Abu Aardvark

The battle's done, and we kind of won, so we sound our victory cheer - where do we go from here?

As seen in the Washington Post!
And The Connection!
and the Pioneer Press!

mail the aardvark!

Why shouldn't (America) be exempt from some wacky international treaty on women or aardvarks? - Jonah Goldberg, July 26, 2002

The aardvark appears to be the ancestor of all mammals, including humans. - the BBC

I discovered your blog after you attacked me in it, and I enjoy it. Don't agree with hardly any of it, but it's well-written and witty- Martin Kramer

Aardvarks are solitary, industrious, sarcastic, eat termites, graduated from Duke, and watch Buffy obsessively - Encyclopedia Brittanica

My vacation totally sucked, until I met the cutest aardvark. Man, I wish I knew who that aardvark really was! - Eliza Dushku

Nobody likes a wise-guy aardvark. Why do you have to be such an annoying, objectively pro-statue, aardvark? - anonymous reader who sounds a lot like Dave Sim

Stand Down



Talking Points Memo

Dear Raed/Salam Pax


Counterspin Central

Daily Kos

Brian Leiter


Max Speak

Neal Pollack


Public Opinion

New Left Blogs

The Political Junkie

Unqualified Offerings


Crooked Timber

Back to Iraq 2.0

War in Context


The Rittenhouse Review

Juan Cole


Suburban Guerrilla




Best of the Blogs

Brian's Study Break

Rodger Payne

Brad Delong

Body and Soul




Busy Busy Busy

Rational Enquirer

MERIP Online


Recent Aardvark Comments On MEMRI
On Iraqi censorship
On Satloff
On Ferber the neocon
On Iraqi TV
A new cub, or why we blog

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Site Meter
Friday, November 07, 2003
I just heard that a distant relative was killed in action in Iraq the other day. He left behind a two year old, a one year old, and a pregnant wife.

I wish that I could tell them that he died for some good reason. I wish that they could grow up knowing that their father died in the pursuit of a noble cause.

I can't.

I hate this.

Sorry, nothing else.

Robin Wright in the Washington Post (when did she leave the LA Times to join the Post?) has the best analysis I've seen of the Bush democracy speech:

"In a speech that redefined the U.S. agenda in the Middle East, President Bush waxed eloquent yesterday about his dream of democracy coexisting with Islam and transforming an important geostrategic region that has defiantly held out against the global tide of political change. But Bush failed to acknowledge the tough realities that are likely to limit significant political progress in the near future: the United States' all-consuming commitment to fighting a global war on terrorism and confronting Islamic militancy. Washington still relies heavily on alliances with autocratic governments to achieve these top priorities."

She correctly notes the importance and novelty of the assertion of the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and goes on: "The words were striking in the context of 25 years of tensions between the United States and various Islamic movements. For half a century, U.S. policy has implicitly accepted the concept of "Islamic exceptionalism" -- that Islam and democracy are basically incompatible and that Islam cannot be a vehicle for political reform.... For Muslims, the U.S. legacy on political systems in the Middle East has been most starkly defined by the U.S. intervention in Iran to oust a nationalist movement to put the shah back on the throne in 1953 and by the U.S. failure to act, or even condemn the military, when Algerian generals aborted democratic elections in 1991. But as a result, Washington has a long-standing credibility problem -- and the administration will need to take concrete steps to prove it intends to follow through in ways earlier administrations did not. Bush's speech was short on specifics."

And finally, on the claims for current democratic success: "In a broad assessment of the region, the president inflated the progress toward democracy made by allies such as Saudi Arabia that are harshly criticized for their abuses in the annual U.S. human rights report, while he criticized countries such as Iran that have made some inroads but do not have good relations with Washington. "His portrayal of what's going on in Arab countries is totally unrealistic," said Marina Ottaway, co-director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The reality that he is overlooking is that in all these countries that are supposedly making progress, hostility to the United States is at an all-time high," she said. "So the idea that these are countries where progress on democracy is going to make them better allies is certainly not supported by what is going on.""

Very good, very sharp. While you're there, check out the Reuters roundup of the, um, unimpressed Arabs. Words like "sham" and "double-standard" and "hypocrisy" seem to be the order of the day. Can't think why.

Hey, anyone know why Sullivan and company don't attack the Washington Post like they do the New York Times for reporting the truth, um, I mean for being politically motivated Leftist propaganda attack dogs? Oh, and another one - anyone know why the Post's op-ed columnists don't read their generally top-notch reporters when they write things like this?

Thursday, November 06, 2003
Jennifer Weiner fantasizes about a Baby Zagat's guide:
"The "ORGANIC PEAS" in the "SMALL GLASS BOTTLE" had an "UNAPPEALING" "GREENISH-GRAY" color and a "RUNNY" consistency. However, because of the waitstaff's "CAJOLING, INSISTENT" manner, you'll more than likely find yourself "EATING SEVERAL BITES" and even "SUCKING THE BIB" afterwards."

Mmmm, yes. Sucking the bib - one of the baby aardvark's favorite new hobbies, as well. Although I have to admit that the current dramatic new concept - Strawberry-Banana-Applesauce - almost looks good enough to, well, eat!

There are very few things in Bush foreign policy that I admire, like, or even respect - in general, the foreign policy concocted by Bush's neoconservative radicals is only barely (and rarely) salvaged by State Department salvage operations. But there is one part of the Bush approach which I do like and support, and about which I only wish that he was sincere: the commitment to Arab democracy.

Today's speech to the NED embodies both the good and bad here.

Bush starts his remarks on the Middle East with this: "Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to representative government." To his credit, he forcefully rejects this belief: "It should be clear to all that Islam, the faith of one-fifth of humanity, is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries: in Turkey, Indonesia and Senegal and Albania and Niger and Sierra Leone." It is really quite remarkable that Bush and company have embraced a drive for Arab democracy given that the intellectuals behind his policy have generally been closely associated with the argument that Islam and democracy are not compatible.

Let's be clear: it is not the much-maligned professional Middle East scholars who are skeptical of Arab democracy. It is their conservative and neoconservative critics. Go back and read Bernard Lewis. Go read Martin Kramer's indictment of the field of Middle East studies for being too naively optimistic about democratization and civil society in the 1990s. In other words, Bush is on the side of the angels here, and is implicitly criticizing his intellectual allies, something which can get lost in the clumsy spin operations.

He is also absolutely right about the demands for change within the region, and the widespread enthusiasm for democracy. He goes a little off track in trying to praise democratic developments in recent years... Saying that "Jordan held historical [sic] elections this summer" is rather a stretch, as I've written earlier. Few of the other examples he cites are very impressive. Iraq has not created the democratic domino effect that the neocons and their supporters predicted, as the sparse list of highlights Bush mentions here makes sadly clear.

But that does not mean that such change is impossible, and certainly not that it is undesirable. If you spend any time at all with the Arab media, like al Jazeera, you can't miss the overtones - and often overt arguments - rejecting the political status quo and demanding change. That demand is real, regardless of American foreign policy.

But that's the rub. Despite Bush's spin (which the increasingly desperate liberal hawks are rushing to embrace), the US has not often been on the side of democracy in the Middle East, and there is very little sign that this is changing. The fundamental problem has always been that real democracy could bring to power popular groups which are not supportive of American foreign policy. And faced with a choice between Arab democracy and national interests, the US has almost always chosen the latter, for better or for worse. That's the reality, which no amount of Presidential spin can change. And the complete collapse of public support for the US among Arab public opinion attests to the overwhelming skepticism about American intentions.

If Bush genuinely wants to promote Arab change and democracy, great - and I really mean that. But look at the deeds, and see if they match the words. Arabs do. What does Bush actually say, and what does he actually do? There is, despite everything, absolutely nothing in the speech that suggests a serious willingness to prioritize democracy over support for American foreign policy goals. And, quite frankly, there is nothing in Bush's foreign policy team to suggest that they prioritize democracy (although I might make a partial exception for Paul Wolfowitz, for reasons I might get into later).

And so, once again, it's back to Iraq. If Bush wants to make genuine Iraqi democracy the standard for judging the success of his war, wonderful. How to reconcile that with actual American policy on the ground in Iraq I don't know. The Iraqi Governing Council remains a powerless, appointed, unrepresentative, and unpopular joke (did you catch the part in Friedman's column today that only about 7 of them even bother showing up to meetings anymore?). The security situation continues to deteriorate, there's been no progress on a constitution, and very little sign of any political development whatsoever. But given where we are now, a serious public commitment to building a real Iraqi democracy is a positive development, and one to which Bush must be held accountable as things continue to go bad.

In one of the less significant political events of recent days, the American Political Science Association recently held elections. This in itself was something new - in the past, the APSA would simply present a slate of 'nominees' and ask people to vote for them (I just throw my hands up at our professional associations - I refused to cast a vote in the International Studies Association elections because they had one candidate for President, and three candidates for three slots in the other open position. Didn't acclamation voting go out with the Soviet Union and Saddam?). This year, the "Perestroika" movement submitted a write-in candidate, meaning that there were an astonishing 9 candidates for 8 seats (yes, this really is the best that the American "Political Science" Association can do....). When the Perestroika candidate lost, it led to some thoughtful discussion about future reform possibilities, election strategies, and the like - all too the good.

I only bring it up here because of one of the funniest exchanges that took place over the last few days.

Harvey Mansfield, the famously conservative (and famously tough grading) professor at Harvard, has attempted to provoke Perestroika on its list-serve several times. The first time was over that silly David Brooks column about conservatives in academia - Mansfield agreed that conservatives in political science should be seen as a minority facing discrimination and persecution, and that Perestroika's refusal to lobby on behalf of this oppressed minority showed their intellectual incoherence. That set off a reasonably interesting debate, which brought forward voices on both sides of the issue (which, incidentally, kind of gives the lie to the whole 'Left groupthink' claim, but that's a story for another day).

But here's where it gets funny: the other day, Mansfield posted this about the election result: "One reason why Perestroika did not do well in the APSA elections may be that you turn off thousands of conservative political scientists by dwelling on left-wing political issues such as affirmative action and minority preferences. Yours, Harvey Mansfield"

As one clever person then pointed out, "I am puzzled as to how there could be thousands of conservative political scientists when, as Harvey also claims, conservative students are so discriminated against that there are hardly any conservatives in the field of political science."

Ah yes... rigor, logic, and standards. I actually think that Mansfield may be closer to mark this second time, that there are substantial numbers of conservative political scientists who voted against what they see as a left insurgency (despite the prominence in the movement of quite a few folks not usually identified with the left), but this does make his previous intervention look kind of silly. At any rate, the APSA election results were probably more driven by a general methodological and self-interested hostility to Perestroika among mainstream political scientists, who resent the attack on the dominance of methods over substance, than by these 'political' issues. But still, it's amusing to see Mansfield get himself tripped up in conflicting political spin points... sounds like a C- to me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003
A guest poster over at Kos draws an analogy between Baghdad and Beirut, focusing on the evolution of the guerrilla military tactics. S/he wonders whether this might be a harbinger not of a unified national resistance movement, like Vietnam, but rather total collapse into civil war.

I was thinking about the Lebanon analogy yesterday for a different reason: the rather stunning similarities, across the board, to the Iraq war. Remember - Lebanon 1982 was the original "war on terror." Ariel Sharon, then Defense Minister, hoped to crush the PLO in Lebanon and thereby end Palestinian resistance to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - remember that back then, Israel defined the PLO solely as a terrorist organization and rejected the existence of a legitimate Palestinian nationalism with political grievances.

Sharon's desire to crush the PLO dovetailed with the ambitions of Bashir Gemayal and the Phalange, a right wing (near fascist) Maronite Christian militia, to establish their hegemony over Lebanon. The expectation was that Gemayel would be installed as a pro-Israeli, pro-Western President who would align Lebanon accordingly. Sharon also expected the Shia to welcome the IDF as liberators, not conquerers, based on their clear and very real hatred for the Palestinians (which they did, initially - not with hugs and puppies, but with tacit acceptance... until the Israeli presence proved too oppressive and Hizbollah rose up to seize the mantle of resistance). To get this war of choice, Sharon manipulated intelligence and lied - certainly to the Israeli people, and arguably to Prime Minister Menachem Begin - about the nature and magnitude of the Palestinian threat.

Sharon expected a quick and easy military campaign, and he got one: the IDF raced to Beirut in only six days, confirming Israel's vast military superiority. Once they got to Beirut, though, things bogged down. The horrific siege of Beirut followed, and then the litany of tragedies which we all associate with the Lebanon war - the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, the Hizbollah bombing of the US Marine barracks, the collapse of the society into an unbelievably vicious cycle of senseless violence. Gemayel was assassinated before he could take office. Hizbollah, which many Israelis now consider to be Israel's most dangerous enemy, was born in the 1982 invasion, and rose to prominence by virtue of its military effectiveness in the long struggle against the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

The results of an unnecessary, illegal, and misguided war? Well, the PLO was in fact expelled from Lebanon - the one success cited by Sharon and his defenders. But the PLO reconstituted itself abroad, Palestinian nationalism continued to thrive, and the PLO's weakness allowed the spread of Islamic politics in Gaza and the West Bank which soon gave birth to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Meanwhile, Lebanon descended into chaos and horror, Hizbollah thrived, and Israeli soldiers became easy targets (flypaper!) for Hizbollah attacks in the security zone. To Israel's vast credit, a massive peace movement protested the war, leading to Begin resign in disgrace.

You see the similarities, even if I don't spell them out: a war on terror, fought on false pretenses, expectation of a rapturous Shia welcome and the quick creation of a friendly pro-Western proxy, quick military victory followed by long, slow, painful guerrilla war, a steady bleeding of the occupying military force, the rise of a militarily effective and radical Islamist resistance, and finally a withdrawal in 2000 from what was widely seen as a senseless quagmire. The only - really the only - cause for hope in this whole sordid tale is Begin's fall from power in the face of an outraged public which demanded answers.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Juan Cole links to this Gulf News article about trends in Iraqi viewing habits. It's a short but important piece, which points out that satellite dishes are rapidly spreading through all parts of Iraqi society (now up to about one-third of all Iraqis, which doesn't count those who watch satellite TV in cafes or at friends' homes). And among those with satellite dishes, 63% primarily get their news from al-Jazeera or al-Arabiya, with only 12% getting their news from the official Iraqi Media Network (about which I wrote last week).

Al-Quds al-Arabi prints a longer version of the the same story. Here's part of what was missing: "Some officials in the IGC and the administration think that hte news provided by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya is not balanced. Last September the Council banned the two stations for a period from attending official press conference in protest against its style of news coverage. But Hussein Ali (28 years old) said that his family watched the news on the Arab stations, and that the official Iraqi station did not present a true picture of Iraq... which is a country wracked by economic problems and escalating violence... He also said that his sister bought the television set to watch Egyptian serials (soap operas, basically) during the month of Ramadan."

A sharp reader notes a flaw in my explanation of the meaning of the name "Abu Aardvark": "If you gave birth to Abdallah, wouldn't you be known as Umm Abdallah (Mother of Abdallah)?" I suppose I could make some witticism about unique aardvark anatomy, or blame my oversight on an over-enthusiastic baby aardvark banging away at the keyboard while I type... but instead I shall have to bow to the reader's superior logic! This father of the aardvark did not, in fact, give birth ... to which Mrs. Aardvark would be quite happy to attest!

David Brooks got the memo about "resolve face": "Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours."

So did Reuel Gerecht (or, to be fair, the headline writer at the Weekly Standard): "The Long, Hard Slog: We've made military strides against al Qaeda. Next step: Iraqi democracy."

Coming soon: why a long, hard slog in Iraq is a vital step in the war on gay marriage!

Monday, November 03, 2003
How depressing. Al-Hayat reports today that al-Azhar has issued a ruling declaring Ahmed al-Shahawi's book "Al-Wasaya fi Ashiq al-Nisa" to be against Islam and a threat to morals, and on those grounds for its publication, distribution and sale to be immediately stopped. Al-Hayat describes this as a major blow against the Egyptian Ministry of Culture ("an Azharite bomb"), as well as a sharp rebuke to a Parliamentary subcommittee which - in response to a question submitted by a Muslim Brotherhood MP - had determined that the book was not insulting to religion. I haven't read the book and know nothing about it beyond what's in this article, but the wider issue is one I've been following for many years: the ever-growing (if contested) power of al-Azhar's conservative ulema over Egyptian intellectual and cultural life.

Al-Azhar has this power because Hosni Mubarak has, over the years, ceded a tremendous amount of power over cultural content to the conservative ulema of al-Azhar in order to buy their support against more radical Islamists. This is only the latest of many examples of their use of their power to suppress Egyptian intellectual and cultural life. These conservatives - like many American religious conservatives - care rather more about the culture wars than about politics, which serves Mubarak just fine. These are the kind of people who would, say, make "gay marriage" the central political issue of their day, ban music which they find offensive (or at least put warning labels on it), or publish jeremiads about the degradation of the contemporary media. You know the type.

For a different face of Egyptian Islamism, check out al-Ahram Weekly's profile of Mohammed Selim al-Awa. Al-Awa is one of the key figures of the Wasatiya (Centrist) movement in Egypt, a movement which also encompasses Islamists such as Tareq al-Bishri, Fahmi Huwaydi, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The profile says: "El-Awa is seen as one of the more important voices from within that group of Islamist intellectuals regarded by many commentators as representing the voice of the Muslim mainstream, as grounded in the Qur'anic verse "We have willed you to be a community of moderation" (2:143). This idea of moderation, of Al-Wasatiya, is the basis of the notion of centrism which he embraces and may well have underwritten his decision to side with Al-Wasat Party, a group of young professionals who defected from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1995 and sought to establish a political party. When some of the party members were arrested he represented them, and their right to form a party, in the courts. "I was defending the idea of Al-Wasat (centrism) first because I believe it to be a notion that could create waves of change in this society."

Al-Awa remembers that his father cut off his contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in 1965, when the movement was associated with violence against the government: "He cut off his links with them from that day on. It was an act of protest against their act of violence. He always believed that shedding innocent blood was prohibited. He had argued and counter-argued in countless debates with members of the group that whoever committed such acts was in violation of Islamic teaching."

On the question of an Islamic state, al-Awa says: "I think their project -- as defined by Hassan El-Banna -- was about the Muslim individual, the Muslim family, the Muslim community and the Muslim world . And this is the project of Prophethood, not of Brotherhood. I mean, it was the project of Islam itself and no one can object to this vision but when it comes to translating it into actions I would ask, how do you raise the Muslim individual. Do you raise him or her to be free, independent, capable of making decisions and to think and act out of his own free will or do you indoctrinate blind obedience in him or her? I believe that most Islamic movements, including the Brotherhood, opt for the latter. They raise the individuals to be cogs in the machine. They cannot question or think critically. The same applies to most political parties in this country." .... "I consider myself a part of the reformist trend in Islamic thinking. I have been preoccupied with the issue of Islamic reform, though on the level of political thought not political activism."

There's a lot more in the profile, which makes for interesting reading. Al-Awa and al-Azhar.... both part of the story of Egyptian Islamism.

I was trying to figure out why in the world Abu Aardvark was suddenly getting referrals from Little Green Footballs, a site which I rarely (okay, never) read. So I tracked it down and discovered that they've been having a debate about the meaning of "Abu." I couldn't make it through all the digressions, name-calling, abusive language, simple-minded anti-Arab and anti-Muslim vitriol, and repetition (is this a normal thread? Yikes - reminds me why I don't have comment boards here), but I think I made it far enough to register three points for anyone who came here from there:

(1) thanks to whoever it was who called Abu Aardvark a "moderate" - probably the nicest thing anyone on LGF has ever said about me (at least I think it was meant to be nice)!

(2) both sides of the debate are right, to some extent. In Arab cultures "Abu" is typically taken by any father with the birth of his first son. So if your name was Hussein, and you gave birth to a son named Abdullah, you become colloquially known by your proud friends and family as "Abu Abdullah." It is also true, however, that "Abu Whatever" did have political significance among Palestinian resistance fighters of a certain generation and their admirers.

(3) Over here, "Abu Aardvark" should be taken as "proud father of the aardvark," as well as an inside joke to which outsiders (being outsiders) are not privy, not as any sign of membership in any Palestinian faction. Just in case you were wondering.

A bit late, I'm sure, but here it is anyway: if you only have time to read one article today, make sure that it is David Rieff's NYT Magazine piece on the failures of planning for a postwar Iraq. It lays out as clearly as I've seen anywhere how Chalabi and his neocon enablers managed to overcome an entire institutional apparatus of careful planning in the State Department and the Pentagon in order to impose their ideological fantasy. Overreliance on Chalabi for everything from defector information on WMD to supposedly rallying Iraqi public support to the American side during the war lies at the heart of many, if not most, things which have gone wrong since the war. His neocon enablers really seem to have believed his line, and seem to have genuinely expected him to deliver when they airlifted him into the country. He didn't.

The article also documents that the argument that nobody could have foreseen the current mess is just simply factually wrong. The State Department's Future of Iraq project, which was run by professionals and involved both academics and quite a few non-INC Iraqis, got it pretty much right. So did many academics and non-neocon think tank reports. They were all ignored or actively suppressed by the neocons simply because they weren't on the neocon team - it was from State, so it must be killed. The article says that Jay Garner says that he was specifically told by Rumsfeld to ignore the Future of Iraq project, and that his request to add Tom Warrick (the head of the project) to his staff was rejected.

There's a great line Rieff quotes from an Iraqi-American participant, which responds in part to Tom Friedman's foolishness yesterday along the lines that critics of the American occupation don't think Arab democracy is possible: "From Colin Powell on down, I've spent hundreds of hours with State Department people, and I've never heard one say democracy was not viable in Iraq. Not one."

Anyway, it's a must read.

New talking points: "President Bush and his aides sound distinctly less triumphal these days about the prospects for early success in the continuing war in Iraq — a deliberate change in tone after a week of setbacks on several fronts."

Fair and balanced bloggers who do not take hating this country as a north star take note. Only anti-American America haters pretend that everything is going well in Iraq - such pollyannas can not be tolerated. This will be a long, hard war, as the President has always said [fill in your own gratuitous links to "mission accomplished" and "the media only shows the bad news" here], but we will show our resolve and our credibility so that the dominoes do not fall. Remember - resolve, resolve, resolve. No more "morning in Baghdad" routines - for some bizarre reason, that whole "American soldiers being killed shows how desperate the enemy is" argument didn't seem to be going over all that well (weird, weird - it sounded great at the AEI luncheon...). Anyway, it's all about resolve now: if we don't win, the terrorists do. Don't miss the talking points, folks, and remember the party line - the RNC will be watching.

Sunday, November 02, 2003
Sometimes I think Tom Friedman argues with himself in his columns because those are the only arguments he can win. In today's rather peevish swiping at Germany and France, as an arriviste in the Freedom Fries club, Friedman puts forward a lot of his favorite kind of adversary, the straw man. Almost every sentence in his Sunday column defines the word "tendentious." Amazingly, he still almost manages to lose the argument.

For Friedman, Germans and French didn't contribute money in Madrid because they don't support Iraqi democracy (which, bizarrely, leads Friedman to the surreal inference that the Saudi pledge of $1 billion means that they do support Iraqi democracy - and if you believe that, well, contact me about this great business opportunity involving an ancient aardvark buried treasure and the need for an honest American business partner to process the transaction). It couldn't possibly be opposition to how the US is running the occupation, or the American insistence on keeping control in its own hands rather than in the UN's, or a reluctance to legitimize an illegitimate military action - no, it's because they don't want democracy in Iraq.

Friedman attributes to Germans and French the idea that Arabs are not capable of democracy. This is a view widely held among certain sectors of American punditry, but has about as much to do with European views on the Middle East as does that shocking but now revealed to be true ancient aardvarkian prophecy (you know the one: 'And on a day when Buffy is no more, there shall come a show which mocks your Faith').

Then Friedman marvels wonderingly that many Europeans seem to find a dominant America more threatening to global stability than Saddam's tyranny. Well, actually, framed like that, the straw man Europeans are pretty clearly right. Saddam might have been a horror to his own people, and a source of regional tension, but what threat did Iraq really pose to global stability? If it had really had nuclear weapons, then an argument could be made for a threat to global security (as it can be for North Korea), but by now most hawks have accepted that Iraq didn't have nukes and have ret-conned accordingly (translation: "retroactively reconstructed the continuity to make your version of the past fit the current plot line" - the comic book equivalent of 'we are at war with Oceana, we have always been at war with Oceana' or 'I never thought that Iraq's nukes were the real reason for war). On the other side, basic Intro to International Relations theory would tell you that the most powerful state almost by definition has the greatest potential for changing the system (for good or ill) - so if led by someone with dangerous and threatening views, then that country does pose a greater threat *to global stability*, simply because it has the capabilities to act on its beliefs in ways that others do not.

Friedman: the Dorian Gray of the liberal hawks. The self-portrayal remain young and vigorous, but behind the facade the whole position grows rotten and weak, increasingly shrill and petulant, blaming others for not accepting his fantasy as reality.

More good news! Fourteen dead American soldiers and a helicopter down - right out of the President's plan! The more Americans die, the more desperate the enemy must be, just like the President said. Lots of desperation among the insurgency tonight, I'll bet. Sure, some anti-American and unpatriotic Leftists will probably try to minimize or downplay this wonderful news, but we know the truth. Bring it on!