Fighting freedom

Fighting freedom

: John Podhoretz looks at the election in Iraq through the evil eyes of our enemy — yes, the enemy — there:

…once a legitimately elected Iraqi assembly is seated, the insurgents will have no argument left with which to advance their cause

  • Jim S

    Unfortunately as long as we have troops in Iraq he’ll be able to recruit zealots to his cause. I am not saying that we should leave for that reason, I’m just pointing out a very sad fact.

  • http://mossback.org Richard Bennett

    As long as we’re not a Muslim Caliphate he’ll be able to recruit zealots to his cause, so what?
    As long as blacks can vote, the KKK will be able to recruit zealots to theirs, etc. This is the way the world works, and we don’t alter our goals on account of it.

  • Faramin

    As Gwynne Dyer says:
    Zarqawi is the bogeyman that the United States Government blames for almost everything that has gone wrong in Iraq, but he does speak essentially the same language as President Bush.

  • Dishman

    “essentially the same language”
    I read the Dyer piece. It seems to me he’s saying that Democracy is going to happen all over the world anyway. We don’t need to actually DO anything for it.
    Right. WWII was unnecessary. Hitler and Tojo were really wonderful people and it wasn’t necessary to defeat them. All unnecessary.

  • Franky

    Do you even read the articles you link to? So this man says that the media are reporting that the situation in Iraq is pretty bad (of course, we can’t all be Rivera who tonight reported that inspite of the 8 carbombs in one day, he thought things were improving) not because the situation is bloody and there are car bombs going off all over the place, but just because they all hate Bush.
    Further it’s a pretty childish way of writing to ascribe all of this terrorism to Zarqawi – what is he planning and executing every bomb?
    Jim S is right – this civil war will never end until we get out. As long as we remain, we taint the government and the police and the army with our presence, so splitting them from the general population. Iraq’s government doesn’t have a chance while we’re there, and to be honest I’m not sure if they have a chance if we leave.
    I genuinely wish Iraqis the best on Sunday and hope that turnout is high, but it’s going to be a tough day for them.

  • Angus Jung

    “Iraq’s government doesn’t have a chance while we’re there, and to be honest I’m not sure if they have a chance if we leave.”
    How inspiring. What does the sky feel like when it falls on you?

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    I’m beginning to believe the nation’s (ours, not Iraq’s) real division isn’t political at all, it’s merely the division between the nation’s cynics and optimists.
    As an optimist, I’ve learned that the guiding principle of the cynic is that if nothing bad is happening, it must be found or made to happen to justify one’s foul temper.
    Franky, which is worse? Coping with insurgents who are trying to blow up people at random, or coping with a government that systematically puts people through shredders, rips their teeth out with pliers, forces families to hand young girls over for raping, etc?
    As bad as the current violence is, it will one day be over; without US intervention, however, Saddam would live out his life as ruler, and would one day pass on the job to one of his even more sadistic children: generations of torture, prison, and rape for scores of innocents.
    An optimist can see the progress that’s being made in Iraq towards freedom in the face of fierce resistance; all a cynic can do is count bombs and wring his hands.
    While a cynic can claim to be the realist, it is the optimist who revolts and reforms; freedom and democracy were founded in optimism, not cynicism. The cynic’s reality is the reality he believes cannot change; the optimist’s reality is the reality he believes must be changed.

  • Franky

    Carsonfire,
    I think any objective viewing of the situation in Iraq shows its a mess. Now you may hope, or you may reason, that things will get better. Fine, and I hope you’re right, but to me that seems a greater deviation from reality than to think things will stay the same. And really, when we’re speaking of a nation of 26 million what does my mood have to with it?
    (just one small point, because I’ve seen it repeated all over the place, there is no evidence to support the shredders – they’ve never been found. This is not to excuse the horrendous violence of the last regime, but simply a deep-rooted aversion to propaganda of any sort).
    “As bad as the current violence is, it will one day be over;” but why would you think that? This is where we fundamentally disagree – i don’t believe that progress is a given, that we’re on some linear trajectory, always improving – in fact the 20th century was, at least to my mind, proof positive that it’s not true. Technology advances, enter the holocaust (if you’re interested in this topic, John Grey’s Straw Dogs is a fantastic book).
    Further, history has shown a number of countries that have spent decades and decades at civil war: congo, Angola, Colombia, etc.
    “without US intervention…..” the revolt should have been from within and we should have aided an already solidified movement. We have done ourselves incalculable damage in the muslim world by launching this unncessary war and we really need as much goodwill there as possible. Sorry, I can’t be more conciliatory on this point.
    “An optimist can see the progress that’s being made in Iraq towards freedom in the face of fierce resistance; all a cynic can do is count bombs and wring his hands.”
    Be fair here, if the cynic is counting bombs, the optimist is shutting his eyes to the bombs.
    “the optimist’s reality is the reality he believes must be changed.” but that’s no guarantee it will occur. We may wish with all our hearts that something will happen, but there are huge geopolitical forces at work here, and they’re stronger than our individual wishes or desires.

  • Franky

    I would make one final point on this optimism/cynicism debate. I think we’re living through the dangers of unqualified optimism – we just always assumed the best without really thinking it through. We expected gratitude from a people we were occupying. We hope that they’re ready for democracy. We hope the Shi’ite population won’t ally themselves with Iran. We hope that they won’t vote in the theocrats.
    Those are some pretty optimistic bets. Now, I certainly hope the optimists are proved right on all of them, but it’s far, far from certain. And there are real consequences if we get this wrong, potentually turning this in to an even deeper catastrophe.

  • Dishman

    I see the world as having lots of problems. All in all, it’s a fairly nasty place, and a lot less free than I would like.
    carsonfire is optimistic, I’m not. I say we have to push and keep pushing or it will decay into tyranny. Look at Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Russia as the most glaring examples.
    Gwynne Dyer says we’re riding a wave. I strongly disagree. We have a little bit of momentum that was paid for at high price. If we coast, we will lose it. We pissed away a lot of it during the ’90s, enough that it’s raised the price for us now.

  • O’McSomething

    Zarqawi is a very frightening and very evil man, a destructive force with hundreds of gallons of American and Iraqi blood on his hands. Iraqis and Americans alike have reason to be concerned about his declaration of war.
    Hmmm? Who *else* has hundreds of gallons of American and Iraqi blood on there hands? And Iraqis and Americans alike have reason to be concerned about who’s declaration of war?
    (Aside to Jarvis–Whaddaya think I’d do with a quote like that?)
    I realize this isn’t very optimistic, but anyone who’s been reading this blog since March of ‘aught 3 would know that I was never optimistic about this bloody, bloody mess. And everything has gone from bad to worse than we could have imagined. And when thousands of people all over the world marched in protest we were compared to a “focus group” by the idiot king. And everything has gone from very bad to worse-than-we-could-have-imagined. So excuuuusssee meeeee for not being optimistic, but the “focus group” was 100% correct, so at least I’m being consistent.

  • Angus Jung

    That you are.

  • Franky

    Angus, did Andrea Harris bequeath her job to you? because recently you’ve become the king of the one-line-say-nothing

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    You have to define “optimism” as “unqualified”, with no real justification in saying so, to make those arguments stick. It’s the false argument that optimists are merely fantasists; that is nothing but a muddying of terms. I could just as easily characterize cynicism as “unqualified cynicism”, especially since cynicism more effectively ignores particular history on this subject. Optimism doesn’t mean *not* pushing back; pushing back is precisely what the optimists do.
    It is the cynics who, as they are doing now, throw up their hands and say, why bother? We’re all screwed. Nothing good will come of it. And once again, my experience has been that people I know and people I know of who are cynics get their wish.
    When you say that optimists are ignoring history, we know that what you really mean is that we aren’t sufficiently bullied by the specious Vietnam comparisons. There is much more to the history of revolution and struggle for freedom than that one recent war.
    The optimists won the cold war; the optimists won World War II; the optimists won the Civil War and the American Revolution. The cynics won — if you can call it that — Vietnam.
    Whose track record is more dependable?

  • Angus Jung

    “Angus, did Andrea Harris bequeath her job to you? because recently you’ve become the king of the one-line-say-nothing”
    Why does it bother you?

  • Franky

    Carsonfire,
    I certainly wouldn’t disagree with your contrast of personality types of optimists and cynics, but I think such psychology is irrelevant to a discussion of what is occurring in a country.
    Well, you obviously don’t know what I really mean when I referred to the history of the 20th century, because I was thinking that the tecnhological progress allowed for the horrors of Stalinism and the atrocities of Auschwitz. This is not some luddites position that technology equals horror, but rather a recognition that “progress” does not necessarily mean things get better.
    My general point is that optimism is not an intellectual argument, it’s a statement of faith. It sidesteps the objective facts and just posits a wish. So the clash becomes someone looking objectively and someone’s wishes. So when I explain my view on the terrible situation I’m arguing with someone’s wishes, which in that person’s mind then turns me in to someone opposed to their wishes. It’s really an inevitable result when faith is set against facts.
    Angus,
    No, not really, it’s just i thought I remembered you used to try to advance the discussion with arguments.

  • Angus Jung

    I can’t recall any such time, but I’ll take your word for it.

  • Franky

    I must have you confused with someone else then.

  • Dishman

    My general point is that optimism is not an intellectual argument, it’s a statement of faith.
    This differs from cynicism, how?
    Personally, I disagree with the statement, and think that both are a matter of perspective. I don’t consider myself to operate from either perspective.

  • Dig Dug

    Optimism is the expectation that things will turn out all right in the end. It is useful in initiating a self fulfilling prophesy.

  • Franky

    Dishman,
    I didn’t provide this dichotomy. But to answer your question, the confusion comes as the debate moves from the tangible to the abstract to the tangible again.
    My statement you quoted was strictly regarding the situation in Iraq.

  • Dishman

    My question still applies in the strict context of Iraq. Cynicism is a perspective on events, a filter through which all ‘news’ is passed. Just as with optimism, it is a self-reinforcing faith.

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    Franky: I certainly wouldn’t disagree with your contrast of personality types of optimists and cynics, but I think such psychology is irrelevant to a discussion of what is occurring in a country.
    My speculation isn’t concerned with Iraq in particular so much as what’s driving the different ideologies in the US that are driving policy that affect that country.
    Free elections in Iraq, for instance, are the result of an optimistic effort on the part of the administration and the military. Continued grousing about ulterior motives which have yet to manifest themselves (stealing oil, imperialism, etc) are a big, steaming vat of cynicism.
    That’s not to say that cynicism doesn’t sometimes have merit; no one is a pure optimist or cynic on every issue. It is quite right, for instance, to be cynical about the fox guarding the henhouse. What makes the difference is when you become proactive in solving the fox problem: do you find a plan you can be optimistic about, or do you cynically resolve yourself to half-hearted measures?
    Again, this defines the Bush administration and its most vocal critics. The Bush administration adopted a policy of going after some foxes, using coalitions to bring pressure on other foxes, and pursuing policies that make more remote foxes nervous.
    The cynic says that the farmer is just encouraging the foxes; the farmer has no right to interfere with fox rule; the farmer is Hitler!!!; and the chickens were the real bad guys, anyway.

  • Dishman

    … and with that logic, it’s easy to suspect that the cynics might be objectively pro-fox. When will they support the fox against us?

  • Angus Jung

    “I must have you confused with someone else then.”
    Considering the things you type before you choose to click Post, this is highly probable.