Today's Blogs

Dean’s Unwinnable Argument

Bloggers respond to Howard Dean’s contention that the Iraq war is unwinnable; they also discuss the Saddam Hussein trial and the possible discovery of a new mammal in Borneo.

Dean’s Unwinnable Argument: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told San Antonio’s WOAI radio station on Monday that the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.” Drawing Vietnam and Watergate comparisons, he suggested a “strategic redeployment” of U.S. troops within the next two years. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also criticized the war in recent days, leading some Democrats to strongly condemn the Pelosi-Dean perspective. (Listen to Dean on WOAI.)

As always, Dean’s detractors abound. Civil Commotion’s Bob Felton, a conservative freelance writer/editor, emphasizes the similarities between Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11 (today is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor) and declares, “The difference, then, is that America was willing to unsentimentally get about the business of killing the SOB’s; today, we have nasty trolls like Howard Dean summarily declaring defeat.” D.F. Moore, a nanotechnology grad student, suggests that Sen. Joe Lieberman should lead the Democratic Party in Dean’s stead; he appreciatively quotes Lieberman’s recent comment that Americans shouldn’t give up in Iraq and “seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.” Captain’s Quarters’ Ed Morrissey, a conservative stalwart, claims that “Dean makes clear that he has no idea of the difference between a strategic redeployment and running away.” And law professor Ann Althouse wants to know: “We’ve heard the stock comparison to Vietnam many times, of course, but why bring up Watergate–except to let the world see that you’re drooling over the idea of impeachment?”

Nevertheless, some are sticking up for Dean. “Let me just suggest to [Dean] and others who are pushing this sensible plan that we call it ‘Winning smart in Iraq’ rather than ‘can’t win,’ ” writesInformed Comment’s Middle Eastern studies professor Juan Cole. He also claims that Dean and Bush are clashing simply about whether the United States should leave Iraq in two years or in five years, “and over direct US presence in that period versus an over-the-horizon capability to intervene against building threats to the US.” Pointing out that Bush said last year that the war on terror is unwinnable, political science grad student Brendan Nyhan goes on to object to the double standard that Dean critics are applying. “[T]his is a gaffe in the Kinsley sense–when a politician tells the truth. It’s virtually indisputable that ‘winning’ the war in Iraq is highly unlikely,” Nyhan opines. “[S]aying he believes that the war is unwinnable does not mean he wants us to lose.”

Read more about Dean’s remarks. At Scrappleface, Scott Ott has composed a holiday ditty for Dean.

No justice, no peace: The Saddam Hussein trial has been postponed until Dec. 21. Hussein didn’t show up in court today, after shouting yesterday, “I will not come to an unjust court! Go to hell!” He also complained about not being allowed to shower, change, exercise, or smoke.

Bloggers are at a loss. “[C]an anyone explain how Saddam Hussein can just refuse to come to his trial? He’s in a cell, right? Apparently not even able to change his undies on a schedule of his liking, and yet he can say, ‘Feck off!’ when they say it’s time for court?” wondersChristoblog’s Christobol.  “[T]he near-chaos that is allowed to prevail is inexcusable,” insistsPower Line’s conservative John Hinderaker, who believes that it might have been better if Hussein had been executed without a trial. He writes, “Saddam’s ability to joust with the presiding judge can only be interpreted by Iraqis as a sign of the fledgling government’s weakness.” 

IraqPundit, an Iraqi exile, observes that, “Saddam once more succeeded in being in control. … Perhaps Saddam’s refusal to listen to witnesses and the judge signals that he is so afraid to die that he interrupts the court’s proceedings to buy himself more time.” And Philosophy, Computers, and Bad Writing’s Henry Imler writes, “Poor Saddam says he is having an unjust trial. Well, you with think that he would be the most qualified person to make that judgement. But then again, do you think he would know justice if it slapped him in the face or curled around his neck?”

Read more about the Saddam trial.

Tailing the cat-fox: Scientists working for the World Wildlife Federation think they may have discovered a new mammal in an Indonesian national park in Borneo. No one has seen the creature, which is believed to be a long-tailed carnivore in the viverrid family (which includes mongooses and civets), but cameras in the wild have produced two images.

Environmentalists are delighted and yet troubled. On The Irish Trojan’s Blog, guest blogger Brian notes that the Indonesian government is planning to build a palm-oil plantation in the rainforest where the creature was sighted. “Wiping out a rainforest to make a plantation that can be seen from space is Not Good. … How much palm oil does the world really need?” And Sarkar Lab WebLog’s Sahotra Sarkar, director of the Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory at the University of Texas-Austin, points out, “Almost all of that forest is now gone and in Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo, the government continues to be in denial, accusing conservationists of false propaganda. … Meanwhile, during the last ten years, biologists have found more than 360 new species in Borneo, most of them insects and plants. Do we need a better reason for a focus on conservation in Borneo?” And Secular Satori’s Lagartija Nick, a student, writes, “Makes you wonder how many species we’ve missed before logging, farming, and hunting drove them to extinction.”

Read more about the lemur-cat-fox.

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