Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 20, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BAGHDAD AND TEHRAN....Anne Applebaum writes today that optimism over Iraq is entirely unwarranted:

Not because things aren't improving in Iraq — it seems they are, at least for the moment — but because the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized. It isn't just that the Iraq war invigorated the anti-Americanism that has always been latent pretty much everywhere. What's worse is the fact that — however it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy is a decade from now — our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence. However it all comes out, the price we've paid is too high.

That actually sounded surprisingly....reasonable. That is, until I finished the column and found out just why Applebaum is so agitated about our diminished credibility: because it makes it less likely that anyone will support U.S. military action against Iran. That's the great tragedy of Iraq.

I need a drink.

Kevin Drum 2:06 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

At this point, I think the entire country needs a drink. Or maybe some Wellbutrin.

Posted by: gfw on November 20, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

I need a drink.

No doubt. There's not really a better time to read Applebaum than drunk at two something in the morning.

Posted by: sweaty guy on November 20, 2007 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's certainly a tragedy, isn't it? And I was so looking forward to the Bush administration's resurrection of the Pahlavi dynasty ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 20, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Is Applebrain one of those serious people I keep hearing about?

Posted by: F. Frederson on November 20, 2007 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, how tragic it is that we destroyed our nation's military, reputation, and economy over an unjustified debacle of a war in Iraq when it would have been so much more preferable to have destroyed our nation's military, reputation, and economy over an unjustified debacle of a war with Iran.

What is most disturbing is that people like Applebaum seem completely and totally unaware that Iran is a much larger country in terms of population and economy than Iraq and that it's military is far, far more capable than Iraq's was after 10 years of sanctions.

An attack against Iran will basically give the Iranians the pretext to pour over the border into Iraq (to plenty of open arms, including many current members of the Iraqi government) and possibly beyond.

We propped Saddam Hussein up as a bulwark against Iran. Bush has not only destroyed that bulwark, but also created a power vacuum that places Iran in perhaps the most advantageous military and political situation in the region in the last 300 years... not to mention helping re-radicalize an Iran that had been trending on its own towards a far more open Democracy.

Very literally the damage done to this country by Osama bin Laden pale in comparison to the harm that Bush has done to this nation, our economy, our military, our constitution, and our prestige in the world.

He should be tried for war crimes and for treason, along with a majority of the GOP congress and a large minority of the Democrats in congress for being willing accomplices to all of this madness.

Unfortunately Pelosi has taken impeachment "off the table", because apparently poll numbers are more important than accountability and the rule of law. She bears no small share of the blame for this, as the failure to prosecute known criminal behavior is tantamount to sanctioning it, and will no doubt help establish Bush's crimes as a new acceptable standards for what American politicians can get away with, i.e. a continuing slide into corruption and authoritarianism.

And when you fail to stand up to people like Applebaum and chase them off the public stage with ridicule, it allows this kind of insanity to continue to masquerade as rational discourse.

Posted by: Augustus on November 20, 2007 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

OT, but was it you, Kevin, who asked recently why it took so long for us to figure out that objects of any weight accelerate at the same speed when dropped from a height? (I am asking this because I find neither a search function nor a link to your email address on the site, am I looking in the wrong place?)

I just picked up a book called "50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know," by Russ Kick. He says it's because Aristotle said that heavier objects fall faster, and that for 2000 years afterwards, until the enlightenment, whatever Aristotle said was taken as "written in stone"; and that, in fact, Galileo was kicked out of the university at Pisa for--you guessed it--questioning Aristotle. (Of course Aristotelian metaphysics was the basis for Catholic theology, so questioning Aristotle was heretical.)

If it wasn't you, never mind.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on November 20, 2007 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

In a way Applebaum is a Trotskycon par excellence...and not just through her marriage and the usual neocon suspects. I read her Gulag book looking for the truth about how the Gulags started under Lenin and his head policeman, Trotsky agin the LEFT in early 1918. I couldn't even find it in the index. The truth about Russia circa 1918-22 is something only known to a few* and Anne Applebaum is a stranger to that truth. The Applebaum's of this world prefer ideology.

*G Maximoff, Voline, Arshinov, Goldman and Avrich. Also Brinton and even the bourgeois, Figes.

Posted by: professor rat on November 20, 2007 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

If we're talking about drinking, we've got a fresh selection of Beaujolais Nouveau in store, and it goes pretty well with turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. It might go as well with cranberries and pumpkin pie, but after I've emptied a bottle I'm seldom tempted by dessert.

Posted by: bad Jim on November 20, 2007 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus: "And when you fail to stand up to people like Applebaum and chase them off the public stage with ridicule, it allows this kind of insanity to continue to masquerade as rational discourse."

You brought up some really great points in your post. Thank you.

However, in all honesty, I'm not nearly as concerned with misguided pseudo-academics like Anne Applebaum, as much as I am with those poisonous right-wing talking heads -- Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, et al. -- who currently overpopulate our corporate-owned media and thus reach far wider audiences, simply because their respective network bosses profess to find such servile nitwits "provocative and entertaining."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 20, 2007 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus pretty well summed up my thoughts - well done! Invading Iran without exercising even a modicum of true diplomatic engagement makes the U.S. a rogue state. That is not how civilized countries conduct themselves. We will have become a nation of mass murderers. I sure as hell didn't sign up for that.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 20, 2007 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

Actually heavy objects fall faster than light objects. It is only when they are placed in an artificial medium like a large evacuated tube that they fall at the same rate. That is why missiles are made of metal and not marshmallow, but any attack on old Aristotle will do, however silly, if it allows to pock a knife into the Catholic Church.

Posted by: jlcg on November 20, 2007 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

Gulp!

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: altara on November 20, 2007 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

At the risk of reinventing the wheel here, I'm forever surprised how the American people, and, often, pundits, forget what this is all about....oil.

At the end of the day the powers that be will find any excuse they can, nuclear weapons, democracy, AQ, control of shipping lanes/pipelines, keeping Cuba out of Latin America, drugs, whatever: to exercise control over the oil. The hunger is voracious. The draw inevitable. It is going to go on...and it is going to intensify.

Posted by: jonst on November 20, 2007 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

That is hysterical Kevin. Poor Anne won't get her war.

Posted by: manfred on November 20, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

I thought for a second there, when she started talking about the collateral damage to our international standing, she was on to something rational. And then after that, she'd talk about how the Iraq misadventure has left us with few options militarily if we actually HAD to deploy troops somewhere (and that's not changing any time soon, if we'll need 100,000 troops there for another decade or so); how it's left us with few domestic-spending options, since it's swallowing so much of the budget (even if it is "off line"), etc.

I forgot that with these nutbags, all roads lead to Iran. Maybe that means I've had too much to drink. But I ain't stopping now.

I also think the Applebaums of this world are every bit as dangerous as the O'Reillys. They're the ones who provide the circular fodder for the Sunday gas-fests. They talk to (or live with, or sleep with) the neocon wackjobs, they run credulous, single-source stories disseminating their misinformation, and then those stories are quoted by the very same wackjobs as proof that their theories are true! Then, before you know it, we're lacing up the boots for another Middle East debacle.

Judith Miller, meet Anne Applebaum.

Posted by: sullijan on November 20, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

"but because the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized."

Which Americans don't realize, the 68% who have been repeating themselves endlessly for 5 years that Bush has been taking this country in the wrong direction? That he is a war criminal. That impeachment for stomping on this country's constitution wasn't good enough for him? Those Americans?

Or the 24% of Americans who have supported Bush through everything simply because he is a Republican, supporting every last act he commits, right down to walking out on the world stage with toilet paper hanging off his shoe, and a pin on his label that says: I [heart] Oil.

Or the 8% of undecided Americans who can't make up their minds for one reason or another, mostly lack of paying attention.

Or the media who, controlled by a percentage of the 24%, turn away from reporting truth, or saying anything about oil, to show us pictures of a half-naked Britney doing it again. Those Americans?

Or our two leaders themselves, who have no qualms about rearranging the politics of an entire country and people to suit their own delusions of grandeur that their keeping the US glutted with oil by whatever means they deem fit will be lauded as heroism at some future date?

Where has Ms. Applebaum been, that she can state Americans don't realize? Most Americans do realize the depth of our leaderships willingness to sell themselves, this country, and America's global reputation down stream for oil and have spent the past several years in wailing objections over it, to the background music of Rush Limbaugh calling us Nazis.

Bush is simply a repeater of history from which we have learned no lessons, and has shown us, and the GOP, just how powerless We, the People have become, even after voting in a new congress in '06 to change the direction of this country.

Americans do realize....

Posted by: Zit on November 20, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

What do we win when we win in Iraq?

The great unanswerable question.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on November 20, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Anne Applebaum wrote: What, then, are we left with? Fingers crossed, that those who say Iran's nuclear bomb is years away are right. Fingers crossed, that maybe Iran really does just want a civilian nuclear program. Fingers crossed, that if Iran gets nukes, its government will behave responsibly. Fingers crossed, that all of the other crises whose resolution has been hampered or damaged by Iraq -- Pakistan, Afghanistan, the broader Middle East -- will somehow solve themselves, too.

Like Applebaum, I'm worried about all these crises. In my book there's no automatic happy ending.

Many liberals fault people who express these worries. Do they have valid reasons to be confident that there's nothing to worry about? I don't think so. It looks more like people in denial who resist looking at real problems.

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 20, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I had the same reaction as sullijan: Wow, this seems to be making sense . . . Oh, I see, never mind.

Also, that comment that Americans don't realize how disastrous the war in Iraw has turned out to be . . . which Americans would that be? Certainly not the vast majority who wanted the war to end, like, yesterday. Oh, I think they realize full well and then some how catastrophic it's been. AA and her friends, now that's another story -- and of course, those are the only Americans that "matter."

Posted by: Barbara on November 20, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, I'm not quite as down as much as many of the commentators are on this article. What Applebaum is saying, if I read her correctly, is that our total screwing up of Iraq (overstatement of what was there, etc.) has made us a not-believable player when it comes to Iran, nebbermind the fact that most anyone in the military (and the diplomats) think that an attack on Iran would Not Work Out, would be A Bad Thing, and would simply piss off everyone.

I look it as a strategical analysis leading up to her conclusion, which is that "we're left crossing our fingers and really, really hoping that Iran doesn't get the bomb, because we have managed to screw up everything. "

Posted by: grumpy realist on November 20, 2007 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

ex Liberal,

It is, I believe, less of a question of there is 'nothing to worry about', than what action on one's part is likely, or less likely, to bring about the thing worth worrying about in the first place. One can get to the point where endlessly worrying, and exaggeration, drive one in to a hasty counter-productive, action, where movement, of any kind, is mistaken for progress. See Iraq. See, possibly, Afghanistan. See 'global war on terror' where we are jettioning the very freedoms, and, eventually, security, we seek to secure.

Posted by: jonst on November 20, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

How do such stupid people get a job that provides them with such a loud platform?

Ms. Applebaum must be a worrywart who always keeps her fingers crossed. Fingers crossed, will she get cancer? Fingers crossed, will she get dementia? Fingers crossed, will she get run over by a truck? Poor little girl. So many possible problems, but she can't do anything about them.

Whinyass boob sucking babies should be kept miles away from a WaPo column.

Posted by: gregor on November 20, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

jonst,

Save your breath. "ex-liberal" does not argue in good faith, is perfectly well aware that he's constructing a straw man -- seveal of them, actually. He's delighted you noticed, though, because the more obvious his bad faith, the more insulting it is to the members of this forum.

As for Applebaum,

Fingers crossed, that if Iran gets nukes, its government will behave responsibly.

Bullshit. It's wily of her to slip this implication in there, but the burden is on Applebaum and her warmongering ilk to demonstrate that Iran is no more subject to nuclear deterrence than the other members of the nuclear club.

Posted by: Gregory on November 20, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Like Applebaum, I'm worried about all these crises."

Since those "crises" exist primarily in your own head and since you've clearly established that you have no connection to reality, we aren't particularly surprised about your "worry."

"In my book there's no automatic happy ending."

No shit, Sherlock. Now perhaps you could explain that to the Bush administration and to all of those people who think that invading Iran is a good thing.

"Many liberals fault people who express these worries."

Well, mostly because damn near all of the "worries" aren't based on anything resembling reality (see, for example, Iraq).

"Do they have valid reasons to be confident that there's nothing to worry about?"

Wrong question. Do you have valid reasons to believe that there is a "crisis" to worry about?

"I don't think so."

Back at you, moron.

"It looks more like people in denial who resist looking at real problems."

ROFL.... Strange, that's just what you said about Iraq. How's that working out for you?

Posted by: PaulB on November 20, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Many liberals fault people who express these worries. Do they have valid reasons to be confident that there's nothing to worry about? I don't think so. It looks more like people in denial who resist looking at real problems."

Need any more straw for your strawman? It's not that we aren't worried about these things; it's that we don't believe invading or attacking these countries will do anything but create new and bigger problems.

Why shouldn't Iran be paranoid about US intentions? We're occupying two countries on their borders. Why shouldn't they have an interest in what goes on in those countries? If China invaded and occupied Mexico and Canada, I think we would probably be meddling in both places, supporting certain parties and factions and trying to advance our interests. Why don't the Iranians have a right to do the same?

Persia has been involved in Mesopotamia and Afghanistan for 3000 years, and we go waltzing in there acting like we own the place. And the IRANIANS are the ones who are the troublemakers?

Posted by: Speed on November 20, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Many liberals fault people who express these worries. Do they have valid reasons to be confident that there's nothing to worry about? I don't think so. It looks more like people in denial who resist looking at real problems.

wooo-o-oo. What about the invisible gnomes living and plotting in my garden? I haven't seen you fret enough about them, ex-lib! I haven't heard a single valid reason to be confident there's nothing to worry about here. You're quite plainly in denial.

Look. Iranian nukes is more bullshit from the people who brought you Iraqi WMD. What did the IAEA find out in it's latest report? Well, that:

1. Iran is cooperating fully with inspections.
2. There is no evidence of diversion of materials from Iran's legitimate energy program.

Not only that but Iran's highest body has issued a fatwah against the development of nuclear weapons, a fatwah reconfirmed this year. Within the context of Iran, a stronger promise cannot be made. And however shitty the Iranian government may be at least they're more trustworthy than your lying fuckers.

I couldn't blame Iran if they did try to develop nukes but all signs in the real world are against it. And they'd be years away in any case.

Step one in examining any problem should start with this fact. Your team is a bunch of fucking liars who have been caught lying time and time and time again. You get no benefit of doubt!!

Oh and fuck Anne Applebaum too.

Posted by: snicker-snack on November 20, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hell, Applebaum is nothing.

O'Hanlon wants us to complete the trifecta by invading Pakistan.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 20, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Like Applebaum, I'm worried about all these crises."

Well that settles it! Ex-thinker is worried, so lets just shred the rest of the Constitution and let him have all the wars his black little heart desires, because he's a knock-kneed fraidy-cat!!! (And a piss-poor American too boot. But that's a known-known.)

Posted by: Volatile Compound on November 20, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

That things are improving in Baghdad is irrelevant.

If I climb into my car hammered after a night in the bars, and drive all the way home without killing anybody, or wrapping up my car, that doesn’t mean it was a good idea to get behind the wheel in the first place, or to do it again next Friday night, or that I’m ready to drive Formula One for Ferrari.

It means I’m a criminal who didn’t get caught…

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on November 20, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

On NPR yesterday, I heard the same complaint made by Sen. McCain.

Being against US military aggression is not anti-American, but on C-SPAN Sunday I saw 'Buzz' Patterson say it was.

Posted by: Brojo on November 20, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Eve Fairbanks over at The Plank seems to think that this article is meant to be a takedown of Charles Krauthammer's column a few days ago praising the strength of American diplomacy under Bush. In that sense, I can understand why she would focus on Iran- that,s something important to conservatives and it's a very clear and pertinent instance of bad diplomacy under Bush crippling American hard power.

Posted by: Ruck on November 20, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Timbuktoo needs to be invaded. It has not been invaded since 1529. It is mostly Muslim. Isn't that reason enough ?

Posted by: Douglas Watts on November 20, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

why Applebaum is so agitated about our diminished credibility: because it makes it less likely that anyone will support U.S. military action against Iran. That's the great tragedy of Iraq.

The great tragedy of Iraq is that we didn't round up all the neocons and hand them over to the Iraqi people for... processing.

Posted by: Disputo on November 20, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

jonst wrote: "I'm forever surprised how the American people, and, often, pundits, forget what this is all about....oil [...] to exercise control over the oil. The hunger is voracious. The draw inevitable. It is going to go on...and it is going to intensify."

Recommended reading:

Beyond the Age of Petroleum
By Michael T. Klare
The Nation
12 November 2007

Excerpt:

The need for a vigorous US military role in protecting energy assets abroad has been a major theme in American foreign policy since 1945, when President Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and promised to protect the kingdom in return for privileged access to Saudi oil.

In the most famous expression of this linkage, President Carter affirmed in January 1980 that the unimpeded flow of Persian Gulf oil is among this country's vital interests and that to protect this interest, the United States will employ "any means necessary, including military force." This principle was later cited by President Reagan as the rationale for "reflagging" Kuwaiti oil tankers with the American ensign during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 and protecting them with US warships-a stance that led to sporadic clashes with Iran. The same principle was subsequently invoked by George H.W. Bush as a justification for the Gulf War of 1991.

In considering these past events, it is important to recognize that the use of military force to protect the flow of imported petroleum has generally enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Washington. Initially, this bipartisan outlook was largely focused on the Persian Gulf area, but since 1990, it has been extended to other areas as well [...]

One might imagine that the current debacle in Iraq would shake this consensus, but there is no evidence that this is so. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case: possibly fearful that the chaos in Iraq will spread to other countries in the Gulf region, senior figures in both parties are calling for a reinvigorated US military role in the protection of foreign energy deliveries.

[...]

It is very clear that the Democrats, or at least mainstream Democrats, are finding it exceedingly difficult to contest this argument head-on. In March, for example, Senator Hillary Clinton told the New York Times that Iraq is "right in the heart of the oil region" and so "it is directly in opposition to our interests" for it to become a failed state or a pawn of Iran. This means, she continued, that it will be necessary to keep some US troops in Iraq indefinitely, to provide logistical and training support to the Iraqi military. Senator Barack Obama has also spoken of the need to maintain a robust US military presence in Iraq and the surrounding area. Thus, while calling for the withdrawal of most US combat brigades from Iraq proper, he has championed an "over-the-horizon force that could prevent chaos in the wider region."

Given this perspective, it is very hard for mainstream Democrats to challenge Bush when he says that an "enduring" US military presence is needed in Iraq or to change the Administration's current policy, barring a major military setback or some other unforeseen event. By the same token, it will be hard for the Democrats to avert a US attack on Iran if this can be portrayed as a necessary move to prevent Tehran from threatening the long-term safety of Persian Gulf oil supplies.

Nor can we anticipate a dramatic change in US policy in the Gulf region from the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican. If anything, we should expect an increase in the use of military force to protect the overseas flow of oil, as the threat level rises along with the need for new investment to avert even further reductions in global supplies.

Unfortunately those who hope that the election of a Democratic president in 2008 will bring a quick end to the Iraq occupation are likely to be disappointed, just as those who hoped that the election of a Democratic majority Congress in 2006 might do so have been disappointed.

"Blood for oil" is a bipartisan consensus.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 20, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

It's really a shame that all that irrational anti-Americanism is keeping us from invading, destroying, and occupying as many countries as we'd like to. What's wrong with you foreigners anyway? Jeez.

Posted by: Alan in SF on November 20, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

To people like "ex-liberal" I can only repeat the analogy of Thers at Whiskey Fire:
I don't want to hear, from the guy who thought putting his dick in the blender was a good idea, what he thinks we should do with the toaster.

Posted by: reverter on November 20, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

But if we don't invade Iran how am I going to gain an erection?

Posted by: Al on November 20, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

because it makes it less likely that anyone will support U.S. military action against Iran. That's the great tragedy of Iraq.

I need a drink.

Kevin Drum

I'll drink to that.

Posted by: L.W.M. on November 20, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

To people like "ex-liberal" I can only repeat the analogy of Thers at Whiskey Fire

But "ex-liberal" and his fellow neocons don't advocate putting their own lives and treasure at risk, just others. And if the national security of the United States suffers, as it has, well, le'ts just say that's a secondary concern.

In any case, as we see from "ex-liberal"'s history of dishonest posting, they'll deny their disaster as long as they can, and then blame it on being stabbed in the back by the "liberal media" or something.

Why Kevin's moderator(s) see fit to give "ex-liberal" a forum for his Dolchstosslegende agenda is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on November 20, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Funny. In one of my invasion-time assessments, that was the only strong positive outcome I could project.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on November 20, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Many liberals fault people who express these worries.

Many conservatives are racist, ignorant potato-heads who pee in their pants whenever they get afraid, which is all the time.

Hey, this is fun! Bring on the straw people!

Posted by: craigie on November 20, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

It looks more like people in denial who resist looking at real problems.
Posted by: ex-liberal

Da Nile is not a nuke in Iran. It is a river in Egypt.

Posted by: Cleopotroast on November 20, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

The neocons look at the world through American Zionist eyes. I mean this in the positive sense, not in the now rather negative image of nationalistic Zionism. They are principally concerned with the fortunes of the State of Israel and how the United States contributes to those fortunes. Their account of the affairs of the world is informed primarily by the Hobbesian struggle for a Jewish State in the Middle East from the beginning of the 20th century through the Holocaust to the founding of the State of Israel and its necessary hegemony in the Middle East. Israelis tend to have a quite different view of history.

The problem is that the neocons see the United States engaged in this same Hobbesian struggle for survival against the same enemies. This view dovetails with the paranoid style in American politics and the American tradition of militarism. It happens the most nationalistic Middle Eastern regimes are against American economic interests in the region and, in the view of most Middle Easterners, the European colony that is the State of Israel.

The larger states in the Middle East like Iraq and Iran cannot be countered by Israeli power alone. It was assumed the United States with its resources and positive image around the world would help do the work and pacify the region for oil at the same time. The destruction of Saddam’s regime alone would be progress. The assumptions were naive and the project did not produce a resplendent America, but exposed the relative decline of American power. Applebaum laments the mismanagement and the squandering of possibility. She does not see, as the neocons cannot, that failure for Americans, their diminished empire, and the American ability to bend the world to its will, like the Russians, French and British before them, was the most likely outcome.

It may be that a small state like Israel can be something of a pariah and flout international norms, dig in, and survive the best way it can, but a large, diverse and important state like the United States cannot afford such a posture and neither can the world.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 20, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

The world watched and wondered beginning about ten years ago.

1. The most repugnant of the repugnants concocted a plot to impeach Bill Cliton over his sexual activities. The world watched the sordid morality paly and asked itself inane questions of the sort, 'Why are they putting themselves through fits about nothing?' They say a lot of sexual paranoia, hypocrisy.

2. Bush slapped the world in the face by publicly, proudly and loudly announcing that the U.S. would have nothing to the Kyoto Protocols. Apart from their value or not, the world realized that the U.S.---some would say the torch of liberty and enlightenment---was planning to let everyone suffocate in U.S. air pollution, themselves, their children and grandchildren. Let no one underestimate the negative impact of Bush's attitude. The tide turned against the U.S., at least in much of Europe.

Then there was the chaotic interlude of September 11, 2001, when the world tried to remember the image of a more reasonable U.S. and rallied around the country, at least around its people.

3. Then Bush pulled his biggest evil trick out of the bag and came up with Iraq. A new chapter had begun, titled 'Appalling'. Everyone knows the rest of the story: torture, mercenary soldiers, sex games in Abu Ghraib, loss of civil rights, Guantanamo, slaughter, on and on and on.

I read AA's column. I wrote her to say I was pleased to see she was sort of finally getting it. What she didn't understand is that Iran is the least of the U.S.'s problems, if we accept that it is indeed one. I'll stop now and not dwell on the insoluble problems the country faces: debt, health care, immigration and on and on and on. Everyone knows them and AA has no appetite or time for them. Don't forget, she's big time and has her finger on the pulse of history and the world. I suppose AA voted for Bush. Next time I'll ask her if she would vote for Ghouliani. She would probably not appreciate the childish joke. Silly AA.

Posted by: Quentin on November 20, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

However, in all honesty, I'm not nearly as concerned with misguided pseudo-academics like Anne Applebaum

"Misguided"? You praise her with weak damn. Applebaum isn't misguided. She knows precisely what she is doing.

as much as I am with those poisonous right-wing talking heads -- Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, et al.

Those guys are lightweight clowns.

If you want to hear the real kind of venomous hate speech that is most dangerous to our democracy, listen to rightwing nutjobs like Michael Savage and Mark Levin.

Posted by: Disputo on November 20, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

That actually sounded surprisingly....reasonable. That is, until I finished the column...

Which goes a long way toward showing why you're such a tool.

Posted by: The Dead Bodies on November 20, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

[Projection deleted]

Posted by: Orwell on November 20, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Annie, she gets it all wrong.

Why would anyone ditch a lucrative trading partner because of some missiles they don't believe in?

It wouldn't matter if "old Europe" did believe that Iran was trying to create nukes? General Pace was right, a nuclear Iran isn't half as bad as superpower administration that lies. Because Bush is in fact, a liar and everyone knows it.

First Bush said "we aren't wiretapping domestic communcations" even Bush was wiretapping US domestic communcations - and now wants to make it legal.

AND Bush said "we don't torture" but everyone finds out Bush, indeed does TORTURE, and now wants to make it legal to do so.

Bush has an establish pattern of out-right lying so the rest of world has every right to mis-trust Bush. If right-wing party members want the world to show consideration and respect, that I suggest they invest in honest, ethical president and VP's..

AS I recall, right-wing folk didn't care what the UN thought, didn't care what the rest of the world believed and were happy enough when Bush said the UN was irrelvant and Annie, herself labeled "old Europe" inconsequential for her to now be consumed with fevered anguish over what the rest of world thinks of the US and the Bush administration. Bush didn't need anybody, not even Colin Powell and his "differences". What a complete retarded idiot that woman has been.

Posted by: Me_again on November 20, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

jlcg" "Actually heavy objects fall faster than light objects. It is only when they are placed in an artificial medium like a large evacuated tube that they fall at the same rate."

Or the natural vacuum of space that occupies 99.99999999 percent of the universe. But of course we shouldn't pay any attention to such a trivial exception.

Actually, I have a very high opinion of Aristotle. But let's face it, his physics was simply wrong.

Posted by: bob the chimp on November 20, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

BellumRegio: The only reason Israel gets away with that crap is a powerful protector that engages in the same crap.

Bob the Chimp: Aristotle was overrated 2,300 years ago. In spades, today.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 20, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Applebaum does describe the one silver lining in the whole Iraq fiasco. Namely, the US will be unable to put together another coalition of willing aggressors probably for at least a generation. It will also make it less likely that the US will unilaterally attack another country without cause for at least a decade. If Iraq paid a horrible price at least Venesuela, Syria, Iran and others are the beneficiaries.

Posted by: syvanen on November 20, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

jlcg: "... but any attack on old Aristotle will do, however silly, if it allows to pock a knife into the Catholic Church."

With the Holy Mother Church having to negotiate multiple multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of its sexually-abusive clergy members, who needs to wield a knife?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 20, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

jlcg: "Actually heavy objects fall faster than light objects. It is only when they are placed in an artificial medium like a large evacuated tube that they fall at the same rate."

Uh, not only wrong but easily disproved. Objects like a cannonball and a feather fall at different rates in an atmosphere because differences in air friction, true, but a heavy object and a light object with the same coefficient of friction (say, a full can of soda and an empty can of soda) will fall at the same speed.

Posted by: darrelplant on November 20, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Not because things aren't improving in Iraq ... it seems they are, at least for the moment ... but because the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized.

Okay, people -- time for the MidTerm. Put your texts and notebooks under your desks, and use a single sheet of paper and a pencil.

1.) Why does Appelbaum (and most of the American mainstream corporate media) say things like "it's better in Iraq", and not offer to the public questions about the legality of the war -- whether it was right that Cheney / Bush invaded Iraq at all? Discuss.

2.) Appelbaum says, "the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized." Is that lack of understanding due to the American corporate media's misreporting or censored coverage of the war?

3.) Events such as Cheney / Bush's promotion and use of torture, renditions, secret prisons; Abu Ghirab; the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi civilians during the invasion and the bombing that preceded it; massive corruption between the Defense Department and civilian contractors in Iraq; Cheney / Bush's demand to "stay the course" in Iraq while giving every indication of pushing for an attack on neighboring Iran... Do you believe these events have affected international opinion against the U.S.? Why do you feel all were ignored by the American mainstream corporate media, until first reported in foreign media, or magazines such as The New Yorker and Rolling Stone?

Good luck.

Posted by: Jemand von Niemand on November 20, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, Kevin. Applebaum's point was the wholly unobjectionable one that Bush's yelling "Wolf!" in Iraq has had disastrous effects in getting anyone to believe us in time if, and when, REAL wolves show up. That, after all, was the whole point of the damn fable.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on November 20, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"but a heavy object and a light object with the same coefficient of friction (say, a full can of soda and an empty can of soda) will fall at the same speed."

You should do this experiment. I think it will convince you that you are wrong.

As for the theory, the heavier can can exert greater force against the friction, hence its velocity will be significantly higher. This will be most pronounced at terminal velocities gravities force is equal to the frictional resistance.

Posted by: syvanen on November 20, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

The wolves are crying wolf. That's a new kind of fable even Aesop could not foresee.

Posted by: Brojo on November 20, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Applebaum's point was the wholly unobjectionable one that Bush's yelling "Wolf!" in Iraq has had disastrous effects in getting anyone to believe us in time if, and when, REAL wolves show up.

No. AA's point is that when you blow the con once, it's subsequently less effective. Her assertions about "real" threats are just her attempt at rehabbing the con.

Posted by: Disputo on November 20, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I can certainly understand why Jews would have such ethnic loyalty, and I am fine with that; but having so much influence in this country that we put Israel's interest over our own is not healthy.

Posted by: Luther on November 20, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

You should do this experiment. I think it will convince you that you are wrong.

As for the theory, the heavier can can exert greater force against the friction, hence its velocity will be significantly higher. This will be most pronounced at terminal velocities gravities force is equal to the frictional resistance.

Do you mean "gravity's force"? Or are you talking about some sort of multiple gravities?

I wasn't suggesting you take a helicopter out and drop cans from a height where air friction would have a chance to come into major play. Drop them from a few feet up, and they'll hit the ground at roughly the same time, provided there's not an updraft. And I did mention coefficient of friction, didn't I?

Posted by: darrelplant on November 20, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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