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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Occupiers versus liberators, part II

Some of my commenters to my wee-small-hours post about Sen. Zell Miller's "occupiers versus liberators" line have been claiming "Gotcha!" — pointing to, for example, President Bush's description of our presence in Iraq, until the recent return of sovereignty, as an "occupation."  Word games of this sort bring out the rant subroutine in the Beldar programming.

Look, this is really simple.  Kerry knew damned well the difference between "liberator" and "occupier," and which term he associated with both German invaders and American troops in Vietnam.  Kerry thought America in Vietnam was like Germany in France.  Is that simple enough for you?  If not, let me boil it down a little more:

Kerry thought we were the bad guys.  There, that's the absolute nub.

Now, for those who want to pick a further fight over semantics with the crusty, less-bemused-than-usual trial lawyer who writes this blog: 

You occupy a country when your military forces have entered its territory, you've defeated its or any other hostile military forces, and you've displaced the existing regime.  Thus, we were indeed "occupying" Iraq until we returned its sovereignty because, yes indeed, we overthrew its previous government and defeated its military.  If we had gone home the day after accomplishing that, we'd have been solely conquerors, but neither occupiers nor effective liberators (since chaos and anarchy would have prevailed).

If you've deposed a despot and you use the military power you have as an occupier of a country to put political power back into the hands of its people through their democratically chosen representatives, then you're a liberator.  Hence:  In Germany and Japan after World War II, we were both liberators and, until we returned sovereignty to their peoples, occupiers.  Ditto Iraq and Afghanistan today.

By contrast, consider German forces in any of a dozen countries during World War II.  They were definitely occupiers and not liberators:  They'd deposed the existing democratic governments of those countries and defeated their military forces, and Germany's own military forces had seized possession of those countries' territory and maintained that hold through brutal force, and they'd set up military governments or Quisling puppets.  The people there weren't free, nor did they have a prospect of becoming free, nor a prospect of becoming self-governing, for as long as the Nazi occupation lasted.  And there was no natural end in sight for these Nazi occupations (other than through conquest by a different, superior military force). 

Garrett Morris will now shout this very loudly for the very, very hard of hearing:  Recapping our top story tonight — this is the kind of occupier Kerry thought we were in Vietnam — perpetrators of a perpetual occupation designed to destroy the liberty of a country's citizenry!

In Vietnam, our armed forces were there by invitation of that country's government.  Maybe that government was inept or riddled with corruption, and maybe it was far from being a classical liberal democracy like, say, Iowa.  But it was not the South Vietnamese government that was slaughtering tens of thousands outright, putting hundreds of thousands into "re-education camps," and creating millions of refugees; that didn't come until 1975, when the North Vietnamese became the bad-guy kind of occupiers. 

Indeed, in Vietnam we weren't ever occupiers, technically speaking.  We didn't get there by defeating the South Vietnamese military and deposing its government, we were there by invitation — as we were in the still-free parts of France in World War I and in South Korea.  We were defenders primarily, and liberators insofar as we recovered enemy-occupied territory for the regimes who'd invited us to help defend themselves from an external threat.

So, don't give me word games about "Bush said we're occupiers, blah blah blah."  Zell Miller knew exactly what he was saying when he spoke of "occupiers" last night, and everyone listening to him understood what he meant.  John Kerry knew exactly what he was writing when he spoke of "occupiers" in 1968-1969, and everyone reading his words understands exactly what he meant.  For once, Kerry didn't flip-flop or contradict himself:  He was very consistent in calling the American presence in Vietnam an "occupation" and the American military presence an "occupying army" — and in case you had any difficulty following him, he said, in so many words, that we were the bad-guy liberty-destroying type of occupiers, just like Germany. 

Zell Miller could — and probably should — have read from Brinkley's book to make his point about Democratic leaders who see our troops as occupiers instead of liberators.  Supplementing his point with factual backup was the simple point of my original post.  But only someone willfully obtuse can fail to understand "us bad, others good" — and if you pretend you can't follow that distinction, expect to be ranted at by your host.

Note well:  I genuinely don't know whether John Kerry also thinks our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan today are the bad-guy liberty-destroying type of occupiers.  If Kerry wants to rebut that argument, he can stand up and say he was wrong about our troops being that kind of occupiers in Vietnam then, and that he agrees our troops are "liberators" (and were only temporary, good-guy occupiers) in Iraq and Afghanistan now. 

But he won't do that, and he can't do that.  Whatever he really thinks of our troops today, saying that now would cost him his Angry-Left base who genuinely believe that our troops and their leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan — just exactly as Kerry did of our troops and their leaders in Vietnam — are the non-liberating bad-guy Nazi-scum kind of "occupiers."  You know — the blood-for-oil imperial-stormtrooper baby-killer kind of occupiers.  [Add additional slurs of your choice for our troops here, chosen at random from either Kerry's 1971 Fulbright Committee testimony or Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.]

Any questions?  Or am I "scaring the children," like Zell did?

Posted by Beldar at 05:11 PM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Occupiers versus liberators, part II and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Chris made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 5:48:04 PM | Permalink


I still think you're being ridiculous.

I don't see the direct link between Zell Miller's statement and Kerry's statements about Vietnam/WWII. And so it doesn't seem fair to jump from the present to the distant past and back to the present (Iraq/Afghanistan) again, then claim that if Kerry wants to rebut your argument, he can go address everything he's said in the past. If any candidate has invoked his right to evolve his opinion over the years (or even the last four years), it's the candidate you support.

Kerry hasn't said anything to support your conclusion, and he's said things that directly condradict it. If he truly thought we would be occupiers in the evil sense you denote, he wouldn't have voted to give the President authority to pursue war.

(2) Polaris made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 6:41:54 PM | Permalink


How can you continue to be this obtuse. There is a legal definition of occupier and a moral one. The Demomcratic Party has pretty clearly used the moral definition, and Kerry has never said otherwise.

The fact they continue to use that term now that sovereignty has been restored to Iraq should be a dead giveaway. Thus Sen. Millar's comments are dead on. Right now the Democratic party is not patriotic, and that is a large reason why Kerry is having so many problems...and why the RNC has been so effective thus far.


(3) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 6:53:55 PM | Permalink

Chris, I will take a deep breath and extend you the benefit of the doubt when you say you don't understand. I'll let my readers decide for themselves which of us is ridiculous, but I will stipulate with you that one of us certainly is.

(4) Jim Bender made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 7:24:01 PM | Permalink


Our lefty friends seem to be constitutionally unable to acknowledge the validity of this argument. John Kerry wants us to be OK with his 1971 testimony, his throwing his ribbons over a Capital fence, his meeting with the Sandinistas in 1986, and things like his advocacy of the nuclear freeze in opposition to President Reagan.

Of course, what he has said and done is "not OK". Someone just needs to keep showing ads with him talking about all these things. We can even back off Viet Nam (as much as we would like to keep pounding on that).

What is bothersome to me, and I need to "get over it" is that otherwise decent people, like David Adesnik of Oxblog, seem to have developed the Democrat disease, and are beyond logic and reason. I was afraid that Andrew Sullivan was on the edge, as well, but I have hopes that he will come to his senses.

I had told David Adesnik about your blog, as he had not seen your writing before I called it to his attention. He acknowledged that your writing about John Kerry and Viet Nam was balanced and worth reading.

I check multiple times a day to see if you have new content. I appreciate what you are doing.


Jim Bender






(5) GT made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 8:19:23 PM | Permalink

Wasn't MadDog Miller talking about Iraq?

(6) Chris made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 11:27:45 PM | Permalink

Beldar, I didn't say I didn't understand.

Your argument relies on the following (less than true) assumptions:

(1) You assume that Iraq is sovereign. One could argue about literal definitions here--tread carefully!--but the fact remains that Iraq is not where Bush promised it would be: that is, under self-elected rule. This is really neither here nor there, but I thought I'd point it out.

(2) You assume that Kerry shares the opinion of the Democratic party, without exception. You conveniently note that the Democrats use the word "occupy" in reference to Iraq, but do not acknowledge that John Kerry does not use this word to directly describe our situation there.

(3) Ignoring that Kerry does not use the word "occupy" in manner you imply he does, you assume that Kerry's years-old views on years-old wars are equivalent to his present views on the present war.

Is Kerry's Vietnam testimony offensive to some? Obviously. But if you continually ask for Kerry to come out and address things he said many years ago in his youth, one has to question your attention to the history of politics. Would you truly be satisfied by any statement Kerry made about his past testimony, or do you simply wish to see the effect of the ensuing press coverage on Kerry's approval ratings? I certainly conclude it's the latter. That's why your repeated calls for Kerry to "come clean" come across as less than genuine, and it's why I still see your point as ridiculous.

(7) LocoOwl made the following comment | Sep 2, 2004 11:34:54 PM | Permalink

Kerry's got a problem.

He was being politically chic in 1971 by opposing the war (it got good press at the time). Hes trying to be politically chic today to appeal to his base - the loonies who absolutely hate George Bush so bad that they would vote for Adolhp Hitler if he were running against Bush. Those are the popel like Michael Moore who cannot differentiate fact from fiction; who blame the world's problems on the United States of America.

Here's where the problem is. A lot of this country's voters don't feel that way. He used the Politically Correct rhetoric to bolster his "more sensistive" foreign policy image. Now it's backfired on him because Zell Miller translated what that rhetoric means in no uncertain terms. Now the Kerry team and the Kerry boosters in the MSM (like Chris Mattews) are whining about personal attacks and distortions and being "too harsh" and all the other petulant buzzwords they like to use when their candidate is getting shellaced.

That alone would make me vote for Bush if I were still undecided!

(8) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 12:01:52 AM | Permalink

To my humble host,

Willful ignorance cannot be cured with facts. I'm not discouraging you from trying, far from it. I'm just suggesting you keep presenting your facts in a clear-headed manner for all of us to enjoy while ignoring the moonbat LLLs who refuse any logic. They're sad, pitiable and destined for political failure. And that, Beldar, is a fine outcome for all of us.

The left has abandoned reason in the last 24 years. Reagan drove them crazy because they couldn't understand how such a simple man could attract so many passionate followers. The left naturally assumed the followers stupid, a policy all too easy to connect with Northeastern liberal contempt for the South. And now the mainstream Left has become infected with anti-Bush hatred led by the clown prince of mockumentaries.

People used to talk about Fortress America. Now I talk about it. Except I mean we should pull the drawbridge of governance up to keep the unthinking liberals out of office until they regain their sanity.

Until then I simply hope against hope that poor legislation will not be passed unfettered by a determined opposition who strikes the worst of it. That's what happened in the mid 60s when the Republicans were lost in the political wilderness. We got a lot of idealistic garbage that has weakened our financial and social institutions.

Perhaps the Republicans will stick to their ideals and avoid the impulse to 'do things' for the sake of doing them.

/crossing my fingers

(9) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 12:07:29 AM | Permalink

The most important poll in the campaign at this date is the Leno poll. Here is what Leno has to say about Kerry:

Kerry took so many shots tonight he is elligible for two more Purple Hearts - Leno

You can put a fork in Kerry he is toast.


Why is the DoD checking on Kerry's Medals? Because tampering with Military Records is a Federal Crime.

(10) Charles made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 12:41:12 AM | Permalink

Occupier vs Liberator?

Beldar is right on !!!!!

This is the part of Miller's speach that I found the most revealing and true regarding the modern Democratic Party.

(11) Jim B made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:36:39 AM | Permalink

Chris isn't being deliberately obtuse: he's being deliberately deceptive. He knows what the point was, he's trying to argue semantics.

The best analogy would be the signs of a losing campaign being: 1) calling for frequent debates, 2) "reshuffling your staff", and/or 3) holding midnight rallies. It's much the same with spin artists and semantics: it's the last refuge of those who already know that they have lost the argument.

On his other points, he's assuming facts that are not in evidence. If a person says something, then it is not unfair to presume that his statement remains his position until he himself says the opposite is true. Chris' excuse for an argument is to say "you don't know that for a fact" when, in fact, because of his past utterances we do. If the best Chris can do to support his argument is to make the illusory argument that he can pretend to know John Kerry's mind in the complete absence of any supporting evidence, then he has tacitly admitted defeat in this as well.

Bottom line: Zell did serious damage to Kerry's campaign, and there's no denying that. Even the media is starting to realize that they will still have to have some shred of credibility after Kerry loses in November: hence the dribble of "Kerry's campaign is in trouble" stories beginning to written. It's the media's way of saying: "It's the campaign's fault, not ours! Our ideas were right, it was the candidate who got it wrong!"

The problem with internet spin artists is that they have no future reputation or living to protect, so they can go down with Kerry's ship spewing his damage control and just change their username without anyone being the wiser.

Chris is intent on lashing himself to the mast evidently...

(12) Chris made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 6:57:06 AM | Permalink

Jim B,

Actually, I'm not arguing semantics. Beldar is. Before you go accusing anyone of being an internet spin artist, you might consider reading your own post. Lashing oneself to the mast, indeed.

Zell did serious damage to Kerry's campaign? Hardly. Take a look around. The news channels keep playing the "spitballs" quote in a mocking manner. I take issue with Beldar's statement because I found a logical problem with it, not to defend the Kerry campaign. I speak for me, not Kerry, lest you forget.

(13) Harlan Pepper made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 7:38:50 AM | Permalink

The news channels keep playing the "spitballs" quote in a mocking manner.

The MSM taking Kerry's side?? Who'd a thunk it?

(14) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 7:57:26 AM | Permalink

Chris is a trolling moonbat.
His moonbat droppings only serve to fertilize the Beldarblog.
Chris, I appreciate your input because it allows me to anticipate the talking points.

Thank you kindly.

(15) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 8:30:58 AM | Permalink

Here are some semantics that need clarification:

Why is the DoD checking on Kerry's Medals. Because tampering with Military Records is a Federal Crime.


Steal this sig:

Why did John Kerry meet three times with the representatives of the Viet Cong and Communist North Vietnam?

Some times it takes a while to sell out your country.

New Soldier html

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records

(16) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 8:58:18 AM | Permalink

In honor of GT's return, I provide this moment of self-unawareness from today's NY Times Op-ed page:

"Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right."

(17) Jim B made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 9:14:27 AM | Permalink

Chris -

Arguing about the meaning of the word "occupiers" is akin to arguing about the meaning of the word "is." Like Clinton, you want to argue about the dictionary, unlike everyone else who understands the clear implication of the question. And like Clinton, by even having to talk about the subject you have lost the argument and have failed to realize it.

With regard to the tone in which the networks are playing the quote, using the self-reinforcing cocoon that is the liberal media to boost your self-confidence might help your ego but it doesn't constitute an argument.

Much like the saying "Good publicity. Bad publicity. As long as they spell my name right." I'm quite sure the GOP is quite pleased that the remark is being replayed no matter what the talking heads are saying on either side of it. Many people who didn't see the original speech will see that clip and laugh their heads off, and they will make up their own minds.

Contrary to the world you apparently live in, most people make up their own mind and don't really care what the pundits have to say about it. Much like Kerry making the Swift Vet story bigger by responding to it, the media is multiplying the effect that Zell Miller had by emphasizing it.

BTW, you're gonna need more rope if you're gonna stay firmly attached to the mast...The waters are getting rough, and the wind is picking up...

(18) Kathryn made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 9:18:54 AM | Permalink

I know that I'm beating a dead horse but so is Chris. At the age of 27 one is not a "youth." At least in 1971 one was considered to be a man by then and responsible for his actions and opinions. It does seem that in todays world youth is extended to infinity but not at that time.

(19) Chris made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 9:39:58 AM | Permalink

Hello? Jim B? I'm not arguing the meaning of "occupy"! Beldar is! READ!

(20) PeterBoston made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 9:41:49 AM | Permalink

The MSM is Kerry's Maginot Line - big, well constructed, and bristling with guns but hopelessly immobile. W has learned a few things as Commander-in-Chief of the most professional, most lethal, most mobile, and most adaptable military force in history. Do the unexpected - and do it well.

Folks like Chris are disassembling (God, I hate that word) Zell Miller's words while millions of Americans are horrified by the sight of terrorists murdering children and get Miller's message that if they don't vote for George W. Bush that John Kerry would be the only thing between these Islamists and their kids' school in Sheboygin.

(21) Chris made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 9:48:52 AM | Permalink


The level of discourse here is getting pretty sad. Most of the commenters here have very little to add and often don't really even understand what you or other serious commenters are saying. If you'd like to respond to my second post, I'm all ears. Beyond that, I'll stay out of the comments and let them continue as the partisan pile-ons they've become. (Not to suggest that any of this is your fault; it's just a function of traffic, I think.)

(22) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:08:24 PM | Permalink

If the Iraqis don't want our troops there then they are occupiers. This has nothing to do with whether we are the good guys.

(23) Polaris made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:13:12 PM | Permalink

If the Iraqi government wants us to leave, then we are gone tomorrow. That has been made perfectly clear before. I note that the Iraqi government explicitly asked us to stay (foiling a French objection in the UN).

(24) Al made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:38:19 PM | Permalink

It has nothing to do with Iraq. If _VIETNAM_ didn't want our troops, then they were occupiers.

Seeing oneself as an occupier when the legitimate government (as well as the French) actively want you to clean up their little problem is a different story.

Of course, if you've plugged a couple of people because you weren't watching the radar and a 25' boat 'snuck' up on you, you might decide that you personally were acting as an occupier.

(25) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:53:48 PM | Permalink

By Iraqis I meant the Iraqi people. What the government wants is irrelevant except to the extent that the government represents the will of the people.

(26) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 1:59:22 PM | Permalink

Allrightythen, Chris!

I haven't so much as opened my keyboard on this thread, so I'll call you:

"Kerry hasn't said anything to support your conclusion, and he's said things that directly condradict it."

I suppose it would be a waste of time to ask for quotes, because like the President says, we got ourselves two different Kerrys here, but just for grins, give us a Kerry line that DIRECTLY contradicts what Beldar has concluded.

"If he truly thought we would be occupiers in the evil sense you denote, he wouldn't have voted to give the President authority to pursue war."

See Chris, this is about where your argument takes a hard turn to Portside...

Kerry has never seen American intervention on any front on any continent as anything BUT occupation. To get at the real issue with Kerry you are indeed, going to have to revisit his past. He lied then about a lot of things, and he's still so conflicted today he can't make foreign policy decisions with a clear conscience. 'Moral clarity' if you will. The man has no MoralCompass, so therefore he acts in his own self-interest.

See? That wasn't so hard was it?

The italicized portion Posted by: Chris at September 2, 2004 05:48 PM | Permalink to this comment

(27) Jonathan Sadow made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 3:58:35 PM | Permalink

Perhaps I could've added a comment about how Chris's obtuse commentary is symptomatic of the dishonesty present in much of leftist discourse today, but after reading his last contribution ("The level of discourse here is getting pretty sad. Most of the commenters here have very little to add and often don't really even understand what you or other serious commenters are saying."), my irony meter broke.

(28) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 3, 2004 4:15:08 PM | Permalink

Jonathan Sadow - I'm new to this Blog, mostly came here for the excellent documentation on the SBVT controversy. Is Chris a regular contributor?

(29) Jonathan Sadow made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 3:55:34 AM | Permalink

Cap'n Doc, Chris contributes to several Houston-area weblogs (and I believe he writes one of his own). It's pretty much the same modus operendi on each - lots of assertions without proof and semantic word games, with Chris usually assuming the most pedantic interpretation possible and ignoring the clear sense of statements. Now that BeldarBlog is ranking in the top 40 or so of blogs visited, it's not nearly as easy for him to get away with his act as it used to be when just people interested in Houston-area affairs were the only ones visiting here (hence his whine about "partisan pile-ons" and sudden departure).

I'm glad to see that Beldar is getting the traffic that he is. I've always considered him to be among the most astute commenters on the Web, not only about Houston-area affairs but everything. I'm glad the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth affair has gained for him the widespread audience that he deserves.

(30) Chris made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 12:50:21 AM | Permalink

For clarification's sake, I post rarely anywhere else and do not maintain my own Houston blog.

Beldar, still no response? The fact remains that Kerry does not use the word "occupy" as you imply he does in reference to Iraq.

(31) Gary B. made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 4:36:47 AM | Permalink

Chris, I googled Kerry and occupying Iraq, and he along with all of the anti-war camp on the left refer to our troops as occupiers. But, why bother letting the facts get in the way of your argument? Only about 7,000 articles.

(32) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 9:26:53 AM | Permalink

Chris, I never said, nor implied, that Kerry has said our troops in Iraq were like the German occupiers of France in World War II. Rather, I said in my original post,

Note well: I genuinely don't know whether John Kerry also thinks our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan today are the bad-guy liberty-destroying type of occupiers.

My point was, and is, that Kerry's characterization of himself and our other forces in Vietnam as "occupiers" like the Germans were in World War II France was wrong and stupid.

I'm tired of arguing with you, and decline to do it any more, because you structure your arguments by mischaracterizing what I've said and then arguing with that. In the future, when I don't reply to something you've written, you will probably be correct in inferring that I've concluded that it's a waste of my time.

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