Because William Casey Wasn't Available, Apparently


President Bush this week added to his track record of rehabilitating dodgy 1980s secret warriors by nominating ex-Honduras ambassador John Negroponte to head up the new U.S. embassy in Iraq. Matthew Yglesias, who has been a one-man Negroponte-outrage generator, lays out the case against over at The American Prospect.

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  1. OK, they nominated a shithead to overlook a cesspool.What`s new?

  2. It struck me while reading the background to this article that I’ve lost count of the people in the Bush administration who appear, on the face of the evidence and frequently by their own admissions, to be utterly incompetent yet have held (and in some cases continue to hold) their jobs. (This is Negroponte. Add his name to the list: Tenet. Rumsfeld (who can’t predict the future even with help). I could go on, but, as I said, I’ve lost count, and it’s too depressing.

    Perhaps competence is no longer a valued commodity in our culture? If so, what are the implications?

  3. Would you rather have a truly valuable individual
    in the crosshairs?
    Embassador to Iraq certainly ain’t a dream job.
    Is he married? I’ll bet his wife is thrilled.

  4. “William Casey Wasn’t Available”

    Well, that’s because Bob Woodward has him on hold on an Ouija board for his next book…

  5. Is it possible that someone with no Middle East diplomacy experience was chosen *because* of that very fact? That branch of the state department is as cozy with Saudi Arabia as the Pentagon procurement folks are with Boeing and Haliburton. Maybe they wanted someone with diplomatic experience, who wasn’t as likely to be compromised.

  6. Speaking of which, is James Watt still alive? His war on The Beach Boys was the one Reagan initiative I could really get behind. Bring back Watt!

  7. Thanks for taking the chum, Les.

    Yep, it shore would bother me if Pinochet whacked my loved ones.

    Prolly not as much as it would bug me, though, if my loved ones were friggin Maoist thugs urging everybody to massacre the upper, middle, and upper lower classes, dump ’em in mass graves and establish a communist agrarian utopia.

    Might as well hate Lincoln for killing all the loved ones of those poor southern women. Not to mention the loved ones of those poor folk he jailed just for speaking up – like the mob leaders of the Maryland Secessionist. They were only speaking up, too…

    Gotta keep the hands clean, right?

  8. Mmmmmm…chum….

    I was peckish, Stephen, thanks!

    I’d appreciate evidence that the Allende and his supporters “urged everybody to massacre the upper, middle, and upper lower classes, dump ’em in mass graves and establish a communist agrarian utopia.”

    I’d also like to know why you think a person with no experience in the Middle East and a history of supporting terrorists (yes, anti-communists can be terrorists) and ignoring (if not covering up) severe human rights violations in Honduras should be apppointed ambassador to Iraq, a place that requires the best (intellectually and morally) if we are to be successful there.

  9. I fear you have a pretty narrow view of morals in war. If by best, you mean perfect to the point of being free of moral quandaries, then certainly you are looking for a man who believes killing is wrong under all circumstances, that a diplomat and statesman must tell the whole truth at all times, and who has a proven track record of being utterly beyond moral reproach.

    Unfortunately, the Pope is said to be busy right right now.

    I’m not sure Negroponte is the best – but he has a decent track record for winning insurgencies. So far. If succeeding in the mission requires him to be truthful and rose-smelling, I’d wager that his mission-oriented posture would cause him to consider behaving in such a way. If the mission – part of that right now is quashing Al Qaida, Ba’thist, “Mahdi” and plain old criminal elements – requires a hard nosed ugly American, I’d wager he will do that too. My question isn’t whether he is going to come out smelling clean, it’s whether he is going to win on all points – strong enough to crush the insurgents, good enough to win confidence and leave a decent (if not perfect) image of the U.S. in the eyes of the Iraqis. Most of all, he must help the CPA and the military leave behind a reasonably stable, reasonably free and reasonably prosperous Iraq that has a chance to grow up to be a peaceful member of the community of nations. This necessarily involves avoiding radicalizing the diffident, mildly hostile and mildly friendly elements of the population. As for the would-be suicide bombers, the Saddamite holdouts, the petty thugs looking to become the new Saddam – I really don’t care very much what happens to them, as long as basic standards of human decency are followed. (I.e. no torture, shot in a clean fight or jailed pursuant to due process.)

  10. Stephen,

    That all sounds reasonable. But don’t you at least suspect that there are people out there who actually have experience in the Middle East and who aren’t known for supporting terrorism and turning a blind eye to massive human rights violations?

    If it’s important to achieve all you mentioned while “leave(ing) a decent (if not perfect) image of the U.S. in the eyes of the Iraqis,” (and I agree that it is), why would one choose a fellow who has left only distrust in the wake of his foreign service?

    Once the Iraqis learn of Negroponte’s history, it would make perfect sense for them to not have a decent impression of anyone who might consider him a worth emissary.

    And I certainly don’t expect perfection in an ambassador nor pacifism (as I reject pacifism as a workable philosophy). I do, however, expect someone who is ambassador to have enough courage not to ignore flagrant human rights abuses, even if his bosses expect him to.

    Just because leftists hate the guy, doesn’t mean he’s not worth hating.

  11. Nowhere does Yglesias charge Negroponte with incompetence. Negroponte was quite competent at supporting the armed opposition to the communist dictatorship of Nicaragua, part of a broader Reagan policy which led to democratic government in that country, as well as the transition from right-wing military rule in El Salvador to democracy in that country. Yglesias dislikes him because he, like all leftists in the eighties, preferred the communist Sandinistas to their opponents.

  12. Negroponte is unacceptable to the left because he was effective at fighting communist insurgents. To the left (and maybe now to Libertaria) it is more important that we fight the great evil of totalitarianism without getting any blood on our hands, rather than that we should win. It’s not whether you win or lose in the fight against totalitarians, it’s how you play the game, right?

    This is an amazingly blind outlook. It ignores the consequences of inaction.

    Take Pinochet as an example. He stemmed a maoist insurgency that was well on its way to a triumph, at the cost of around 3,000 dead over a half dozen or ten years. You know the Maoists – they are the communist totalitarians who think we need to destroy all of society to remake it. Think Pol Pot. What bloodshed would they have wrought if successful in South America?

    Pinochet quashed the reds with relatively minimal bloodshed (3000 is a low death toll for a civil war) then he stepped down and turned over the reins of the government to the people in democratic elections.

    Yet the left, in judging Pinochet, is only capable of looking at horror at what he did during the fight.

    The same blindness is in action with respect to Negroponte, and evidently, we libertoids are expected to fall in line.

    Might as well tee off on the Dutch partisans for constantly pricking the Germans during WWII – just think of all the poor Germans those crazy Dutch bastards killed…

  13. Typo. Should read:

    I think if you had loved ones who were kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and dumped on the side of the road because they were politically active, it WOULDN’T matter to you if the folks who did the torturing and murdering were communists or anti-communists.

  14. Let me add that a large portion of the 3000 killed by Pinochet were killed for simply publically voicing dissent. Pinochet must have been asking himself, “What would Mao do?”

  15. The Lefties don’t like the Righties. This is news?

    Stephen is 100% correct – war is hell.

    It seems to me that there is something completely unrealistic about discussing etiquette during a fire-fight.

    Before you disrespect Negroponte, try walking a mile in his boots. Let’s see how successful you are as an ambassador when you spend your time and effort publically harassing a government for not being polite enough to people who are shooting at it.

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