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Opinion: Smugness Is Our Greatest Enemy

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Apr, 2003 05:33 am
Here's an essay that both sides will love... and hate. I'll be away most of the day, but please feel free to start the discussion without me Smile

Quote:
Smugness Is Our Greatest Enemy
By Jonathan Alter
Newsweek, April 28 Issue


I know it's a common complaint, but why can't people ever admit that their side might be wrong? The doves can't admit they were wrong about the rightness of freeing 24 million Iraqis, however chaotic the aftermath. And the hawks can't admit that they are wrong about the go-it-alone occupation, including a boneheaded Pentagon decision I came across that helped open the door for the looting of some of civilization's treasures. Both sides are more dug in than the Third Infantry Division at Baghdad International Airport.

LET'S BE CLEAR about the doves. They never said the United States wouldn't win militarily; their objection was based on other factors (rejection of "preventive" war, botched diplomacy, etc.). And they may be proved right: history's jury will be out a long time. Even so, I can't get over how churlish the left has become. When did the liberals take the "lib" out of liberation? This was a totalitarian regime we're talking about, with a boot on the face of the Iraqi people. The same folks who led the charge against fascism in Europe; who rightly spoke up against the U.S. government about "disappearances" in El Salvador and Guatemala; who carried high the banner of human rights--now they yawn at revelations of mass graves in Iraq and argue that the Iraqis will be no better off than before. Freedom's just another word that liberals have figured out how to lose.

The explanation is partly partisan politics. Many Democrats are so blinded by their loathing of George W. Bush that they can't think straight. In their hearts, they don't see Bush as the legitimately elected president, just as Tom DeLay and the right-wing attack machine tried to deny President Clinton's legitimacy from the outset, without even a Florida rationale. In both cases, this thinking can take you right over the cliff. (See Gingrich, N.)

Today too many Democrats are playing Charlie Brown to Bush's Lucy. Just as they started talking about a quagmire, the war was won. Next football to be snatched away: WMD. At the precise moment this week or next that the liberals proclaim that Iraq has no chemical weapons after all, they'll finally turn up in Syria or some bunker. Promise. Republicans, meanwhile, remind me of Chris Rock's foe in "Head of State." His slogan is "God Bless America--and no place else." Ari Fleischer says the White House can't keep the Rev. Franklin Graham, who has called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion," from performing Good Friday services in Baghdad and trying to Christianize the country. How about a phone call from his good friend the president (at whose Inaugural he spoke)?

Then there are those images all over the Arab world of Gen. Tommy Franks & Co. smoking cigars and getting comfortable in Saddam's presidential palace, as if they were the pigs in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" celebrating their revolution by moving into the farmer's house. Doesn't look too good to the other animals--or the Iraqi people. Gens. Douglas MacArthur and Lucien Clay took great pains to understand Japanese and German society before administering their occupations. This crowd is more Kiplingesque.

Smugness can kill. It may be satisfying to say "Screw you" to the United Nations, and the United States got away with it during the war. But in an occupation, it's not smart. Isn't it about time the DOD started playing some defense? Which is the more likely target of suicide bombers: a barracks full of American soldiers or a barracks full of peacekeepers--including Muslim troops--from around the world? You'd think we could figure out how to run the occupation without presenting such a fat target.

In short, the fighting was brilliant; the immediate "follow-on" a failure. Donald Rumsfeld was right to have a light, speedy war plan. Another division wasn't necessary. But the "retired officers embedded in TV studios" (to quote our draft-deferment vice president about former generals Barry McCaffrey and Wesley Clark, who have four Silver Stars between them) were not entirely wrong. I learned last week that many Army officers wanted to airlift in 3,000 MPs (military police) from Europe to protect supply lines and police Baghdad. That would have aided the drive to the capital and helped to protect institutions like hospitals and museums once forces arrived there. As it was, the main hospital wasn't even secured until an officer was alerted to the looting by New Yorker reporter Jon Lee Anderson.

But Rumsfeld apparently decided: no MPs. The European MPs would have had to be replaced by reservists. And if more reservists had been called up in the middle of the war, it would have reinforced the criticism that Rumsfeld hadn't sent enough troops. When the real history is written, we may find out that some ofthe world's oldest treasures were lost to looters in part because someone at the Pentagon suffers from the oldest of human sins--pride.

© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Sun 20 Apr, 2003 10:50 pm
No takers? Shocked

I don't blame you. It's not a very exciting piece... both sides get a little spanking from Jonathan Alter... ho hum Rolling Eyes
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msolga
 
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Reply Sun 20 Apr, 2003 11:25 pm
Re: Opinion: Smugness Is Our Greatest Enemy
Violet Lake wrote:


Quote:
...I learned last week that many Army officers wanted to airlift in 3,000 MPs (military police) from Europe to protect supply lines and police Baghdad. That would have aided the drive to the capital and helped to protect institutions like hospitals and museums once forces arrived there. As it was, the main hospital wasn't even secured until an officer was alerted to the looting by New Yorker reporter Jon Lee Anderson.

But Rumsfeld apparently decided: no MPs. The European MPs would have had to be replaced by reservists. And if more reservists had been called up in the middle of the war, it would have reinforced the criticism that Rumsfeld hadn't sent enough troops. When the real history is written, we may find out that some ofthe world's oldest treasures were lost to looters in part because someone at the Pentagon suffers from the oldest of human sins--pride.


© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.


I can't believe the short-sightedness & arrogance of this Rumsfeld person!
What a decision on his part!
And what consequences!
Good grief, what can you say? <sigh>
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Sun 20 Apr, 2003 11:48 pm
msolga, I agree.

It seems to me that the reason for the article was to point that out. Read the title again if you have any doubts.

The criticism aimed at Liberals comes off as half-hearted and obligatory.
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msolga
 
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Reply Sun 20 Apr, 2003 11:54 pm
Violet Lake wrote:

The criticism aimed at Liberals comes off as half-hearted and obligatory.


Yes, somewhat reluctant!
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Magus
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:06 pm
I watched Rumsfeld in some of his Press Conferences... and I think he projected arrogance rather than self-confidence, smugness rather than certitude.
There always seemed to be a smirking sneer just under the surface.
One fault Rumsfeld will never be accused of... excess humility.

I'm sorry to say that Rumsfeld's facial expressions and body language were those of a schoolyard bully.
I also thought he treated the Media like a bunch of puppies who were expected to bark, lay-down or sit, on cue... or get swatted with a rolled-up newspaper.

I don't think those perceptions make me "a liberal"; I think they just indicate that... I pay attention .
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:25 pm
He's definitely an imposing guy... very intelligent and calculating, and very powerful. Although he is often genuinely charming and reasonable, he can also be a pretty ugly fellow. I imagine he's at peace with the contradictions in his character...
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:26 pm
The problem with paying attention is, well, what you notice when you're paying attention. <sigh> Other countries have been paying attention to U.S. politicians for some time. They've seen things they didn't like. I think this adventure in Iraq, and the international response, is just the leading edge of things changing for the U.S. globally. The U.S. economy is already weak, it can't take any more trouble. I hope somebody who has the Shrubs ear pays attention before it's too late.
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:30 pm
ehBeth, did you see the movie Bullworth? Bush needs to do what Warren Beatty's character did Laughing

BTW, I agree with your observations.
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msolga
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:34 pm
Me, too, ehBeth ...
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PDiddie
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:39 pm
It's an excellent take by Alter, Violet, and he accurately skewers the Dems for their failure to articulate a 'loyal opposition.'

Rumsfeld has become this government's chief spokesperson, filling the vacuum left by the emasculation of Colin Powell.

And he's a megalomaniacal war-mongerer with no one--certainly not Bush--to rein him in.

This greedy, bloodthirsty, power-mad cabal is going to get such a karmic backlash that I cannot comprehend it.

We've got to get them out of power before they kill us all.

(Did I mention John Ashcroft? Shocked )
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 07:44 pm
PDiddie, I was trying to go all day without being reminded of John Ashcroft! Laughing
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msolga
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 08:06 pm
Er ... Who is John Ashcroft & what is his claim to fame?
(asked from the other side of the planet ... Don't worry if you haven't the time to respond right now, though ..)
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PDiddie
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 08:11 pm
I will operate under the assumption that that is a candid, non-facetious request for information, olga.

Here's you a link:

John Ashcroft
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msolga
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 08:22 pm
PDiddie

Yes, it was a genuine request for enlightenment. Thanks for the quick response.

Gosh Shocked Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Confused Shocked Confused What can I say? He sounds like some sort of warped, misguided & dangerous character that Kurt Vonnegut might have created in one of his novels ... Pretty scarey stuff!!!
You poor things, having to put up with someone like that as Attorney General! Shocked
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 08:32 pm
he writes his own hymns for his morning office prayer meetings
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msolga
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 08:42 pm
Goodness, gracious me!! Laughing Shocked
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Ethel2
 
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Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2003 11:55 pm
Yes, I agree. Smugness is our enemy. As long as everyone agrees with me that I'm right, no doubt about it. Laughing

And Rumsfeld is a jerk and a half. Glib and smug describe him perfectly. He has a look about him that makes me want to slap his face. He, GW and Ashcroft. All scary, horrible types. And let's not leave out Rove.

And we liberals better get our act together. Because George Bush is not going to listen to anyone other than the smug, assholes that surround him now.

Excuse my smugness, please.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2003 06:23 am
i used to be smug but i took a behavior mod course, now i'm short dark and italian.
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snood
 
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Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2003 07:53 am
This greedy, bloodthirsty, power-mad cabal is going to get such a karmic backlash that I cannot comprehend it.


Karma? Divine reciprocity? Something higher than your intellect? What a concept!
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