I keep coming back to Slate, the home of the always wrong contraro-belligerati, Christopher Hitchens - whose columns on Iraq can even now provide hours of sick humor - and such astute warhawk liberals as Jack Shafer. Shafer, somehow, sticks in my head because he took it upon himself to mock Johnny Apple, the NYT thumbsucker-reporter, for harboring any doubts about our great and glorious victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here's a quote from a Shafer piece that, word for word, could be used as a sort of standard unit to measure stupid. An SUS, if you will.
From March 27, 2003, Shafer begins with what he obviously thinks is a delicious quote from his low hanging liberal fruit. Shafer sizes him up with the standard Slate smarm, then delivers what he obviously thinks is a knockout blow:
Like other leaders facing larger, technologically superior forces, [Saddam] has found ways to improvise and to take advantage of the fact that the fighting is taking place on his home ground. He is waging a campaign of harassment and delay. It is not likely to change the outcome of the war, but it will prolong the fighting, make it more costly for his adversaries and profoundly affect the way it is seen in other Arab countries and around the world. [Quote from Apple]
Apple doesn't use the word "quagmire" to describe the allied effort as he did on Oct. 31, 2001, during the early, shaky days of the Afghanistan campaign. (See "Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam.") But the gist of his Afghanistan piece and today's Iraq piece is the same. The United States has bitten off more than it can chew; the allied war effort is underpowered; we've underestimated the enemy—again!; air power is overrated; and guerrillas can do U.S. forces great damage as they did in Vietnam.
Apple's fear that dropping bombs on civilians wouldn't "win Afghan 'hearts and minds' " and that the country would prove ungovernable even if the United States won turned out to be unfounded. Two weeks after his comparison of Afghanistan to Vietnam, the allies liberated Kabul, and 16 months later the place is at least as governable as San Francisco."
But there are many Shafers out there - it was his talent to wrap up, in one heaping helping, the CW of the press, which collaborated as much as they could in making the Middle East and Central Asia a place of dizzying and endless violence.
Ha ha! That stupid liberal, comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam. And in a way its true: we've been in Afghanistan much longer than we were in Vietnam.
Slate- were glib analysis based on shaky factoids goes to die.