Americans must elect a real man in 2008

Guest post by Canadian Expatriate

I received an email from a family friend who has just started a blog. He says my readers need to hear a dissenting voice once in a while.

I would have said that my readers get a steady diet of dissenting voices. If Simen doesn’t contradict me, Jewish Atheist will; if Jewish Atheist doesn’t, 49er will; if not him, then Addofio, or Jamie, or one of the other denizens of my blogroll.

But hey, it’s a day off blogging for me. I’m content to let my readers judge for themselves whether Canadian Expatriate’s argument has any merit whatsoever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephen’s post on torture a couple weeks’ back left me shaking my head. Of course America should torture terrorists: we should use every tool in the toolbox to prevent another 9/11.

I don’t want to talk about that today. But I want to talk about a related subject: the President’s power to detain any person at his discretion, no charges or explanations required.

I am greatly encouraged to see that this issue is fast becoming a litmus test for the worthiness of would-be Republican candidates. Do you want to run, as a Republican, for President in 2008? Then you had better support unchecked executive authority.

People, and Hillary Clinton, are already positioning themselves to run. Those who would like to run on the Republican ticket are being asked a new question:

Do you believe the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review?

When Giuliani was asked, he supplied the right answer: “The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.” OK, it’s a bit mealy-mouthed ("infrequently"), but he has to throw the bleeding hearts a bone to broaden his appeal.

Giuliani would make a good fascist, which is exactly the sort of leadership that this country needs right now. Democracy gets in the way of conducting a war. That’s why we haven’t already cleaned up in Iraq. President Bush can only go half as far as he would if bloggers and the hostile mainstream media weren’t shining a light on his activities.

Too bad Giuliani is pro-choice, and gay-friendly, and he’s on his third marriage. Otherwise, he’d be my man in 2008.

When Romney was asked the same question, he “said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind.” I’ll never vote for a girlie man like that.

What does Romney mean, he’s gotta ask a “smart lawyer”? First, there’s no such thing — all lawyers are idiots. Second, all lawyers are conservative by nature.

Lawyers believe in due process, habeas corpus, “human rights”, trial by a jury of one’s peers, innocent until proven guilty, yada yada yada. All that bullshit that hogties the President so that he can’t get results.

Predictably, Andrew Sullivan is throwing a big hissy fit over this issue. He quotes Winston Churchill:

The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments.…

Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy. This is really the test of civilisation.”

Oh cry me a river. I used to have respect for Winston Churchill. (Dubya did too, I guess. He always holds Churchill up as his exemplar in the war on terror.) But not anymore — who knew Churchill stood for this sort of rubbish?

Americans must elect a real man in 2008. I hope every Republican candidate is asked the same question: Do you believe the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review?

That question will separate the candidates with balls from the girlie men.

[cross posted on Canadian Expatriate]

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Knotwurth Mentioning
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 08:42:29

    Is he being satirical? It seems like it’s so extreme it’s silly……

    The other thing is, his blog lists you as his only link. Is that just a fluke that he happened to decide you were worth linking to to mock, or is he a fan of yours doing a parody of what you wrote?

    His blog’s first post suggests that he is pretty serious, and just a new blogger who may happen to have come across you early on. Sheesh. To say Churchill was too “unmanly”……….. oh well, to each their own. I hope some day he realizes that Communist China is the location for him, not the United States (and not Canada, but he realized this already!)

    Reply

  2. Bill
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 08:47:35

    If this is not tongue in cheek (as I suspect it is) this is beyond my ability to respond rationally. (-:

    Canadian Expatriate – check this out.

    Reply

  3. addofio
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 09:53:54

    Tie the man to a chair and force him to read the Bill of Rights until his eyes bubble, I say.

    Reply

  4. JewishAtheist
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 09:58:01

    Yeah, I don’t know if it’s tongue in cheek. So hard to separate the actual righties from the satirists these days.

    Anyway, fascism is a much bigger threat to America than terrorism right now. Al-qaida and their brethren have no chance of destroying America, but Bush and his ilk have a significant chance of making America not America any more. Terrorism may be the most overblown threat America has ever faced. We stared down the USSR and the potential destruction of the world for decades, but 19 guys with boxcutters represented an existential threat?

    History’s going to look back on this era and think that we’ve lost our collective minds. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a real war (with China?) and all this stuff will look like the piddling nothingness it really is.

    How, if we made it through the cold war without legalizing torture, is it necessary to use it now? The worst case scenario right now is that terrorists smuggle a nuclear weapon into America and kill a couple hundred thousand people. Awful, terrible, we should do everything we can within reason to prevent that. But the right has to stop pretending that this is as serious as the cold war — or worse.

    Reply

  5. Canadian Expatriate
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 10:15:23

    “It seems like it’s so extreme it’s silly…”

    Typical left-lib readers of Stephen’s blog. Like I told him, someone needs to bring a different perspective.

    My position is not extreme. I represent the Republican base. Why do you think Romney and Giuliani were asked the question?

    That you think my views are extreme just shows how out of touch you are. But “out of touch” is practically the definition of the political left.

    Reply

  6. addofio
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 21:48:31

    And your purpose and point in exposing us “left-lib readers of Stephen’s blog” to your “different perspective”? Are you hoping to change our minds? Engage in productive dialogue? Examine your own thinking by opening your own views up to our analysis and responses? None of the above (in which case, perhaps you could explain)?

    Just curious.

    Reply

  7. Canadian Expatriate
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 23:31:18

    My purpose is to introduce a note of reality to the sentimental little tune you all are singing. The lawyers would have us play by Queensbury rules while the other guy is slipping out of the gloves and into the brass knuckles.

    There are two paths open to us. Is “niceness” the preeminent value in America now? Or are we prepared to meet force with force in order to preserve America?

    The question (Do you believe the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review?) is an important one. Americans need to be mindful, to be aware that the question is being asked. And they need to listen to the answer each candidate gives. It matters that the next President gets the answer right, like the current President.

    Reply

  8. Stephen
    Apr 04, 2007 @ 06:20:56

    • Addofio:
    When I read your comment, I was going to jump in. But then I read Expatriate’s comment. I think this is a “Give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself” scenario.

    Expatriate makes a compelling case, but opposite to the case he intends to make.

    Reply

  9. Simen
    Apr 04, 2007 @ 08:42:19

    I would’ve thought this was a joke, but it’s posted a day too late. If this is serious, it’s seriously misguided. It used to be the commies who were gonna destroy the world; now it’s the terrorists. During the cold war, there was an actual threat to the continued existence of modern society, but still the hysteria was overblown. Now, you want to be even more extreme towards a threat that is orders of magntitude lower. Terrorists aren’t going to destroy America or any other part of the world. If society is going to be destroyed, it’s because the US enters nuclear war with a country that’s not going to back out.

    When someone brings up such extreme views, it’s sufficient to ask if they would consider it fair if their methods were applied to them. Would Canadian Expatriate want to be tortured and locked up without a trial, all the while being totally innocent, just to protect the country?

    Also, this post implies, as much US politics seems to do, that there is a “one true American way” and that this way must be protected. I suspect many would disagree, but I think it’s naive to think that any country of substantial population, let alone one with a population of 300 million has a “one true way”. Just like there is no one true Norwegian way or no one true Iranian way, there is no one true set of values in the US. Sure, there are some values built into the constitution. In fact, those are the values Canadian Expatriate wants to deny. But those are just that, constitutional values.

    Reply

  10. addofio
    Apr 04, 2007 @ 09:51:22

    Expatriate, I get that you “intend to Inject a note of” (something)–but you have not answered my question. Why? What do you hope to achieve by this? What is your motivation? I can speculate–but I prefer to hear it from you.

    Reply

  11. 49erDweet
    Apr 04, 2007 @ 20:31:24

    Directly to the nub, eh, CanEx? First I’ll answer your question. No. Not the way you and the NRO have phrased it. However, I do support a president’s power to incarcerate “enemy” combatants (which is the true context of the original query) fighters who are plainly NOT uniformed members of a formally organized state-sponsored military unit – and if the arrestees happen to also be American citizens, that’s too bad – in my view. Having said that, however, I believe those under arrest should be granted some type of review process down the road just to clear the air and prevent claims of excess – ala the current situation.

    Also, the “review” issue could sure stand a lot more work. And the president has to be given much more leeway on his judicial appointments than is currently the case in this political clime. (Funny, but if it were a Repub congress thwarting a Dem pres”s court appointees, the MSM would be going stark, raving wild. But the shoe is on the other foot, this time).

    Let me jump in here a wee bit to see if the waters could stand to be muddied more, then. The point of the argument you make has been cleverly evaded by our friendly liberals, hasn’t it? “Should we still be fighting by the Marquess of Queensbury rules when the foe is quite obviously totally ignoring them – and being given a free pass on following those ‘rules’ by the world’s loonie liberals – too boot”? (noting all liberals do not fit under that umbrella, of course).

    In my view once an opponent changes the rules of a conflict – and we see this occurring more and more – a nation is morally bound to impose those same rule changes back onto him – and his forces. One can do it with finesse, possibly, and slightly more humanely – maybe – but to “refuse to stoop” to your enemy’s level sends the message to him you are not truly committed to the fight, and encourages him to continue the battle even though rational or more sophisticated observers – understanding the formal rules – would have a more realistic view of their plight, and someway sue for peace. By sending the “we are weaker, less committed than you” message, we just continue the carnage. But this obvious point is ignored by “the more caring” of people, of course. Thus warfare continues.

    Sorry, JA, Stephen, addofio, bill and Simen, you needed to look closer at the link. Methinks NRO likes to stretch the meaning of words too much. But that could just be me.

    Cheers

    Reply

  12. Knotwurth Mentioning
    Apr 05, 2007 @ 14:41:44

    49erDweet:

    U2 wrote a great set of lyrics in one of their songs:

    Where I grew up
    There weren’t many trees
    Where there was we’d tear them down
    And use them on our enemies

    They say that what you mock
    Will surely overtake you
    And you become a monster
    So the monster will not break you

    And it’s already gone too far
    Who said that if you go in hard
    You won’t get hurt

    As far as I’m concerned, the section about becoming a monster so the monster won’t break you is exactly what we’re talking about in this case. It’s great to say you will lose the war against these enemies if you refuse to stoop to their level, but the greater question is, even if you win the war what will it be worth? Is it feasible to expect that the United States will relinquish this level of hegemonic power now that they have it? CanEx states that it is vital that US presidency candidates be asked the question whether they believe in the president having the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. You comment that that should be the case with enemy combatants, because otherwise they will defeat the States.

    If it becomes such an integral part of the picture that the President be willing to take the fight to the enemies no matter the cost, then how well are they truly upholding a globally democratic cause? What good is having a power who enforces ideals but does not practice them themselves? And what about when the war has been won? Once again — I don’t think that there is much chance of something like the ability to incarcerate “enemies” unilaterally fading out once it has been introduced.

    It is great to take the practical approach and say that they need to be stopped, period. But by winning with any means possible, then it seems to invalidate the power’s right to win.

    Let me point out that we are talking about a bit more than just incarceration, too. I can perhaps see leeway for arresting potential terrorists in order to stop a potential threat… as long as there are fair processes that ensue. But CanEx started his article by stating that “Of course America should torture terrorists: we should use every tool in the toolbox to prevent another 9/11.”

    Any tool? What about just nuking the entire country to get it over with? That view seems far too close to the Fascist ideals that led to World War II.

    The ends don’t justify the means. Becoming a monster to stop the monsters is hardly validating of the cause.

    Reply

  13. 49erDweet
    Apr 06, 2007 @ 03:39:39

    Dear KM; not only do we come from different generations – we also seem to come from widely-separated cultures. May I politely point out one fallacy to your post? Fighting observing “monster” rules does not actually and forever turn one into that type of person. It could but doesn’t really have to. And my culture and experience has shown it ually doesn’t. But still, admittedly, it could.

    Some examples of it not lasting.

    Settling the West: In order to survive brutal Apache (and other) warfare, western pioneers and scattered US Army troop elements in the 1800’s were forced to adapt. At first they fought the natives using the contemporary rules of battle. Didn’t work. Only when they began to mirror the tactics being brought to bear on them – surprise, brutality, mutilating enemy corpses – did the tide of battle begin to change. The native warriors began to understand their foe had the will – and the numbers – to persevere. And only then did warfare begin to subside.

    WWII: The campaign to clear the pacific islands could have taken decades longer by observing the rules used in Europe. And have taken additional magnitudes of lives. Instead, allied forces (including Canadian) mirrored the tactics of the Imperial Japanese forces and cruelly (some would say) blasted and burned the cave-dwelling defenders of most of the enemy-held islands into death or submission. The vast majority of returning soldiers did not continue their cruel ways upon their return home, (though admittedly a very few did).

    And of course the grand-daddy of them all – the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ultimate destruction. What can we say? But honestly now, in the long run didn’t using those dreadful weapons then ultimately SAVE multitudes of lives? Even many Japanese at the time acknowledge this. Potentially, including the lives of large numbers of US and Canadian forces? I honestly believe it did. And do we continue to nuke folk every year or two to impose our will elsewhere? Not really.

    In my view you are taking an argument proposing a bucket full of horror, and extending it as far as possible to the other end of the spectrum and assuming the result will be an ocean full of terror – as if it would never end. And yet the record of allied (and US) culture and history shows just the opposite. Once an end is obtained, the degradation ceases – and some semblance of normalcy returns. Admittedly this goes against the grain of normal human nature. But the record speaks for itself. Unlike previous nations that ruled the world, the allies (lead by the US?) have been magnanimous in victory. Japan and Germany were defeated. (Germany, twice) Were they then restored? Do the allies (or the US) still “control” them? Any others we’ve “kept”? Shouldn’t this record speak for itself? Or is most of the anti-US opinion the world expresses more in the nature of sour grapes than informed critique? Honest men can honestly differ on answers to that question.

    But I challenge you reflect on and then answer my basic point. Why should an unsophisticated warrior believe an enemy is as serious and committed as is he, if the enemy will not fight back using similarly brutal tactics? And if that same warrior mistakenly believes his enemy is not that committed to battle, why should the fighter consider peace? In warfare it is only when one side sees it is hopeless to continue that diplomacy is sought. Right now Islamic fighters still think the west is too soft to fight back very long. So why should they NOT scrap on for their own (in my view misguided) ideals? Doesn’t it make more sense – and ultimately wouldn’t it save more innocent lives – if we were to smash their collective wills now by matching their brutality? In spite of our sensibilities? I’ve looked at ancient warfare described in the Bible, and see the same lesson. Don’t fight unless you have to, but if you have to – fight hard and fast and get it over as quickly as possible. To do THAT you must break your enemy’s will.

    The recent milquetoast response of Israel to Hezbalah in southern Lebanon is a perfect example that goes to prove my point. In its past you messed with Israel and they swiftly rained death and destruction on you. It was bloody but quick. Over before you knew it. Warring nations promptly drew back and sued for peace. But local politics in the Jewish state eventually changed, became more liberal (sorry to use that term in this manner, but its true). and thus they were repeatedly probed in recent years by Arab entities until last year Hezbalah finally managed to “win” one over the hated Jews – at least that’s what Syria and Iran now claim. And Israel demonstrated two weaknesses that – if not quickly corrected – will (I predict) speed their ultimate demise. 1. They didn’t have the political will to use sufficient force to do the job quickly. 2. When the measured response tactic failed they didn’t have the political will to continue fighting because what they were doing was taking (some) innocent lives. (Never mind that what the Arabs were doing was ALSO destroying non-combatants. Hezbalah didn’t have to fight by the same rules). And Israel didn’t have the guts to continue. Now. I believe, the doomsday clock is ticking for the Jewish nation.

    Thanks for posting on your Dad’s site. I know he is proud of you. I encourage you to continue thinking for yourself. Don’t believe everything I say, (no hope there) and also don’t believe everything somebody else says. Test it out yourself. Don’t be afraid to consider other’s opinions, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that because they have “studied” something more or longer than you, that they “know” more. Sometimes folks study things so deeply they lose sight of reality.

    And thanks, too, for even covering the SJ Sharks.

    Cheers

    Reply

  14. Knotwurth Mentioning
    Apr 12, 2007 @ 19:30:06

    Sorry for the delay in response. I’ve been a busy man this past week!

    49er, thanks for the words of encouragement at the end, but please don’t cast me in a patronizing light. I have no intention of believing everything someone else says. I am by no means taking what you say as true — in fact, just the opposite, I think you are still wrong — and I am certainly not taking my father’s posts as being absolute, either.

    Where do I think you’re wrong? In the opposite regard of mine, in fact. I stated that you want to avoid becoming a monster so you don’t stay one. Your point that you won’t necessarily stay as such is a completely valid point, but the question that you completely avoid is how much one should be willing to toy with the odds. Surely historically there have been few if any nations that elect a leader who they believe will remain a monster. The Germans before WWII elected Hitler under the assumption that he would win back formerly German territory. They believed in a cause, but surely never could have foreseen the amount of damage and evil that would result from their decision to elect him. To assume that it is okay to allow a ruling power to institute laws that are “monstrous” in their nature because they will not necessarily refuse to relinquish that power once the ultimate goal is attained seems to be a risk that is precarious at best to be assuming.

    The question, then, is one of necessity. Is Bush apart from Hitler insofar that his cause is more justifiable than Hitler’s? Was the US really forced to “adapt” in order to protect a cause that is completely worth foregoing morals in order to attain? In the case of the Western settlers, there are a few points of view that you have refused to consider. First of all, who changed the rules… the Apache who attacked in an unconventional manner, or the settling forces themselves? In my mind they justified adopting brutal tactics to take down a force that they did not necessarily have the right to take down in the first place. And before the point comes up about 9/11 being an initiating point for this war, one has to consider the actions outside of the actual war on terror. Actions in Iraq were absolutely not a response to any sort of aggression, and yet the same policies apply there that apply in Afghanistan and other locations where there is some sort of genuine cause for war.

    As for WWII, it was, as you say, almost necessary for the United States to use unconventional tactics in order to defeat the enemy whatsoever. I do not disagree with the bombing of Japan because there was no way to invade or subdue the Japanese forces in any other way aside from sacrificing many more lives, as you say. In this case, the cause was also indubitably true. The Japanese had sided with the very aggressive enemy forces in order to benefit themselves. They needed to be stopped, and they had sufficient might to cause a huge amount of damage to the rest of the world had they not been brought to a halt promptly. These distinctions I think are truly noteworthy between WWII and the current war. The forces currently faced by the United States are not able to cause as much harm as the Japanese were. They have no veritable military force, and what power they had has been nullified. This is not a fight on equal footing. To win the war is arguably far more winnable in this situation than against the Japanese.

    As for the argument about the “release” of the countries defeated in the Second World War, there are very good reasons that could explain this aside from the benignity of the powers. One could argue that the demilitarization of these countries was more than sufficient to keep the countries in check, and that there was no benefit to them maintaining direct control over them. There would be little economic interest for them in holding Germany or Japan. Much better to go about maintaining economic forces in control of resource-rich undeveloped nations. However, there is a positive note there as well, as far as I am concerned. The difference in the case of the Allies against he modern United States is unilateralism. The Allies kept a check on one another, not allowing the others to abuse the situation overmuch. I think that countries acting in a democratic fashion on a global scale are able to aid in checking other countries — and are simultaneously able to be checked. The States are not acting in this capacity, currently. They are unilaterally enforcing their ideals and going against international policies in order to do it. There is little or no backing of this on a globally democratic level, and so the US is refusing to accept the checks that have been put in place. Without submitting oneself to checks, a leader becomes infinitely more likely to abuse their power ultimately.

    As for the argument that the enemy will not believe you are as committed to the fight, I think that this war is very different than historic examples. In the past there was a veritable desire instilled in both sides of the war to survive. That is not an issue in this war. The United States are not as risk of being destroyed, and the potential terrorists are either well enough concealed that they do not feel much fear of being targeted themselves by the US military, or they are fanatically prepared to sacrifice themselves for a cause. As such, I think that “winning” is a term that has been redefined in this post-9/11 era. By allowing themselves to go against their own ideals that they have reinforced, the States in fact risk losing a different kind of war. The terrorist forces are not trying to decimate the US forces — that is an impossible goal if there ever was one, for such a small force as theirs. Rather, this is a battle of ideals, and as the States use more and more brutal tactics, the terrorists undermine everything that the States represent. Democracy? By acting unilaterally the States make a joke of global democracy. Freedom? They still maintain holds in foreign countries that enforce their ideals regardless of the native population’s desires. Equality? Apparently not. It’s okay for the “good guys” to overlook the rights of “terrorists.” Clearly equality is not as desirable as victory. While these ideals were arguably liable to give the enemies victory in the past, the fact that what they are attempting to bring about is an abandonment of those ideals suggests that victory is not, in fact, accomplished through showing our determination and flexing our muscles.

    As for the Hezbalah example, you are once again diverging into a more even-footed battle in which Israel arguably could end up being defeated. That’s not a feasible outcome of the topic on-hand.

    There you go. My thoughts on why you are wrong. This war is something completely different than the plethora of examples you supplied. The States are using unnecessary tactics in this war, and they are inevitably undermining their own cause against warriors fighting for ideals, not simple political or military dominance. You are right. We are from very different generations. This war is not a war from your generation, it is something set apart from the wars of the 20th century, and that has to be acknowledged when considering the validity of using tools such as torture to take down potential terrorists.

    Reply

  15. Stephen
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 15:56:30

    I’d like to add one thought to Knotwurth’s argument. We must always remember, the USA is detaining and torturing people who are suspected of terrorist activities or having links to terrorist organizations.

    If the USA was torturing proven terrorists to get information, it would be harder to generate sympathy for the tortured individuals. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is a brutal way to do business. But if government detains someone who is responsible for the deaths of dozens or hundreds or thousands of innocent non-combatants — men women and children — as I say, it would be hard to generate a lot of sympathy.

    (Whether torture is an effective way to obtain reliable information — that’s another consideration, but I set it aside here.)

    Instead, the government is torturing suspects, which changes the equation. Anyone can be declared a suspect, denied the protection of the law, and tortured. Do Americans trust their government enough to give them such awesome power on a completely discretionary basis?

    It isn’t conservative to trust one’s government that much. That observation ought to resonate with you, 49er.

    Reply

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