Rumsfeld: U.S. Losing Battle of Ideas

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the students of the Army War College that the United States is losing the battle of ideas. In response to a question, he replied, “If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a `D’ or a `D-plus’ as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today. I’m not going to suggest that it’s easy, but we have not found the formula as a country” for countering the extremists’ message.

He said the al-Qaida terrorist network and affiliated Islamic extremists are the most brutal enemies the United States has ever seen. Rumsfeld cited several examples of vicious terrorist assaults, including the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and warned that unless the terrorists are stopped they will continue to seek the means to launch even deadlier attacks on the West in the years ahead. “The enemy we face may be the most brutal in our history,” Rumsfeld said. “They currently lack only the means _ not the desire _ to kill, murder millions of innocent people with weapons vastly more powerful than boarding passes and box cutters,” he added, referring to the terrorists who hijacked the airliners Sept. 11.

[…]

Rumsfeld said progress is being made in the global war on terror, particularly in making it more difficult for terrorist groups to recruit, train, raise money, establish sanctuaries and acquire weapons. But he stressed that more needs to be done. “The strategy must do a great deal more to reduce the lure of the extremist ideology by standing with those moderate Muslims advocating peaceful change, freedom and tolerance,” he said.

Rumsfeld noted that his audience included an Afghan military officer and one from Iraq. “We welcome you and are proud to stand with you in the cause of freedom,” the defense secretary said.

That’s about right. Rumsfeld’s words echo those of British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered last week:

This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don’t mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists.

Neither man explained how, exactly, to improve our effectiveness in the ideological battle, though. Presumably, the US and UK have been trying for at least five years now.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    Is it a surprise that we would be losing a war of ideas when our nation is run by people whose instinct is to impose our ideas by force?

  2. Is it a surprise that we are losing the war of ideas when we have so many quislings wittingly or unwittingly helping out the other side?

  3. ken says:

    Rumsfeld is old. His ways of thinking are old. He doesn’t understand that he will have no more success imposing his ‘ideas’ on others than the soviets did.

    The solution is to engage in the battle of ideas with better ideas, not to try to kill those with different ideas.

    Ideas cannot be supressed by killing people. In fact, given the way human nature works, it is counterproductive as the victims of your violence seek justification for their desire for retribution and get driven right into embracing the ‘ideas’ you oppose.

  4. LJD says:

    Yeah, it goes something like this…

    Ken (to terrorist):
    Our past ideas about your beliefs and concerns have been totally wrong. The NEW United States wants to embrace Al Qaeda and renew our effort to understand your culture.

    Terrorist: (Saws Ken’s head of with a machete)

  5. McGehee says:

    Rumsfeld is old. His ways of thinking are old.

    Some old ways of thinking get that way because the “new” ways never work.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Sorry, guys. As the comments above demonstrate, we don’t speak with a single voice here. Never have, never will. Our innate inability to give anything other than a mixed message places us at a disadvantage in a war for hearts and minds.

    We are, however, at no such disadvantage in waging the old fashioned kind.

  7. Ralph says:

    As a schoolboy boning up on his English, Natan Sharansky regularly read the only English-language newspaper allowed in the Soviet Union at the time. [The London Star, if memory serves; a communist paper.] The irony was that young Sharansky appreciated how a free society could allow such openly hostile propaganda. He didn’t learn from the stories, he learned from the fact that the stories were allowed to be published. (from Sharansky’s book, “Case for Democracy”)

    Wise men will see the same in America’s fractious discourse. Of course, like a suckers, idiots (and useful idiots) are “born every second.” And at least one too-sensitive-to-be-named politico-religious system fosters and dotes on blind ignorance.

    For the rest, it is “self-evident.” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get the wrong end to drink.

  8. Roger Ridenour says:

    Instead of LJD and Bush’s ignorant version of a winning approach to the war of ideas–i.e, torturing, lying, waging arbitrary wars of aggression in the middle east, and just generally trying to convince the Islamic world that Bin Laden was right about us–perhaps we should try talking about freedom, justice for all, and such like that.

  9. LJD says:

    we should try talking about freedom, justice for all, and such like that.

    Hmmmm. That’s sounds vaguely familiar. Where have I heard some thing like that before?

    Oh yeah…

    Bushâ??s ignorant version of a winning approach to the war of ideas

    No, the war of ideas is lost in the media and with self-defeating morons like yourself.

  10. Roger Ridenour says:

    Ahahahahahahahahahahaha! Thanks, LJD. Crumbled neo-con for breakfast. What a great way to start the morning! Really. Enjoyed it so much. Thanks.

  11. LJD says:

    Bin Laden was right about usâ??

    i.e. We deserved it.

    Thanks for letting us know where you stand.

  12. Roger Ridenour says:

    Nice try, LJD. What I said was “LJD and Bushâ??s ignorant version of a winning approach to the war of ideas . . . [involves] generally trying to convince the Islamic world that Bin Laden was right about us.” This is another good exercise in logic for you. If you point out that someone is TRYING TO MAKE YOU LOOK as bad as someone else SAYS you are, is that the same as saying you are as bad as they say? Think hard on it now. It’ll come to you.

  13. LJD says:

    O.K. Let’s back this up a minute…

    Exactly what part of :

    Yeah, it goes something like thisâ?¦

    Ken (to terrorist):
    Our past ideas about your beliefs and concerns have been totally wrong. The NEW United States wants to embrace Al Qaeda and renew our effort to understand your culture.

    Terrorist: (Saws Kenâ??s head of with a machete)

    …represents my ‘ignorant version of a winning approach to the war of ideas’?

    My (rather funny) comment alluded to the fact that you guys still don’t get it.

    Read: Regardless of what we do (aid, protection, infrastructure), we will have a negative image to those who for religious or political reasons hate our way of life. Especially when their proganda machine, and ours (MSM) continue to work towards THEIR goals. Get it?

    If you want so badly to find fault in our country, find a positive approach with some solutions, or else go put a bomb vest on and ‘make a difference’.

  14. Roger Ridenour says:

    LJD, you like to put words in people’s mouths, create straw men, knock them over, and then strut around as if you’ve made a point. In the posts above, neither Ken speak the words of your straw man. Why the continual dishonesty on your part? If you have a sustainable point, just say it.

    The topic was how we’re losing the war of ideas. I suggest your approach-torturing, lying, waging arbitrary wars of aggression in the middle east, and just generally trying to convince the Islamic world that Bin Laden was right about us-is not an effective one. Instead I suggest we emphasize what-before neocon rule-America represents, freedom, justice for all, and so on.

    If I can attempt to clarify Ken’s point by rephrasing slightly–Ken, correct me if I’m wrong–Ken said “Ideas cannot be supressed by killing [innocent] people. In fact, given the way human nature works, it is counterproductive as the [innocent] victims of your violence seek justification for their desire for retribution and get driven right into embracing the â??ideasâ?? you oppose.”

    Again, what is your problem with plain, self-evident truthes like these, LJD? Do you think the newly created terrorists your approach produces are going to forego decapitating you?

  15. Roger Ridenour says:

    To complete my thought. LJD, you actually stumble onto the truth, with my deletions of the erroneous parts, in the following statement: “Regardless of what we do (aid, protection, infrastructure), we will have a negative image to those who for religious or political [or historical] reasons hate [us].”

    We get that part. That’s why we argue we need to develop our allies, especially in the Arab world, to help track these guys down. We don’t need to be torturing people, starting unrelated wars, and otherwise actually going out of our way to manufacture more people who hate us. Can you concede that much at least?

  16. LJD says:

    I’ll concede that the Dubai ports fiasco was a completely stupid way NOT to ‘develop our allies’ as you put it.

    I also find it interesting (ironic? hypocritical?) that many of the same people who criticize the U.S. for getting into bed with Saddam or Pakistan, are now for the idea of ‘developing allies’ in the ME.

    The problem we see with Al Qaeda and the general unrest in the ME is a product of containment, complacency and failed UN diplomacy. We sat by while evil was allowed to grow and fester.

    Now we’re supposed to just talk to them about it? No, the best way to deal with bad guys is to kill them. If that makes us unpopular in the short term, I can handle that.

    After all, our ‘atrocities’ pale in comparison to the other members of the security council. Part of the greatness of our country, and military, is that we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

  17. Roger Ridenour says:

    LJD,It is obvious that we should long ago have begun strenghtening protection of our ports, nuclear facilities, chemical facilities, etc. Whether the UAE could manage the ports without compromising security, I don’t know. I do understand why both parties opposed the deal on appearances. Unlike Iraq, the UAE had clear financial and other connections with Al Qaeda pre-9/11.

    You have a point in para 2. Some people play both sides for partisan purposes. Doesn’t change the reality that after 9/11 we received great sympathy worldwide including from many Arab countries. We could have tapped this goodwill to help track down Al Qaeda elements. Unfortunately, our great leader screwed up badly. We need to fix his mess in this area.

    Para 3: Try not to put words in other people’s mouths. We all want to get the terrorists who attacked us. I have never heard anyone say “we’re just supposed to talk the [the terrorists].” Have you? This isn’t about a popularity contest. If the great leader’s “screw everybody else” approach would work, I’d support it. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the results of this hubris. 5 years after 9/11 we’re right on track to be attacked again. It would have been much wiser to work with and strengthen our ties with Arab allies in particular to hunt down the 9/11 killers.

    We used to hold ourselves to a higher standard–pre neocons, we didn’t torture, run gulags, etc.–and we condemned others for doing so. I trust we’ll return America to a higher standard of conduct, it’s true greatness, soon.

  18. LJD says:

    I guess we are just tired of ‘these people’ (that we’re so worried about offending) constantly talking out of both sides of their mouth. A well known part of arab culture is that if you can successfully lie to some one, then shame on them. When you enter into any negotiation with the honest intent you stand at a severe disadvantage. We saw it in Iraq with the UN violations and corruption. We are now seeing it in Iran, where every one knows international law is being broken, but no one will act to stop it. So are we to be a world community based on lawlessnes? If so, why is the U.S. the ONLY country that has to folow the rules?

    The part of the problem that you’re still not seeing, is how you propagate the false negative image by saying things like ‘we torture, run gulags’. You may not be happy with the President’s cowboy bravado, you may not like his policies, you may be appalled at stories about unprofessionalism by some of our troops. But I can tell you by experience, and without doubt that our troops do not ‘torture’ as a matter of policy.

    I would feel a lot better if those honorable men and women were given half of the benefit of the doubt that is given to the enemy, with B.S. stories like Koran flusihing. Gimme a break.

  19. Roger Ridenour says:

    LJD, you ask “Why is the US the only country that has to follow the rules?” It used to be that we saw ourselves as a beacon to the world. When our country was formed, there had never been anything like it in the history of the world. What an amazing new idea we represented. A nation founded on freedom, justice, and doing what was right because it was the right thing to do. That’s how the world saw us and how we saw ourselves. Over a century later the Statue of Liberty was created by our friend as a symbol of that image. I’m just not ready to give up on that dream. It’s the dream our soldiers throughout history have died for. I still see us that way, as the world’s best hope.

    I know. Some see my views and those of our nation’s founders as Utopian. Back in ’76 no one else believed we’d make it this far. We were foolish idealists. Nice dream, but no way. The King’s forces would crush us. Nations had to have a king to survive. That’s “realpolitik.” Today the neo-cons still think the dream is naive. They’re geniuses who understand “realpolitik” and rest of us are too stupid to see it. They think to survive and defend ourselves we need a king who’s not subject to the laws of the nation or of humanity.

    I disagree. We didn’t need a king in ’76 when we defeated the world’s greatest superpower, and we don’t need one today. We can see how far into the gutter their views have sunk us. If we aren’t better than anyone else, what’s the point in being American? We can live in any number of countries with values antithetical to those our nation was founded on. Many other nations have high standards of living, etc., if that’s all that counts.

    I don’t understand how you can deny that Amerika today tortures people, runs gulags, etc., or why you persist in calling it a false image. I think if you could just take the blinders off on that, and how wrong it is for America, you could help us get back to what we should be.

    I don’t blame our soldiers or think even a tiny fraction of them are active participants or morally condone the Bush administration’s atrocities. I was an American soldier. I know they don’t. Their patriotism is based on the vision I described above. I do hate this administration. Hate is a word I rarely use. But the Bushies don’t see America as I do and I am ashamed at what they’ve made of us in so short a time. If the American people had been asked to vote on whether we wanted to go this way, I’d like to believe the last two elections wouldn’t even have been close in rejecting it.

    Unfortunately, the terrorists scared us just as a group of demagogues grabbed power rather than true patriots of the American ideal. It is very sad what has become of us and I will continue trying to save the dream.

  20. LJD says:

    Your self-admitted hatred has blinded you. We have not changed our policies, the standards have changed.

    On 9-11, we suffered another Pearl Harbor. Since then, we have been uprecedented in our minimization of collateral damage, of decimating the military might of an evil regime, of creating change in an oppressive region of the world. All things to be very proud of.

    The terrorists rhetoric, echoed in our own media, is chipping away at all of those successes. It fuels the unfounded anger that is the basis for the terrorists action. They were angry before we did anything! Remember, THEY attacked US!

    So compare the standards to that following the first Pearl Harbor. Where we put Americans in interment camps. Where we intentionally incendiary bombed civilian parts of Europe. Where we used nuclear weapons to end the war. Times HAVE changed, for the better.

    You don’t know what torture is. You don’t know what a gulag is. You have no concept of how fragile your security is. So let me ask you this. If this is all Bush’s fault, do you really think it would change suddenly on his departure? Do you honestly believe that if Hilary were in office tomorrow, that things would be any different? If you do, you are severely disillusioned. Don’t buy into it.

  21. Roger Ridenour says:

    I have never before heard a President and VP arguing for the right to torture people, just to give one example. That sure sounds like a change in policy.

    Iraq never attacked us. We’ve killed 10s of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. That’s pretty substantial “collateral damage,” particularly given that Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and Bin Laden has not had one sleepless night mourning their deaths.

    I think pretty much everyone agrees the internment camps in WWII was not our most shining moment. The incendiary and nuclear weapons used in WWII were horrendous, but Hitler had actually attacked and conquered most of our Allies and was a serious threat to our survival. Can you seriously equate our attack on Iraq with our actions in WWII? Seriously? You think Iraq had the capability of overrunning Europe, taking on Russia, conquering half of Africa? Do you think that was Hussein’s intention or ambition? Please!

    “You have no concept of how fragile your security is.” As I said in another post, LJD, do you think the new terrorists Bush is creating will forego cutting off your head given the chance? Bush’s actions have made you feel more secure? Your statement goes back to what I said above: “Today the neo-cons still think the dream is naive. Theyâ??re geniuses who understand â??realpolitikâ?? and rest of us are too stupid to see it.” This is false. Those of us living in the reality-based community want to follow an effective strategy to increase our security: rally the world to help, track down Al-Qaeda rather than manufacture more terrorists, secure our ports, borders, and nuclear and chemical facilities, etc. And we believe this can be done without surrendering our Constitutional form of govt. in the process.

    Of course, when we do suffer another attack, it will be the Dems fault somehow, even though the Repubs control all branches of govt. and have done such a sterling job in protecting us by killing innocents who were no threat to us while letting Bin Laden escape.

    I’m hoping I have a choice other than Hillary, but of course things will be different with any new President. It is near impossible to imagine we’ll have another such incompetent President in my lifetime (or ever again for that matter). Bush has set an incredibly high bar of incompetence.

  22. LJD says:

    I have never before heard a President and VP arguing for the right to torture people,

    Neither have I. Care to provide the link?

    Iraq never attacked us. Weâ??ve killed 10s of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.

    Man, your assumptions are mind-boggling. Iraq was attacking the U.S. military on an almost daily basis, while we, and we alone, held the responsibility of enforcing U.N. imposed sanctions. I find it interesting that foreign fighters, former regime hard-liners, and criminals who fight without a uniform meet your definiton of ‘innocent civilians’. And how exaclty, are casualties caused by criminals in any way OUR responsibility? Try not to pad your numbers so much, you’re discrediting your own argument.

    I never said Iraq had the capability to ‘overrun Europe’. Many things are different today, though. Consider proliferation of WMD and the need for International law. Again, I’ll bring up a point you have managed to dodge- Iran. The security council is again unwilling to do anything. With a defunct UN, the only alternative is an isolationist policy, but we won’t see that anytine soon.

    do you think the new terrorists Bush is creating will forego cutting off your head given the chance?

    No, I expect them to. That’s why they need to be killed. I also believe that people just don’t start cutting off heads because of something we did. These are bad people, period. They will cut off heads regardless of our actions. It is naive for you to think this act was propagated by our foreign policy.

    have done such a sterling job in protecting us by killing innocents who were no threat to us while letting Bin Laden escape.

    Your moon-battiness shows through- there you go with the ‘killing innocents’ thing again. So how exactly does that happen, Hmmm? By our troops- who you support of course- running around actualy targeting civilians, or by them being so incompetent that they cannot follow strict ROE?

    While finding Bin Laden has been equivalent to a needle in a haystack, he has NOT been getting much done on the run. Yes, it is sterling indeed, because you sit tapping on your keyboard rather than getting buried under piles of rubble.

    Iâ??m hoping I have a choice other than Hillary, but of course things will be different with any new President.

    Amen to that. You give far too much credit to the power of the office. You think a new President, or any President, has detailed knowledge of the day to day actions in covert operations? You think a candidate, who voted FOR the war before they voted against it, will have the resolve to get Bin Laden? How exactly?

    Is it the incompetence of the President, or that of our troops that has let Bin Laden slip? How can an incompetent President in any way change operations on the ground?

    What would you do differently? Put another 100k troops in Afghanistan? Violate the sovereignity of Pakistan and create a REAL international incident? Get into a REAL quagmire in the mountains?

    What would you do when your candidate exposes another 100k americans to grave danger, and STILL fails to ‘get’ Bin Laden. The GWOT is much broader than OBL. We ARE where we need to be, killing and detaining the people that need to be.

    You assume much, grasshoppper, and allow your hatred to blind you to the truth. If you get a Dem in 2008, you will either be seriously let down that you didn’t get what you bargained for, or you will continue to be deluded by faith in something that doesn’t exist.

  23. Roger Ridenour says:

    You’ve never heard a President and VP arguing for the right to torture people? I thought you were more up on things. Google Cheney and torture. You’ll find article after article. Then have a look at Bush’s “signing statement” following McCain’s anti-torture law.

    When I say Iraq never attacked us, I mean America. Sorry for the lack of clarity. How many Americans did Iraq kill on 9/11? How about anywhere therabouts? Have they ever killed any outside of their own sovereign nation that you’re aware of? You pick the time frame so you can try and pad the number, but you can’t include Gulf War I. We went there, they didn’t come here.

    How is it that “We alone” are responsible for upholding UN sanctions? Run that by me again. Somebody was blackmailing us and forcing us?
    Or?

    Bush himself pegged the number of innocent civilians killed at 30,000 sometime back. You leave me wondering what his motivation was for padding the number? Anyway, I should have known better than to take anything Bush says seriously. Thanks for clearing that up. I may be wrong. I admit my source was untrustworthy.

    We created the situation, LJD. We are responsbile for the results. Besides, that “shock and awe” show wasn’t performed in a field of daisies. It was in the middle of a major metropolitan city. (The people there just didn’t happen to be Americans. If they were,you’d see it differently I would hope.)

    Iran is a separate issue. I’m open to your thoughts on the situation.

    “It is naive for you to think this act was propagated by our foreign policy.” By “this act,” you mean? Not quite clear but it appears you’re again putting words in my mouth, strawman effort.

    “Moon-batty?” Good one. But again, I do admit my source for the number of dead civilians was untrustworthy. Apologies.

    “While finding Bin Laden has been equivalent to a needle in a haystack, he has NOT been getting much done on the run.” I truly hope you’re right, LJD. I fear you are wrong and a nuke may go off in a major American city before all is said and done.

    Iraq is Bush’s boondoggle. That’s how powerful the President is. He could have focused on getting Bin Laden, but chose not to. Don’t try to blame our troops. Bush pulled them out of Afghanistan and sent them to Iraq or they’d have gotten Bin Laden in short order when we had him right in front of us. Kind of hard to find him in Iraq when he’s not there.

    I agree the so-called GWOT is much larger than Bin Laden now, thanks to our great leader. No, we aren’t where we need to be. We need to be protecting our ports, border, nuclear plants, chemical plants, etc., and we need to be cultivating allies to help track down terrorist instead of offending potential allies and manufacturing more terrorists by invading countries that had nothing to do with attacking us and killing 10s of thousands of innocent civilians, many of whose family members may well seek revenge and swell the ranks of Al-Qaeda.

    May God Bless America and keep us safe from another attack despite our currently incompetent leadership.

  24. LJD says:

    O.K. I see the divide here. I guess it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

    You are equating ‘torture’ with actions that are cruel,humiliating and degrading. I think of torture as things like bamboo shoots under the fingernails, electric shocks, having your balls bashed with a hammer, getting your ass kicked. Things like that. Listening to loud music, sleep deprivation, not getting cable TV, or not getting your favorite meal every night, I do not consider to be torture.

    The ‘article after article’ you mention are written by those who want to sell papers with their sensationalist headlines. So let me clarify: Show me one link to where anybody in the administration said that we should be hooking people up to car batteries, burning them with acid, or smashing their kneecaps with a ball-peen hammer. (I know- you’re still thinking panties on the head. By that standard, I would say listening to Barbra Streisand is torture).

    On the contrary, I remember many instances where the administration (Rice, the ‘evil’ Rumsfeld) SPECIFICally condemned ‘torture’ by my definition.

    So do you want international law and order, or do you not? To get there, we have to have rules, and enforce them. If they are not enforced, there is no point in having them- they are useless. The international community has proven repeatedly that they are only concerned with their welfare. When it comes to right and wrong, good and evil, things like genocide and yes, torture, they don’t give a damn if it will affect their wallets.

    The media would have you believe we are alone, but on the contrary, there are a group of nations that know the difference. I suppose with all of the unrest in Europe, that even they are reconsidering their lassez faire policy.

    You said earlier:

    Those of us living in the reality-based community want to follow an effective strategy to increase our security: rally the world to help, track down Al-Qaeda

    So what do you do when they don’t come? Bribe them? Beg? Give up?

    No, we arenâ??t where we need to be. We need to be protecting our ports, border, nuclear plants, chemical plants, etc., and we need to be cultivating allies to help track down terrorist instead of offending potential allies

    I disagree. As I said before, these people will chop your head off regardless. They need to be dealt with, and we are doing exactly that. We are drawing them in. I think deep down the people of Iraq know WE aren’t killing them, these terrorist cowards are. They are having a rough time, but their liberty and new way of life is well worth it.

    On civilian casualties. I seem to remember that the President said something to the effect that outside reports estimate the number to be around 30,000 and he agreed. It wasn’t really his number. The diffeerence however, is HOW these people died. Were they shot or bombed by us, or wer they killed in violence: suicide bombings, roadside bombs, mortar attacks by insurgents. You say it doesn’t matter. I say it absolutely matters if you’re going to paint our guys as ‘killers’. We were already there, finishing a job the world ASKED us to do.

  25. Roger Ridenour says:

    I’ve already told you how I define torture. The kinds of things we’d lock our own soldiers up for doing. I don’t think we’re locking up our soldiers because they had prisoners “Listening to loud music, [experiencing] sleep deprivation, not getting cable TV, or not getting [their] favorite meal every night.” Your tactic here is dishonest. It’s a neo-con tactic that has become known as “being stupid on purpose.” You know better, but pretend otherwise. Stop being deceptive.

    John Mccain thought “cruel, inhumane, and degrading” equalled torture when he experienced it at the hands of the Vietnamese. That’s why he wrote his anti-torture bill with that language. You yourself define torture as “things like bamboo shoots under the fingernails, electric shocks, having your balls bashed with a hammer, getting your ass kicked.” I agree. These “cruel, inhumane, and degrading” actions do fall under the definition of torture.

    Yes, I know Bush said “We don’t torture” right after he claimed he could still torture people despite Mccain’s anti-torture law. Somehow, Bush wasn’t very convincing.

    The entire world rallied to our support after 9/11 and were prepared to help us track down Al Qaeda. Bush blew it by playing cowboy in Iraq.

    You disagree that “We need to be protecting our ports, border, nuclear plants, chemical plants, etc., and we need to be cultivating allies to help track down terrorist instead of offending potential allies.” I’ll just let that stand on its own.

    On the dead civilians, I repeat “that â??shock and aweâ?? show wasnâ??t performed in a field of daisies. It was in the middle of a major metropolitan city. (The people there just didnâ??t happen to be Americans. If they were,youâ??d see it differently I would hope.)” How do you explain to the mothers of the dead babies that it was Al Qaeda’s fault their babies died when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11?