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Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Neg. Cross)

Question 1: What evidence do you have that reducing our “footprint” and “fingerprint” will result in a reduction of radicalism in the Middle East?

BERNARD FINEL: Obviously, it is impossible to prove a hypothetical, so there is no direct evidence to support my contention that reducing our visibility will reduce radicalism. Indeed, I don’t think it is likely to reduce radicalism at all—what I believe is that it will reduce anti-American radicalism, which is a slightly different argument. I also want to point out that we need to think through carefully the evidentiary requirements of the case for a policy change. If our current policies were working well, then there would be a strong argument for the presumption against a major departure, and hence a high-standard of proof would be required. In the current case, where our Middle Eastern policy is, I think, self-evidently unsatisfactory, the standard of proof for change is lower. That said, I agree with the implicit assumption behind these questions, which is that the first principle ought to be to first do no harm to American interests.

As to the evidence. I come to my conclusion on the basis of both an analysis of public opinion data and by comparison to other countries. First, opinion data: There is deep, deep skepticism of American motives. According to a survey done by Shibley Telhami of opinion in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, 83% of respondents held an unfavorable view of the United States in 2008. Of that 64% held a “very unfavorable” view. The fundamental reason for this unfavorable opinion is skepticism of American motives. When asked whether the U.S. goal was to “weaken and divide Islam” a worldpublicopinion.org poll in 2007 showed 78% of Moroccan believed that was the U.S. goal, as did 92% of Egyptians and 73% of Pakistanis. This is a common belief in the Middle East. Indeed, it is one of the few obvious sources of anti-American sentiment, along with support for Israel and the Iraq war. On the whole, the public in the Middle East responds positively to American “values”—such as democracy, freedom, and so on. And on the whole, these same publics reject terrorism. So, I think we can infer, from this, that it is the American role in the region that prompts anger and resentment.

Second, do a comparison with other countries. If the issue if “who we are” rather than “what we are (perceived as) doing,” then why are we more unpopular than our European allies who share most of our values. There is no correlate between level of democracy and unpopularity. There is no correlation between percentage of Christians and unpopularity. Muslims in the United States are, on the whole, better integrated into American society than are Muslims in Europe, and yet in the Middle East that is not reflected in a different in public opinion.

If you can explain 83% unfavorable ratings—in countries that are largely American allies—with some other data point, I’m open to reconsidering my argument. But I just think the data leads one to the conclusion that it is American involvement that is generating a backlash.

Now, as a policy matter, does that imply that reducing our footprint would ease this challenge. I really don’t know. I can’t see how it could hurt. But I am also not sure it will help. Just as anti-Semitism often exists even in the absence of Jews, it is possible that anti-Americanism has become so ingrained in modes of political analysis that even if we reduce our presence, we will still be blamed for negative developments in the bizarre conspiracy theories that seem to dominate political analysis in the Middle East. I think reducing our footprint and fingerprints is the best option, but I would not bet the mortgage on it.

Question 2: what evidence do you have that reducing our “footprint” and “fingerprint” will result in enhanced security for Israel or a greater likelihood of the Israelis and Palestinians reaching a mutually agreeable settlement of their differences?

BERNARD FINEL: Actually, I don’t think it will do either of those things, and I apologize if I gave that impression. About Israeli security — my view is that the Israelis can take care of themselves. They are a nuclear armed state with the best conventional military in the region. Deterrence should hold against state actors. In terms of non-state actors, I think the answer lies in multilateral non-proliferation initiatives — fissile material cut-offs, international nuclear fuel banks, and so on. Unilaterally whacking countries that might someday become a threat to Israel seems to me an inefficient approach, and one that will make the U.S. and Israel increasingly unpopular thus feeding the problem we seek to resolve.

About the Israeli-Palestinian dispute… actually, I don’t think there is a negotiated solution available, and I just think that it is mistake to be so involved that we get blamed when no agreement arises. I also think it is a mistake to raise false hopes. My view here is that we should acknowledge we have no power over the situation, offer our assistance if requested, but otherwise try to break the notion that the road to peace in the Middle East somehow runs through Washington.

Question 3: what evidence do you have that pursuing “alternative energy, oil exploration at home, better fuel efficiency from cars” will result in a substantial reduction in oil use in the near term in the United States let alone in the long term? How large a reduction and in what time frame?

BERNARD FINEL: My argument is a long-term one actually. I come at the issue from the reverse perspective. Is there any reason why, even given today’s technology, we “need” to use oil? No. Replacing the roughly 9% of electricity generated by oil-fired power plants is within easy reach by a combination of coal, nuclear, solar, and wind. The bigger issue is the use of oil in the transportation sector. Here there are again plenty of existing solutions — plug-in electric, hydrogen-powered, natural gas, etc. The big challenge in making a switch is primarily infrastructure. The cost of building out this infrastructure is massive… but so is the cost of fighting wars in the Middle East and maintaining power-projection capabilities for regional contingencies there.

According to Energy Independence Now, converting all of California’s gas stations to carry hydrogen would cost roughly $5 billion. Extrapolate that to the rest of the country and we are looking at maybe a $50 billion price tag. Add in investments in generation capacity—maybe twice that again, so another $100 billion. We spend roughly $150 billion in purchasing foreign oil every year (the figure varies with prices, of course). For the money we spend in a single year on foreign oil, we could make a major dent in a hydrogen infrastructure. Hydrogen is still more costly than oil if you don’t take into account the political and military costs associated with oil dependency. If you do, the gap closes. But you don’t need to replace all oil. Just reduce our use and exposure to the point that we don’t feel compelled to be a regional policeman.

Just a caveat—the numbers on energy independence are all over the map. It depends on how quickly you do it, which technologies, assumptions about economies of scale, etc. My point is, we spend $150 billion on foreign oil, we spend perhaps another $100 billion annually in supporting military capacity and political engagements to reduce risk in access to that oil, and we spend tens of billions more a year in mitigating the consequence of this dependence. There is a massive amount of resources locked up in the status quo. Oil dependence is not cheap.

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About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. Steve Verdon says:

    According to Energy Independence Now, converting all of California’s gas stations to carry hydrogen would cost roughly $5 billion. Extrapolate that to the rest of the country and we are looking at maybe a $50 billion price tag. Add in investments in generation capacity—maybe twice that again, so another $100 billion. We spend roughly $150 billion in purchasing foreign oil every year (the figure varies with prices, of course). For the money we spend in a single year on foreign oil, we could make a major dent in a hydrogen infrastructure.

    Couple of key points.

    1. You’ll still have to spend that $150 billion on oil…maybe even for a couple of years while spending that $100 to $150 billion on setting up the infrastructure for hydrogen.

    2. Without subsidies or government coercion people will not make the switch so long as there is a price differential at the pump.

    In short, the savings are not nearly as large as is being protrayed here or at the very least it will take a considerable amount of time before such investments pay off…if ever.

    And as I pointed out earlier, since this is a political goal it will no be the result of the market but politics. As such there is no assurances that we will get those alternative technologies that will are both the best from both a technical and a marketability/profitability stand point. We could end up with alternatives that need to be subsidized for a very, very long time.

    I’m not saying that nothing should be done, but the best solution probably is not looking at specific technologies then looking for the government to implement. Instead have the government put a Pigouvian tax on gasoline and let the market look for alternatives. Of course, this is political suicide for any politician that puts this forward as a serious policy proposal.

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  2. Steve: Yup on having to continue to spend on oil as well in the short term.

    I do disagree on a couple of points.

    (1) This is both a market and political issue. The markets are underpricing oil because the other costs of keeping access are paid in corporate taxes and income tax and not at the pump. If people paid all the costs associated with oil at the pump, it would be a different situation.

    (2) I don’t know where the “free market” concept that infrastructure investments are poorly handled by the government arose. It certainly is not supported in American history. Simply put, the United States never develops its economic strength without a combination of variable tariff policies, massive direct government investment in water projects (ports, waterways, canals) and roads, and immense indirect government investment in the form of land grants and preferential tax treatment for railroads. Even the oil industry, supposedly built purely by profit-hungry innovators grew on the back of government-sponsored infrastructure. Furthermore, there are vanishingly few major infrastructure innovations anywhere in the developed world that were primarily private sector innovations. Heck, even our favorite tool — the Internet — is a government infrastructure investment.

    I agree that more narrowly focused industrial policy is often disastrous, but in terms of national infrastructure development the notion that the free market knows best is simply indefensible on historical grounds.

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  3. Bithead says:

    Obviously, it is impossible to prove a hypothetical, so there is no direct evidence to support my contention that reducing our visibility will reduce radicalism. Indeed, I don’t think it is likely to reduce radicalism at all—what I believe is that it will reduce anti-American radicalism, which is a slightly different argument

    Frankly, it will not even do that; it will at this point increase it, IMV.

    It MAY or may not reduce terrorism, (Likely, not) … and specifically it may or may not reduce anti-American terrorism, but not the radicalism that is underlying it. (Again, likely, not) …

    To understand that, proper identification of the root of the problem is required. Islamic radicalism is of the variety which is always looking for a target of convenience. . I would suggest that target will always be found in anyone carrying an idea not in direct and full mesh with Islam, whoever happens to be. The US and other western interests are the biggest target at this point because they are the biggest group of non-Islamic people.

    First, opinion data: There is deep, deep skepticism of American motives.

    And

    If you can explain 83% unfavorable ratings—in countries that are largely American allies—with some other data point, I’m open to reconsidering my argument.

    The reason for that involves the number of times we have deserted friends in the past, particularly those in the Arab world, when the going got tough. What you’re proposing is more of the same, which would do nothing but reinforce that skepticism. The reason other countries have not the negative ratings is of a piece; and also includes the idea that these others have not tried to inject themselves for the purpose of reducing terrorism.

    Before you start chiming in on how I just contradicted myself, the key to understanding why that’s not a contradiction, goes back to not withdrawing on friends we’ve made before the long task has been completed. I submit that it’s our withdrawal in the past, not our participation, that is driving the negative polling you mention.

    I come at the issue from the reverse perspective. Is there any reason why, even given today’s technology, we “need” to use oil? No. Replacing the roughly 9% of electricity generated by oil-fired power plants is within easy reach by a combination of coal, nuclear, solar, and wind.

    Coal? While it’s true that there is no reason a loss of oil fired plants cannot be made up with these others, in terms of generating capacity, you’d better have a word with the new administration, who has made a rather public show of, with Al Gore, foreswearing use of coal, which of the sources you mention is in reality the only one that’s really ready to go now. the others have problems with the Gorebots as well, as I’m sure a look off Hyannisport will inform you. (Where are the wind turbines that were supposed to be out there?) Nuclear? Gore and company are against that as well. I see no indication Obama or anyoene else is going to buck Gore on this Ineed, with Browner being Energy, seems to me nukes Coal and most other forms you list are off the table. Have you others to offer?

    Mind, even at that, we’re discussing, in electricity, a very small amount of differnce in the use of oil, most of whuch goes for transportation… and the use of oil in which there is very little feaseable substitute for… including hydrogen.

    Further, if you’re proposing going electric in transportation, ahve tyou considered in your argument the added generating capacity that would be required to put even 20% of our current fleet over to plugin?

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  4. Michael says:

    Question 1: What evidence do you have that reducing our “footprint” and “fingerprint” will result in a reduction of radicalism in the Middle East?

    Probably the best thing you can do is find countries that provide a useful analogy to the USA that have a reduced footprint and/or fingerprint. To that end I would suggest Russia and China. Russia still has a large fingerprint (they’re always involved in affairs) but a significantly smaller footprint (their presence doesn’t displace anything). China is the opposite, they have a large footprint but a small fingerprint. The extent that the lack of ill-will towards these countries is a result of that difference, or simply the fact that all available ill-will is currently focused on the USA, I have no idea.

    According to Energy Independence Now, converting all of California’s gas stations to carry hydrogen would cost roughly $5 billion. Extrapolate that to the rest of the country and we are looking at maybe a $50 billion price tag. Add in investments in generation capacity—maybe twice that again, so another $100 billion.

    Some key differences between hydrogen and oil, that I’m disappointed didn’t get mentioned:
    (Pros)
    1.) Hydrogen can be created anywhere, oil can only be obtained from certain places.
    2.) Hydrogen can be created where it is used, oil must be transported.
    3.) Hydrogen production is massively parallelizable, oil production is not.
    4.) Any clean, renewable source of electricity can produce a clean, renewable source of hydrogen.

    (Cons)
    5) The energy density of hydrogen is significantly less than that of oil, you need more to do the same amount of work.
    6) Hydrogen is extremely difficult and expensive to store, there will be no Strategic Hydrogen Reserve in an old salt mine.
    7) Hydrogen is more dangerous than petroleum, liquids burn while gases explode.

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  5. Michael says:

    Islamic radicalism is of the variety which is always looking for a target of convenience. . I would suggest that target will always be found in anyone carrying an idea not in direct and full mesh with Islam, whoever happens to be. The US and other western interests are the biggest target at this point because they are the biggest group of non-Islamic people.

    Why not China then? China actually oppresses it’s Muslim population, certainly it is more at odds with Islam than the USA.

    Mind, even at that, we’re discussing, in electricity, a very small amount of differnce in the use of oil, most of whuch goes for transportation… and the use of oil in which there is very little feaseable substitute for… including hydrogen.

    Not pure H2, no, but once you have an affordable source of H2 you can bond it to something else to make it more useful in replacing petroleum in transportation.

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  6. Brett says:

    Keep in mind, too, that there is a lot of animosity among these Islamic groups towards their home governments as well. If they’re looking for “targets of convenience”, then they’ve got plenty at home – they target the US because the US is seen as this manipulative, pro-Zionist power doing all sorts of shenanigans both in the open (in Iraq and Afghanistan), and under cover (some of the theories about the CIA are quite interesting to hear).

    The key point, though, is that it was not always seen this way. The US was not viewed that negatively outside of Iran until after the 1973 Yom Kippur War (when we got caught supplying weapons to the Israelis because of a mistake in the flight schedule), even though we were among the first to recognize Israel in 1948.

    As for the “energy independence issue” – why bother with hydrogen? Either you’re going to burn a lot of natural gas to get hydrogen fuel for your cars, or you’re going to have to use a lot of electricity to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen. Neither is particularly efficient. It’d be much wiser, in my opinion, to make Natural Gas the transition fuel, particularly since there is plenty of domestic and North American supply, and it is difficult to ship from overseas (inhibiting reliance on Middle East supplies, for example). We already have networks of pipelines for transporting Natural Gas, and working models of natural gas-powered cars (they work pretty well, too; I work for Salt Lake City, which uses one of them as the city car, and it drives almost as well as a gas-powered car), so the main challenge would be getting more of those vehicles on the road while funding the creation of natural gas re-fuel station across the US.

    That’s basically begging for a higher tax on gasoline.

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  7. Bithead says:

    Why not China then? China actually oppresses it’s Muslim population, certainly it is more at odds with Islam than the USA

    First, China, as I’m sure you’re aware, tends to be a far more controlled country in terms of individual freedoms, thereby giving terrorists far less chance to act…. Such control also would by nature mean some incidents which do manage to occur are not reported. So, I’d caution you not to judge the amount of radicalism in an area by the numbers of reported violent incidents. Certainly, one can measure terrorism DRIVEN by radicalism in that manner. However, don’t make the mistake of suggesting a lack of Islamic radicals in an area based on the number of violent incidents reported.

    That point aside, and assuming we know what’s going on in a given area, this would have to do with the influence of Wahabbiism within Islam, within the Middle east, vs it’s influence elsewhere in the world. Raw numbers of adherents, too, play into this.

    Mind you… None of this is to suggest that radicalism isn’t inherrent in all literal readings of Islam to at least some degree. It’s just that Islam in China, as your example, isn’t strong enough to have significant numbers of radicals, frankly.

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  8. Michael says:

    First, China, as I’m sure you’re aware, tends to be a far more controlled country in terms of individual freedoms, thereby giving terrorists far less chance to act….

    We’re not talking about actual action, but rather opinion. The fact that China is harder to attack than the USA, wouldn’t be a reason for Islamists to hate them less.

    It’s just that Islam in China, as your example, isn’t strong enough to have significant numbers of radicals, frankly.

    Islam in the USA isn’t strong enough to have significant numbers of radicals either. You’re making a parallel argument with this. The question is why do radicals in the middle east hate America more than other countries, and your explanation doesn’t adequately explain China.

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  9. anjin-san says:

    First, China, as I’m sure you’re aware, tends to be a far more controlled country in terms of individual freedoms, thereby giving terrorists far less chance to act…. Such control also would by nature mean some incidents which do manage to occur are not reported.

    There is the rather obvious point that radical Muslims from outside of China could attack Chinese interests and nationals outside of China should they choose to.

    The fact is that Radical Muslims have motive and opportunity to attack Chinese targets. The fact that they would prefer to attack America, American interests and American citizens is significant.

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  10. Steve Verdon says:

    I don’t know where the “free market” concept that infrastructure investments are poorly handled by the government arose.

    It isn’t infrastructure by itself, but that you’ll have competing interests for different forms of alternatives. You can’t compare building roads to chosing between a list of possible alternatives. In other words,

    Case 1:
    Roads

    Case2:
    Hydrogen
    Natural Gas
    Solar
    Wind
    Hybrid cars
    Electric cars
    Coal
    Nuclear
    Biofuels
    Geothermal

    The first case is pretty easy to make for roads and while there might be some special interest issues they would be, IMO, several orders of magnitude larger in the second case. In regards to case 2, the argument is compelling, but which one?

    This is why I think you’d be on better ground if you went with the Pigouvian tax on pruducts like gasoline. Seriously, Greg Mankiw put this idea forward and I’m sure he has lots of stuff on his blog about it. I don’t think he put much thought into the Middle East issue, but hey…consider it icing on the cake or ice cream with your pie.

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  11. PD Shaw says:

    I come to my conclusion on the basis of both an analysis of public opinion data and by comparison to other countries.

    I think you can also find public opinion data showing that Arabs initially reacted very favorably to the U.S. led invasion to free Kuwait. Also, there was great disappointment in the Middle East when the U.S. was slow to lead the West to stop atrocities against Muslims in the Balkins.

    This suggests to me that America will be the source of anti-Americanism for doing nothing also. Why? Because America is seen as the dominant power in the world after the fall of the USSR, not the Chinese, not the Russians, not the Irish. The American footprint is not merely military, but in the liberal economic order it has pushed, as well as the social values distributed by its media.

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  12. Brett says:

    Yeah, but there’s a difference between “Why aren’t those lousy Americans doing anything about Tyrant X and his oppressive ways, or tyranny in general, etc.? They have the power to end this!” and “Those Americans are in the Holy Land, killing Muslims, and hurting widows/orphans/students/whatever! We must drive the infidels out!” The former can lead to resentment, but doesn’t generally lead to terrorist attacks, anymore than the lack of American military intervention in Zimbabwe has led to radical Zimbabwean groups launching terrorist attacks outside of Zimbabwe. Terrorist attacks and movements rarely arise from simple neglect.

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  13. These are great comments. I do just want to remind folks that I never claimed that my proposals would instantaneously fix all our problems. These issues are not binary. I am arguing that less involvement is better than more, not in favor of no involvement, and I certainly don’t believe there aren’t tradeoffs in my approach.

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  14. Bithead says:

    Not pure H2, no, but once you have an affordable source of H2 you can bond it to something else to make it more useful in replacing petroleum in transportation.

    Either way, you still have to use energy to MAKE it. And a pretty fair amount of energy too. So, unless you’re ready to use the other generation means available to us… and coal and Nuclear seem the most promising at the moment, in terms of reliability to time to online status, any talk of using hydrogen to power our transportation systems has less substance than the hydrogen itself.

    There is the rather obvious point that radical Muslims from outside of China could attack Chinese interests and nationals outside of China should they choose to.

    and…

    We’re not talking about actual action, but rather opinion. The fact that China is harder to attack than the USA, wouldn’t be a reason for Islamists to hate them less.

    There’s an old saying about PETA followers, and why they tend to attack rich women in furs, rather than attacking bikers wearing leather. The Rich women are not nearly as likely to kill you for your trouble. They know the Americans are going to get themselves to balled up in internal political squabbles over our response to the Islamic threat. And so we have, haven’t we? The Chinese, meanwhile, are not likely to be nearly as indecisive and unwilling to respond.

    We’re also not talking, for the most part about actual hate. It’s true, some of it exists, but I suggest this is drummed up hatred on the part of those actually doing the foot soldiering. It’s fairly easy to twist religion in that fashion, don’t you think?

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  15. Brett says:

    The Chinese, meanwhile, are not likely to be nearly as indecisive and unwilling to respond.

    Whether or not they’d be willing is beside the point – by and large they couldn’t unless they wanted to send troops across the western borders.

    Besides, do you have any actual proof for this analogy? It’s not like America is any less likely to beat the crap out of anyone who launches a terrorist attack on our home soil that anyone else (and we have the force projection capability to respond), so why aren’t the less capable countries being hit worse?

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  16. anjin-san says:

    The Chinese, meanwhile, are not likely to be nearly as indecisive and unwilling to respond.

    Lets see, we have 2 wars going on in the middle east. Unwilling to respond? Please.

    China’s ability to project power is very limited. They have nowhere near our capabilities. Exactly what is this dreadful response the terrorists so fear?

    To postulate that the terrorists attack Americans and not Chinese because they are somehow afraid to is far beyond nonsense.

    There are reasons these folks hate us. I suspect that the reasons make sense to them. We have supported dictators in that part of the world for many decades. Maybe they just think that we are F____king them over and they are sick of it. We used Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. The minute they were not useful to them any more, we bailed. People do not like to feel they are being used, and they do like being treated with respect.

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  17. anjin-san says:

    We’re also not talking, for the most part about actual hate

    No? I am guessing there are a lot of folks in Iraq who’s loved ones have died in our little “shock and awe” adventure that really and truly hate us.

    There are probably also some folks in Iran who’s grandparents were tortured by the Shah who do actually hate us. Do you blame them?

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  18. anjin-san says:

    These are great comments. I do just want to remind folks that I never claimed that my proposals would instantaneously fix all our problems.

    Well Bernard, for what it is worth, I appreciate the thought you have put into this crucial issue. We seem to have some difficulty as a society dispassionately analyzing our policies and their effects around the world, especially when one considers our unparalleled wealth and power. This dialog is a useful step in the right direction.

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  19. [...] my negative cross-examination Dr. Finel challenged me to produce an explanation for negative views of the United States among [...]

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  20. [...] over disengaging from the Middle East continues at Outside the Beltway. Yesterday at OTB I posted my negative cross-examination of Dr. Finel and this morning I posted my negative constructive [...]

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  21. Bithead says:

    No? I am guessing there are a lot of folks in Iraq who’s loved ones have died in our little “shock and awe” adventure that really and truly hate us.

    There are probably also some folks in Iran who’s grandparents were tortured by the Shah who do actually hate us. Do you blame them?

    Spare me the sanctimony, Anjin.

    Those who hate us for that are far outnumbered by those being imprisioned and or killed by the current regime, and who hate us because that bloody genius Jimmy Carter bailed at the suggestion of George Ball, when things got hot for the Shah. Not only did we make enemies of the rest of the region, since we now had the label of ‘can’t be trusted’ stuck on us, the resulting purge in Iran resulted in far more dead and their families pissed at us for pulling out.

    Not.
    Buying.
    It.

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  22. Bithead says:

    Whether or not they’d be willing is beside the point – by and large they couldn’t unless they wanted to send troops across the western borders.

    (Nod)
    True enough.

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  23. Andy says:

    Bernard,

    Now, as a policy matter, does that imply that reducing our footprint would ease this challenge. I really don’t know. I can’t see how it could hurt. But I am also not sure it will help.

    To me, this statement undercuts your entire argument. It makes your argument appear to boil down to trying something different for the sake of trying something different. It’s not convincing to advocate for what would be a radical departure in long-standing US policy when you’re not sure it will help US interests in the end. It’s strikes me as a “grass is greener” argument.

    I think there is another problem regarding what I see as the primary assumption underlying your argument here: That the negative’s to US interests and standing are the result of being too engaged, therefore we should disengage. I thing the poll data clearly shows that those in the Middle-East who hate the US hate our policies and not our high level of influence and involvement. They view our policies as hypocritical, which is a big reason they don’t trust US motives. They see our policies as being disconnected from our ideals. The rank and file want the US to be engaged, but want a different kind of engagement.

    If that analysis is true, then it’s hard to argue that disengagement will accomplish much in my view. A better option would be to change US policies under a new grand strategy instead of simply disengaging.

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  24. anjin-san says:

    Not.
    Buying.
    It.

    Ah, so. Your position is that the moral high ground that America now holds is that we have caused somewhat less human misery than the evil does?

    Quite a vision you have there for America skippy.

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  25. Bithead says:

    Welcome to the real world, Anjin. there are, often as not, no perfect solutions. As with voting, the options presented are binary, and you’re more often than not, forced to chose the lesser evil.

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