At least Buckley, gin-soaked poltroon that he is, has a final straw. But note Ponnuru's dismissive tone here: "Oh yeah, Bill says he would have opposed the war if he had known beforehand that Saddam had no WMD." Well, no shit, Sherlock. Everyone would have opposed it at that circumstance. That was the fucking selling point, no matter what ex post facto reasoning of convenience the Kool-Aid Brigade would like to pull out of their asses.
But implicit in this is that Buckley was some sort of conservative outlier, some sort of heterodox maverick, in a circus tent where each clown is so damned sure that he's the one driving the overstuffed Volkswagen. Not gonna fly, Ramesh. Buckley is number one Superfly O.G. conservative gangsta, ya heard? This whole "Bill doesn't speak for the rest of us shit" is dead right out of the gate. Just because Buckley has chosen to mix copious amounts of Bombay Sapphire into his Kool-Aid doesn't mean y'all haven't been drinking out of the same trough for the past three years. Now it's "Bill who?".
Again, the passive-aggressive modality, steering Buckley into the corral with the rest of the naysayers. Ponnuru can't come out and call Buckley a traitor, as if he were Howard Dean or something, because that would mean a new career start for Ponnuru, one that would likely involve the exchange of fruit and trinkets for small-denomination bills at the freeway off-ramp.
Perhaps Ponnuru and his fellow armchair warriors might take a tip from Buckley -- who despite his manifold faults, is not an idiot -- and understand that nuance has its place, particularly in hugely important issues such as this.
I myself have little patience for twee faux-thinkers who lard their prose with reflexive pronouns. And I myself wonder just what the hell it would take for Ponnuru and his fellow Serious Thinkers to get the damned message, that even if their casus belli had been legit, this whole adventure has been handled so ineptly, so inexcusably poor in its postwar phase that sensible people can only marvel that its architects are still employed.
Yet Ponnuru lightly chastens Buckley for his "premature" conclusion. Jesus H. Christ, what exactly does it take to make the scales fall from your eyes at this point, Chief? Are we just being obstinate for the sake of being obstinate, simply to avoid acknowledging that someone else might have been right all along about this entirely avoidable fiasco?
Perhaps the mighty Cockpuncher of Fresno State has the answer. At this point, Hanson's impassioned missives are the columnar equivalent of sausage -- lots of filler and floor sweepings. You can't help but assume that if his wife cooked him a Belgian waffle for breakfast, he'd find a way to harrumph a four-point pronunciamento on the parallels of waffles to the latter stages of the Peloponnesian War.
Actually, they've done exactly that. Hanson's premise is undone from the very first sentence, in the second clause, if not yet the first. Even if we left with our tail between our legs, and the rest of the world were pointing at said tail, we'd never admit it, so that first clause is rendered inoperable anyway. (But if you don't think we're just another bombing or two away from a "peace with honor" marketing campaign, you haven't been paying attention.)
But if Hanson can explain why the training of Iraqi defense forces has gone so dismally without some attribution to the capabilities of the insurgency, I'd like to hear his thesis. That would be a pretty neat trick, seeing as how that's exactly how it's come down. Baathists, sectarians, and Kurdish separatists have steadily infiltrated the ranks of IDF conscripts, either thwarting the training outright, or forming units to serve their own needs over that of the country.
So you have Shia death squads murdering Sunnis, Kurdish peshmerga ensuring that they will have some measure of autonomy sooner rather than later (thus inciting similar Kurdish separatist movements in Turkey and Iran), and anti-American Saddamists monkey-wrenching the whole operation just because they can. How else would Thucydides Gump here explain the drop of stand-alone battalions from one to zero?
Y'know, I have been as passionate a critic of the network media's mores and standards as the next guy. I find their content and coverage generally callow and gutless, dancing endlessly around the facts of the story in order to maintain the veneer of "objectivity". But Gump overtly implies here that the media have simply caused the appearance of violence and instability, by their selective focus. In other words, it's not nearly as bad as they make it sound.
Tell it to Bob Woodruff, asshole. He took the shrapnel while you were humping Good Dick Hunting's leg for a dinner date. Perhaps he miracled said shrapnel into his face just to make Chimpco look bad. They are a nefarious, tricksy lot, the media. Anything for a story. Just because you get to hang in the Green Zone for some syrupy "truth tour" doesn't make you Moses handing received wisdom down from Mount Sinai.
2000 years? Perhaps Pericles merely means the current culture, but obviously there are cities here that are 8000 years old, eons before Gump's go-to war between Athens and Sparta. Whatever. This is not a matter of a feckless citizenry so besotted with leftist cynicism that they sold their own troops down the Tigris, this is a case of a shamefully hubristic cabal of secretive bastards who got the war they wanted and still fucked it up immeasurably. There is no walking back of those facts, no matter how Hanson would like to have them.
And yet he persists, as today's cherry-pick demonstrates.
Sure. Just within the Sunni Triangle it's "scary". Basra, al Anbar, not so much. Right. There is relative stability in the south because the Shia are cleaning house with death squads. There is relative stability in the north because the Kurds are getting their ducks in a row by securing their oil interests. And once we leave, who's to say that the masses in the south won't want a taste of the north's petrodollars?
But again, this is all the media's fault for feeding these baseless impressions we have of this applecart we knocked over.
Any troops that have to ride in ghetto-armored vehicles, or whose families have to buy body armor for them to wear in combat, have been criminally ignored. I don't give two shits if it's Hillary Clinton or John McCain who has the temerity to point that out, and neither should Hanson. But he is determined to beat these tiresome tropes right into the ground -- the media, the opposition, the cynics; the media, the opposition, the cynics.
Well, bullshit. Who you gonna believe -- Hanson, or your own lyin' eyes?
Actually, there's been an enormous amount of coverage of the Iraqi government, its elections, its people braving violence to show up and vote. The coverage has been there, even when it hasn't been fully warranted; much of it had the redolent whiff of the in-house propaganda puff pieces that the Bushies have become infamous for.
And as much as the December elections got reverential coverage, Hanson's right about one thing -- very little coverage was devoted to the fact that it took over a month to figure out who won. Very little coverage has been devoted to the fact that all of these elections in the past year have been conducted under stringent martial law conditions, and observed from Amman, Jordan. Hmmm, I wonder why that could be? Institutionalized pessimism, I suppose.
Christ. Hanson, like the rest of them, still doesn't get it -- the real crime of Abu Ghraib was not simply what was portrayed in the photos (selectively, one imagines Hanson intoning soberly), but that despite the coverups, it's becoming more and more clear that this was policy. This was not a few bad apples venting their homoerotic steam on hapless detainees. The similarities between interrogation techniques used at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram are simply too close to be merely coincidental. And all Secdef Magoo can do is give smartass ripostes to serious questions about the needless defamation of American reputation.
That the Abu Ghraib photos are now a couple years old (and thus "old news" presumably) is merely a testament to just how difficult it is for justice to penetrate the wall of silence that always surrounds official atrocities. How long did it take for something (which turned out to be far too little) to be done about My Lai? Did the inexcusable span of time somehow diminish the vile nature of the crime? Does it ever, for any crime? Of course not. So one is not the other. It's nice that we're no longer torturing people at Abu Ghraib (supposedly). That does not mean that the Iraqis aren't doing it themselves, nor does it mean that what we already know should go unanswered.
I think every serious player in both political parties will soon have to address a very serious question -- if you knew then what you know now, would you have done the same thing in the same fashion, and why or why not? It is time the nation had a truly serious conversation about the subject, hopefully short on the usual furbelows of Freedom™ and Democracy®, and how we're changing the region. Because so far only a liar or a fool could say that the region has changed for the better. The Cedar Revolution seems to have petered out; Egypt had a dog-and-pony show of an election that could only have been a bigger joke if it had used Diebold machines; the Palestinians voted in a terrorist organization.
Really, the big winner in all of this has been Iran, and Hanson knows it as well as anyone. He can get his rocks off shooting AK-47's at Balad all he wants, but he knows the truth. We've painted ourselves into a major corner here, and the calls for "patience" fall on deaf ears. It's been three long years since we were told that the mission was accomplished. The country is going broke, and the bloodbath continues unabated. Plaintive whimpers for "patience" must now be tempered with real vision and planning, something that no one in this diseased administration seems able or willing to conjure up.