Balkinization  

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Bush Presidency and the Constitution

Stephen Griffin

That is the title of the AALS Section on Constitutional Law program for this year, thought up by yours truly. I will be making some brief remarks to open the panel at the AALS annual conference this Friday. Herewith:

It is worth bearing in mind that whatever our opinions of the war initiated by the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, all three branches of the federal government have repeatedly reaffirmed or at least assumed that the United States is still in a state of war. One of the key questions facing the next Congress and especially the next president, is whether they are going to continue the war, that is, commit themselves to an indefinite war against a largely unknown enemy. The point has been made that the U.S. has fought indefinite wars before, that is, wars such as the Second World War in which the end of the war was unknown. Those familiar with the history of that war know that the Allied leaders had strategies in place to bring the war to an end by at least 1946 or 1947. But that is a minor point. The more important point is that a better analogy for the current war against terror is not any declared war the U.S. has fought but rather the Cold War, the constitutional implications of which were largely negative, as they arguably include Vietnam, the constitutional crisis of Watergate, and dealing with the legacy of extensive domestic political surveillance by all of the chief intelligence agencies.

The next president, no matter his or her identity, will have to confront the legacy of the Bush presidency and that will not be an easy task. Many institutional and I would say constitutional changes have been set in motion that will not be easy to undo simply through a change of personnel. The most basic issue will be whether we are still at war, although I would not expect much help from the Supreme Court. Under Chief Justice Robert’s apparently minimalist approach, there is not much chance of the Court directly confronting the full implications of the unitary executive doctrine for war-fighting or the issue of indefinite war, one of the most important questions created by the September 2001 AUMF. But whether the Court helps or not, the new president will most likely undertake a review of the Bush administration’s constitutional policies that will offer the chance to set a new course. And no matter what the identity of the new president or the views of their advisers, the unvarnished versions of the unitary executive doctrine will always have a certain attractiveness, as presidents are well aware that in the event of the next attack, he or she will be held primarily responsible by the American people.

We might reflect that the Bush presidency has shown how democratic accountability, certainly an important principle in our constitutional system, or perhaps rather the fear of being held accountable for a terrible and tragic event, can produce the very secrecy and desire to centralize power that the principle is supposed to prevent in the first place. While I do not deny the relevance of the desire to exercise policy unchecked by any other branch, perhaps we should consider that fear of being held accountable for the next attack is an underrated motivation for some of the actions of the Bush administration that have received the greatest criticism.

With respect to scholarly commentary, I think there has been too much theorizing in the shadow of the next terrorist attack and not enough “normal science,” despite the Supreme Court’s efforts to restore some sort of balance to the conversation among the branches. Law professors can surely be expected to produce reams of legal argument in reaction to any event with dramatic legal implications. But the absence of sustained reflection on the lessons of the wars of the twentieth century, including Vietnam and the Cold War, has been very surprising.

President Bush can be criticized for any number of errors, but for the purposes of this panel I would like to highlight one serious conceptual error that he shares with his father – the idea that history is only written in the distant future when we are all safely dead. Both Presidents Bush made comments to this effect while they were in office. I have it on good authority from a professional historian (C.S. Griffin, my father, may he rest in peace) that this is not a good way to think about history. Rather, history ended yesterday, and we can today decide to think and rethink its meaning.

Comments:

Professor Griffin:

It is worth bearing in mind that whatever our opinions of the war initiated by the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, all three branches of the federal government have repeatedly reaffirmed or at least assumed that the United States is still in a state of war. One of the key questions facing the next Congress and especially the next president, is whether they are going to continue the war, that is, commit themselves to an indefinite war against a largely unknown enemy.

Your post implies that the war between Islamic fascism and the United States began when Congress passed the AUMF against al Qaeda and its allies. In fact, the Islamic fascists had been warring against the United States and murdering our citizens with impunity for roughly a decade before the much belated AUMF.

Likewise, this war will not end if we return to the status quo ante the AUMF and again pretend we are not at war with Islamic fascism. The enemy continues to war against us.

The comparison between the Cold War against communism and the current war against Islamic fascism is actually very apt on a number of levels.

While we remained on the defensive or engaged in detente with the communists during the Cold War, the enemy continued to war against us indefinitely.

The Cold War only ended when we went on the offensive in the 80s with the goal of tossing communism on the "ash heap of history."

The same realities apply today.

So long as we remain passive and pretend the enemy no longer exists, the Islamic fascists will continue to war against us indefinitely. The enemy is in this for the long haul even if we are not.

We will only end this war when we go on the sustained offensive with the intent of eliminating Islamic fascism.

We are in the midst of just such an offensive since the enactment of the AUMF and, as a result, the enemy has been unable to attack our people outside of the Middle East war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we now lose heart in the midst of this victory and return to the passivity which led to 9/11?

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
 

It is a Bush talking point that the terrorist hate our freedom and are therefor attacking us. Al Qeada wants the US to stop meddling in Saudia Arabia and the rest of the arab world. It wants the US to stop funding (secular) dictators. They want to bring the Caliphat back.

This kinda screws up this axiom for the War on Terror of us against them. It's them against them (Arab's inter se) not us against them. True 9/11 and Madrid were unsubtle wakeup calls, but not proof of a Cold War situtation where the US and the USSR where fighting each other ideologies. Bush is fighting a straw man: an enemy that does not exist.

And before you beg the question: yes, I want to have Saddam's babies, too....
 

Anne:

I commend the excellent National Geographic miniseries "Inside 9/11" for your viewing. I think it will be an eye opener for you.

http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/
channel/inside911/

Unlike nearly all the other media reports on this subject, National Geographic actually spent a reasonable period of time listening to what the enemy was saying for years prior to 9/11 with actual audio clips with subtitles.

Forget about Mr. Bush and listen to what the enemy was saying while Mr. Clinton was in office.

The speeches are chilling and reminiscent of Hitler and Goebbels. The Islamic fascists are quite open about their goals. The enemy continuously rails about the pernicious effects of Western culture. They consider the West to be infidels who either need to be killed or converted by the sword. If memory serves correctly, bin Laden said that the United State's blood debt to the Muslims would not be settled until a million of our people die. The enemy's goal is to create a Caliphate which will first cover the Middle East, then Europe and then the World.
 

Bart,

Your analysis of cold war history lacks credibility. We did not "remain on the defensive" or seek to contain communism though detente. (See Vietnam).

And we did not "go on the offensive" against the Soviet Union in any military sense in the 1980s. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the mujahideen successfully resisted (with our stinger missiles), and that was the denoument of the evil empire.

Sure, the US launched a propaganda offensive against the USSR and started a new arms race against the USSR during Reagan's first term. But that isn't analogous to the kind of direct, military offensive action that you seem to recommend against the "Islamic fascists."

cheers,

adam
 

Bart Depalma:"Your post implies that the war between Islamic fascism and the United States began when Congress passed the AUMF against al Qaeda and its allies. In fact, the Islamic fascists had been warring against the United States and murdering our citizens with impunity for roughly a decade before the much belated AUMF."

No, actually the part of his post you referenced was referring to the change in US posture signaled by the AUMF.

"We will only end this war when we go on the sustained offensive with the intent of eliminating Islamic fascism."
...
"The comparison between the Cold War against communism and the current war against Islamic fascism is actually very apt on a number of levels."


To assume that the tact which brought about the end of the cold war will somehow bring us to a successful end in the struggle against Islamic fascism ignores the basic differences between the two conflicts. The cold war and the struggle against Islamic extremists are comparable only in that neither is an open war between nation states. And, to attribute the end of the cold war to an offensive in the 80's ignores history and pretty much sweeps aside the broader nature of the conflict and boils it down to a victory for conservatism. That's fairly narrow and very inaccurate. If we had never rebuilt Europe and prospered ourselves as a real democracy, the cold war would have lasted much longer, although the intractable Soviet habit for out-of-control military spending would have eventually bankrupted them, with or without Ronald Reagan. We didn't win because of what we did as much as they lost because of what they did - as you said - warred with us 'indefinitely' while 'we remained on the defensive or engaged in detente'.

Even if we were able to 'defeat' 'Islamic fascism', another form of fascism would quickly rise to take its place. You propose a governmental global struggle against the darker elements of human nature itself, namely fascism. You also seem to be proposing a brute-force fight against a thing with no substance, borders, and barely any organized leadership. It is a thing whose roots come from the destitution of poverty, ignorance, and corruption, among other things, but not from Islam. The more ignorant force we bring to bear, the larger and more pervasive such an opponent will seem to become. That's like trying to win a head-butting contest with a demon - all you get is a broken mirror.
 

If we're going to swap literature on terrorists all provide you with a nice reading list later on the day that contradict everything you say.
 

adam said...

Bart, Your analysis of cold war history lacks credibility. We did not "remain on the defensive" or seek to contain communism though detente. (See Vietnam).

Let me start by clarifying that I do not think that détente and containment are the same thing. Détente was a series of negotiations with the Soviet Empire while containment was a much broader defensive strategy of preventing further countries from falling to communism.

As to your second point, both the wars in Vietnam and Korea were defensive actions to keep the communists from conquering South Korea and South Vietnam. Truman and Johnson refused to carry the wars against the Chinese and Soviet sponsors of North Korea and North Vietnam. LBJ refused to even take the ground war into North Vietnam as MacArthur had done in North Korea.

And we did not "go on the offensive" against the Soviet Union in any military sense in the 1980s. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the mujahideen successfully resisted (with our stinger missiles), and that was the denoument of the evil empire.

We went on the offensive against the Soviet Empire in the 80s in the war of ideas, economics, diplomacy and the military with the intent to topple the communists. To get a good outline of the multi front actions in which we engaged, read Peter Schweizer's books Victory and Reagan's War.

As to the military front, the Reagan Doctrine called for rebuilding the military and for supporting rebel groups around the world to topple Soviet satellite countries supplied by the Soviets with the intent of draining the Soviet economy when they tried to keep up. In Afghanistan, this strategy allowed the rebels to engage the Red Army directly and cause them to retreat.

But that isn't analogous to the kind of direct, military offensive action that you seem to recommend against the "Islamic fascists."

Offensive action can occur on many fronts, not just military.

The long term key to defeating Islamic fascism, as it was in defeating 20th century fascism and communism, is to provide people with the alternative of democracy and self rule. You can promote this through the war of ideas, through economic intervention, through diplomacy and, yes, through military liberation.

Fascism thrives in failed societies where the people feel helpless to control their own destinies. Democracy is the cure.

Furthermore, democratic countries do not attack one another.
 

And for the record: I think we should listen to what the terrorists are saying and if possible negotiate. The whole point of terrorism is to get accross a polital point. You bury your head in the sand (or your own a**) by saying that we shouldn't believe what terrorists are saying, because they are terrorist, but that approach will get us more of what Cheney brought us: "we shouldn't listen to the terrorists, but they clearly want the democrats to win!"
 

bitswapper said...

And, to attribute the end of the cold war to an offensive in the 80's ignores history and pretty much sweeps aside the broader nature of the conflict and boils it down to a victory for conservatism.

Actually, I would compare the Reagan Doctrine to FDR's liberation of the world from the Nazis in WWII. "Conservative" foreign policy is more often identified with the "realism" school championed by Kissinger and now Baker, whose goal is maintaining balances of power, not in defeating the enemy.

If we had never rebuilt Europe and prospered ourselves as a real democracy, the cold war would have lasted much longer

There is nothing in the Reagan Doctrine which precludes reinforcing allies against the enemy. However, the duration of the Cold War after the Marshall Plan indicates that defensive reinforcement is insufficient to win.

although the intractable Soviet habit for out-of-control military spending would have eventually bankrupted them, with or without Ronald Reagan.

The Soviet system and its massive military expenditures had lasted and expanded for 60 years before Reagan. The Soviets were indeed overextended by the 80s. However, that overextension needed to be exploited through affirmative action before the Soviets corrected their course themselves.

Even if we were able to 'defeat' 'Islamic fascism', another form of fascism would quickly rise to take its place.

That is why democratization must be a key part of any strategy to deal with this threat for the reasons I gave above.
 

Anne said...

And for the record: I think we should listen to what the terrorists are saying and if possible negotiate.

Negotiations only succeed when compromise accepting part of the other parties demands is acceptable to you.

Which one of the goals of the Islamic Fascists are you willing to accept in negotiations? Your murder? Converting to Islam? Living under a Caliphate which treats women like chattel?
 

Stop meddling in the Arab world? Stop funding dicators that are subjecting Arab people while putting up a smile and saying we are spreading democracy?

I'd say the problem would be that there is no one to talk to, because there is no such thing as "the terrorists". There is no war on terror, because terror is a tactic not an army. But we can take the words of Bin Laden serious when he says that he wants the US to get out of Saudi Arabia (which is not to say that the US should do what he says) instead of claiming that everything he says must be a lie because he says so.

If you want to you can go and talk to Hezbollah, Iran or Syria. They have no interest whatsoever to chop down my head.
 

Anne,

Wow, I'm floored? Please explain what compromises you think would be acceptable by both Al Qaeda and ourselves, so we can all see the depths of your delusion.

Your comments are revealing. It really is amazing that people like yourself can believe negotiation and compromise is possible with terrorists of the Al Qaeda sort.

You say, "Stop meddling in the Arab world? Stop funding dicators that are subjecting Arab people while putting up a smile and saying we are spreading democracy?"

You should read Lawrence Wright's "Looming Tower" (sorry can't get the italics to work) that was mentioned previously on this blog. At the least it will disabuse you of your notion that any practical sort of compromise is possible. Unless, you consider all of the Middle East, Northern Africa, large parts of Europe subject to an Islamic Caliphate as a "reasonable compromise."

That is what "listening" to the terrorists will tell you.
 

Bart Depalma:'However, that overextension needed to be exploited through affirmative action before the Soviets corrected their course themselves.'

This assumes the Soviets would have reigned in their military spending. They clearly would not have as long as the USA presented any kind of threat. Reagan only accelerated the inevitable.

That is why democratization must be a key part of any strategy to deal with this threat for the reasons I gave above.

Democracy is not an immunization against fascism.
 

Bart:

The Islamic fascists are quite open about their goals. The enemy continuously rails about the pernicious effects of Western culture. They consider the West to be infidels who either need to be killed or converted by the sword. If memory serves correctly, bin Laden said that the United State's blood debt to the Muslims would not be settled until a million of our people die. The enemy's goal is to create a Caliphate which will first cover the Middle East, then Europe and then the World.

This is a constant theme of Bush supporters. In most I would dismiss it as ignorance but you, as a soldier, should know better. While it is important to understand the enemy's intentions, it is also important to understand their objective capability.

The Soviet Union had nuclear missiles sufficient to destroy our cities. They had an army large enough to control their own empire, to guard their borders, to impose their will on Eastern Europe, and to require a defensive alliance by Western Europe. Their only attempt to use their army beyond these limits, in Afghanistan, proved disasterous.

Our Islamic enemies are considerably less powerful. You yourself have said that in Iraq the Islamist insurgents have not managed to conquer or rule any territory. How, then, can they possibly conquer the entire Middle East, let alone the world? This is no more than a deranged fantasy on their part.

Obviously they can hurt us; 9/11 proved that. Their attacks before 9/11 were all small-scale, and the combined casualties they inflicted in the decade before 9/11 stopped well short of what we have suffered in Iraq. And certainly none of this remotely approaches what we would have suffered from even a single Soviet missile strike.
 

Anne,

Further point. Seriously, can you be so short sighted?

Of course, Bin Laden wants the US out of Saudia Arabia. Part of it is because we "infidels" spoil their sacred lands just by the fact that we are on the same land mass as their holy sites according to Bin Laden.

The second reason is that our support of relatively moderate Arab regimes is what prevents the Bin Laden's of the world from creating their Islamic Caliphate.

So, sure, let's listen to Bin Laden. Let's help him create the very apparatus he seeks to create to rule over the Middle East, if not the world.

Furthermore, Lawrence Wright helpfully explains that this "negotiation" you seek is exactly what will NOT happen. They won't negotiate. Their goals, one of which I explained, AREN'T negotiable. Either we take the terms or they continue their war against us. Some "listening" and some "negotiating."

Liberals, such as yourself, complain that we aren't listening. We listen all to well. We hear exactly what Bin Laden says his ultimate goals are and we take him seriously. That's is exactly the reason why we find your position so incredibly unserious/dangerous.
 

Bart,

I should also add that I do not believe that Reagan's approach to the Cold War differed so dramatically from his predecessors'. Contrary to what you sometimes imply, he negotiated with them no less than any other president. John Foster Dulles also went on the offensive in the war of ideas, denounced containment and called for "rollback." The Soviet Union did not crumble at mere words.

Nor did the act of supporting rebel groups against Soviet allies begin with Ronald Reagan. The Nixon administration began support for UNITA in Angola and RENAMO in Mozambique. The Carter administration, to our eternal shame, supported the Khmer Rouge in its resistence to Vietnam. He also began support for the Afghan rebels, although Reagan certainly expanded on it. The only assistance to rebels Reagan actually initiated was to the Contras in Nicaragua.

And, in fact, following WWII we supported rebels within the Soviet Union itself, in the Baltics and the Ukraine, who were not defeated until the mid-50's. Surely that constituted "going on the offensive." To say that Reagan's confrontation with the Soviet Union were far more aggressive than supporting rebels within the Soviet Union itself is absurd. The Soviet Union died of imperial overreach. It just took time.
 

enlightened layperson,

Let's talk about their capacity. Let's go country by country.

Pakistan is one bullet or car bomb away from ceding control to the Islamic fundamentalists. The ISI (the Pakistani secret police) is run through with radical Islamists. It is not only possible, but unforunately, fairly likely that Pakistan may in the future be ruled by Islamic radicals.

Iran: Already ruled by Islamic radicals. There are some democract/Western undercurrents but is by no means clear they will prevail.

Iraq: Toss Up (too long of a discussion and our positions on it are known to each other).

Saudia Arabia: Relatively moderate. Seem to have a tacit understanding with the radicals (they won't attack the Saudi royal family in exchange for support of the madrassas, etc.), but this has been faltering in recent years. Fortunately, the large size of the royal family prevent one simple assasination attempt from fundamentally changing the government, but the Islamic radicals have been making headway.

Yemen (all): Mixed bag. Okay government from our perspective but they do have lots of unruly Islamic terrorist supporting tribes to deal with.

UAE: Good

Bahrain: Good

Syria: Already ruled by Sunni hardliner. Though he may not be supportive of Bin Laden types beyond their usefulness in expanding his influence.

Lebabanon: Mixed Bag. Hezbollah gaining ascendancy.

Palestininan Territories: rule by terrorists.

Egypt: Nominally moderate government, but the radicals keep winning in elections and have a reasonable chance of being able to take power in the future -- especially if a regional war or other event provides a spark.




Here's your problem in understanding their capacity. The Islamists already control several powerful countries in the Middle East and very close to control in several others. They could either slowly gain more control over time or some event or war could provide a spark propelling them into power. (This isn't assured, but very possible.).

Furthermore, if they did control over a few more countries this allows them much greater leverage of the final resisting countries.

Also, they don't need a large army per se. They have oil. Oil is a weapon that can destroy the West without a shot being fired.

Additionally, they don't need an army to control territory or the like. If Pakistan falls, or Iran continues on its path -- they have nukes. THey have no need for a military that can stand toe to toe with the US.

There is your "capacity" for you.
 

Bart writes: "Fascism thrives in failed societies where the people feel helpless to control their own destinies. Democracy is the cure."

Perhaps you mean a strong democracy, one where people's rights aren't abandoned for sake of security. Such a democracy has a chance at keeping fascism in check, but its no cure. Take away people's rights, and fascism can get a foothold to spread.

Bart also writes: "Furthermore, democratic countries do not attack one another."

Yes they do. Also, all the things you claim will address the problem of terrorism imply the establishment of some kind of utopia, where every nation is a democracy that meets your definition of an what an acceptable democracy is. This unlikely ever to happen.
 

Anne writes:And for the record: I think we should listen to what the terrorists are saying and if possible negotiate. The whole point of terrorism is to get accross a polital point.

I can't think of an instance where negotiating with terrorists has ever resulted in anything positive. They just come away from it knowing that they're always a kidnapping or bombing away from getting what they want. I also don't think terrorists do what they just to make a benign point - they want violence. It doesn't make sense to deal with them on a strictly political basis.
 

Who is saying that we need to compromise with Al Qaeda? You are not reading my rant. You should start by distinguishing that there is no such thing as "the terrorists". There are different groups of people.

I don't see a possibility to negotiate with Al Qaeda, because as I said there is no one to negotiate with. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't listnen to what they want to achieve. Bush is intentionally misstating the goals of Al Qaeda to promote his good versus evil approach.

I don't care one bit for a Caliphate, but that won't happen until hell freezes over. But that won't happen just because a small splinter group called Al Qaeda wants it to happen. In order for that to happen there would need to be wide spread support for the Caliphate throughout the Arab world. And in that case, the U.S. won't be able to stop it.

Ironically, the U.S. is making for a Caliphate more likely at the moment by supporting corrupt dictators. The need to be free is and will no be associated with a democracy because the Big Democracy the US is supporting corrupt dictators to advance its goals. If the US continues to discredit itself in the Arab world the Arabs will turn to the other power able to get rid of the corruption. Look what happened in Israel. The palestians got so fed up with democracy that they voted for Hamas.

I am though saying that we should stop this "war on terror" and should start focusing on the objectives. Maybe the US could start taking its own promise to the Arab world serious and accept the consequence that maybe the new government wouldn't like the US either, but would provide stability.
 

Humble Law Student:

First, let me apologize for the comment, "You yourself have said that in Iraq the Islamist insurgents have not managed to conquer or rule any territory." That was meant more to catch Bart in a contradiction than to contribute to serious discussion.

Second, Syria is not controlled by Sunni hardliners. It is controlled by secular Baathists belonging to the tiny, heretical Alawite sect. Sunni hardliners are the main challengers to the current regime. The Syrian government is, however, exceptionally nasty and repressive and a former Soviet ally, so we regard it as an enemy.

I will concede that, although currently Islamicists control only Iran and are near taking control only in Iraq, they are a threat in a number of Mideastern countries. Furthermore, like Communists, they are in ideological danger because of their ability to attract adherents. However, unlike Communists, Islamicists can attract adherents only among Muslims, so their range and scope as an ideological danger is much less than Communism's. Islamicism shares the same weakness as Communism -- it cannot create a decent society. Like Communism, I believe it will lose its appeal the more people actually see it in action.

I do share your concern about Pakistan. Pakistan has the Islamic Bomb, is infiltrated with radicals, and for a long time was the Taliban's only ally. Even now, the Pakistani government is turning a blind eye on Taliban and Al-Qaeda bases in their territory. And, as you say, the Islamic radicals do not hold power in Pakistan now, but could easily seize power. I have long believed that Pakistan is the real fulcrum in the current struggle, and our policy should revolve around how to deal with Pakistan. We are not currently giving this anything like the priority it deserves.

So yes, I agree that radical Islam is a threat. It can seize control in at least some Mideastern countries, and stir up trouble in others. It can hurt us physically with terrorism, or economically with an oil boycott (although I consider that unlikely, since it will hurt the oil producers a good deal more). And if it seizes power in Pakistan, that will be cause for alarm.

But my point remains that its chance of conquering and subjugating us are nil. To control and impose a regime on another country does require a powerful army, as we are learning to our cost in Iraq. If our mighty army cannot impose its will in a small country like Iraq, how can much-outnumbered Islamicists impose a theocratic caliphate on the entire world?
 

I should add, because apparantly it is not clear, that I don't see a problem with fighting "the terrorists" at the same time as trying to find out what they are aiming for.

I am al for creating a IV Geneva Convention applicable to terrorists (however won't happen, because just go and define a terrorist without including Bill O'Reilly and the likes) so the Western world will make abundantly clear that force can and will be used against anyone employing terrorism.

I am not saying we should lay them down on a sofa and pamper them, but I am saying that you go to war with the enemy you have, not the enemy you want. You cannot "beat" terrorism if you fail to understand what it is.

Tell me how are you going to beat terror in an ideological struggle if you do not get their ideology?
 

@hls: and now on to your sollution: how are you proposing on going about eradicating terrorism all over the world (as Bush seems to achieve)?

For Bush the ETA, Hamas, the PKK, the IRA etc. are al the same, because terror is an ideology, not a tactic. So killing all of them is not an option...
 

@hls: your list is nice, but it doesn't reflect the fact that Iran would never be part of a caliphate because they are Shi'ite controlled. That's why they hate Al Qaeda's guts. Or take the Turks: they insist that they are not even Arabs.

The Islamic world is just to divided to ever come to a caliphate without all of them just miracously agreeing on the Caliphate.
 

Enlughtened Layperson,

We are talking past each other a bit. I fully recognize that the Islamists could never land an invasion force on the US and take control over our country. But, none of us are arguing that (at least i'm not and I don't think Bart is). So, your comments to that effect are beside the point.

Our point is that the Islamists can make our lives a living hell, if not snuff out our lives, with far, far less than a full invading army.

Oil, nukes, mass terrorism, and other WMDS all fit the bill.

The Islamists have a reasonable chance of control over the Middle East. Only a few more nations needs to fall under their sway for them to have a real chance. And as I pointed out, there are several nations that could fit this bill.

While a Caliphate over the entire world is obviously far beyond their current or likely future capacity, a Caliphate over the current Middle East and parts of North Africa is not. And this is more than sufficient for them to wreck havoc across the world with their new found power in their fanatical pursuit of a world Caliphate.
 

Anne said...

Stop meddling in the Arab world? Stop funding dicators that are subjecting Arab people while putting up a smile and saying we are spreading democracy?

This reminds me of what a certain British PM said about Hitler after Munich:

Herr Hitler himself confirmed this account of the conversation in the speech which he made at the Sportpalast in Berlin, when he said: "This is the last territorial claim which I have to make in Europe." And a little later in the same speech he said: "I have assured Mr Chamberlain, and I emphasise it now, that when this problem is solved Germany has no more territorial problems in Europe." And he added: "I shall not be interested in the Czech State any more, and I can guarantee it. We don't want any Czechs any more."

http://www.johndclare.net/
RoadtoWWII5_Chamberlainspeech.htm

However, like Hitler, the Islamic fascists' goals are far greater than barring the West from the Middle East.

I'd say the problem would be that there is no one to talk to, because there is no such thing as "the terrorists".

I'll admit that there are far fewer enemy commanders to speak with now than there were before 9/11. However, the surviving enemy commanders have been well identified in the news media. Indeed, they have repeatedly suggested negotiations since we decimated their ranks.

...instead of claiming that everything he says must be a lie because he says so.

Actually, bin Laden has been very forthright about his goals and methods. We just choose not to believe that he wants to murder and subjugate us.

Who is saying that we need to compromise with Al Qaeda?

What exactly would be the purpose of negotiations then? To dictate our surrender?

I don't see a possibility to negotiate with Al Qaeda, because as I said there is no one to negotiate with.

Who were you intending to negotiate with in this previous post?

And for the record: I think we should listen to what the terrorists are saying and if possible negotiate.

Bush is intentionally misstating the goals of Al Qaeda to promote his good versus evil approach.

Which enemy goals has Mr. Bush misstated?

I don't care one bit for a Caliphate, but that won't happen until hell freezes over.

That is not the point. The problem is how many of our people does the enemy murder or maim attempting to reach that goal?

Ironically, the U.S. is making for a Caliphate more likely at the moment by supporting corrupt dictators.

Routing out the worst of the lot and setting up democracies next to the rest is hardly supporting corrupt dictators.

The need to be free is and will not be associated with a democracy because the Big Democracy the US is supporting corrupt dictators to advance its goals...Look what happened in Israel. The palestians got so fed up with democracy that they voted for Hamas.

What? The Palestinians never had a democracy before the last election. The Fatah terrorist gang which Hamas defeated was being ostracized by the Bush Administration at the time, so US support could not be the reason for the Hamas victory. Hamas was elected because they kill Israelis more fervently than did Fatah.

Maybe the US could start taking its own promise to the Arab world serious and accept the consequence that maybe the new government wouldn't like the US either, but would provide stability.

Why exactly would we want to recognize a gain of murderers like Hamas? Hitler was elected initially and sure as hell provided stability in Germany. Do you also suggest that we should have accepted the Nazi government?
 

The goal of some pan-Arabic confederacy -- whether Nasser's or bin Laden's -- strikes me more as a rhetorical tactic than an actual political goal. It's much like "panhellenism" was to the Greeks of the 4th C b.c.e., the Crusades to the Middle Ages, or the GWOT today: a "motherhood" issue intended to limit domestic political discourse rather than a program with any serious chance of achievement.

It may happen that some unification of the Arab world occurs. I doubt it, given the substantial, long-standing internal divisions, though no one can ever predict these things.

If it were to happen, would the consequences be harmful to us? I don't see how. There'd likely be greater political stability to the region; better yet, there'd be a real target for us if terrorism continued. As el pointed out, there's no chance that such a confederacy could, even in the short term, obtain enough military power to pose any existential threat to us. As for oil, the solution there -- conversion to alternate energy sources -- is going to phase in over the next 50 years. Nor could oil be used as an economic weapon, since that would deprive them of the income needed to undertake a military build-up.

IMO, these societies are highly dysfunctional (as el also noted). We'd be far better off ignoring them whenever possible and strengthening our own economy and society.
 

Enlightened Layperson said...

Bart: This is a constant theme of Bush supporters. In most I would dismiss it as ignorance but you, as a soldier, should know better. While it is important to understand the enemy's intentions, it is also important to understand their objective capability.

The Soviet Union had nuclear missiles sufficient to destroy our cities. They had an army large enough to control their own empire, to guard their borders, to impose their will on Eastern Europe, and to require a defensive alliance by Western Europe.


It is correct that the Islamic fascists do not possess and are not likely to possess the conventional military power to conquer us.

However, I fear al Qaeda in possession of a single nuclear warhead far more than I feared the several thousand Soviet warheads. The Soviets were checked by our nuclear arsenal and were not led by a death cult which glories in suicide murder. In contrast, al Qaeda is not subject to the MAD doctrine because it has no nation state and we are not likely to destroy any cities where al Qaeda might be hiding in retaliation. Nor is the enemy personally deterred by the thought of dying in a US retaliation.

al Qaeda can strike to a lesser, but still significant effect, with biological and chemical weapons.

We are fighting an asymmetrical war with potential WMD.
 

"President Bush can be criticized for any number of errors, but for the purposes of this panel I would like to highlight one serious conceptual error that he shares with his father – the idea that history is only written in the distant future when we are all safely dead. Both Presidents Bush made comments to this effect while they were in office. I have it on good authority from a professional historian (C.S. Griffin, my father, may he rest in peace) that this is not a good way to think about history. Rather, history ended yesterday, and we can today decide to think and rethink its meaning."

The above was the final paragraph of Prof. Griffin's post. I wonder if any of the commenters gave thought to this; hopefully those participating on the panel discussion will keep it in mind. It seems as if revisionism is starting early on George W's place in history. Remember, he started as a cheerleader at Yale with a megaphone and now has the bully pulpit with two years to go to transform the Iraq quagmire into quicksand for the Democrats in 2008, unless the Democrats smarten up. What has George W learned from the history of the Vietnam War other than how he avoided it?
 

Godwin. You are still trying to get me to say that we must surrender to Al Qaeda. Once again, unlike you, I differentiate between "terrorists". Iran is not in bed with Al Qaeda, nor are the sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq.

What I am saying is that "the terrorists" as a group won't go away, because they are not a group. The individuals of the group should be listned to and might be negotiated with exactly because they are not a group.
 

"the idea that history is only written in the distant future when we are all safely dead."

To be fair to them, I doubt they literally thought that no history is written except in the distant future. They probably thought that no dispassionate, objective history is written in the heat of the moment.

Which is pretty close to the truth.
 

Bart:

It is correct that the Islamic fascists do not possess and are not likely to possess the conventional military power to conquer us.

Glad that you acknowledge this. Than can we please drop the absurd ranting about their "goal" being to establish a world-wide caliphate that has no chance of actually happening and focus more on the danger that we realistically face.
 

I have been inspired to return to R. G. Collingwood's "The Idea Of History" published in 1946, especially his final section ("Epilegomena") where he explores the nature of history, historical method and progress. While many of us who have been legally trained and consider originalism with respect to interpretation of the Constitution, perhaps historians are in a better position to address the topic of this post. I sense a great deal of partisanship and political ideology so far in the comments.
 

Enlightened Layperson,

In your response to Bart, you completely miss the point. The issue isn't "whether" the Islamists can establish a worldwide Caliphate.

The issue is what must be done (what will be the losses) in opposing their attempt at creating a worldwide caliphate -- right now, we are suffering the occasional terrorist attack at home and abroad.

Look at WW2. Japan attempted to created a Pacific Co-Prosperity Sphere (read Japanese empire in the Pacific). The fact that they didn't have a good chance/couldn't isn't the point. The point is that it took a war and thousands of lives to prevent them.

This fundamental distinction is the key point your are missing.
 

anne,

You are correct to note that any attempt at creating a Middle East Caliphate would have to deal with the Sunni/Shiite split. That is one powerful factor in our favor.

That said, I wouldn't put it past them to unite against a common enemy -- the US.

What the US may be forced to do in the future may be throwback tactics from the Cold War. Support one faction against another and in exchange secure promises that they won't be too hostile to our interests. Of course, there are many problems concurrent with such a strategy. The consequences of which we are still reaping today. But, they are likely preferable to a united Shiite/Sunni alliance.
 

shag,

I just deal with the truth. Any disagreement with my position by others is only evidence of their bias and/or partisanship. ;)
 

Sorry, HLS, but I disagree. What the enemy is realistically capable of doing necessarily influences what I am willing to do, and what losses I am willing to accept, in order to stop them.
 

@humblelawstudent: partisanship is highly overrated. I said it before and I'll say it again: I appreciate that you are actually try to have an honest conversation.

Glad you acknowledge that part of the mess the US is in, is exactly because it decided to support factions and play faction against each other. The costs are simply too high too play such games: in the end they always come out and bite you in the ass.

If I can now only get you to stop whining about "the terrorists" and start differentiating...
 

@enlightened layperson: I sense a frustation that our adversaries in this discussion are trying to have the cake and eating it. They started out saying that the Caliphate is a catastophe waiting to happen and now they agree that it's a pipedream but the longing for this pipedream is a catestrophe waiting to happen.

@hls: not only the sunni/shi'i split, but also the moderate/extremist, atheist/believer splits and so on and so on. You are pretending that the Islamic world is one big homogenous mass, while in fact there is not one Arab country that isn't hetrogenous.
 

Bart,

You're response to me seems to be self-contradictory. First, you say that Vietnam was a defensive war. Then you imply that the US policy to supply the mujihideen against the Soviet aggressors was offensive. I don't understand the basis for the offensive/defensive distinction except as a vehicle for futher venerating St. Ronnie.

In any case, cold war history is no help to your thesis that offensive wars of "liberation" are necessary and effective in defeating "Islamic fascism." The US did not win the Cold War primarily through offensive warfare--while historians have only begun to analyze the reasons why, it seems safe to say that the USSR collapsed more from the weight of its own social, economic and nationalities problems (which the defeat in Afghanistan exacerbated), than from offensive US military action. Nor, incidentally, did the US win the cold war by promoting democracy. See US support of Trujillo in D.R., the Shah in Iran, Pol Pot in Cambodia, etc, etc, etc. Even your St. Ronnie supported his share of authoritarian thugs. I agree that the US should go on the "offensive" by promoting democracy. But if we were to use the same "offensive" strategy Reagan used in the Cold War, we would talk about promoting freedom and democracy, but sacrifice that ideal in favor of supporting any regime that supported our war on terror.

I love your exhortation that we should learn from history. It just depends what lessons we learn--such as, it's a bad idea to go invade another country with no exit strategy and with too few troops.
 

Anne said...

Once again, unlike you, I differentiate between "terrorists". Iran is not in bed with Al Qaeda, nor are the sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq.

You may want to read this NY Sun article:

http://www.nysun.com/article/46032

When the US and Iraqi military captured the Iranians in a raid on a Shia militia, we found a treasure trove of very interesting documents showing that Iran is supporting not only the Shia militias, but also al Qaeda in Iraq and its allied Sunni terror groups in order to create a civil war to weaken Iraq and drive us out.

Additionally, we have known for a long time that Iran allowed al Qaeda fighters to escape our forces in Afghanistan and allow them to love to Iraq and other countries.

What I am saying is that "the terrorists" as a group won't go away, because they are not a group.

Anne, you seriously need to do some reading about the enemy. al Qaeda was a world wide alliance of jihadist terror groups. It was aligned with yet more groups. A variety of states supported, sheltered and cooperated with al Qaeda.

This enemy may not be a nation state, but that does not mean that they are not organized or unified.
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

Likewise, this war will not end if we return to the status quo ante the AUMF and again pretend we are not at war with Islamic fascism.....

"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise....."

The comparison between the Cold War against communism and the current war against Islamic fascism is actually very apt on a number of levels.

Wow. For once, "Bart" gets it right. Demagoguery needs its 'Satans'. And the RW lives by fear (see John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" for a more detailed treatment of this).

I remember the bus ads: "Stand Up And Be Counted In The Fight Against Communism". Fear and paranoia. Blacklists and lives ruined. Commies in the toothpaste and under the bed. But we didn't prevail by how strong and militaristic we were, but rather by how free and prosperous we were. We had "detente", and then we got "glasnost" and "perestroika" in return. The Soviet Union fell bloodleesly, and now the Chinese are beating us ... but at our own game while we rack up trillions of dollars in debt, much of it to the Chinese, trying (and succeeding) in being the Arnold Schwarzenegger of nations....

Yes, "Bart" finally (and unintentionally) got one thing right here, folks.

"Bart", having gotten his keister pasted (once again) for his misstatements of cases and law a couple threads back, is going to go back to ignoring me though ("Is this wha you call manhod?"). Fine by me. I haven't prevented him from responding, and his silence says as much as any words.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma emits a copious wad of noisome tripe:

While we remained on the defensive or engaged in detente with the communists during the Cold War, the enemy continued to war against us indefinitely.

Ummm, look up "detente", buster. And read a few friggin' history books that explain what "detente" was.

The Cold War only ended when we went on the offensive in the 80s with the goal of tossing communism on the "ash heap of history."

What "offensive"? Boastful words through an (unknown) live mike?!?!? Kind of like Dubya winning the Iraq war single-handedly by taunting "Bring it on!"....

Cheers,
 

adam said...

Bart, You're response to me seems to be self-contradictory. First, you say that Vietnam was a defensive war. Then you imply that the US policy to supply the mujihideen against the Soviet aggressors was offensive. I don't understand the basis for the offensive/defensive distinction except as a vehicle for futher venerating St. Ronnie.

An offensive action attacks and defeate an enemy and takes their territory.

A defensive action seeks to protect your own forces and their territory from an enemy offensive.

In Vietnam, the enemy attacked and eventually conquered South Vietnam. We successfully defended South Vietnam for about a decade before we lost heart, withdrew and surrendered South Vietnam to the enemy.

We turned the tables on the Soviets in Afghanistan by supporting the Afghans in their ultimately successful attack to take back Afghanistan.


The US did not win the Cold War primarily through offensive warfare--while historians have only begun to analyze the reasons why, it seems safe to say that the USSR collapsed more from the weight of its own social, economic and nationalities problems (which the defeat in Afghanistan exacerbated), than from offensive US military action.

Once again, I recommend that you read the Schweitzer books which I cited above. It would take too long to duplicate the Schweitzer work here. However, suffice it to say that military action was only one level of our offensive. We also economically broke and diplomatically isolated the Soviets.

Nor, incidentally, did the US win the cold war by promoting democracy. See US support of Trujillo in D.R., the Shah in Iran, Pol Pot in Cambodia, etc, etc, etc.

You are confusing alliances of convenience with the long term goal of democratization. Count the number of democracies across the world before and after Reagan.
 

"Bart" DePalma is a nutcase; keep him away from any dangerous utensils:

As to your second point, both the wars in Vietnam and Korea were defensive actions to keep the communists from conquering South Korea and South Vietnam.....

Yes, South Korea (and U.S. troops) were attacked. Vietnan was no such thing. We took over a war from the French, and ended up putting in (and thus having to defend) our own unpopular puppets. There was no "North" Vietnam and "South" Vietnam (as was/is also true of Korea, BTW), there was only a snapshot of the "front". We purportedly stayed in (and even jumped into) the mess to prevent the "dominos" across Asia from falling. That didn't happen, even as we walked away, minus tens of thousands of young men.

... Truman and Johnson refused to carry the wars against the Chinese and Soviet sponsors of North Korea and North Vietnam. LBJ refused to even take the ground war into North Vietnam as MacArthur[!] had done in North Korea.

Keep "Bart" away from sharp objects. He's likely to hurt himself playing with them.

"Bart" seems to be under the hallucination that we should have gone "all out" against both the Soviet Union and China. History (both recent and during WWII) shows the sanguinary stupidity and futility of such a course.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

As to the military front, the Reagan Doctrine called for rebuilding the military and for supporting rebel groups around the world to topple Soviet satellite countries supplied by the Soviets with the intent of draining the Soviet economy when they tried to keep up. In Afghanistan, this strategy allowed the rebels to engage the Red Army directly and cause them to retreat.

Wow. That sure worked out well.... "Bart" needs to read Stephen Kinzer's book "Overthrow", seeing as he's so fond of books.

BTW, I remember "Bart" bragging not too long ago about how we managed (through supporting a bunch of terrorists and mining the harbours of another nation) to install the 'correct' regime in Nicaragua. But history sometimes has the last laugh, and I haven't heard "Bart" crowing about this triumph of our "speading freedom and democracy" for a while now. Cat got your tongue, "Bart"?

Cheers,
 

"[M]ilitary liberation".... One for the ages.....

Cheers,
 

"Furthermore, democratic countries do not attack one another."

That one got debunked a while back. "Bart" figures that enough time has passed so that people have forgotten, and that he can just trot that Dubyaesque/neocon meme out again as a bald assertion, and maybe people will believe it, sans evidence, this time. He's wrong.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

Actually, I would compare the Reagan Doctrine to FDR's liberation of the world from the Nazis in WWII.

Of course you would. And you'd be wrong. If you tried that at a convention of historians (or even semi-literate people), you'd bring down the house (in gales of laughter).

Cheers,
 

"humblelawstudent":

Unless, you consider all of the Middle East, Northern Africa, large parts of Europe subject to an Islamic Caliphate as a "reasonable compromise."

Newsflash fer ya: The Middle East, parts of Europe (and for that matter, even Asia) are majority Muslim, if not massively so. Are you suggesting that they should not be? While I may have a personal opinion that this is 'not a good thing' (and also think that the predominantly Christian U.S. is also 'not a good thing'), that doesn't shake my belief that people ought to be any damn religion they want, nor my belief that people ought to be pretty much left to sort out their own internal affairs. Hell, if I can make it here with the Christians trying to shove their religion down my throat, I'm sure others will find ways of dealing with it....

Cheers,
 

"humblelawstudent":

The second reason is that our support of relatively moderate Arab regimes is what prevents the Bin Laden's of the world from creating their Islamic Caliphate.

"[R]elatively moderate Arab regimes". Worked like a charm in Iran (yeah, I know they're not Arabic, but the principle's the same) ... in 1953. May I add to the suggested reading list Stephen Kinzer's other book: "All The Shah's Men"?

So, sure, let's listen to Bin Laden. Let's help him create the very apparatus he seeks to create to rule over the Middle East, if not the world.

Huh?!?!? Where do you get that? More of that "If you're not with the Preznit, you're with the Terra-ists" crapola?

Furthermore, Lawrence Wright helpfully explains that this "negotiation" you seek is exactly what will NOT happen. They won't negotiate. Their goals, one of which I explained, AREN'T negotiable. Either we take the terms or they continue their war against us. Some "listening" and some "negotiating."

Hmmmmmmm. Yes, I can see that there might be a problem with negotiations and diplomatic solutions when you're dealing with a hardened ideologue who is adamantly opposed to any kind of negotiation. Here, sir, here's a dollar. Buy a mirror.

Cheers,
 

"humblelawstudent":

Egypt: Nominally moderate government, but the radicals keep winning in elections and have a reasonable chance of being able to take power in the future -- especially if a regional war or other event provides a spark....

Horrors! What will we do, what will we doooooo!

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma said:

Once again, I recommend that you read the Schweitzer books which I cited above. It would take too long to duplicate the Schweitzer work here.

Let me help out here: "Reagan good. Reagan very good. Reagan smartest man ever, even smarter than Genghis Khan."

That ought to suffice.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma attributes his own sins on others:

Nor, incidentally, did the US win the cold war by promoting democracy. See US support of Trujillo in D.R., the Shah in Iran, Pol Pot in Cambodia, etc, etc, etc.

You are confusing alliances of convenience with the long term goal of democratization.

No. I am not (nor is Adam). You, "Bart" are conflating the two. You seen them as not the least incompatible, at the very least. "Allies of 'convenience'", of course is a monstrous euphemism for brutal dictators (you know, like, ummm .... Saddam?). You assume the ends justify the means, and completely forget to analyse whether the means are actually effective (instead of downright detrimental) in achieving the purported ends. When they don't (as they haven't for the most part), this "pragmatism" becomes even more horrific ... more despicable.

Cheers,
 

Damn it, I meant to get Mr. DePalma his very own blog for Christmas, so that comment threads at Balkinization would have some chance of becoming a little more interesting than "explain to Bart why he's wrong, wrong, wrong."

Well, Valentine's Day is coming up.
 

enlightened layperson,

Let me try one more time.

You wrote, "What the enemy is realistically capable of doing necessarily influences what I am willing to do, and what losses I am willing to accept, in order to stop them."

Let's parse that out. What the enemy can "realistically" do is a function of his capabilities and our own. We can agree I assume.

If we (and others) don't resist, then even a very small force can take over. It's all depedent on both our ability and our willingness to accept losses to prevent the enemy from carrying out its plans.

So look when you wrote, "What the enemy is realistically capable of doing necessarily influences what I am willing to do, and what losses I am willing to accept, in order to stop them."

This is the wrong way to look at it. Whether or not another country can "realistically" do something is largely a function of our (and other's) response. Japan had little realistic chance of winning a war in WW2, but ONLY because the US decided to accept the necessary losses to stop them. If the US had rolled over and allowed the Co-Prosperity Sphere, then Japan might have gotten away with it. So, Japan had a realistic chance only insofar as we did NOT fight them.

Furthermore, aggressive countries are notorious for improperly determining what they have a "realistic" chance of achieving. It's just plain naive and foolish to assume that they will accurately gauge their own capabilities and our own. Because of this, wars happen.

So, once again, the issue isn't "whether" they can establish a world-wide Caliphate, even if we resist. Even if they don't have a realistic chance, they ARE TRYING RIGHT NOW.

The question is what losses must be sustained to prevent them from attaining their current goal of creating the Caliphate.

"Realistically accomplish" is a function of our response. Your ideas of what is realistic for them to do, WILL NOT prevent them from trying. So, as such, your inquiry is misplaced. The issue is what must be done (what will be the losses) in opposing their attempt at creating a worldwide caliphate.
 

Adam:The US did not win the Cold War primarily through offensive warfare--while historians have only begun to analyze the reasons why, it seems safe to say that the USSR collapsed more from the weight of its own social, economic and nationalities problems (which the defeat in Afghanistan exacerbated), than from offensive US military action.

Bart: Once again, I recommend that you read the Schweitzer books which I cited above. It would take too long to duplicate the Schweitzer work here. However, suffice it to say that military action was only one level of our offensive. We also economically broke and diplomatically isolated the Soviets.

Adam: Nor, incidentally, did the US win the cold war by promoting democracy. See US support of Trujillo in D.R., the Shah in Iran, Pol Pot in Cambodia, etc, etc, etc.

Bart: You are confusing alliances of convenience with the long term goal of democratization. Count the number of democracies across the world before and after Reagan.

This last statement is purely ad hoc reasoning and deeply flawed logically. The Soviet Union supported a number of satellite communist countries, and it spent itself in to bankruptcy because we existed as a viable threat. RR cleverly seized on that and got them to spend even faster. As long as we existed as an opponent, however, the soviets would have still spent themselves into bankruptcy. I do think its fair to point out that promoting and supporting democracy was just as effective in ending the Soviet government once they had gone bankrupt.
 

Humble Law Student,

This is going nowhere, and you have probably moved on to the next thread, but I will give it one more shot. I agree with you that what Islamic radicals can achieve depends on how much resistence they encounter. But I also believe they will encounter a great deal of resistence apart from and independent of the US. Indeed, if the US fell off the edge of the earth tomorrow, I am confident there would be enough other sources of resistence to prevent a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

I do agree with you that fanatics and megalomaniacs consistently overrate what they are capable of and can cause enormous short-term damage in pursuit of goals that are impossible in the long run. I would also agree that people with truly grandiose dreams are liable to overreach in the most dangerous and harmful ways.

So, let me offer this in an attempt to find common ground. The most militant Islamicists have a goal of establishing a world-wide Islamic caliphate. There is enough resistence to that goal in the world to prevent it from happening, even if the US does not raise a finger. However, Islamic fanatics can cause considerable damage in their futile attempt.

To me, how much damage Islamicists can cause in such futile attempts, taking into account the resistence they will encounter independent of the US, is the measure of their power and what they can realistically achieve. That, rather than just their subjective intentions, if what I believe we should consider in assessing how dangerous our enemies are.
 

"humblelawstudent":

This is the wrong way to look at it. Whether or not another country can "realistically" do something is largely a function of our (and other's) response. Japan had little realistic chance of winning a war in WW2, but ONLY because the US decided to accept the necessary losses to stop them.

The Children's Crusade (you ought to look it up if you haven't heard of it; see also here) had little chance of taking back the Holy Land.

Not to mention another fly in the ointment here; the will and the ability to defend oneself (from actual attacks, when they do in fact occur) are not independent of one another, but the second doesn't derive solely from the first. The perceived ability to defend oneself successfuly can be just as effective (if not more so) in deterring attack as the perceived will to do so. Perhaps the will is to some extent useful in developing the physical ability, but by no means essential. Not to mention that the "will" to defend oneself us almost universal under circumstances of actual attack (as the Japanese found out when they "awoke the slumbering giant").

You pretend it's ("largely") a matter of not enough 'will'. "Clap louder!"

Cheers,
 

"humblelawstudent":

Furthermore, aggressive countries are notorious for improperly determining what they have a "realistic" chance of achieving. It's just plain naive and foolish to assume that they will accurately gauge their own capabilities and our own. Because of this, wars happen.

So, once again, the issue isn't "whether" they can establish a world-wide Caliphate, even if we resist. Even if they don't have a realistic chance, they ARE TRYING RIGHT NOW.


Assuming arguendo that you're correct in this analysis, perhaps you can explain what you suggest to cure these (perceived) problems with deterrence. Something like standing on a soap-box and saying "Bring it on"?

Cheers,
 

HLS: Furthermore, aggressive countries are notorious for improperly determining what they have a "realistic" chance of achieving.

Sorry to weigh in on so old a thread, but I did a double-take here, as it seemed HLS was making a point about the failed "achievements" of the aggressive U.S. of A. in the immoral and illegal invasion and occupation of our former ally, Iraq. My bad, but HLS's point remains ironically apt.
 

HLS: The issue isn't "whether" the Islamists can establish a worldwide Caliphate.

@HLS, I say to you that this is indeed the issue. More to the point is the tiny portion of your words above, where you use the definite article in relationship to "Islamists." So long as you think in such reductionist terms you will be consigned to fallacy. There is no more a "the" Islamists than there is a "the" Christians. Dear God, would you want Jerry Fallwell or Pat Robertson, for example, to be the measure of Christianity by which the U.S. of A. is judged? Those two men indeed do want a world-wide Christian rule, as they define it. Thank heaven not many in or out of the U.S. of A. seriously believe either of those buffoons represent "the" Christians.

So, yes, any sentence which uncritically accepts as fallacious a usage as "the" Islamists is by definition so far from valid as to be worthless---at least from a legitimate problem solving point of view. Of course if you are a self-proclaimed black and white ideologue concerned only with swaying others to your world view rather than with finding any real truth then statements such as this war will not end if we return to the status quo ante the AUMF and again pretend we are not at war with Islamic fascism will serve you well. Such rhetoric is good for rallying a certain class of sloppy thinker who is easily impressed by a little Latin. But you have all the marks of striving for more. Finding justice in the post-nine-one-one world is difficult enough without falling victim to childish black and white thinking or absurd reductionisms.

Peace.
 

HLS: Egypt: Nominally moderate government, but the radicals keep winning in elections and have a reasonable chance of being able to take power in the future -- especially if a regional war or other event provides a spark.

I should probably leave this be, but it's another prime example of a repetitive problem in RW rhetoric. How can we claim to be spreading democracy while decrying the results of elections? Or is it only democracy when it means contracts for KBR and Bechtel? What would it mean if a legitimate democratic process put in power people who were violently opposed to the U.S. of A.? Is such a thing possible? Or is such excluded from your definitions of democracy?
 

bitswapper said...

As long as we existed as an opponent, however, the soviets would have still spent themselves into bankruptcy.

This argument is simply untenable.

The Soviets had managed to stay out of bankruptcy and expand for 62 years since we invaded their country in 1918 and for 35 years since the beginning of the Cold War after WWII before Reagan took office.

The Wall fell just six years after the Reagan Doctrine was put into effect.

Here is a very short list of actions we took to bring about this collapse:

1) We bribed the Saudis to flood the market with oil in exchange for weapons sales to the kingdom. Soviet oil revenue collapsed.

2) We blocked the planned natural gas pipeline into Western Europe to replace these lost funds.

3) We actively sabotaged Soviet oil and gas production including a recently disclosed computer virus which infected and caused an enormous explosion in the main Soviet natural gas pipeline in Siberia.

4) We heavily reinforced NATO with a new generation of nuclear weapons and leapt ahead two generations in conventional technology. The Soviets could not keep up.

5) We pressured the Soviet Empire around the world by attacking their satellites with rebel forces and attacked the Red Army itself in Afghanistan.

6) We diplomatically isolated the Soviets around the world by calling the Soviets exactly what they were, and evil empire. The Soviets helped in this effort by shooting down the Korean Airliner.

7) We diplomatically and monetarily supported dissident organizations like Solidarity inside the Empire.

8) According to multiple Soviet leaders who wrote on the subject afterward, the final straw which caused the collapse was Reagan's threat to field space based ABM system, known derogatively as star wars. The Soviets had been working on such a system for far longer and believed that we had the technology to make it a reality and moot enough of their ballistic missile force to make a US first strike feasible. After Reagan's star wars proposal, the Soviets suddenly returned to the nuclear disarmament talks with the primary goal of getting Reagan to trade away star wars. At Reykjavik, Gorbechev was so desperate that he offered total disarmament if Reagan would only get rid of star wars. Reagan said no and the Soviet Empire was doomed from that point.
 

mesothelioma Mesotheliomais a form of cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to Asbestos In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the heart the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart or tunica vaginalis.
Most people who develop
mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. Washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can also put a person at risk for developing Mesothelioma Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking but smoking greatly increases risk of other asbestos induced cancer.Compensation via
Asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in
mesothelioma The symptoms of
mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected with chest X-ray and CT scan and is confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination. A thoracoscopy inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to take biopsies. It allows the introduction of substances such as talc to obliterate the pleural space (called pleurodesis, which prevents more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, the disease carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural
mesotheliomaSymptoms of peritoneal
mesothelioma include weight loss and cachexia, abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other symptoms of peritoneal
mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by
mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions.
Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:
chest wall pain
pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
shortness of breath
fatigue or anemia
wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up hemoptysis
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung The disease may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.
Tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:
abdominal pain
ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
a mass in the abdomen
problems with bowel function
weight loss
In severe cases of the disease, the following signs and symptoms may be present:
blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
disseminated intravascular coagulation a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
low blood sugar level
pleural effusion
pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
severe ascites
A
mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural tumors are usually found only on one side of the lungs
Diagnosing
mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history. A history of exposure to asbestos may increase clinical suspicion for
mesothelioma A physical examination is performed, followed by chest X-ray and often lung function tests. The X-ray may reveal pleural thickening commonly seen after asbestos exposure and increases suspicion of
mesothelioma A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI is usually performed. If a large amount of fluid is present, abnormal cells may be detected by cytology if this fluid is aspirated with a syringe. For pleural fluid this is done by a pleural tap or chest drain, in ascites with an paracentesis or ascitic drain and in a pericardial effusion with pericardiocentesis. While absence of malignant cells on cytology does not completely exclude
mesothelioma it makes it much more unlikely, especially if an alternative diagnosis can be made (e.g. tuberculosis, heart failure
If cytology is positive or a plaque is regarded as suspicious, a biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of
mesothelioma A doctor removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples.
If the cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a laparoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small incision in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.
There is no universally agreed protocol for screening people who have been exposed to
asbestosScreening tests might diagnose mesothelioma earlier than conventional methods thus improving the survival prospects for patients. The serum osteopontin level might be useful in screening asbestos-exposed people for
mesotheliomaThe level of soluble mesothelin-related protein is elevated in the serum of about 75% of patients at diagnosis and it has been suggested that it may be useful for screening. Doctors have begun testing the Mesomark assay which measures levels of soluble mesothelin-related proteins (SMRPs) released by diseased mesothelioma cells
Incidence
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. The incidence rate is approximately one per 1,000,000. The highest incidence is found in Britain, Australia and Belgium: 30 per 1,000,000 per year. For comparison, populations with high levels of smoking can have a lung cancer incidence of over 1,000 per 1,000,000. Incidence of malignant mesothelioma currently ranges from about 7 to 40 per 1,000,000 in industrialized Western nations, depending on the amount of asbestos exposure of the populations during the past several decades. It has been estimated that incidence may have peaked at 15 per 1,000,000 in the United States in 2004. Incidence is expected to continue increasing in other parts of the world. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age. Approximately one fifth to one third of all mesotheliomas are peritoneal.
Between 1940 and 1979, approximately 27.5 million people were occupationally exposed to asbestos in the United States.[ Between 1973 and 1984, there has been a threefold increase in the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in Caucasian males. From 1980 to the late 1990s, the death rate from mesothelioma in the USA increased from 2,000 per year to 3,000, with men four times more likely to acquire it than women. These rates may not be accurate, since it is possible that many cases of mesothelioma are misdiagnosed as adenocarcinoma of the lung, which is difficult to differentiate from mesothelioma.
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure exists in almost all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. In rare cases, mesothelioma has also been associated with irradiation, intrapleural thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), and inhalation of other fibrous silicates, such as erionite.
asbestos
is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven.
asbestos
has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
The combination of smoking and
asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the airways (lung cancer bronchial carcinoma). The Kent brand of cigarettes used
mesothelioma in its filters for the first few years of production in the 1950s and some cases of
mesothelioma have resulted. Smoking modern cigarettes does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma.
Some studies suggest that simian virus 40 may act as a cofactor in the development of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was known in antiquity, but it wasn't mined and widely used commercially until the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with
asbestos exposure were not publicly known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of
asbestos exposure in the workplace, and created guidelines for engineering controls and respirators, protective clothing, exposure monitoring, hygiene facilities and practices, warning signs, labeling, recordkeeping, and medical exams. By contrast, the British Government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states formally that any threshold for
mesothelioma must be at a very low level and it is widely agreed that if any such threshold does exist at all, then it cannot currently be quantified. For practical purposes, therefore, HSE does not assume that any such threshold exists. People who work with
asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure. Recent findings have shown that a mineral called erionite has been known to cause genetically pre-dispositioned individuals to have malignant mesothelioma rates much higher than those not pre-dispositioned genetically. A study in Cappadocia, Turkey has shown that 3 villiages in Turkey have death rates of 51% attributed to erionite related
mesotheliomaExposure to
asbestos fibres has been recognised as an occupational health hazard since the early 1900s. Several epidemiological studies have associated exposure to asbestos with the development of lesions such as asbestos bodies in the sputum, pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, asbestosis, carcinoma of the lung and larynx, gastrointestinal tumours, and diffuse mesothelioma of the pleura and peritoneum.
The documented presence of
asbestos fibres in water supplies and food products has fostered concerns about the possible impact of long-term and, as yet, unknown exposure of the general population to these fibres. Although many authorities consider brief or transient exposure to
asbestos fibres as inconsequential and an unlikely risk factor, some epidemiologists claim that there is no risk threshold. Cases of mesothelioma have been found in people whose only exposure was breathing the air through ventilation systems. Other cases had very minimal (3 months or less) direct exposure.
Commercial
asbestos mining at Wittenoom, Western Australia, occurred between 1945 and 1966. A cohort study of miners employed at the mine reported that while no deaths occurred within the first 10 years after crocidolite exposure, 85 deaths attributable to mesothelioma had occurred by 1985. By 1994, 539 reported deaths due to mesothelioma had been reported in Western Australia.
Family members and others living with
asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing
mesothelioma and possibly other asbestos related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to
asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of
asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestosMany building materials used in both public and domestic premises prior to the banning of
asbestos may contain
asbestos Those performing renovation works or activities may expose themselves to asbestos dust. In the UK use of Chrysotile asbestos was banned at the end of 1999. Brown and blue
asbestos was banned in the UK around 1985. Buildings built or renovated prior to these dates may contain asbestos materials.
For patients with localized disease, and who can tolerate a radical surgery, radiation is often given post-operatively as a consolidative treatment. The entire hemi-thorax is treated with radiation therapy, often given simultaneously with chemotherapy. Delivering radiation and chemotherapy after a radical surgery has led to extended life expectancy in selected patient populations with some patients surviving more than 5 years. As part of a curative approach to
mesothelioma radiotherapy is also commonly applied to the sites of chest drain insertion, in order to prevent growth of the tumor along the track in the chest wall.
Although
mesothelioma is generally resistant to curative treatment with radiotherapy alone, palliative treatment regimens are sometimes used to relieve symptoms arising from tumor growth, such as obstruction of a major blood vessel.
Radiation Therapy when given alone with curative intent has never been shown to improve survival from
mesothelioma The necessary radiation dose to treat mesothelioma that has not been surgically removed would be very toxic.
Chemotherapy is the only treatment for
mesothelioma that has been proven to improve survival in randomised and controlled trials. The landmark study published in 2003 by Vogelzang and colleagues compared cisplatin chemotherapy alone with a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed (brand name Alimta) chemotherapy) in patients who had not received chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma previously and were not candidates for more aggressive "curative" surgery. This trial was the first to report a survival advantage from chemotherapy in malignant pleural
mesothelioma showing a statistically significant improvement in median survival from 10 months in the patients treated with cisplatin alone to 13.3 months in the combination pemetrexed group in patients who received supplementation with folate and vitamin B12. Vitamin supplementation was given to most patients in the trial and pemetrexed related side effects were significantly less in patients receiving pemetrexed when they also received daily oral folate 500mcg and intramuscular vitamin B12 1000mcg every 9 weeks compared with patients receiving pemetrexed without vitamin supplementation. The objective response rate increased from 20% in the cisplatin group to 46% in the combination pemetrexed group. Some side effects such as nausea and vomiting, stomatitis, and diarrhoea were more common in the combination pemetrexed group but only affected a minority of patients and overall the combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin was well tolerated when patients received vitamin supplementation; both quality of life and lung function tests improved in the combination pemetrexed group. In February 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved pemetrexed for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. However, there are still unanswered questions about the optimal use of chemotherapy, including when to start treatment, and the optimal number of cycles to give.
Cisplatin in combination with raltitrexed has shown an improvement in survival similar to that reported for pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin, but raltitrexed is no longer commercially available for this indication. For patients unable to tolerate pemetrexed, cisplatin in combination with gemcitabine or vinorelbine is an alternative, although a survival benefit has not been shown for these drugs. For patients in whom cisplatin cannot be used, carboplatin can be substituted but non-randomised data have shown lower response rates and high rates of haematological toxicity for carboplatin-based combinations, albeit with similar survival figures to patients receiving cisplatin.
In January 2009, the United States FDA approved using conventional therapies such as surgery in combination with radiation and or chemotherapy on stage I or II Mesothelioma after research conducted by a nationwide study by Duke University concluded an almost 50 point increase in remission rates.
Treatment regimens involving immunotherapy have yielded variable results. For example, intrapleural inoculation of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) in an attempt to boost the immune response, was found to be of no benefit to the patient (while it may benefit patients with bladder cancer.
mesothelioma cells proved susceptible to in vitro lysis by LAK cells following activation by interleukin-2 (IL-2), but patients undergoing this particular therapy experienced major side effects. Indeed, this trial was suspended in view of the unacceptably high levels of IL-2 toxicity and the severity of side effects such as fever and cachexia. Nonetheless, other trials involving interferon alpha have proved more encouraging with 20% of patients experiencing a greater than 50% reduction in tumor mass combined with minimal side effects.
A procedure known as heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy was developed by at the Washington Cancer Institute. The surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible followed by the direct administration of a chemotherapy agent, heated to between 40 and 48°C, in the abdomen. The fluid is perfused for 60 to 120 minutes and then drained.
This technique permits the administration of high concentrations of selected drugs into the abdominal and pelvic surfaces. Heating the chemotherapy treatment increases the penetration of the drugs into tissues. Also, heating itself damages the malignant cells more than the normal cells.

What is the mesothelium?
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells: One layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs to glide easily against adjacent structures.
The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The
mesothelioma tissue surrounding the male internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis. The tunica serosa uteri covers the internal reproductive organs in women.
What is mesothelioma?
mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.
cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.
How common is mesothelioma?
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung.
Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?
asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
The risk o f asbestosrelated disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma On the other hand, not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.
There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to
asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of
asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to
asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to
asbestos Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by
mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis
How is
mesotheliomadiagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. In an MRI, a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed.
A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In a biopsy, a surgeon or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer) removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the
cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples. If the
cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument called a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of the disease. Staging involves more tests in a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment.
Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated. It is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
How is
mesotheliomatreated?
Treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of the
cancerthe stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.
Surgery is a common treatment for
mesotheliomaThe doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura (pleural
mesotheliomaa lung may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.
Stereo Tactic Radiation Therapy also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill
cancercells and shrink tumors Radiation therapy affects the
cancercells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the
cancercells are found (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most drugs used to treat
mesotheliomaare given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating. Radiation Therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.
 

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