Gaffe of the Year
Plus--Radar's blind spot.
Surging to Bosnia? Is it possible that the "surge" is actually a fairly logical political precursor to a U.S.-aided Bosnia-like partition along the lines suggested by Michael O'Hanlon and Edward Joseph? If you listen to Anne Garrels' report from Baghdad, you'll hear U.S. soldiers attempting to reassure Sunnis threatened by Shiite militias (and by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Army units with which we are supposedly cooperating in the surge). The Sunnis appear to regard the Americans as legitimate protectors. Today, the Americans tell them they will try to keep them from being chased out of the neighborhood. ("I will talk to the Iraqi Army tonight,"the American captain promises.) Tomorrow, if the surge fails, will the Americans tell the Sunnis "We're sorry. We tried. We made things a bit safer, but we can't really protect you. It's best if you moved"? It might be better than the alternatives. ... Possible problems with the O'Hanlon-Joseph plan are discussed here on bloggingheads. ... 1:29 P.M. link
**--Accessible to Non-Plame Fanatics. ...11:41 A.M.
Another Man in the Arena: Andrew Sullivan, discussing Joe Klein, argues that "having it both ways on the Iraq war [is] better than having no coherent position on the war at all, except fathomless bitchiness toward anyone who ever had the balls to take a stand." Hmm. I'd say it's at least a close question! ...Is it also better than taking a firm position you later admit was an "error" that caused "tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis and several thousand killed and injured American soldiers" and then boasting about how it showed you had "balls"? ... Klein and Sullivan are both prone to dragging out that T.R. chestnut about the "man in the arena". It always comes in handy when you've made a hideous misjudgment. A few less Men in the Arena might be a good thing. ... 1:52 A.M. link
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The Surge: Anne Garrels' excellent NPR report seems to give a pretty good idea what is going on in one Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad where the U.S. has set up an outpost. Something is being accomplished, and the American commander inspires confidence, maybe awe. But ... 9:37 P.M.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Joe Klein's "Last Words": Joe Klein has issued a seven-point response to Arianna Huffington's post noting that he wasn't exactly the Iraq War opponent he now claims to be--his having gone on national TV and, er, supported the war and all. Klein says it was "a moment of stupid weakness." But in that same TV interview Klein said, "I go back and forth on this war from day to day," which seems to reflect more ongoing ambivalence than just a weak "moment" (or, as Klein puts it, "a position I had never taken before and never would again"). ... As Huffington points out in her counter-response, the issue isn't Klein's wisdom four years ago but his truthfulness today, when he poses (and not just this once) as a sturdy pre-invasion critic of the war. If he just said "I went back and forth on the war but quickly** came to see it was a mistake," there'd be no controversy. Having gone back and forth on the war doesn't remove you from the company of reasonable pundits--even exceptionally self-righteous, moralistic, pugnacious pundits! But instead Klein touched up his own history--and when he gets called on it he blames nothing less than "a structural problem the left has had ever since before the days when Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz were socialists." No, Joe, they're just calling you on it! ...
P.S.: Huffington also makes the point that if Klein expressed his strongest opposition to the war in private, but not in public--as he seems to claim--that makes him look rather less honest and courageous. Why not tell your readers what you actually think? ...
**--Klein did turn against the war quickly. I remember running into him at a party in 2004 and being shocked at the (again, private) vehemence with which he declared Bush's Iraq project to be a huge blunder. At the time, things didn't seem to me to be going that badly. Now it's looking like Klein was right. And, as I say, the run-up to the war wasn't my finest hour either. ... 2:11 P.M. link
Remember, We're Not All In This Together! I hadn't noticed this particularly grating example of the divisive quality of the Democrats' new populism, from Sen. Webb's State of the Union response:
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.