Historical revisionism

by Henry Farrell on July 17, 2003

Two strikingly similar mischaracterizations of opposition to the war today, from different sources. The “NYT”:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/17/international/worldspecial/17BLAI.html?hp quotes an unnamed British official as saying of Iraq and Afghanistan:

bq. There is this myth that these countries don’t want freedom, and that Saddam or the Taliban are popular, but then it becomes apparent that they were not at all popular after they fall.

And “Instapundit”:http://www.instapundit.com/archives/010537.php quotes at length from a New York Post “article”:http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/774.htm that says:

bq. This chorus [a mixture of Arab and Western newspapers, and _Time_ magazine] wants us to believe that most Iraqis regret the ancien regime, and are ready to kill and die to expel their liberators. Sorry, guys, this is not the case. … ONE fact is that a visitor to Iraq these days never finds anyone who wants Saddam back.

Now I don’t know whether this is a flash in the pan, or a new talking-point in the making, but either way it’s bogus. It implies that opponents of the war believed that Iraqis were happy with Saddam, and that Afghans liked the Taliban – thus, their criticisms of what’s happening now can safely be ignored. The fact that no-one outside the lunatic fringe (and perhaps a couple of Arab newspapers) actually makes this claim is irrelevant. When your opponents have arguments that you can’t answer, you don’t try to answer them – instead you construct a straw man and start clobbering the bejesus out of that, in the hope of confusing innocent bystanders.

Critics aren’t arguing that the Iraqi people are begging Saddam to return, at least not the ones that I’m reading. They’re dissecting the deceptive claims that were made by Bush et al. in the run-up to the war. They’re looking closely at the lurching disaster that is post-war Iraq – a far cry from the smooth and easy transition to democracy that the administration seemed to be promising. They’re asking about the lasting damage that the US has done to its relationship with its allies. And I’m not hearing much in the way of a convincing response from the pro-war crowd.

Kicking Against the Brights

by Brian on July 17, 2003

Michael Rea, a philosopher at Notre Dame, has posted a reply to Daniel Dennett’s ‘brights’ Op-Ed, complete with a reply from Dennett and a counter-reply from Rea.

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