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Drum's Questions (and some answers)
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Kevin Drum has a few questions "for conservative bloggers". I don't consider myself a conservative blogger, but I'll still give the questions a shot.

1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

Answer: The question is poorly conceptualized. American military power (or any military power for that matter) is not a promotional tool, for tolerance or democracy or anything else. It's a giant hammer. It's also a last resort. This has been my stance and still is.

If there are gross human rights violations in a country, or genocide, or the development of weapons contrary to agreed-upon treaties, then civilized democratic nations need to act together to apply as much political and economic pressure on those countries to comply with international standards. This failed miserably with Iraq. The international community has done dick with regard to North Korea. And while the US has tried to garner a unified front on Iran, the stance has been watered down to the point of near-uselessness.

More countries seem worried about being contrarian to the US than standing up to the petty thugs that still hold power in certain countries.

When all other means are depleted, and either genocide or horrid human rights violations continue, or a threat is outstanding, then it is time to bring the hammer down.

2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

Answer: I personally couldn't give a shit.

3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

Answer: Yes, and I've repeatedly commented on the dangerous double-standard we're applying to those two countries in particular. We need to do much more to push for substantive change in both of those countries. In terms of Saudi Arabia, I think we've taken some good steps: removing our troops, adding them to the watch list of human rights violations, and generally moving to distance ourselves from them. But we need to do much more, and again, we need international pressure on these countries as well (we're not the only big, industrialized consumer of oil).

4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

Answer: I think it is always difficult to balance economic needs with political goals if the two are in direct opposition with one another. At this particular point in history, ensuring liberty and freedom in Iraq is actually in our best interest from an energy standpoint as well. It would not surprise me to learn that one of the strategic components behind the Iraq war was the side benefit of reducing dependence on Saudi oil and creating a relationship with a new democratic Iraq, with large oil reserves. That should never have been a primary reason for going to war, but it also doesn't seem like an insignificant consideration.

5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

Answer: These people are loony and no, it is not a reasonable belief. As to what the Republican Party does, sure...I wish they'd purge the religious Right from their ranks and significantly change many of their substantive positions on a number of policies to align more closely with my own views. I also wish that I could grow wings and shoot laser beams out of my eyes.

6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

Answer: Well, I don't think this is a yes-or-no question. I'd like to know what the various strategic options are. Israel crippled Iraq's nuclear program with a surgical airstrike. If we could do the same, it might be a better option than invading with a full-scale army. To rephrase the question, if it becomes clear that Iran will continue to build nuclear weapons despite every political and economic effort to resolve the situation peacefully, would I be in favor of the use of force? My answer is yes. We have the consideration that we're already committed in two other countries, so our options would have to take that into account.

But no, I'm not in favor of a draft, barring another World War, the massive depletion of our current forces, or some other catastrophic need.

7. If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

Answer: You want me to answer a hypothetical prior to a decision that may or may not be made. Whatever.

If it's a good move, and makes sense at the time, I'll support it. What the hell else would you expect me to say?

8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

Answer: I think they should be dipped in hot tar, feathered, then hung in the town square. "What do you think should be done with them?" What the hell kind of question is that? Conspiracy nuts, in general, should be ignored...feeding them only makes them stronger. But it cannot be denied that Saddam had links to terrorism, that his government had some contact (the extent is still not well-known) with al Qaeda, and actively promoted Palestinian suicide bombers. I don't think it was wholly irrational to assume the worst when it came to Iraq's WMD capabilities and worry about the possibility of Iraq providing WMD to terrorists. If you are a leader in the US government, to not do so would be irresponsible.

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