Michael J. Totten

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Derb on the Silver Screen

Charles Murtaugh found two great video clips of National Review's John Derbyshire getting his butt kicked by Bruce Lee.

Weekend Reading

Read Roger L. Simon's The New Intolerance. And read the Comments section, too.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Bath Toys in Boston

29,000 spilled rubber duckies make their way from the Pacific, to the Arctic, to the Atlantic, and now to Boston.

BOSTON - Being thrown from a container ship, drifting for more than a decade, bobbing through three oceans — it's enough to turn a rubber duckie white.

A floating flock of the bathtub toys - along with beavers, turtles and frogs - is believed to be washing ashore somewhere along the New England coast, bleached and battered from a trans-Arctic journey. Oceanographers say the trip has taught them valuable lessons about the ocean's currents.

The toys have been adrift since 29,000 of them fell from a storm-tossed container ship en route from China to Seattle more than 11 years ago.

I wonder how many got eaten by sharks.

Pat Robertson Mimics Chirac

Charles Taylor of Liberia is a warmongering, mass-murdering, psychopathic dictator with ties to Al Qaeda. And Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson loves him.

NORFOLK, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels" by asking Liberian President Charles Taylor, recently indicted for war crimes, to step down.

"How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'" Robertson said Monday on "The 700 Club," broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network.


Robertson told the Post that the war crimes indictment "is nonsense and should be quashed."

Pat Robertson is, indeed, Exhibit A of right-wing idiotarianism.

Of course, Pat Robertson also has millions of dollars in business deals with Taylor, so he's also venal and corrupt.

Time to Clean up Liberia

Charles Krauthammer says liberal Democrats are only willing to use military force if America's interests are not at stake.

Liberals were opposed to the 1991 Gulf War, and also the recent liberation of Iraq. (I was opposed to the first Gulf War, but that's because I was a kid who didn't know any better and who also, like everyone else, had no recent historical experience other than Vietnam to draw from.)

But liberals were in favor of intervention in Haiti and the Balkans. We had no national interests at stake, so liberals had no reason to feel guilty.

He cites one exception: Afghanistan. And that, he says, was only because we were blatantly attacked.

For Krauthammer, Afghanistan is the exception that proves the rule.

His latest case in point: Liberia.

Liberals are generally in favor of intervention there, while conservatives are mostly opposed.

But he's being rather myopic, or perhaps uninformed.

There are plenty of reasons beyond "liberal do-goodism" to intervene. If you have a subscription to The New Republic, you can read this by Ryan Lizza.

Name the following despot: In 1991, he invaded a neighboring country, where his men committed wholesale looting and massive atrocities. In 1998, he personally met with a senior Al Qaeda operative now listed as one of the FBI's 25 "Most Wanted" terrorists. He is the single greatest threat to the stability of one of the most important oil-producing regions in the world. Saddam Hussein? No, Charles Taylor of Liberia.

If the Bush administration decides to send a peacekeeping force to Liberia, in other words, it will be safeguarding not only humanitarian concerns but national security ones as well. Yet, even as the Bush administration contemplates such a mission, it has failed to make this point, largely acceding to the conservative mantra that the United States has no strategic interests in the region.

They're wrong. Start with Al Qaeda. In September 1998, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, a top Al Qaeda operative, visited Liberia and met with Taylor and senior members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the vicious Taylor-controlled militia that invaded Sierra Leone in 1991 to take over the country's diamond mines. Abdullah trained Al Qaeda recruits in explosives in Afghanistan, participated in operations against Americans in Somalia, and helped plan the East African embassy bombings in 1998. The U.S. government currently offers a $25 million reward for information leading to his arrest. And Abdullah's meeting with Taylor was no social visit. Rather it led to a relationship in which Al Qaeda bought large quantities of diamonds from the RUF in exchange for weapons and cash. The operation, which peaked in the months before September 11, 2001, is believed to have offered Al Qaeda a way to convert its assets into a form that could be moved across borders more easily. The Taylor–Al Qaeda relationship has been carefully documented by The Washington Post's Douglas Farah, by a yearlong European intelligence investigation, and, most recently, in a 100-page report the nongovernmental organization Global Witness released in April. Liberia's links to Al Qaeda, in other words, are far more well-documented than Iraq's. And, yet, they have never been cited by anyone in the Bush administration.

So there you have it. A "liberal" and a "conservative" case for intervention.

Maybe I'm just a super-hawk, but it looks like it's time to get cracking.

The Eternal Radical

Christopher Hitchens has been disowned by the reactionary left. Not that he cares. He has never been a reactionary. He is still, as always, a radical in the marrow of his bones.

Even London's new anti-smoking ordinance inspires in him a revolutionary defiance.

There is something singularly joyless and severe and boring in this latest edict from our masters.


It will be interesting to see if Britons put up with this pettifogging surveillance or whether, for once, the state will discover that it has gone that crucial step too far and ignited the spirit of resistance.

What a great guy. Imagine what he'll be like when he's 80.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Language Police

"Email" is an English word, so the French government banned it. The word, that is.

No, I'm not kidding.

The "Dude" Literary Game

Ron Rosenbaum wrote a long sprawling essay for the New York Observer about Dude Culture.

Included is the Dude, Where's My Car? Literary Game:

This was something I devised during a dinner with my friends Virginia and David, although they came up with the best answer. The idea is to see how many great works of literature you can fit into the Dude, Where’s My Car? framework.

For instance, Moby-Dick—Dude, Where’s My Whale?

The Iliad—Dude, Where’s My Trojans?

The Catcher in the Rye—Dude, Where’s My Innocence?

A Tale of Two Cities—Dude, Where’s My Head?

The Red and the Black—Dude, Where’s My Color Sense?

The best was one that David and Virginia seemed to come up with simultaneously:

The Sun Also Rises—Dude, Where’s My Dick?

I can't resist.

Here are some of mine.

Of Mice and Men - Dude, Where's My Job?
Fahrenheit 451 - Dude, Where's My Book?
Hamlet - Dude, Where's My Dad?
Lord of the Flies - Dude, Where's My Mom?

UPDATE: Jay Reding has more. I tried to think of one for The Lord of the Rings and, unlike me, Jay was able to pull it off.

What Happened July 9

The Iranian regime remains, but for how long?

Shrugging off death threats by government paramilitary forces, thousands of Iranian students took to the streets Wednesday night, according to Israel Radio.

They called for the country's democratization and death to its extremist leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

The demonstrations, banned by the regime, came on the fourth anniversary of 1999 pro-reform protests which triggered a violent regime crackdown, the death of one student, and the arrest of thousands.

However, AP reported from Teheran that faced by swarms of police and right-wing vigilantes, the students canceled their plans to hold a protest. Opposition group leaders hailed the demonstrations - the culmination of month-long anti-government activities - as a deadly blow to the repressive regime, saying it edges Iran ever closer to a democratic revolution.

Closer to a democratic revolution, but alas not yet.

Fascism and Democracy in Iraq

Two leaders in northern Iraqi Kurdistan serve up a reality-check on the so-called "resistance," and remind us that some of the seeds for democracy have already been planted.

Here is Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani in the New York Times. (Via the indispensable Andrew Apostolou.)

Some day, we Iraqis hope to celebrate an Independence Day like the one Americans have just observed. But for the near future we face the challenge of translating liberation into democracy — a goal we Kurds will push for even more diligently now that we have agreed to join the interim Iraqi administration that will be formed this month. To that end, we will work closely with the United States to establish security, revive the economy and build a democratic culture.

Our aims may appear optimistic with American and British forces struggling to establish order and restore public services in some areas of Iraq. Yet the picture is not quite as grim as some claim. The assaults on American soldiers are not "resistance to foreign occupation." Rather, they are acts of terrorism by the Baathist remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime. These remnants are so reviled in Iraq that they have had to resort to foreign volunteers, for few Iraqis will take up arms on their behalf.


Democracy in Iraq will take time to establish itself. For more than three decades, Iraqis endured a regime that carried out genocide, including the anti-Kurdish Anfal campaign of 1987-88, which littered the country with mass graves and "disappeared" hundreds of thousands. Iraq was a society where the faintest hint of dissent could lead to a death sentence, as the Kurds gassed in Halabja discovered.

The first building blocks of Iraqi federalism and democracy have already been laid in Iraqi Kurdistan. Thanks to protection from American and British air power, facilitated by Turkey, Kurds have had 12 years of a sometimes faltering, but ultimately hopeful, experiment in self-rule, openness and pluralism. With continued help from the United States, and with our work on the interim Iraqi administration, what has become known as the Kurdish experiment in democracy can be a model for all of Iraq.

Jalal Talabany leads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Massoud Barzani heads up the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Iraq would be a poorer place without them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Response from an Iranian-American

Iranian-American Kombiz, who blogs at Facts on the Ground, emails me in response to my open letter to the people of Iran.

Dear Michael,

I like the idea behind your post to the people of Iran, but I would mention that you should be careful of mixing political causes and maybe assuming too much.

I'm not sure if people would get shot at the end of a revolution, if that is the where this thing will end (Personally, I don't think that would be a good end to this uprising; and I'm by no means an apologist for the regime).

Today may not also be the day to seize. Iran is not a revolution waiting to happen. It is a transformation waiting to take place. It is not a whole rejection of the revolution of 1979 but another change in a country that has made a series of political changes. The creation of a Pahlavi dynasty (founded on secularism) was a transformation, its disposal by the British and the thronging of the Shah's son was another, Mossadegh was a transformation, and his overthrow in a coup was a transformation. As such this does not have anything to do with our war on terror. Yes, it will provide positive dividends to that war. It will provide positive feedback for Israelis as well. But your letter would be rejected because of the way you present it.

There aren't a lot of people in Iran who think that taking of the embassy was right. In fact I suspect they would all would regret the act, but many in the democratic movement in Iran participated in that act. They discuss how they can overcome the distrust and not go back and re-fight that issue. Also I've grown to understand that despite the fact that Iranians tend to reject Arab issues they have feel a connection to the Palestinians. A compliment at the expense of the Palestinians is probably not a compliment to most.

My point? I like what you write, I just cringed at the mixing of issues.



Thanks, Kombiz.

I'm happy to get a response from someone who knows more about Iran than I do. I have no idea how an essay of mine might be interpreted by people in a country I have only read about. I have much to learn, as do we all.

Kombiz has a list of Persian bloggers in English on his site, if you would like to learn more yourself.

A Letter to the People of Iran

An open letter to the people of Iran.

I remember the revolution of 1979. The Shah was deposed, the Ayatollahs seized power, and students in the streets of Tehran shouted “Death to America!” Our embassy staff were kidnapped, and we Americans were terrified.

I was nine years old. Most of you in Iran who might read this were not even born.

You know better than anyone what the tyranny of Islamofascism is like; reactionary, murderous, warmongering, and terrorist. But not for two more decades, on a clear September morning, did we in America know what it meant for us.

We saw Palestinians cheer at the fall of our Twin Towers. Yet people in your country lit candles and mourned our dead in solidarity. Last year many of you celebrated America’s birthday, the Fourth of July, by lighting fires in the streets of Tehran.

The regime may look strong from where you sit today, and the opposition is disorganized. But from over here, where we can look without fear, it is very obviously weak. As soon as your revolution reaches the tipping point, it will not be physically possible for the regime to survive.

Surveys show that 90 percent of you want reform or revolution. Even some in the military may take your side against the regime. The mullahs import Arabs as thugs because they can’t find or can’t trust Iranians. That is the beginning of the end.

Iran is not Iraq. You can fight the agents of the regime, you can jail them, you can put them on trial, and you can execute them.

When the regime is toppled you will have to face the age-old question that always confronts revolutionaries. What do you do with the king? Or in this case, the mullahs and their supporters?

This will be a critical moment. How moral, how mature, and how liberal Iran will become depends in large part on the very first things you do when the mullahs are gone.

During the Russian Revolution Tsar Nicholas and his wife were riddled with bullets in front of their children. Nicholas’ oldest son, himself still a child, became Russia’s last and youngest Tsar before he too was killed in cold blood by the Communists. The deed was committed at night without any witnesses. The dead were left alone to rot. And so the stage was set for what the new Russia would become as soon as the new regime was implanted.

Here is the key to making a stable democracy: the losers have to know that they will be safe. Those on the losing side of a liberal revolution or on the losing side of a democratic election have to understand in advance that they will not be killed. They must know their views will be respected. They must believe in their bones that their rights will be protected by the victorious majority.

Otherwise, you’re looking at civil war.

Today is July 9th, the anniversary of the dorm attacks and the uprising in 1999. This may be the day of your maximum power so far. You can push the regime over the edge if you gather force and momentum enough.

If it doesn’t happen today it will happen tomorrow or soon enough after. That regime is not going to be there forever. And it is unlikely to slowly reform over time. Authoritarian regimes don’t bend. They break.

Your government is evil, and we all know it. But it is such a great insult for you to be labeled a part of an axis of evil. I know. We Americans know. We know that your civilization is ancient, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and wise. We know that the people of Iran are not our enemy.

These are dark days. But do you know that your future is a bright one? It is easy for me to be optimistic, I know. I am safe and far away. But I have studied pre-Revolutionary Poland and Czechoslovakia. Your country today has more in common with them than with anywhere else. Look to those countries for guidance, inspiration, and hope.

I wish you Godspeed against the regime. We all do. May you live out the rest of your days with the blessings of liberty.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The Puppet May Quit

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian "prime minister," says he might step down.

This article reveals that, as I suspected, he is and has been a puppet of Yasser Arafat all along.

Abbas has been facing strong pressure within his Fatah movement to adopt a tough line on the prisoner releases. In a letter to Arafat, he said he would step down as prime minister unless he gets clear instructions from Fatah over how to handle contacts with Israel.

Try to imagine George W. Bush threatening to resign the presidency if Timothy McVeigh's "militia" outfit did not give him clear instructions on how to deal with Saddam Hussein. That's what's going on in the West Bank today. The sooner Abbas is gone the sooner there will be a flickering possibility of something positive actually happening.

Telling it Like it isn't

Hardly anyone can discuss the Palestinian-Israeli war in plain honest language.

Here is the New York Times today.

Militants from the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a bombing in central Israel that killed a 65-year-old Israeli woman, apparently violating last week's cease-fire pledge.

Suicide-bombers are terrorists, not militants. And suicide-bombing does not apparently violate the cease-fire. It violates the cease-fire.

But Jihad leaders suggested the attack was carried out by renegades and said the group were sticking to the cease-fire.

But the group is not sticking to the ceasefire. They can't score their PR points for peace and also kill Jews at the same time. And what's up with this Timesish language? Did Jihad leaders "suggest" the attack was carried out by renegades, or did they say the attack was from renegades? And it if was a renegade attack, why did they claim credit for it rather than denounce it?

Israel's foreign minister said his country was still committed to the truce, but the defense minister said Israel would hit back.

Israelis are often the only people willing to speak honestly about the conflict, but today they're not. Israel cannot remain committed to the truce and also hit back.

If Israel hits back, the terrorists will stike again. (They will strike again, anyway.) So, at what point should the truce be considered dead? The first time someone shoots, that's when.

Islamic Jihad broke the truce, just like we all knew they would.

Firing Michael Savage

Radio and TV blowhard Michael Savage has been fired by MSNBC.

Here is what he said to a caller.

SAVAGE: "Alright, so you're one of those sodomists? Are you a sodomite? "

CALLER: "Yes, I am."

SAVAGE: "Oh, you're one of the sodomites! You should only get AIDS and die, you pig! How's that? [off-screen crew can be heard shouting "Whoa!"] Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig? You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis. OK, do we have another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse and is angry at me today? Huh? Get me another one, put another sodomite on! No more calls? I don't care. Let's go to the next scene. I don't care about these bums, they mean nothing to me. They're all sausages."

MSNBC's Jeremy Gaines said "His comments were extremely inappropriate and the decision was an easy one."

My first reaction was "good." No one will be surprised to hear that I don't like Michael Savage. He's an offensive, bigoted ass.

On second thought, though, I don't like people being fired for their opinions, even dumb and rude opinions.

MSNBC has a right to fire him. His free speech is not being infringed upon. The First Ammendment does not give him a right to a TV show on MSNBC. The very worst that can happen to Michael Savage is that he'll also get fired from his radio job and he'll have to resort to blogging and freelancing, which is what I'm doing now. (In other words, "boo hoo, Michael.") He'll retain his right to free speech so long as he can stay out of jail.

But, still. Perhaps MSNBC should have let him go on being his rude self on the air. If his ratings cratered they could fire him for being a drag on the network.

My question for MSNBC is this: Why hire a guy like that in the first place? He says stuff like this on the air all the time. Maybe he agreed to be nicer on TV. But no one should be surprised by his latest bigot erupton. It's his trademark, his shtick. It's what he does.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Back From LA

Shelly and I just got back from our trip to Los Angeles where we met up with old friends, the in-laws (my in-laws, her parental units), and attended Roger L. Simon’s book signing and wine-tasting party. Plenty of LA bloggers were there; Matt Welch, Brian Linse, Emmanuel Richard, the Patio Pundit, Armed Liberal, Cathy Siepp, Gerard Van Der Leun. Slate’s own Mickey Kaus showed up as a lurker, but since I don’t know what he looks like I seem to have missed him.

Roger was kind enough to put Shelly and I up at his house for three days. He’s as pleasant and engaging in person as he is on his blog and in his novels. Thanks for a great time, Roger.

And I discovered something for myself about Los Angeles for the first time. It’s great fun to drive there when the city is empty. During the week it seemed to take days to drive from Hollywood to the beach. But after half the population blew town for the Fourth we could glide along the freeways and streets like we owned them. LA got smaller and faster as it emptied, and something finally clicked for me. Needing a car to get everywhere isn’t always a pain. It’s the point of the city’s layout in the first place. And if the herd could somehow be trimmed, Los Angeles could become what it was meant to be all along.

Jews and Oil

Patrick Seale at The Nation has bought into the Pat Buchanan view of the world. Nothing is as it seems, we should leave dictators alone, it’s all a big conspiracy, and the Jews are behind it.

Mr. Seale lists the Who’s Who of Jewish neoconservatives, and though he doesn’t use the word “cabal,” he might as well.

He then cuts to the chase.

Concerned to insure Israel's continued regional supremacy, and at odds with what they saw as distasteful opponents, such as Islamic militancy, Arab nationalism and Palestinian radicalism, the neocons argued that the aim of US policy in the Middle East should be the thorough political and ideological "restructuring" of the region. [Emphasis added.]

Notice that Mr. Seale goes out of his way to say the neocons see Islamic militants (ie, terrorists) as distasteful opponents, as if he himself does not share this view. Why else qualify the sentence with the bolded text?

Exporting "democracy" would serve the interests of defending both the United States and Israel.

He's right about this, but why put “democracy” in sneer quotes?

A "reformed" Middle East could be made pro-American and pro-Israeli.

And why does “reformed” also get sneer quotes? Does he think replacing Saddamite rule with democracy is anything less?

All this seems to have amounted to an ambitious--perhaps over-reaching--program for Israeli regional dominance, driven by Israel's far right and its way-out American friends. [Emphasis added.]

Oh, for that saving “seems.” Mr. Seale provides no evidence that regime-change had anything to do with increasing Israeli regional dominance. He simply asserts the claim without evidence because it seems so to him.

Iraq was the first candidate for a "democratic" cure, but the need for this doubtful medicine could just as well justify an assault on Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or wherever a "threat" is detected or America's reforming zeal directed.

Both “democratic” and “threat” get sneer quotes again, because Mr. Seale is, as he says, doubtful that Iraq needed such medicine.

Immediately after 9/11, Wolfowitz clamored for the destruction of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This was a cause he had advocated unsuccessfully throughout much of the 1990s.

Paul Wolfowitz did not clamor for the destruction of Iraq. He clamored for the destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime. (This crucial distinction is often lost on the anti-regime-change crowd.) And Wolfowitz has been stridently opposed to Saddam since the 1970s, back when nearly everyone else thought Saddam was our pal. I give credit to Wolfowitz for never chumming around with the bastard, credit those who say we “created” Saddam Hussein might want to consider extending to him as well.

No scrap of evidence, however, could be found linking Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden.

There is plenty of evidence Saddam was in cahoots with terrorists. Mr. Seale even mentions this himself later in his own article.

Nor did Iraq pose an imminent threat to anyone, least of all to the United States or Britain.

Saddam was an ongoing threat to the people of Iraq. Mr. Seale writes as though they don't count. Saddam also was an ongoing threat to Israelis, but it is rather clear that Mr. Seale thinks they don’t count, since taking their interest to heart is (to him) self-evidently corrosive.

Exhausted by two wars, it had been starved by a dozen years of the most punitive sanctions in modern history.

The sanctions were, indeed, harsh. It’s a good thing to be rid of them now.

Hans Blix's UN arms inspectors had roamed all over the country and acquired a good grasp of its entire industrial capability. They had found no evidence that Saddam had rebuilt his WMD programs. They would have certainly liked more time to look further and make quite sure.

Mr. Seale would like to give Hans Blix more time to poke around Iraq to make sure, but for some inexplicable reason he doesn't feel like letting the US have any more time.

Meanwhile, Arab leaders had buried the hatchet with Iraq at the Arab summit in Beirut in March 2002.

The leaders of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan most certainly had not buried any hatchet. Nor had the Kurds in liberated Iraqi Kurdistan. But for some reason they don’t figure into Mr. Seale’s analysis.

There were, however, plenty of reasons why Israel and its friends in Washington wanted Iraq "restructured."

There he goes with those sneer quotes again.

Saddam had dared fire Scuds at Israel during the 1991 war and, more recently, he had been bold enough to send money to the bereaved families of Palestinian suicide bombers, whose homes had been flattened by Israeli reprisals. [Emphasis added.]

Saddam “dared” to fired Scuds at Israeli and is “bold” enough to bankroll terrorism. Well, how daring of the bold old chap! Someone should tell Mr. Seale, though, that Palestinian suicide bombers are exalted as heroes, and their families are usually quite proud of them. He falls into the mirror-imaging trap when he assumes their families are bereaved, as he likely would be if his own family members committed such an act.

These "crimes" had gone unpunished.

Then again, Mr. Seale doesn’t seem to think lobbing missiles and supporting terrorism are crimes. Hence the sneer quotes.

Moreover, in spite of its evident weakness, Saddam's Iraq was the only Arab country that might in the long run pose a strategic challenge to Israel.

Saddam Hussein threatened openly and often to destroy the state of Israel with weapons of mass destruction. A genocidal vow is not a “strategic challenge.”

Egypt's government had been neutralized and corrupted by American subsidies and by its peace treaty with Israel…

Mr. Seale thinks Egypt’s government is corrupt because America makes it so, as though it were better during the old pro-Soviet Nasser days. And since when is a peace treaty corrupting? Mr. Seale implies that if Egypt were at war with Israel instead of at peace with Israel the situation would be improved. I don’t know if he means it this way or if he is not thinking through the ramifications of what he is saying, but it’s bad either way.

…while Syria was enfeebled by internal security squabbles, a faltering economy and a fossilized political system.

Syria’s political system is not enfeebled because it is “fossilized.” It is enfeebled because it is fascist. Resolving “internal security squabbles” would likely make it more so.

The Iraqi leader had to be brought down. His fall, the neocons calculated, would change the political dynamics of the entire region. It would intimidate Teheran and Damascus, even Riyadh and Cairo, and tilt the balance of power decisively in Israel's favor, allowing it to impose on the hapless Palestinians the harsh terms of its choice. Some neocons were already envisioning an Israel-Iraq peace treaty as a bonus byproduct of the war.

It appears that Mr. Seale does not view an Israel-Iraq peace treaty as a good thing. He said above that a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is “corrupting.” Does he actually prefer war? He does not say, but it appears to be the case.

These concerns, in addition to control of Iraq's oil resources, rather than Saddam's alleged WMDs, were the real aims of the war against Iraq.

See, it’s not just about Jews. It’s about Jews and oil.

This is just a small fisking of a small part of the article. At the end of the piece he accuses Israel of succumbing to “a poisonous dose of fascism,” which is absurd on the face of it. It’s the salient fact of life in Iraq and Syria and the West Bank, a detail either lost or omitted by Mr. Seale.

I don't know if Patrick Seale is anti-Semitic or not. If he isn't, he nevertheless shares with anti-Semites the view that Jews and Israelis control America's foreign policy, and that war with Israel is an implicit good.

The writers at The Nation in no small way helped shape my way of thinking about this sort of thing. Their degeneracy into a Pat Buchanan universe of soft-on-fascism conspiracy-mongering is an intellectual tragedy, painful and excruciating to watch.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten