Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Sunday, 20 June 2004

Topic: Photos

The Sunday note...

The new issue of Just Above Sunset just went on line.

That would be
Volume 2, Number 24
Sunday, June 20, 2004

Items of interest?

Photography: Venice Beach (the heart and soul of La-La Land), the odd side of Southern France, and Dingo and Phoenix of London... / Bob Patterson channels the dead in his weekly column! / More inside news from Ric in Paris... / More great quotes... / Rick, late of CNN, comments on Fox News...

... and the usual flood of political commentary, expanded and extended from items which appeared here.

Technical Note: One photo on the home page isn't working (linking). A few photos in the archives don't work. I wasn't able to load the appropriate pictures into the Paris page. All else is fine. Earthlink tells me lots of web builders are having the same problem - it started today - and assure me they are working on it. Should be fixed soon. I'll try a reload, republish Monday afternoon. Check back for what you may have missed.


Current Events

Major News : The Big Stories of the Week. Not Really News. Just Confirmations.

Policy Notes:Policy Notes: Who needs respect? As long as they fear us we're safe?

Impeachment: Impeachment: The Issue is Actually Raised by Over Four-Hundred Legal Scholars

Press Notes: Press Notes: Fox News Officially Censured for Lying (but not here)

Follow-Up: Follow-Up: The wheels turn slowly, but they do turn....

Odds and Ends: Odds and Ends: What to cover, and in what depth...

Arguing with others...

Michael Moore: Michael Moore: Asking the right questions?

Christopher Hitchens: Christopher Hitchens: Speak for yourself, white man!

David Brooks: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Second Thoughts: When Good Conservatives Get Grumpy


WLJ Weekly: The World's Laziest Journalist - A poltergeist guest and a feast of paranoid speculation...

From Paris: This Week's Exchange with the editor of MetropoleParis

Television: The Politics of the Heartland

Photography: Photography: As seen by others... Guest Photographers

Quotes: Useful Pithy Observations... Steinbeck and Nietzsche

And something saw yesterday - the sun over Santa Ana, California ...

Posted by Alan at 16:58 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 20 June 2004 16:59 PDT home

Saturday, 19 June 2004

Topic: Photos

No entries today...

I am off to Orange County for a family celebration. In my absence, Dingo will keep you company. Dingo answers, sometimes, to Stephan Valcourt of London, Ontario, Canada - and that's where you see him here, wishing you all well.

Posted by Alan at 12:23 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Friday, 18 June 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Sunny optimism or early onset Alzheimer's - We report and you decide...

The big story of the week turns out to be more of the same.

Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie; Describes a Wider Plot for 9/11
Philip Shenon and Christopher Marquis, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 16 - The staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks sharply contradicted one of President Bush's central justifications for the Iraq war, reporting on Wednesday that there did not appear to have been a "collaborative relationship" between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. ...


The president says there is a link, sort of, really. The vice president says there is, and attacks the Times as irresponsible. The Times editorializes that Bush and Cheney should apologize. Bush and Cheney say the Times should apologize.

To be clear, the commission's report does not, really, have anything to do with whether or not we should have gone to war in Iraq. That wasn't what they were up to. And is there a contradiction? It is not true that these findings really do contradict what Bush and Cheney said, literally, about Al Qaeda and Iraq. And Bush is carefully saying that he does NOT dispute the findings of the commission.

The problem is with what is said literally, and what is implied.

On his Thursday broadcast Jon Stewart on his satiric "newscast" The Daily Show did run the clip of Bush saying, "You can't distinguish between Iraq and Al Qaeda when you're talking about the War on Terror." And Stewart made great fun of that.

But Bush was speaking of the big picture, the moral "good and evil" overview, not the details. The idea is Saddam Hussein did not, of course, have anything to do with the four hijacked airplanes and that whole really bad day almost three years ago. But he was still bad. He was, sort of, one of THEM. Sort of. "We never said that Saddam specifically...."

You get the idea.

You might glance at this comment -
Live by Syntax, Die by Syntax.

I wish there were a pithy, catchy way to say it, because it's important: George W. Bush and his administration used certain rhetorical and syntactical techniques to convince Americans that a war against Saddam was connected to 9-11, and they do not have the right to complain now when those same techniques imply that they are lying, manipulative bastards.

... The folks in this administration were careful in the way they constructed their talking points prior to the war. I've always thought that each mention of Iraq in relation to the WoT was vetted in anticipation of a situation like this week's.

... The evidence of their intent is in the result of their efforts: a majority of Americans have believed that Saddam had something to do with 9-11.

Well, not only did he not have anything to do with 9-11, he really had very little to do with Al Qaeda beyond a meeting here, or an overture there. But now, suddenly, Bushco wants to go back and parse their sentences and say, "see? see? We didn't really say that."

Well, shut up. You made the rules, and if you're getting your asses kicked now, it's your own damn fault.
Well, the situation is a little awkward. Perhaps we should have listened more carefully.

There were connections, a few meetings and such, and Iraq never really did anything for Al Qaeda in the end, but, but, they MIGHT have.

Matthew Yglesias offers some thoughts, and an interesting theory to the mix:
On the one hand, the administration, in the past, suggested that Iraq was behind 9-11. Currently, they aren't doing that, but they are "overstat[ing]" the extent of Saddam/Qaeda links and keeping stories alive "long after others in the government thought [them] discredited." The result of all this is "to keep alive in the minds of many Americans a link between Iraq and the attacks" which... was put there by the administration in the first place.

The administration, in other words, is trying to mislead people into ignoring the difference between being responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and not being responsible for those deaths. The administration's accusers, by contrast, are trying to mislead people into ignoring the distinction between misleading the public about this (after lying to them), and lying to the public. On what planet is the latter "almost" as irresponsible as the former? One is a question of life and death -- war and peace -- and the other is semantic hair-splitting.
Oh man, that just makes my head hurt.

And Yglesias knows he's being unclear - and links to David Adesnik saying something much simpler:
David Adesnik remarks that my throry that the administration's weirdly nonsensical discourse on the Iraq/Qaeda connection is designed to mislead people while protecting them from elite media criticism that it has not, in fact, protected them from such criticism. Rather, his "best guess is that Bush himself (along with Cheney) is deeply in denial. It's the same phenomenon we saw with Reagan. When you believe in something with all your heart and then stake your reputation on it, letting go is the hardest thing to do."
Yep, that's right.

And if Bush wants to be associated with the dead Reagan, he should remind people he's as good at denying reality as the Gipper ever was. Folks find that comforting. You stay the course, in spite of everything. Sunny optimism or early onset Alzheimer's. Whatever.

It was Ronald Reagan who famously said, "Facts are stupid things." He said that in 1988, and probably was confusing it with - "Facts are stubborn things." But who needs details? You get the gereral idea. Sort of.

So, it comes down to who are you going to trust? As the old Groucho Marx line goes, "Who are you going to trust - me or your own eyes?"

Posted by Alan at 12:12 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Dissent

When Good Conservatives Get Grumpy

Well, Andrew Sullivan has tried to be a good conservative - but part of his current grumpiness perhaps can be attributed to the fact, luckily, of his being born in "Margaret Thatcher Land" (the theme park some know as the UK), but then being openly gay, and then living in Provincetown - and then driving a bicycle not a car. With the current Republican, conservative, evangelical "moral clarity" Christian ruling majority in our country he only gets one point in all that.

At least he could support Bush on the war, even if Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment to the constitution sticks in his craw. That might help atone for his sins.

But no.

Sullivan has been reading Paul Berman's book, Terror and Liberalism (foolish fellow) and says this about the war:
I tried for a long time to overlook the obvious failures, mistakes, stupidities and rigidities which have characterized the mission. But in the end, it became impossible. Abu Ghraib - in its cruelty and incompetence - was devastating. And the news since has convinced me that this was not a one-off exception to the rule, but the result of policy-making at the top that deliberately blurred the lines between tough interrogation and abuse and torture. No, Rumsfeld didn't sign off explicitly on those abuses (apart from hooding and the menacing use of dogs). But he did sign off on hiding some prisoners from the Red Cross for reasons that are still unclear. I refuse to believe that in fighting demons, you have to become one.
His Republican friends, who barely tolerated him before, given his "life-style choices," will not take kindly being called demons. They, are, as they see it, strong-willed, unflinching Christian patriots.

Then Sullivan links to Paul Berman saying this regarding the war, over at The New Republic:
We could have applied the lessons of Kosovo, which would have meant dispatching a suitable number of soldiers. We could have protected the government buildings and the National Museum, and we could have co-opted Saddam's army--further lessons from Kosovo. We could have believed Saddam when he threatened to wage a guerrilla war in Baghdad. We could have prepared in advance to broadcast TV shows that Iraqis wanted to watch. We could have observed the Geneva Conventions. (What humiliation in having to write such a sentence!) We could have--but I will stop, in order to ask: What if, in mulling these thoughts, you find that angry emotions toward George W. Bush are seeping upward from your own patriotic gut? Here is the challenge: to rage at Saddam and other enemies, and, at the same time, to rage in a somewhat different register at Bush, and to keep those two responses in proper proportion to one another. That can be a difficult thing to do, requiring emotional balance, maturity, and analytic clarity--a huge effort.
Cognitive Dissonance, anyone?

Here's how Sullivan handles that:
It must be possible to believe in this war but to be dismayed by the conduct of it. I still cannot believe that the U.S. now has a reputation for "disappearing" enemy combatants, for seeing inmates battered to death by flashlights in dark cells, for using "water-boarding" to coerce confessions, and any number of things that we do not know, and if the administration has its way, will never know. I cannot believe that the Justice Department prepared a memo in order to justify the use of any number of inhumane methods in contravention of U.S. law - and then denies any malfeasance at all. This isn't the administration I once trusted and it isn't the America I love.
Well, Andrew, it is the America you got. You did want George Bush to be president, and you liked the team he gathered around him. You did. Remember?

Deal with it.

I found a cute comment over at Sisyphus Shrugged - but you have to remember the reason Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) in "Casablanca" shuts down Rick's American Caf? after everyone sings a rousing version of the Marseillaise, led by Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) -
Once again, the Claude Rains Gambling Awareness Award goes to Andrew Sullivan, who is shocked to discover that sometimes the constituency for war, self-aggrandizement, unthinking jingoism and faith-based social engineering are not very nice people

On the specific case of the prisoner who was hidden from the Red Cross [Sullivan says]: Here's a military desperately trying to get information on the insurgency; they go to extraordinary lengths to sequester a key informant; they do something that is "deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law," according to the Taguba report; both Tenet and Rumsfeld sign off on this shady business; and then ... nothing! It boggles the mind. Here we have two features of the Iraq occupation that we have slowly come to see close-up: the violation of settled military ethics and international law, authorized by the highest authorities, and complete incompetence. At least that's the only rational explanation I can find for this story as it currently reads. Does Rumsfeld have a better explanation?

Because they figured they were going to get away with it, you inutterable jackass.

... For all you do, Andrew Sullivan, this Claude's for you.
This must be the week to pick on troubled conservatives.

Posted by Alan at 11:13 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 17 June 2004

Topic: For policy wonks...

The Return of Holmes

These days one finds comments like this: "... a vote for Bush is to validate his failed policies and convince the rest of the world that we truly are nation of dangerous fools. This will not increase our safety, I'm afraid. In fact, nothing could help the terrorists more than to put this rogue administration back in office."

Yeah, yeah. Heard it before. Surely there is more to say than this.

Careful readers of Just Above Sunset - if there actually are any of those - have noticed references to one Stephen Holmes. You see, small and smug Denison University, smack in the middle of Ohio, produced more than one considerable person - more than Michael Eisner, Richard Lugar and Hal Holbrook. It gave us Stephen Holmes too. He was one of a group of us that hung out together at Denison in the late sixties. Holmes was one of this crowd, the "Pit Crew" - a group that gathered daily in the basement coffee shop of Slater Hall - and bitched about the world and laughed a lot. I guess we were the token sixties counter-culture folks in sea of frat boys and future Stepford wives.

And Holmes was the one who actually became a big-time intellectual, after all. Holmes is now research director and professor at the Center for Law and Security at New York University School of Law. I guess the rest of us turned out to be poseurs, or had other things to do.

The very first issue of Just Above Sunset (Volume 1 Number 1) covered Holmes' incisive review (his penetrating disassembly, actually) of Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf, 112 pages, $18.00). See 26 May 2003 Reviews for that. In late July of 2003 Just Above Sunset covered his comments on why it was (is?) going to be so hard to defeat George Bush in this next election, as the liberals are all so morally confused about everything. See Can anyone challenge Bush in the next election? for that.

And now Holmes is all over the place again. He has a new item in SALON.COM that's all the rage. In it, among other things, Holmes dissects Machiavelli wonderfully.

The main issue addressed, however, is why everyone hates us when we only want eveyone to fear us, and they're not even fearing us any longer.

I was led to Holmes this time by a pointer at Hullabaloo - Angst and Anti-Americanism -
Even if you have to sit through ad, I urge you to read this fascinating article in Salon called "America's blankness," which was originally a prepared speech by professor Stephen Holmes.

He explores the roots and reasons for the growth in anti-Americanism and asks if it matters. (It does.) He examines how it happened and what actions the US took that precipitated this surge of ill feeling toward us. And he suggests various ways in which we might turn some of this around in a new administration.

The way he sees it, the Europeans are freaked out by Bush, but will put it behind them if we kick him out and behave in a more civilized fashion. If Kerry wins, Holmes suggests that he may robustly renew the Atlantic alliance on the basis of the shared threats faced by both Americans and Europeans: nuclear proliferation and terrorist attacks on major cities. After Madrid, we should be able to enlist the Europeans, whose security agencies have much more experience with infiltration and intelligence gathering of terrorists than we do. It would be very helpful if we could all sincerely work together on this. It's a terrible failure of foreign policy and national security that Bush has poisoned this necessary relationship.

Anti-Americanism in the mid-east, on the other hand, has morphed into hatred. And the probable consequences of that are even worse than I thought. The most obvious result is that we are creating terrorists in exponentially greater numbers than we are killing them. That is not a winning strategy.

But, we have also succeeded in doing the precise opposite of what we intended with Bush's long term democratization strategy by strengthening autocratic regimes as they borrow our rhetoric on the WOT and crack down on their own people. The region is becoming less democratic rather than more and even those that are democratic hate our guts too. This Iraq project is a huge failure on all levels. Holmes's scenario of what is likely to happen in Iraq is both depressing and scary. It was a mistake from the beginning, but the cock-up of the occupation and the lack of planning is simply unforgivable.
Now there's a recommendation.

You'll find the Holmes article here:

America's blankness
A professor explains why so many people around the world hate us and what a post-Bush foreign policy might look like.
Editor's note: This article is adapted from a speech given in Tysons Corner, Va., on May 27 to several hundred U.S. intelligence analysts from various agencies at their request.
Stephen Holmes, June 17, 2004

So what does he say?

Anti-Americanism has a long and complex history. But most observers agree that the Bush administration's bellicose and unilateralist foreign policy has greatly enflamed smoldering animosities and even managed to turn the United States into a universal hate object.

My aim here is to think coolly about this development, and to ask, above all, if it matters. I want to examine, in particular, what growing hostility to the U.S. will mean for democracy promotion in the Middle East, an important plank, until recently, of Bush's foreign policy, and one that resonates strongly with a tradition of U.S. messianism abroad.
Fair enough.

He spends some time saying anti-Americanism will NOT necessarily affect our national interests - only if it "galvanizes individuals and groups with the capacity to harm us, either positively, by inflicting grave injuries, or negatively, by withholding the cooperation on which we depend to solve our most urgent problems."

Well, sure. But we're there. And this "withholding the cooperation on which we depend" bothers him, this negligence, as he calls it. Other nations just shrug and let us blither along, bumbling and doing real damage, but not enough damage to hurt their national interests.

Holmes also goes into how this negligence is not just the product of choosing this war now and then doing it so very badly. Holmes cites "the many petty humiliations associated with our newly tightened and irrationally vexing visa regime" and much else. Yep, we have been a tad high-handed. We just don't much like treaties and the concept of cooperation, do we?

But the problem is, mainly, after all, the war. And the final thing that blew everything apart was those pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison. Folks may like American in general, but those pictures tore it -
... What we face here is not merely skepticism but also burning rage, a passionate antipathy that, although far from uniform, does seem ubiquitous. Even now, however, America's critics continue to distinguish between the U.S. administration, which they fear and despise, and the American people, with whom they feel sympathy.

But the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison may have finally changed that. If the American electorate, knowing what it knows and, above all, having seen what it has seen, proceeds to reelect George W. Bush in November, the moderating distinction between the American administration and the American people will be eroded or perhaps erased -- with what violent consequences no one can predict.
Yes. Now that Steve says that, it seems obvious.

So what do we do?

We turn to Machiavelli. Of course. How obvious!
... I want to pause briefly to say a word about a famous phrase of Machiavelli's, frequently cited by neoconservatives in the run-up to the Iraq war, that "it is better to be feared than loved." This quotation is interesting mostly for what it omits. For Machiavelli quickly went on to add: "It is worst of all to be hated." People who fear us, for the most part, will dare not harm us. But fear, according to Machiavelli, works too slowly on the human spirit to obstruct the effects of the searing hatred that drives men immediately and impulsively to furious action. The administration is wrong, therefore, to believe that it can easily scare people into abandoning their plots to injure Americans. U.S. shows of force invariably provoke rage; and this rage, in turn, often overrides the trepidation that our military superiority instills.

Machiavelli might well have added that "worst of all is to be hated without being feared" -- the unenviable position into which the U.S. has recklessly cast itself, with what consequences, I believe, no one can tell. Reduced fear of the U.S., in fact, may be one of the most paradoxical outcomes of the war in Iraq. By exposing, in such an eye-catching fashion, the limits of U.S. military power, the administration has unintentionally reduced anxiety in Syria and Iran. What countries will now fear an American invasion? Who will henceforth believe our bluffs?
It seems the Mayberry Machiavellians weren't Machiavellian enough. They should have read their Machiavelli more carefully.

And the consequences of this are bad? Yep.
In Europe, needless to say, America's military adventurism will not discredit the idea of democracy itself, though it has already damaged the reputation of America's democratic institutions, especially our system of checks and balances. The institutions designed to facilitate political self-correction seem to have completely broken down. This includes, first of all, our ordinary constitutional procedures for legislative and judicial oversight of executive action. But it also includes the poor performance of the celebrated American media. Even the New York Times has now confessed to having uncritically passed on disinformation provided by Iraqi exiles with strong reasons for exaggerating the real threat.

Those worried by the unraveling of the Atlantic alliance have been especially shocked by the clashing coverage of the Iraq war in the U.S. and European media. American and European television viewers have seen two different wars, making rational transatlantic discussion of the subject almost impossible. Unlike Americans, moreover, Europeans are acutely aware of the discrepancy in news coverage. They attribute it to what they see as America's post-9/11 autism, a screening out of information that clashes with a set of fixed ideas.
Did he say autism there. Yeah. And that's a good one-word explanation of the behavior of the American press.

Holmes contends, that given the 9/11 attacks, Americans really should have learned the importance, for our own security, of accurate, deep and up-to-date knowledge of political instability around the world. But we didn't like to hear that. He points out that political violence, in any possible country, is never farther than a plane ride away from any of our urban centers. Yep. What bothers Holmes is this:
... instead of creating a national appetite for knowledge about the world, 9/11 had the opposite effect. It seems to have traumatized Americans, making them even less interested than before in non-American goings-on and points of view. Our capacity to see ourselves through the eyes of others was never great. But after 9/11, Americans seem to have withdrawn even further into themselves.
But we're told all we need to know about these bad guys is that the hate us. It's quite simple. This is what Bush and his supporters call moral clarity.

Is that so bad?

Well it is a strange distortion of language.
One symptom of America's growing disconnect from the world, and especially from its former Cold War allies, is the administration's reliance on language that is unintelligible to Europeans. An example is the claim, often advanced by President Bush, that we are currently engaged in a world war between "democracy and terrorism." This is a confusing way to speak because the same terrorist network that attacked the U.S. has also attacked Saudi Arabia, a tribal monarchy that bears no resemblance to a democracy.

But the unintelligibility of Bush's formulation runs much deeper. Roughly speaking, "democracy" is a system that allows those who are directly affected by decisions to exert some influence on the decision makers, ideally by periodically reelecting them or ousting them from office. This simple definition makes clear why Europeans and others greet Bush's endless claims to be "spreading democracy" with such disbelief. Throughout the world, people who were never consulted, even casually, are profoundly affected every day by decisions made in Washington. America's blankness about the downstream effects on other countries of its actions is without question one of the principal sources of anti-Americanism in Europe and elsewhere.
Now THAT is cool. When we say democracy this democracy things can be something we shove down your throats whether you agree to it or not. And in the name of democracy we support and defend the Saudi tribal monarchy. No wonder folks find us a bit confusing, and some of them get a little angry. They have no idea what we're talking about.

I wonder if we understand what democracy is? How do I mean we? That's "we" insofar as the Bush administration is America, both de jure and de facto.

But wait! There's more!
Arguably, terrorism itself is, in part, a sick, perverted and distorted echo of the desire of powerless groups to get the attention of the sole remaining superpower. That is yet another reason why Bush's stylized "war between democracy and terrorism" seems so misleading to most non-Americans. Bush likes the democracy vs. terrorism contrast, of course, because it brings "moral clarity," that is to say, it paints one side as purely good and the other side as purely evil. The rest of the world cannot decide if this way of speaking is crude propaganda or crude propaganda mixed with self-delusion.
Looking at it dispassionately? It's one hundred percent self-delusion.

The Europeans just hope it will go away when Bush is voted out in November. And that may be a different kind of self-delusion from the other side, perhaps.

After many paragraphs on that - the Europeans and their view of Kerry - Holmes, saying things will get better one way or the other, turns to the real problem:
Anti-Americanism in the Middle East, of course, goes deeper and is less likely to die down than anti-Americanism in Europe. The minority of Arabs and Muslims who implacably loathe the U.S. is growing more influential by the day. Those who have traditionally felt friendly or neutral to the U.S. are siding more and more against us. Their hostility, moreover, is becoming less a matter of policy and more a matter of identity. Increasingly, it is impossible to make any claim to an Arab consciousness without railing against the U.S. This is a very dangerous development, since it means that anti-American attitudes are putting more Middle Easterners beyond the reach of diplomacy. Unknown numbers of young men, in particular, are becoming irreconcilable even by dramatic reversals of policy.

It is a mistake to belittle such fury by reciting the tag line, "Yankee go home and take me with you," a reflection of the ambiguity of Middle Eastern attitudes toward the U.S. Economic opportunity will always draw people away from their homes, but it will not necessarily render harmless the seething political anger of their children. ...
And that's a bad as it gets.

And we'll make it worse by doing the following:
First, in the wake of the Iraq debacle, Washington is likely to succumb, at least temporarily, to democracy-promotion fatigue. The sting of failure will presumably dampen for a time serious interest in supporting democratic reforms in the region. Grandiose talk will continue, of course. But less money will be spent, and less experienced personnel will be assigned to a project that now appears much less realistic than before.

Second, America's aggressive counterterrorism efforts have already interfered significantly with its attempts at democracy promotion. To battle terrorism, the U.S. has been lending support to the secretive and coercive apparatuses of states that are, at best, incompletely democratic. This trend will continue and, under these conditions, democratization efforts will no doubt be funded quite feebly and will be cosmetic at best.

Third, it seems to be dawning on the administration that democratization elsewhere in the world might not have the same happily pro-American consequences as democratization had in Eastern Europe. Polish democracy is pro-American because the majority of Poles have strong historical reasons for identifying with America. The same cannot be said for a majority of Iraqis. As a result, Iraqi democracy, even if we had been able to create it, probably would have been virulently anti-American and most certainly anti-Israeli.
I wish Holmes were wrong here.

He isn't.

Here is the best we can hope for -
... With extraordinary luck, Iraq could become, in a few years, something like Bosnia without the high representative of the European Union. It would have a weak central government because, given the fragmentation of the society, no all-Iraqi government can be simultaneously representative and coherent. Periodic elections would serve only to reinforce the independence of the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions, and the government would constantly be in delicate negotiations with local and tribal leaders. Such a pseudo-state would be considered successful if it could protect its cabinet members from assassination, if most foreign fighters were evicted (breaking the lethal marriage of convenience between transnational terrorists and nationalist insurgents) and if neighboring powers were not driven to dispatch military forces into the country. But it would be at best a corrupt, criminalized and disorganized polity, festering, unsafe and characterized by violent weakness.
And that's what victory is Iraq looks like - best case.

Anyway, this only skims all Holmes has to say here. Click on the link. Read it.

Posted by Alan at 22:01 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

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