The essay is full of the kind of witless, quoteladen prose by which Ignatieff rose under the wing of his mentor, Isaiah Berlin, from one edition of Bartlett’s quotations to the other. Now, Berlin’s moderation in all things often led to essays that said all things, or quoted all the people who said all things, before drifting to a crashingly inane point – but there was a glint and edge in his best essays, for instance about the Romantic tradition in Russia. Ignatieff is a different story. His learning is mostly balderdash, and his reputation has been garnered in that easiest of places to gain a reputation, the international human rights whinefest.
He was just the type to pump the war before the invasion. I have a vague memory of another NYT Mag piece. He, George Packer, Peter Beinart – the pro-war liberals do sort of melt into each other like the tigers little Black Sambo let race around the palm tree, gradually turning themselves into butter.
After making a cliched and pointless contrast between theoretical academics and practical politicians, Ignatieff gets down to the business of the day: blaming somebody else. Ah, but in his fingerpointing, he does want us to realize what a tenderhearted little peebrain he is. Turns out he was moved to the depth of his dancing shoes by the cries and whispers of the Iraqi exile group. Another one! We’ve already heard this record from Beinart, but Ignatieff adds his own evil drop, from his dessicated, self-centered murdering motherfuckin’ heart:
“The people who truly showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action. They did not necessarily possess more knowledge than the rest of us. They labored, as everyone did, with the same faulty intelligence and lack of knowledge of Iraq’s fissured sectarian history. What they didn’t do was take wishes for reality. They didn’t suppose, as President Bush did, that because they believed in the integrity of their own motives everyone else in the region would believe in it, too. They didn’t suppose that a free state could arise on the foundations of 35 years of police terror. They didn’t suppose that America had the power to shape political outcomes in a faraway country of which most Americans knew little. They didn’t believe that because America defended human rights and freedom in Bosnia and Kosovo it had to be doing so in Iraq. They avoided all these mistakes.
I made some of these mistakes and then a few of my own. The lesson I draw for the future is to be less influenced by the passions of people I admire — Iraqi exiles, for example — and to be less swayed by my emotions. I went to northern Iraq in 1992. I saw what Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds. From that moment forward, I believed he had to go. My convictions had all the authority of personal experience, but for that very reason, I let emotion carry me past the hard questions, like: Can Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites hold together in peace what Saddam Hussein held together by terror? I should have known that emotions in politics, as in life, tend to be self-justifying and in matters of ultimate political judgment, nothing, not even your own feelings, should be held immune from the burden of justification through cross-examination and argument.”
Of course, a little present day context might be called for here before I comment on this fucked up, shitty, self-serving piece of garbage. Here’s a story (it is also on the AP) in the Guardian, getting of course no play whatsoever in the American press, about the electricity and water situation in Iraq at the moment:
Aziz al-Shimari, an electricity ministry spokesman, said at the weekend that power generation nationally was only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days. The shortages across the country were the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, he added.
Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day at most. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.
Kerbala province, south of Baghdad, has been without power for three days, causing water mains to go dry in the Shia holy city of Kerbala, the provincial capital.
Hazim Obeid, who sells clothing at a Kerbala market stall, said: "We no longer need television documentaries about the stone age. We are actually living in it. We are in constant danger because of the filthy water and rotten food we are having."
And here’s a story about about Iraq’s refugees, from – of all sources – the Houston Chronicle:
It is the silent face of war. The crest of refugees that was predicted before the Iraq invasion began in 2003 did not really develop until last year, after a sharp surge in sectarian fighting that followed the February 2006 bombing of the Askariya shrine, a revered Shia mosque in Samarra, Iraq.
That attack dimmed hopes for Sunni-Shia reconciliation and spawned a wave of vengeful attacks. A second attack on the remains of the mosque in June destroyed its two minarets, setting off fresh reprisals.
Fleeing to Syria
This type of killing is new in Iraq. Saddam was a Sunni Muslim who made sure that Sunnis held power despite their minority status. When challenged, he used brutal methods, including mass murder, to suppress Shias, Christians and Kurds, but there was little of the vicious, street-by-street fighting seen between the groups today.
The result has been a mass departure of those with the means to flee. So many Iraqis have crossed into Syria that the U.N. processing center at times seems like a small city, with its own taxi stand and vendors selling sweet mint tea and freshly baked bread.
" We are getting people from all levels of society, including people who were wealthy and those who had nothing but the clothes on their backs,"said Korvis, whose staff interviews Iraqis when they arrive.
Syria has been denounced by President Bush and other world leaders for sponsoring terrorism, meddling in Lebanon and crushing dissent, but U.N. officials generally praise President Bashar Assad's government for helping the refugees.
"The Iraqi children have access to the Syrian public schools, and that's an amazingly positive step," said UNHCR spokesman Sybella Wilkes. U.N. officials also are grateful that the Syrian government has kept the border with Iraq open to refugees despite the huge number of people coming in.”
This is just so we keep in mind what the suggestions of motherfuckers like Ignatieff have led to.
Now, let’s go back to the ‘practical’ question. I’ve done this so often it is like playing scales, but since LI’s viewpoint still seems to be a minority, we will bore our readers once again with the obvious.
In the months leading to the invasion of Iraq, two things became obvious. One was that the U.S. really wanted to exercise unilateral power over Iraq in the occupation. The other was that the Bush administration was seriously, by a magnitude of 10, underestimating the cost and human resources needed to occupy Iraq. Shinseki pulled the rug out under any pro-war position by simply calculating the standard figures for the occupation of a country the size of California, with the population of 27 million. These aren’t really mysteries. He came up with 400,000 troops to make the occupation even possible. This wasn’t a prediction that the troops would successfully squelch any insurgency – rather, it was the minimum needed to secure the country. To secure a country means not only diminishing or annihilating violence, it means securing the infrastructure – that is, making sure that the country doesn’t starve, that the power flows, that the sewage system works, etc. Now, given that base figure, one can come up with costs. In the run up, Glenn Hubbard came up with a 200 billion dollar figure. However, that was a figure gotten from using a Rumsfeldian troop base, about one fourth Shinseki’s figure. So multiply Hubbard’s figure by four and you get a pretty good cost estimate – 800 billion dollars.
Okay. Now, why is it that those people who were pro-war never approached these figures with a ten foot pole?
Well, children, there is an easy answer. These motherfuckers wanted a zipless war. And they want further zipless wars, as per the advisors of Hilary and Obama, busy writing up tough scenarios in which more U.S. soldiers would be involved in more witless conflicts.
In a zipless war, the population of the most heavily armed and likely liberal aggressor – the U.S. – is called upon to invade numerous countries and occupy numerous territories – all of course in the name of human rights. The problem is this: this kind of thing could actually be noticed by the population of the U.S. The population might question the rightness of continuing such an over the top, immoral policy leading to mass murder, starvation, and endless misery for generations. In particular, they don’t like casualties and they don’t like paying a lot of money. The latter is the main drag on liberal hawk aggressiveness, in fact.
So, what to do? Why, what you do is you devise a war that doesn’t cost too much, is techno pretty – plenty big bombers! – and that impacts mainly on the segregated and isolated volunteer army section of the country. You treat that army as basically the president’s mercenary force. Then you go on tv and lie, lie, lie. You write articles and lie, lie, lie. Being part of the motherfucker corps of honchos, there is no down side – you’ll never have to live with dysentery, or watch your daughter limp around without a leg, as per this video. Nah, if things go wrong, you can say it is all because you have such a big motherfucking heart. Cause you are just the nicest motherfucker who ever advocated mass murder.
Well, the delusion was that Rumsfeld was right, and that zipless war was possible. It seemed so sweet in Kosovo! It hovered there like some dream invite to debate serious people on the war in 2003, sponsored by the AEI and Heritage foundation, at which you’d make useful connections! A dream that did come true for many, let us not forget. Beinart is not the only one who has profited handsomely both from supporting the war and repenting the support of the war - a twofer! So excellent. But since the war turned out to be zip-full and you couldn’t put a nitwitted crook like Chalabi on the Iraqi throne and make it look all democratic as you erased fifty years of anti-imperialist struggle and hooked Iraq back into the petro-chemical cartels, why, you cast your moist gaze over the country and realize – so softly and sadly – with that feeling that you’ve been too good, just too good - that the Iraqis (sob)… the Iraqis have … failed you. You you you. You motherfucker. You’re the one whose faith has been broken. Like a child discovering there is no toothfairy. Those Iraqis, god fucking damn it, just weren’t, well, good enough for you to have extended your benevolence to. Like that bitch 5 year old girl in the video, limping around and shit. Anti-american as all get out. How can you trust people like that?
And of course you get to write an article for the other motherfuckers out there to nod their heads to. Zipless war – oh when, great World Soul, will we get the zipless war that the revolutionary contingent, from motherfucker Ignatieff to motherfucker Hitchens, can watch on tv with motherfucking pride? Life is a motherfucker.