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Is demonizing our enemy neccesary?(40 posts)

Is demonizing our enemy neccesary?ColnagoFE
Apr 1, 2003 10:14 AM
When it comes down to it aren't we all just people who want to thrive in whatever patch of land were are fortunate (or unfortunate) enought to be born on or move to? I keep hearing about "Saddam's torture chambers"...Doug calling the Iraqis "rabid dogs"...and other choice epithets. If we were some ulucky Iraqi bast@rd stuck in the middle of all of this wouldn't we probably think just the opposite? After all we are bombing their patch of ground. Some of them who could care less about Saddam are dying or will die. I guess I don't have the answers and I thought we had evolved more as a race since WWII and the interment camps and stuff like the racist Japanese drawings and insults. It makes me sad to see us heading down that same path.
give me a breakDougSloan
Apr 1, 2003 10:31 AM
I didn't call anyone a "rabid dog." The point was that we might expect their war response to be similar, that is, lashing out without a whole lot of plan to it. Putting civilians in harm's way, civilian car bombing, etc., I think fall under that category.

There are some choice epithets that do fit (in the "if the shoe fits" category), at least the leadership of Iraq. Let's try "genocidal maniacs" (have you seen the photos of Kurd women and children gassed to death?), terrorists (their own people, if nothing else), murderers, etc. I wouldn't want to vilify anyone unjustifiably, but the Iraqi leadership has it coming.

It's funny. Some people have an easier time vilifying our own leadership than that of Iraq, and have no problem calling them names.

Doug
sorry...didn't mean to single you outColnagoFE
Apr 1, 2003 10:47 AM
it has just been bothering me lately--all the rhetoric and name calling. i don't think it's unamerican to feel sorry for the poor people over there that have nothing to do with any of this and i don't see anything to gain from demonizing the iraqi people.
I agree with youDougSloan
Apr 1, 2003 10:51 AM
I don't think it is productive, nor have I seen much of it, to demonize the "people" of Iraq. I think the demonizing has fairly been focused on the leadership and those who carry out inhumane atrocities.

Now the French are another matter... ;-)

Doug
It's no use. I believe that some people just don'tLive Steam
Apr 1, 2003 3:37 PM
get it and they never will. I can appreciate FE's desire to live in peace and harmony. I wish that was within the realm of reality, but unfortunately it probably never will be. It is a fact, just as it is a fact that there will always be haves and have-nots and those that demand to have as well as those that will get what they desire no matter the cost to others.

The people that oppose this war don't see the dangers that lay beyond the immediate. They truly believe that these men of evil, as they have been so dubbed by our President and others, can be reasoned with and/or contained. They can no more be reasoned with or contained, than can a wild animal be reasoned with or contained. The animal will always try to escape and will always try to attack when it senses weakness.

The only route to coexistence with the people of the Middle East and other nations such as N. Korea, is to show the average, hard working and hard living person inhabiting those countries, that there can be a better way and a better life than what their ruling party provides for them. It is a difficult task. Many have been raised with the notion that we are the evil ones. Many Westerners here, even our fellow Americans believe this. I'll never understand why, especially since I imagine them to be living prosperous and peaceful lives here in the US. I know it may sound like I am denying their is poverty and injustice here. I am not. But I do believe that this form of government, though not perfect, is the best that mankind has. Communism and Socialism can never truly work in any society that is comprised of individuals and individual thinkers.

That's my rant for the day. Kill me for being a proud American. Most of the rest of the World want to do that to all of us for it! Now cycleadict can call me immature and tell me to go ride my bike and to stop listening to Rush, yadayadayada!
but your optimism is clouded by a western perspective.rufus
Apr 1, 2003 5:56 PM
sure, you feel that a representative democracy and western style capitalism offers the best hope for these people to improve their lives and their country. but what if they don't wish to have that kind of system, what if they don't want a western influence in their culture? no amount of persuasion, role-modelling, or bribery can make that system work if they don't believe in its merits and wish to make it work.

certainly it will be better for the iraqi people if saddam is no longer in power. but perhaps they want a system of government based on islamic principles, just without the corrupt, murdering monsters in charge.

that's one of the problems with america and western society in general. we presume to know what is best for other nations, and what they want, without truly understanding them.
Thanks for responding with a civil toneLive Steam
Apr 1, 2003 6:21 PM
I am finding that to be a rare commodity around here these days.

You may be 100% correct about your assumption, however it may not be the intention of the coalition to enforce a truly democratic rule. I do not believe that their religion precludes Democracy as a form of rule and I doubt it supports the oppressive form of government that exists presently. Turkey is a Muslim nation that is democratic. They are immediate neighbors to Iraq. I believe that if it can work there it can work in Iraq too.
i'm nothing if not reasonable.:-)rufus
Apr 2, 2003 2:41 PM
still, even turkey is having problems within its system with islamic fundamentalists. that said, i'm not saying that there is something within their religion that won't allow a democracy to flourish. but centuries of tribal, religious, and sect battles will make that a hard system to implement and effectively work. there are just too many ethnic animosities among them to co-exist peaceably without someone feeling they're getting the short end of the stick and taking steps to rectify that. i fear that any democracy will be a short term solution, inevitably falling to some other regime establishing a new dictatorial rule.

as i read in some other post or article about this, some former muslim leader said that dictatorial rule with puppet assemblies or representative democratic bodies is the moist effective form of rule for this region. i feel that given their history this is true. and this will probably what the u.s. leaves behind, only now the iraqi dictator is u.s. friendly. if this is saddam's baath party, then the shiites and kurds still want them out, and they will take fierce retribution for the atrocities committed against them. if it's the kurds, then you have the shiites battling them for control, and vice versa.

whatevers left behind, i can't see it staying long without constant u.s. supervision and support, and possibly more intervention. and that's all due to the traits inherent in the region.
You are crazyfiltersweep
Apr 1, 2003 7:02 PM
A Marxist once said: "The only route to coexistence with the people of the US and other nations, is to show the average, hard working and hard living person inhabiting those countries, that there can be a better way and a better life than what their ruling party provides for them, such as socialism."

Europe is full of socialized democracies, by the way... and they are full of individuals and individual thinkers, albeit with a bit more of a global consciousness. I won't even pretend to be a socialist, or that it will work in the US, but it does work elsewhere...

I simply don't care about the "injustices" going on in Iraq or N. Korea. It is none of our business and our involvement is generally only marginally welcome. 40-some US soldiers are already dead for a war the rest of the world does not want. N. Korea is miles ahead of Iraq with their missle program and they MAYBE have something that "might" make it to the west coast- if it doesn't blow up on launch. Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" are crude at best. Most of his chemical weapons would need a precise set of circumstances to be widely effective (see that old Tokyo subway cult debacle a few years ago for reference- a fraction of the people exposed were killed or injured).

I'm no peace-loving hippie- but spending a billion dollars a day on this war is ridiculous.

We might as well invade most of Africa while we are at it.

We cannot really fight a people without a healthy sense of self-preservation (ie. suicide bombers). Self-preservation is the KEY to Western diplomacy. It means nothing to these religious fanatics.

The US has squandered all sorts of post Sept. 11 good will by violating all sorts of international treaties and conventions. Our foreign policy has a history of being very suspect and full of agendas. These people are not brainwashed, but rather there are two sides to every issue. The US relationship to Israel is a divisive enough reason to create anti-US sentiments in the arab world... never mind the symbolic role of the US.
What, then, is the alternative?sn69
Apr 1, 2003 7:24 PM
And, FWIW, I'm neither arguing nor criticising. Rather, I'd welcome a series of "I'd do ____ if I were in charge from both sides."

Bluntly, I've read the posts from passionately articulate members of both sides of this argument, yet we don't get enough solutions (or potential solutions) posed. Rather, we get observations and pronouncements (and occassionally insults...from me too). Perhaps this is best left to another thread, independant of this.

Still, I'd love to hear what some would say about several issues, not the least of which being:
1. Pan-fundamentalist (anti-Western) Islam
2. The Palestinian/Israeli tragedy
3. The Central African tragedy
4. Global terrorism
5. Nuclear (NOT new-ku-ler) proliferation
6. Global bio/chemical terrorism
7. Neo-conservatism
8. Non-confrontational engagement policy
9. Containment as applied to global terrorism vice communism
10. Equitable wealth distribution
11. American foriegn policy in the current age
12. Economic hegemonic aspirations by the EU and China
12a. Economic hegemonic aspirations as they currently exist in the US
13. The US double-standard
14. The European double-standard
15. The Middle Eastern double-standard
16. The Far Eastern double-standard
17. When we're gonna come to our senses and invade Canada (for Jon's entertainment)

OK...this is MOST CERTAINLY best left to a series of seperate threads. Still, in light of Kristin's observations earlier, I'd be interested in reading what people think on at least some of these issues.

Scott
Wow-filtersweep
Apr 2, 2003 6:56 AM
...you have thought about this just a bit...

A hodgepodge of observations:

fundamentalist/radical Islam- seems to be cultivated in a nation like Iraq that despite all their oil, has a GNP smaller than Spain ?!! Might as well blame the US or Israel, or the Kurds, or anyone else... harsh economic times seem to promote ethnic hatred.

I really believe that the notion that these "extremists" would hate the US regardless of our foreign policy is false- or that they "hate freedom." The US needs to understand that to an Islamic radical, the "nation of Islam" knows no political boundaries.

There are enough conservatives in the US that hate the long arm of our own federal government- can you imagine if another nation were actively involved in our own politics on US soil?

To a foreigner, George W's religious imagery/ideology (Christian fundamentalist, no less) on its own may be construed in a threatening manner to a non-Christian.

The US effectively crippled the former Soviet Union by outspending it in an arms race. Granted they sold to the US public the notion that they posed much more of a threat than they actually did, but the spending race was arguably instrumental in collapsing their economy. And "not one shot was fired."

Solutions? I don't know... what I do know is that the US must be hypervigilant in their awareness that they must set a global example to the highest standards- to be political ubermensch, so to speak, to be beyond reproach, to avoid any appearance of impropriety. We have that luxury as we are really the only "super power" remaining.

If we committed our resources (like a fraction of the cost of the war...) like during the space program in the 50s and 60s to finding and developing viable alternative energy sources (hydogen cells, or whatever), we could completely avoid the type of political quagmire and strange political bed-fellows that we have had to endure.

If we eliminate all military presence in nations that have not specifically requested it, and function solely through the UN, we might begin to restore some credibility as "peacekeepers." Rather, the Bush doctrine takes the rather threatening stance that a pre-emtive strike is justified.

The US survived the cold war intact. Sept 11th is the only real "attack" on US territory in decades. We are largely insulated from war. The geography alone makes us much more comfortable with taking military action. My point is, how much risk are we really exposed to- even in this world of "rogue states" or the "axis of evil" ? Sell them a few pairs of Levis and some Big Macs and their entire economy will unravel.... ;)

My main issue is that we cannot afford a war right now- at least not one that is necessary.
Wow-sn69
Apr 2, 2003 7:28 AM
http://www.nwc.navy.mil/newrulesets/ThePentagonsNewMap.htm

Here's an interesting article that attempts to quantify the notion that economic globalizaiton might lead to more stability and democratization. Of course, it's written purely from a conservative standpoint and that will blind some--both left and right--to the merits and problems in the article. Also, it's an oversimplification, no doubt for brevity's sake.

That said, there are many facets to the various liabilities of the proposed neo-con doctrine, but I can assure you that an increase in permanent foriegn military basing won't work. We are currently engaged in two major regional conflicts (what our national strategy was restructured to support following the end of the Cold War), and it's taxing our internal resources to their limites. Permanent overseas basing has always been seen from within as a major impediment to quality of life, and in a military force where over 70% of the civilian spouses have jobs that earn as much or more than the military spouse, that won't sell. ...Not at all.... I'd love to delve into the subject of doing this "on the cheap," but I'd be crossing boundaries that I'm not allowed to. Suffice it to say that the military has existed for the past 12 years in a state barely above hollow-force, yet prior to 9-11 we were deployed and used roughly 62% more than during the Cold War (and that's been with presidents of both parties). The numbers will be staggering by the time this is over.

Personally, I think the best path lies somewhere between the unilateral action-derived prejudice and resultant madate of "shooters first, diplomats second" of the neo-con right and the unrealistic expectations and presumed intellectual bigotry of the extreme left ("if we just reason with them, they'll surely see that ours is the suprieor way to enlightenment and peaceful coexistence"). The middle ground is always the most difficult to quantify and to seek. That, in my generally rambling, nonsensical opinion, is where the answer lies.
Non-solutionsJon Billheimer
Apr 2, 2003 8:37 AM
Filtersweep makes some excellent points. But first of all perhaps we need to realize that there is no satisfactory American-made solution in the middleast. That we can fix things to our satisfaction and benefit is perhaps one of the faulty assumptions underlying most of what we do in terms of foreign policy and military interventions.

I do disagree with Filtersweep with respect to the Islamist dislike of America. They're going to dislike us regardless, first of all because of the cultural clash in worldviews and second because of the envy factor and power imbalance.

For America to regain its lost credibility and for the continued defense against international terrorism America needs to repair its fractured relationships both within the U.N. and outside of it. International terrorism as Bush initially correctly observed is highly portable and without nation-state boundaries. So the community of nations needs to be co-operating to address the problem on all fronts. International policing and intelligence is probably more appropriate than this heavyhanded pre-emptive war approach of Bush and his neo-con advisors. Smart bombs aside, neither the U.S. nor anyone else is omnipotent enough to run the world on its own. Terrorist, like criminals in civil society, need to be policed and eliminated by the entire community, not just one overbearing bully.

Finally, I quite agree with Scott, the voice of sweet reason will not affect the behaviour of terrorists or even of most Arab nations as they're presently constituted. Containment, policing, and military intervention in legitimate self-defense are called for. But the efforts need to be co-operative. Only in American movies does the lone ranger good guy win out over the bad guys.
Well said, but we're still invading Canada (except Quebec). nmsn69
Apr 2, 2003 8:49 AM
The Canadian Answer to American ImperialismJon Billheimer
Apr 2, 2003 9:09 AM
Okay, Scott, you asked for it. There are two principle, if unrelated, reasons why an American invasion of Canada will NEVER work. The first is that SEALS can swim, but they sure as hell can't snow shoe or ski! Second, like ancient China, Canada will simply absorb y'all as you invade. Once into our pristine climate and outdoors all of you will realize our superior quality of life here and...defect!!!!!:)- Canada Immigration being what it is, each of you will be granted indefinite asylum while your appeals wend their way through our Byzantie bureaucracy. In the meantime you will all disappear into our ski resorts and golf courses, never to be heard from again.
Doesn't seem such a bad fate...but I AIN'T wearin' a took! nmsn69
Apr 2, 2003 9:18 AM
No free pass in foreign policyfiltersweep
Apr 3, 2003 6:21 AM
Hmmm.... well, one of George W's tidbits really stuck in my craw - when he said that "these terrorists" "hate freedom." My point, whether true or not, is that I believe that they do hate our foreign policy in the middle east. I believe they may "tolerate" the US better if our motives did not appear to be so imperialistic. Granted there have been terrorist acts in Paris and other European cities (like Islamic radicals bombing synagogues), and it is quite possible that to a radical's world-view, we are all lumped together as being "the western world."

I believe they (US gov) have been trying to sell the idea that they hate the US regardless of foreign policy to take the pressure off the US backing Israel- it really lets Israel off the hook. It lets us off the hook for the Desert Storm fallout. And frankly, it lets us off the hook for ALL of our strange foreign policy decisions. I'm not that comfortable giving the US government a "free pass" in that department.
Imagine Saddam in an Easter Bunny suit...then shoot him nmhycobob
Apr 2, 2003 12:31 AM
.
Step 1: Fabricate a "crisis." The more visceral, the better.-nmjs5280
Apr 1, 2003 11:36 AM
The Crisis: UnfabricatedJon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 12:28 PM
Unfortunately, 9/11 was a foreign policy dream come true for the neo-cons. In a statement of ironic prescience the Wolfowitz group sent Bush a letter some time prior to Sept. 11 stating, among other things, that a Pearl Harbour type incident was needed to mobilize the American people. If this isn't macabre and coldblooded, I don't know what is. That crisis formed the psychological underpinnings for today's military adventures. Without such a national trauma I really doubt if Bush could've marshalled public support for his war.
They were intellectually gleeful, all right.OldEdScott
Apr 1, 2003 12:34 PM
Remember how pleased Wolfowitz was to go on TV and announce that we were going to 'end states that sponsor terrorism'? You could almost hear the other neo-cons going "Shhhhhhhhhh! They're not quite ready to hear that yet, hee hee."
Wolfowitz was..............Len J
Apr 1, 2003 1:16 PM
in the oval office on Sept 12 trying to convince Bush to invade Iraq.

The saddest part is that these Neo-Con's actually believe that what they are doing is right.

The aftermath of the war is going to be a mess. The Shiite's in the south are already talking about an Islamic Fundamentalist government with an Ayetollah. The Kurds in the North ar talking about a Kurdish homeland, the militant Islamic fundamentalist are demonstrating in Pakistan & there are fears that the Gov't will fall. (Remember Pakistan has 30 or so Nukes). I fear that the only thing this war will accomplish is a complete destabilization of the entire region.

Imposed Democracy at the point of a Bayonet. What's wrong with this picture?

Len
It has occurred to me that...Jon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 1:47 PM
...if Dubya actually got his rhetorical wish and the entire middleast were truly democratized, that is, if truly representative governments were elected by the people we would end up with regimes which were unspeakably and rabidly anti-American and anti-Western. The political complexion of the entire region would make the present setup appear absolutely benign by comparison. Virtually all states would actively and above board support massive terrorist activities directed against the West and against Israel. Oil would be used as a lever and bankroll for the destabilization and destruction of Western, secular societies. This probable scenario alone, in my mind, gives the absolute lie to all the Bush and the neo-con rhetoric about promoting democracy in the middleast.
Scary thought.......Len J
Apr 1, 2003 2:04 PM
and one which I have had myself.

The area is unstable enough that I suspect that the regional ethnic conflicts would keep the area in an uproar for years.

What do you think the mid-east would look like if there was no Isreal to focus the arab animosity on? I suspect that it would be what it has been for the majority of history, many local etnic enclaves, with very little nationalistic tendancies.

Of course, somone would grab the oil & all hell would break loose again.

Let's hope that we truely do want to liberate the Iraq's and not exchange one mandate for another.

Len
soon to be a major motion picture...mohair_chair
Apr 1, 2003 2:10 PM
I've heard a lot of doomsday scenarios, but yours is by far the most fantastical one I've ever heard! Why don't you finish it off by adding in four horsemen?

If you really believe this scenario, then there are only two logical courses of action:

1. End it all right now with a couple of nukes. Like Rome did to Carthage, we'll raze their cities and plow them over with salt, kill the men, and sell the women and children into slavery.

2. We overthrow all regional governments and install pro-Western tyrants who will rule with maniacal efficiency. Dissent will not be tolerated and Wahabi fundamentalists will be gloriously annihilated.

Which do you prefer? If your fantasy is true, there can be no middle ground.
soon to be a major motion picture...Jon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 3:02 PM
Your second alternative is pretty much the course of action that the U.S. has pursued for the past thirty years or so: support anyone who is at least nominally pro-Western and who can maintain some semblance of stability. This has always been accomplished through authoritarian, tyrannical regimes.
The soft bigotry of low expectations?czardonic
Apr 1, 2003 2:18 PM
Doesn't this whole line of argument pre-suppose the Arabs are somehow incapable of maintaining a peaceful, liberal democracy?

Personally, I think that the neo-cons are using "democracy" as a window dressing for their imperial ambitoins. But the answer to their faux-progressivism is not neo-regressivism.

Bush's democratic ambitions are most likely pure rhetoric, but I think that if properly and impartially pursued, there is no reason why liberal democracy couldn't exist in the Middle East. The question is whether Bush can pursue them impartially, to the exclusion of US economic and strategic advantage.
"Doesn't this whole line...Jon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 3:00 PM
...of argument pre-suppose the Arabs are somehow incapable of maintaining a peaceful, liberal democracy?" Yep, it sure does. A history of theocratic tribalism definitely isn't conducive to a liberal democracy, in my opinion. I didn't realize that I'm a "soft bigot." But the term is kind of original. So I guess I'll wear it:)-
What society doesn't have a history of "theocratic tribalism"? nmczardonic
Apr 1, 2003 3:19 PM
What society doesn't have a history of "theocratic tribalism"? nmJon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 3:32 PM
It's more recent and entrenched in some societies than others. Just look at how long it took Europe to evolve first constitutional monarchies, then parliamentary democracy, while a republic was being established in America. Given the educational level and mindset extant in the Arab countries, effective democracy ain't gonna happen for awhile. Call it soft bigotry if you want. I call it realism.
You people are truly scary!!!!!!!!Live Steam
Apr 1, 2003 3:52 PM
Oliver Stone must be some cult hero to all of you conspiracy believers. You must all lead very tortured lives believing that the boogie man is hiding around the corner in the form of the Government. The true irony of it is that you are all liberals who believe want and desire more government in our lives to provide for us and to legislate every living and breathing moment of our lives. I am sure you are all the same people that supported Clinton's indiscriminate bombing of Iraq and Bosnia, without giving a whit about the innocent victims of those efforts. Hypocrites one and all!

Sorry, I had one more rant in me today :O)
Maybe you are just easily frightened. (nm)czardonic
Apr 1, 2003 4:04 PM
Live Steam, NO NAME CALLING TODAY!!!!!cycleaddict
Apr 1, 2003 7:59 PM
Peace Brotha! nmLive Steam
Apr 2, 2003 7:15 AM
nm
Why not let history be our guide?czardonic
Apr 1, 2003 4:03 PM
Japan went from hundreds of years of reclusive feudalism to expansionist monarchic facism in something like 50 years, and then was well on the way to liberal democracy in another 10. It didn't take hundreds of years to "evolve" these concepts, because that work has already been done.

What threatens the development of democracy in the Middle East is not intractable ignorance on the part of Arabs, it is intractable arrogance on the part of the Westerners. Western influence in the region to date actually de-legitimizes what we claim to represent, i.e. freedom and democracy. Arabs haven't been given a chance to reject democracy in the favor of despotism. They have only been given the choice between despotism sponsored from abroad and the homegrown variety, which at least has a veneer of nationalism and self-determination.
So with history as our guide.............Len J
Apr 1, 2003 4:16 PM
what makes you think that the outcome in Iraq will be any different that our other attempts at colonialism (Just kidding on the colonialism line). Our other attempts at establishing democracy by force, (Haiti, Panama, Most of the central American Countries, just to name a few) have not resulted in anything other than choas.

Now we are trying to do it in a region (that we have continually demonstrated) that we don't understand. I have very little confidence that all we are doing is accelerating and contributing to major destabilization.

What exactly am I missing?

Len
My only contention is that democracy is theoretically possible.czardonic
Apr 1, 2003 4:26 PM
I think it is distressingly likely that Iraq will go the way of failed attempts to "democratize" other countries, but because democracy will once again become a victim of economic and strategic expediancy rather than because of cultural incompatibility.
Why not let history be our guide?Jon Billheimer
Apr 1, 2003 9:32 PM
I agree about our intractable arrogance. But I'll also hang my hat on the Arabs' "intractable ignorance" as you so succinctly put it. Japan at least had a sense of nationhood and communality. After Nagasaki and Hiroshima the Japanese also fervently wanted peace. Also, in its modern form Islam is about as hospitable toward any kind of social and moral pluralism as was old, hardline communism. Democracy requires at least some degree of tolerance for differences and dictates that those differences be solved politically and at the voting booth, not through Jihad.
you hit on a real point of truth when you said....rufus
Apr 1, 2003 2:37 PM
"I fear that the only thing this war will accomplish is a complete destabilization of the entire region."

that is another one of the objectives the neo-cons want for that region. for every country to be destabilized to some extent, so there will always be infighting within their borders, so they have more pressing problems to worry about than sponsering terrorism against the u.s. or israel, or using oil supply as a weapon.
You're not going to find much support for empathy these days.Silverback
Apr 1, 2003 1:12 PM
If we don't demonize 'em, how do we justify killing them?
Nobody argues that Saddam doesn't need to go, and he's surrounded by a small cadre of people who seem to be just as bad. The huge majority of the troops we're killing, though, are conscripts and unwilling soldiers. Certainly they're THERE, and we can't advance without blowing them up, but it's nothing to rejoice in. If we showed the pictures in their wallets and the letters in their pockets, instead of talking about how they're "hiding" in the cities (I'm sure if positions were reversed, American troops would come out and line up to be machine-gunned from the air, right?), support for the war would drop by half.
And I don't want to start up with you, Doug, but that rabid dog comment caught my eye, too.