September 17, 2007

LOL for the day

"Over ninety percent of the surveyed crustaceans were "aware of the launch" and held a "strong desire to purchase," even though their massive claws and aquatic habitat make using the product impossible."
--Penny Arcade

Posted by BruceR at 03:14 PM

Hitchens today: wow, that was dumb

Perhaps one of the dumber things Christopher Hitchens has written recently is online at the moment.

"Take a moment to imagine what would have been written in the liberal press had the old military class been preserved and utilized to "stabilize" Iraq. I can write the headlines for you..."

Of course, there were numerous such headlines in the early years of West Germany, and to a lesser extent, Japan, as potential war criminals. Those headlines did not, however, make those occupations unsuccessful.

To take the German example, the Western governments kept German soldiers on the payroll, sans any elaborate hierarchy of officers, and used them as a labour force to help rebuild the country for that first crucial year. That kept them and their families from starving to death, making off with their weapons, organizing a resistance, etc., until longer-term reconstruction efforts could start to kick in. It was utterly separate from any de-Nazification efforts (either criminal or political), and, because this was clear from the start, did not contribute to the junta-fication of the country. It was this precedent and example that the Iraqi reconstructionists blithely ignored in Iraq in 2003.

"Nor is it a defense of the very abrupt and peremptory way in which Paul Bremer dismissed the officer corps almost overnight."

If it had just been the officer corps, it would not have been anywhere near as bad. It was everybody, extending to civil servants in many cases. It is not a horrendous overstatement to say Bremer et al fired the entire public sector, without a pension, or even their last month's wages.

"If there was one thing about U.S. foreign policy that used to make one shudder, it was the habit of ruling by proxy through military regimes."

It is possible to believe that Iraqi labour battalions in the German model would have been better than nothing, without believing that the country should have been immediately handed over to a new dictator. As I recall, the only one advocating that approach was some fellow named Chalabi and his friends.

"However, I think it stands to the credit of the United States that it did not insult the population by grabbing and using the existing reins of repression..."

The Presidential Palace. Abu Ghraib.

"People say that the poor management of this issue led to an insurgency from quarters that would have hated a change of regime from whichever source it had come."

Like those big Saddam-backers Sistani and Sadr.

Posted by BruceR at 01:40 PM