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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, July 26, 2003

We Lead With A Cheap Shot

Doc Drezner links us into a Marshall - Den Beste debate about the neocon strategy for transforming the Middle East - "neocon neocolonialism", as Jeff Hauser of the puzzling permalinks calls it.

The gist of the debate - is the public signed up for this long term commitment, and does it matter?

Now, I have always found Mr. Den Beste to be a gentleman. In addition, I take intermittent personal inspiration from his columns, since I, too, rarely manage to limit myself to one word when two dozen might suffice.

Mr. Den Beste's half of this debate was printed in the Wall Street Journal, which is quite upmarket, and I, at least, am finding further inspiration. I hope to marshall my thoughts for a substantive reaction, but the best I can do right now is leave you with two headscratchers.

First, on the subject of American resolve and the importance of an informed public, Mr. Den Beste braces our spirits:

...does America have the stamina to finish the job? Yes. This kind of thing takes on momentum. Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968 on a platform that essentially opposed the war in Vietnam. (The catch phrase was "Peace with honor.") But we fought for several more years before finally giving up.

Hmm. Few of us are able to find inspiration in the Viet Nam story, so we will salute his optimism. Feel the Big Mo!

And, secondly, on both American resolve and the incidence of early-onset Alzheimer's in Europe:

...there's a tendency to think that we used to have that kind of steel, but that we don't any longer. That's wrong, and every generation the world learns that anew. Going into World War II, many in Europe said that Americans used to be willing to fight back in the days of Lincoln but had become decadent and soft. History proves otherwise, of course.

Why the Europeans were unable to remember the "doughboys" of World War I is a medical mystery.

UPDATE: A typo? C'mon, at the Journal? They don't make mistakes, especially on the editorial page. So many non-believers.

Reading List: Josh Marshall, "Practice To Deceive"

A summary of Ken Pollack's "The Threatening Storm" for lamers, uhh, really busy folks. The summary is provided by a hawk, and Pollack's views evolved.

And the NY Times had an article on the effect of sanctions on Iraq, which I excerpt below.

MORE: Hints on the "Secret" plan from Andrew Sullivan, Sept 11, 2002, writtne as a commemorative "fisking" of Susan Sontag.

Excuse me, but war was not disclosed or declared by the United States. It was declared quite emphatically and unapologetically by Islamist terrorists years ago, and has been going on in the Middle East and elsewhere for the better part of three decades. (Sontag might read Lawrence Wright's superb reporting in this week's New Yorker (summary here) to see how deep this war goes and who is really galvanizing it. Hint to Susan: not us.)

...in the sense that war and politics can make the Middle East a less barbaric, depraved and despotic place, the answer is that the anti-terror war absolutely can end. But only if we wage it with conviction and skill, and recognize that all the belligerent components, from Iraq and Iran to Saudi Arabia, are connected - exactly the response Sontag opposes.

Shh, Andrew, not so loud!

Jonah Goldberg

Stanley Kurtz

James Taranto

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