Thursday January 27, 2005
Excitable Andrew Watch: On the Chris Matthews Show that aired last Saturday, Andrew Sullivan was giddily upbeat about the result of the war in Iraq and, in particular, the coming elections:
Mr. SULLIVAN: We are going to have these elections, Chris, and I--the other thing, I think that there's going to be--people are going to be shocked at how successful they are. ...[snip]
MATTHEWS: Define success.
Mr. SULLIVAN: Success is 80 percent turnout in--in most of the regions, extremely enthusiastic voting among the Kurds and the Shias, and better than expected among the Sunnis.
MATTHEWS: [snip] Does they war in Iraq increase or decrease American power in pushing democracy in other countries? Nine of you say Iraq hurts, three say it helps the president's chances of achieving his goals in the world.
Andrew, you say it helps. A bloody war helps us sell...
Mr. SULLIVAN: Of course it helps. When we see, as we will , see ordinary Iraqis voting for the first time to forge their own destiny in the future, it's going to be an extraordinary moment.
MATTHEWS: But if you polled Iran, would it be hostile to America?
Mr. KLEIN: They're overwhelming faithful.
Mr. SULLIVAN: No, it would be overwhelmingly positive towards the United States...
MATTHEWS: Would it be?
Mr. SULLIVAN: ...and that's the other point about Iraqi democracy. The signal it will send to Iran, which is our real enemy right now, will be enormously helpful. I'm a--I'm a complete optimist about this. I think it'll--I think it'll work. [Emph. added]
The failure is in part a failure to get the U.S. bureaucracy to support liberal institutions and groups; but it is also simply a failure of order and security. Democracy was always going to be hard in Iraq. But democracy amod chaos and violence is close to impossible. And we never sent enough troops or conducted a smart enough post-victory occupation plan to maintain order and defeat a fledgling insurgency while we still could. So we are now left to ask ordinary Iraqis to risk their lives in order to leave their homes and vote. ... [snip]
Our predicament is that you cannot have democracy without order and you cannot have a new order without democracy. Do I want the elections to succeed? Of course I do. Only those blinded by partisanship or cynicism wouldn't. Maybe a democratic miracle can occur. But at this point it would be exactly that: a miracle. So pray, will you? [Emph. added]
Sullivan has many virtues, but steadiness of judgment is not one of them. This isn't a man you want to follow into battle. Unfortunately, many Americans did. ...It's not as if something happened in the past week that made the Iraq situation look darker than it did last Friday. More the opposite so far, I'd say.
P.S.: Kaplan seems to regard a victory by the Sistani slate as a near-disaster, the triumph of "illiberalism." The "elections will showcase a cartoon version of democracy, a process of choosing leaders and not much more." Choosing leaders--gee, is that all? One wonders just how insanely inflated Kaplan's expectations were when he urged the country into the war. ...
P.P.S.: On the Matthews show, Sullivan was about to defend Sistani when he got cut off. Whatever point he was going to make, he'd forgotten it by Thursday evening. I think I would agree with it, though. ...
P.P.P.S.: To show that Iraqi voters have abandoned the idea of a secular state, Kaplan relies on a poll from last August. Is that the best he can do?. There is certainly more recent, and more encouraging, evidence. ... 10:14 P.M.
Reader "W" emails:
What is the mechanism whereby conservative radio hosts and print scribes all say exactly the same thing at the same time? I am a conservative talk show junkie.and I am always amazed at the coordination of message. When something negative to the Administration is written or occurs, almost instantly there is a flood of identical, defensive,debating points afloat. Is there a master script? If so, who decides what it contains? How is it distributed? E-mail? Web-site?