All Fall Apart?

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Former CIA officer Robert Baer has a commentary in Newsweek International examining the consequences of the death of King Fahd. According to a Syrian source of his, of the 1,200 suspected suicide bombers arrested by Syria, some 85 percent were Saudis.

Eighty-five percent? This can't be good. Saudi Arabia sits on 25 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. It is the only producer with enough spare capacity to stabilize oil markets during crises. So what if these jihadists crossing from Syria into Iraq decide, sooner or later, to take their war back home, perhaps by attacking the kingdom's oil infrastructure in the same way the Iraqi resistance is doing in Iraq? That's a scenario that keeps Washington awake at night.

Indeed, but it's what Baer writes later in the piece that shows how potentially dangerous the Iraq war has become to the Saudis, but also how, for better or worse, how such loyalties as ethnicity, sect and tribe, have taken over as the prime motivators of regional actors. Baer writes:

Two months ago, in Qum, [in Iran,] I spoke with Grand Ayatollah Saanei about the phenomenon of suicide bombings. I expected the usual diatribe against the United States but instead his real anger was directed at the "Wahhabi" suicide bombers, almost all of them Saudis, killing Iraqi Shia. "They are wolves without pity," he said. "Sooner rather than later, Iran will have to put them down."

While Baer interprets this as an Iranian threat to mobilize Saudi Arabia's marginalized Shiites, who sit atop the oil fields in the kingdom's eastern province, the situation is even more disturbing. We may be fast moving toward a generalized logic of sectarianism that will undermine the unitary pretensions of several states in the region. This is not an American intention, nor do some of the states involved, namely Syria, understand how their playing with fire in Iraq may turn against them if the outcome is a loose confederalism or partition. (To this, add that the Saudis may see an interest in pushing harder for the fall of the Assad regime in Damascus to ensure the Sunni majority can regain power there, as a counterweight to Shiite gains in Iraq.)

The sectarian dismantlement of the Arab states has long been regarded by Arab conspiracy theorists as an American goal, dating back to the Nixon-Kissinger era, motivated largely by the need to protect Israel. No evidence for such a plan exists, nor are you likely to find any, but there is a paradox here: If the U.S. fails in its Iraq project, it will, inadvertently, enhance the logic of sectarian disintegration.

There is another culprit, beyond American ambition in Iraq: Arab nationalism. The Arab states, in concealing for decades domestic sectarian and tribal divisions under an iron curtain of imposed nationalist unanimity (both inside states and within a broad purported "Arab nation"), must now look warily at a reality telling a different story, where sectarian and ethnic identities often prevail.

In Iraq, we're witnessing the consequences of this daily. In Syria, Alawites can no longer purport to be as one with Sunnis under the great Baathist tent, since the levers of power are not only in Alawite hands, but actually in the hands of the Assad family. In Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Shiites remain second-class citizens, despite halting efforts to give them some rights. In fact, in many parts of the Arab world the nation-state format offers few convincing solutions to myriad social and political cleavages.

Lebanon alone, while suffering from the same problems as elsewhere, acknowledged this reality by creating a sectarian system. Though much maligned by Arab nationalists and their cheerleaders, it may be a way for the future.

The Bush administration still insists on a unified Iraq under a federal system. Meanwhile, supporters of effective partition must yet prove that most Iraqis will go along with their plan, and that the consequences won't be far more traumatic than what we have today (look at the creation of a separate India and Pakistan). If the Americans turn tail and leave, they will leave behind a sectarian war that will engulf the region. At best, they will have to return to the fray at some later stage to protect their access to oil.

What the Arabs also realize is that there is no Arab antidote to avoid chaos: Arab nationalism is pixie dust. That's why, even if the Americans screw up in Iraq, those who advised against a war find there themselves defending a mirage: America should have never stuck its hand into the hornet's nest, they argue, because what we have now is worse than what we had before. But the status quo they defended was itself aberrant and abhorrent. The idealists stupidly believed Arab nationalism could overcome sectarian, tribal and ethnic divisions, even as they thrived off them; the cynics argued: Let's stick with dictatorship to guard against sectarian breakdown and Islamism. Both approaches were examples of sins by omission.

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  1. At least opponents and proponents of the Iraq invasion can now agree on one thing: it was all done for oil.

  2. Speaking of oil, a few well placed bombs in Saudi Arabia and oil goes to $100. They’re getting a lot of good practice in Iraq. I’ll be busy this afternoon stocking my compound with beans and ammo. Later dudes.

  3. “The idealists stupidly believed Arab nationalism could overcome sectarian, tribal and ethnic divisions, even as they thrived off them; the cynics argued: Let’s stick with dictatorship to guard against sectarian breakdown and Islamism.”

    Are you seriously arguing that the anti-war movement was primarily driven by a committment to Arab nationalism as a solution to the Middle East’s problems? Wow. Between this and David Ignatius’ recent argument that even _decades of civil war in Iraq_ (following the “Lebananon model”) still might be considered a US success…Well, I don’t even understand the debate anymore. The goalposts haven’t shifted — they’ve moved off the planet.

    Anon

  4. Hitchens puts it well in a new piece:

    “It never seemed to me that there was any alternative to confronting the reality of Iraq, which was already on the verge of implosion and might, if left to rot and crash, have become to the region what the Congo is to Central Africa: a vortex of chaos and misery that would draw in opportunistic interventions from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Bad as Iraq may look now, it is nothing to what it would have become without the steadying influence of coalition forces.”
    http://www.slate.com/id/2124157/

    People who disagree are just ignorant. (What about the WMD you ask? Your’e changing the subject.) See, the Congo can be left to implode because there’s no oil there.

    Anti-war left-liberals should see stability in the Middle East as in their self interest. If oil goes to $100 a barrel and the G8 countries go fascist, it will be the anti-war types who’ll get put in camps. (see the upcoming V for Vendetta flick).

  5. See, I don’t even understand what Peter K. is trying to say. Are you claiming the Middle East is more stable _now_ than before the war? Are you forgetting your Ralph Peters? I am so confused.

    Anon

  6. A few thoughts:

    1) Iran too is having its own sectarian problems; the Arabs and Kurds both are rising up against their Persian overlords, and the Mullahs are striking them down hard.

    2) People of the left decry the war as only for oil and say that this makes the enterprise immoral. For the sake of argument, why is gong to war over oil so immoral? It wouldn’t be the first, and it waon’t be the last, time that countries go to war over natural resources. We have a system in place that needs oil to survive. The “admirable” thing about the way the U.S. does its wars for oil is that we don’t annex the whole country/region. We don’t tax them to pieces and demand tribute. We “just” put in regimes that are friendly to our needs, while letting the losing nation earn a living off of the oil. That makes us a pretty benevolent conquerer. I don’t necessarily support this point of view; I’m just putting it out there for discussion and thought.
    3) We do need to remember that this war started because of 9-11. Yeah, Saddam didn’t have anything to do with it, but it made the world scenario completely than it was on 9-10. Cliches are based on truth, and while it is a cliche to say that “9-11 changed everything,” guess what, it did. While supporting a secular dictatorship that is willing to sell oil at market prices was allowable and palatable before 9-11, after it might not be so anymore. Again, just food for thought.

  7. Does the rest of the Reason staff even read Michael Young’s posts anymore?

    Anon

  8. The Middle East in its current form is incapable of stability. Adding intervention from an outside force may not be the best solution. Leaving it alone may not be the best solution. So now what we’re left with is choosing the lesser of two evils. Eliminate the alternative, and you still have evil.

    Out comes the “q” word: quagmire. And we’re in it now, no matter for good or ill.

  9. One more thought:

    Robert Baer is a very important thinker and writer. He wrote a cover story for The Atlantic a few years ago all about the coming fall of the House of Saud. He wrote in depth about the danger of terrorists bombing the Saudi pipelines and the economic damage that it would do to the world. He has extensive knowledge and experience of the region. Baer needs to be paid attention to.

  10. America should have never stuck its hand into the hornet’s nest, they argue, because what we have now is worse than what we had before. But the status quo they defended was itself aberrant and abhorrent.

    At the risk of sounding selfish, if we hadn’t gotten involved then at least a collapse wouldn’t have been entirely our problem. If we had left Iraq to crumble on it’s own, then when the inevitable occurred we could have protected our interests in Saudi Arabia while pushing the UN to step in Iraq, saving ourselves at least a portion of this money that we’re spending in Iraq to seemingly little benefit.

  11. Swede,

    Frighteningly good points made by Baer. So why did Bush not send our troops to Saudi Arabia? Did he fear upsetting his bestest friend?

  12. So my anti-war protesting has made me ‘objectively pro-dictatorship’? Absurd.

  13. I thought I was against rampant American interventionism and entanglement with foreign powers, which George Washington advised against in his farewell speech. So I guess Washington was objectively pro-dictatorship, too.

  14. “While supporting a secular dictatorship that is willing to sell oil at market prices was allowable and palatable before 9-11, after it might not be so anymore”

    But, supporting a dictatorship based upon religious extremism and that supplies the large supply of not only economic but human capital to terrorists because it is willing to sell oil at “market” prices is allowable, and in fact proudly proclaimed public policy. Just food for thought.

  15. quasibill,

    You make an excellent point! Protecting Saudi Arabia was one of the prime reasons that we even got involved in the first Gulf War, and how do they pay us back? By financing terrorists! Thanks guys! So, I will cede the point that our SA policy is totally twisted. I was referring more specifically to our pre 9-11 Iraq policy (yeah, even though we had those no-fly zones, we still allowed oil, under the guise of the U.N, to be exported. Some reports from Paul Volcker state that there were U.S. citizens and interests that knew about the oil-for-food scam, and that would not surprise we one bit). As the left is fond of saying, we supported Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war and we sold/gave him plenty of weaponry, so why should we be against him so suddenly? It really is a hornet’s nest, and there are no easy answers.

  16. The real idealists were against the war, Mr. Young.

  17. “Are you seriously arguing that the anti-war movement was primarily driven by a committment to Arab nationalism as a solution to the Middle East’s problems?”

    Yes, Anon, in Mr. Young’s world, the anti-war half of the United States was an alliance of Kissingerian realpolitikers and Baathist sympathizers, maybe with a Pat Buchanan thrown in for fun.

    Liberals? What liberals?

  18. “Yes, Anon, in Mr. Young’s world, the anti-war half of the United States was an alliance of Kissingerian realpolitikers and Baathist sympathizers, maybe with a Pat Buchanan thrown in for fun.”

    I can sympathize with one’s position being mischaracterized. I’m in the other half of the nation, which consists of boot licking sycophants of the Bush administration who enjoy murdering people and issuing war crime apologetics on the weekend.

  19. And torturing people, Jason. Let’s not forget your love of torture.

  20. joe,

    Come on now. Those tactics were no worse that fraternity-style hazing! Cool your jets, sir.

    But Jason is right: nasty stereotypes exist for both sides of the argument, undermining the entire foundation of rational discourse.

  21. Jason Ligon,

    “Mischaracterized” seems such a mild word. Young has suggested _implicitly_ that the anti-war movement was pro dictatorship and has _explicitly_ referred to the anti-war movement as “stupid,” right above. Despite what you may discern about their opinions of the President, have you ever read anything on H&R by the anti-war side of Reason that just outright referred to Bush supporters and/or war supporters as morons, fools, or lickspittles? I am just amazed that this level of vituperation or, more mildly, incivility is allowed to pass without comment by the “dis-staff” side of Reason magazine. Do they not even engage in discussion on this issue anymore? After all the indirect condescension will Young just move on the direct condescension? Maybe if he just starts referring to Julian or Nick as objectively pro-Fascist we’ll finally see some spirited debate.

    I guess the pro-war side truly does have the intestinal fortitude for the long war that the anti-war side does not.

    (The questions above about other H&R posts are genuine, by the way. I am a sporadic reader of H&R, and maybe I’m just missed or forgotten the mud slung from the other side of the aisle.)

    You may now return to your regularly schedule outrage about the drug war, the war on private property, etc.

    Anon

  22. At the risk of sounding selfish, if we hadn’t gotten involved then at least a collapse wouldn’t have been entirely our problem. If we had left Iraq to crumble on it’s own, then when the inevitable occurred we could have protected our interests in Saudi Arabia while pushing the UN to step in Iraq, saving ourselves at least a portion of this money that we’re spending in Iraq to seemingly little benefit.

    So, we would be footing the entire bill for saving Saudi rather than Iraq, with a destabilized Iraq right next door. Not sure how that’s a big savings, but whatever.

    And what about Iraq. We ask the UN to pretty please take over there. Two things can happen then. Either the UN doesn’t, in which case Iraq goes straight into a three way civil war. So we maybe wind up trying to sort out Iraq and SA both at the same time. Still looking for the savings.

    Or the UN does step into Iraq. If US combat troops are getting chewed on, the blue helmets are going to chewed up, swallowed, and shat out by the Baathists and the jihadis. So we probably have to send our boys to Iraq after all. Or say things go real well for the blue helmets. Who exactly funds the UN?

    Oh yeah. Us. Still looking for etc.

  23. Swede,

    well said. My point in bringing up SA policy is that saying 9/11 justified our intervention in Iraq is extremely problematic. I *might* have bought the argument if we had invaded SA, or at the very least cut all aid and support to the Kingdom. I still don’t think I would have favored such action, but I could have at least acknowledged that such a policy had internal coherence and connection to national defense.

    As you note, what we did by fighting Iraq, not just once, but continually for the past decade, was provide a security blanket for the Kingdom – american taxpayers financed the security of the jet-set princes. And by taking Saddam out, we eliminated a security threat to SA.

    Interestingly enough, for all my criticism of Mr. Young, he has finally touched on the reality of the ME – the West (mainly Europe) imposed artificial states on the ME that don’t conform to cultural, social, and religious history of the region. These states are associations that are not ‘self-determined’ in any meaningful fashion – they were imposed. So it is a little naive to believe that we can create consent to government through democracy when the people in different regions have no desire to associate with those in other regions (see, for example, the Kurds and the Sunnis in Iraq).

    The future holds chaos for the ME as we know it, because the current situation is built on lies and wishful thinking. It’s similar to Africa – the nation states are inherently unstable due to their artificiality. The best solution for both regions is for us (meaning the West in general) is to let them hash it out for themselves and engage in true self-determination, without our interference. Will it be painful in the short-run? Probably. But long run, it’s what will work. And the short run may be very short (see the recent World Bank report on Somalia – a country the West has finally left to its own devices)

  24. “Despite what you may discern about their opinions of the President, have you ever read anything on H&R by the anti-war side of Reason that just outright referred to Bush supporters and/or war supporters as morons, fools, or lickspittles?”

    From the commenters, yes. From the staff … not explicitly that I can recall. I know that I’ve felt the implicit accusation enough that I’ve been moved to write several lengthy posts outlining that you don’t have to be a psychopath to believe that the war was worth fighting and you can be a libertarian and believe the war was the best avenue of advance for libertarian principles. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to make to case that non initiation of force is not violated in the removal of a despot and that we aren’t all anarchists, but it is a lot of times.

  25. Jason Ligon,

    So as someone who has slogged through many debates on this issue on these boards, you cannot recall _one occasion_ where a _staffer_ adopted a, let’s say, neener-neener-neener attitude on the issue. Am I wrong in my impression that Michael Young’s posts flow down from the mountain periodically, like floods during monsoon season, flinging muck only _somewhat_ indirectly, and continue downstream unchallenged by the staff?

    Look, I don’t expect everyone to agree on everything. For all I know Jesse Walker thinks Liberation Biology is a load of crock and Kerry Howley wishes Jacob Sullum would stop talking about drugs. But if there is a…cease fire…in place over certain issues, then it seems that Young just keeps pushing and pushing to see how far he can go in violating it without sanction.

    As a contrast I would suggest Charles Paul Freund’s posts. They too seem to go unchallenged, but Freund seems more interested in making his case in a civil (and affirmative) manner — arguing _for_ his side — while Young seems to be moving more and more towards (rhetorically) kicking his enemies in the nads.

    Alright, so I don’t have much of a way with words. But am I wrong about tone here?

    Maybe this is one of those group blog etiquette things I don’t know about. There’s probably a FAQ somewhere that explains everything.

    Anon

  26. See, I don’t even understand what Peter K. is trying to say. Are you claiming the Middle East is more stable _now_ than before the war? Are you forgetting your Ralph Peters? I am so confused.–Anon

    Congnitive dissonance like yours can result in confusion.

    Young writes, “If the Americans turn tail and leave, they will leave behind a sectarian war that will engulf the region. At best, they will have to return to the fray at some later stage to protect their access to oil.”

    And of course, this will be blamed on regime change even though this sectarian war, Shia vs. Sunni, Kurds vs. Turks, etc. almost certainly would have happened had the US pulled the no-fly zones and lifted the sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq, which was the way things were heading before 9/11.

    If a sectarian war did/does engulf the region (including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, etc.), the price of oil would shoot through the roof and the global economy would tank. Then the fun would begin.

    Things are bad in Iraq, but I still think it was the right call to give it a try given the circumstances and I don’t think the US should cut and run. Also, there have been positive side effects in the region which people like Anon completely ignore.

  27. Every monster in history has positted the coming rivers of blood as a given, and presented his actions as merely turning them in the best possible direction.

    I do not believe that widespread death and destruction is the inevitable lot of people in thet Middle East, and I do not believe the assertions that our contribution to the periodic catastophes are always our only choice.

    No, Mr. K and Mr. Young, are options were not limited to the status quo or Bush’s War.

  28. Joe sez:

    I do not believe that widespread death and destruction is the inevitable lot of people in thet Middle East, and I do not believe the assertions that our contribution to the periodic catastophes are always our only choice.

    Whatever… Seemed to me that Young’s point – and the former CIA analyst’s – was that the Syrians and Saudis better cut out the shenanigans or Iran will bring it, which would spell disaster for the region, the global oil market, the global economy, etc., especially if the US cuts and runs which seems to be what Joe and Anon are suggesting.

  29. No, Mr. K and Mr. Young, are options were not limited to the status quo or Bush’s War.

    Of course not. We could have waged Kerry’s War, and things would be just A-OK, because it would have been done right.

  30. See, here’s the dickery I was talking about.

    Peter K., I defy you to point to any posting made by me anywhere that concerns _any of my views on the war whatsoever_. Positive, negative, indifferent. I have not shared my views on the war on this board, _ever_.

    I was simply pointing out that your post made no sense to me, and still doesn’t. You suggest that the anti-war left should prize stability in the Middle East, and your tone suggested that this is a reason they should have supported the war. Am I wrong in that? If that was your implication, then wouldn’t you have to believe that the region is more stable now than it was then? Or do you believe it could be, but some change in strategy/tactics/what-have-you needs to be made? Is stability a potential source of common cause with the left, then, if they would come around to it? Or, if you believe its all going to go to hell in a handbasket anyway, then wouldn’t it have been better (or wouldn’t it be better) to build a strategy in recognition of that inevitability? The set of options then it really much more complex than “cut and run” or “stick it out.” Strategic withdrawal, reinforcement of forces in key areas, and various regional realignments (vis-a-vis, say, Saudi Arabia) all become thorny options. And once again, for the record, I have taken _no_ position on any of them.

    This set of questions related to “stability” is the reason for my link to Peters, who suggested that an interest in stability results in supporting terrible regimes that only make for greater trouble further down the road. I really don’t know where Peters stands these days, either, but I thought it was a good old-school reference.

    I think you confuse my genuine confusion with my snarkiness concerning Young’s original post. I cannot believe that, regardless of your feelings about the war, you can possibly feel that Young’s implication about the anti-war crowd’s strong sympathy for Arab pan nationalism is at all credible. I’m sure there are strong Arab pan nationalists out there, but as a major driving force of the U.S. and/or U.K. anti-war movements? Really? Do you believe that?

    Anon

  31. “We could have waged Kerry’s War, and things would be just A-OK, because it would have been done right.”

    Quite right. Allowing the complete absence of an Iraqi WMD capability, or even program, to be revealed via coercive inspections would have safeguarded out security, while dealing a humiliating blow to the Baathists, and allowing us to continue to lead the world as we did in during and after the Afghan war.

  32. Wait, I’m confused. What exactly is wrong with being a realpoliticker or Kissingerist? Anti-war types on the thread are saying they are not and pro-war types are accusing them as being such. Since when did Republicans turn into a bunch of mushy-headed idealists? Does nobody advocate for the Nixonian/Reagan approach anymore?

    Supporting dictators may be a brutal and amoral business, but it worked in stopping Communism, which was arguably a far more clear and present threat to world security than a few thousands arab medical students with a death wish.

    Point being, maybe we could prevent the total collapse of the ME, secure the resources in the region, and prevent sectarian division if we continue the long-standing policy of supporting the strong-arm leader, at least until a feasible alternative is proposed. The idealism of the Bush camp sounds good on paper, and dictatorship sounds bad, especially couched in “not after 9/11” terms, but really, idealism does not appear to have worked and realpolitick has.

  33. “Maybe if he just starts referring to Julian or Nick as objectively pro-Fascist we’ll finally see some spirited debate.”

    From what I can discern Nick is the one person in America that seems to be nuetral on the subject. He’d really like it to work out but lacks the conviction (thankfully) of that poor bastard in Basra but in his libertarian heart of hearts knows we are fucked but doesn’t want to come out as dogmatic and boring like Jacob Hornberger. This works out well for reason because we get balances, nuanced commentary from the staff and not keyboard warriors blowing Rothbard out their asses ala antiwar.com or people just asking for more blood ala Boot, et al.

  34. corky,

    Among conservatives, there is no “Nixonian/Reagan approach.” Reagan’s moralism is often presented as the polar opposite of the Nixon/Kissinger realpolitik.

    See, when Nixon supported sanguinary tyrants in Chile or Southeast Asia, it was because of a pragmatic concern about balance of power, and the need for the US to win the Great Game against the Soviets for control of the world.

    When Reagan supported sanguinary tyrants in El Salvador or Chile, it was because of a moral concern about how evil the Soviets were, and the need for the US to win the Great Game and liberate the world.

    So, as you can see, there are vast distinctions between the realist and moralist schools of conservative thought on foreign policy.

  35. joe- where does our policy towards Saudi Arabia and Pakistan fall? 🙂

  36. nasty stereotypes exist for both sides of the argument, undermining the entire foundation of rational discourse.

    This little insight should get a whole lot more attention than it does.

    Still looking for the savings.

    There is also a lot more truth to this statement than most people would like to admit.

    Suppose Iraq had survived without outside intervention. Sooner or later Saddam would have kicked the bucket, and I sincerely doubt he’d have had an equally able successor.

    End result: “Iraq is a quagmire.”

    Iraq is a “quagmire” only because — to quote that most evil of all statesmen, Machiavelli — we are not willing to do all the evil that good demands. No lesser measures will suffice, and we are simply not up to the necessary measures.

    The ME is not going to settle down until somebody seriously knocks some heads together (which is not what we are doing right now…). Why do you think the only people that can rule ME states are dictatorial tyrants?

    By and large, the people of the ME are not accustomed to what we would consider plain, old fashioned law and order. You have to really struggle to grasp what it does to people when law and order has been absent since generations unknown.

  37. I wonder what is the religious makeup of Saudi Arabia?

  38. Thank you Mr. Young for putting so eloquently the reasons why Arab nationalism is a failure. The entire Middle East is in a mess because of ideologies imposed on its populace, like Arabism and a sense of false unity. We Middle Easterners need more analysts such as yourself. Keep up the good work.

  39. Not only is the Arab nationalism vs. dictator dichotomy maddeningly incomplete, it’s just plain wrong. Umm, let’s see, Arab nationalists = Nasser, Assad the father, Saddam…hmm, looks, smells and walks like a dictator, too…you mean they’re not exclusive?

    Yeah they might have been crappy Arab nationalists, but hey, MY and all the other hawks didn’t qualify their erection for war with Iraq, so why should we? Oh sure NOW all the hand-wringing and “it could be worse” excuses. Before it was rose-tossing competitions from Iraqis and a return to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

  40. Anon:

    Peter K., I defy you to point to any posting made by me anywhere that concerns _any of my views on the war whatsoever_. Positive, negative, indifferent. I have not shared my views on the war on this board, _ever_.

    “_ever_,” huh?

    Anon, previously in this thread:

    Am I wrong in my impression that Michael Young’s posts flow down from the mountain periodically, like floods during monsoon season, flinging muck only _somewhat_ indirectly, and continue downstream unchallenged by the staff?

    Do you think we’re stupid?

  41. Too much time has probably passed, but…

    Peter K.: What’s your point? As I noted, Young’s posts are mean and condescending, Charles Paul Freund’s are not. What does calling Young a jerk have to do with his political views? Has not the rise of the blog taught us that anyone, anywhere, at any time can be a jerk? Surely someone familiar with Alan Moore’s work (per your _V for Vendetta_ reference above) recognizes this?

    Anon

  42. I was aware of that before the “rise of the blog.”

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