Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:12 pm

SOME FRENCH AND GERMANS ARE GOOD FOLKS: I read this op-ed by former CIA director James Woolsey with some pleasure. Woolsey acknowledges that the French and German governments are not being responsible in their handling of the Iraq situation, but points out that the people themselves are not all bad. He gives examples of a couple of true heroes from both countries — including a guy who tried to assassinate Hitler (not von Stauffenberg, but the lesser known Ewald von Kleist, who is still around). And don’t forget Lafayette.

I think he makes a good point, which many are forgetting. There is a lot of bashing of these two countries nowadays — especially France. Look, the French did screw up early and often in World War II, as I pointed out below with a fairly amusing anecdote of French soldiers on the front lines. And I admit that I am the first to laugh when the French are parodied on the Simpsons, such as when Groundskeeper Willie called them “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” But let’s not get too carried away. They are not all cowardly, smelly, wine-swilling louts, any more than all Americans are pot-bellied, ignorant, boneheaded morons. Both stereotypes came from somewhere, but like all stereotypes, neither is universally true. Let’s remember that our real problem is with Mr. Chirac, not the people of France — and let’s not worry so much about boycotting their wine.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:36 pm

THE SANCTIONS MYTH: It occurs to me that it is worth backing up my assertion that sanctions on Iraq have not killed 500,000 Iraqi children. You hear this myth so often that many accept it as true.

It is not, as this article on Reason Magazine’s web site convincingly demonstrates. As the article explains, the myth started with some incredibly bad research by health organizations and advocacy groups, applying flawed mathematical principles to data that came exclusively from the Iraqi government. The comedy of errors culminated in a slow-witted Madeleine Albright’s failure to dispute the allegation on “60 Minutes.” It is that failure to deny the numbers that has kept the canard alive. As the Reason article notes, Albright’s response to the question “was the non-denial heard ’round the world.” Although Americans may or may not remember it, “[t]he 60 Minutes exchange is very familiar to readers of Arab newspapers, college dailies, and liberal journals of opinion.”

Once again, thank you Bill Clinton.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 pm

ANOTHER ARGUMENT FOR WAR: I keep hearing that war will increase terrorism, because Arabs will become enraged due to the suffering that war will cause the Iraqi people. But I think there is at least one major factor that points the other way.

If we roll in and completely overwhelm Iraq, we might finally be able to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia. The only reason they have been there for over 10 years is to keep Saddam in check. Moving the troops out would remove Osama’s great rallying cry that the infidels are occupying the holy lands. It can’t hurt to take one of Osama’s major talking points away.

We should also keep in mind that anybody who would get enraged at us over a war is probably already enraged at us over sanctions. There is a widespread myth, one oft-repeated by folks like Noam Chomsky, that we have killed 500,000 Iraqi children with sanctions. Whoever believes that can’t be getting too much more upset over a few civilian casulaties in a war.

OSCARS: Is anyone planning to

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:21 pm

OSCARS: Is anyone planning to watch an Oscars ceremony at which Michael Moore is certain to win an Academy Award?

Moore, of course, is the guy who (according to a column in London’s The Independent) said that the passengers on the hijacked planes on September 11th “were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white.” If the passengers had been black, Moore claimed, they would not have taken disrespect from hijackers with puny box-cutters. This is the guy who is likely to win for Best Documentary. As one film critic says, his documentary will win because it is “the only documentary most of the Academy is aware of, and because Mike Moore loathes George Bush and so does Hollywood.”

Yup, I think I am opting out of the Oscar-watching entirely this year. Of course, I generally do anyway. . .


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:54 pm

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Big-time blog guy Andrew Sullivan is saying similar things to what I have been saying about the disappointing lack of emphasis on democracy in the Bush plan for a post-war Iraq.

MORE POST-WAR: I like what

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:38 pm

MORE POST-WAR: I like what the Bush administration was saying about a post-war Iraq in October better than what I hear them saying now.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm

MILITARY RULE REVISITED: A thoughtful reader disagrees with my view on post-war Iraq. I should clarify a few things. First, I do not object to a U.S. military presence in Iraq for as long as is necessary. Clearly, any transitions must be supervised and watched carefully, with a military force necessarily on hand for some time. Second, I am not an expert on the specific various groups that would like to take power in Iraq. Perhaps the Iraqi National Congress is the right group to take over; then again, maybe it isn’t.

Regardless of the specifics, I think we ought not lose sight of fundamental principles: the new government should be a democracy, it should be run by Iraqis on behalf of Iraqis, and it should get up and running as quickly as possible. I think those principles, which to me seem self-evident, are not sufficiently implemented by Bush’s plan. According to the Washington Post article I linked to earlier, Bush intends to “take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq” for a period of time that (depending on who you talk to) could last 1-5 years.

As I understand it, there are generally two justifications for this policy. First, our “friends” the Arab monarchs do not want to see the example of an Arab democracy as their neighbor, because their own people might start getting crazy ideas about making their own countries into democracies. Second, allowing the Iraqis to run their own country right off the bat might lead to a system of government that we find less than optimal, for whatever reason. In my opinion, neither objection should be given much weight by a country that claims to be the outstanding supporter of democracy and self-determination in the world. A truly representative Iraqi democracy might not be the ideal government for either the Arab monarchs or the United States (each for very different reasons). But that is the price the world should pay to allow Iraq the chance to rule itself.

BAD IDEA: The Bush administration’s

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 am

BAD IDEA: The Bush administration’s plan to install military rule in Iraq continues to strike me as a bad idea. It seems to me that the administration is overly concerned with the specifics of the type of government “we” would like to see in Iraq.

This is hardly the first time America has acted this way. The vast majority of righteous criticism of the USA stems from our meddling in how other countries run themselves.

Not only is this Bush plan horrible P.R., but it’s horrible P.R. because it should be — because it’s the wrong thing to do.

Some will argue: “We’re saving them, so we should have a say in what their government will be.” My response is: remember that we are (at least in theory) not going in there because their government is not ideally suited to our tastes. We are going in there because their leadership lost a war and failed to live up to the terms of surrender. As a result, that leadership poses a threat to its neighbors and potentially to us.

We should be more concerned with what the Iraqis want. Put the Iraqi opposition in there, and let the Iraqis decide.

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