Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Firing Line: A couple readers sent questions to me via e-mail yesterday. Since I have nothing else to post today, I'm going to put up their questions with my answers.

And if anyone else has questions, feel free to send them to me. If, for some reason, you don't want your e-mails posted, please let me know in the e-mail. Thanks.

The first one is from Rachel:

With Iraq finally having a coalition government, some oil based trade (I heard a Norwegian oil company was interested in negotiating with Kurds), and the persistence of unity (or at least attempts) after the Samarra mosque bombing, why is the left and right suddenly saying the war is a failure and Bush is doing a bad job? Shouldn't they have been saying this in 2004?
It does seem like everyone is suddenly declaring Iraq a failure. That, I suspect, is largely because we are approaching another anniversary of the initial invasion. Anytime an anniversary comes up, people like to take a look back.

And in this case, people on both sides realize that we never expected to be fighting bloody battles there three years later. I know I didn't. Sure, I knew we'd still have a presence there. But the military is still conducting major bombing runs trying to flush out terrorists and insurgents. This war was never anticipated to be a cakewalk, but it is also dragging on longer than we would have liked.

Back in 2004, it was still too early to tell. It's still early, in comparison with many other wars. But part of the allure of punishing Iraq was to set an example for Iran, Syria, and North Korea. With the problems we've encountered in Iraq, those countries are pretty confident we won't consider military action against them as easily. That's unfortunate, because that may make military action more likely instead of less, because we've lost the ability to merely threaten.

I still believe that going into Iraq was worth it and will be better for our longterm security, especially now that our fight against Al Qaeda has been taken from American soil to the Middle East. It's just going to be a tougher fight than we anticipated.

Tom sent me this one:

What word defines: A person that goes along with popular opinion just because it is easier than either trying to convince people to change their minds or taking the time to think about an issue yourself and make up your own mind.

The people that fall into the category above tend to call themselves moderate but the KKK call themselves Christians so I don't think you can let those people define what they are.

I believe in my opinion that you and Bill O'Reilly are very principled people and do not change your opinion based on a poll.

You like to call yourself moderate and Bill uses the term independent. I have read you and listened to Bill enough to know you both have principled opinions on both the left and the right and while you and Bill do not agree on all subjects there should be a word that accurately describes you both. That word or words could be staunch moderate or fiercely independent.

But what word or words could be used to describe those people that just go along with popular opinion?
That's a tough one. It's hard not to be derogatory and just call them "sheep" or "drones". I guess I would say they are "poll fodder".

Part of the reason I threw the "staunch" in my blog name was to emphasize that even though I may be a moderate, I do have strong opinions. Other moderates don't. There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose. So long as you recognize early on that their beliefs sway with the wind, you can discount their opinions accordingly. But as a group, their opinions do mean something, at least for political reasons.

Those people are the followers. And God bless them. Because if everyone tried to be a leader, nothing would ever get done.


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