Haggai's Place

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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan

:: Friday, January 16, 2004 ::

Liberal hawks + one hack
It's with obvious interest that I've been reading this week-long Slate dialogue among prominent figures in the Iraq debate. As he's consistently proven for at least a year now, Christopher Hitchens is a largely useless hack on this issue. George Packer of the New Yorker got this all too accurate dig in on Wednesday:
How we went to war matters a lot (which is why I wrote in my first post that the weapons [of mass destruction] question remains a scandal waiting for a dramatizer—perhaps a journalist as polemically gifted as Christopher Hitchens was when it came to the deceptions of Nixon, Kissinger, and Clinton).
In other words, "maybe you would have been the one to tackle this critical issue in the past, Hitch, but these days you're too busy fellating Bush." Hitchens goes hack again on Friday, in one of the rare instances that I've seen him admit, even tangentially, that the administration might have been done anything wrong on this issue:
Very occasionally, I feel sympathy for the anti-intervention forces. They can quite pardonably claim that they don't know quite which protean Bush/Cheney/Powell/Rumsfeld case they are debating, or which is today's prowar headline or justification. But the same applies in reverse. For example, once I finish arguing with someone who says that a thousand Osamas will spring up to replace the killed Osama, I turn to confront someone who angrily says that Bush hasn't killed Osama yet (which the first contestant can presumably not desire, unless he desires a thousand Osamas). And one can become dizzy, as between those who feel that there are too many American forces in Afghanistan or Iraq, and those who denounce Washington for sending too few.
Geez, how obvious can it be--as Hitchens himself is saying, he hears different arguments against the war from different people, while widely varying cases for the war have been coming from the same source--the administration waging the war. And he wonders why so many millions of people were not categorically opposed to war with Iraq, but simply didn't trust what they were hearing and seeing as the reasons for it? Check that, Hitchens doesn't wonder about this at all, he simply lumps all anti-war arguments into the same category, with no regard at all for what any one single person was saying. Rather than dealing with the actual arguments on their own merits, he says that since some arguments by some anti-war people directly contradict other anti-war arguments by other people, the question of the administration's honesty and competence is cancelled out by the contradictions one can find in the entire body of anti-war arguments that have been made at any point in time by anyone.

I still agree with most of what Ken Pollack is saying, but I don't quite see his point here, from his post on Monday:
On the one hand, the combination of inspections and the pain inflicted by the sanctions had forced Saddam to effectively shelve his WMD ambitions, probably since around 1995-96. On the other hand, the behavior of the French, Russians, Germans, and many other members of the United Nations Security Council in the run-up to the war was final proof that they were never going to do what would have been necessary to revise and support containment so that it might have lasted for more than another year or two.
I don't have any more sympathy than Pollack does for what the French, Russian, and German governments were saying and doing in the run-up to the war, but how can he really conclude that containment wouldn't have lasted "for more than another year or two"? The sanctions couldn't be lifted without US consent, and although they'd been undermined for quite a while by some of the aforementioned govenments (plus many other countries), Saddam still hadn't gotten any closer to re-charging his WMD programs, as Pollack himself is saying. The inspectors, of course, hadn't been in Iraq for four years by the time they went back in a few months before the war, and still no new weapons. So why was containment doomed to fail in another year or two? Doesn't make much sense to me.
12:12 PM
:: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 ::
Don't make a habit out of this, guys
Last night's Kentucky game wasn't for the faint of heart, as the Wildcats won 67-66 at Mississippi State on a ridiculously lucky play in the final seconds. A huge second half lead for the Cats evaporated as MSU played their butts off, and the ever present lack of depth wore UK down. A road win against a good team is always great, but I hope the nailbiting drama doesn't happen too much more this season.
11:22 AM
:: Monday, January 12, 2004 ::
No logical fallacies here
New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait makes the case against Joe Lieberman in an upcoming on-line debate about the magazine having endorsed Lieberman for the Democratic primaries. While lots of people of all ideological stripes tend to assume that Dean and Lieberman are representative of "the two wings" of the Democratic party, Chait shows that there's a lot more to it, since he's the one who has the Diary of a Deanophobe blog. To put it more precisely, us Dems are, depending on how you look at it, either too diverse in our thinking, or too incoherent and confused, to be split into two easily identifiable wings. I prefer the former, of course, although the latter obviously has some truth to it as well, as it has since the days of FDR.

I wonder who Chait's debate partner will be, arguing the case for Lieberman. If it's Peter Beinart, it'll probably be quite interesting, but not if it's neo-con hack Lawrence Kaplan. I had guessed that TNR would endorse John Edwards, since he would be a much more interesting choice for their "the future of the Dem party who isn't Dean" angle than Lieberman is.

UPDATE: Is this going to be some crazy 3 or 4 person free-for-all debate? Chait now has another colleague posting on this subject, TNR executive editor Christopher Orr, but he's also against the Lieberman endorsement. Will anyone who actually has the title of editor at that magazine actually defend the editors' choice of nominee? Not much of a debate if everyone who's taking part in it agrees with each other.

UPDATE II: OK, so Jason Zengerle is in the mix now on Lieberman's side.
11:28 AM

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