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Over the river and through the woods to the family argument over Iraq…

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It is that time of year again, when the extended family gathers to feast, watch some football, and fall into deep quarrels over politics.

Well, hopefully you can avoid the latter.

But, if you have a brother-in-law or a shirttail cousin who insists –absolutely insists– on arguing “Bush lied, people died” again, follow these simple rules:

1. Refuse combat, at least twice, and be seen by your spouse and host to have been trying to avoid the clash. Even if you really, really want to engage.

2. Sigh when you agree to discuss the war, and agree to do so only after your opponent and you agree on some basic facts.

3. Begin by asking if your interlocutor can recall where he or she had Thanksgiving 10 years ago. The ask if they can recall 1998 very well. Then ask if they can recall Operation Desert Fox. Ask if recalls SecDef Cohen’s December 20, 1998 briefing:

DoD News Briefing

Saturday, December 19, 1998 – 6:55 p.m. (EST)
Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
Secretary Cohen: Good evening.

On Wednesday when U.S. and British forces launched strikes against Iraq, I stated that we were pursuing clear military goals. And as President Clinton has announced, we’ve achieved those goals. We’ve degraded Saddam Hussein’s ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We’ve diminished his ability to wage war against his neighbors. Our forces attacked about 100 targets over four nights, following a plan that was developed and had been developed and refined over the past year. We concentrated on military targets and we worked very hard to keep civilian casualties as low as possible. Our goal was to weaken Iraq’s military power, not to hurt Iraq’s people.

4. Then ask if President Clinton and his Administration were lying when they gave as their justification for the massive bombing of Iraq the fear that Saddam had WMD?

5. Ask your opponent if they supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

6. Ask your opponent if the US. would have been better off had it removed the Taliban regime in 1999 or 2000.

7. Ask if your opponent believes that al Qaeda would have used WMD if they had had them on 9/11.

8. Ask if, post 9/11, American presidents have to react differently to perceived threats against the country.

9. Ask if Zarqawi had trained in Afghanistan, both before and after 9/11, and if Zarqawi had traveled freely in Baghdad under Saddam.

10. Ask if Saddam’s regime was likely to have ever changed absent outside intervention, and if Saddam’s sons would have been better or worse than their father to their own people, the region, and the world.

11. Ask if Saddam supported terrorists.

12. Tell your opponent that his or her answers have given you a lot to think about and excuse yourself from the conversation. If pursued, explain that the gulf between your understanding of crucial facts and their understanding of crucial facts is so vast as to render impossible a meaningful exchange. Be sure that your spouse and host see you make this declaration.


Lileks role-plays the lefty dinner guest with me, with the audio soon to be available at The key is to refuse to depart from your patient questioning.

And for resolve, read One Marine’s View.


Balloon Juice’s John Cole rightfully explodes with anger over left-wing garbage. These are persuasive arguments that should NOT be deployed at the family table tomorrow –but get the knuckleheads e-mail address so you can forward later.


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