Well There Goes the Weekend

by Scott McLemee on May 11, 2007

What’s that? You say there is a YouTube channel devoted to discussing the implications of the Euston Manifesto?

Hot damn! I’ll make popcorn.



Randy Paul 05.12.07 at 1:32 am

What? You couldn’t schedule a prostate exam or root canal instead?


Adam Kotsko 05.12.07 at 3:07 am

I honestly thought that the only thing it had going for it was its complete and utter lack of implications.


blog 05.12.07 at 3:57 am

Their main function seems to be as apologists for a brutal occupation. They are as bad as the apologists for Milosevic whom they presume to judge.


blog 05.12.07 at 4:21 am

If the middle east had no oil no one would give a damn about its internal affairs. We all know this. So who are these people trying to fool with their bleeding heart on their sleeves humanitarianism?


talboito 05.12.07 at 5:08 am

Does anyone else find it strange to see political electees engaging in a theoretical roundtable discussion? This would never happen in America.

Of course the Euston Manifesto implies that a certain sort of lunacy has escaped the luxurious confines of the American Enterprise Institute and associated venues.


DaveH 05.12.07 at 6:04 am

Would someone please tell me, in 25 words or less, what the Euston Manifesto is?


elliott oti 05.12.07 at 9:55 am

Would someone please tell me, in 25 words or less, what the Euston Manifesto is?
“We, the undersigned, are too sexy for our shirts, so sexy it hurts.”


joejoejoe 05.12.07 at 10:43 am

Shorter Euston: Damn the data, full speed interventionism ahead!


Hidari 05.12.07 at 10:49 am

‘Would someone please tell me, in 25 words or less, what the Euston Manifesto is?’

Following up from Elliott’s attempt:

‘I don’t need to sell my soul

he (Tony Blair, presumably) is already in me

I wanna be adored…..

I wanna i wanna i wanna be adored….’


‘Take my hand,
I’ve changed my mind again
Really, I believed it true

But I was wrong…
Take my hand,
Don’t think of hesitation…

Ta ra ra ra ra ra
Ta ra ra ra ra ra’

Or more simply;

‘Now I’m ready to close my eyes
Now I’m ready to close my mind
Now I’m ready to feel the hand
To lose my heart in the burnin’ sands

Cos now I wanna be your dog……’

Any clearer now?


Flying Rodent 05.12.07 at 12:56 pm

Would someone please tell me, in 25 words or less, what the Euston Manifesto is?

“We, the undersigned, are the final moral arbiters of civilisation, and those who deviate even slightly from our diktats are terrorist-lovers and fascists.”


PooterGeek 05.12.07 at 4:00 pm

Would someone please tell me, in 25 words or less, what the Euston Manifesto is?

I can do it in fewer than ten:

It’s the World’s most powerful tin-foil hat detector.

To save the commenters here from having to run through more of the usual deranged comparisons, here’s a fun round-up of just a few of the crazy rants provoked by this “implication free” document ,most of them, like the comments above I presume, quotes from members of the English-speaking world’s fine higher education establishments:

“I’m the first to agree that there are many, many, dreadful things happening in the world at the moment. The natural reaction of most people is to want to end this suffering… but are we right to? Within living memory us Europeans were butchering each other by the million. After centuries of this conflict, we’ve, hopefully, realised that it’s futile and we live in peace with protected human rights. Are we right to deny other societies this learning process?

The Euston Manifesto calls for nothing short of what happened in 1938 Germany. Placed back in that time, this piece of work would have called for support of the actions of Adolf Hitler.”

“I have a long and tedious post in the works about The Euston Manifesto and just why it’s a dangerous pro-capitalist tract dressed up as a harmless load of wet western wank (to borrow a phrase from my erstwhile lecturer in political philosophy).”

“I will not sign it, because I strongly believe that an ‘overthrow of Baathist government’ cannot be applauded on any level at all if it was not begun and wholly supported by the Iraqi people themselves. The US actions in Iraq are the same as in Vietnam, just on a smaller scale”

You can enjoy more here:


Daniel Davies, one of your co-bloggers, likes to accuse the Euston Manifesto’s authors of being “dishonest”. He’s yet to provide any evidence for this claim, so it’s pleasing that he is caught out lying immediately below the blog post I cite. (This upset the poor man so much he suggested elsewhere—again with no evidence—that I’d tinkered with his comments to make him look stupid; as if it required that much effort to make him look stupid, as if I could be bothered.)


Michael Bérubé 05.12.07 at 4:08 pm

Oh, I dunno about all this sneering and skepticism. I thought the “sing a Michael Ignatieff medley in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan” competition (top row, fourth video from the left) was pretty entertaining. Of course, Scott’s yummy popcorn was nice too.


Adam Kotsko 05.12.07 at 4:49 pm

There is a special room in hell reserved for the “decent left.” It’s just an empty room — the idea is that the combined smugness will be unbearable. I’m skeptical, given the high tolerance for smugness these people have demonstrated thus far, but I wasn’t on the committee.


Scott McLemee 05.12.07 at 5:16 pm

It’s the carmel that makes it so good.


The Next to Last Pope 05.12.07 at 5:32 pm

Euston Manifesto (bats right, throws right) played for the Giants from 1963 to 1967, when he was traded to the Reds for a couple of relief pitchers who never amounted to much. He hit .307 that season for Cincy and was runner up for Gold Glove at short stop. Injuries plagued him in the following season and he was sent down to the minors for the balance of year. He was traded to Pittsburgh the following year in a multi-team swap involving 18 other players. He hit a pathetic .181 through June when he was benched for a rookie phenom the Pirates had paid a signing bonus of over $5,000,000, big bucks in those days. He was sent back to the minors where knee trouble finally ended his career two years later. Today, he runs a successful line of dry cleaning establishments in the Orlando, Florida area.


ben wolfson 05.12.07 at 7:20 pm

The real story here is that Scott writes “hot damn” instead of “hot damn“, as if to differentiate precisely which sort of damn has got him so het up.


ben wolfson 05.12.07 at 7:22 pm

The other real story here is that the “smart quotes” system CT’s got running is so incredibly stupid that if you put a comma after what ought to be a close-quotation mark, it thinks “quotation mark followed by a printing character—must be an opening!”. I wonder if it’ll do the same to the mark followed by a period in the previous sentence…


Adam Kotsko 05.12.07 at 8:00 pm

Ben, My hypothesis is that it was thrown off by the close-italic tag.


ben wolfson 05.12.07 at 8:05 pm

Let’s find out!



ben wolfson 05.12.07 at 8:05 pm

Looks as if you were right.


Adam Kotsko 05.12.07 at 9:50 pm

The scientific method triumphs again!


hallam 05.13.07 at 2:34 am

The useless manifesto: A foreign policy based on equal measures of wishfull thinking and capitulation to the populist notions of Conservative student drinking societies.

Its basically one of those ‘anyone who objects to anything Israel does is an anti-Semite’ outfits’.

They are not necessarily pro-Iraq war but they reserved the right to be condesending to anyone who points out that its an utter fiasco.

They are for human rights but not for taking a stand againt Gitmo or the use of torture.

Their intellectual argument is essentially a 2000’s version of the ‘why don’t you complain about the USSR instead’ riff that the right used to use in the 1980s to rebutt all criticism of Piniochet, Apartheid or any of their other pet causes.


roger 05.13.07 at 2:50 am

As much as they want to disguise it, the guys who wrote the Euston manifesto were thinking of Whitney Houston. They were inspired by this passage in the American Psycho movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkledi3bAE – in particular, Norman Geras found the inspiration for many of the most stirring passages in the manifesto from Patrick Bateman’s own paen to The Greatest Love of All, a ‘universal message that crosses all boundaries.”


bad Jim 05.13.07 at 7:47 am

To the extent that the Euston Manifesto is reduced to saying of the ensuing fiasco, “I MEANT to do that,” we can look forward to chuckling to ourselves whenever we remember it.


ejh 05.13.07 at 9:36 am

There’s a much better pub in Euston anyway. But why have they changed its name?


Hidari 05.13.07 at 10:01 am

I think the Euston Manifesto has justified itself by Ben Wolfson and Adam Kotsko’s scientific discovery. Someone should write to Nick Cohen and tell him.


Luis Enrique 05.13.07 at 12:02 pm

I really am baffled by the accusation that the Euston manifesto lot are smug. Isn’t smugness plainly rather more common among the ‘we knew we were right all along’ crowd? One or two commenters on this website certainly aren’t short on it.

I mean if I had supported the Iraq war on the basis that I hoped it would improve the lives of the Iraqis, I’d be feeling anything but smug now, but rather horrified. Not to mentioned that a fair few Eustonites did not support the war, although that point seems to be hand-waved away.

And taking cracks at them for thinking that they are the moral arbitors etc., for Christ sake, surely that’s self evidently an incoherant criticism – anybody with a moral point of view can be accused of that, the Euston’s opponents just as easily.

For what it’s worth, I see no reason to doubt the sincerity of those Eustonites who did support the invasion, nor quite why their humanitarian motives should be sneered at quite so much, notwithstanding the fact that they turned out to be spectacularly wrong about the invasion of Iraq achieving what they’d hoped of it. No doubt a non-smug commentator will be along in a moment to point out how any idiot could have predicted it would end in disaster (after all, very many idiots did), but perhaps the world is a little harder to foresee than it is to pick apart in hindsight.

I think that the Eustonites make some good points in their criticisms of much of the popular expression of ‘anti-war’ opinion, (the Nick Cohen, Hitchens arguments), and I think that not being prepared to see any merit in their arguments (and just to just deride them – and to not see past the fact that they were wrong about Iraq) does not reflect very well on anybody. That is to say, I think ‘your’ attitude towards them stinks, if I may address some of you collectively. Childish, point scoring, closed minded – and some of you are supposedly truth seeking academics too. Tsk, shame on you – go away and read some Popper and Feynman, and come back when you’ve got a bit more of a generous intellectual attitude.

For what it’s worth too, I am not a Euston signatory.


elliott oti 05.13.07 at 3:20 pm

I mean if I had supported the Iraq war on the basis that I hoped it would improve the lives of the Iraqis, I’d be feeling anything but smug now, but rather horrified.

What respect do you want to be shown to those, whose first reaction to the absolute hell that the Iraqi war has meant for millions of people, is to draw up a pompous “manifesto” championing the cause of “liberal” interventionism and throw back-handed sneers at popular leftist expression of anti-war sentiment? Where on earth do they get the chutzpah from, that they are not only unable to shut their yaps for a couple of years until Iraq fades into general international obscurity, but have to openly and publicly wave a damn manifesto while the IEDs are still exploding?

Really, I want to know why, for instance, Chomsky gets so much flack from the “decent left”, while the lying, murderous pack of warmongers leading the US-UK coalition gets TV time, newspaper op-ed space, think-tank positions, and respectful “civil” attention from the Euston signatories?


martin Wisse 05.13.07 at 3:31 pm

So I read this as ” YouTube channel devoted to discussing the implications of the Eurovision contest” and that actually made more sense.


ejh 05.13.07 at 3:57 pm

I mean if I had supported the Iraq war on the basis that I hoped it would improve the lives of the Iraqis, I’d be feeling anything but smug now, but rather horrified.

You might very well. The Eustonites, however, plainly are not, which means that your point makes no sense.

As for having a generous intellectual attitude – oh, please. Given that the Eustonites’ whole purpose is to describe their opponents as anti-Semites and apologists for fascism, what would be the point? You’re looking through the telescope very much from the wrong end.


dsquared 05.13.07 at 4:00 pm

The reason it makes sense to give the Eustonies some stick is that they were the ones who decided that it was OK to behave like that. They wrote their manifesto when it was already obvious that Iraq was a disaster, and they said that they weren’t interested in “picking over the rubble” (a phrase I am going to continue to remind them of, because it was so disgusting) and that anyone who was interested in trying to establish some political consequences for this failure was in some way morally deficient.

They decided that it was OK to call people sympathisers with fascists, and they used a very broad brush when doing so. They decided they could do without Amnesty International and the United Nations (the only organisations criticised by name), because it was going to be the USA sorting everything out from now on. They were very keen on throwing around the accusations of anti-Semitism at anyone who didn’t agree with them about Israel. Now they want respect and serious treatment from us?

Fuck a bunch of that. There are plenty of people taking out a similar position on humanitarian interventionism to the Euston mob who didn’t act like such a petulant little bunch of wankers (hey guess what? Michael Bérubé is one of them and he has recently joined Crooked Timber!). Just as there ought to be political consequences for the people who made the disastrous misjudgement to invade Iraq, there have to be some consequences for the Euston Manifesto crowd for the unpleasant and uncomradely way they chose to carry out politics.


Adam Kotsko 05.13.07 at 5:27 pm

I love it when people drop into comment threads and act like the conversation always has to be carried out starting absolutely from scratch. (Come now, don’t be so dismissive! Let’s hear these people out!)

I wrote a little something about such attitudes in relation to jury duty in the US.


roger 05.13.07 at 8:05 pm

As part of that humanitarian surge in Iraq that drove so many people of good will to support the war, Nir Rosen’s article on the nearly two million refugees from the war has some eyeopening quotes – things that surely Nick Cohen’s comrades of the left, ever mindful that you have to break some eggs, can get behind. I particularly enjoyed this paragraph about the refugee situation form John Bolton:

“What I find most disturbing,” Bacon went on to say, “is that there seems to be no recognition of the problem by the president or top White House officials.” But John Bolton, who was undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration, and later ambassador to the United Nations, offers one explanation for this lack of recognition: it is not a crisis, and it was not triggered by American action. The refugees, he said, have “absolutely nothing to do with our overthrow of Saddam.

“Our obligation,” he [Bolton] told me this month at his office in the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, “was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don’t think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war.” Bolton likewise did not share the concerns of Bacon [an expert on refugee crises] and others that the refugees would become impoverished and serve as a recruiting pool for militant organizations in the future. “I don’t buy the argument that Islamic extremism comes from poverty,” he said. “Bin Laden is rich.” Nor did he think American aid could alleviate potential anger: “Helping the refugees flies in the face of received logic. You don’t want to encourage the refugees to stay. You want them to go home. The governments don’t want them to stay.”

Luckily, though Bolton was forced out by sympathizers of the islamofascist way, Rosen quotes Bush’s undersecretaries of state for dealing with refugees as agreeing with him. Nothing like getting people, in a humane but firm manner, to go back to a place where they will be killed by bullet, explosive, dental drill, etc. It is, after all, the price they pay for the democracy we brought them. And they should be damn grateful.


blog 05.13.07 at 8:23 pm

I think also that one has to beware of a blueprint for a modus operandi in the manifesto. If there is no humanitirian justification for an intevention, and the West’s vital or strategic interests just happen to be coincidentally involved, then just drum up one. The former Yugoslavia is a case in point. Create an humanitarian crisis then present yourself as the only solution. We should be on the lookout for this modus operandi in the future. They’ve done it before, they will not hesitate to do it again.


Neil Morrison 05.13.07 at 8:33 pm

“…there have to be some consequences for the Euston Manifesto crowd for the unpleasant and uncomradely way they chose to carry out politics.”

Since those consequences at CT only entail childish petulance I fail to see the point. Having looked thru what the Eustonites have written and what gets written by their opponents my conclusion is that it’s their opponents who spend more time obsessively denigrating those they disagree with.


blog 05.13.07 at 8:54 pm

The Eustonites condemn themselves, no one has to do it for them. These are the same types who would sneer contemptuously at any apology for Milosevic. But they are apologizing for a far greater injustice in Iraq and therefore they are their own judges.


dsquared 05.13.07 at 8:55 pm

Thanks for sharing, Neil.


Randy Paul 05.13.07 at 11:03 pm

What Daniel said at 31 and what blog said at 36. Daniel’s post, I might add, is probably the pithiest and most accurate criticism of the Eustonites I have read.


blog 05.13.07 at 11:28 pm

If the Eustonites were to be judged by the same standards that they applied to Milosevic they would all be tried by a so-called international court and sent to prison.


OHenry 05.13.07 at 11:29 pm

Well, if we’re being called on to vote here, mine goes to Luis Enrique’s summary in #27 and, to a lesser degree, Neil Morrison’s in #35. I don’t think I’d sign the Euston Manifesto myself but I’m beginning to suspect that its authors must be doing something right to keep arousing the defensiveness of the usual suspects above.


blog 05.13.07 at 11:37 pm

Aopologizing for people who have commited far worse actions than the people they themselves have previously judged to be criminals is doing something right? You have a strange sense of right and wrong.


blog 05.14.07 at 1:49 am

Ohenry’s point seems to be that you can hypocriticly endorse that which you have previously labelled as a categorical evil and yet you are still doing something right as long as you are pissing off the opposition. Pissing off the opposition automatically entails that you are right even the opposition might actually be in the right. I propose a name for this novel logical fallacy-Ohenry’s fallacy.


blog 05.14.07 at 2:00 am

Here is the structure of Ohenry’s fallacy:

The opposition is pissed off;

Ergo I am right.

That’s a nifty logical argument, isn’t it?


roger 05.14.07 at 2:12 am

If Ohenry is deciding that he supports a foreign policy involving moving American troops into countries pre-emptively because of a string of comments on a blog that he doesn’t like, then I imagine foreign policy is not his forte. Deciding whether the Britney or Christina lunch box is cuter, that’s his forte. Go for Christina, Ohenry. Be bold.


Michael Bérubé 05.14.07 at 3:13 am

Isn’t smugness plainly rather more common among the ‘we knew we were right all along’ crowd?

Sometimes, Luis. There’s no monopoly on smugness in all this mess. For the record, I got a couple of things seriously wrong about five years ago, not that anyone’s asked. As of May 2002, I didn’t think Hitchens was going to go so far as to support war in Iraq, let alone degenerate to the point at which he would call the Dixie Chicks “fucking fat slags” a year later; later that year, I mistakenly identified Michael Walzer as a member of the prowar left, and I regret that to this day, because Walzer is, of all the Euston signatories, the one I respect most (he was also remarkably gracious in informing me, in the fall of 2002, that he considered the war foolish and unnecessary); and most of all, I would never have believed on May 13, 2002 that on May 13, 2007, the New York Times‘ lead headline would be “Civilian Deaths Undermine Allies’ War on Taliban”. I was kinda hoping that the “allies” would understand the importance of not losing Afghanistan to the Taliban all over again. But apparently they had other ideas.

I took my little swipe at Ignatieff above, though, because I think the people who applied the idea of “humanitarian intervention” to this pre-emptive war managed to trash the principle they were championing. (Likewise Jean Bethke Elshtain, who argued that Iraq was a “just” war. Though Walzer, who wrote the book on the subject, knew better.) The fact that the Eustonites now have themselves a series of YouTube episodes on “intervention after Iraq” is a little galling — though, with a tip of the hat to Daniel in 31 (with whom I disagree on Kosovo and Budweiser both), not quite so galling as that line about “picking over the rubble.” Especially since the rubble is still bouncing as we speak.


blog 05.14.07 at 3:55 am

Let’s ask the Eustonites this. Would they have applied their bleeding heart humanitarianism to the Shah of Iran or Pinochet? Of course not. They are vile hypocrites.


OHenry 05.14.07 at 4:20 am

As it happens, I spoke at an anti-war teach-in in 2002 but would dearly have liked to be proven wrong in my reasons for opposing the Iraq intervention (wrong war, wrong time, especially wrong actors). As did, apparently, some of the Euston Manifesto authors. But isn’t it interesting how readily (reflexively?) abhoring the violence in Iraq –by ALL parties– is regarded as “apologizing for people who have commited far worse actions than the people they themselves have previously judged to be criminals”? Tlön anyone?


blog 05.14.07 at 4:30 am

If the Eustonites would just admit that self-interest is at the bottom of all foreign policy, no one would have any problem with them. An honest debate could commence. We could determine exactly whose self-interest was at stake and who would be dying for the sake of those interests. But no. They have to dress up their self-interest in all kinds of fancy clothes, obscuring the ugliness beneath and making a mockery of the debate. As one astute British commentator said after Blair’s last speech-Sick bowls, on the quick.


blog 05.14.07 at 4:34 am

They abhored the violence in the former Yugoslavia as well and then imprisoned Milosevic for it. Why are they now excusing and apologizing for far worse crimes in Iraq?


roger 05.14.07 at 4:46 am

Smugness isn’t the response to being right – rage is. Right means shit – it hasn’t yet moved a single U.S. soldier out of Iraq, it hasn’t produced a single peace conference between sides in Iraq, it hasn’t prevented Cheney and Co. from trying to steamroll the theft of Iraqi oil fields in the new “reform” law, it hasn’t prevented the massive flight of Iraqis across borders into places like Syria which, unlike the “humanitarian intervenors” who never saw a crowd a boat people they didn’t haul back to where the came from, have welcomed almost a million refugees, it hasn’t prevented the U.S. administration from making it clear that it would dearly like to expand the war into Iran, it hasn’t prevented the Prime Minister of England from making a fatuous tour of the Gulf autocracies, including Saudi Arabia(!) talking up a “democratic” coalition against Iran, it hasn’t prevented the U.S. media from presenting the war as one in which the U.S. is fighting for democracy itself, or blandly ignoring the contradiction when the only elected body in Iraq, the parliament, rustles up a majority to support a timetable of American withdrawal – being right has basically meant making fun of the monkey see crowd of the Euston Manifesto, which isn’t even a consolation prize, because they are such eminent passive aggressive, warmongering idiots, and the film of themselves fumbling around as though they were going to spread democracy among the poor natives of some benighted land is either screamingly funny or an all too poignant satire on the mangled bodies in the Baghdad streets. Being right is so far from being smug that one can only wake up every day with a blacker and blacker view of the U.S.A., a country that has devolved from democracy to plutocracy to rouge nation before all of our eyes, seemingly determined to race China to the goalposts on all the important things: number of people in prison, number of systematic violations of human rights, number of lies uttered in the course of the average day by the putzes who lead it, number of well paid media personalities willing to blow smoke up their own assholes, if not anybody else’s, about what a wonderful country it is as they oil and butter another massacre of civilians in Afghanistan, or is it Anbar province this time? This benign hegemon is a joke. And of course the U.S. has kept Al Qaeda on tap in Pakistan so that we can continue our long long long war, cause surely they’ve had enough time and peace over there in Waziristan to come up with something good, something worth keeping that 500 billion a year going to the Department of Perpetual War, unless of course – they’ve decided they couldn’t top what the U.S. is doing itself. Don’t mess with success could be their motto.


blog 05.14.07 at 4:47 am

Apparently Ohenry thinks that crocodile tears of bleeding heart abhorrence is the same as applying the same intemperate standards that they applied to Milosevic. If they had not applied that intemperate judgement, they would not now be forced to apply the same intemperate standard to their own. They made their own bed and now they refuse to lie in it. Ohenry finds this commendable.


Hidari 05.14.07 at 11:47 am

According to Lenin’s Tomb, Nick Cohen isn’t the Messiah after all….he’s a very naughty boy.

‘Nich Cohen, lately responsible for a lengthy published rant deriding the left for its opposition to the war in Iraq, has been given a dressing down by his mother for being politically incorrect. Well, it was more than that actually. She gave him a slapping.

Mum Maggie was seriously upset at being called a Stalinist in the opening pages of nasty Nick’s book. Not least because, when the Cohen family last gathered together to enjoy a jolly Christmas, cowardly Nick failed to mention the reference, or even the book.

Maggie, a lifelong leftie, could not contain her feelings when she next saw her son. Although diminuitive to Nick’s beanstalk proportions, she let him have one round the chops. “In all the years they were growing up I never hit the children,” Maggie recently told friends. “Now I have to go and do it when he is grown up.”‘


Conor Foley 05.14.07 at 1:21 pm

Euston is not alone in blurring the distinction between liberal and humanitarian interventions. Virtually all of the Guardian’s in-house columnists do it as well. I think that a lot of people are genuinely confused.

What is uniquely destructive about Euston is that its supporters simultaneously claim to support the cause of human rights and humanitarianism while attacking its ‘actual existing’ institutions.

On the one hand Amnesty International, the UN and humanitarian agencies are maligned as useless’, ‘biased’, ‘accomplices to mass murder’ etc. but, on the other, the Eustonites arguments for humanitarian interventions, in certain circumstances, discredit genuine humanitarians by associating these with the cause of liberal imperialism.

It is a modern day version of Trotskyist entryism.


harry b 05.14.07 at 2:44 pm

Isn’t smugness plainly rather more common among the ‘we knew we were right all along’ crowd?

Well, yes, probably. The mores around these things are difficult. The Iraq war was obviously a very bad idea when it started, and it was obviously going to go wrong. Some of those who said so would have said so no matter what. Others actually calibrated their views to something close to the reality. They have been proved right, and continue to be proved right. I suggest, for example, that you read dsquared’s writings in the lead up to and beginning of the war. Continuing to be right, as things go along, and continuing to get flack for it, one must be tempted to point backwards and say, “Ah, but look, I was right last week, and the week before, and…all the way going back to the beginning and, well, you were wrong”. This is bound to sound smug. Whereas “Look, I know I’ve been wrong, spectacularly so, over and over again about this thing, but now I really am right” is bound to sound silly. If you want to condemn, say, dsquared, for being smug, well, despite roger’s absolutely proper condemnation of smugness in this situation, he must surely be a little bit smug, but there but for the grace of God and but for my inability to analyse the situation with judgment and accuracy, go I, and you too.


abb1 05.14.07 at 3:25 pm

Does it mean that only those who “calibrated their views” were right and those who “would have said so no matter what” were sorta like a broken clock being right twice a day?

I haven’t been watching dsquared specifically, but I got the impression that he evolved from “not this war now” to “no wars of aggression ever”, or IOW, from “calibrated views” to “no matter what”.


Glorious Godfrey 05.15.07 at 9:19 am

The Decents have been insulting everybody’s intelligence about the manifold motivations for the war from the beginning. And yet their attitude and that of the pro-war camp in general have been all too revealing.

That is, vae victis has always been the motto.

Bill Kristol and the other neocons have often bragged about their ability to “move the goalposts” of acceptable political discourse. The Iraq war was meant to bring about an epochal shift, in America and beyond.

The Decents knew, and intended to position themselves as the only legitimate leftist intellectuals on the new playing field. Even the presence of a few token anti-war Eustonites is to be seen in the light of this.

In the face of the illegality of this war of choice, of the disaster it has led to, are people going to stop breathing down their necks, just for the sake of not being “smug”?


Glorious Godfrey 05.15.07 at 9:42 am

So, Daveh at #6, I think that a good short characterization of the Eustonites would be:

– It was going to be “the winner takes all” in the wake of Iraq. We fucked up but, by God, are we sticking to our guns.

26 words.

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