Victor Davis Hanson

Transcribed Audio of Victor Davis Hanson’s Speech on Barack Obama, Iraq and Iran and George Bush…….

The Tundra Tabloids has been busy all this afternoon transcribing an audio portion of the speech given by Victor Davis Hanson at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend. Pamela gave me the heads up about the Hanson audio feed, and dared me to get it done in one sitting, I took her up on the bet and raised the bar another notch or two, heh.. Here it is after Pamela gave it a brief shake down. Read and learn.

NOTE: Atlas has it here as well, along with alot of good pics here and here, which has a video interview of Pierre Rehov which is great, as well as the caption about Spencer in the background, what a hoot.

Pamela:Listen to Victor Davis Hanson’s remarks this past weekend. Here is the audio – not great, best I could do and it does get clearer as the room the din of the tableware quiets down – I have transcribed the first 10 minutes. I am working on the rest. Bear with me – the whole thing in one beautiful elegant basket of truth. Hanson is so elegant and ….. scary

UPDATE: Remarks transcribed – Q & A still to be done – huge props to KGS of Tundra Tabloids – who did most of it and fast.

Hanson remarks (link corrected): Download Hanson111608.wav
Hanson partial Q&A: Download hansonqa111608.mp3


Restoration Weekend Florida

Victor Davis Hanson November 16, 2008

I think everybody’s stunned, surprised, …..anxious, frightened terrified of the election.

They don’t know quite what to expect, whether we are going to get Barack Obamathe utopian pacifistthe practitioner of moral equivalencemulti-culturalist from Chicagoor you’re going to get a retread Clintonite and if you did whether that would be, given the dire circumstances that some feel we are in, whether that would be a relief or whether that would be cause of even more concern given the Clinton rhetoric of the 1990s with the appeasement of terrorism.

It seems to me what we’re all worried about is what does Barack Obama think about the world at large – when he says that Iran is a small threat, and then he corrects himself and says it’s a large threat- when Georgia is invaded by Russia and he tells us first that each side is of equal blame and then he suggests Georgia prompted the entire crisis and then suggests the UN should adjudicate it and then he suggests when a proletarian country like Russia tries to destroy democracy its because of the precedent of an American democracy trying to destroy a proleteriat regime in Iraq.

It’s hard to make sense of all this. I’d like it to make sense of this. He has a very different view of the world. His view is anti-platonic. And I say that, not to be condescending, but Plato said that the natural order of the world is chaos …. war, peace with a parenthesis, that it had to be achieved and worked at. I think in the Obama view that men like him that are charismatic, articulate, they can change the world because it’s naturally a peaceful thing until people like George Bush rush in and through their stubborness “smoke ’em out dead or alive” vernacular destroys it but the fact of the matter is the only reason there is any semblance of peace and tranquility in the world today is because in places as diverse as the Aegean, planes overflying in Greek airspace daily, where there’s near fighting on Cypress, or whether we are talking about the Korean sea and the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korean democracies not going nuclear because the United States is there … or whether or whether Russian ships keep out of Norway every hour … all of that is predicated on the presence of the United States.

To be frank, to put it a different way, Vladimir Putin doesn’t give a damn that Barack Obama is African American. [laughter] And the Chinese autocrats do not hear very well “hope” and “change” – it doesn’t translate to Chinese very well …. And the Europeans don’t care if he has a nifty jumpshot. All they want to know is half the world are trying to take advantage of regional opportunities if the United States is not there to stop more, to stop thugs{?] which is the natural organic order of the world, they take advantage of it and our friends —- they are waiting to see which side to join. All of our friends in Europe know that and Australia and South America.

They don’t have deities. Nations don’t have deities like Barack Obama, they have interests. And their interests are predicated on who is going to win and who is going to lose. [unintelligible]

Contrary to the rhetoric that the world is falling apart, there actually are some advantages of being Barack Obama now as president. If you look at the war in Iraq …[unintelligible] for weeks they said it was lost and Barack Obama himself said that the surge would not work and it did work, when it did work he said it did not work and now he said it does. There were eight times more killings in Barack Obama’s Chicago last month than in Iraq – in combat.

That war militarily has been won. It was won because George Bush obviously stepped in and supported the surge, all the generals that said it wouldn’t work – that’s going to save Barack Obama a lot on money. It’s going to, as the original now detested neocons, envisioned it would help national security. And the cost of putting 130,000 troops in a peaceful Iraq was not that much more than it would be in Europe or elsewhere. It reminds me, it was about a year ago I was in Iraq …….. one of the private sheiks in the Anbar awakening said “Why do you want to leave? We can do it cheaper that Ohio or Indiana” There’s some logic to that.

We forget even the energy crisis. We have had the most precipitous drop in energy prices in the history of petroleum industry……………………….from $147 a barrel to right around $65. That translates into about a 300 billion dollar stimulus to the American economy. And it translate into about 15 to 2,000 per year per American.
But more important, for Barack Obama, that means that most of our enemies of the world, that are petro generated, after all you take away $147 a barrel, Vladimir Putin is pretty much a thug. You take away $147 a barrel and even the Iranians have problems running 6,000 centrifuges …..you take away $147 a barrel nobody is going to pay court to Hugo Chave [unintelligible] So all of that is going to have foreign policy ramifications if it’s done right and that would be very favorable to Barack Obama.

But I would like just like to concentrate for a moment on one of these conventional wisdoms he has offered. On three separate occasions he said we took our eye off the ball by going into Iraq and therefore wasted our effort in Afghanistan, that was echoed on two separate occasions by Joe Biden.

[UPDATE: 3:07 AM KGS of Tundra Tabloids transcribes like no mere mortal

The point I am making, is when you talk to the military, I believe that this year, the record is seven thousand confirmed jihadists, insurrectionists and Bathists that were killed. There is a reason why we have not been (unclear), the reason is a lot of people flock to Iraq to join the global jihad and never came back home and sent out the message “do not go to Iraq or you’re gonna die”. And that goes to some futility. If you think it wasn’t, go take a look at the Pew poll that was taken in May in 2007.

Among the many questions were asked, two were especially notable, (1) what do you think of the fact of suicide bombing that was at an all time low of twenty-six percent, and what do you think of the status of Bin-Laden that has fallen in every country except in the West Bank, from about sixty-five percent approval rating down to the thirties. That’s not because people like George Bush in the least, it was because the stronger force, supposedly stronger force after 9/11 was seen to be leading in defeat in Iraq.

There is another thing to remember about Mr.Obama, “that we took our eye on the ball”, this is the United States, this is a country that just sixty years ago fought, what, three Fascisms, the Italian Fascists, the German Fascists and the Japanese Fascists. Nobody said we took our eye off Japan, so we’re stuck to battle with all (unclear) because we took our eye off Germany. Germany and Italy did nothing in masse, did not coordinate with the attack on Pearl Harbour. But for earlier generations it was close enough that they were Fascists, the hated the United States and we were at war, and they were all going to need to be defeated at once.

It’s very ironic for a much more powerful United States in the present, in its war on radical Islam that does not have the resources of the Japanese Imperial war machine or the Wermark, to be told that we can’t fight one enemy, that we can’t fight more than one enemy, it makes no sense, at least to me.

How did this scenario get started? How did this scenario of “taking your eye off the ball”? I think that there were a lot, and by going into Iraq it started. I think that there were a lot of reasons. First, there were this naïve assumption because of the seven week victory in Afghanistan, and the six month establishment of (unclear) a provisional constitutional government, that Afghanistan was easy. Well people thought, you know, wow, Afghanistan took seven weeks, and you have six months for a government, Iraq took three weeks and suddenly it’ll have a government in three months. When that didn’t happen, Afghanistan became the good war and Iraq the bad war.

If you look at it historically, I think that everybody would realize that Afghanistan always posed more problems than Iraq.: I think that it’s emblematic of how wrong he looks at the world, but I want to examine that piece that “we took our eyes off Afghanistan when we went to war against Iraq. The first thing to remember is that the reason the UN, at least the evocation of the UN to go into war, was not that much stronger in Afghanistan than it was in Iraq.

Unlike Bill Clinton that bombed the Balkans without UN approval and without even congressional approval, he never even went to congress. George Bush went to Congress, he went, tried to go to the UN, and part of his rationality, remember there were twenty two reasons to go to war in Iraq, part of his rationality among the twenty-two were the violation of the UN accords, the violation of the ninety-one armistice accords, and the problems (unclear). So there was a UN element invoked. More importantly, the Coalition of The Willing, if you count by numbers and nations were larger in Iraq than in Afghanistan. And to be quite frank, what does it matter determining (unclear) fight in Iraq when you’re not blaming it on Afghanistan? It doesn’t make any difference.

The only people who really fought with us in Iraq where the Australians and the British who fought with us in Afghanistan. If you look at another common fallacy that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. That’s true in the strict sense, but remember, we’re not at war with Afghans, rightly so, we went into Afghanistan because the Afghan Taliban offered sanctuary to Arab Muslims from the Middle East, the real enemy, at least when you look at the people who were killing us in the nineties, and the great facilitator of Arab Muslims in the Middle East was always Saddam Hussein.

Look at the people that we found in Baghdad when we arrived. Abu Nidal, Abu ( Mafaz?) Mr.Yassin, one of the architects of the nineteen ninety-three World Trade Center bombings, could still be running around in Iraq, for all we know is still there, ah Mr.Zarqawi, the al-Qaida affiliated terrorists that were (unclear) in the heart of Kurdistan. You could make the argument that there was a better reason to go into Iraq, if you wanted to attack the type of people who were responsible for 9/11.

And the fourth.., don’t look at what I say, look at what the enemy says. In 2004 Bin-Laden wrote that famous letter before the elections, saying that, the central front on the global war on terror, the global war on Islam, was in the land of two rivers. That was echoed and reiterated in 2005 by Dr.Zawahiri, said Iraq was the central feature there. And then look at the existential question that is never asked. If you weren’t going to kill, and I don’t know how you could, contrary to what Barack Obama says, if you weren’t going to kill radical Islamists in Pakistan, and it would be very hard to invade, if you were an ally to an Islamic country, what were you going to do with it? Since the only way you’re going to do it was in Iraq.

The point I am making, is when you talk to the military, I believe that this year, the record is seven thousand confirmed jihadists, insurrectionists and Bathists that were killed. There is a reason why we have not been (unclear), the reason is a lot of people flock to Iraq to join the global jihad and never came back home and sent out the message “do not go to Iraq or you’re gonna die”. And that goes to some futility. If you think it wasn’t, go take a look at the Pew poll that was taken in May in 2007.

Among the many questions were asked, two were especially notable, (1) what do you think of the fact of suicide bombing that was at an all time low of twenty-six percent, and what do you think of the status of Bin-Laden that has fallen in every country except in the West Bank, from about sixty-five percent approval rating down to the thirties. That’s not because people like George Bush in the least, it was because the stronger force, supposedly stronger force after 9/11 was seen to be leading in defeat in Iraq.There is another thing to remember about Mr.Obama, “that we took our eye on the ball”, this is the United States, this is a country that just sixty years ago fought, what, three Fascisms, the Italian Fascists, the German Fascists and the Japanese Fascists. Nobody said we took our eye off Japan, so we’re stuck to battle with all (unclear) because we took our eye off Germany.

Germany and Italy did nothing in masse, did not coordinate with the attack on Pearl Harbour. But for earlier generations it was close enough that they were Fascists, the hated the United States and we were at war, and they were all going to need to be defeated at once. It’s very ironic for a much more powerful United States in the present, in its war on radical Islam that does not have the resources of the Japanese Imperial war machine or the Wermark, to be told that we can’t fight one enemy, that we can’t fight more than one enemy, it makes no sense, at least to me.

How did this scenario get started? How did this scenario of “taking your eye off the ball”? I think that there were a lot, and by going into Iraq it started. I think that there were a lot of reasons. First, there were this naïve assumption because of the seven week victory in Afghanistan, and the six month establishment of (unclear) a provisional constitutional government, that Afghanistan was easy. Well people thought, you know, wow, Afghanistan took seven weeks, and you have six months for a government, Iraq took three weeks and suddenly it’ll have a government in three months. When that didn’t happen, Afghanistan became the good war and Iraq the bad war. If you look at it historically, I think that everybody would realize that Afghanistan always posed more problems than Iraq.

It was landlocked, it was surrounded by a lot more enemies, it had no allies so to speak, it had no history of even a trace of history of secularism as Iraq did, it did not have a port, and strategically, as far as the United States was concerned, it was not of the same importance, and it was also among forty percent of all the world’s heroin. So there was always a problem of going into the ninth century verses maybe the sixteenth century in Iraq and establish a constitutional government. That was lost in the series on Iraq.

The second thing is, remember how this strange phenomenon occurred, you have all these talks, all during the campaign we’ve heard that you have to go across international borders and you have to surge troops as long as you do it in Afghanistan and don’t dare do it in Iraq. Part of that anomaly has merged, and to understand it, you have to go back a little bit to the exegesis of Afghanistan in the first place. After 9/11, there was this pretty much blanketed criticism of the Clinton administration, and the Democrats felt that dearly, and so there was a war proposed, remember, less than thirty days, George Bush was in, on October seventh, he was in Afghanistan.

I talked to the commander of the US Kennedy, he said: “he turned me around and headed towards Afghanistan”, a great carrier class conventionally fired carrier on the day of 9/11 he got the message that he was to arrive four hours later. George Bush was very calm and conceived on that day about going to war, and people in the Democratic Party were really ambiguous about, calls were diverse or endowed (unclear) inhospitable, a burial ground, the British and the Russian empire couldn’t do it, there were some ambiguity. Most but not all, most supported the war, it looked pretty well, and suddenly the Democrats were looking at a pretty bad scenario in November of 2002.

This his war had gone very well in contrast to the appeasement of the nineties and it wanted to get in on the war, and show that it had national security credentials. So the war and the lead up to Iraq, I suggest, that you all go sometime to the You Tube films of the October 11th and 12th of 2002 and hear a reoccurring piece about no need to worry about WMD’s that we were already in a factual war with Iraq given the violations of no fly zones, we should have been at war much earlier.

John Kerry, I thought gave one of the best speeches, so did Bill Clinton, I like John Edwards, I don’t want to (unclear) with a good one. I like comments by people like Ann Sullivan (unclear) who suggested that George Bush might be a possible Nobel Prize laureate. Chris Matthews said we are all neo-conservatives now. [laughter] George Bush, (unclear) Chris Matthews said. The Democrats wanted to get in on this because they thought that they didn’t want to get on the wrong side as they did on the Gulf War, they had elections coming up. And they fought with each other, to out talk the other.

Then the war started, and I suggest that everybody go back and read the comments after (unclear) fell, seventy-six percent of the people supported the war, as the White House and correspondents said on that night, two people who has supported the war were in the ante room where George Bush was talking, and I can remember Joe Klein almost knocking me over to get to the front so he could shake George Bush’s hand and say that he was for the war at least part of the time.

I debated him later, in 2006 and he stood up and I remember he said that “I defy anybody to say that I was ever against the war”. And I said, Joe, remember that they have wifi in the audience; they can Google when you’re lying. [big laughter]
In any case, we have the difficulty, we the insurgency, people started to make the necessary political adjustments, and then we have the sea of revolution in the voting, the purple fingers, people made another adjustments. But by 2006, the Democrats decided that it was now in their interests to do two things. To oppose the war in Iraq, but not give up the credibility they have on national security. So then the most amazing thing happened.

Afghanistan, which they thought would always be (unclear) and always be easier an (unclear) sort of thing, and Iraq was going to be inevitably be lost, (unclear) it mad good sense to say that Iraq was the bad war, not because that it was amoral or unethical all the way, though they did say that, but because you took your eye off, sort of like that cartoon you saw, where someone put his palm on a fellow’s forehead said and let me at em, well that what they kept saying about Afghanistan.

If you just had not gone to Iraq, Barack Obama said, I would have gone into Pakistan and crossed the border and hunt down. I remember four or five days they were almost out bidding each other (unclear) and I mean that of course, when you’re duplicitous like that it’s something called (unclear) and they’re going to have an opportunity, because the bad war has actually become the good war, and is essentially over , and now will see, what Barack Obama will do.

He already knows that we go into Pakistan; the only difference is that we don’t tell people when we do. [laughter] Now that his is president, he has a good war and he has all the support he needs to surge troops, and he’s on record that nothing we have learned from the counter insurgency will be of any utility in Afghanistan, and he got what he wanted there. It’s very ironic.

I want to finish on a broader point and that’s the election.

This was always going to be a strange election, because remember that this is first time since 1952 that an incumbent president that a vice president had not been on the ballot. So you have an orphan presidency the same way Harry Truman had. So just as Adele Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower attacked Harry Truman, so John McCain as well as Barack Obama of course attacked George Bush. And it was also the first time, in my life, in my voting life that a northern liberal senator actually thought that he was going to win. Remember, the rule had been since John F.Kennedy, if you were a democratic senator, from the north, whether it’s John Kerry or Walter Mondale, George McGovern, you were going to lose and like the caucuses, a governor.

The only way the Democrats had a chance, they had to have a cover, a conservative with a southern accent whether it’s LBJ Carter or Clinton. Here someone who says I’m not only from the north, I’m also very liberal, and didn’t think that would cost him.

Thirdly, we have an African American with a more serious campaign then one with Jesse Jackson, who was a much more serious candidate the Geraldine Ferraro, and we have the oldest candidate, John McCain. So all these precedencts… I think, I just got back from the National Review cruise and there was all this acrimony in two schools, George Bush did this, or John McCain did this, or it was inevitable or McCain was the head of September 14th to a financial meltdown base.

My view is more that it is sort of like a Greek tragedy.

That is, given the fact the incumbents, after eight years, find it difficult to incumbent parties after twelve years in succession, given the fact that you’re in two wars, given the fact that the meltdown in September, given the fact that Bush is an orphan, so your own party is attacking itself in a way that has not happened since 1952. Given the fact that, in a very brilliant fashion, once Barack Obama made the critical decision to disown everybody that had been among his most eminent social list, and that means everybody from Bill Ayers, Father Phlegger, to Reverend Wright, Rashid Khalidi, once he made it..

Another key decision, although he had been voted one, two or three in the senate as the most liberal member, once he decided that he was so [unclear] in this race, that he could essentially renounce his position on everything from nuclear power, oil drilling, ICE and NAFTA, public financing, second amendment(unclear) then I think it would have been as hard for John McCain to beat Barack Obama as it would have been for Adele Stevenson to beat another fervent hero like Eisenhower. So it was like a Greek tragedy in every sense.

But in every Greek tragedy there has to be a Greek tragedy hero, in this way, it was sort of George Bush, he was our Ajax, wasn’t he? He was inarticulate, he was stubborn, he was almost self destructive in a single mindedness, he was at times oblivious to criticism (unclear), but like Ajax, he saw that he had a certain mission, that was to keep Americans, -nobody could say that they were safe after 9/11-.. safe, and he was going to remove the two worst regimes in the Middle East and to try the impossible and establish representational governments. And he was going to do that no matter what. Everybody was going to abandon him as they did Ajax, and all would be depressed with the glib (unclear) of his age, Barack Obama, who could out stand and out talk anybody. A man you wouldn’t want to have on a battle field with you. And like Ajax, to finish the story he has to self destruct, and he did, but that’s not the end of the story.

Because today we read about Ajax and most of (unclear) like Odysseys, and you remember Harry Truman, he went out of office with a twenty-two percent approval rating, he was vilified (unclear) someone in the Democratic Party fell on those crazy ideas about containment against the threat of world Communism, and twenty years later, you see a good man, and the same will happen to George Bush.

A portion of the Question and answer period.

Question: The response by the Bush administration should have been to take on Iran and not Iraq. Could you comment about Iran?

V.H.: Well, when we woke up on 9/11, the United States was really at war with only one country, there was only one country that US military was firing upon, that was Iraq in the no fly zone. We had a history of twelve years, this was not the first Iraqi war, the first Iraq war was 1990, and we did not finish that war, the war was not about (unclear) it was about a dictator in that region had attacked its neighbours and translate it’s petroleum wealth into a regional arsenal, we didn’t finish that. We had a second war which was a no fly zone for twelve years, and also Bill Clinton bombed, and I remember of all people, General Zinny, bragging that he killed five thousand people in 1998, in that operation.

Then we had a third three week war and then finally George Bush, I believe finished it with the fourth war, so there was a long history. So as far as Iran goes, we were coming down to the final act in a serious way, and we said, we are going to get the allies, the EU three, and that diplomacy is going to work, well they’ve been doing that contrary to what Barack Obama has said, they have been talking and talking and talking, And then we said, that we were going to try isolate diplomatically and economically, and we found out that whatever we were for, the Chinese and the Russians were against as well as the Austrians and the Germans as well. (unclear)

Then we said that perhaps we could collapse oil prices and that would help, but that’s a little too late I think. And then we said that if we could create a constitutional government in Iraq it would be a stabilizer, de-stabilizer to Iran, as they have been trying to be a de-stabilizer to the constitutional experiment in Iraq. I think that is working, (unclear) but while this process is going on these centrifuges keep working, so Barack Obama says it’s a game changer, I’m so tired of this phrase, and you’ve heard it now, an Iran having a nuclear weapon is non-acceptable.

What does it mean? It basically means that at some point, Israeli pilots will have to fly one way to their death and take this out, so the next morning we can hear them demonized or read about them demonized in Le Mans as people (unclear) that’s what we have in Iraq. So I don’t think that the United States government is going to do it. I think it probably has to be done, I hope it doesn’t, because we see Iraq working to (unclear) Iraq would be very destabilized in the long run by Iran.

One Response

  1. Thanks for the transcript! Brilliant guy. He’ll keep the leftist illuminati on their toes, for sure. It’s refreshing to see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *