Sunday, February 04, 2007

# Posted 11:46 AM by Taylor Owen  

BITS: A few random snippets on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Oxford:

Whatever the legal issues, Cheney is not coming out of the Libby trial in a very good light. However, it no longer matters politically.

With Blair's increasing troubles with the cash-for-honours scandal the parallels between Chretien/Martin and Blair/Brown become increasingly eerie.

Krauthammer's latest is a low for me. This line particularly grates: "We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war."

Why has Rice been so quiet lately? The Times argues that with Rumsfeld gone, she is the next to get the blame. Is she also though a victim of this admin's animosity towards the State Dept? Surely she knew better than anyone that this was the case?

Magazines increasingly drive mainstream political blogging. A venture capitalist friend tells me that ads are not the future of professional blogging. Maybe so, but one model that is clearly emerging is the magazine hosted hub. Sullivan's move first to Time and now to the Atlantic is a prime example. The magic combination seems to be a couple of full time big name bloggers, a few staff journalists with stand alone blogs, and a group blog with approximately 10 regular contributors. The NRO, The New Republic and Macleans in Canada are all good examples of this model. As a big Atlantic fan, I look forward to seeing where they go with their new online push. With Fallows writing regular posts, and Sullivan moving tomorrow, look for an Atlantic group blog in the near future).

(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Just to let you know that the very members of the Public whom the General Medical Council (GMC) fervently claims to be protecting - are currently rejecting the GMC 'en masse' athttp://petitions.pm.gov.uk/AbolishGMC/.

Another related article on the matter appears here . . . and it also seems that a UK Political Party (with a profound Human Rights ethic)has also publicly endorsed the petition here !
: )

Just first time visitor.

I'm not sure how one would contradict anything factual in Krauthammer's line--"We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war." I see two assertions, and no way to upend them. If you can tip them over, please explain how. Otherwise, why is this a "low"? Walter.
For starters,
1) It reeks of colonial condescension.
2) The 'choice' in the matter is highly questionable.
3) It is part of a larger effort to shift blame for a disastrous mistake.
4) The idea that simply the absence of Saddam equates to freedom demonstrates the type of narrow-minded worldview that both drove the invasion and rationalised the most egregious of post invasion errors.
5) It lacks any sense of moral responsibility. He was more than willing to falsely use humanitarian rationalisations for the invasion and yet deviates from them when the humanitarian situation spirals beyond his analytic control. The moral responsibility is GREATER now than pre-invasion, precisely because the coalition failed so greatly at its supposed humanitarian objectives.
Walter, I disagree with Tyler on most issues, but do agree with him here.

We drove the chain of events that got Iraq where it is today. Our invasion (which I supported and support), thrust them into a situation of our choosing. That they have not dealt with it as well as we hoped may reflect badly on them (or not, that question is bigger than this post) but it does nothing to absolve us of our responsibility and culpability.

We thrust this opportunity for freedom upon them, we cannot now complain that it is their fault for not seizing it as we hoped they would.
I suppose I should add that a vast majority of Iraqi's ARE seizing it the way we hoped they would, so the comment is insulting from that perspective as well.
6) We midwifed their freedom. You would search for quite awhile to find a midwife who would be honored by K's gruesome metaphor. And with 147,000 troops occupying them for 4 years, when were they ever free?

7) They chose civil war. When did they choose civil war? Is there a civil war going on there now?

Premature 'liberty' of this kind would have been a disaster; we [would] have been torn to pieces by petty squabbles before we had ever reached political maturity, which was made possible by the long quiet years of monarchical government; for it was that government which nursed our strength and enabled us ultimately to produce sound fruit from liberty, as only a politically adult nation can.

Livy, Book II, The Early History of Rome

this blogging is a bit of a salty peanut. Anyway, briefly as possible, to your points:

1. "reeks... condescension." > this isn't quite a factual assertion; all I can do is express a different impression. That to-and-fro could keep us occupied 25-hrs.-a-day.

2. "the choice is questionable." > this presupposes that you not hold people accountable for blowing each other up. But I'm unable to think of an act more voluntary, premeditated than that. If you don't hold someone responsible for that, I'm at a loss for an act for which you would assign autonomy.

3. "blame for mistake." > It may well prove to have been a mistake to have assumed Iraqis wanted to be free of SH. But who but a racist would have said so--claiming that Iraqis could not do anything with their freedom but kill each other--before March 2003?

4. "absence of SH = freedom." > You keep saying that the logic of equating the removal of SH to freedom is flawed, but you don't assert how Iraq today is not free. I doubt you think Iraq under SH was free. Is there some other form of freedom, something between Baathism and elections that you consider less narrow-minded than what Bush has wrought?

5. "Krauthammer's sentence lacks moral responsibility." > The "r"-word just won't go away, will it. I suppose it's fair to propose that the Americans and the Brits should have forced the Iraqi people to respond as we had hoped they would. But how would that "heavy footprint" have gone over in the Arab world? (Remember OBL's exploitation of U.S. bases in SA?) Opponents of regime-change would surely have feasted on the sight of Coalition troops shooting Iraqis as they looted themselves, huge military bases and nightly news reports of aggressive nighttime raids on people's homes, etc.

The West might well have kept the peace, but surely such a policy would have "reeked of colonial condescension."


Tim -- I don't agree that we "drove the chain of events." I think we reacted, often in error. But it is probably because we did NOT drive events (i.e. put enough troops in, prevent the blowing of the Samarra mosque, hold Fallujah the first time, on and on), that we helped give chaos its current momentum. When we did drive events--disbanding the army--we were wrong. I don't deny that we have responsibilities in Iraq--how could anyone? But how could anyone not complain that the blood and treasure that has gone into getting this society on its feet is being, at least, taken for granted?

On that note, see Friedman's column today ("Yes, We Can Find the Exit")? As I read it, he sees no end to the chaos until Iraq is forced to start accepting responsibility for itself. There's that word again.

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