We're All Spaniards Now

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Annie

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http://www.suntimes.com/news/steyn/132340,CST-EDT-steyn12.article

U.S. must prove it's a staying power


November 12, 2006

BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

On the radio a couple of weeks ago, Hugh Hewitt suggested to me the terrorists might try to pull a Spain on the U.S. elections. You'll recall (though evidently many Americans don't) that in 2004 hundreds of commuters were slaughtered in multiple train bombings in Madrid. The Spaniards responded with a huge street demonstration of supposed solidarity with the dead, all teary passivity and signs saying "Basta!" -- "Enough!" By which they meant not "enough!" of these murderers but "enough!" of the government of Prime Minister Aznar, and of Bush and Blair, and troops in Iraq. A couple of days later, they voted in a socialist government, which immediately withdrew Spanish forces from the Middle East. A profitable couple of hours' work for the jihad.

I said to Hugh I didn't think that would happen this time round. The enemy aren't a bunch of simpleton Pushtun yakherds, but relatively sophisticated at least in their understanding of us. We're all infidels, but not all infidels crack the same way. If they'd done a Spain -- blown up a bunch of subway cars in New York or vaporized the Empire State Building -- they'd have re-awoken the primal anger of September 2001. With another mound of corpses piled sky-high, the electorate would have stampeded into the Republican column and demanded the U.S. fly somewhere and bomb someone.

The jihad crowd know that. So instead they employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson -- that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia -- a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election -- you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked. You can rationalize what happened on Tuesday in the context of previous sixth-year elections -- 1986, 1958, 1938, yada yada -- but that's not how it was seen around the world, either in the chancelleries of Europe, where they're dancing conga lines, or in the caves of the Hindu Kush, where they would also be dancing conga lines if Mullah Omar hadn't made it a beheading offense. And, as if to confirm that Tuesday wasn't merely 1986 or 1938, the president responded to the results by firing the Cabinet officer most closely identified with the prosecution of the war and replacing him with a man associated with James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and the other "stability" fetishists of the unreal realpolitik crowd.

Whether or not Rumsfeld should have been tossed overboard long ago, he certainly shouldn't have been tossed on Wednesday morning.
For one thing, it's a startlingly brazen confirmation of the politicization of the war, and a particularly unworthy one: It's difficult to conceive of any more public diminution of a noble cause than to make its leadership contingent on Lincoln Chafee's Senate seat. The president's firing of Rumsfeld was small and graceless.

Still, we are all Spaniards now. The incoming speaker says Iraq is not a war to be won but a problem to be solved. The incoming defense secretary belongs to a commission charged with doing just that. A nostalgic boomer columnist in the Boston Globe argues that honor requires the United States to "accept defeat," as it did in Vietnam. Didn't work out so swell for the natives, but to hell with them.

What does it mean when the world's hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it "redeployment" or "exit strategy" or "peace with honor" but, by the time it's announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. Likewise, when it's announced on "Good Morning Pyongyang" and the Khartoum Network and, come to that, the BBC.

For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn't about Iraq; it's about America, and American will. I'm told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it's steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China's powerful enough to challenge the United States it won't need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere -- are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we're bored with. Sorry, we don't want to stick around to see if we win; we'd rather vote ourselves off the island.

Two weeks ago, you may remember, I reported on a meeting with the president, in which I'd asked him the following: "You say you need to be on the offense all the time and stay on the offense. Isn't the problem that the American people were solidly behind this when you went in and you toppled the Taliban, when you go in and you topple Saddam. But when it just seems to be a kind of thankless semi-colonial policing defensive operation with no end . . . I mean, where is the offense in this?"

On Tuesday, the national security vote evaporated, and, without it, what's left for the GOP? Congressional Republicans wound up running on the worst of all worlds -- big bloated porked-up entitlements-a-go-go government at home and a fainthearted tentative policing operation abroad. As it happens, my new book argues for the opposite: small lean efficient government at home and muscular assertiveness abroad. It does a superb job, if I do say so myself, of connecting war and foreign policy with the domestic issues. Of course, it doesn't have to be that superb if the GOP's incoherent inversion is the only alternative on offer.

As it is, we're in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can't muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

It doesn't work like that. Whatever it started out as, Iraq is a test of American seriousness. And, if the Great Satan can't win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win?
That's how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it. "These Colors Don't Run" is a fine T-shirt slogan, but in reality these colors have spent 40 years running from the jungles of Southeast Asia, the helicopters in the Persian desert, the streets of Mogadishu. ... To add the sands of Mesopotamia to the list will be an act of weakness from which America will never recover.
 
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Annie

Annie

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Cmon--the libs are masters of spin---they will convince America and the restof the world that we won and accomplished exactly what we wanted to.
Yeah. Right. Spin. Time to take the blinders off.
 

dilloduck

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Yeah. Right. Spin. Time to take the blinders off.
I can see it now----Murtha, Pelosi, Reid et al in the reviewing stand. Welcoming or troops home and congratulating them on thier great victory !
 
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Annie

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I can see it now----Murtha, Pelosi, Reid et al in the reviewing stand. Welcoming or troops home and congratulating them on thier great victory !
Nope, if this goes the way it's looking, there will not be anyone rushing to greet anyone. If it goes the way it's looking, good luck with the 'all volunteer military,' if we need one anymore.
 

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I think Steyn has it pegged right. I'm starting to think we will slither away from Iraq just like we did Korea and Vietnam. But unlike the Korean War and the Vietnam War, not finishing the job this time will have unwanted consequences for us and this country. Just because we quit doesn't mean the terrorists will.
 
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I think Steyn has it pegged right. I'm starting to think we will slither away from Iraq just like we did Korea and Vietnam. But unlike the Korean War and the Vietnam War, not finishing the job this time will have unwanted consequences for us and this country. Just because we quit doesn't mean the terrorist will.
Yep the only thing missing is the GOP trying to 'get ahead' of the DNC in calling for the pullout, (Iran & Syria? :shocked: ) They better hurry, the DNC is moving:

http://today.reuters.com/news/artic...13_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-USA-1.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

Democrats say will push for Iraq withdrawal
Sun Nov 12, 2006 12:08 PM ET

By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats, who won control of the U.S. Congress, said on Sunday they will push for a phased withdrawal of American troops from Iraq to begin in four to six months, but the White House cautioned against fixing timetables.

"First order of business is to change the direction of Iraq policy," said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is expected to be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress.

Democrats will press President George W. Bush's administration to tell the Iraqi government that U.S. presence was "not open-ended, and that, as a matter of fact, we need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months," Levin said on ABC's "This Week" program.

Bush has insisted that U.S. troops would not leave until Iraqis were able to take over security for their country, and has repeatedly rejected setting a timetable for withdrawal because, he says, that would only embolden the insurgents.

The White House said, however, that Bush is open to new ideas. Bush will meet on Monday with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that is expected to recommend alternative policies in its final report.

A suicide bomber killed 35 people at a police recruiting center in Iraq on Sunday in the bloodiest attack in months against recruits.

More than 2,800 American troops have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the unpopular war was a key factor in last week's elections in which Bush's Republican Party lost majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said it was important that any action be taken in a way to ensure that Iraq can succeed and have a democratic government that can sustain and defend itself.

'OPEN TO FRESH IDEAS'

"It's hard for me to see how that can be done on a fixed timetable," Bolten said on ABC's "This Week" program. "But the president's open to fresh ideas here. Everybody's reviewing the situation."

Bush has asked Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, to conduct a review at the Pentagon of Iraq strategy, and other national security agencies to do similar reviews, Bolten said.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said "we need to redeploy," but that the decision should be made by military officers in Iraq.

He said on "Face The Nation" program on CBS that he would not insist on a specific date for drawing down troops, but that a withdrawal should start within the next few months.


The White House says Bush is not to receive final recommendations from the Iraq Study Group -- led by James Baker, a former secretary of state with close ties to the Bush family -- in the Monday meeting.

Bush chose a member of that panel, former CIA Director Robert Gates, to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose resignation was announced the day after elections gave control of Congress to Democrats for the first time since 1994.

Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is expected to head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was inclined to support Gates, whose nomination requires Senate approval.

"I know some of his views on Iraq. I know he wasn't of the Rumsfeld school. And to put it very, very bluntly, as long as he's not there, Rumsfeld is there," Biden said on ABC.

Biden called for an international conference on Iraq, that would include Iran, Syria and Turkey.
 

dilloduck

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Nope, if this goes the way it's looking, there will not be anyone rushing to greet anyone. If it goes the way it's looking, good luck with the 'all volunteer military,' if we need one anymore.
I haven't heard anyone proposing doing away with our military---is this all taking place in secret meetings too?
 
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Annie

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I haven't heard anyone proposing doing away with our military---is this all taking place in secret meetings too?
Why would we need one? We just follow the Euro example. BTW, notice this was sarcasm? So was the other.

Since when were you appointed what others can post about?
 
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Yep, Bush will 'lose' the illegal war he started, good luck to the Israelis and Iraqis:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/015877.php
November 12, 2006
Say It Ain't So, W!

Tomorrow President Bush will meet with Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton to discuss the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. The group's report will be issued next month, but presumably its conclusions have more or less taken shape. Based on the leaking that is currently going on, the news could hardly be worse:

A top U.S. intelligence official has been meeting with Middle East counterparts to discuss proposals expected from the Baker commission on Iraq, Middle East sources have told Newsday.
How's that for multilateralism? The report's conclusions apparently are being cleared in advance by Middle Eastern intelligence officials.

The proposals reportedly include an approach to Iran and Syria — a policy that Robert Gates, a member of the commission, has argued for.***

Rarely has a government report been more eagerly awaited than the one being prepared by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat, about how the U.S. can leave Iraq.
I would have said the question is how the U.S. can win in Iraq.

The commission’s discussions are said to be focused on an option presented by a panel of experts that the United States concede that the situation in Iraq cannot be stabilized and make plans for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Iraq "cannot be stabilized"? That strikes me as a ridiculous statement. One can legitimately ask whether Iraq can be stabilized at acceptable political, military or financial cost. But that would require some hard analysis of what the stakes are and what those costs may be. Notwithstanding the results of Tuesday's election, I think the American people are adult enough for such a discussion.

[Director of National Intelligence John] Negroponte reportedly has come to agree with what is expected to be the most controversial of recommendations from the Baker group: that the United States approach Iran, and, in tandem with Israel, approach Syria, for help with Iraq, according to a source familiar with Negroponte’s thinking.
I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but this sounds like the kind of harebrained scheme that only a team of foreign policy "realists" could come up with. Why on God's green earth would Iran and Syria, individually or in tandem, help us to pacify Iraq? Both have been doing everything in their power to create disorder in Iraq for the last three years, presumably because they think it is in their interest to do so. How, exactly, do the "realists" expect to change those countries' assessments of their interests?

While the Bush administration is not expected to drop its opposition to a nuclear Iran or even the threat of military action to prevent it, it could offer limited security guarantees that it would not attack Iran from Iraq and will prevent an armed anti-Iranian militia in Iraq from causing trouble.
Huh? The whole premise of this deal is that we are leaving Iraq. So what is the value in promising not to attack Iran from Iraq, and what guarantees can we give regarding "anti-Iranian militias" once we're gone?

Whether that would be enough to persuade Iran to be more helpful [!] in Iraq is not clear, analysts say. Iranian intelligence officials are said to be extremely worried about a precipitous U.S. pullout from Iraq, and resulting chaos, in the wake of Tuesday’s elections.
But wait! Didn't Iranian officials just say that the Democrats' success on Tuesday was a great victory for Iran? And why, exactly, would the Iranians be "extremely worried" that the U.S. might pull out? Isn't that exactly what the Iranian-backed Shia militias have been trying to bring about since 2004? I would guess that Iran's attitude toward our prospective withdrawal is summed up by the refrain we used to use in the schoolyard: Is that a threat, or a promise?

An approach to Syria, the Bush administration’s other main headache in the Middle East, might include the carrot of Israel reopening negotiations over the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, or some other concession from Israel.​

Ah, yes: the "realist" approach to Middle Eastern policy always comes down to selling Israel down the river. But the stakes are so high in Iraq that the idea that "reopening negotiations" over the Golan Heights, or some other unidentified "concession," would be much of a "carrot" strikes me as delusional.

Gates has sharply criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and has made clear that he would seek advice from moderate Republicans who have been largely frozen out of the White House, according to administration officials and Gates’ close associates.

The administration officials said that Bush was aware of Gates’ critique of current policy and understood that Gates planned to clear the “E Ring” of the Pentagon, where many of Rumsfeld’s senior political appointees have plotted Iraq strategy.

*** Gates will be drawing on his experience and contacts from Bush’s father’s administration, including Baker and former security adviser Brent Scowcroft.

“Gates’ world is Brent Scowcroft and Baker and a whole bunch of people who felt the door had been slammed in their face,” one former official who has discussed Iraq at length with Gates said Thursday. “The door is about to reopen.”​

Bad to worse. The problem with the "realists"--Baker, Scowcroft, Gates--is that their grip on reality seems to be tenuous. If Iraq really is a disaster, as they seem to think, why on earth would Iran and Syria help us out of it? Why would they change their policy of seeking to foment violence there? This report amplifies the "realists'" thinking somewhat:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who plans to speak to the commission via video link on Tuesday, reportedly will urge the Bush administration to open talks with Syria and Iran and push for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a way of defusing Mideast tensions.
[Chief of Staff Josh] Bolten was asked whether the Bush administration was ready to make a new effort to get involved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. "We'll see. The timing has to be right and it has to be something that both the Israelis and the Palestinians want," he said.​

As far as I can see, the "realists" haven't had a new idea in thirty years. What does Israel have to do with the fact that Shia and Sunni Muslims want to tear each other to pieces? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I'll say it again: the idea that pressuring Israel to compromise its security will somehow, magically, solve the Iraqis' problems is delusional. Maybe Baker et al., know something I don't, but the idea that Iran and Syria will cooperate to bring peace to that region appears equally far-fetched.

So, under the Baker Commission's recommendations, what will become of the 12 million Iraqis who voted for freedom and for a normal life? President Bush has said more times than I can count, in speeches spanning the last four years, that all people want to be free, and that freedom is God's gift to all mankind. If he doesn't believe that, then what does he believe?

If the Iraqis are to be sold out, at least let them be sold out by the Democrats. No one expected anything better from them.

PAUL adds: If the reported contours of this deal (and President Bush's receptiveness to it) are correct, at least I now understand why the administration waited until after the election to embrace it. If it had changed course in this fashion earlier, no one (with the possible exception of Baker himself) would have voted for Republicans.
 

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No worries, all is not lost, we are NOT pulling out of Iraq.

Boy, loose a couple of seats in Congress, and you're ready to throw in the towel?

Lets see some backbone for Christ sake.

Its just this type of attitude, that hand a victory to the terrorist.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and lets get back to work.:bat:
 
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Annie

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No worries, all is not lost, we are NOT pulling out of Iraq.

Boy, loose a couple of seats in Congress, and you're ready to throw in the towel?

Lets see some backbone for Christ sake.

Its just this type of attitude, that hand a victory to the terrorist.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and lets get back to work.:bat:
Why do you think we'll stay? Both sides are saying, OUT.
 

dilloduck

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Why would we need one? We just follow the Euro example. BTW, notice this was sarcasm? So was the other.

Since when were you appointed what others can post about?
I made no attempt to control what people post. I was asking questions about what you sarcastically posted.
 

jillian

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how many bombs in the us since we invaded.....
You don't really believe there's a cause and effect there, do you? There were 7 years between the two WTC attacks. If you think you're fighting them there so you don't have to fight them here, you're being unrealistic.
 
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Hoagland is hardly a Bush supporter, but he agrees with the analysis of post 9/11 and like many, recognizes that the price of 'new direction' is more of the old and there may well be a high cost to pay:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/10/AR2006111001487.html

Right Vision, Wrong Policy -- and a Mideast Price to Pay

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, November 12, 2006; Page B07

President Bush lost more than a midterm election and a cantankerous defense secretary last week. He also abandoned any lingering chance of remaking U.S. foreign policy into a radical force for democratic change in the Middle East and elsewhere.

He had to. The American electorate showed emphatically that it had lost faith in his party and his promises. Bush's refreshing generic denunciations of foreign dictators -- including those who played ball with Washington -- could not make up for his failure to produce positive visible results to support the rhetoric. He needed an immediate firebreak, and so he named Bob Gates to replace Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

History's seemingly unlimited store of irony now makes Bush 43 the evident instrument of the resurgence of the "realist" school of foreign policy so beloved of Bush 41 and so regularly scorned by this president -- until he turned to it for salvation in Iraq and elsewhere.

Many will revel in this turn, and there is rough familial justice at work: Only the incompetence and discord of the past three years could cause reasonable people to welcome back with applause policymakers who failed to anticipate and then opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union; who were not realistic enough to see, much less prevent, the Balkans from plunging into flames; and who "coddled dictators from Beijing to Baghdad," as the Democrats once accurately described the handiwork of Brent Scowcroft, Bob Gates and Jim Baker under Bush 41.

So hold the champagne and cheers for the return of "realism," a word that has even less meaning than most of the labels that politicians, journalists and academics attach to schools of foreign policy. It is too often a euphemism for cynicism, for playing for time and for passing up big opportunities that carry high risks and potentially great rewards. Bush 43 took such a risk in Iraq and now pays the price for failing to develop anything resembling a Plan B.

Replacing Rumsfeld's abrasiveness and his now-aborted designs for military transformation with the safe hands and bureaucratic blandness of Gates, an ex-CIA chief formed by the Cold War, may give the White House a chance to get control of an interagency process that went off the rails in Iraq. One of Rumsfeld's last internal victories was to block an effort by Josh Bolten, Bush's chief of staff, to bring Gen. David Petraeus into the White House to coordinate Iraq policy.

But the problems of Iraq are so deep today that improved policy coordination in Washington will not fix them. That will become even clearer in mid-December when the Iraq Study Group headed by Baker and Democrat Lee Hamilton is due to deliver its findings and recommendations and, in the process, provide Bush with a second firebreak from rising opposition to the war.

Baker is, in fact, the smartest political operator Washington has seen in the past three decades. So he is too clever to put much stock in abstractions such as "realism" or "Wilsonian" democracy. The clearest foreign policy achievements of the Bush 41 administration turned on Baker's relentless dealmaking, from the Madrid Middle East peace conference to German reunification and management of the consequences of the Soviet collapse in Eastern Europe.

But even Baker will have to struggle to keep the faux realism of conventional thinking on the Middle East from making the study group's report instantly irrelevant. There was a time when let's-pretend policies -- championing regional or international peace conferences doomed to go nowhere, or naming special U.S. envoys to give Arab rulers a bone to toss to their publics -- usefully bought time, even though they were anything but realistic for the long term.

For better and for worse, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, and the bloody breakdown of Israel's occupation of the Palestinians have accelerated a profound radicalization of the Middle East that had already been unleashed by the pressures of globalization. Trying to get back to the 1990s is another bridge to nowhere. I seriously disagree with Hoagland here. He ignores all that Islam brings to the table.

Baker-Hamilton will certainly recommend that the United States urgently develop the regional and international structures to guide change that Bush has neglected, and the president must act on that advice.

But Bush's going on the defensive does not mean that the radical positive changes he had hoped for cannot come about on their own, even if on a different timetable and with much greater costs than he ever imagined. True realism lies in recognizing that his diagnosis of a crumbling order in the Middle East was sound, even if his prescriptions were not.
 

manu1959

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You don't really believe there's a cause and effect there, do you? There were 7 years between the two WTC attacks. If you think you're fighting them there so you don't have to fight them here, you're being unrealistic.
if grump can.......... i can
 

jillian

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if grump can.......... i can
Different issues and same rules don't necessarily apply. We're a much bigger fish and Spain isn't necessarily on their radar except during specific instances.

Why don't you ask Grump if a) he thinks we're fighting them there instead of here; and b) whether he thinks we're avoiding having them attack us by blowing up Iraqis who had nothing to do with attacking us on 9/11.
 

manu1959

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Different issues and same rules don't necessarily apply. We're a much bigger fish and Spain isn't necessarily on their radar except during specific instances.

Why don't you ask Grump if a) he thinks we're fighting them there instead of here; and b) whether he thinks we're avoiding having them attack us by blowing up Iraqis who had nothing to do with attacking us on 9/11.
same issue....he implies if we were not there we would not be blown up....i call bullshit as we were not there and the blew up wtcI, the cole, embasies, hotels, resorts....the were nore us and western intrests hit during the blow job years than any other time in history....to imply that all we have to do is withdraw like spain and we will all be safe is naive
 
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