaration of war. He backed off and allowed weapons inspectors to go. They found nothing. Then he told the U.N. in essence to go to hell, and that we were going to fight. It's also curious that Bush I started the fight with Saddam, and Bush II was going to finish it. I'm not a psychologist, but I think it had something to do with it. Disagree if you like.

Then there was the infamous "CHECK INTO IRAQ!" statement made after 9/11. Sure, perhaps he was just trying to be thorough with that, but it adds to the idea that he had Iraq in mind all the time. Then, we went into Afghanistan, and never found Bin Laden. Suddenly, we were all talking about Iraq. That's very strange to me.

Finally, there's the British e-mail that explicitly states the facts were being fixed around the policy. Besides the fact that Bush was lying, saying that he hadn't decided whether to go to war or not, this is very, very bad. I don't ever want to have a president who will do that. I don't want to have a president who will do everything he can to go to war, especially when Bin Laden is still out there somewhere. In sum, I don't think the war was well-intentioned.

Again, Hitler was killing millions of Jews. The opposition in the U.S., like you said, came out of their isolationist policies. However, there was also an anti-semitic sentiment all over the world at that point in history, which, no doubt was included in many of those opposition voices. It's a sad, true story. Jews weren't getting the help they needed, even from those who should have helped.

Saddam was not making any immediate threats at the time of the Iraq war. He was dangerous, yes. But not as dangerous as Hitler. Could he have been? I don't know, but I doubt it. Clinton held him in check for the most part. I think Bush could have done the same, at least for a while...perhaps while he tried to get some new leads on Bin Laden. Anyway, Clinton advocated regime change, but did not invade the country. So the two viewpoints are distinguishable.

Now, you bring up the fact that we owe Iraq more support to establish peace there. I hope we can, Frederick. There were 12,000,000 who voted. There are 23,000,000 in the country. I can't say that all of those who didn't vote are terrorists. I can't say that all of those who did are NOT terrorists. You are correct that democracy will survive based on the Iraqis, but at the same time, it's a bit of a cop-out. How can we reasonably expect a country who has never had a culture of democracy to know how to implement it or protect it, without tearing each other apart? There's a history and a culture of violence and terrorism in the area. Bush thought we'd just swoop in with our superior governmental philosophies and that truth would win out. Well, that's hardly ever the case, and is a bit of a simplistic and naive way to look at things, don't you agree?

Anyway, there are too many people dying there, and it hurts me that we are the cause of it. You can say that the psychos are the cause of it, true enough. But also, our policy of war, and the instability that it brings has given an occasion for these people to run riot. And that sucks. How do we fix that? I don't know...pray, I guess. But we realize that if full-scale civil war breaks out, the U.S. WILL cut-and-run.

As for Korea and Vietnam, I wish I weren't so ignorant, but I just can't say whether I think they are analogous or not. I've never said that Vietnam and Iraq are the same, because I really don't know much about it. I studied it for about a week in high school some time, and that was it. I wasn't alive when it happened, and so I really don't know. Either way, you're not going to hear that comparison from me. "Quagmire" was not a reference to Vietnam, at least I didn't think it was when I wrote it. My gut is that neither Korea nor Vietnam fit the profile (different cultures, different times, different reasons...etc.). But I honestly can't make a qualified comparison, so I'll back off of that one.



If you can't get emotional about people dying, you need to see a psychologist.


Curtis, hundreds of people are murdered everyday..you must be an emotional wreck reading about Zimbabwe, Aritrea... Or is it that only american death makes you emotional or iraqi deaths or..how do you cope?

So no, I won't be seeing a psychologist for being honest with myself and admitting that I don't get emotional everytime someone I have no attachment to dies. Shocked by events, compassion for loss, and worried for myself, yes.

However according to Sunstein's reading of the article, all one has to do is read about death & they will support one man over another..this makes me think people are 1)naive & 2)overly emotional in decision-making.



Yes, of course, I sit around all day crying because of the murders in the world...

No, but I DO think it's important. I think it's something to get emotional about, whether or not you know the person. I think it's something that we should try to solve, to make the world better. I didn't know anyone who died in 9/11...I still care about it. I think that Africa has its problems, and I think that murders are not acceptable. Just because I don't know them personally doesn't mean that their lives don't matter. Being a robot with no cares in the world hardly makes for good law, or good policy.



Caring makes you human, great, but it doesn't solve anything & isn't a foundation for decision-making...no more than voting for a man because you think he'll carry out your revenge is sensible decision-making. For those who picked Bush because they found his policies sensible (& thus reading about death would be irrelevant), I can respect. But choosing him because you're upset about death is irresponsible.

Frederick Hamilton


Fair enough. Agreed that the Iraq war becomes more problematic as it drags on. And for you problematic from the beginning and I appreciate that argument.

The 12,000,000 who voted if my memory is correct represented 70% of the eligible voting public. Of 23,000,000 a goodly number will be children and young people under the voting age. The analysis at the time was that America hadn't seen a 70% voting number since 1920 or some such thing (over 80 years). So their demonstration of a desire for freedom and liberty was pretty strong.

Japan didn't have a culture of democracy and they pulled it off. Our grand ol' U.S. didn't have a culture of democracy and we pulled it off. I don't ascribe to the argument that Arabs/Muslims aren't capable of a free society with democratic principles. Time will tell. I just feel we owe it to them even if you didn't agree with the war in the first place (fair enough) don't you feel we should give them the support they need to give it a good honest try.

I'll predict the Iraqi's will by the end of 2007 largely be in control of their entire military/police structure with simply some logistical and occasional air/land support from us. As it should be.

Love him or hate him, Bush does speak what he believes. I admire the moral high ground of freedom and liberty. Bush will not leave the Iraqi's high and dry for some time no matter what. He leaves office in Jan 09. That is a fact. The Congress even if it reverts to Democratic control in Nov 06 will not force the United States to abandon Iraq. We are there and will be there for some time. If I had to predict, I would say that we will have a force and bases in Iraq (as with Korea, Germany, and Japan) for the next 50 years. It only makes strategic sense. The Middle East is a cauldron of insanity and danger. Contrary to many, we are a force for good in the Middle East and the World. Not Pollyannish, just true. I shudder to think what the world would be like if we seriously engaged in isolationism.



I think you're either being a bit unclear, or a bit muddled in the way you present this "not-caring" doctrine of decision-making. There are several problems that I see.

1)Let's assume that you mean caring doesn't "solve anything" in the literal way you've written it, meaning it doesn't solve anything on any level. Of course that's silly. Caring is what solves most problems on a personal level. When your mother tells you not to play with Daddy's guns, it's because she cares. When a teacher stays after school to help a student understand some new concept, it's usually because s/he cares. If I give my wife flowers to tell her I'm sorry about some stupid thing I've done, it's because I care.

2) If by caring "doesn't solve anything" you mean politically, then again, you've got some problems. First, it's quite difficult at times to separate what is political and what is not. If the ACLU takes up a pro-bono lawsuit, is that political? Is it because the care? In both situations the answer is sort of yes, and sort of no. Yes because the decisions will have political consequences, and because most of the ACLU lawyers have chosen that job because they care about civil rights, helping people...etc. No because a lawsuit is a private action that is meant to remedy a specific question of fact or law. Also no because cases are given because not all lawyers get to choose which cases they take all the time.

Next, if you can't care about political decisions, does that mean you can only use logical thinking? If that's the case then how do you divorce "sensible" reasons from "caring" ones? If I think it's logical that we attack Afghanistan because it would be a good idea to rid the U.S. of Bin Laden, is that a logical or a caring type of decision? Again, it's both. It's logical because if we get rid of Bin Laden, then we can have a better life, people will be less afraid, we have eliminated a specific threat that all would agree is detrimental to our society. Yet that logic is deeply rooted in the fact that we care about other people. We don't want them to die, so "logically" we want to eliminate threats. Same situation with murder/rape/robbery/assault...ad infinitum. So you've got a problem there.

3) If you talk about "caring" only with specific political acts, i.e. "voting for a president," then you've still got trouble. Do you think that someone's conscience or their personal reasons for voting for someone could ever be separated from the fact that they're sentient, emotional human beings? I doubt it. And even if it could, that's clearly unenforceable, unpractical, and ambiguous (as I've pointed out above). People can and will vote however they "feel," and that's not going to change.

I agree with you that electing a president to exact revenge is inappropriate and immoral. But if that's what the majority of the country wants to do, then it will happen nonetheless.

Anyway, "caring" and "emotions" have led many, many people to do good things, both politically and socially. I've argued above with Frederick that we should try to be a little more conscious about how this "mortality salience" thing affects us, but that's one man's opinion. If a majority elects a president because they're "upset about death," then in many circumstances that's okay. In some it's not, as in your revenge example. So, I can't agree with you in the overly broad terms you've presented here.



Probably right about the voting statistics. But I think that actually supports the position that just because people vote, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to adhere to the electoral process. Perhaps many in these militias that are rounding up people and executing them actually voted. Anyway, people may like to vote, but it doesn't NECESSARILY mean that they can push democracy forward.

Now, you talked about Japan and the U.S. not having a culture of democracy, but having been able to pull it off. I think both of those examples are quite different from the situation in Iraq. To begin, Japanese are highly adaptable to situations they think will bring them success. They may not change their cultural heritage, but they DO change their style of doing things whenever they believe it will be in their own best interests. This at least has been the case with all the Japanese people I have ever met, and it's a credit to their stamina and work ethic. That's not to say that Iraqi's DON'T have the ability to adapt or to work hard, but I think they're quite different in their approach to life, and in their reliance on morals/religion than the Japanese. Next, I would argue that the U.S. actually DID have a culture of democracy, rooted in the philosophies of Aristotle, John Locke and other social contract writers, ancient Greek and Roman societies...etc. The old battle cry "No taxation without representation" attests to that. The list could go on and on.

So, I think it's better to just look at the facts of Iraq as the facts of Iraq. As you've pointed out, there was a very high number of people who voted. That's a good sign. Since then, however, violence and sectarian murders have spiralled nearly out of control. That's a bad sign. On top of that is that there seems to be no real way to stop violence except with more violence. That's a bad sign. President Bush has shown frustration about the level of public support for American troops in Iraq. Bad. He has also tried to court more viewpoints recently. Good. Is he listening? Ambiguous. U.S. Generals think things are going badly (Iraq could "break" the U.S. military, that civil war is a possibility...etc.) and are criticizing Rumsfeld. Very bad sign. Iraqi forces have not been up to par, as of yet. Bad sign. Al-Zarqawi was killed. Fairly good sign. Abu-ghraib. Bad. People are working to get educational systems working and running. Good. Protests against the U.S. Bad. Saddam is on trial. Good. Still lots of corruption in the sale of oil. Bad.

To say the least, it's a complicated situation, and the list could go on and on and on. But I just can't really say how much of this can be changed/maintained. The problem is that you and I get filtered information through the media. Saying that, I'm not really on the "the media is all liberal, and won't give Bush a fair shake" bandwagon. The media in other countries (esp. European countries) gives many more gory details and criticisms than I have ever seen in the NY Times. But I suppose that's a different topic. The point is that we don't live in Iraq and we can't really assess the situation properly. Even so, I just can't bring myself to be as optimistic about it all as you do. Perhaps it will "work out in the end." But I don't know when that end will be (or the definition of "work out"), or whether or not leaving Iraq immediately (or, alternatively, in 1/2/3...years time) would solve the problem. Plus, there's the issue of our own soldiers to consider. How many people of our own do we allow to be killed until we decide that it's not going to work? Or how long do we give it before it does work?

Anyway, I do disagree with Bush painting the picture that if you want to talk about leaving Iraq, suddenly you're a sissy who wants to "cut and run." That is too simplistic a way to approach things, and doesn't take into account ANY of the questions raised above. Let's talk about an exit strategy, and what we want Iraq to look like when we leave. And it can't be "Iraq looks like America," or "all the terror threats have been eliminated" because neither of those will ever happen. So long as there is one crazy person in the world, terrorism will never go away. That doesn't mean that these moms should never be able to see their military-bound sons or daughters again because they're stuck in Iraq for eternity.

You've given a time-line of year-end 2007. There are many people who would say that's too long, especially if U.S. military keeps getting killed. Others would argue that's an impossibility and that violence will just never end there. I wish I could establish my own time-line, but I'm too pessimistic for that. I think the task can be accomplished, but I'm not sure when or how, or, as I've said, whether the benefit outweighs the cost. So, I guess to answer your question of whether we should support the cause now that we're there and things have gotten messed up, my answer is a very, very cautious yes, for now. How long that remains the case...we'll see. I'll look into that some more.



"I agree with you that electing a president to exact revenge is inappropriate and immoral. But if that's what the majority of the country wants to do, then it will happen nonetheless."...obviously, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with it. I'm not sure I understand your point because I never made any claim that people must give a reason along with their vote in order for it to be counted. I claim having a sense of mortality does not reveal that one candidate is better than another.

"If a majority elects a president because they're "upset about death," then in many circumstances that's okay. In some it's not, as in your revenge example."...What circumstances is it ok?

The tie to a woman telling her son not to play with a gun is bizarre. We've been discussing how to choose a leader when one becomes aware of his/her own mortality. So the question remains, how can people justify that Bush is better than Kerry after being reminded they will die?

prashanth parameswaran

This research proves nothing new -- politicians are infamous for using security threats to increase their chances at the ballot. Personally, I believe that Americans are more of the trigger-happy kind and the second definition of aggression and anger, which is an emotive context, fits better with US culture than does any sort of political analysis of safety.



"Caring makes you human, great, but it doesn't solve anything & isn't a foundation for decision-making..." Those are your words. They are a bit ambiguous as to whether you are talking about anything and everything or whether you have spoken simply about some sub-set of decisions. It seems that you've cleared that up in your last post, and that you are only referring to the "decision" of electing a president. Correct me if I'm wrong.

"If a majority elects a president because they're "upset about death," then in many circumstances that's okay. In some it's not, as in your revenge example."...What circumstances is it ok?" In any circumstance where a reality of death will be prevented by the election of one candidate, assuming that the candidate does not have other major flaws that will outweigh his/her stance on that particular issue.

As to your final question, I think that we agree on this point. It's not okay just to elect Bush because his policies make us feel all happy and warm inside because we think the terrorists will all be dead. The obvious falsity of that stance aside, Bush also has major issues that I can't agree with. I think you also further the point that I was making above with Frederick. People absolutely have to be vigilant when reacting to their emotions (and of course this applies to social life as well as politics...), in order to take things into account, even when threatened by someone screaming death, death, death...


It is ideed quite interesting to add mortality salience to the subjective form according to which respondents entertain a political preference-eliciting proposition: Add fear of death to the subject, get the more conservative predicate.

Not much surprise here, at least not for Rove, et al.

The reported result entirely corroborates the assertion often made by Richard Viguerie that conservative direct mailings have been most successful when they have appealed to the negative emotions of the recipients.

It would also be interesting to test some propositions into which "survival salience" has been introduced as a subjective factor, to see what occurs. The questioner would suggest to respondents that, as with all other historic national crises, the terrorism threat will soon pass and, like the immense majority of Americans, the respondent will be alive and experiencing the post-terrorism world.

There is at least as much reason to postulate, as a result of terrorism, the average respondent's survival as his or her death: see, in yesterday's New York Times, the piece on comparative odds of dying from terrorism compared to other threats like lightning, street crime, and car accidents. In a word, terrorism is not a very widespread cause of fatality.

How the entertainment of this fact would change the expression of political preference is what I would be interested in testing.

In particular, I would be interested to see if "survival salience" might elicit the more frequent expression of preference for a nuanced, attentive, dialogical posture in American political leadership, rather than what we are projecting at present.

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