Trahisons des Clercs

by Henry Farrell on August 12, 2005

Eugene Volokh “responds”: (or so I take it; for some reason he doesn’t provide a link) to Ted’s post below by requesting that his readers send in instances of “Western commentators who defend the Iraqi insurgents, or at least justify their actions as being a supposed campaign for self-determination, allegedly justifiable rage at Western misbehavior, and so on.” Fair enough, to an extent. As one of his commenters notes, he’s moved the goalposts from Taranto’s quite specific “those Westerners who side with the ‘Iraqi resistance’ against America and its allies” to a much more ambiguous category of statements, but perhaps he feels that there’s a “slippery slope”: leading from the latter to the former style of argumentation. In any event, in the spirit of Eugene’s appeal, I’d like to put out one of my own. I’d like instances in which commentators make egregious claims that a substantial section of those who opposed the war are, in fact, rooting for the other side. As per Eugene’s rules, please provide the name and brief description of the person (who should be a journalist, official or famous person), the exact quote, and the URL at which the original article is to be found. This _Dolchstosslegende_ style hitjob on the vast realist-liberal-internationalist-conspiracy, by famous neo-conservative intellectual, Norman Podhoretz in the February 2005 issue of _Commentary_, URL “”: is the kind of thing I’m looking for.

bq. Before November 2, some realists had feared that Bush’s reelection would, in Hendrickson’s words, “confirm and ratify the revolutionary changes he has introduced to U.S. strategy.” Having calmed down a bit since then, they are now hoping to avert the apocalypse through another possible outcome that some of them envisaged before November 2: namely, that “once revolutionary zeal collides with hard reality, . . . the Bush policies . . . will end in tears.”

bq. One can only admire Hendrickson’s candor in admitting what is usually hotly denied: that even many leading realists, along with many liberal internationalists, are rooting for an American defeat. Direct action not being their style, they will not participate in the “mass demonstrations and civil disobedience” advocated by Tom Hayden, who advises following the playbook of the “peace” movement of the 60’s (of which he was one of the chief organizers) as the way to get us out of Iraq. But neither will they sit back passively and wait for “hard reality” to ensure that the Bush Doctrine “ends in tears.”

bq. Instead of taking to the streets, the realists and the liberal internationalists will go back to their word processors and redouble their ongoing efforts to turn public opinion against the Bush Doctrine. Mainly they will try to do so by demonstrating over and over again that the doctrine is already failing its first great encounter with “hard reality” in Iraq.

(Podhoretz is here patching together quotes from a review article in a deliberately mendacious fashion to make it appear as if the article’s author is saying things that he very clearly is not. For the article which he is abusing, see “here”: and especially the last two paragraphs; for a response by the article’s author to Podhoretz, see “here”)

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Crooked Timber » » And rams them down your throat
11.09.05 at 10:36 am



Brendan 08.12.05 at 12:56 pm

Do commentators on blogs count?

‘As we on the right have been telling you guys repeatedly for some time now, the Guardian (and the Independent) are now in bed with the 7th century medievalists. They have long since went (sic) beyond “useful idiots”.If it was 1940, and the guardian wrote in the same fawning way about the nazis as it does about the islamofascists, the Guardian would have been shut-down and its staff put on trial for treason.’

Posted by Morgoth at August 12, 2005 09:36 AM

Morgoth on Harry’s place.

I might point out that whereas anyone criticising the logic or actions of the ‘decent left’ almost immediately has to face a barrage of abuse from the people who run the blog, before the inevitable ban, Morgoth has, to the best of my knowledge, rarely if ever been criticised, although he is by any standards an extreme right wing loonbat.

Or ‘Old Peculiar’ on the same thread:

‘the Guardian appears to have got into bed with radical Islam and reactionary forces’.

‘The BBC. The Indie. The Mirror

That would be a start(i.e. to be tried for treason).

Again, if the BBC or C4 tried their current islamic-arse-licking in a WW2 context (“Don’t panic, I’m a Nazi!”) they would have been shot.’

Morgoth again.

Before Harry’s Place regulars start to complain, I am well aware that Morgoth’s and Old Peculiar’s views are sometimes criticised by other commentators, but rarely if ever by the people who actually run the blog.

‘You see, the rage and hatred is a proxy for the snivelling wet fish of the Guardian who dont have the guts themselves to indulge in rapture in the face of the the 9/11 slaughter in the face of the US ambassador themselves – oh they want to do it.‘ (italics added).

Luke on the same threat, sorry thread.

And so on………


Henry 08.12.05 at 1:02 pm

Nope, sorry – no cigar. Like Eugene, I’m looking for people with a voice, not random wingnuts.


Cranky Observer 08.12.05 at 1:03 pm

I am no fan of Armando, but this post is worth reading to get the comments extracted from If your stomach can handle reading them.Cranky


Richard Bellamy 08.12.05 at 1:14 pm

Having just quoted Nicholas DeGenova on the Volokh thread, I come over here for the inimitable David Horowitz’s response.

“During this anti-war protest led by 30 members of the Columbia faculty, one of the professors, Nicholas DeGenova declared that every honest opponent of the Iraq War should want America to lose, and that for his own part he wished for “a million Mogadishus.” . . .The negative reaction to DeGenova’s statement was so strong that the Columbia organizers, led by Eric Foner, the leftist chairman of Columbia’s leftist History Department, immediately distanced themselves from DeGenova’s image. . . .
The immediate effect of Foner’s gesture was to obscure how universally DeGenova’s actual view of the war – which led to the impolitic remark — was shared by those present, including Foner himself.


Richard Bellamy 08.12.05 at 1:20 pm

Daniel Pipes is also a DeGenova generalizer, although he limits himself to “professors”, not the entire “left”:

“Such sentiments coming from leading lights of the Columbia professorate suggest that De Genova fits very well into his institution. He just made the mistake of blurting out the logical conclusion of the anti-Americanism forwarded by some of his colleagues.

This self-hatred points to an intellectual crisis at a school long considered one of the country’s best. Alumni, parents of students and other friends of the university should first acknowledge this reality, then take steps to fix it.”


Shelby 08.12.05 at 1:21 pm

Richard, does your quotation of Horowitz really constitute an egregious claim[] that a substantial section of those who opposed the war are, in fact, rooting for the other side? As you present it, Horowitz contends “those present” at a single event had that view. Or is he just refering to the 30 faculty members? Either way it’s not aimed at “a substantial section of those who opposed the war”.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 1:23 pm

“Western commentators who defend the Iraqi insurgents, or at least justify their actions as being a supposed campaign for self-determination, allegedly justifiable rage at Western misbehavior, and so on.”

I’m wondering just what can be said about the insurgents’ motives that wouldn’t somehow qualify as an “endorsement” in Volokh’s opinion. Based on the above, it sounds an awful lot like anything outside the orthodox “They’re evil” or “They hate us for our freedom” is off-limits. Which leaves me scratching my head as to why people like Ted ever took Volokh seriously to begin with.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 1:31 pm

As per Eugene’s rules, please provide the name and brief description of the person (who should be a journalist, official or famous person)

Does a member of the US House of Representatives count?

Alabama congressman finds Bill Maher show near ‘treasonous’

An Alabama congressman says comedian Bill Maher’s comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the “low-lying fruit” is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the HBO show.

Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus takes issue with remarks on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

“More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club,” Maher said in giving a comic twist to his commentary. “We’ve done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies.”

“I think it borders on treason,” Bachus said. “In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country.”


Richard Bellamy 08.12.05 at 1:34 pm

Shelby, the “event” in question was an anti-war rally. Unless you are arguing that there is something specific to Columbia anti-war protesters that are not present among others.

Further, the examples Horowitz provides subsequently in the article are allegedly comparable statements by other leftists, not other members who were present at that rally. “Those present” can only mean “antiwar protesters,” because otherwise he would proceed down the hall at Columbia, not to Chomsky.


Ted 08.12.05 at 1:36 pm

Glenn Reynolds:

John Kerry has it tough. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s been trying to send a positive message on the war when many people in his own party are actively rooting for the other side.


cleek 08.12.05 at 1:38 pm

Rove: “Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.”


neil 08.12.05 at 1:40 pm

Victor David Hanson, in this piece called “Hoping We Fail”, would seem to fit the bill.

Little needs be said about the U.N. After its decade-long impotence where it came to disarming Saddam, and the circus last winter concerning the American invasion of Iraq, its officials will now have no interest in seeing the United States create a just society when they themselves could not. Indeed, many U.N. members probably preferred the old regime anyway.

Even aside from the question of whether France and Germany had lucrative commercial arrangements with the Hussein regime, those countries invested their prestige in stymieing the United States by way of the United Nations. It was thus depressing enough for them that the war ended in three weeks; that chagrin could only get worse should postbellum Iraq emerge as a sane and humane society.

In short, our failure is essential to confirming the entire European view of how the world should work.

Most nations and institutions will see themselves as losers should we succeed.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 1:45 pm

Even outraged leaders within its ranks say that the Democratic Party has been playing with treason in an attempt to destroy the nation´s wartime Republican president.

–Photo caption accompanying an article entitled “When Does Politics Become Treason?” by J. Michael Waller in Insight magazine, Dec. 10, 2003.


Randy Paul 08.12.05 at 1:49 pm

Hitchens here:

“But I also know the difference when I see it, and I have known some of the liberal world quite well and for a long time, and there are quite obviously people close to the leadership of today’s Democratic Party who do not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

He couldn’t name a name.


abb1 08.12.05 at 1:53 pm

Ah, Victor Hanson. War Nerd, Gary Brecher, responds in kind: Victor Hanson: Portrait of an American Traitor.

But I don’t really think he’s insane – just a traitor, a liar willing to keep shoving American troops and money into a meatgrinder just so he doesn’t have to admit he was wrong. Sooner or later we’re going to have to face it: these NeoCons don’t care about America any more than Stalin cared about Russia. They’re not just wrong. They’re traitors.

It’s good fun.


neil 08.12.05 at 1:55 pm

Bret Stephens says:

…that wasn’t the end of the war, just the moment when Baathist unrepentants resorted to a death-by-one-thousand-cuts strategy. Ditto for the media unrepentants. They failed to stop the war and they failed to lose the war. But they haven’t stopped trying to reverse the result, and it bids fair that they will yet do so.

His editorial also provides a number of quotes which will probably show up in Volokh’s survey.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 1:56 pm

Paul M. Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation, in a column on the Accuracy in Media website, 10/24/01:

In an earlier age, this kind of behavior would be considered treason. We don’t use that word any more because we have abandoned the concept. Well, just as God and real men have made a comeback since 9/11, maybe the concept of treason during wartime will as well.

The target of Weyrich’s righteous wrath? CNN.

[slightly off-topic: is it me, or does he sound downright pleased that 9/11 took place?]


neil 08.12.05 at 1:57 pm

Hitchens, in Slate, again:

Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable “communities” have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable.


Richard Bellamy 08.12.05 at 1:59 pm

Playing both sides of the aisle:

“This e-mail tells you all you need to know about what has become of the Left in North America.”


neil 08.12.05 at 2:01 pm

Take it away, Tara Ross:

Bush hatred has become a defining characteristic for many liberals–so much so that they appear to identify with it more surely and swiftly than they do their American citizenship. At times, some extremist liberals seem to be rooting against their fellow Americans and in favor of those who would kill us.


neil 08.12.05 at 2:08 pm

Glenn Reynolds, wearing his columnist for MSNBC hat, writes:

John Kerry has it tough. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s been trying to send a positive message on the war when many people in his own party are actively rooting for the other side.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 2:08 pm

“It was the first cousin to treason.”

–Sen. Zell Miller, referring to Sen. Edward Kennedy, during an appearance
on Fox News, Feb. 1, 2005


JW 08.12.05 at 2:11 pm

Andrew Sullivan: “The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead—and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.”


neil 08.12.05 at 2:12 pm

In an unsigned editorial, the Wall Street Journal slips in this aside:

The silver bullet offered by some on the right, meanwhile, is more U.S. troops. Senator John McCain is the leader of this camp, and unlike the left he is rooting for American victory.


JW 08.12.05 at 2:14 pm

Here’s a nice topical one from the editorial board of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“The insurgents were Casey’s enemy. The president of the United States is his mother’s. What is wrong with this picture? Would he be proud of her near-treasonous actions? Hardly.

“This woman is a representative example of typical, illogical anti-war activists. She thinks Bush, not the terrorists, killed her son. She supports those who killed Casey by wanting to pull out and let them kill more innocent people, unhindered. The lady is on the wrong team. She’s disgraceful.

“If Sheehan wants to continue to make a fool out of herself, I suppose that is her business as a free American. Her son and our brave troops have given her even the right to orderly protest against the very actions providing the freedom that allows her to speak out.

“My suggestion to her, however, is that she think about the lives of those still in Iraq. Undermining public support for our efforts in Iraq helps the enemy, her son’s murderers. They love people like her, but hate those like her heroic son.”


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 2:14 pm

I don’t think their actions rise to the level of treason but they had to know that the study represented a propaganda boon to the insurgents and jihadist whether it will eventually be verified or not. It will assist them in recruitment and raising of money. By having such a positive effect for the insurgent/jihadist, the study will cause the war to last longer and to cause the deaths of more innocents.

–Blogger Shannon Love, referring to the authors of the Lancet study on Iraqi civilian casualties, in a comment on Winds of Change.Net


neil 08.12.05 at 2:15 pm

University of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone, on the Bill O’Reilly show, appears to have said:

Millions of Americans are against the war in Iraq, and that dissent must be respected. But there are also some Americans who actually want the USA to lose–primarily so President Bush will look bad. Few will admit that, but it does exist–primarily on the far left.


Orwell is dead 08.12.05 at 2:15 pm

I wonder if Volokh would like to compare the frequency and prominance of people who are “supporting insurgents” versus those who are in support of a nuclear strike on Iraq/Afghan/etc..

They are equally extreme, no?


neil 08.12.05 at 2:18 pm

Here’s one from the left. Kurt Andersen writes in New York magazine:

Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians…


jayinbmore 08.12.05 at 2:29 pm

Does this post by Hindraker at Powerline count?:

Carter’s public embrace of Moore can only be seen as an endorsement of his views. That puts Carter squarely “on the other side.”


P O'Neill 08.12.05 at 2:31 pm

I don’t accept the premise that there’s a difference between Taranto and Volokh’s definitions of rhetorical treason. Taranto is playing games with the end of his passage:

Those Westerners who side with the “Iraqi resistance” against America and its allies are defending the equivalent of the murder of Emmett Till.

Libruls = 1960s civil rights = anti-war = Klan. Geddit?


neil 08.12.05 at 2:32 pm

David Horowitz gives an interview to Right Wing News and enlightens us about what life looks like from inside the bubble:

John Hawkins: I did notice that after the war, a lot of the anti-war people seemed almost glum that things went so well…

David Horowitz: Of course, because they want America to lose. That’s what defines the left.


abb1 08.12.05 at 2:34 pm

…or we are in de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians…

Ah, that’s a good one. Reminds again of Studs Terkel’s: “Suppose communists come out against cancer. Do we have to come out for cancer?”


neil 08.12.05 at 2:36 pm

Radio host Michael Medved, please tell us what you _really_ think:

In moments of candor, critics of the Iraq war make it increasingly clear that they want America to lose.


Hal 08.12.05 at 2:56 pm

Kevin D. Korenthal, Liberals Do The Terrorists’ Bidding

his is a reciprocal relationship, between terrorists and liberals; the terrorists keep the body count up while the liberals keep up the drum beat of bad news and accusations that American troops are everything but heroic in their execution of the orders of The President of the United States. It is their objection to George W. Bush that drives liberals to sell out our nation while the terrorists feed off the need to kill Jews and become the dominant ideological force in the world. It seems both groups oppose democracy as the dominant force in the world

Rabbi Aryeh Spero, Liberal Elitists Block Victory Against Terrorism

At every turn in the war, our home-grown U.S. haters have used their treasure chests, positions, and talents to miscast our country, soldiers and law enforcement as the aggressor while portraying the enemy as victim. Considerable more “civil rights” and benefit of the doubt is extended to the enemy than our own elected officials, soldiers, and law-abiding citizens. This has emboldened the enemy and is prolonging the war.

What’s the value of victory

For their part, demagogues on the left mirrored the sin of the neo-cons in the Pentagon: They insisted that the world is as they wish it to be, rather than as it is.

Saddam was a Hitler clone. Iraq was a massive death camp. Had President Clinton invaded Iraq, the American left would have declared him the greatest liberator since Lincoln. Liberals allowed their distaste for a president to confound them into a mindless defense of evil.

Today, some left-wing opinion-makers appear to be rooting for Iraq to fail. Every call for a timetable for the withdrawal of our troops is a gift to the terrorists. Speeches on Capitol Hill insisting that Americans are tired of the war, that our casualties are too high and that we need an “exit strategy” provide aid and comfort to media-savvy enemies. Scoring political points in wartime kills American soldiers.

David Horowitz, Liberals Hand Terrorists A Victory

Of course insufferably self-righteous liberals will take no responsibility for the fact that they have worked relentlessly since the liberation of Baghdad to cripple our efforts in the war. Attacking the cost of the war, the fact that there is a war, the credibility of the commander-in-chief, and so forth. Invoking Vietnam, they have in fact divided America’s home front on a scale approaching that of the Vietnam War, a division that forced our defeat. Of course they pretend to do this now (as they did then) out of patriotic zeal. They claim that because we are Americans we have to live by a higher standard, which to them means that we have to denounce ourselves in terms appropriate to regimes like Saddam Hussein’s. Senator Kennedy has even described us as having “re-opened Saddam’s prisons.”

Ann Coulter, Treason. The quotes are too numerous to mention here, but my favorite

Americans cannot comprehend how their fellow countrymen could not love their country. But the left’s anti-Americanism is intrinsic to their entire worldview. Liberals promote the right of Islamic fanatics for the same reason they promote the rights of adulterers, pornographers, abortionists, criminals, and Communists. They instinctively root for anarchy against civilization. The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for treason.


roger 08.12.05 at 3:05 pm

I’m a wee little pea, as far as blogs go, but to the extent I can, I’ve been sticking a knife into the back of the American war machine. It is the only way to get the attention of the behemoth. In the same way that I wanted Saddam Hussein taken down, but thought the American invasion was a terrible way to do it, I wanted the Americans stopped in Iraq, but thought the insurgents were a terrible way to do it. Unfortunately, preferring a middle way — a secularist, non-aligned, Iraq grouping to emerge — has become a vacant preference, since the thin chance that it would happen in summer, 2003, was pretty much wiped out by the systematic delegitimizing of this option by the Americans. Ironically, if a real coalition had invaded and been able to block the Americans, Iraq would not be a nation drifting as quickly into the semi-theocratic shadow of Iran –probably not what the Americans were expecting. One hundred percent support of the American war effort has led to a 100 % American disaster. Supporting dysfunction is called enabling, and that is certainly what the uberpatriots accomplished.


Jimmy 08.12.05 at 3:07 pm

The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News after the 7/7 London bombings – quotes reported by “Media Matters”

* Terrorism expert Steve Emerson: “EMERSON: The BBC should — in certain respects, BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah and some of the other jihadist groups.”

Following quotes by Bill O’Reilly:

* “Have you read The Guardian lately? … I mean, it might be edited by Osama bin Laden. I mean, that’s how bad that paper is. And a lot of the British press, particularly the BBC, echo this kind of garbage.”

* “Now, what good does it do to Al Qaeda to alienate Europe when Europe has basically been, not on their side, but certainly putting the U.S. as the big villain and de-emphasizing, as I say sanitizing, what Al Qaeda has done. What good does it do Al Qaeda to alienate, you know, the BBC and all of these major organizations that have basically not dealt with the threat in a realistic way?”


jayinbmore 08.12.05 at 3:09 pm

Yet more Hitchens:

Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left.


Uncle Kvetch 08.12.05 at 3:29 pm

Rather than piling on with more choice tidbits, I’m going to reiterate the question I posed in #7, in the hopes that someone can enlighten me: Exactly what kind of discussion about the motives of the insurgents would not constitute an “endorsement” of the insurgents, in Volokh’s view?


dan 08.12.05 at 3:30 pm

Dennis Prager, here:

“There were intellectually and morally honest arguments against going to war in Iraq. But once the war began, a moral person could not oppose it. No moral person could hope for, let alone act on behalf of, a victory for the Arab/Islamic fascists.”


Randy Paul 08.12.05 at 3:46 pm

Glenn Reynolds:

I think that this “pressure of public opinion” language is a recognition by Saddam that the “anti-war” movement is objectively on his side, and not neutral.


Randy Paul 08.12.05 at 3:48 pm

Reynolds here as well:

What has happened to the Left that it has made preservation of Saddam Hussein its top priority?


abb1 08.12.05 at 3:55 pm

There were intellectually and morally honest arguments against going to war in Iraq. But once the war began, a moral person could not oppose it.

Wow, this is a remarkable statement that amounts to: once you’re in a hole – keep digging.

Thanks for posting it.


dan 08.12.05 at 4:02 pm

my real objection to the quote comes from the next line, actually. it’s the way he casually equates opposing the war with “hop[ing] for, let alone act[ing] on behalf of, a victory for the Arab/Islamic fascists.”


Shelby 08.12.05 at 4:12 pm

A remarkable number of the preceding comments don’t satisfy the criteria Henry established. By comment:

1. Who are these people?
5. “Leading lights of the Columbia professorate” are not “a substantial section of those who opposed the war”, are they?
8. Congressmen count, but he’s criticizing one person, not attacking “a subtantial” etc.
12. Seems more to be about UN and European government officials; see 5 and 8 above.
14. “People close to the leadership” of one party are “a substantial section” etc.? How many leaders do the Democrats have, anyway?
15. Relevance?
16. Baathists and “media unrepentants” are a substantial, etc.? Maybe — this one’s marginal.
17. CNN isn’t THAT big yet.
18. “taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable” does not equal “mak[ing] egregious claims that a substantial section of those who opposed the war are, in fact, rooting for the other side”
19. “this email”?
22. Comment was about one person, Ted Kennedy.
23. Written before troops committed in Iraq; it was predictive, not a statement of what anyone was yet doing.
25. Doesn’t accuse the subject of rooting for the other side; “on the wrong team,” yes, but overall it contends she’s foolish rather than actively supporting the enemy or favoring a US loss.
26. Refers to authors of a single study and indicates their efforts do aid insurgents but are not treasonous.
27. Clearly indicates that those favoring a US loss are small compared to the numbers opposing the war.
29. “de facto alliance” does not mean “rooting for the other side”
30. Written about one person, not “a substantial section,” etc.

My fingers are growing tired, I’ll stop now. But c’mon, people, a little more critical thought please.


Ted 08.12.05 at 4:24 pm

Brendan Miniter, of the Wall Street Journal:

“Rather the Vietnam metaphor is apt today because the U.S. is in a war it can win and is winning, if only those inside the Beltway would stop preferring defeat to victory and disgrace to honor.”

James Taranto, ditto:

“The Democrats are in the position of hoping that America loses its ‘gamble’ in Iraq–a politically and morally hazardous thing to hope for.” The lesson the left learned from Vietnam is that it is acceptable to root against America during wartime.



neil 08.12.05 at 4:26 pm

While I’m sure Henry is very grateful for your efforts, Shelby, I think he can probably take care of screening himself.


Franky 08.12.05 at 4:30 pm

I can’t find the Friedman quote from a couple of months ago where he stated that the left want Iraq to fail just to spite Bush.


neil 08.12.05 at 4:39 pm

Although this doesn’t count as a notable person, I was somewhat stunned while doing a Google search for rooting +for” defeat doesn’t turn up any articles that are not somehow about Iraq until the 3rd page of results. Most of the hits are conservative blogs accusing liberals, or reprinting one of the articles we see here; almost the same amount are liberals defending themselves against these ignominious charges. This is certainly relevant to the discussion at hand…


Walter Cronkite 08.12.05 at 4:40 pm

We have now reached the point where some have begun to conclude that the war is no longer winnable.


Onceler 08.12.05 at 4:40 pm

just wanted to mention quickly, after skimming through the posts, that it might be nice to pair these quotations with some Clinton-era right wing rhetoric about Bosnia and Kosovo – seeing as there were conservatives at the time who were actually doing what these fools are now baselessly accusing the ‘left’ of doing…I’ll try to stop by later with some, gotta run…


Shelby 08.12.05 at 4:43 pm


He seemed to be taking his time getting around to it. But if you think it’s worth filling the thread with 80% obvious irrelevance, go right ahead.


neil 08.12.05 at 4:43 pm

Former Presidential speechwriter David Frum spews forth in the National Review, warning of the danger within:

The antiwar conservatives aren’t satisfied merely to question the wisdom of an Iraq war. … They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.


mungo jerry 08.12.05 at 4:46 pm

The “war” (and occupation) was lost from the start, by definition; thus no one who opposed the policy can “hope” that it fails. The failure was a mathematical inevitability. We only hope to stop the senseless killing.


neil 08.12.05 at 4:47 pm

Former Senator Fred Thompson weighs in on the issue in the Washington Post:

The president’s critics cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim to be in favor of winning the war and also oppose fighting it, funding it and offering any coherent strategy for succeeding at it. They cannot credibly claim to be in favor of winning the war while decrying it as a “mistake” that cannot be won.


Planet B 08.12.05 at 4:49 pm

I wonder what Mark Twain would have thought:

I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.
– quoted in New York Sun, Tribune, World, 1906 (in defense of Maxim Gorki)


Atrios 08.12.05 at 4:53 pm

Thomas Friedman, new york times, June 15:

Ever since Iraq’s remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don’t want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does. Liberals don’t want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don’t want the Bush team to succeed. As a result, Iraq is drifting sideways and the whole burden is being carried by our military. The rest of the country has gone shopping, which seems to suit Karl Rove just fine.


Henry 08.12.05 at 5:01 pm

I should clarify – when I said “substantial section” what I meant to do was to disqualify trivial personal disputes of the “blogger-who-I-have-never-heard-of is an objective supporter of terrorists” type from consideration. They’re not interesting, and they’re not good evidence one way or the other. I recognize that “substantial” is a rather imprecise term, and that people may reasonably disagree about its definition. But for what it’s worth, the bar that I was trying to set here was a fairly basic one of non-triviality. By my books, the David Horowitz quote would certainly qualify – it goes beyond a specific personal allegation to claim (on the basis of no evidence whatsoever) that a substantial group of people is indeed rooting for “a million Mogadishus.” I’m also persuaded by Richard Bellamy’s argument that Horowitz meant his slur to stick to a more general set of anti-war types.


Shelby 08.12.05 at 5:17 pm


Thank you for clarifying the criteria you’re using. My good-faith interpretation of “substantial section” was obviously different from your apparent intent, and in any event I don’t dispute that a number of the responses satisfy either criterion.


acline 08.12.05 at 5:39 pm

re: “Rather than piling on with more choice tidbits, I’m going to reiterate the question I posed in #7, in the hopes that someone can enlighten me: Exactly what kind of discussion about the motives of the insurgents would not constitute an “endorsement” of the insurgents, in Volokh’s view?”

One way to look at it is this: What we have here is a simple (and simplistic) argument by definition. As I read his discussion, it is a rather sloppy attempt to create a dichotomy such that arguments that do not stick to the ideological commonplace (i.e. insurgents are evil and hate freedom) are bracketed out of legitimacy–the commonplace equals non-endorsement versus all other articulations of motives that equal endorsement. So there is no kind of discussion about motives outside this commonplace that would not constitute an endorsement. That’s the whole point. It is a nakedly anti-intellectual rhetorical maneuver and, as such, should be reviled.


hilzoy 08.12.05 at 5:53 pm

I don’t know if this counts, exactly, but it should. Hindrocket:

“I mean, as far as I can tell, the left doesn’t care about terrorism, doesn’t care about the Islamofascists, doesn’t care about hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. All they care about is their own power. All they care about is regaining the presidency. All they care about is defeating President Bush. And, I think that the left, and by “the left” I’m including now almost the entire Democratic Party, you can count exceptions on your fingers, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, you can name the exceptions. The whole mainstream of the Democratic party, I would say, is engaged in an effort that really is a betrayal of America. What they care about is not winning the war on terror. What they care about is defeating President Bush. And I think that the positions that they’re taking, the things that they’re doing and saying, are significantly impeding the progress of the war, and give great encouragement to our enemies. And I indict them for that. I don’t think they care about the danger to us as Americans nor do they care about the danger to people in other countries. They care about power.”

This quote from Wretchard has vanished with the Belmont Club’s old site, but I cited it here, and I vouch for it:

“If the Western Left is convinced of anything it is it can bend the Islamic world to its will once America has been cleared away. Samuel Huntington wrote that Islam was “convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.” But he might have been describing the Left, for whom recent history has been an unaccountable theft of their birthright; a little detail they will put right when America is vanquished.”

Then there’s ‘The Revenge of the Berlin Wall’, an essay by Nelson Ascher that I found via this very site:

“This newly ever-growing Western left, not only in Europe, but in Latin America and even in the US itself, has a clear goal: the destruction of the country and society that vanquished its dreams fifteen years ago. But it does not have, as in the old days of the Soviet Union, the hard power to accomplish this by itself. Thanks to this, all our leftist friends’ bets are now on radical Islam. What can they do to help it? Answer: tie down America’s superior strength with a million Liliputian ropes: legal ones, political ones, with propaganda and disinformation etc. Anything and everything will do.”


melior 08.12.05 at 6:06 pm

Here’s a tip on how to find many more:

Google your favorite rightwingnut commentator along with the phrase “aid and comfort”, which is their wingnut codephrase for this type of smear.

try, e.g.
Hannity “aid and comfort”
O’Reilly “aid and comfort”
Coulter “aid and comfort”
Have fun! (and try not to gag)


hilzoy 08.12.05 at 6:22 pm

And, of course, via Billmon: Stanley Kurtz at The Corner:

“Is this the best foreign policy? No. The best foreign policy requires not the United Nations, but a united nation. Unfortunately, our nation is not united. The occupation of Iraq is not the occupation of Japan or Germany. This is even more because of the fact that we are different than we were back then than the fact that Iraq is not Japan or Germany. A house divided against itself cannot stand. A nation where the political opposition stands against our foreign policy, and even secretly (and not so secretly) hopes for its failure, cannot reform a region as recalcitrant as the Middle East.”


soru 08.12.05 at 7:11 pm

Was the actual intent of this thread to provide an equal mix of:

people declaring their support for the ‘resistance’

people ridiculing the idea that any such people exist

Or was that just the way it turned out?



pvjeff 08.12.05 at 7:32 pm

I still remember with great disgust the first time I heard the liberals-want-us-to-lose meme – and it goes back to the start of the Iraq War. I was driving late one evening in early April 2003 and was stuck listening to Bill Kristol on the Laura Ingraham show. On that show Kristol stated flatly (and Ingraham agreed profusely)that the left was really rooting for the war to go badly for us. He noted that this was the topic of an editorial he had just written. The editorial is a bit toned down from his radio appearance, but only just a bit. e.g.

[…] the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists, the bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood […]liberals–better, leftists–hate George W. Bush so much they can barely bring themselves to hope America wins the war to which, in their view, the president has illegitimately committed the nation. They hate Don Rumsfeld so much they can’t bear to see his military strategy vindicated. They hate John Ashcroft so much they relish the thought of his Justice Department flubbing the war on terrorism. They hate conservatives with a passion that seems to burn brighter than their love of America, and so, like M. de Villepin, they can barely bring themselves to call for an American victory


brucds 08.12.05 at 7:37 pm

Is this close enough ? – that wacko piece of shit David Horowitz on Gold Star mother, Cindy Sheehan:

“She has made herself a willing tool of anti-American forces in this country that want America to lose the war in Iraq and the war on terror generally. She is promoting a cause — immediate withdrawal from Iraq — that would lead to a bloodbath in the region and in the United States. She has joined forces with an Unholy Alliance on the other side in the epic battle for freedom in the Middle East and has shown that she will do and say anything to discredit the United States and its commander-chief — acts which serve the enemy and endanger American lives. She is a disgrace to her brave son who gave his life for the freedom of ordinary Iraqis and the security of his countrymen. She has betrayed his sacrifice and embraced his enemies.”


rilkefan 08.12.05 at 7:43 pm

soru, given that I’ve never heard of you, I don’t think you can apply to join the realist-left-smearing category Henry defined. Sorry.


Leon T. 08.12.05 at 9:26 pm

Senator McCarthy would be proud!


grh 08.12.05 at 9:46 pm


people declaring their support for the ‘resistance’

What on earth are you talking about?

It’s at moments like this that I believe the Iraq war has genuinely driven some people insane.


Michael 08.12.05 at 10:19 pm

Charles Krauthammer, Jewish World Review, May 16, 2003:

As the extent of the horror inflicted by the Baathist regime is documented day by day, opponents of the war are increasingly shamed. With every mass grave discovered, those who marched with such moral assurance just two months ago under the banner of human rights and social justice must make an accounting. In the name of peace, they supported the legitimacy and defended the inviolability of a regime that made relentless war on every value the left pretends to uphold…


Michael 08.12.05 at 10:20 pm


Hesiod 08.12.05 at 10:37 pm

With all due respect, why is anybody giving that piece of shit, Volokh, the time of day?

Here’s the bottom line. The people who STILL support this clustyerfuck war, and who are not actively FIGHTING it on the front lines, ARE the fucking traitors.

Not the people who oppose it.
Period. End of discussion.


BigMacAttack 08.12.05 at 10:45 pm

Henry, Ted tried to minimize the number of folks who side with the Iraqi resistance. Eugene’s request for examples of people doing just that was a substanative response to that minimization.

What you are doing here is nothing more than a petty distraction.

It is in example of someone responding to a valid criticism by saying, oh yeah well look at what he is doing over there.


nick 08.12.05 at 11:07 pm

What you are doing here is nothing more than a petty distraction.

Oh, tu fuckin’ quoque. How’s the view from your own rectum, ‘mac’?


eRobin 08.12.05 at 11:52 pm

David Brooks of the NYT Brierney Borg wants to chime in:

Meanwhile, the left side of the blogosphere has erupted with fury over the possibility that American interrogators might not have flushed a Koran down the toilet. The Nation and leftish Web sites are in a frenzy to prove that the story is probably true even if Newsweek is retracting it.

This, too, is unhinged. Would it be illegal for more people on the left to actually be happy that a story slurring Americans may turn out to be unproven? Could there be a few more liberals willing to admit that prisoners routinely lie about their treatment? (Do we expect them to say their time in captivity wasn’t so bad?)


Michael Friedman 08.12.05 at 11:53 pm

I think a problem you have here is that there are people on the left who support the terrorists in Iraq and that the majority of the left tolerates these people.

Remember the (in)famous “We support our troops when they frag their officers” protest sign? You may claim that those people do not represent the left, but why were they tolerated?

We’ve all seen the video of what happens when Protest Warrior shows up at an anti-war march – people have no problem trying to get them to leave, often violently. Why are supporters of the anti-Coalition forces in Iraq tolerated?


fifi 08.12.05 at 11:57 pm

Asking someone to take sides in a tragedy is retarded but I can understand the surge in strident resentment and cynicism on the right: they want to make it difficult for liberals to identify with and cheer the home team (which Volokh would like to make you think he speaks for) because losing a war you started means if a fifth column does not exist, you had better create one.


Elrod 08.13.05 at 12:41 am

I just found this dude who is actively pulling for the insurgency, and he minces no words to the effect.

Supporting the Insurgency


Peter 08.13.05 at 12:54 am

I don’t see what’s so controversial about supporting democracy for Iraq. Either you want Iraq to have a democracy or you don’t. Either you want the U.S. out of Iraq or you don’t. It’s that simple.

I want the U.S. out of Iraq. That is, I want the people of Iraq to win, and I want the U.S. government to lose. The U.S. government should withdraw its troops immediately.

Barring that, I want the U.S. troops to lay down their arms and refuse to fight. Not one more person should die in this senseless occupation. The U.S. government is too cowardly to withdraw, so our troops are going to have to force them to do it. Already over 5,000 are AWOL from Iraq – that number keeps ballooning. Hopefully soon there’ll be no more bodies to throw at the occupation, and Bushco will come limping home.

I don’t support the killing of innocents, but the Iraqi people have the right to self-determination, of course. In that, I fully support the Iraqi Resistance. Are there any people with a sense of justice who would argue for anything but full support for the Iraqi Resistance’ goal of self-determination? You may not agree with the killing of innocents – in general, I don’t – but if you want democracy for Iraq, you must support the immediate goal of the Iraqi Resistance to remove the U.S. from their country.

Similarly, I believe the people of the United States have the right to self-determination. If Iraqi tanks and troops are rolling down my street here in DC, I’ll kill a mf wearing an Iraqi uniform. Get out my country, bitches, or face the business side of my AK. [Yeah, the gangsta in me is just itching to get out.]

And I don’t expect anything less of the Iraqi people. If Iraq invaded DC, I hope I would be brave enough to give my life for the independence of my country, but talk is cheap – we’d have to wait for game time to know for sure if I was up to the task. I think I would be – I believe I would be – but war/terror/horror/atrocity is not something I believe you can know without experiencing it firsthand.

If our Rethugs friends would not defend our country from an Iraqi occupation, then that’s their prerogative. I have a feeling they’d be the first to collaborate – cowards that they are – but it’s their prerogative.

The problem with Rethug arguments such as Volokh’s is that it’s contradictory on its face. To argue for self-determination for countries – democracy – and then to argue against the Iraqi resistance just doesn’t make any sense. Either 2 + 2 is 4 or it’s not. You want democracy and, implicilty, self-determination for Iraq or you don’t – why is this a difficult-to-grasp concept?

Of course, I might not feel like self-determination was all that important at the beginning of the Iraqi occupation of America, but if Saddam and crew kidnapped and tortured my sons, raped my wife, and pushed my face in the dirt in front of my family, I might take a more militant view. That’s just my guess. Would I then be willing to kill innocents to achieve my goal of gaining back some honor and respect for myself? Probably. That’s just a guess, but probably.

Volokh and crew need to stop defending Bushco and start defending democracy.


ChicagoTom 08.13.05 at 1:14 am

I think a problem you have here is that there are people on the left who support the terrorists in Iraq and that the majority of the left tolerates these people.

Why is it that the right tolerates a lot of fringe bigots and psychos, like people wanting to bomb meccca, and the Dobsons and Falwells (gays responsible for 9/11) yet they get a free pass, but for some reason if anyone on the “left” says something remotely critical of the goings on in Iraq people scream bloddy murder because some non-existent “collective left” isn’t out there denouncing and apologizing for anything that doesn’t support Bush and his agenda?

You can’t be taken seriously when you only complain about the fringe on the other side and tolerate the fringe on your side.


Neutral Observer 08.13.05 at 1:19 am

I can understand, to some extent, why in the USA, even those who were against the war might feel the need to “root for the home team” – although this sort of chauvinist, “sports-team” framing ultimately betrays your values and humanity. War is a crime, not a football match.

But give me one good reason why other Westerners – e.g., somebody in Finland who has no personal stake in the issue, and no particular fear of over-hyped “Islamic terrorism”, should be expected to support your war. Other things being equal, would it not make more sense for most “Westernes” to want the warmongers foiled, so that they cannot repeat this arrant folly? What has the average “Westerner” got from your war except higher petrol prices, and marginally increased danger?

I urge you to think about this issue without your patriotic blinders on, if you can, instead of trying to prove your patriotic credentials to warmongers who will only smear and revile, no matter what you say and do. Don’t let them put you on the defensive, it will only further embolden them. (But then maybe this war would never have taken place if the “opposition” in the USA were not mostly composed of corrupt and short-sighted wimps.)


jm 08.13.05 at 3:37 am

Now, in the context of the above, this may appear a little too obscure a source but some of you may remember the following from Nov. 2001:

“You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” – President G.W. Bush

Surely the final word on the subject?


abb1 08.13.05 at 4:37 am

I think a problem you have here is that there are people on the left who support the terrorists in Iraq and that the majority of the left tolerates these people.

‘Support the terrorists’ is a misrepresentation, of course, but otherwise, I think, this is correct and a good point: sensible anti-war liberals must put up or shut up.

As a loyal reader of this most excellent blog, I humbly request bloggers here to address and refute arguments presented, for example, in the piece linked above: Why America needs to be Defeated in Iraq by Mike Whitney.

It would be good if you could address the actual text, the arguments, you know, and keep your usual insults (idiots and dickheads, psychopaths and extremists, etc.) to the minimum – even if the author said something stupid elsewhere or read a trotskyist book 20 years ago. If this is difficult, try to imagine that this is a rabid right-winger you’re arguing against (like, say, Christopher Hitchens); they don’t seem to produce this reaction in you, folks.



bad Jim 08.13.05 at 5:08 am

Cheney accused himself of supporting Saddam Hussein:

WASHINGTON — In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn’t be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting “bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”


Brendan 08.13.05 at 5:57 am

I think part of the problem with this whole debate is that even by discussing it we are allowing the debate to be ‘framed’ in a certain way (in George Lakoff’s use of the word). I’ve done my own wee bit for this innacurate framing by constantly reminding everyone of the parallels with Vietnam. And make no mistake, there are major parallels with Vietnam.

But this is a rather different conflict, and it’s different because the ‘insurgents’ are NOT a unified force with unified aims, and never have been. For example, it’s not enough to say that the Iraqi ‘people’ hated Saddam Hussein (though that’s true enough). The reason the Kurds hated Saddam Hussein was really rather different from the reason the Shias hated Saddam Hussein, which was in turn different from the reason the Turkmen hated Saddam Hussein. The idea that there was ever some ‘pan-Iraqi’ resistance to Saddam was a fantasy. All the various resistance groups had in common was that they hated Saddam and when Saddam was gone they went back to hating each other.

So even talking about ‘the other side’ as though this was a two sided battle is to look at the war in a certain (and i would argue misleading) way. It’s true that on one side you have the Americans, but even here you have differences in ideology and military practice between the UK and the Australians on one side, and the Americans on the other. The UK is very much a representative of the ‘liberal imperialist’ whereas the Americans are simply imperialists. Hence the reason the Americans seem to be actively despised by the average Iraqi, whereas the British are at least tolerated.

And on the ‘other side’ things get even more complicated. There is an insurgency it’s true. But this is a ‘decentralised’ insurgency with many groupings, some secular Ba’athists, some Al-Qaeda, some Shi-ite, some foreign fighters, and so on. It is safe to say that if and when they succeed in driving out the invaders, they will return to fighting each other. There are other sides, not one other side.

As well as this there are also two low level civil wars going on: between the Sunnis and the Shias and between the Turkmen and the Kurds.

This is probably “politically incorrect”, but those people who (having never lived in Iraq, speaking no Arabic, and having little clue of the history of the country) made wild statements about ‘Ba’athists’ attempting to regain power should read some history. This may be true. But it’s certainly not how the Sunnis-Ba’athists see it. They undoubtedly see the whole war as being an Iranian put up job, with the Iranians (not the Americans) as the real power behind the throne, using the Shias in Iraq as a proxy force to recreate the Persian Empire, and draw Iraq into a position vis a vis Iran rather similar to the position Lebanon was in vis a vis Syria until this year. So the Sunnis probably do NOT see themselves as sunni nationalists killing Shias, but as Iraqi patriots resisting Iran.

Finally I might point out for the millionth time that the idea that Bush or Blair actually wanted or planned for an Iranian leaning Iraq is beyond fantastic. Given that genuine democracy will undoubtedly lead to this happening (or civil war, or both), it is simply false to say that Bush or Blair want democracy in Iraq.

To say you want democracy in Iraq is necessarily to put yourself on the ‘other side’ of Bush and Blair. In that sense, everyone SHOULD be on ‘the other side’ (one of them anyway).


chris from boca 08.13.05 at 6:00 am

uncle vketch is asking the corrct question. the missile heads are becoming more desparate as they see their plans crumble. they have no answer beyond war, ao their next logical battleground is to shape the american opinion. answering shrill criticisms of those with deaf ears will not end the war.


soru 08.13.05 at 6:02 am

It’s at moments like this that I believe the Iraq war has genuinely driven some people insane.

I certainly agree with that sentence. Which parts of:

‘why america needs to be defeated in Iraq’

‘Supporting the insurgency’

‘The people who STILL support this clustyerfuck war, and who are not actively FIGHTING it on the front lines, ARE the fucking traitors.’

‘The “war” (and occupation) was lost from the start, by definition; thus no one who opposed the policy can “hope” that it fails.’

‘ these NeoCons don’t care about America any more than Stalin cared about Russia. They’re not just wrong. They’re traitors’

‘I’m a wee little pea, as far as blogs go, but to the extent I can, I’ve been sticking a knife into the back of the American war machine’

do not count as wishing for the US to fail?

There’s nothing exceptionally outrageous about such opinions, if that’s someones take on the position, so be it. If the US was actually Nazi Germany, they’d be right.

People with those opinions exist, just like american neofascists, who want to nuke mecca, do.

When does denial become insanity?



abb1 08.13.05 at 6:15 am

It’s a hell of a difference between wanting to nuke Mecca and wanting the US to get out of Iraq (which is what ‘to be defeated’ means), though.


soru 08.13.05 at 6:36 am

That’s true, replace with something like ‘do actually want the US to steal the oil’. There’s a lot of people like that too, much as many war supporters might deny it.

In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the failure to appropriate oil resources (i.e. set up an arrangement that would depress oil prices below market value) has as much to do with the drop in domestic support for the war as anything else.



Brendan 08.13.05 at 7:34 am

I might also add that the aim of the ‘decent left’ is also for the ‘defeat’ of America, given that that phrase actually means ‘the removal of American troops from Iraqi soil’. The difference between the ‘extreme right’ on this matter and others, is that the right is making plans for the long haul.

The creation of permanent or semi-permanent military bases is not necessarily proof that the occupation will last decades. But it should be setting off alarm bells. It is absoulutely true that “there is nothing so permanent as the temporary”. The “we are leaving soon” concept acts as a psychic block on many people (not least the US military), preventing them from asking the hard question of Primo Levi’s (I think): “If not now, when?”.

This doesn’t invalidate the position of the ‘decent left’ but again, it should be impressing on them the need for reasonably clear timetables for withdrawal (and seeing this, correctly, as a sign of victory (insofar as the US war aims were actually for demcracy) rather than defeat. The real defeat for the US would be a long term occupation, which will end, some years/decades down the line, in a genuine military defeat).

Again the alarm bells should be going off because this is eerily similar to the British ‘intervention’ in Egypt (also for ‘human rights’) which was intended to last months and lasted seventy years.

Another excellent example of this ‘mission creep’ is the ‘state of emergency’ a short term measure which has a tendency to stagger on for years or decades because it helps to cause the conditions that ensure its prolongation.

Which reminds me. Some months back, Allawi declared a state of emergency in Iraq (which meant the suspension of basic civil liberties, martial law, the end of democracy, that sort of thing).

Does anyone know whether that state of emergency has ever been lifted? (this is a genuine question btw).


grh 08.13.05 at 8:03 am

Posted by soru · August 12th, 2005 at 7:11 pm:

Was the actual intent of this thread to provide an equal mix of:

people declaring their support for the ‘resistance’

people ridiculing the idea that any such people exist

Or was that just the way it turned out?

I then wondered what on earth soru was talking about—ie, where were the “people declaring their support for the ‘resistance’”? Here’s soru’s evidence for his statement. I’ve helpfully added the dates of the posts to which he refers, and designated whether this was before or after his initial post:

‘why america needs to be defeated in Iraq’ (AFTER: August 13th, 2005 at 4:37 am)

‘Supporting the Insurgency’ (AFTER: August 13th, 2005 at 12:41 am)

‘The people who STILL support this clustyerfuck war, and who are not actively FIGHTING it on the front lines, ARE the fucking traitors.’ (AFTER: August 12th, 2005 at 10:37 pm)

‘The “war” (and occupation) was lost from the start, by definition; thus no one who opposed the policy can “hope” that it fails.’ (BEFORE: August 12th, 2005 at 4:46 pm)

‘these NeoCons don’t care about America any more than Stalin cared about Russia. They’re not just wrong. They’re traitors’ (BEFORE: August 12th, 2005 at 4:46 pm — actually BEFORE soru’s post)

‘I’m a wee little pea, as far as blogs go, but to the extent I can, I’ve been sticking a knife into the back of the American war machine’’ (BEFORE: August 12th, 2005 at 1:53 pm)

Of course, this would be preposterously weak evidence no matter when it had appeared. Unless the English language has lost all meaning, stating that “these NeoCons don’t care about America any more than Stalin cared about Russia” doesn’t equal “I support the resistance!!!”

But that aside, making a claim about the past and then trying to back it up with things that happened after your claim… well, what can I say? I does indeed verge on nuts.

(Tangentially, it’s worth noting the role soru has chosen for him/herself. If you said during World War II that Stalin didn’t care about Russia, you’d be immediately attacked by devoted communist hacks. “Ah ha!” they would shout. “You have just declared your support for Hitler!” How nice that soru has elected to carry on this proud heritage.)


pbg 08.13.05 at 8:07 am

The Liberals want America to Lose, and the Right wants America to Win.

The problem is, the Right has no idea what Winning looks like, at least not in real-world terms.

The Liberals know what they want to see: American troops out of Iraq.

What does the Right want to see? Pax Americana? the US controlling the Middle East? The End of Islam? What?

What are we supposed to be cheering for–except George Bush?

It should be a common sense proposal that if you can’t describe the goal, you can’t reach it.

There are no fronts; there’s no Berlin to reach. There’s no Wehrmacht to break. There’s no Emperor to step down.

What are we supposed to be rooting for? The Right doesn’t say.

That makes it easy: we can’t debate goals, we can’t debate tactics, we can’t debate anything–because no one will say what they are.

But they can call us traitors, Because we want America to Lose.


Brendan 08.13.05 at 8:30 am

“What does the Right want to see?”

The right wants something that will not happen in one year, ten years, a hundred years: a non-Iranian leaning Iraq. That cannot happen. It’s in this sense that the American mission was doomed to failure right from the very beginning.


abb1 08.13.05 at 8:44 am

I think they would define ‘winning’ as installing a stable government that is representative, supports neo-liberal economics, pro-US and pro-Israel. For this hypothetical government to be stable, the US will need, of course, to defeat the insurgency, presumably by killing or capturing most of the members of the militant opposition, although maybe bribing and intimidating will suffice for the time being.

Now you can decide if you’re for winning or losing.

Note: Soviet communists eliminated the class of small land-owners, by sending to gulag and, basically, killing millions of them. Soviet communists’ definition of ‘winning’ was to create a perfect, prosperous and equitable society without exploitation of workers. Would you be for winning or losing then/there? Or would you be an enemy of the people?


Pablo 08.13.05 at 8:54 am

The right wants something that will not happen in one year, ten years, a hundred years: a non-Iranian leaning Iraq. That cannot happen.

Why can’t it? Iraq and Iran do not have a recent history of alliance. Iran could also become “Iraq-leaning” if representative democracy takes hold there.


Peter 08.13.05 at 9:03 am

The ‘chauvinist’ word tipped me off to remembering this great article on the absurdity that is patriotism/nationalism/racism:

Out of the bombings a national consensus has emerged: what we need in Britain is a renewed sense of patriotism. The rightwing papers have been making their usual noises about old maids and warm beer, but in the past 10 days they’ve been joined by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, Tristram Hunt in the New Statesman, the New Statesman itself and just about everyone who has opened his mouth on the subject of terrorism and national identity. Emboldened by this consensus, the Sun now insists that anyone who isn’t loyal to this country should leave it. The way things are going, it can’t be long before I’m deported.

I don’t hate Britain, and I am not ashamed of my nationality, but I have no idea why I should love this country more than any other. There are some things I like about it and some things I don’t, and the same goes for everywhere else I’ve visited. To become a patriot is to lie to yourself, to tell yourself that whatever good you might perceive abroad, your own country is, on balance, better than the others. It is impossible to reconcile this with either the evidence of your own eyes or a belief in the equality of humankind. Patriotism of the kind Orwell demanded in 1940 is necessary only to confront the patriotism of other people: the second world war, which demanded that the British close ranks, could not have happened if Hitler hadn’t exploited the national allegiance of the Germans. The world will be a happier and safer place when we stop putting our own countries first.

Good stuff.


soru 08.13.05 at 10:16 am

The world will be a happier and safer place when we stop putting our own countries first..

Which statement surely applies every bit as much to wishing your country to ‘lose’ as to wishing it to ‘win’.



Uncle Kvetch 08.13.05 at 11:03 am

Good stuff indeed, Peter. George Bernard Shaw said much the same thing, but more economically: “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”


robert the red 08.13.05 at 11:24 am

There are those who don’t wish for America to lose in Iraq, but believe that in fact we have already lost — that is to say, there is no action we can take going forward that has any possibility (except at the fantasy level) of ending up in a favorable situation. “Favorable” as compared to the situation if we had not invaded Iraq at all, that is.


fifi 08.13.05 at 12:37 pm

Iraq is a tragedy. The idea of “winning” is as relevant to the situation there as it is in an earthquake. Except – and the political intellectual elites being the instruments of war that they are I don’t think this is coincidence – provoking people to declare sides in an earthquake as an exercise in rational “debate” or whatever high-minded description they want to stand for their purification rituals doesn’t tend ultimately to perpetuate the destruction.

I’m glad I’m a dog.


S Squirrel 08.13.05 at 2:21 pm

Does every Fox News broadcast since Labor Day 2002 help in any way? 8)


aaron 08.13.05 at 2:33 pm

It’s peacenik-baiting, pure and simple. Just as Bush famously declared “you’re with us or against us” now the right-leaning media and pundits declare “if you don’t want ‘america’ to win, you must want the islamofascists to win.” many people in the US and iraq (and not just among the insurgency) are against the type of free-market corporate and CIA run state that is being forced onto iraq, but opposing that on political grounds is presented as favoring the death of american soldiers, who i shouldn’t have to say wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the right wing shift in the US.


Scott Lemieux 08.13.05 at 5:21 pm

“Henry, Ted tried to minimize the number of folks who side with the Iraqi resistance. Eugene’s request for examples of people doing just that was a substanative response to that minimization.”

Except, of course, that the feeble responses to the request prove Ted’s point. Even with the goalpost-shifting, they have yet to find a handful who meet the crieria.


Ted 08.13.05 at 9:13 pm


By your definition, I’m for winning (I would settle for “not actively hostile to the US or Israel”). I’m also for Salma Hayek dropping by for tea and chitchat this evening, and I think the two are about equally likely. (I realize you’re not saying it is likely). So why am I not doing anything to help the US win? Not because I’m a traitor, but because it’s not going to happen, and I hate to keep throwing money and lives down the rathole.

I wonder if anyone’s done a poll of Americans asking them what “winning in Iraq” means to them. As far as our original goals are concerned, we’ve already won, right? Hussein is out of power and we have all his WMDs….


roger 08.13.05 at 10:48 pm

Being on Soru’s list of potential suicide bombers is much like being one of the liberal actors satirized by the South Park people in Team America: the ridiculousness of it takes away the sting.
Soru and the pro-war people are truly stuck. I wonder: if sentiment turns heavily against the war in the U.S., would he still be for it? Wouldn’t that make him… anti-American? What would happen in the improbable case that a pro-peace congress came into office and voted for a withdrawal? Would he then become pro-American by ardently supporting a withdrawal?
The questions are ridiculous to the same extent that Soru’s position is ridiculous. The reason democracies survive is that they respond to feedback. The feedback I’d like to encourage is anti-war — meaning, for one thing, joining with the neo-cons in urging people to let other people enlist for the war, for instance. I want chickenhawks to remain chickenhawks, and I warmly encourage anyone who supports the war to assume the important function of staying home and writing about that support. Meaning, for another, analyzing the ridiculous idea that the withdrawal of American forces is synonymous with the accession of the jihadists, who simply are not going to win the war regardless — and who still plan their extraciricular bombings in Europe and, at some future date, the U.S. from our great ally Pakistan. Meansing, finally, acknowledging that the U.S. adventure has resulted in a Shi’ite alliance in the Middle East that we will have to get used to, somehow – between Iran and Iraq.
If the U.S. stays another year, that alliance will happen, or if they withdraw tomorrow. The US could do a wonderful thing by a two pronged policy of both easing tensions with Iran and encouraging the secularist core in Iraq, the Sunnis, even if this means accepting a party or movement heavily seeded with ex Ba’athists.
But I doubt this will happen. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the time at which I will be able to lament the anti-Americanism of the prowar people


huhdude 08.13.05 at 11:36 pm

for uncle ketvch in regards to #7 and #39…

Start with calling them what they are.

They are for the most part Non-Iraq jihadists who are willing to kill people. Both combatants and noncombatants, and rather wantonly and indiscriminately it appears.

The main effect of these non-Iraq jihadists is dead and maimed Iraq’s.

They are not insurgents. How can you call them insurgents?

The very fact that you would buy into them as “insurgents” demonstrates that something is out place with your reasoning.


1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one’s own political party

They don’t appear to be fit the standard definition of insurgent.

They look more like…

Irregardless of why we are there, what is wrong with hoping and praying that we complete our mission successfully and that Iraq becomes a stable non-aggressive semi-republican-democracy that puts pressure on the surrounding dictatorships to lighten up on the local populaces so that won’t become crazy jihdists who desire to kill other people, especially us?

From this side of the fence, it looks like all the blather about “insurgents” is designed to pressure US (yes, you and me) into losing this contest.

That would be worse for us than the current mess in Iraq, as instead of killing those crazy jihadists in Iraq we soon be faced with killing them here.

Wake up people… This is not about evil capitalist republicans, this about ALL of OUR standard living, and yes, even our personal freedoms.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a lot of OIL in the middle east. We need OIL, otherwise, we would leave those crazy people alone to beat their women, chop off the arms of petty criminals and march around and kiss the rock once a year.

If those nuts keep coming over here our government will continue to chip away at the bill of rights to “ensure the public safety”. I don’t know about you, but it irritated me to no end that the first act of our government’s “War on Terror” was to start searching all the people who don’t look like jihadists at the local airport. I don’t want them to ever have another good reason to implement such silly policies again.

Be glad we are battling them over there and not in your neighborhood.

Instead of complaining about conservatives calling you names, you should be asking yourself why the conservatives haven’t taken the appropriate steps to protect you by straightening out the border mess and dealing with those other lunatics in Iran and Syria.

my 2cents…


bad Jim 08.14.05 at 1:47 am

This is apropos, although not what was originally sought:

“What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground,” said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. “We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we’re in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning.”

The article ends with these words:

“In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the original goals were. They were unrealistic.”


albert champion 08.14.05 at 1:58 am

it has to be said,if it hasn’t been said, you invade a country, you should expect to get shot at. maybe even killed.

as far as i am concerned, should be killed.

the american troops have been following illegal orders. that makes them war criminals. they can take a round or take the noose.

all the same, they deserve death for their willingness to join an illegal, homicidal venture.

think on it, your sons, your daughters murdering noncombatants. does that make you proud?


soru 08.14.05 at 4:18 am

Wouldn’t that make him… anti-American?

Of course, just as I would be if the US did anything equivalently stupid like invading iran.

If you put being pro or anti american in these issues equal to the weight of a feather, that’s still too much.

Forget that, and make a realistic assessment of the situation, as a neutral.

That means accepting that statements like ‘who simply are not going to win the war regardless’ is certainly not a justified assertion, and looks a lot like wooly wishful thinking of the type the Bush administration has been so rightly comdemned for.



Brendan 08.14.05 at 4:38 am


When you say things like:

‘Of course, just as I would be if the US did anything equivalently stupid like invading iran.’

You are aware that Bush has just stated:

‘Bush said the United States and Israel ”are united in our objective to make sure that Iran does not have a weapon.”

But, he said, if diplomacy fails “all options are on the table.”

“The use of force is the last option for any president. You know, we’ve used force in the recent past to secure our country,” he said.’

Does this mean that in the (increasingly likely) situation that the US will use force against Iran, perhaps even leading to a full scale invasion, the Harry’s Place cheerleaders will fall silent and will NOT support such an action?


abb1 08.14.05 at 4:58 am

If you believe pundits (such as this former CIA officer), the upcoming large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons is contingent upon another 9/11-type event (like with Iraq, regardless of whether Iran is involved or not). So, the ‘nuke Mecca’ fraction will be pleased indeed. The rest will say, I guess, that it had to be done because the new-9/11 has changed everything.


soru 08.14.05 at 5:26 am

the Harry’s Place cheerleaders will fall silent and will NOT support such an action?

If it happens, I for one will be out there cheering for the Republican Guard and Hizbollah.

An invasion of Iran, in any forseeable circumstance, would be everything that some people think Iraq was – illegal, unwinnable, and clear proof Bush was a dangerously stupid maniac.



Brendan 08.14.05 at 7:09 am

I think any proposed military action against Iran will also be an interesting test of the ‘America the anti-totalitarian state’ and ‘America the Empire’.

In John Man’s trashy but highly entertaining new biography of Genghis Khan (Genghis Khan, Life, Death and Resurrection), Man states a fundamental fact about Empire.

‘Empires expand for as long as they have the power to do so’.

(p206, Bantam version, 2004).

This is self-evidently the case, for two reasons.

a: attacking states leads to neighbouring states feeling forced into military action to prevent you expanding further and attacking them. Alternatively, the forces of the state you have just attacked may retreat to neighbouring states and attack you from there. Either way, you must then attack neighbouring states to keep your conquests, which then necessitates attacking THEIR neighbours and so forth.

b: The costs of your attacking conquering and colonising the states you have invaded necessitate attacking further states to fund the initial attack (and etc. etc. )

This isn’t just to point out the parallels between Genghis Khan’s invasion of the Muslim Empires and Bush’s, although the comparisons are obvious and are made clear in Man’s book (I should add that this comparison is greatly unfair….to Genghis Khan, who showed far greater diplomatic and military prowess than Bush ever did).

However, to repeat, if America really is an imperial power, we would expect further military operations (NOT in North Korea, which, as Bob Woodward’s book was made clear, was simply thrown into the ‘Axis of Evil’ to make it sound like there was no crusade against Islam…i mean perish the thought), but certainly in Iran and Syria. (I should point out that as with Iraq, any military action in Syria would almost certainly (again) be given the tacit support of Iran, who are clearly attempting to resuscitate the Persian Empire (in Shia form) and are using the Americans as useful idiots to achieve this).


Brendan 08.14.05 at 7:11 am

Sorry, the first sentence of that should have proposed two hypotheses: either ‘American the anti-totalitarian state’ OR ‘America the Empire’. The point being that if America really is an Empire in the making, we wouldn’t expect it to stop at Iraq.


hilzoy 08.14.05 at 11:58 am

A brand new one from HindRocket:

“There is one obvious catch, however, in Rich’s rosy–for him–scenario. Much as he and his fellow left-wingers can encourage our terrorist enemy, and they do, they don’t have the power to bring about America’s defeat. Notwithstanding endless hectoring from Rich and his fellows on the fringe, there is only one man whose views about Iraq will really matter for the next three and a half years. His name is George W. Bush, and he isn’t going to cut and run. Nor can Rich and his ilk significantly impede the efforts of America’s armed forces.”


Uncle Kvetch 08.14.05 at 12:34 pm

there is only one man whose views about Iraq will really matter for the next three and a half years. His name is George W. Bush, and he isn’t going to cut and run.

I’m not much for prognosticating, but two things seem clear to me:

1) There will be some sort of troop reduction in the next 15 months, if only for purely domestic political reasons. It may be only cosmetic, but the message to the American people will be clear: Enough of this, we’re bugging out.

2) Watching Hindrocket and his pals rationalize this turn of events is going to be extremely entertaining.


abb1 08.14.05 at 1:46 pm

…there is only one man whose views about Iraq will really matter for the next three and a half years…

I thought the neo-wingnuts love democracy, or, at least, the constitutional system of shared power known as ‘checks and balances’. I was so naive. It’s all about the Fuhrer.


roger 08.14.05 at 2:01 pm

soru, talk about woolly headed. The question in Iraq is not about American victory any more, but American relevance. Unlike Brendan, I think the myth that the U.S. can casually fight three wars at once is … a myth. Since Sistani’s march on Najaf, the American role in Iraq has been reduced, practically, to one in which American troops operate as a clumsy vehicle for forces they cannot control. It isn’t that the Americans know that they are irrelevant — after all, the American idea that they were going to promote the chances of their petty thug, Allawi, with the Shi’ites by decimating Falluja, with the Sunnis having no where else to go, shows the irreality of their thinking, their inability after two years to grasp Iraq in the slightest — but the reality of their irrelevance is rather written in the news from Iraq every day.

The hope that democracy and pro-American attitudes would nicely converge in Iraq was, always, a sad joke — the unsuccessful enforcing of that joke on the Iraqi population was a crime — and the spinout now is an outcome that is hardly unexpected.
This isn’t to say that America will lose — that, too, is a highly improbable event. The U.S. and the West need oil, and will eventually come to terms with the reality of the Middle East that compromises with the fact that the control of oil is never again going to be America’s to command, as it was up to the seventies. A Gulf divided between Saudi and Iranian influence, and an Israel that is, all in all, secure in its real borders is the best the U.S. will get — but it isn’t bad.
The terrorist threat is something else again. This is where the Bush administration is unique — no American government in the past has failed as completely to master a simple security question as the Bushies, and that failure will haunt us all for decades.
To repeat:
1. not supporting the Bush policy in Iraq is not the equivalent of not supporting American interest in the area — it restrains, instead, a peculiarly loathsome combination of megalomania and incompetence.
2. the question for the U.S., now, is one of relevance in the region, not victory or defeat; the pseudo-democracy of the Allawi type, which was the Bush version of Pax Americana in Iraq, is history;
3. the longer the war continues, the higher the chance that a real American interest — a continuous flow of oil — will truly be endangered;
4. anti-war people should spend every effort on supporting the strangling of Bush’s ability to continue to wage a vanity war. The volunteer army is their achilles heel, and it is the place to attack them.


Brendan 08.14.05 at 3:07 pm

‘ Unlike Brendan, I think the myth that the U.S. can casually fight three wars at once is … a myth’

The reason I think that is because…that’s what happened the last time. Remember under Nixon the Vietnam war spilled out into Cambodia and Laos: effectively a war on three fronts (or three seperate wars depending on your point of view).

This time:

Iraq = Vietnam

Iran = Cambodia

Syria = Laos.

Of course all three of those countries then went Communist and the likelihood that the US will turn a previously mainly secular region into three hardline Islamic states (Iran is already there) is not improbable.

Incidentally, Richard Nixon’s speech in which he announced the invasion of Cambodia (“This is not an invasion of Cambodia”) is worth noting.

“A majority of the American people, a majority of you listening to me are for the withdrawal of our forces from Vietnam. The action I have taken tonight is indispensable for the continuing success of that withdrawal program. A majority of the American people want to end this war rather than to have it drag on interminably. The action I have taken tonight will serve that purpose. A majority of the American people want to keep the casualties of our brave men in Vietnam at an absolute minimum. The action I take tonight is essential if we are to accomplish that goal.

We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam, and winning the just peace we all desire.”

Insert “Iraq” for “Vietnam” and you have, due to the miracles of time travel, the speech of A.N. Other American president in five years time.

The whole speech, almost every word of which is a lie, in the typical Nixonian manner, is worth reading.


roger 08.14.05 at 3:23 pm

Brendan, the troop strength then was much different than it is now. I understand that the U.S. had this capacity in the past, but the Cold War willingness to draft simply doesn’t exist anymore. It should be evident by now that Bush has concocted a new version of conservatism: freerider conservatism. It guarantees and expands the social net via borrowing, which also buys tax cuts and such. Pay later politics can’t simply be turned on a dime. Now, I could see the good dumb dems advocating a draft for just the scenario you outline — the prowar line in the Dem party (Hil to Lieberman) salivates to take on the war. But I don’t see the stomach for it in this country, or where the money is going to come from to pay for it.


abb1 08.15.05 at 12:52 am

Why draft? Foreign mercenaries is the solution: Half-price Colombian fighters offered for Iraq. Hey, and then later half-price Iraqi fighters can be sent to Colombia.


Brendan 08.15.05 at 8:31 am


I had a long complex post justifying my position which I then rather brilliantly managed to wipe before I got a chance to post it. However, luckily the Guardian has now got a piece that sums up what I think on the matter.

‘President Bush has reminded us that he is prepared to take military action to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. On Israeli television this weekend, he declared that “all options are on the table” if Tehran doesn’t comply with international demands….America’s devastating air power is not committed in Iraq. Just 120 B52, B1 and B2 bombers could hit 5,000 targets in a single mission. Thousands of other warplanes and missiles are available. The army and marines are heavily committed in Iraq, but enough forces could be found to secure coastal oilfields and to conduct raids into Iran.

A US attack is unlikely to be confined to the suspected WMD locations or to involve a ground invasion to occupy the country. The strikes would probably be intended to destroy military, political and (oil excepted) economic infrastructure. A disabled Iran could be further paralysed by civil war. Tehran alleges US support for separatists in the large Azeri population of the north-west, and fighting is increasing in Iranian Kurdistan….’,3604,1549198,00.html

And so on.

It may well be that a draft will have to be instituted at some point, but as long as this can be pushed off until just after the end of Bush’s term (perhaps with a President Cheney in power) then this will give the Bush administration the 12 years (in total) it needs to completely reshape the Middle East to American needs.


Mickslam 08.16.05 at 3:37 pm

Does this count?

Its Limbaugh smearing 1/2 the Democratic party.

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