Chickenhawk Henpeck Begins


Watching Iraq hawks turning on each other reminds me of the scene where Joel Cairo, having discovered that the Maltese Falcon is a fake, turns on his ally Kaspar Gutman and says with his eyes bugging out, "You stupid, fat, stupid, fat stupid!" The National Review called last week for "An End to the Illusion," arguing:

[I]t is time for reality to drive our Iraq policy, unhindered by illusions or wishful thinking.

Andrew Sullivan doesn't like that idea:

To have supported the invasion of Iraq only now to support as quick an exit as possible is to give us the worst of both worlds. The kind of skepticism and realism National Review's editors are now flirting with should have demanded no intervention in the first place--as the Buchanan brigades averred.

Today's Wall Street Journal takes President Bush to task for turning over the management of Iraq to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi:

The early thinking, if it can be called that, seems to be to dismantle the IGC and appoint some "technocrats" to run things until elections are held. So the Iraqis the U.S. has spent a year working most closely with will be cashiered in favor of unknowns chosen by an Algerian who works for Kofi Annan.

At the opposite end of the wishful thinking continuum is Daniel Pipes, who solidifies the position of pessimism he started carving out last October:

I therefore counsel the occupying forces quickly to leave Iraqi cities and then, when feasible, to leave Iraq as a whole. They should seek out what I have been calling for since a year ago: a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman, someone who will work with the coalition forces, provide decent government, and move eventually toward a more open political system.

This sounds slow, dull, and unsatisfactory. But at least it will work—in contrast to the ambitious but failing current project.

It's hard to say which of these sides is more contemptible, and I only hope neither ever runs out of bullets. The Stay-the-Coursers are, as ever, courageous enough to sacrifice other Americans' lives in support of their Wilsonian fancies. But I find the Wobblies even more perplexing. Did these goddamn dimwits really think things were going to go any better? Pipes I can at least credit with deviousness: He wants Iraq to descend into chaos so he can say something along the lines of "See? Perpetual war is the only language Arabs understand." The editors of the National Review, demonstrate their lack of acquaintance with human life as it is lived on planet Earth consistently enough that I guess they really are surprised to find democracy-building isn't as simple as advertised.

At least it's encouraging to see the Wobblies beginning to understand that there are limits to power, and that the least wise foreign policy is one that advertises the exact limits of your power to the world on a daily basis. But any Iraq hawk who claims to be surprised at the problems we're having over there should really have the decency to refrain from commenting on this topic ever again.