Quote of the Week


"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq." —Paul Wolfowitz

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  1. So Paul Wolfowitz warns foreign jihadists not to come to Iraq to attempt to undermine the nascent democracy we are helping to create there, and its the quote of the week. I assume this is somehow supposed to be ironic, as if there is some commonality between foreign terrorism and our liberation of the country from the rule of a man who AP reports, not some crazy “neocon” or “right-wing” think thank but the AP, reports is responsible for around 300,000 murders. Unfortunately this kind of lazy moral equivalence has become really common as the anti-War movement seems to have redoubled and retrebled its efforts since we won the war. Tell me, if you and the BBC, The Guardian, NPR, The Nation, The New York Times et al actually succeed in turning public opinion against our efforts to build democracy in Iraq, and we end up giving up and leaving early, will you be satisfied then? Or will you go on a speaking tour to explain to the Iraqis how whatever Baathist or Shia Fundamentalist hellhole they’re living in is better than life under the influence of Paul Wolfowitz?
    I know you didn’t think the War was such a hot idea and all, but the effort to still fight the argument over the War after the war is over is getting positively monomanical. Is it really worth helping to undermine a fledling democracy to prove your rhetorical point?

  2. Completely, unflinchingly said with a straight face. I don’t think I could do that on command.

    Latest theory on this administration: it’s a performance art piece, meant to confuse and alienate the audience.

  3. Eric:

    You forgot to throw in “moral equivalence” and “confusing the fireman with the arsonist.”

    It’s pretty clear that the kind of “democracy” designed for Iraq is what the neocons mean by the term: the culmination of a long history running from the Hamiltonians to Samuel “Crisis of Democracy” Huntington. It will be a centralized state with very indirect popular control, and most policy issues relegated to the area of “professionalism” rather than politics. And the men in suits who conduct its affairs will be quite cooperative with the men in suits at the World Bank, IMF and WTO.

    I certainly don’t deny that it will be an improvement on the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam. But as a “democracy,” it will bear about as much resemblance to the genuinely democratic vision of the men who fought at Lexington Green as does, well, the present U.S. government.

  4. Actually, Kevin, Eric did say “moral equivalence.” He even used the full form of the clich?: “lazy moral equivalence.” Didn’t explain what it had to do with the price of eggs in China, but he did say it.

  5. fr:

    You’re confusing the people who fought the Revolution with the people who came to power in the Federalist coup of 1787.

    The Revolution itself started in 1774, when Massachusetts’ lower house reformed itself as a revolutionary convention and took over the government in defiance of the royal governor’s suspension of the legislature. From that point, the government was run by the convention and local revolutionary bodies, and royal tax officials were run out of the colony by local grassroots action. The shooting started the next year when royal forces attempted to retake the colony by force.

    The actual revolution, in most places, was heavily populist and libertarian, with an ideology centered mainly in the “country party” or “eighteenth century commonwealth” tradition. The Hamiltonian/”court party” tradition that triumphed in 1787 only supported independence reluctantly, and immediately began agitating for a new “imperial” government to replace Parliament in managing the commerce of the North American Empire. It was far outside the ideological mainstream of the Revolution.

    For more on this, you might check out Merrill Jensen’s or Murray Rothbard’s work on early American history.

    Jensen. “The Founding of a Nation,” and “The Articles of Confederation.” Rothbard, “Conceived in Liberty.” Forrest McDonald’s “E Pluribus Unum” is also good; although he has Federalist sympathies, he treats the republicans quite fairly.

  6. Federalist coup? Please don’t complain when the Usurping Tryants enforce the evil Bill of Rights.

  7. The Bill of Rights wasn’t written by Federalists, Mr. Dead Brain. It was added to the Constitution later to convince the antifederalists — the people Kevin’s is writing about — to come onboard.

  8. Funny but i remember reading about the said rights in the Federalist. But Madison et al were all counter-revolutionary fascists, right? So we are supposed to be against the Constitution now, since it is prowar? Please advise.

  9. Yawn. Next time you decide to attack a point of view, Mr. Cut & Paste, try to understand it first, OK?

  10. Kevin

    My understanding of the main ideals of the men who led the war for independence in America was that they were fighting for a republican form of government. I read that they learned the lessons of the first democracy in the world in Greece and knew that it would eventually lead to mob rule, much like what is happening in America today. I also recall that Ben Franklin replied when asked what kind of government we had, A republican form, if you can keep it. I’ve also read some quotes attributed to James “The Father of the Constitution” Madison warning of the dangers of democracy. I’ve concluded that the men that initiated the revolution in America had about as much resemblance to a democratic vision as, well, Saddam does.


  11. Eric,

    You’re almost as good a commedian as Mr. Wolfowitz. The “there is no Palestinian people” canard? Oh, bravo! That is priceless! How does it go, again? Oh, let’s see…. Palestine was virtually depopulated until the Jewish settlers started coming in around the turn of the century, and then Arabs started migrating in because of the prosperity. There was no ethnic cleansing in 1948, only a voluntary mass exodus at the behest of Arab leaders who wanted a clear shot at annihilating Israel. Have I missed anything?

    This is a superb genre piece, deserving of an honored place next to all the other official histories of right-wing pariah states. Best thing I ever heard since “the Afrikaners were in South Africa first, and the Bantu moved south afterward because of the prosperity they created.”

    You might bear in mind, though, that Joan Peters’ “From Time Immemorial” has been quite thoroughly discredited:

    And it’s pretty disingenuous, in discussing Palestinian terrorism, to ignore the fact that they are an occupied people, going a lot further back than 1967.

    The Jews born in Israel are certainly not at fault for being there. They are entitled not to be thrown out or killed. And people who kill innocent civilians to make political statements are brutal thugs.

    That being said, the fact remains that the Palestinians are the original inhabitants of a land that was colonized by European settlers. I strongly suspect that if the Nazis had won WWII, the French resistance would be sending suicide bombers into German colonies on the Seine.

  12. Don’t you see Eric? The six invading Arab armies were just there to supervise the peaceful withdrawal of the zionists, who only appeared in 1947. There were no Jews in the soverign nation-state of Palistine pre-1946.

  13. Anon @12:09; that’s seems like kind of a peculiar study. Cuba is cited three times within the years 1898-1922 as three distinct “nation-building failures.” I’m also not sure “democracy after 10 years” is an appropriate criterion with which to judge the unabashedly colonial interventions in Latin America 1898-1933; the US never set out to form representative democracies in any of the seven cited “failures” from this period.

  14. “For more on this, you might check out Merrill Jensen’s or Murray Rothbard’s work on early American history.

    Jensen. “The Founding of a Nation,” and “The Articles of Confederation.” Rothbard, “Conceived in Liberty.” Forrest McDonald’s “E Pluribus Unum” is also good; although he has Federalist sympathies, he treats the republicans quite fairly.”

    Now there’s a quote of the week. Hah! You just can’t make this stuff up folks. I can’t think how I would have been so rash to bring out that “tin-foil hat” thing. Hmmmm

  15. And yes, I know, fair-minded people can disagree on Israel and yadda yadda yadda, but I just can’t see getting to larger political, big picture discussions on this with the hysterical anti-Semitism of the far left and far right in the full flower it is currently. With Palestinians cheering 9/11, and with the far left and far right in this country saying that 9/11 was perfectly justifiable because of Israel, and with rich American “peace” activists tucking suicide bombers into their beds so they get a good night’s sleep before going out to mass murder the next morning, I don’t think the current climate is exactly felicitous for reasonable, non Anti-Semitic critiques of Israel.

    I can only think how I would react of factories for suicide bombers (and what else is a place like Nablus anyway) existed a couple hours from my home, and praise the Israeli Jews for their incredible restraint and compassion in the face of violence and hatred.

  16. Wow Jack, you are so original. You are one of a kind. How did you ever think of it?

    To express disagreement someone in a discussion thread, by calling them a Nazi, I mean.

    Who-da thunkit?

    I wish I had thought of it first.

    Wow. Calling somebody a Nazi… online!

    Well, I never.

    How unique.

    The depth and breadth of your visionary efforts to classify fellow comments posters is stunningly original, and truly revolutionary.

    To even conceive of calling someone a Nazi in an online forum…

    Wow. It boggles the mind. How did you ever think of that? What hospital do you work at? I ask, because you must be a brain surgeon, or maybe a rocket scientist.

    What is it like, Jack, to be a pioneer, a trendsetter, a first among equals? To be the man who bravely blazes a trail, doing something so original, that we are all in awe?

    I’m going to go home and tell my pet aardvark Godwin about this. I’m sure he’ll have an opinion on it.

  17. Eric: You are just part of the Neo-Federalist conspiracy, along with other fascists such as Madison (engineer of the coup), Washington (war criminal) and Jefferson (genocidal warmonger). Get this: They all were committed Lockeans. Who was Locke? He was a philosopher who believed in estoric exploition (“property rights”). What’s more MANY OF THESE GUYS WERE OF AMERICAN DESENT! Gee, now you know why they had such an interest.

    These far right wingers sure pulled the wool over our eyes! The Constitituion, just an excuse for corporate exploitation. Read Lyndon Larouche for more information.

    Lets count how many seconds until we hear “tin foil” or “anti-american” in response to a real post about the Neo-Fed conspiracy.

  18. I have created a corollary to “The answer to bad speach is more speach.”

    There are three, which are each mutually exlusive:

    1) The answer to really bad speach is a exponential amount of more speach.

    2) Bad speach drives out good.

    3) The answer to really bad speach is to shoot the motherfucker.

    The last one is clearly the most comedically pleasing, and #2 is I believe Simon’s Law applied to another realm, but I cannot seem to satisfyingly prove #1.

  19. Eric:

    Ah, so yet another item of crimethink has been added to the long list of ideological transgressions that earn a tinfoil hat. The list has been expanded to include any revisionist take on American history that departs from the Little Red Schoolhouse cult of Our Founding Fathers.

    Gawdamighty, Eric, for somebody who seems to support every jot and tittle of the mainstream Republican Party line, you seem to waste an awful lot of time trolling a libertarian board. As much as I dislike neoconservatism and Reaganism, I haven’t yet developed enough “issues” with them to troll Free Republic or FrontPage on a daily basis. The reason I come to Reason is that, as marginal as my Tuckerite brand of free market economics may be in the overall libertarian community, I do see myself as part of such a community, and I enjoy sharing perspectives with other people in it. If I was investing so much energy in sniping at posters on a site whose overall philosophy I disagreed with, I’d really have to take inventory.

    A few weeks ago, when you announced your intention to cease posting here because of frustration with the level of debate, I regretted it. I thought you brought in some substance and argued a case ably even when I disagreed with it.

    But since then you seem to have gotten ever angrier and more bitter that this is a blog where most of the contributors (gasp) disagree with you! And your level of argument has degenerated to third-hand cliches from Horowitz and Coulter. Maybe you should give your blood pressure a rest.

    As for the Israel thing, we’ve got a straw-man alert. Not even Chomsky has said anything remotely like 9-11 was “perfectly justified” by Israel.

    And regardless of how restrained Sharon allegedly is, it doesn’t change the fact that the Palestinians are an occupied people. As I attempted to suggest in my earlier French hypothetical example, you might think of how you’d react to your former home being conquered by a foreign army in 1948, as you sat in a refugee camp. Many of the refugee camps are laid out according to which Palestinian town the people lived in before 1948, or even what street they lived on in the bigger cities. Some of the refugees still have the key to the house they were driven out of. To quote the Psalms, “if I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” It’s pretty hard to treat a settler government as an innocent party, no matter how many of its own people are innocent. And if you respond that I treat this as “justification” of terror, or am “apologizing” for it, it will be a new low of demagogy, but I won’t be too surprised.

    BTW, here’s a metaphysical question for you: Did those who willed the Zionist movement and the settlement of Palestine also will all the evil that directly or indirectly resulted from it? Are they “objectively pro-” everything bad that has happened there for the last century? Are they “objectively” responsible for all the deaths, Jewish and Arab, that have occurred? Because regardless of what they intended, they are one indispensable causal link in the complex of forces that created the present situation. Wilson’s entry into WWI is responsible for the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust, for that matter.

    If you push it far enough, you get the Nietzschean position that all of reality is interconnected by causal necessity, and he who wills anything that exists wills everything else.

  20. if you don’t agree with someone, call them a troll

    libertarians have nothing in common with republicans, they are not welcome here

    if you post a weird nonmainstream take on history, nobody should disagree with you

    if someone disuptes this they are just mouthing a party line

    if you disagree with kevin or jesse, you are a neoconservative or a reagnite

    all posters and commenters agree with everything jesse and julian say

    if you disagree you are just immiating Horowitz and Coulter

    it is perfectly ok to take a onesided view from the palistinians perspective, but not ok to take a view from the isrealis

    it is civilized and fair in a debate to take someones words out of context, insult someone and question their intelligence

  21. Kevin, listen, I’m sure you’re a fine fellow personally. I’ve been here so much and I’ve been posting with so much more vitriol lately, frankly because I needed to blow off steam, but also because I think this is time to go on the offensive. The effort to discredit the war and undermine democracy in Iraq is getting over the top. This is my, probably futile, attempt to do something about it. Other than that its just a sick, sick addiction, and I am indeed trying to wean myself away, believe me.

    Helen Thomas, for one, said that 9-11 was perfectly justified as a critique of Israel. Nicholas Von Hoffman did as well, and wrote a piece about how there were a lot more in the intelligentsia who thought so, but they were begin bound and gagged by Clearchannel or Ashcroft or something or other.

  22. it is civilized and fair in a debate to take someones words out of context, insult someone and question their intelligence

    Well, that’s what you just did…

  23. Kevin

    I was in no way,shape or form equating the founders with Saddam. Please reread my posting. There is a chasm of intellectual thought between believing in a democratic and a republican form of govt. I was merely pointing out that by recognizing the unalienable rights of men, many of the founders abhorred democracy and set up a constitutionally limited republic with checks and balances, severe limitations on the authority of the federal govt, and a bill of rights that also includes an ammendment, the 9th I think, that basically states -just because we’ve identified these particular individual rights, remember that people still have all their other rights, so don’t use this as an excuse for saying things like, ‘Where in the constitution does it say that people have a right to privacy?’ and then conclude that since it’s not spelled uot, they don’t.-all to prevent the degeneration into a democracy, or a monarchy, or some other form or criminal govt. A republican form of govt is about as far from a democratic (tyranical), form as it is from Saddam’s form. That’s what I was trying to point out, the differences, not an equating.

    Where in America is mob rule?

    Mob rule doesn’t necessarily mean mobs running in the streets. The mobs (voters), steal money (taxes) through their votes all the time. They band together to get ‘our’ elected reps to take away our proberty rights and a host of other rights.

    I know that the constitional convention in 1787 was called only to ammend the articles of confederation, and it, upon convening, threw them out and did what they felt like. Sound like politicans today when it comes to the rule of law?

    Please read some of Madison’, writings regarding democracy.

    Didn’t Hamiltan, aside from setting up a central bank, largely fail at his other endeavors?

  24. Eric:

    I was starting to foam at the mouth a little there myself. Even if you’re getting slightly frazzled, your usual level of debate adds some needed discipline to the other arguments here (my own included). And I didn’t mean to imply that only ideological clones were welcome (especially given my own shaky status).

    If any lesson can be distilled about this long series of exchanges over causality and responsibility, it’s that (you’re right), the world is a very messy place. I’m quite willing to admit that, disorder and all, Iraq is still probably better off than under Saddam, and that one of the unpleasant side-effects of non-intervention would have been to leave a bloodthirsty tyrant in power. But nevertheless, I don’t believe that good outweighs the long-term harm that will be done to our domestic institutions and level of freedom as a result of the (even franker) hegemony that the PNAC types envision coming out of this war.

    All I see coming out of this line of progression is more and more blowback, as far as the eye can see. In every country where the U.S. backs the government or a political faction, or otherwise takes a stance on its internal affairs, all the parties to the conflict will see influencing domestic U.S. opinion as the key to victory. And 9-11, I’m afraid, was a foreshadowing of how they’ll choose to do that. And the erosion of liberty at home in response to this ongoing terror will just keep getting worse. Prove me wrong, Bush, please prove me wrong.

    The name von Hoffman doesn’t ring a bell, I’m afraid. I’m pretty sure Helen Thomas is an NPR liberal of some kind; as Cockburn said of Hillary Clinton, “I’m not surprised she’d support bombing as a social engineering tool.”

  25. Mark:

    No, no–I wasn’t comparing the Federalists to Saddam. It was the likely NEW regime in Iraq, formally representative but lacking direct or participatory democracy, that I was making the comparison to. I admit I tend to demonize Hamilton, but I don’t think he had rape rooms in mind.

    Pretty much the whole Hamilton project eventually triumphed, not just central banking and a monetized debt. The construction of the “necessary and proper” clause used in defense of the Bank of the U.S. has since been used as precedent to interpret all delegated powers (including commerce) broadly. Gibbon v. Ogden pretty much interpreted the “Commerce” clause to allow Hamilton’s whole mercantilist agenda. The “common Defence and general Welfare” clause is taken to grant a plenary spending power (internal improvements, etc.), regardless of whether the appropriation is directly pursuant to a delegated power. You can draw a straight line between Hamilton’s interpretation of the executive power as a general grant, and the Curtiss-Wright decision in 1936. Hamilton was the first step in a progression that went on to Marshall, Story, and so on.

    More broadly than Hamilton himself, the victorious court party replaced the petty bourgeois radical vision of the Revolution (based on Coke, the Levellers and commonwealthmen, and Wilkes) with one reflecting the worldview of Walpole, Blackstone and Mansfield.

    The historical memory of prerogative courts and civil law under the Stuarts, and its resurrection in the admiralty courts exercizing jurisdiction over colonial commerce, figured very large in the common law culture of the Revolution. Thanks to what Hamilton started, the civil law tradition has been almost entirely restored in a whole array of administrative law courts (IRS, EPA, and all the rest of the alphabet soup). The power of forfeiture is not limited to RICO or drug law: it is central to the administrative law methods used by all regulatory agencies, and is based on an explicit resurrection of prerogative law concepts from English history.

    And before anyone asks, I don’t have a problem with fringes on flags.

  26. Helen Thomas, maybe i’m getting the name wrong but I’m thinking of the lawyer who defends accusedt terrorists, those mulsim kids who burned down the Synagogue in Riverdale etc. She usually goes beyond merely giving a due process defense to her client to saying that they did it, but it was all justified because of Israel. Nicholas Von Hoffman is a standard issue liberal hack op-ed writer, who is often published in the New York Observer.
    I don’t see what the problem is with American hegemony in and of itself, especially as an American. I think it would be a good thing, particularly as opposed to the only possible alternatives of granting more power to China, Russia, or the EU led by a Chirac/Schroeder axis.
    I also don’t see why greater military power is automatically tied to an erosion of civil liberties at home. I’m against the Patriot ACt and all of that stuff personally, never saw how the two were related.

  27. Eric, you are thinking Lyn Thomas. And she doesn’t just represent terrorists, she owns the company.

    Well, not exactly, but the anti-American witch prides herself on using attorney-client privilege to pass operational messages back and forth between terrorist defendants and their colleagues who aren’t yet arrested. She’s in a bit of a fix about this, as she was caught doing this pretty openly last fall… And I don’t mean anti-American as in “suspected Democrat”, I mean it as “loves anyone who hates this country.”

  28. Eric, you are just experiancing what I call “post-libertarian traumatic syndrome.” It happens when someone finally overcomes dogma/worldview and reaches a new understanding about reality. It happend to me one Sept. 11 while I watched 3000 people murdered on national television. It was then I realized that my understanding world doesn’t fit into the tiny boxes I had constructed. At first I was crushed by my lack of faith – I found myself agreeing with the evil hated neocons on Iraq and then invesigating why.

    Am I now a conservative instead of a libertarian? Neocon? Who knows, who cares. I know that I am no longer a Rothbardian, but that doesn’t mean I am bitter to those that still are (though I enjoy fucking with them a bit, trying to get them thinking!) Libertarianism still has a place in my life, just not as important place. Have I just replaced one dogma with another? Probably, but such is life.

    Perhaps it is time to start posting/surfing somewhere else, as to your new found eyes this resembles a bitter echo chamber. Enjoy your new found freedom. If others accuse you of “selling out” just remember that shifts in belief will probably happen to them as well.

    Best of luck on your new journey.

  29. Eric:

    The connection is that terror is blowback from intervention abroad, and that terror here at home leads to the current AG pulling out the latest “counter-terror” bill previously drafted by Schumer and steamrolling it through Congress.

    Whether Al Qaeda carried out 9-11 just because they hate our way of life (“Osama stumbled across a copy of the bill of rights and went ballistic), or were motivated by something more specific, is counterfactual speculation, obviously, and therefore unverifiable. So I’m risking another fruitless metaphysical exchange like the previous one on causation and responsibility (Nader and all). Nevertheless, my own gut feeling is that if Reagan hadn’t armed thousands of fundamentalist maniacs in Afghanistan, and Bush I hadn’t decided it was his business when a shitpot one-party Arab dictatorship invaded a shitpot absolute monarchy, 9-11 wouldn’t have happened.

    And you can see how the police state has ratcheted upward because of that.

    Empire will just mean more 9-11’s, because every loser in a national political struggle will blame the U.S. proconsul’s support for the local victor. And more 9-11’s will mean Patriot II, III, ad nauseam.

  30. Perhaps it is time to start posting/surfing somewhere else, as to your new found eyes this resembles a bitter echo chamber.

    An echo chamber? Hit & Run?

    And you say your eyes are open?

  31. 20/20 hindsight doesn’t prove much…

    “And more 9-11’s will mean Patriot II, III, ad nauseam.”

    And a nuclear 9-11 will mean police state / nuclear retaliation. Yes the ME is our frankenstein monster. Our choice now is to 1) kill it 2) allow it to destroy our way of life by inaction or 3) reform it.

    When you look at it that way Iraq looks a very sane, rational choice. Let’s hope it ends up like Japan or Germany post 1945.

  32. Kevin, why don’t you actually take Bin Laden or Zawahiri at their word? Have you ever actually read their screeds? They want to kill every American and every Jew on the planet and they blame us for everything bad that’s ever happened to Muslims including the defeat of the Moors in Spain. I shit you not. There’s nothing we could possibly do that would stop these nutjobs except killing them, and toppling every government that ever even kinda sorta thought about supporting them, and we’re just at the beginning of that process now. The Black Hand didn’t intend to start World War I and make America the major world power with their act of terrorism, and Al Qaeda I’m sure didn’t have any idea what they were unleashing on 9-11, but it is WWIII and we’re going to emerge even more dominant from it, with all the accompanying good and bad that comes with that. I don’t think these previous wars lead to the death of our democracy, but I’m sure there are counter-narratives you coudl buy into that postit that it did.

  33. Mr. Burns:

    My own reaction on 9-11 was 1) that the globalists had been stirring up the world with a big stick, like a hornet’s nest, and they’d brought this horror back home to hurt a lot of innocent people; and 2) that what was left of the Constitution was a walking dead man. IOW, just more evil effects of allowing the state to rule us. That may be my dogma talking, or maybe we both just interpreted events consistently with our preexisting principles.


    You’re right in the sense that nothing we can do would make Osama and his inner core hate us more. But the perception of the U.S. role in the world has a huge effect on his potential pool of recruits. And while the content of OBL’s hatred (not to mention his present rhetoric) is heavily colored by our sinfulness and secularism, I don’t believe that would have been sufficient to set him off. Europe is even more secular and post-Christian than we are.

    Anyway, I don’t take the U.S. government at its word most of the time, so why should I give Osama a higher level of credibility? 😉

  34. Augustus:

    Are you sure you’re not Lazarus Long under a new nom de net? Your argument, creative as it is, sounds an awful lot like his.

  35. >>that the globalists had been stirring up the world with a big stick, like a hornet’s nest, and they’d brought this horror back home to hurt a lot of innocent people

    A pragmatic view for sure, so why not consider a pragmatic solution and bring out the bug spray?

    >> that what was left of the Constitution was a walking dead man.

    The fact that most has survived is a postive sign. Other nations have fared worse. Are you such a pessimist?

    >> just more evil effects of allowing the state to rule us.

    Still, not all States are created equal. I am glad when my rulers kill tyrants.

    >>That may be my dogma talking, or maybe we both just interpreted events consistently with our preexisting principles.

    Not really, as I questioned the hell out of my preexisting principles. I fully admit that my current principals are less than consitant.

  36. Way to Dowd-ify Wolfowitz’ comment, Jesse. Here’s the whole thing:

    Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein (news – web sites), told a news conference in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that Washington would, however, welcome outside help.

    “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,” said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.

    “Those who want to come and help are welcome,” he said. “Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.”

    “I think our success will have a positive influence not just on Iraq but on the whole region,” he said. “Some people are afraid of that influence and they are targeting us.”

    Hmmm… Wolfie isn’t quite as idiotic and self-deconstructive as your out-of-context quote made him seem.

    If you really want to play at being Mo Dowd, you can also come up with this gem:

    “Wolfowitz… aimed… Saddam Hussein… at… U.S. Troops.”

    If we Dowdify your last article, Jesse, on potential U.S. involvement in Liberia, we get some real gems:

    “It’s easy to poke fun at Howard Dean.”


    “Anything can be linked, Kevin Bacon-style, to the war on terror.”


    “Support it or oppose it, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t want the American occupation of Iraq.”

    Gosh Jesse, you sound silly, kind of like Jonah Goldberg, when I do that.

  37. For all those so enraptured by the prospects for US style democracy in Iraq take a look at the latest American effort to bring back Saddam’s secret police (the Mukhabarat) to spy on Iran and its supporters in Iraq.

    Billmon sums it up very well here: http://billmon.org/archives/000380.html

  38. Isn’t sound-bite criticism fun? It sets me to pondering just how many judgements and considerations I’ve made in the past about people and issues based upon one tiny bit lifted out and implicitly, even accidentally, presented as representative or indictive (is that a word? it is now) of the whole.

    It is closely related to the numerical fallacy of the “isolated statistic”, wherein one statistic is presented as an argument, or as support for an argument; this is of course fallacious, because the nature of things is that you cannot reduce a complex issue or situation into a single number and somehow expect not to loose a great deal of important information that would materially effect your decision making (and you can easily take just about any data and brew up a perfectly valid statistic which contradicts the original argument, as with arguments of the “absolute number vs relative number” variety). That particular trait of “seeking one thing” being called “Monomania”, and it is just as commonly found in morality, ethics, and generally all throughout human behavior.

  39. wait, friends. wait, hold the phone. what’s this?

    “I certainly don’t deny that it will be an improvement on the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam.”

    yeah. that’s good, bro. you certainly don’t want to deny that. thing to do it seems is to “minimize” the the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam. just sort of “forget about it in a foggy gale of ‘what have you done for me lately’ rhetoric,” if you will.


  40. I know plutarck just pounded away at statistics, but here is an interesting poll of the opinions of the Iraqis in Baghdad done by the spectator (uk’s).


    Regarding this quote “Support it or oppose it, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t want the American occupation of Iraq.”

    47% of the iraqis polled in baghdad have no preference between the americans and saddams rule. Again, plutarck, I realize that there is much more behind a poll. Here are two articles on how the poll was done:


  41. No problem, df – you can’t get there if you never get half way.

    Ooo, I like that – I just invented another folk saying.

    More explicitly, the solution to isolated statistics is not to banish statistics, but to introduce more. If nothing else it confuses the hell out of people 😉

  42. Apis:

    Gee, you’re right, putting Wolfowitz’s comments in context makes them *so* much better. To repeat it:

    “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,” said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.

    “Those who want to come and help are welcome,” he said. “Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.”

    By Wolfowitz’s own logic in the expanded quote, Americans still aren’t welcome in Iraq, since they came to “interfere and destroy”. But just keep brown-nosing, Apis (and Eric, too)! I’m sure you’ll get extra shiny death’s head insignia for your uniforms during Bush’s second term. (And before you bitch that I’m a “left loony”, I’ll point out that I’m a registered Republican who voted for Reagan, and the son of a career military man.)

  43. Apis (and others): I didn’t quote Wolfowitz “out of context,” because any moron can see what he meant even without the context, which I linked to in any event. (What, did you think I was saying Wolfowitz had reversed his opinion on the war?) His quote is funny even if you know what he means, unless you’re some sort of humorless robot incapable of chuckling when somebody phrases something the wrong way. In that case, I suppose the proper reaction is to write a long screed explaining just what the person actually meant (as though that were in doubt), call the person who raised the issue a nasty name, and maybe throw in a few silly red herrings like “moral equivalence.” And, above all, ignore the fact that the man you’re defending said something dumb.

    Plutarck: When you brought up the isolated statistic, were you defending Paul Wolfowitz, Maureen Dowd, or me?

  44. Wolfowitz didnt say anything dumb/self-contradictory/ironic at all. Long, humourless screeds are needed in order to tease out the meaning of these far-left/far-right isolationists’ attempts at humour. Sorry

  45. “The neo’s are having their way in spades in Israel and the deprivation of liberty (including suppression of enterprise) and the resultant poverty (one in ten Palestinian children severely mal-nourished) under a brutal occupation that is made possible by U.S. government tax dollars does nothing to win friends for our way of life in the larger mid-east.”

    The “Palestinians” (to tell you the truth I’m confused as to who these people are. Perhaps you mean Jordanians?) send terrorists to detonate bombs filled with nails in the middle of crowded public squares. Israelis use their military to try to protect themselves from these murderous barbarians. I don’t really see a “brutal occupation” here, unless you think we’re brutally occupying Al Qaeda somehow.

  46. A foreigner in the middle of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs complains about “foreigners” interfering in Iraqi “internal affairs”? Sorry, Eric, but that’s funny.

  47. Jesse Walker:

    “Plutarck: When you brought up the isolated statistic, were you defending Paul Wolfowitz, Maureen Dowd, or me?”

    Actually, I was engaging in the time-honored (at least by me) behavior of using a particular individual situation as an opportunity to talk about some generally related concept, which may or may not actually apply to that particular instance.

    So, for instance, I neither stated nor do I know whether or not you, or anyone else for that matter, either took to taking things out of context or engaging in monomania. I should have said that, really.

    Given the juxtaposition, it would be rather impossible to tell without my stating it explicitly. Damn, violated a conversational maxim…

  48. Is George Orwell in the house?

  49. plutarck-
    what did you mean by “you can’t get there if you never get half way”?

  50. Eric:
    I agree with you on your lazy moral equivalence statement. It has been driving me crazy since the days of the Vietnam war.
    Having said that, just the good intentions of wanting to help the opressed does not make an armed intervention succeed. It takes the wisdom to know when you may be doomed to failure and that wisdom was lacking in Vietnam and seems to be lacking now. Peoples of this world to a large degree make their own beds. So do those Iraquis that now fail to support the chance at a better and freer life. Unfortunately the war is long not over!

    IMHO you make a modern-day mistake by judging late 18th century ideals of the rights of men by applying today’s standard of what a democracy should be. Comparing men like Franklin and Madison to Saddam is patently ridiculous. I submit to you that a state founded on the principle of innate human rights and equality of the governors with the governed, was a very revolutionary idea in 1776, threating the power structures of the day to the core. Witness the French Revulotion 20 years later.
    Also: Where do you see mob rule in the US?

  51. df:

    I mean that one need not reach a destination instantaneously; so if you need some ten statistics and arguments along with them to get a proper understanding of a situation, you don’t get there by not stating even one. If one is insufficient, then the proper solution is to offer, or demand, more – not to try to get people not to offer them at all.

    To get there a different way: “The answer to bad speach is more speach.”

  52. “To get there a different way: “The answer to bad speach is more speach.””

    What do you mean by “is”? LOL

  53. Whenever I undertake a project, I don’t particularly care for anyone interfering, be they foreign or domestic. But in general, foreigners tend to smell a bit worse, so I can see why they might be singled out in a case like this.

  54. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/story.php?storyID=13752

    According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has conducted more than 200 military interventions abroad since its founding. Sixteen of these interventions, or about 8 percent, can be categorized as nation-building attempts.

    These missions have three characteristics. First, their practical goal was to achieve regime change or the survival of a regime that would have otherwise collapsed. (As in Iraq, creating or restoring democracy was not the original mission objective. Rather, core U.S. security and economic interests were the principal drivers of U.S. interventions.) Second, American nation-building efforts typically required that a large number of ground troops be deployed to provide security and basic services. Third, U.S. military and civilian personnel were active in post-conflict political administration. Such deep U.S. involvement in the political life of the target nations allowed Washington to select friendly leaders, influence policy, and restructure institutions.

    If we judge these nation-building attempts by whether they created durable democratic regimes after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the results are sobering. Of the 16 attempts (see facing page), only four (Japan, Germany, Panama in 1989, and Grenada in 1983) qualify as successes. In these four countries, democracy, as measured by the widely used Polity democracy index maintained at the University of Maryland, was sustained 10 years after U.S. troops left. In the other 11 countries (excluding Afghanistan), democracy failed to emerge or endure during the same time frame. Worse, in the countries where U.S. nation-building efforts foundered, brutal dictatorships and corrupt, autocratic regimes gained power after the U.S. exit. This record implies a success rate of 26 percent (four out of 15 attempts).

    The factors contributing to failed nation-building efforts are complex, and some of them, such as socio-economic characteristics and governing capacities in target nations, are beyond U.S. control. Yet one factor is not: U.S. decisions to ?go it alone.? It appears that unilateral efforts are more likely to cause nation building to fail. Of the 16 cases included in this analysis, 12 were unilateral attempts. Of these, 10 failed.

  55. s’peachy kean! “do it right the first time.” 😀

  56. No, it can’t be funny, because the politics are all wrong.

    Hey, Eric, how many women does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    That’s not funny.

  57. Eric Deamer wrote:
    “The “Palestinians” (to tell you the truth I’m confused as to who these people are. Perhaps you mean Jordanians?)”

    Well you are confused (about this issue). That’s for sure. For a discussion the various laughable but stll malicioius attempts (although rarely invoked any more) to deny the Palestinians their heritage see: “Blaming the Victims” ED.s Christopher Hitchens (thats right, same guy; you oughta like him ) and Edward Said. Politicaly, we may start out by identifying the Palestinians as the ones who suffered a mass (750,000) forced exodus in 1948. (BTW, this basic fact is accepted as the fundamental starting point for discourse in Israel of the issue but not as well in the U.S.)

    The occupation and the terror feed on each other.
    When the occupation diminishes, so does the terror. It’s a historical fact of the area.

  58. The problem is that Wolfowitz is one of the key actors who fed Bush the lies to buttress the case for the invasion in the first place. And, it’s a tragedy that many good Republicans will suffer because Bush has come under the neo-con sway with their policies of hyper-interventionism abroad, big government at home as well as a myopic ” keep the world safe for Arial Sharon at any cost” Israel policy; the Palestinian people AND the Israelis be damned.

    “Or will you go on a speaking tour to explain to the Iraqis how whatever Baathist or Shia Fundamentalist hellhole they’re living in …”

    Well, is Iran just such a “Shi’a Fundamentalist hellhole”? It’s much better then the lot of the Iraqis and look how the liberalization movement is proceeding there despite the set back of Bush’s idiot “Axis of Evil” pronouncement. And now if the neo-cons will just contain their mindless saber rattling.

    “…is better than life under the influence of Paul Wolfowitz?”

    The neo’s are having their way in spades in Israel and the deprivation of liberty (including suppression of enterprise) and the resultant poverty (one in ten Palestinian children severely mal-nourished) under a brutal occupation that is made possible by U.S. government tax dollars does nothing to win friends for our way of life in the larger mid-east.

    “Is it really worth helping to undermine a fledling democracy to prove your rhetorical point?”

    On the contrary; Being critical of one’s own government will likely foster an appreciation of a freer way of life among a people who have seen so little of that type of criticism.

  59. That funny Volfowitz! What is funny is the warmonger idiot brigade is here with their silly cliches about “moral equivalence”! what is next, idiotarian!

    and rick is right. if the arabs just wiped out isreal all the terror would go away. That is a all they want, along with an Islamic caliphite. And you far right neocons try to stop this!

  60. I get it; he doesn’t want Iraq run by a bunch of furners, with their smelly food and funny language, but by good, old fasioned Americans.

  61. i want these weekly quotation can u send it. plz reply me.



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