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Tuesday, August 09, 2005



No, Marc, you, as usual, completely take words out of context and then argue with them. The 'seemingly' was a jab, fair enough, but why whine you so when you jab in even nastier fashions calling out leftists who oppose your perspective as amy goodman acolytes or worse? Do try to be serious at least.
My article is reasonably argued, sorry you can't find an argument to respond with. Your hope for a good US occupation of Iraq is what I'm critical of and there is good reason to be critical of that position as I explained in my article. How does one have a 'good' occupation when you're selling the country's state assets off in fire sales? And what do the Dems have to offer as an alternative to that since they buy into the corporate globalization ideologies as much if not more than Bush?
Nowhere in the article do I say that you are of the exact same mindset as Lieberman, even with my little jab at ya. Only the most paranoid reading of what I wrote leads one to believe that.
Hard left! hah, I like that one. small theoretical journal of the hard left...why do you talk of doug ireland or doug henwood like that? I thought you guys were friends? with friends like that...

richard lo cicero

Woodrow Wilson, I believe, once said that he would teach the Mexicans and Central Americans to only elect good governments. I will leave it you Marc, as a student of Central American politics, as to how successful US intervention has been in the Gulf of Mexico. And Wilson had the highest of motives - something you cannot attribute to this corrupt bunch that has made fortunes from conracts in the "New" Iraq.

Marc Cooper

No debate with you, pal. Been there and done that. And please dont insult my intelligence. Cooper and Lieberman wind up paired in the same sentence ("a little jab") but...no... only a paranoid might think any linkage was being made. Please, LOL!

Monthly Review, by the way, is:
a) Small (circ under 10,000)
b) theoretical (it deals with political theory and analysis, not news)
c) and of the hard left. It's founders Magdoff and Sweezey were both Marxist economists and the magazine continues in a Marxian socialist posture to the left of social democrats and other "soft" socialists.

I think that qualifies MR as a small, theoretical journal of the hard left. I dont know what else to call it.

Good luck in ur MR career. Perhaps it will keep u otherwise occupied. (Oops.. must have been a Freudian slip to bring up the occupation again).


You've never debated me, only told me I'm an Amy Goodman acolyte. Yeah, I note the irony that someone as liberal as you has basically the same kind of analysis of the problem with the Iraq war as Joseph Lieberman and I explain why that analysis is flawed to the core.
The jab is a jab, no different from your frequent jabs at people you don't like. Look at the jabs you make at Naomi Klein or Chomsky or others on the left you despise. So why is my jabbing you, rather gently, such a big deal to you?
You don't argue with my argument because you have no argument, you can't explain how the Iraq war could have been done 'better' and remained true to US foreign policy goals [i.e. the very corporate form of globalization you are so opposed to]

Marc Cooper

Lo Cicero: WTF? This is really amazing sometimes. I am not supporting American intervention in Cental America nor Iraq and with all due respect you seem to forget exactly whou are talking to when it comes to American interventions in Latin America.
Nevertheless, and please correct me if Im wrong, but it seems that about 2 years ago GW Bush went ahead and intervened Iraq anyway -- without my approval or yours. That is what they call a reality.

In the face of that tragic reality, I would like to see those on the receiving end of that intervention, the Iraqis, make out the best they can within the real world possibilities that confront them.

You, on the other hand, would like to end the discussion with simply condemning Bush. Ok, I condemn him. Fine.



We've had this discussion by the way enough times to bore me to tears. Please dont offer me anymore history lessons on American empire. Im interested only in what can be done to move forward.


MR's not my career either...pal.
But, hey, if it's ok for your good friends the Doug twins...I think I'll submit writings there too...

michael perelman

Why are people who attack others so sensitive to criticism?

It hurts when someone who has done such good work in the past moves so far to the right.

Jim Devine

Steve Philion (sp?) writes: >The position is one embraced by people as seemingly ideologically apart as Joseph Lieberman and Nation contributor Marc Cooper...<

I don't see how this is a case of Philion accusing Cooper of bad faith, of embracing racism, sexism, of whatever evil motivation. Rather, he was saying that both Cooper and Lieberman want to make the US occupation of Iraq "better." That formulation allows for a lot of variation, a lot of disagreement between them. There's no imputation of motivation to either Cooper or Lieberman as far as I can see.

This accusation against Philion distracts totally from the main point of his MR essay, which is that an externally-imposed privatization of Iraqi non-oil assets and the undemocratic opening of Iraq to "free trade" has severely undermined the possibilities for democracy in that country. I presume that Cooper is in favor of democracy. He should look at Iraq to see if his dream is being actively undermined there by the US/UK occupiers (as Philion argues). If this is even vaguely true, Cooper should be upset. Not about Philion's barb but about the fate of Iraq.

Even without privatization and free-trade being imposed, I wonder if democracy could ever be imposed from the outside using troops.
Jim Devine

Randy Paul

What I find so tiresome about Hitchens of late is not merely the McCarthyite trashing of those who he disagrees with, but his complete refusal to examine the intentions of those who he now finds himself allied with. Intentions matter and I'm sorry but if you wish to write about the "steadying influence of coalition forces" (as Hitchens did today) while IED's continue to explode on a daily basis, then you're divorced from reality. Bringing democracy to Iraq as a reason for the war is post-facto ass-covering.

If Hitchens is comfortable with the mountain of deception set forth in the run up to war simply because he's content with the [premature] results, then he should consider that, in the words of Dag Hammarskjold, "[You] cannot play with falsehoods without forfeiting your right to truth."

Hitchens is welcome to be content with the results as he sees them. He has no business trashing the rest of us just because we can tell the difference between a turd and a candy bar.

If he wants to fancy himself the new Orwell, perhaps he should read what Gene Lyons wrote on October 17, 2001:

"Having written that book, which ironically nobody would publish until the war had ended, Orwell set about making amends. In December 1944, he used his regular 'As I Please' column in the Tribune to specifically repudiate the term 'objectively,' and apologized by name to individuals whose views he'd caricatured and whose loyalty to England he'd unfairly questioned. Blaming 'the lunatic atmosphere of war,' he explained that the habit of accusing political dissenters of 'conscious treachery....is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes harder to forsee their actions.' The example Orwell gave was a pacifist asked to be an enemy spy. An honorable pacifist, he argued, would never betray his country. 'The important thing is to discover WHICH individuals are honest and which are not,' he wrote 'and the usual blanket accusation merely makes this more difficult. The atmosphere of hatred in which [political] controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel.'"

Edward Hirsch

Hitchens, who I have become a fan of since his analysis of the Iraqi elections on C-Span, was "trashed, McCarthy style" by the left first, I believe. Hitchens went up against Chomsky very shortly after 9/11 in a series of essays, and it was his strident comments at that time (and looking back on them, they were quite reasonable) that put the intellectual left against him.

I suspect Hitchens sees little difference between the criticisms leveled against him now regardin Iraq as those leveled against him prior to Afganistan...which is a shame for both sides of the debate.

Randy Paul

So mama you were wrong: twrongs do make a right.

Randy Paul

That is two wrongs apparently do make a right.

Randy Paul


Then Hitchens was trashed by Chomsky. I didn't trash him. I just don't like being accused of treason because I disagree with him.


Both countries are still a mess, if not a bigger one than when we went in. Now what? Jam head back in sand? Ignore the poor troops stuck in the middle? What? Conservative, Marxist left what say you?


Stevie boy - you are exhibit an extreme form of political provincialism - the inability to see world events in terms other than how it would hurt Bush. Go back to your ideals for a minute and ask yourself this question:

Would be better for the Iraqis if the occupation improved? If so then how would you improve it.


A reminder for at least one commenter above: The call for liberation and democracy in Iraq is not an ass-covering move by panicky warmongers. Its case was made eloquently by many (including Nick Cohen and Tony Blair) in the months leading up to invasion. It was also made not so eloquently by George W. Bush. But it was indeed a pre-invasion motivation.

And much agreement with Marc about the virtues of the Michael Kazin review of Hitchens' book. As a Hitchens supporter, I must say this sort of approach gives me far more cause to question his arguments than the usual shrill Hitch hate. (But, while I'm here, anyone who didn't find that Hitchens demolished Chomsky in the sort-of-famous Nation debates really doesn't keep score very well.)


What Randy said...

Kazin's article on Hitchens, incidentally, was to my mind damning not because it made him seem like a right-winger but more like a guy who's never detached himself from the underlying messianic impulses of so many on the left and that conspired to make the left Hitchens sprang from - and still romanticizes - so marginal. Personally, I think that anyone who was close enough to the likes of Cockburn and Chomsky in the past few years to have a public "break" with them is not to be taken seriously. Maybe that's not fair, but it's my gut reaction to people who make a big deal about what's correct for "the left". Like it's their fucking church. Screw that nonsense.

Whatever Hitchens' motives, his recent writing on the war shows a deterioration of anything resembling insight, clear-headed analysis or, frankly, much in the way of honesty. He's starting to sound even more foolish than Thomas Friedman. I'm sure that Wolfowitz is as sincere as Hitchens. Possibly more so. Who cares? Lie down with dogs, etc. etc.


"The arrogance and brutality of empire"? "Neoconservative crusade"?

This is temperate, reasonable rhetoric? I agree that it's less insane than a lot of what the left emits, but that's not saying much.

Randy: The coalition forces aren't setting off the IEDs. It's your pals the "freedom fighters" setting off the IEDs. Getting rid of the only solidly organized security in that country won't make the "freedom fighters" massacre fewer civilians; it will allow them to massacre more. Yes, maybe it's possible that they'll drop the IEDs and start handing out ice cream the first chance they get; maybe they're only blowing up civilians in "self-defense" against the Marine Corps. But I know which way I'd bet, given all of their rhetoric and all of their actions, most notably that when they have had a breathing space (such as in Falluja last summer) they turned against the local civilians more viciously than ever.

I enjoyed poor Orwell's trip to Canossa, by the way: "An honorable pacifist, he argued, would never betray his country."

Pure comedy gold! An "honorable pacifist" is a contradiction in terms. A pacifist who doesn't betray his country is also a contradiction in terms. A pacifist, in that war, was somebody who thought England would be better off if Hitler won. I'm sorry, but there's no ambiguity there: If you're at war with Hitler, and nobody shoots back, he wins. OK: Pacifists say nobody should be allowed to shoot back. "Honorable" may mean a lot of things, but one thing it absolutely does not mean is somebody who'll gladly let his countrymen be enslaved so he can feel smugly virtuous about it. To say that, in principle, one must never defend oneself, one's family, or one's country, is not merely to refuse to participate in aggression; it is to commit oneself to helping the Nazis win, if it should come to that. And there have been times in history when it did come to precisely that, or to something very much like it. Pacifism in Darfur these days is objectively pro-Janjaweed, mmmkay? If they're not quite as bad as real Nazis, they're still pretty bad.

In "extreme cases" that in fact happen regularly in the real world, pacifism means holding somebody's coat while he rapes your daughter, thanking him, and then blaming her for being raped. Pacifism is the belief that a rapist's life is worth more than your daughter's life, simply because he's a rapist. That's not overheated rhetoric. That's what the word means. I know that most pacifists prefer not to think of it in such painfully accurate terms, but life is hard sometimes. And the ones who don't mind thinking about it like that, will probably get off on the image, so I'm doing them a favor. That evens it out, I believe. (You'll never convince me that there isn't a masochist constituency on the left. It's such a perfect fit, they've got to be out there.)

Pacifists are either sincere and perfectly contemptible, or else hypocritical liars and therefore imperfectly contemptible: I'd have less contempt for a fake pacifist who'd defend his family than for a real one who wouldn't; talk is cheap, after all. Both are vicious swine who'd love to see me enslaved, but at least the latter sprouts a pair eventually.

People quote that "objectively pro-fascist" line because it's accurate. People don't quote the climb-down? No surprise: It's craven gibberish.

I don't care whether pacifists arrive at their nauseating belief system by means intellectually honest or dishonest. I don't care whether they're crazy or sane, dumb or smart. That doesn't interest me at all. They're evil, whether they intend to be or not. That's the point conveyed by that Orwell line. Did Orwell mean something else by it? Is it taken out of context? Who cares? He's dead, he won't sue. And he lied about shooting an elephant in his pajamas: Orwell Lied, Elephants Died! Oh, the humanity.

Frank Warner

If you are for the liberation of Iraq, you remember U.N. Resolution 688 and Saddam's requirement that he end his repression of the Iraqi people.

If you were against removing Saddam, for whatever reason, you remember only the talk of weapons of mass destruction, forgetting that no U.N. resolution required anyone to prove Saddam had WMDs. Because he had been an especially irresponsible dictator, he was required to prove he had none.

So the debate goes, one side pointing to the mass graves, the other asking where the WMDs are; one side seeing a democracy emerging from dictatorship and war, the other side seeing only the war.


There is, quite simply, no reasonable or logical way to oppose this war based on the facts. Reflexivly anti-war loons have to strech the truth in whatever ways possible to turn peoples opinions to their way of thinking. Good example of this by Marc, good job.


Taylor - You should be embarrassed by the claim that democracy was the argument for war in Iraq. I'm sorry but I don't have a clue who Nick Cohen is. How many troops did he send. As for Blair, he was a weak sister. Again, how many troops did he send and how long will they be staying? America was the backbone of this war, we're paying for it in blood and treasure and we were sold a bill of goods by a cabal of zealous ideologues, opportunistic incompetents and outright liars. There would have been Zero political support for the war if it was to spread "democracy" in the Middle East. You know it. It's dishonest - extremely dishonest - to use that tack. Americans want to try to pull something out of the current fire after all of the sacrifice, but they would never have bought into this mess on that basis. Hence, as Wolfowitz has admitted, the argument was fixed around a "clear and present danger" of "WMD" - and amplified for emotional effect by a putative 9/11 connection.

Also, regarding Hitchens, I don't need some jerkoff who was opposed to the first Gulf War to lecture me about this one. I also wish he would do some serious journalism in Iraq if he's truly passionate about it, a la Orwell - or Stephen Vincent - rather than send mediocre screeds to Slate that barely function as fig leafs for all of the falsehoods he has helped spread - much less serious analysis of the war. The guy's so puffed up and self-righteous on the question, it's absurd.

If you actually give a shit about the stuff Hitchens blathers about from afar, read Larry Diamond's new book, Squandered Victory. A guy from the Hoover Institute - politically centrist - he didn't support the war because he understood the hype preceding it, but he went to Iraq at old friend Rice's behest and tried to help out the democracy cause. He's actually got insight and information about why things have gone so sour. Everything Hitchens has written on this war isn't worth a page of Diamond's testimony on what's actually happened under the sorry - and predictably so - political leadership that Hitchens has had the fucking nerve to defend. Also, any self-styled "radical" sonofabitch who went from Nader in 2000 to Bush in 2004 is, de facto, twice a moron. Period. Paragraph. IMHO.

I agreed with Hitchens in his debates with Chomsky or whomever on taking out the Taliban and grabbing bin Laden in Afghanistan, incidentally. But the man's gone so far off the rails on the Iraq situation and become so far removed from serious discussion of a mess that ironically will, in the long term, redound to the benefit of his biggest bete noires, the Iranian mullahs, that it's just pathetic. He's become a joke.

"It's your pals the "freedom fighters" setting off the IED"

Fucky you...one need read no farther than that despicable bit of rhetoric to realize what a bunch of thugs certain pro-war types have become.

Sleaze merchants caught in a corner. Also, frankly, not very bright, given the cramped nature of their arguments: i.e. the rhetoric that belongs in a Bush speech, rather than serious analysis of the direction that post-war Iraq is, in the real world, taking. Complex issues aren't their forte, not surprisingly. Particularly bizarre is the notion that enforcing the letter of UN resolutions is a major imperative of American foreign policy. Absolutely bizarre...especially when trumpeted from the ramparts of Bolton's World.

Sorry - that was "Fuck you!".


Ooops...that was me, as if there was any doubt.

Jim Rockford

Marc -- the reason you get the abuse, is because the Left mostly has not adapted to the new reality, i.e. the end of the Cold War and the rise, dragon's teeth-wise, of many nasty menaces.

Regardless of opposing or supporting the Iraq War, the reality is that Saddam, that favored "balance" to Iran is now gone, and the question is how best to achieve an outcome that meets the national security needs of the United States (given the blood and money spent) and the aspirations of the Iraqi people to live lives free of violence and oppression.

The argument as I understand it of Steve and Richard is that since the US was less than perfect in all aspects of the War (and it's run up) the only solution is to run away and leave the Iraqis to either Saddam or Osama bin Laden. This to me is completely non-responsive to the US's national security needs (which are legitimate) and certainly not to the Iraqi people.

Others, from Hitchens to Wolfowitz to Lieberman to yourself Marc, have argued that it makes sense to do what is needed to secure Iraq as a place that is at least NOT OUR ENEMY, and a place relatively free of violence and oppression.

Iraq certainly won't turn into Sweden overnight. It would be tremendous improvement however if it turned into something akin to Malaysia or Turkey. I do believe that goal is ultimately achievable, and benefits us (Malaysia and Turkey are not sending waves of terrorists to kill us here and abroad) as well as Iraqis (Malaysians and Turks lead, compared to other Islamic countries, relatively free and prosperous lives and don't we want that for them on a purely human basis?)

I honestly don't see how anyone could NOT want better lives for Iraqis?

I think it's reasonable to differ on how to achieve these goals, some might argue a political solution with the US brokering an ethnic spoils deal to end the fighting, others might offer (my own view) that only a truly massive US Army slowly burning out tribal sheik's property in the Sunni Triangle (while offering a way to avoid that by expelling jihadis/criminals/Baathists) and crushing the Sadrists in a escalation of the killing that the enemy can't match will bring lasting peace (the old kill the killers quickly and bring the War to an end FAST strategy). Some have suggested mediation by the Arab League, or more offers of amnesty to jihadis and the like.

People might differ on their opinions of the effectiveness of the solution, but the goal is a good outcome for the US and Iraqis, instead of a sad to say, naive and simplistic moralist argument that requires constant perfection in the US and requires nothing in that regard from anyone else. It's like a spoiled child realizing that Santa doesn't exist, throwing a tantrum.

Iraq has always been a violent, poverty-stricken (despite their oil), repressive and brutal place that made the people there (save a small elite) miserable in all facets of life. What exists now (and certainly would not have with Saddam) is a chance at least to change that for the better. I cannot understand why anyone would want to throw that chance away because the US and Bush is not perfect in all things.

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