Iraq in 1920

by Chris Bertram on April 10, 2004

Niall Ferguson in the Daily Telegraph gives a history lesson :

… in 1917 a British general … occupied Baghdad and proclaimed: “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.” … What happened in Iraq last week so closely resembles the events of 1920 that only a historical ignoramus could be surprised. It began in May, just after the announcement that Iraq would henceforth be a League of Nations “mandate” under British trusteeship. … Anti-British demonstrations began in Baghdad mosques, spread to the Shi’ite holy centre of Karbala, swept on through Rumaytha and Samawa – where British forces were besieged – and reached as far as Kirkuk. Contrary to British expectations, Sunnis, Shi’ites and even Kurds acted together. Stories abounded of mutilated British bodies. By August the situation was so desperate that the British commander appealed to London for poison gas bombs or shells (though these turned out not to be available). By the time order had been restored in December – with a combination of aerial bombardment and punitive village-burning expeditions – British forces had sustained over 2,000 casualties and the financial cost of the operation was being denounced in Parliament.

{ 38 comments }

1

Barry 04.10.04 at 12:45 pm

Yes, but It’s Different Now.

2

Robert Lyman 04.10.04 at 2:57 pm

Is this the same British Army that got demolished in Afghanistan?

I can’t say with certainty that it’s Different Now, but it isn’t altogether crazy to think that it might be.

3

roxanne 04.10.04 at 3:00 pm

And, if you don’t want to do the research, you could rent a copy of Lawrence of Arabia this weekend.

4

Nat Whilk 04.10.04 at 3:37 pm

Yes, indeed. Only an ignoramus could fail to see the striking similarity between the Kurds’ reaction to Coaltion Forces now and their reaction to the British 85 years ago.

5

Keith 04.10.04 at 4:27 pm

It began in May…

Due to good, old fashioned American Efficiency, we’re a full month ahead of schedule.

6

Robin Green 04.10.04 at 5:14 pm

nat – What point are you trying to make? Please be explicit.

7

Nat Whilk 04.10.04 at 7:03 pm

Was my sarcasm too subtle? My point was that the parallels between 1920 and 2004 are underwhelming.

8

Maynard Handley 04.10.04 at 7:12 pm

Sure, nat, because there are so few constants in history.

For example, who would dare say that every society in history has resented being ruled and exploited by outsiders? There is presumably some example, somewhere, if you look hard enough, where this was not the case, and who knows, maybe Iraq will be another such case?

But it sure doesn’t look that way right now,

9

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 7:37 pm

More empty cynicism, now via historical analogy, from the Timberites. For an example of how to constructively learn from the British experience in Iraq, I recommend this article from CS Monitor.

10

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 7:40 pm

Ok, ok, I overreacted there. It’s not “empty cynicism” (one of my favorite phrases these days), since all you did was “point out” the similarity, but I recommend the link I mentioned above anyway.

11

Keith 04.10.04 at 7:42 pm

Technically, nat is correct. Since they are doing to the US exactly what they did 80 years ago to GB, one can’t begin to draw parrelels. This is just basic math: a single line cannot run parralel to itself.

12

Nat Whilk 04.10.04 at 7:42 pm

Maynard Handley wrote:

“For example, who would dare say that every society in history has resented being ruled and exploited by outsiders? There is presumably some example, somewhere, if you look hard enough, where this was not the case, and who knows, maybe Iraq will be another such case?
But it sure doesn’t look that way right now”

I agree that Iraq will not provide such a case. In order for it to provide such a case, the Coalition would have to be “exploiting” Iraq in the first place.

13

Nat Whilk 04.10.04 at 7:53 pm

Keith wrote:


Technically, nat is correct. Since they are doing to the US exactly what they did 80 years ago to GB, one can’t begin to draw parrelels. This is just basic math: a single line cannot run parralel to itself.

A line isn’t parallel to itself? Somehow I earned my Ph.D. in mathematics without ever learning that. As for 1920 Iraq being identical to 2004 Iraq, perhaps you could point me to the news stories about Kurds uniting with Sunnis and Shi’ites to evict their Anglo occupiers in 2004.

14

Motoko 04.10.04 at 7:56 pm

Well, at least he didn’t make any Vietnam comparisons.

15

Chris Bertram 04.10.04 at 8:02 pm

Rajeev, I didn’t point out anything. I just linked to an article that I thought our readers would find of interest.

16

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 8:22 pm

Chris, that sounds a bit… disingenuous. You linked to an article where the author forcefully stated:

What happened in Iraq last week so closely resembles the events of 1920 that only a historical ignoramus could be surprised.

So I think it’s safe to say that by explicitly pointing out a passage that points out the similarity, by the law of transitivity you pointed out the similarity.

17

a lesser mongbat 04.10.04 at 8:37 pm

Is it still cynicism to be cynical to cynics?

18

Thomas 04.10.04 at 8:56 pm

What an odd reaction by Ferguson. His conversation was not with someone at State, and didn’t occur prior to the decision to invade. It was a conversation with a mid-level official in the Treasury Department. Charged with examining how to rebuild the Iraqi economy, they did just that. They didn’t examine the relative merits of invasion. They didn’t examine whatever policies the British pursued to build the Iraqi economy in 1920 (those policies–surprisingly?–weren’t mentioned by Ferguson. They looked at recent examples of countries where the economy had been crippled by totalitarian government, which government was suddenly overthrown. Sounds entirely reasonable to me.

But those who oppose the war can still stand on the sidelines saying they oppose the war. That’s fine, but it is entirely irrelevant to the question of which methods work best, based on recent empirical experience. We see Ferguson guided by his ideology, while the mid-level official at Treasury seems entirely guided, contrary to Ferguson’s suggestion, by empirical evidence.

19

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 8:58 pm

Mongbat: The question is whether cynicism is “empty” or not. I already recanted my statement that Chris’s post was empty cynicism: it’s certainly not empty because the historical analogy he linked to (whether it was “pointed out” or not) provides an arguable reason to be pessimistic about the reconstruction effort.

“Empty cynicism” is a phrase reserved for those like Jeffrey Sachs, who prior to the occupation declared it was impossible to reform the country, without providing any reason for why this is so. “Empty cynicism” also applies to those who call the reconstruction in Iraq an unqualified disaster or fiasco, or to those who see every bad event in the country as further confirmation that “they were right” without thinking about how to constructively proceed.

Do you agree with that definition? Perhaps it can be refined.

20

Brian Weatherson 04.10.04 at 9:02 pm

We see Ferguson guided by his ideology

Last I checked Ferguson was a conservative by anyone’s lights, so attacking his anti-Bush administration views for being ideologically driven is a little odd.

21

Chris Bertram 04.10.04 at 9:55 pm

Which ‘law of transitivity’ would that be then?

22

Thomas 04.10.04 at 10:06 pm

Brian–It is no odder than saying that Pat Buchanan’s anti-Bush administration views are ideologically driven. To describe someone as a conservative is not to say they are Republican, a supporter of the Bush administration, or even a conservative in the American political sense.

In this case, Ferguson is determined to put the actions of this mid-level official into his larger narrative, regardless of whether the facts fit. Meanwhile, this mid-level Treasury official is working to solve a problem based on recent experience. That’s the point on ideology.

23

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 10:21 pm

The law of transitivity was something that I concocted for the sole purpose of proving my point. It’s got that rhetorical punch to it that you can’t deny. But if there are rules against creating new laws, then I’ll have to recant that as well :)

(Without it, I still think my comment is defensible, but it no longer packs as much passion and heat)

24

roger 04.10.04 at 10:22 pm

Actually, in his latest book, Colossus, Ferguson recommends that the US stay in Iraq for the next twenty years at least, reducing it to a colony. The analogy he uses there is with Egypt in the 1880s.

However, the point he is making is not empty. It is pretty plain. The black flags of the Shiites are mounted over columns relieving the besieged population of Sunni in Falluja. In Kirkuk, which the Kurds, at least, are claiming as Kurdish, riots were suppressed by the Americans at the cost of twenty lives this week. The riots were in support of the Shiite intifada. So far, of the three major ethnics that the US is depending on to rule in Iraq, we’ve pissed off the Sunnis, are well on our way to alienating the Shia — after pictures of the Chenchny-ification of Falluja, that process will be 2/3rds done, and have not yet alienated the Kurds. In fact, one of the reasons the Kurds like us should be noted — we hardly occupy Kurdistan. Funny, our popularity seems to increase with the absense of our soldiers in the streets and our helicopters in the sky. Wonder why that is?

Oops — sorry. That rhetorical question was cheap and empty cynicism. Only terrorists would object to a healthy massacre of the occupying forces, now and then. Got to show them the boot, kill the sons — turn em back at the city limits into a city that is being systematically crushed by machine gun fire and rockets launched from helicopters — pile the corpses on the soccer field where they rot — you have to do this, you see, or they get all uppity. Besides, they are barbarians with no respect for human life.

25

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 10:43 pm

Oops — sorry. That rhetorical question was cheap and empty cynicism. Only terrorists would object to a healthy massacre of the occupying forces, now and then. Got to show them the boot, kill the sons — turn em back at the city limits into a city that is being systematically crushed by machine gun fire and rockets launched from helicopters — pile the corpses on the soccer field where they rot — you have to do this, you see, or they get all uppity. Besides, they are barbarians with no respect for human life.

Thank you Roger, for that friendly lesson in caricature. Perhaps radicalizing the debate would be more useful on a site like LGF. Here, I believe, you’re unlikely to find pro-war people who think Iraqis are barbarians with no respect for human life. Here you’re more likely to find people who understand that there is a distinction — perhaps a fine one — between occupying a country with the goal of holding elections, amid a populace that cannot be convinced of our good intentions, and occupying a country with the goal of piling corpses on soccer fields.

I’ve noticed you always end your comments with an “oops-sorry, I’m just being a lefty” style of remark. Here’s a heads up: it’s only necessary when you really are talking to ultra-right “raze Fallujah” pontificators.

26

Rajeev Advani 04.10.04 at 11:05 pm

Just to pre-empt an expected rejoinder: when I said Iraqis “cannot be convinced of our good intentions” I regard this as a failure of the US, not a failure of the Iraqi mindset.

27

Nat Whilk 04.10.04 at 11:24 pm

Roger wrote:

“The black flags of the Shiites are mounted over columns relieving the besieged population of Sunni in Falluja.

Would those be the black flags of Shi’ites loyal to al-Sadr or the black flags of Shi’ites loyal to al-Khoei, whom al-Sadr had murdered?

“So far, of the three major ethnics that the US is depending on to rule in Iraq, we’ve pissed off the Sunnis, are well on our way to alienating the Shia”

Perhaps you think the Shia would prefer to have Saddam Hussein back in power?

“Funny, our popularity seems to increase with the absense of our soldiers in the streets and our helicopters in the sky. Wonder why that is?”

Do you think you just might have the causation backward? That maybe we need fewer soldiers in the streets and fewer helicopters in the sky in Kurdistan because the Kurds aren’t trying to kill us?

28

roger 04.11.04 at 3:18 am

Rajeev,
Well, I didn’t know I’d burped in the country club of argument. So sorry about that, gents. Pass the sherry…
No. That isn’t enough. When you write — “Empty cynicism” also applies to those who call the reconstruction in Iraq an unqualified disaster or fiasco, or to those who see every bad event in the country as further confirmation that “they were right” without thinking about how to constructively proceed” I think you are avoiding the question of agency big time. Who is doing this constructive proceeding? When I see what is happening in Falluja — when I see the CPA misunderstand democracy’s essense — which is in the competition of ideas — by suppressing Sadr’s paper, instead of simply pointing out its mistakes and errors in another paper, or caricaturing him, or doing the thousand things that occur in democracies — when I see the CPA cynically outlaw militias while simultaneously paying Chalabi to sustain his — then I have to say that constructive proceeding sounds suspiciously like the rhetoric that used to be used in the Soviet Union — a rhetoric that promotes an ever onward to a greater goal, and underneath that rhetoric insinuates the beady eyes and the paid enthusiasms of the secret police.

Nat,
no, I don’t think that is quite accurate. From the accounts I’ve read about what is happening in Baghdad, the Shi’ites who are providing supplies for the population of Falluja are pretty much the broad spectrum. One of the Shi’ite Governing council members has met with Sadr, it is true, true members have resigned, and the man who sat next to Laura Bush at the last Bush state of the Union address, Adnan Pachachi, is calling the assault criminal.

As for the Kurds — interesting question, that of causation. One of the things the U.S. did right — at the urging, it should be said, in 92, of the French — was to create a zone of practical Kurdish autonomy. Guess what happened? A mini civil war. But the U.S. didn’t send in troops to bring it to a conclusion. It was a bloody thing — thousands were killed — and the violence between sides still isn’t over. But the Kurds have organized themselves through it.

But your last phrase is the crucial one:

“That maybe we need fewer soldiers in the streets and fewer helicopters in the sky in Kurdistan because the Kurds aren’t trying to kill us?”

This is the doubleness of goal that has, I think, destroyed the validity of the occupying power. Our reasons for having soldiers in the streets hasn’t been about the killing of “us” — the Americans — but the protection of “them” — the Iraqis. There’s an interesting article by Lisa Wedeen, at the University of Chicago, Seeing like a Citizen, that explains the dynamic here. In essence, Wedeen argues something like this: a governing power that exerts both too much force — acting in direct violence against its opponents — and too little power — in securing its citizens from various harms — is creating a mechanism of destabilization, forging the blade that will be pressed to its own throat. Her example is Yemen. The CPA is a perfect example of another kind — on the one hand, protecting “us” to the extent of razing Falluja, and on the other neglecting “them” to the extent of not being able to protect Iraqis from explosions such as those that have punctuated Iraq’s urban life since January. Kurdistan has plenty of problems with warlords. However, since we aren’t using our heavy hand to “help them” solve those problems — we are simply pumping aid into the region — they love us. Or like us. Even that, however, can change.

29

Rajeev Advani 04.11.04 at 4:47 am

When I see what is happening in Falluja — when I see the CPA misunderstand democracy’s essense — which is in the competition of ideas — by suppressing Sadr’s paper, instead of simply pointing out its mistakes and errors in another paper, or caricaturing him, or doing the thousand things that occur in democracies — when I see the CPA cynically outlaw militias while simultaneously paying Chalabi to sustain his — then I have to say that constructive proceeding sounds suspiciously like the rhetoric that used to be used in the Soviet Union — a rhetoric that promotes an ever onward to a greater goal, and underneath that rhetoric insinuates the beady eyes and the paid enthusiasms of the secret police.

This is brilliant and constructive criticism: the CPA should have attacked Sadr’s newspaper in democratic fashion. I would not call your criticism “empty”. Rather, it offers constructive advice; or, phrased better, an analysis of what went wrong tactically coupled with an implicit suggestion of how to avoid it in the future. In this case: combat newspapers, caricature newspapers, but do not suppress them.

What I don’t understand is how your argument above — with such a fine beginning — derailed into a comparison with the Soviet Union (particularly rich coming from one who castigates pro-war people for using too many WWII analogies — yes, I read and enjoy your blog, and read your comments elsewhere).

Constructive proceeding does not mean restricting your vision to the future only. Constructive proceeding is wholly absorbed in analyzing past faults in order to push forward enlightened. The Soviet police system sent constructive critics to rot and freeze in Kolyma. The CPA does not; the CPA responds, it is reactive, it has changed its course enough times to vex both pro and anti-war camps.

Roger, I’ve noticed in your writing that you consider us all bystanders in this reconstruction effort. Paul Bremer and Co. are running along waging “Bush’s war”, not our war, entirely insulated from criticism. This is a fundamental disagreement of ours: through your lens the CPA is an opaque monolith you have no control over; through mine, the CPA is subject to democratic pressure, and is deserving of any critique that ventures away from empty doom and gloom — including yours above.

30

roger 04.11.04 at 5:24 am

Wow – you’ve actually read my blog? I’ve increased my readership by 25 percent, then.

As to the comparison with the Soviet Union — actually, I think there is a deepseated community of vision between Leninism and the CPA. In both, there is a disregard for the plurality and specificity of culture, for the situations in which activity is embedded, in favor of the idea that human beings can be fundamentally re-engineered — we’ll just make Americans out of Iraqis. And when this is objected to, the objection is beaten down by saying, surely you aren’t saying that Iraqis aren’t capable of democracy? When of course the objection is quite different — it is that an unelected, unrepresentative force is incapable of installing it, and incapable of understanding the culture in which they are installing it. Democracies aren’t synthesized in laboratories, and handed out in pill form to a grateful populace. At best, the CPA can help create the conditions that make for the people themselves creating representative legislature, an independent judiciary, and the right to contract. And what that means, further, is that progress isn’t a univocal and unidirectional process, defined by the occupiers.
This demands an extraordinary high level of trust in the occupiers — a trust that the last week has betrayed. It doesn’t take much to see what the Iraqis see — an army that claims to be ‘securing” Iraqi safety, and that responds cautiously and/or badly to the huge number of Iraqi civilian deaths (and to be more constructive, Rajeev — that has spent an astonishingly few resources trying to secure the ammunition dumps from which the bombers are getting their munitions — an elementary thing, one would think) but that responds massively and without measure to American deaths.
As to what to do… well, I thought I had a vague idea before this last week. Now I haven’t a clue.

31

Curtis Crawford 04.11.04 at 6:50 pm

Concerning the feasibility of planting democracy in Iraq, there was a lot for the US to learn from the British experience there after World War I. Following the battle described by Ferguson, Britain stayed, under a League of Nations mandate, until the early ’30s. But so far as I know, this history has received little or no attention in American public discussion.

How hard did the British try to introduce free and democratic institutions, such as a free press, plural political parties, independent courts, constitutional government? When Britain left, to what extent were such institutions in place? Why and how rapidly were they dismantled by the Iraqis? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I believe that if the public debate had asked and answered them well, an unnecessary, unjust invasion might have been prevented.

32

roger 04.11.04 at 7:09 pm

ps — Rajeev,
I’ve been thinking about the problem of distance you mentioned — that this is “our” problem, not just the CPAs. While it sounds obvious — okay, we are in this together — there is a problem with starting off like that. To my mind, the problem in Iraq is a vision problem — neither the CPA nor the American media have much concept of what “seeing like an Iraqi” means. True, they take funny polls, and Newspaper journalists, in the time honored way of newspaper journalists, commit bad sociology and interview random groups of Iraqis to see what they will say — usually with an interpreter telling them, and the story having some colorful decor, and no history. But something as simple as asking — what does it look like to an Iraqi that the US revenges its own deaths with a force a hundred times more powerful than it operates to revenge the death of the Iraqis who are supposedly being killed by “bandits” or Al Qaeda members — just never occurs to us. And the premise of that “our problem” embeds a deeper premise — that we are “well intentioned.” Myself, I think intentions are found on the ground, in what happens. And I certainly don’t think you will understand the vision thing if you pre-determine the terms with phrases like “well intentioned” — I presume, with Socrates, that everyone operates for the “good,” but the problem is: what is the “good”? Unfortunately, most of the mistakes of the CPA arise from that original premise of their good intentions, since it automatically means that those who oppose them have bad intentions. And against the bad intentioned you can do anything. Hence the completely stupid attempt to over-rule Sistani’s very reasonable suggestions about the constitution — at least, about the power accorded to a minority to block laws — and the elections.

33

Rajeev Advani 04.11.04 at 7:17 pm

Roger, regarding the CPA as a Leninist organization:

I think we need to do some reframing. The Sadrists and the former regime elements are more qualified for the Leninist appelation. In them we see a counter-revolution, a forcing of ideology with complete disregard for plurality and culture.

The CPA, thankfully, does not disregard plurality precisely because it is calling for elections. You make a distinction between

1) Granting democracy in pill form, and

2) Creating the foundations for democracy

You say the latter is possible but the former is not. I agree: the CPA will do its best to create a foundation, driven by faith that the Iraqi moderates will build a democracy upon it. In fact, that’s all the CPA has been doing; they have not been engaged in Leninist-style social engineering. There has not been any collectivizing, any forcing of Iraqis to the polls. By and the large the CPA is resting on the assumption that Iraqis know they want all this, unlike Lenin who believed Russians wanted it but didn’t know it yet.

Does this not dismantle the notion of the CPA as Leninist? Creating the groundwork for a system that respects plurality and allows for the mixing of cultures is certainly not motivated by an organization that suffers from a “disregard for the plurality and specificity of culture”.

In laying that groundwork, yes it does require extraordinary trust, and yes Bremer and Co. leave much to be desired. Specifically, they have not done enough to motivate (again, not force) Iraqi moderates of the democratic cause: perhaps their anti-Leninist assumption is too strong?

34

roger 04.12.04 at 2:19 am

Rajeev, I don’t really think think the set of conceptual dispositions that go into Leninism go into Sadrism — little as I know about the latter. The mindset that could justify taking away human rights in order to bring electrification to the countryside isn’t working with the same goals, or the same sense of history, that Sadr is — but again, I am not sure what Sadr is all about.

However, I do know certain things about installing democracy. For instance, I know that an essential ingredient of it is preserving the autonomy of the judiciary, and not using it as a tool of whatever rulers are in the executive branch. That form of selective punishment brings absolute discredit on the judiciary. It is a sign of a collapsing, and not a rising, regime. The way in which the CPA arranged the issuing of the murder charge against Sadr — holding it in secret for a long period of time in order to pressure him, and getting it from an Iraqi judge who is either completely blind or bribed, seeing as how accusing Sadr of the crimes of his militia, while the very Council contains at least two members — Chalabi and Abdul Azizal-Hakim, the head of Sciri — who have done the same things — is a classic instance of the selective use of the judiciary for political purposes. You shouldn’t do this. If the CPA begins to start trying, at least, to see like an Iraqi citizen, rather than a D.C. consultant, I do think they could avoid a lot of mistakes. It would have been better, even, to arbitrarily arrest Sadr as an enemy of the CPA, rather than dress that accusation up through the court system. That has taken an arbitrary act of force and made it into something worse — a symptom of corruption. What would you think, if, say, you were an Iraqi who had a runin with one of Chalabi’s militia men, about going to the court, now?

35

general townshend 04.12.04 at 4:18 am

Well, if you’re going to go back to 1920… why not go back just four more years to April 29, 1916?

36

Anthony 04.12.04 at 10:53 pm

Yet more wishful thinking Chris?

37

Rajeev Advani 04.13.04 at 3:26 am

Roger — about good intentions/bad intentions.

I’m sure you’ve heard this all before, but for me the facts on the ground also derive who has good intentions or bad intentions; or rather, who has better intentions and who has worse. With that, then, the premise that the CPA is well-intentioned is hardly objectionable: it is calling for elections, it has drawn up a liberal constitution, and most telling: it is not abandoning Iraq. Did the CPA have bad intentions, do you really think it would still be there right now? It’s will to remain in the country — for the purpose of establishing legitimate democracy — is unquestionably admirable. The CPA could, if desired, grant the pro-US Chalabi with supreme dictatorial control of the country while suppressing all dissent with less then precision-guided weaponry. Yet the CPA does not. This is, in my mind, the core problem with your theory — which I’ve read elsewhere — that the US fully intended on installing Chalabi immediately on April 9th, and was only daunted from doing so by the resistance. The US would have liked to install Chalabi initially, true, but within a framework of democracy. That goal remains today, as per facts on the ground.

Unfortunately, most of the mistakes of the CPA arise from that original premise of their good intentions, since it automatically means that those who oppose them have bad intentions. And against the bad intentioned you can do anything.

I don’t think you can reduce CPA operating strategy to this level. Yes, they failed to embrace Sistani, but let’s look at why: Article 61, as you say, that affords the Kurds with a veto. Who can say without question that the Kurds have not earned the right, over the past decade, to preserve what they already have? Not many — and so their veto power is a debatable point, and that debate can and has occurred between well-intentioned people, the CPA and Sistani. The CPA did not immediately classify Sistani as bad-intentioned; and they do not treat him as such. We see this clearly today: Sadr is branded and treated as an outlaw, Sistani is not. The CPA does distinguish degrees, here.

As per your second commment about the judiciary, I agree, and I think what we’re seeing is a servere divergence of opinion within the pro-war camp. The liberal interventionists, a la Fareed Zakaria, are arguing for increased troop size, greater respect for civil order and law, and the active use of these fresh new democratic institutions (similar to your call to caricature rather than shut down Sadr’s newspaper.) Meanwhile, the more traditional conservatives are calling for a more arbitrary and harsh approach: we need to wantonly display our force and power to get respect from moderate Iraqis. Mark Steyn’s latest piece, which I found repulsive, is fashioned in this vein. The existence of this emerging divide is why I’m so trigger-happy with regard to empty cynics: I don’t think they realize that their left-liberal ideals are within reach in Iraq, and that their constructive criticism is necessary to change the course of the CPA away from the likes of Steyn. (Another example of the latter approach came from Ralph Peters today, who wrote an article entitled “Drop the Hammer Now in Iraq.”) The goal of liberal interventionists has not been to support Bush’s war, but to co-opt the war as their own. Whether that’s destructively idealistic is another question…

BTW: You shouldn’t be surprised people read your blog, it’s certainly one of the best-written out there (you should add comments somehow)

38

roger 04.13.04 at 2:11 pm

Rajeev,
I have comments about what I think of as the “intentional fallacy” later, but first–

I’ve tried to add comments, but alas, every time I do, the weblog takes forever to load. Maybe I’ll try it again — this weekend. I changed the template, and maybe it will be easier.
Thanks for the advice.

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