"You're a funny man, Sully ...

that's why I'm going to kill you last."


Saturday, April 05, 2003


We are not alone in pointing out that Michael Kelly had quite a few journalistic sins to answer for. Alex Frantz says:

Regrettably, he was perhaps best known for his opinion columns. His death is insufficient reason to deny the truth about his columns � they were vicious, vile, and dishonest.

posted by Sully 4/05/2003 06:59:00 PM


No More Mister Nice Blog on Sullivan�s cowardly attack on Tom Daschle�s patriotism in The Washington Times:

If fund-raising in wartime offends Sullivan�s sensibilities, perhaps he�d like to explain why the National Republican Congressional Committee has two fund-raising events going on today, while our troops are struggling to take Baghdad.

And if his problem is with David Brock, I need a further clarification. In Brock's book, he takes himself and allies to task for attacking the character of Anita Hill and Bill Clinton � a witness in a Supreme Court hearing and a peacetime president.

Is there a war or national security connection I�m missing here?

I wish Sullivan would come out and say what he so clearly believes � that it is treasonous not to be a Republican and a Bush supporter.

Frankly, though, we�t even sure that Sullivan has sensibilities independent of political affiliations.

posted by Sully 4/05/2003 06:52:00 PM


We haven�t dipped into The Blog Queen�s letters column in quite a while, but one recently struck us in light of his continual boasting about what great, hyperintelligent readers he has.

This guy is, like so many of us, offering unsolicited advice to the U.S. military:

Why doesn�t the U.S. just pull a �Reverse Stalingrad� with respect to Baghdad right now? Recall that Stalingrad never fell because the Red Army was able to constantly re-supply it (the Nazis never did encircle it like Gen. Grant did at Vicksburg). Note also that Southern Iraqis understandably don�t trust us to hang around long enough to rid them of their tyrant and protect them. Indeed, we�re failing to do that now (all we do is lob shells into Southern Iraqi cities while Saddamites continue to terrorize them, use them as human shields or suicide bombers, etc., and this only undermines their confidence in us as �liberators�).

So it seems to me the better move here would be to (1) encircle Baghdad and make Saddam and his troops die of a thousand cuts (daily bombings, shell lobs, etc.) while hanging back and sparing ourselves needless casualties; but (2) belly up to the buzzsaw now by overrunning the Southern cities and wiping the Saddamites out there, thus finally proving to the civilians that we are, in fact, there to liberate them. Word of this then spreads as we do the same to all other areas, then sell their oil to pay for their food and other humanitarian needs. By this point we will have cut the tyrant�s feet off, forcing him to wobble heavily.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Saddam uses up ever-dwindling military (ordnance, etc.) resources (remember, he�s got no re-supply) while civilians can flee outward for food and water from us. If they cannot flee out because they�re held at gun point, then we can let food/water shipments flow in, which ain�t much worse than what we�re doing now in N. Korea (where we�re feeding Kim Jong Il's army in order to feed civilians, no?). That will re-nourish Saddam, but only with food/water, not bullets.

By forcing Saddam to come out of Baghdad to fight us, we thus reverse the �Stalingrad battle� he now expects. The city itself is then spared a lot of ruination while we he slowly bleeds to death (precisely what he�s now trying to do to us by harassing our supply lines and our Southern-city encirclements). All the while, the rest of Iraq is liberated and we declare victory while temporarily reducing him to a meaningless urban island, until he finally falls. Then we can ask �equal-time� Al Jazeera to broadcast pictures of his stinking carcass being beaten (upside down, Mussolini-style) by his victims.

Hmm. Seems to us there�s a perfectly good word, one that�s been around for a long time, to use for this sort of �reverse Stalingrad� idea, isn�t there? (A situation, by the way, the U.S. military is trying hard to avoid)

Or is this guy one of those people who�s taken to calling what he gets with his Big Macs �freedom fries�?


A few too many blockquote tags this afternoon, eh, Sullivan?

Awfully cramped in there ...

UPDATE: It was fixed minutes later.


Perhaps Sullivan has signed on to the GOP blast-fax campaign to demonize Sen. Kerry for using (he is not the first, by any means) �regime change� to describe what the Democrats would like to accomplish next November out of a desire for payback for the hell he�s deservedly taken over his own wild misuse of the phrase �fifth column.�

But that�s just his deal, and the rest of us ought, as Kerry himself has, not to allow them to get away with this sort of bullying. The Bushies coined the phrase; in a free and democratic society, they can�t go around complaining when it gets appropriated for all sorts of uses, including against themselves, in public discourse. Not unless they want to go and trademark it, anyway.

In fact, the timing of this sort of criticism is awfully suspicious. The phrase has been in all sorts of ironic and humorous use for months � Media Whores Online, in offering a link to Bill McBride�s web page for accepting donations for his ultimately unsuccessful quest to unseat Jeb Bush as Florida�s governor, called it �the first step to regime change in 2004.� Most famously, it appeared at the beginning of one Simpsons episode this season, in which Bart writes, "The school does not need a �regime change�� on the blackboard.

If Sullivan, who still watches the show avidly, didn�t complain loudly about the misuse of a phrase that he implies is as weighted with gravity and meaning as, say, �final solution,� what right does he have to complain now when a Democratic presidential candidate uses it against George Bush?

This is just yet another in the long line of disingenuous, dishonest Republican attempts to mau-mau Democrats and liberals into cowed submission that David Brock and Eric Alterman have told us all about (among many others), that belongs in the same category as the Al-Gore-thinks-he-invented-the-Internet canard and so many others.

We�re glad to see some serious resistance finally, but this can�t be a one-time thing.


Speaking of David Brock jugged something in our collective minds, and we pulled Blinded by the Right off the shelf.

Where we found this little gem on page 275. Given this, readers are invited to consider just how old, and to what real end, the war plan is:

The madness of the moment [1995-96 � SW] was perhaps best captured by the conservative journal First Things, which published a symposium entitled �The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics.� Contributors pilloried recent liberal court decisions on abortion, gay rights, and assisted suicide and concluded that the American �regime� � its entire system of government � had become �morally illegitimate.� With the endorsement of Bork and a number of influential movement intellectuals, the magazine�s editor, a Lutheran turned Catholic theologian named Richard John Neuhaus, compared the United States to Nazi Germany, and suggested that the time had come when �conscientious citizens� might properly engage in seditious activities �ranging from noncompliance, to resistance, to civil disobedience, to morally justified revolution.�

Hmm ...

posted by Sully 4/05/2003 02:53:00 PM


The Horse gets positively medieval on Sullivan�s buttocks over his Salon appreciation of the late Michael Kelly.

Consistent with the right�s now well-known, pathological enthusiasm for exploiting the deaths of those who can no longer speak for themselves, a vulgar Andrew Sullivan disgraces the memory of Michael Kelly by suggesting the Post columnist � again, who can no longer speak for himself � would have �celebrated� the aftermath and consequences of the Iraq invasion (consequences as yet unknown but that will affect all of us for the rest of our lives), and that he would have been proud of any role he had in bringing about those consequences or define them as �our victory over Saddam.�

Only we don�t know that Michael Kelly would have celebrated at all. No one does, and only someone as arrogant and opportunistic as Andrew Sullivan would claim to possess that knowledge. (Such as Peggy Noonan, who presumed to speak on behalf of Senator Paul Wellstone after his death, insisting he would not have approved of the celebration of his life by his family and friends. Ironically, Noonan�s own Kelly �tribute� is nothing more than a tacky, sleazy, thoroughly political anti-Clinton smear job.)

Sully describes Kelly as an old fashioned Irish-Catholic Democrat and a liberal. If he was those, he almost certainly had moments of doubt about the morality and justification of the Iraqi invasion, and considered the Pope's instruction following Bush�s issuing his 48-hour notice of commencement of the Iraqi invasion: �Whoever decides that all peaceful means made available by international law have been exhausted, assumes a grave responsibility before God, his conscience and history.�

Michael Kelly might well have repented or begun to repent before his death for any past support for war. Christians believe that one can never know that about a person � any person, including any journalist and any soldier � and that no one should presume to know it or make judgments based on their presumption.

In fact, Michael Kelly's last published piece certainly doesn't read as though it was written by someone still certain about the morality of the Iraq invasion ...

posted by Sully 4/05/2003 12:35:00 PM

Friday, April 04, 2003


Grady Oliver at WarBloggerWatch goes into extraordinary detail about the U.S. role in arming Saddam.

Andrew Sullivan gives further demonstration that his instinct for error is infallible ... Sullivan may never come to realize that some of his readers are posessed of memories capable of recall past, say, yesterday.

He also notes how the war is not riding Tony Blair�s coattails, and wonders what Sullivan will make of that.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 03:34:00 PM


Sullivan insists that Bush-hating will not serve the left well. But, in The American Prospect, Michael Tomasky illustrates how '90s Clinton-haters, apart from those riding Humvees in Iraq, have done quite well for both themselves and their cause:

So Pat Buchanan led the crusades against Clinton, did he? Granted, Buchanan was no wallflower. But led the opposition? Hardly. Among pols the leader was Tom DeLay, who is still going strong and showing no visible signs of having reassessed anything.

He even quotes Sullivan himself at length on the leading role William Kristol, whose recent attempt to propagate this revisionism in The Weekly Standard occasioned his reponse.

(Link from Matthew Yglesias via Atrios).

We wonder, too, if Kristol�s salvo is partly aimed at distracting media attention from the resentment and anger of paleocons at neocons which the Iraq war has now dragged into the open. The parting on the left ... is now parting on the right.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 03:24:00 PM


Apparently now the White House is saying that we don�t even need to capture Saddam for it to be a good war.

Will Sullivan realize he�s being played? No, he�d need a moral center of his own.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 03:13:00 PM


Quiddity Quack with an actual example of Sullivan doing the kind of weaseling he teases Kaus over.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 03:09:00 PM


According to Roger Ailes, Sullivan�s aversion to being edited is apparently contagious.

And speaking of which, why did Sully confine his latest jab at David Brock to his Washington Times hideaway? Is it because he�s just the slightest bit aware that he, too, �doesn�t know when to stop beating up on someone�?

Or because the Times issues guidelines that all homosexuals (no gays, just homosexuals) in its employ must, at least when within that employ, act at all times in a manner that confirms stereotypes of their group � in this case, that gays are terminally bitchy and immature?

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 03:07:00 PM


In our absence, one blogger always takes up the slack. We�re proud once again to report that TBogg did the dirty work this time.

Here he is on those Mighty Wurlitzer power lunches. Then on �the moral good of it.�

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:58:00 PM


In that chart of where Saddam got his weapons from, we would be remiss ourselves if we didn�t note that Poland and Czechslovakia, supposedly behind us now, provided a greater share of those armaments than we did, and we provided more than the supposedly perfidious, wimpy Germans did.

And, as one commentator on that post points out:

But we are not going to war in Iraq b/c of Russian tanks and AK-47s. Rather it is the biological weapons that are the real issue. And look who provided the �key component� for the Iraqi biological weapons program:
�A 1994 investigation by the Senate Banking Committee turned up dozens of biological agents shipped to Iraq during the mid-'80s under license from the Commerce Department, including various strains of anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare program."

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:51:00 PM


Sullivan can crow all he wants, but before he does read the latest from the GRU (Russian military intelligence)

It�s not all bad, indeed they agree the U.S. has made significant progress, but still:

In the town of Al-Kut US Marine units were able to capture a bridge across the Tigris; but they were unable to capture the entire town and currently fighting is continuing in the residential districts. No fewer than 3 US soldiers were killed and up to 12 were wounded in this area during the past 24 hours.


The blockade of An-Najaf is continuing. Numerous attempts by the [coalition] troops to reach the center of the town have failed after being met by Iraqi fire. At least five [coalition] soldiers have been wounded and one is missing.


Resistance is also continuing in An-Nasiriya. The town�s garrison has been fighting for the past ten days and continues to hold its positions on the left bank of the Euphrates. During the past day there has been a reduction in the intensity of the Iraqi resistance. However, the US commanders at the coalition headquarters believe that this is due to the Iraqis trying to preserve their ammunition, which is by no means unlimited. According to one of the US officers at the coalition headquarters elements of the [Iraqi] 11th Infantry Division remain in control on the left bank of the Euphrates. �...Resilience of this unquestionably brave enemy is worth respect. Four time we offered them to lay down their arms and surrender, but they continue resisting like fanatics...� [Reverse-translated from Russian] During the past night 1 US soldier was killed and 2 more were wounded in firefights in this area.

Another attempt by the British to penetrate Iraqi defenses near Basra has failed. Up to 2 battalions of the British 16th marine infantry brigade reinforced with tanks attempted to break through the Iraqi defenses last night northwest of the Maakil airport along the Al-Arab River. Simultaneously from the southwest at As-Zubair another 2 marine infantry battalions made an attempt to enter the area of Mahallat-es-Zubair, but were met with heavy fire and withdrew after a four-hour-long battle. The Iraqis have reported 2 destroyed British tanks, 5 APCs and no fewer than 30 British troops killed. However, the British commanders are reporting 4 lost armored vehicles and 5 killed. Additionally, Iraqi air defenses have shot down an F-18 fighter-bomber of the town. The radio surveillance units reported the loss of another plane to the north of Baghdad. It is not known whether this plane was shot down or crashed after losing control due to a technical malfunction.


So far, according to intelligence reports, more than 50,000 Iraqi troops continue fighting behind the coalition forward lines at Karabela alone. No fewer than 5,000 Iraqis are defending An-Najaf and An-Divania. Experts estimate that the total number of Iraqis fighting behind coalition front approaches 90,000-100,000 regular army troops and militia.

Here�s the kicker:

Considering the course of this war and the tactics used by the coalition, [Russian military] analysts find this tactics to be far removed from the realities of modern warfare and designed exclusively against a technologically much weaker opponent. Such tactics is unimaginable on the European theater of combat with its woodlands and cross-country terrain. Foreseeing the possibility of a future military standoff between the US and North Korea the analysts are certain that the US cannot hope for a military victory on the Korean Peninsula without the use of nuclear weapons.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:47:00 PM


Andy makes a lot of hay � and you know he�s making hay when he has to rely on James Lileks so much � over the apparently-increasing use of religion and religious appeals in Saddam�s purported public statements of late. He holds this out as if it somehow contradicts the claim, made here and elsewhere, in the runup to the war that Saddam and Osama would have little to do with each other because the former�s ruling philosophy is secular, while the latter is devoutly religious.

Should be any surprise that someone in desperate straits who might not have availed himself of religion before would take advantage of it when it seemed the end was near? Stalin, whom we are constantly reminded was one of Saddam�s role models, made religious appeals to the Red Army during the war, making many joint appeals with the Patriarch of a church he and his government had done so much to oppress over the preceding decade. Did that make him suddenly some sort of tool of Russian Orthodoxy? The church and his former seminary instructors may doubtless have so wished, but after the war they learned once again that it was not so.

And the larger point remains. Saddam�s rule is ostensibly justified by a secular philosophy that enforces secular laws, not Islamic sharia. Osama would have us all bow to that.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:36:00 PM


We were going to note Kaus and Wright�s take on why the sooner the better with Baghdad but now, we see, Sullivan has responded, primarily with what he usually brings to a fight he knows he can�t win, i.e. snarky asides and digs at his opponents.

One in particular pops the eyes:

The phrase �it seems � even if the war overall is going well so far� is the qualification only a master blogger could pull off.

Because he tries it so often himself.

Never mind, though, that in the midst of all the adolescent exulting over von Hoffman Awards and somesuch he never bothers to address Wright�s point, nor its underlying principle, which as Josh Marshall elucidated and Sullivan ignores, was that this is primarily a war with political goals rather than military ones. And any failings or setbacks to our military objectives will have political ramifications in postwar Iraq ... and elsewhere, perhaps.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:27:00 PM


Now I can see the army is pissed off that they haven�t really been needed yet for the climactic battle against the Republican Guard (if it hasn't already happened). But remind me why the rest of us should be concerned? From my particular, reclining armchair, it looks as if this war will be won primarily by the amazing work of the special forces, and the airforce (with critical backup, of course, on the ground). But that would prove Rummy right, wouldn�t it?

�From my particular, reclining armchair ...� boy, Sullivan, you have some chickenhawk nerve, don�t you? Those of you with friends and relatives in the T and E, please forward that post on to them and remind them that this is one of the people cheering them on.

Aside from that stunning display of the sort of magnanimous condescension he so often accuses the left of, one is left to consider what the impact on Army morale might be if they are repeatedly called out to camp out in some God-foresaken desert somewhere to wait for months for the opportunity to watch the flyboys get all the credit while they get blown up on all the mines the planes somehow missed when it�s time to walk into the territory under the sky we own.

And remember just what counts as winning the war, anyway ..."The enemy cannot press the button if his hand is damaged!"

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:18:00 PM


We had intended to begin this morning's blogging with an apology for our absence, but then just as we sat down news of Michael Kelly�s death in an MVA on the front lines hit the Internet.

Sullivan, and indeed the entire blogging community, have taken notice.

For a nice reminiscence from one more qualified to speak to him as to the kind of person he was, see Josh Marshall.

We�re sure that, privately, Michael Kelly was as good a soul as everyone says he was.

But we can only speak to his public, published persona, and while any death diminishes all of us, and Kelly was the only pundit daring to put himself in harm's way, let us make note of his journalistic legacy.

Unfortunately, it is not a good one on balance.

Let the good (his coverage of the first Gulf War) not be interr�d with the bones. But let the evil live after him, too.

Aside from his growingly dyspeptic prewar columns, let it not be forgotten that, whatever damage Andrew Sullivan may have done to The New Republic, it was always reversible. Whereas the magazine still hasn�t fully recovered from the descent into unreadability its editorials assumed when Kelly was at the helm.

If it were only just his writing ... Marshall and others, like TAPped, seem curiously determined to talk about what an old-style newsman, a throwback, he was.

Perhaps that was how he presented himself. But let it not be forgotten as Kelly�s soul rises to what we still genuinely hope is rest eternal that there is no one, no one, more responsible for the whole Stephen Glass debacle, after Mr. Glass, than he.

When some of Glass�s early victims like the Center for Science in the Public Interest contacted Kelly about some of what Glass had reported, he fired off angry letters to them that accused them of being politically-motivated spinmeisters. It never occurred to him to consider that the brilliant young reporter might have carefully made up something he knew would so confirm his editor�s Weltanschauung that he would forget to ask what his sourcing was.

On and on it went until Martin Peretz, for a variety of reasons that are still not fully known to anyone else but likely stemming from Kelly�s decision to take his private little war from Clinton to Gore, kicked Kelly out. It was left to his successor, Charles Lane, to ask Glass the questions and fire him the instant he copped to creating a phony story about computer hackers (and Lane himself is long gone from TNR�s premises, too).

Paying no price whatsoever for this, Kelly bounced over to The Atlantic and The Washington Post, where his screeds against anything and everything Bill Clinton became noted for their vile and incoherence. As well as the occasional falsehood. Still he was published and admired.

And now that space is blank. We can only hope that the Post at least will consider filling the slot with an honest-to-goodness liberal, one who gives as good as he or she gets, someone like maybe ... Atrios?

Bury Michael Kelly and grieve his death. As well as his career. He went off to the Middle East to fight against what he considered to be a terrifying jihad, never realizing how he had became part of another one at home.

Let no one consider naming any journalistic fellowships, chairs or awards after him. His sins in his private life were his business, and now God�s. But his sins against the Fourth Estate in his public life affected all of us, and for that reason should not be so casually brushed aside.

posted by Sully 4/04/2003 02:05:00 PM

Thursday, April 03, 2003


Besides taking note and making light of Sullivan�s tiff with Marshall over the last couple of days, Grady Olivier of Warblogger Watch lets �er rip on The Sage of South Goodstone�s recent attempt to apply just war theory to the current hostilities.

It�s a doozy:

Sullivan�s are not the usual flat-earth notions, ignorant dogmas, and under-informed speculations of the typical warblogger. He presumably knows better. Sullivan is allegedly possessed of a graduate education � from an Ivy League school, nonetheless � and is regarded to know enough about his Church�s teachings to be trusted with the task of lecturing the readership of Time about Catholicism. Yet his histories are privileged, which is to say empirically false, and his interpretation of Christian just war theory is at obvious variance with doctrinal consensus. The confluence of his mistaken cognitions and his curious theological precepts is an unappealing sight which gives one pause to ask why a man would choose to so fully cram himself full of shit.

Sullivan�s latest exercise in homiletical cynicism is handily reprinted in slightly modified form at his accurately titled �Unfit to Print� vanity site as �A Just War:
The morality of ousting Saddam.� Just war theory, in its most noble strains, toughens the presumption against war and heightens the threshold before resorting to same. Sullivan subscribes to the degraded version which posits a checklist of questions requiring a perfunctory answer before dropping the MOABs.


Just as Sullivan endlessly exercises his rawmuslglutes, so must his readers exercise skepticism when tangling with the reptilian columnist. Recall the paean to democracy he issued last week while discussing polls pointing to �an enormous swing toward the pro-war camp� and its counselor Tony Blair: �Heck, I�d vote for him next time. Blair is teaching an old lesson: if you lead, they will follow.� Translated from the Sullivanian, that is, �Send out an army of invasion without any popular support to speak of first, then watch the plebes fall into line after the fact.� Sullivan�s vision of democracy is as debauched as his interpretation of the just war tradition, to which we now return.

Unlike the question of just intent, Sullivan does engage the question of �last resort,� the necessity of exhausting all alternatives prior to launching a war. Unfortunately Sullivan exhausts only his readers, or those among us who remember what he wrote in the recent past. Assiduously and untiringly aping the Administration as per his usual, and making its projects his own, Sullivan has long wanted this war. Whatever designs the unelected President has on Iraq, they predate the various crises used to rationalize the current bloodshed. Mega-dittoes for Sullivan.


Sullivan poo-poos the Afghanistan nay-sayers and urges a campaign against Iraq which �will be a broader awareness within the Muslim world that we should not be messed with.� I�m waiting for the learned Reverend Rippedfuel to direct me to the corresponding passages in Augustine that provide moral sanction for the manipulation of terror.


The above is Sullivan at his worst: wielding a hardcover copy of Michael Walzer�s book as a cudgel against those who presumptuous enough to interfere with his idolatry of weapons systems, and writing bunk history that completely ignores relatively accessible fact. The Afghanistan he uses to scold those among his audience who questioned the ease with which the U.S. can work its magic � much less the morality of the act � bears next to no relation to the Afghanistan that appears daily in the papers. Sullivan�s �Blog,� so far as I can tell, has yet to even mention the weekend�s fatal ambush. Kabul, the erstwhile oasis presided over by Mayor Karzai and his ice cream man assistant, was just hit by rocket fire, damaging the international peacekeeping force headquarters located �across the street from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy.� Mullah Omar, despite a $10 million bounty on his head, renewed his calls for war on America, with 600 Islamic clerics singing back-up.

And those are just stories filed in the past few days. Sullivan would rather ignore them, inconvenient as they are to his bizarre fantasy of Saracens rushing to meet the invading Crusaders with flowers. The market for such delusions in Andy Land seems on a maniacal run, what with the success of Sullivan�s recent fund-raising drive and the objectively third-rate material he�s been offering for sale as of late. While others are doing substantive work that will be remembered for decades, Sullivan squanders his access to elites and offers only fraudulent theology, false history, and platitudes to power. That in addition to his wearisome denunciations of an ever-lengthening list of stooges, appeasers, brain-dead peaceniks, and anti-war activists often collectively slandered as Jew-haters. This, of course, is all consonant with the work and Word of the Jesus Sullivan reveres.

(link ours)


posted by Sully 4/03/2003 01:27:00 AM

Wednesday, April 02, 2003


Reader J.B. informs us that the Assyrian Christian Church, two of whose members Sullivan had said approvingly experienced �changes of heart� about the war after going over as observers, is actually rabidly pro-war.

Now, of course, they have their reasons. But they should nevertheless have been accurately represented by Sullivan.

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 09:36:00 PM


Philadelphia Daily News columnist Debbie Woodell rebukes Sullivan for trying to keep gay groups out of the war debate.

But no matter where you fall within this spectrum of opinion, it is appalling that some people think the gay community has no right to support or oppose the war.

Chief among that crowd is writer Andrew Sullivan, who was not content to ask in The Advocate, �Regardless of what you think about the coming war, why on earth should a gay group take this issue on?� He continued with a diatribe over the NGLTF�s �leftist� agenda and accused it of dividing the gay population. Never mind that his rightist views have alienated many on the left.


Well, forgive me for the hyperbole, but our nation has not had a moment like this in our history for a generation. Why wouldn't people speak out about the war?

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 09:30:00 PM


Quiddity also had, a couple of days ago, the link that led us to this piece in The Observer on the utter predominance of neoconservatism on the American right, and as a result, indeed, the world, by Will Hutton (and by the way, it serves nicely as a rebuttal to Sullivan�s Time piece on Blair).

There�s no specific quote we want to pull, but it�s worth reading because one of the underlying points is just how little neoconservatism is understood outside of the U.S. (Yes, we think we�re so transparent to the rest of the world, but we�re not).

That�s why it�s all the more important to blog about these things, so that the world may understand what a formidable, ruthless foe it is up against. And that we�re not all going along with it so willingly.

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 09:08:00 PM


The first inkling we had gotten that resistance to overthrowing Saddam might be stiffer than anticipated came almost two months ago, when Quiddity Quack did this detailed analysis of Iraq�s internal-security apparatus as outlined in a British intelligence dossier.

We read it back then and meant to blog it, but other events overtook us. We hereby rectify that mistake, even though it�s little more than locking the barn door after the horse got stolen.

From the looks of things, there aren�t all that many people devoted to civilian control. Perhaps 20,000 in a country of 24 million. One in a thousand. (We strongly suspect that�s a smaller ratio than that which prevailed in East Germany back in the Stasi days.) In any event, it may not be true that the Iraqis are wildly in favor of a regime change. Thus, the quick collapse predicted by administration hawks might not happen � and a longer, more difficult fight may be in store for U.S. troops.

At the time that was going against conventional wisdom, although we made a note for future reference as Q-Squared is pretty damn good at this sort of thing, and could not be easily dismissed.

Now it looks quite prescient.

But the real issue here is, if an unknown blogger can put this together by closely analyzing information available to the public via the Internet, what had our intelligence people come up with? And was any of that allowed to reach the First Ears and/or Eyes?

Perhaps one day this will be the subject of a congressional hearing.

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 08:59:00 PM


The Blog Queen, in preening over his traffic stats, seems to be trying to leave you with the impression that his growth is astronomical compared with The Nation�s website, noting in passing that the latter has been around for over a century.

Yeah. Like it�s really had that wesbite for all that time?

We also like his notation that this site is �in the black with no debt.� Any takers on how long that lasts? He did suggest he would be running a pledge drive every six months.

UPDATE: A look at the blogging ecosystem shows that Sullivan is actually slipping by that measure, on fewer blogrolls than Atrios and Instapundit.

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 08:47:00 PM


Josh Marshall keeps it coming re that Times editorial:

[Sullivan] seems to have missed the deeper point of the editorial: that the immediate military problems are not so bad, but that the Pentagon�s and the administration's political assumptions were poor and that they don�t presage positive results in the future.

He then asks, as so many of us have so many times, �Why the selective reading?�

Why, indeed? We�d say it�s because Andrew Sullivan has long since become a disingenuous, power-worshipping propagandist. But perhaps now that someone of Marshall�s stature (�the most credible liberal blogger,� as Sully himself says, not that we don�t disagree with the substance of that assessment but one has to note that he pretends almost no other liberal blogs (except, say, TAPped) exist) has asked the question, perhaps Smalltown Boy will be forced to answer it. For if he doesn�t, it looks like he has something to hide.

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 08:44:00 PM


Hmm ... Lee Siegel for Poseur Alert? Could that Harper�s piece (see blogroll) have anything to do with that?


It�s not enough to argue with Marshall � he�s also got to try to sneer at him with this Von Hoffman award for �predictions� that don�t come true (as we said recently, it�s a good thing he himself is ineligible).

But it�s worth remembering that Atrios today links to The Nation�s David Corn, who reminds us that similar scenes from Safwan on the first day of the war have been followed by recriminations and tough questions from the civilian populace in those areas over the loss of power and water and, indeed, normalcy itself:

A question: is it a war of liberation if the �liberated� ones don�t consider it so? When John Donvan, an unembedded ABC reporter visited �liberated� Safwan, a Southern border town, he found the residents there more resentful than appreciative. �They saw the US-led invasion as a takeover, not liberation,� he recounted. Toward the end of the first week of war, there were news reports that thousands Iraqi exiles in Jordan, some of whom had previously fled Iraq to escape Hussein's repression, were heading back to Iraq (or considering doing so) to join the fight � not against Hussein, but against the United States. It wasn�t that they were rushing to defend Hussein. They wanted to protect their homeland from a US invasion. To these people, this is not a war of liberation. And the Iranian-based leader of the Shi'ite opposition in the South issued a statement urging his followers in Iraq not to rise up, not to support the American invasion of Iraq (and not to fight for Hussein either).

On March 31, the London Times reported that refugees outside Basra were throwing stones at British forces. �British soldiers sitting on their Warrior vehicle,� the story noted, �looked stunned when a couple of packets of sweets that they had thrown to children were hurled back by their fathers.� Several thousand refugees fleeing the city have been forced to pass single-file through a checkpoint. The Brits did not bother to have translators present who could explain why they were making people faint with heat and dehydration wait. Nor did they have water or medical assistance for these Iraqis. One refugee, who shook his fist at the British, told a reporter, �I have no love for Saddam, but tell me how are we better off today when there is no power, no water. There are dead bodies lying on our streets, and my children are scared to go to bed because of the shelling.�

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 01:05:00 PM


Sullivan continues tit-tatting with Josh Marshall, revealing in the process that he utterly doesn�t know what he�s talking about, and can�t really be bothered too much with the facts, or, indeed, reading those which Josh marshalls to support his argument.

I see no evidence that we are holding back from Baghdad because we don�t have sufficient troops.

But the Fourth Mechanized Infantry is still waiting to be called into the theater and their heavy equipment is on ships working their way through the Red Sea. That alone justifies saying so. We need more heavy armor to smash through entrenched defenses in a sprawling, large city. We don�t have it yet, and everyone knows it.

What difference does it make if we take Baghdad in four weeks rather than two?

A lot. Scroll down here to some of our excerpts from TPM and you�ll see what we mean.

To refute Marshall�s second point, Sullivan changes from wide-eyed na�vet� to outright misreading.

But ordinary Iraqis are not harrassing our supply lines. Paramilitary Saddam loyalists are.

How does one tell the difference? Note, too, that Marshall uses only the word �Iraqis� ... of which only a deliberately broad interpretation would permit Sullivan�s parsing.

The he goes off the cliff of credibility:

What if we'd done what Josh seems now to support: a massive 1991-style 500,000 troop, lumbering onslaught through the deserts? Wouldn't that have looked much more like an invasion than the current action?

Huh? How does the current action not look like an invasion? How is any military action, even with just a dozen troops, where you land uninvited on a country�s shores and start marching on their capital city with the intent of removing their leader from power not an invasion? What parallel universe do you have to live in for this to be true?

And would that have been more useful in getting rid of fedayeen in street-fighting? I can see the Arab press now writing up the huge invasion force as a new imperialism

Like they aren�t already? And isn�t it funny how only when it becomes useful to him to rebut Marshall does Arab popular opinion become meaningful to him.

Perhaps the Turkish refusal to allow border-crossing from our troops hindered things a lot.

You think? Frankly, if you were going to have this level of troop strength, no invasion without a northern front should have been considered.

He then accuses Marshall of setting up an impossibly high standard of success for the next couple of months and proposes one of his own (keep that in mind). Never mind that Marshall has, perhaps in response to this criticism, put up instead of shutting up, making a very important distinction in a very entertaining way:

And now I�ve heard their new line: I have to go on the record with what counts as �victory� and �defeat.� By this they mean, how many weeks or months and how many US casualties? Does victory in two months count as success? Is more than three months a failure? Does under 500 battlefield deaths count as success? Over 500? People who are critical of the conduct of this war apparently have to choose their numbers to be credible.

You start to see how these folks operate. It�s sort of like our national debate over the war is a big Iraq-war office pool, like with the NCAA championships or the NFL playoffs. (�I put down for six months and 843 war dead! It was a longshot. But I won big! My foreign policy cred is now assured!�)

But this game-playing is either foolishness or a deliberate attempt to shift people�s eyes from what�s really being discussed. Duration of combat and numbers of casualities aren�t yardsticks for measuring victory or failure. They�re costs you incur in achieving your goals. So the numbers game � in days and bodies � is bogus. The question is, what are we trying achieve and how close are we to achieving it.

Taking our war goals at face value, it seems to me we're trying to achieve four things.

1. To elimate Saddam�s WMD capabilities.

2. To create a democratic or at least quasi-democratic Iraq, which � because it is democratic � has a positive ripple effect throughtout the region.

3. A more stable Middle East, which breeds less terrorism.

4. A more stable and peaceful world order made so by the example of the destruction of Saddam�s bad-acting regime.

He�s not too optimistic at the moment.

Sullivan concludes with his sincere hope that this will lead to the rosy, optimistic scenario so beloved on Seventeenth Street, whereby this is the opening move in a game that ultimately ends with a democratic, peaceful Middle East.

Fine. But he gives no indication of what he thinks we do if this fails. Do terrorists and states that support them come after us with WMDs in 2005 rather than 2015? What if, in the attempt to force the moment to its crisis, amid the tea and cakes and ices, you end up making the resultant crisis worse than it would otherwise have been?

posted by Sully 4/02/2003 12:56:00 PM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003


The Mighty Reason Man has a string of good responses to Smalltown Boy lately:

On his BBC obsession:

So, basically, he�s angry that the BBC isn't lying about the progress of the war, because if they made it seem like the war was proceeding perfectly, the Iraqis would feel free to rise up en masse against Saddam and end the war quickly.

Aside from the rather...flawed...nature of his assumptions, what Sullivan doesn�t seem to quite get is the fact that the BBC is a news organization, subject to all the ethical constraints that that entails. While the possibility that the factual BBC reporting is dampening Iraqi�s will to dissent is an unfortunate side effect, it does not nullify the BBC�s basic responsibility to its primary audience: the British people.


Tinkering with this process is extremely dangerous because it is tinkering with one of the foundations of democracy itself. Besides, who does Sullivan suppose should decide what should and should not receive this �special� kind of coverage? Should it always be used in wartime to help end hostilities as quickly as possible?

In that case, most members of the American press corps are traitors, and Matt Drudge should be shot, for hampering the war effort in Bosnia by forcing a sitting President to devote huge amounts of time and resources to an adultery scandal.

Somehow, I don�t think this is what Sullivan meant.

On the continued France-bashing:

The alliance with France is now over? Is this man out of his mind?

The fact that people who share Sullivan�s deranged worldview actually occupy key positions in our government (Richard Perle, anybody?) and are capable of influencing our foreign policy is one of the main reasons I think I should drink more.

And lastly on the conflation of guerilla warfare and terrorism:

While the line between a guerrilla and a terrorist is pretty fuzzy, it seems that irregular surprise attacks by small groups upon military targets of an overwhelmingly superior invading army are textbook guerrilla tactics.

Although the distinction may seem fairly minor, semantic accuracy is important during wartime, when rhetoric on both sides escalates to white-hot levels.

This is especially true when the deliberate choice of words is itself part of a larger intellectual effort � in this case, the linking of Saddam�s regime to terrorism.

While I would like this to be a solitary knock against Sullivan, the confusion (or deliberate obfuscation) between �guerrilla� and �terrorist� in this case is sufficiently widespread to merit a more broadly-targeted rebuke.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 06:45:00 PM


Quiddity Quack has a table boiling down Sullivan�s apologia to, roughly, �In other words, it�s fine for the Administration to make wild assertions because the public is smart enought to know to dismiss them.�

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 06:26:00 PM


You�d expect Sully to be a little more sympathetic to Arnett, wouldn�t you � after all, he should know what it feels like to get sacked from a high-visibility journalistic position.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 06:14:00 PM


This bit really disturbs us:

Wouldn�t that have largely removed the chance � even if it were an outside one � of psyching out the Ba'ath leadership and possibly cracking the Saddamite machine at the outset? Part of what the administration was trying to achieve, it seems to me, was a psychological coup against the Baghdad leadership. If they could out-psyche the Ba'athists, convince them they were doomed, we�d have had much higher chances of winning this quickly and well. The problem, of course, was that the message designed for Saddam was also one heard by the domestic audience, and so was a set-up for disappointment.

Damn, that pesky domestic audience. After all, all they do is vote and pay taxes.

If you need any further proof that the neocons make policy from some distant planet, cut off from the great American masses, here you are.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 06:12:00 PM


We�re glad to see, again via TAPped, that we�re not the only ones seeing a potential parallel between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Israeli junket into Lebanon 20 years ago. Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg writes for the online version of the Prospect (and remember this is in a country that will supposedly be benefiting the most from this adventure, the only one where a majority of people support the war):

It was Sunday night, four days into the war, the night that everyone but Americans first saw footage of U.S. prisoners of war in Iraqi hands. �Bush�s war is getting tangled up,� said the TV anchor on the country�s most popular prime-time news show. �America is sinking deeper in the Iraqi quagmire.� That wasn�t Egyptian TV, or French, referring to �Bush�s war.� It was Israel�s Channel Two. And the Hebrew word translated here as �quagmire� has a very specific connotation: It conjures up Israel�s disastrous war of choice in Lebanon in 1982.


Reporters, who themselves have learned the hard way that patriotism doesn�t mean trusting generals, have been scandalized by the behavior of the American media. The subtext has sometimes boiled down to this: My God, this is Lebanon again, but lots bigger.


The war�s second day, correspondent Dan Scemama said on Israel Radio that his American colleagues reminded him of Israeli journalists during the Lebanon War � reporting in uniform and submitting to censorship.


Three days into the war, Channel Two reported that among the war reporters, the Americans are �obedient� while the Brits ask tough questions at briefings and use derisive terms for their U.S. colleagues. The next morning, Israel Radio�s Washington correspondent, Yaron Dekel, complained that the U.S. media provides lots of pictures but little info. By that night, Israeli news programs were airing extensive footage of the POWs -- and noting that the American media had acceded to the Pentagon�s request not to show it. The meaning, at least as I heard it, was that the U.S. administration and press were still protecting Americans from the most basic fact of war, the one that every Israeli parent thinks of each time a son has a birthday and is one year closer to draft age. Meanwhile, Israeli broadcasters were dismissing as �psychological warfare� the American claims that Saddam Hussein was killed in the first attack and that his TV appearances were faked.


But criticism sometimes also laid into the heart of American strategy. Guy Bechor, an Arab-affairs expert from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said on a talk show that the Americans planned the war without understanding that Iraq�s Sunni Muslims are tied to Hussein and are scared of what will happen when he�s gone. And the Shia? Ofra Banjo of Tel Aviv University wrote that back in World War I, the British also regarded themselves as liberating Iraqis from Ottoman rule. The Iraqis didn�t see it that way, though, and the Shia led a revolt against the British.


At least for the moment, it appears that Israel can�t go off high alert until the United States confirms that there�s no danger of missiles or chemical attack. Yet the Bush administration would be unhappy confirming that � because then where are all those very bad things that made war necessary in the first place? My kids, therefore, will be carrying gas masks to school again tomorrow. The irony is that if the Iraqis throw very bad things during the battle for Baghdad � at U.S. troops or at Israel � there will be secret sighs of relief somewhere in Washington.

As the coalition forces started admitting casualties, Scemama made one of his last reports before being ejected from Iraq. �Speaking from the Israeli viewpoint of having experienced wars that started easy and got complicated,� he noted, �it appears to me that this won't be so easy.� Lebanon, again. In that war, Israeli columns that enjoyed an overwhelming advantage in numbers, technology and training took a week to reach the outskirts of Beirut. Then they settled into a long siege of the capital, while the death toll mounted on both sides and international outrage grew. In the south, Shia Muslims eventually took up arms against the occupiers, with Iran�s support.


The parallel, of course, isn�t complete. Israel didn�t face weather problems in Lebanon. The United States began its offensive on the eve of an Iraqi summer that could be as agonizing as the Russian winter was for Napoleon. Nor was the supply line to Beirut anywhere near as long as the road to Baghdad.

Still, for Israelis who remember the funerals of the horrible summer of 1982, it�s striking to hear Americans switch from �shock and awe� to saying that the war will last months. The parallel could be coincidence; the Iraqi army could crumble tomorrow. Then again, those who don�t take the trouble to learn other people�s history seem very ready to repeat it.

Well, Gersh, what would you expect from someone who seems to have learned all he thought he needed to know about Israel when Ariel Sharon took him up in a helicopter and he saw that Israel is, oh gosh, nine miles wide in some points?

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 06:07:00 PM


TAPped on the Daschle letter:

Pitiful? No. What�s pitiful is that he has to ask. Daschle speaks the truth. And when Tom DeLay, a draft avoider, questions the patriotism of Tom Daschle, an Air Force veteran, Democrats should be taking to the airwaves with outrage.


When a bully takes a swing at you, you swing back. It�s just that simple. Voters know it. And they won�t vote for a party that lets itself be bullied.

We�d just like to add that if Democrats had shown the kind of spunk months ago that Iraqi irregulars are showing now, 47 Americans might just be enjoying the company of their families and friends yet.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 05:52:00 PM


If we seem to have become the Josh Marshall fan site, that�s because he�s been punching way above his weight lately (and that�s saying a lot).

Today he took it upon himself to respond at length directly to Sullivan�s criticism, making some of the points we did but, naturally, better:

What I have said fairly clearly is that some major mistakes have been made on the planning of this campaign, but that our actual military situation isn�t all that bad. What I do think is that the conduct of the war to this point has shown pretty clearly that our political situation is much worse and that the political assumptions on which the administration based its policy were deeply flawed.


[It]seems inarguable to me now that Don Rumsfeld under-gunned the force we sent to the Gulf and that we�re paying a price for it now. What else does one have to say but that we�re two weeks into the war and one of the most important components we really need on the ground in Iraq is currently on the ground in Texas? Frankly, that seems like pretty good prima facie evidence of a screw-up.


... [O]ur ultimate goals are political, not military.

The administration premised virtually all of its strategy and most of its tactics on the assumption that the civilian population would treat us as liberators. Unfortunately, that basic assumption has been shown itself to be fundamentally flawed. Our military strategy was based on the idea that the Iraqis would be so happy we�d shown up that they wouldn't harrass our supply lines on the way to Baghdad. That hasn�t panned out.

Far more importantly, the administration�s regional and international diplomatic strategies were also based on this assumption.


Now to the second point: Sullivan's contention that I�ve �staked a certain amount of cred on being just, well, so much smarter than anyone in the administration, but a hawk as well� and that I have an axe to grind because I�m �one of those neolibs [who is] trying to be hawks without being neocons.� [We don�t quite remember this sentence in the post we read. Could Sullivan have deleted it due to its poor grammar?-SW]

I�ve heard this criticism a number of times. But I�m not quite sure what to make of it. The idea seems to be that there is something brazen or illegitimate about being serious-minded about national security and comfortable with the use of military force in foreign affairs and yet still not willing to sign on to the party line of the Weekly Standard. What does this mean exactly? I can�t for the life of me see the problem with being a �hawk� on some issues and yet still resisting every point of enthusiasm or ridiculousness that this or that �neo-con� signs on to.

All I can figure with Sullivan, in this case, is that he wants to create a false dualism in which everybody is either a neo-con, a fellow traveler of neo-cons, or else some hopelessly soft-headed peacenik who secretly longs for Saddam�s affection. I can see where this would make the debate easier. But I don�t think it�s a realistic view of the situation.


[I] don�t like watching people risk American blood, treasure and honor on unproven and often improbable theories. I don�t want to see similar mistakes made in North Korea or on the West Bank or in Europe or elsewhere. And I don�t want to see these folks passing the blame off on others.

It�s very important that the American people know that people in this administration acted recklessly and unwisely since that�s the best way to prevent it from happening again.

(Emphasis in original)

Well said.

We�d also like to add that Sullivan should be one to talk about making predictions.

He told us that Pim Fortuyn�s martyrdom heralded a new European popular conservatism ... less than a year later, infighting in the Pim Fortuyn List brought down the Dutch government and the party itself has dissolved. He told us that the Turkish parliamentary vote against allowing U.S. troops on that country�s soil to be used against Iraq would lead in one week to either a successful revote or a collapse of the current government ... well, several weeks later U.S. troops struggle with no base for a northern front and the Erdogan government is doing just fine, thank you.

Anyway, a big sloppy wet kiss to Marshall for his efforts.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 05:46:00 PM


If Sully is going to jump all over the Nick de Genovas of the world, shouldn�t he find this as bad, if not worse?

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 05:27:00 PM


Speaking of Sawicky, he�s got an answer to both Sully�s criticism of Peter Hitchens�s Spectator criticism of the war and Sully�s aside that the left is �unembarassable.�

Peter Hitchens notes that the idea of using force to liberate people is a non sequitur, which is true as far as it goes. The Left would note that the idea of the USG using force to that end is even less tenable. If you�re on the �soft� left, you think the record in such endeavors is very bad; if you�re �hard,� you think the malign motives (individually-based or systemic) of any such enterprise doom it to failure, as far as liberation goes. On a practical level, of course there is no crime in circulating all cogent anti-war arguments, whether you agree with them or not. After all, the other side is doing the same. They talk liberation while urging more ruthlessness and attendant civilian victimization on the part of the military.

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 05:25:00 PM


(You may be reading this post much later than it was originally written due to ongoing problems with Blogger ...)

The Columbia Spectator article about Prof. de Genova has the suggestion that there may be an entirely different reason for what Prof. de Genova did:

�He and the press have hijacked this teach-in, and I�m very, very angry about it,� said Jean Cohen, Professor of Political Science, who first had the idea for the event. �It was an utterly irresponsible thing to do. And it�s not innocent. ... This was a planned undermining of this teach-in.�

Cohen emphasized that De Genova had not originally been invited to speak. He was replacing Kimberle Crenshaw, a law professor who dropped out because of a medical emergency.

�At the last minute someone couldn�t speak, and he just kind of appeared,� Cohen said. �... He ended up on that platform by accident, almost by manipulation.�

Cohen said that as soon as it was clear that there was an opening in the program, De Genova was �right there, all ready with his speech � which makes me suspicious.�

�It�s bad luck that there was an opening, but he was all too ready,� she said.


Poornima Paidipaty, a graduate student in anthropology, spoke for many of her colleagues in an email distributed among graduate students this weekend.

�It is curious to me that only his speech was picked up by the press,� she wrote. �Keep in mind that there were 30 some speakers, who covered various topics and political positions over the course of 6 hours. But somehow, the remaining remarks hardly raised an eyebrow.�

Something�s going on here that practically begs to be dug deeper into. The professor�s own, rather lame, self-defense doesn�t lend itself to the suggestion that he is some neocon mole agent provocateur. And Max Sawicky has, as one might expect, a sober analysis of de Genova�s remarks from a turly leftist perspective.

An academic feud prosecuted by other means? We wonder. It would sure blow The Blog Queen�s pet theory out of the water.


Last night, we committed a Sullivan-level error by referring to a former U.N. ambassador as �Jeane Fitzpatrick.� It�s Kirkpatrick, as we well know.

We also see that, further down there, we used a "THEN" where we meant "THAN." The perils of hit-and-run media ...

posted by Sully 4/01/2003 05:21:00 PM

Monday, March 31, 2003


Finally, after being shown up repeatedly by Josh Marshall, Sullivan responds.

It took a little work to find the nut of his response, but this seems to be it:

What I don�t understand is why a two-month campaign that ends up with major forces in Iraq, the liberation of Baghdad, and the end of Saddam isn�t still a huge success. Just because it isn�t an amazing, sudden victory doesn�t mean it isn�t a victory.

This is the classic response of the presidential candidate in quadrennial Februarys: �We still won the primary, even if we won by only two points when you guys had predicted a rout.� Everyone sees that as spin then, and it�s still spin now.

It�s as much about expectations as about actual results. Regardless of whatever outs they gave themselves (yes, you, Sullivan), whatever they say when they backtrack, the fact is that the masters of this war repeatedly insisted this would be the easy part. They should get down on their knees every day and thank the American soldier and marine, the only thing keeping them from egg-faced embarassment right now.

And, since he brings �NoKo,� Syria and Iran into it, what have they learned? That determined guerrilla resistance can be more of a problem for the world�s mightiest army than anyone imagined. Will the neocons re-evaluate now? Unlikely.

(Consider also that North Korea has 600,000 citizens under arms ... the world�s fifth-largest military, and that their citizens truly are as effectively propagandized into supporting the regime as Sullivan believes Iraq to be (for the record, he should stop using the word �totalitarian� to describe the Iraqi government ... any despotic autocratic regime that can�t stop its citizens from watching the BBC and CNN on satellite TV. �Severely authoritarian� would be a better word, using Jeane Fitzpatrick�s infamous calculus)).

What facts does Josh have on the Iraqi civilians turning against us? Sullivan must not have read his site lately. Today, after linking to Sy Hersh�s must-read New Yorker piece, he tells us:

... [T]here�s yet another troubling development. We continue to hear that it is only the presence of the fedayeen Saddam that is preventing more Iraqis from rallying to our banner. I have no doubt this is true to some degree. But it is at least partly belied by the apparently substantial number of Iraqis who are leaving Jordan to go back to Iraq to fight against us.

The flacks at the DOD now say they may release new information on Saddam's repression and human rights violations. But this has the troubling sound of an institution and an argument in a feedback loop. We know Saddam�s a beast. The fact simply doesn't seem to be leading to the result that some had anticipated.

The story he links to has this graf:

They know it could be dangerous, but these Iraqis are desperate to get home � to help their families and their country.

�To prove that I am a real Iraqi, I must go,� said a baker from Basra. He has six brothers who are fighting coalition forces in Basra.

British forces have surrounded Basra, a city of 1.5 million people, hoping it can be wrested from the control of President Saddam Hussein�s government without the need to fight street by street.

�If I had to walk to Basra, I�d walk,� the baker said.

Yes, you read that right. Basra. The city where we were to have expected the least resistance and the most support.

And these are people who have spent the last few months or so living in Jordan, well out of the reach of the Mukhabarat. You know? The same ones Sully spoke of so highly when rebuking war protesters for ignoring Saddam�s depravities.

Neocons like Sully�s onetime boss, Martin Peretz, have often sneered at the concept of Iraqi national identity, saying the Shiites in the south, the Sunnis who run the country and the Kurds up north have little in common other than being predominantly Muslim and having had their provinces of the Ottoman Empire conglomerated into a nation by the British and the French after Paris.

Well, the neocons have accomplished one thing with this war ... if there wasn�t an Iraqi national identity before, there is one now (minus the Kurds, of course, who still might have stood to benefit from this if we hadn�t sold them out to the Turks in exchange for ... uh, the chance to really make an ass of ourselves).

And Josh also has this if you really want to worry:

On CNN last night, Wes Clark made an interesting and ominous observation, which he said he based on recent conversations with various region experts. The gist of it was that we have a four or five week window to finish this up. And if we don�t do it before then, a bad chain of events kicks off. Saddam starts to look strong, like he�s making a stand against America, and so forth. Then Arab or non-Arab Muslim volunteers start streaming into the country to take up the fight. Basically, instead of just being angry and marching in their own countries because they think we�re clobbering Iraq, they decide that Saddam�s actually making a fight of it and go to get in on the action.

You know what that scenario means? Not defeat, of course, certainly not, but a much bigger public-relations and force-protection headache for the U.S. as tons of ill-trained kids either get captured and sent to Gitmo as terrorists (assuming it can hold more, that is), killed in difficult judgement calls (both of which will result in yet more video of anguished Arab mothers on al-Jazira and al-Arabia) or shaheed themselves and any nearby U.S. troops in more actions like what we saw last weekend.

One thing will, of course, remain the same � Sullivan will be spinning like the wheels of a freshly upended bicycle.

Of course, Hesiod could also be right with this sort of tipping point scenario, whereby things that haven�t been looking so good suddenly turn radically in our favor with the addition of enough of the right kind of military assets.

We do hope he�s the right one. But Marshall�s point, which we and (we think) Hesiod would agree with is that, at the political level, some irreversible damage has been done.

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 09:18:00 PM


Now that we�ve had the time to read it over, we were generally impressed by Sully�s long defense of sodomy, particularly his observation that the writers of one of the amicus briefs supporting Texas, conservative Catholics both, are essentially willing to confer social sanction on premarital sex in order to continue discriminating against gay men.

But it did strike us that in one passage he describes an intellectual phenomenon similar to that we�ve often noted in him as well:

Like Jews, whose persistence brought into question the universal claims of Christianity, so sodomites, in their dogged resistance to change, appeared as a living rebuke to the universal demands of creation.

And like leftists and liberals, so too did their continued beliefs in the potential for misuse of American power challenge neoconservatives� belief in the rightness and morality of their own course.

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 12:33:00 PM


According to that Post story, Colin Powell has picked up the chickenhawk meme as well:

Powell also made a comment that was widely interpreted in official Washington as a jab at Wolfowitz, a frequent nemesis who did not serve in the military.

�When war comes, that�s [casualties] the price that has to be paid,� Powell said on NPR. �And it�s paid not by intellectuals but by wonderful young Americans who serve their country and believe in the cause for which they are serving.�

After checking with Powell, the senior State Department official said the comment �wasn't directed at anybody; it�s just a statement of truth.�

But who else fits that bill? (Many people, we know).

(Josh Marshall is also wondering who�s talking, too).

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 12:19:00 PM


It�s amusing when The Simpsons makes fun of the clich� of kids pestering their parents repeatedly with �Are we there yet?� from the back seat, even if that reference dates all the way back to the show�s early days during the first Bush Administration.

It absolutely ruins the reference in print if you repeat the exchange more than twice, which is enough that we all get the point.

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 12:11:00 PM


If it�s about being contrary to Robert Fisk, well, remember, he took down the serial numbers on the missile fragments he saw and further investigations by those who could hardly be considered fans of his backed him up that it was probably U.S. weaponry, an anti-radar missile that may have been fired at a mobile radar (from what we�ve read, a deliberate trick by the Iraqis to induce civilian casulaties cannot be ruled out). (Thanks Max Sawicky for the roadmap)

This of course leads to yet another reason U.S. Marines must limit themselves to one crappy ration a day:

It will probably take the allied occupation of Baghdad to get to the truth.

The few, the proud, the men who serve Andrew Sullivan.

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 12:08:00 PM


I think I�m going to rename our regular media bias updates as �Nuanced Objectivity Watch.�

Hmm. That couldn�t have anything to do with us pointing out yesterday that �BAGHDAD BROADCASTING COMPANY,� which wasn�t all that funny the first time, had gotten increasingly less so from overuse?

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 11:57:00 AM


By way of showing what a moron National Review Online�s Kathryn Jean Lopez is, Julian Sanchez has this reality check on Arnett�s interview with Iraqi TV:

In a transcript of Arnett�s comments during the interview, he seemed to praise Iraq�s Ministry of Information, saying it has �allowed me and many other reporters to cover 12 whole years since the Gulf War with a degree which we appreciate and that is continuing today.�


After speaking with Arnett, General Electric Co.�s (GE) NBC said in a statement that �Peter Arnett and his crew have risked their lives to bring the American people up-to-date, straight-forward information on what is happening in and around Baghdad.� The network said Arnett's �impromptu interview with Iraqi TV was done as a professional courtesy and was similar to other interviews he has done with media outlets from around the world. His remarks were analytical in nature and were not intended to be anything more.�

As Sanchez notes, there are legitimate questions about what Arnett said and journalistic ethics (UPDATE: and those questions have cost him his job) but to suggest the whole thing is part of some mass propaganda effort is ridiculous. (Original link via Atrios).

As for Prof. de Genova, he was unquestionably idiotic, but the email Sullivan got should have set him straight.

Apropos of this and again via Atrios, Adam Felber has joined us in picking up on the tendency of Sullivan and others of his ilk to focus on the domestic response, almost to the exclusion of the real war:

I�d thought that the blogosphere was going to be a great place to keep track of the war and follow the debate over its coverage, a place where the actual events in Iraq would be dissected for their political and tactical ramifications. Unfortunately, it looks like the Hour of the Blog has passed, with its finest hour (the fall of Trent Lott) now a footnote.

The problem is that many of the so-called �warblogs� simply won�t come to the table. Even the flagships of the genre, like Glenn Reynolds� Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan�s site seem to be laboring under the weird delusion that the real war is being fought right here in America. They spend their days constructing bizarre longhaired straw men and knocking 'em down with a level of high-handed rhetorical smugness not seen since the Clinton impeachment hearings.

We don�t know about Reynolds (and, really, we don�t want to) but as for Smalltown Boy, what would you expect from someone whose self-described shining moment in the battle consisted of walking out of a cafeteria because he objected to someone�s beret?

posted by Sully 3/31/2003 11:53:00 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2003


We�re glad to see that others have echoed our critique of the war plan, as executed, as sounding like it was adapted from any number of failed Internet startups of the late 1990s.

And then reality follows the script. We read courtesy of (once again) Josh Marshall that �Top Army officers in Iraq say they now believe that they effectively need to restart the war.�

Uh, maybe they want to use the word �relaunch�? Or maybe not ...

posted by Sully 3/30/2003 05:21:00 PM


So Julie Burchill, who was last quoted by Sullivan talking about how fun it was to hang out with gay men because they took a lot of drugs, is now a moral authority?

She would have a starting point for her argument, we think, if she would admit that the dichotomy she and others construct between hating war and hating Saddam is entirely a false one. For if it were not, we would be morally obligated to dispatch troops to the many evil regimes that, unfortunately, still hold domain on the planet.

posted by Sully 3/30/2003 04:55:00 PM


It is with some bemusement that we read Sullivan attempting to distinguish al-Jazira from Fox, since the former seems to be a copy of the latter both in style and viewpoint (the elites are screwing the guys in the street, hooray for our side etc.)

As you might expect, Sullivan lopped off the part of the Star-Tribune article that would back up the comparison with data points about FNC:

Fox, despite its slogan of �fair and balanced,� doesn�t disguise its pro-war and pro-American sentiments. On Wednesday morning, Fox anchor David Asman referred to France as �a pebble in our shoe � the U.S. shoe.� Fox reporter William La Jeunesse described the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam as �between a goon squad and a kamikaze brigade.�


The Amras laughed at the notion of Al Jazeera as an anti-American propaganda outlet. They know many Arabs who accuse the network of being a CIA front because it has become one of the major means by which official U.S. viewpoints reach the Arab world.

Long before they were kicked out of the New York Stock Exchange, Al Jazeera�s reporters were kicked out of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia, all for journalism that was considered unfriendly to the local rulers, Wijdan Amra said.

�The Americans think it�s a mouthpiece for the Arabs; the Arabs think it�s a mouthpiece for the Americans,� she said. "Israelis call it pro-Palestinian, and Palestinians complain it�s too sympathetic to Israel.�


Octavia Nasr of CNN, who monitors several Arab TV networks and produces a CNN report called �Arab Voices,� said that for all the U.S. notoriety the footage of dead and captured troops has received, she is struck with how minor a role such footage plays in a day of Al Jazeera coverage.

She ascribes most of the differences between Al Jazeera and CNN to differences in access. Al Jazeera showed more wounded and angry civilians in the bombed Baghdad neighborhood because they have reporters there and CNN doesn�t. CNN has more reporters in Washington, so it shows more interviews with U.S. officials.

Next, Sullivan will claim that Little Green Footballs is objective and fair to the Palestinians.

posted by Sully 3/30/2003 04:50:00 PM


�Bush gets it exactly right� (well, of which we have seen little lately) is now joined by �BAGHDAD BROADCASTING COMPANY� and �EMAIL OF THE DAY� as motifs of that would make Orwell blush.

We really suggest Sullivan stop relying on people like the good Henry Hanks�s real-world avatar, people who still believe blather such as the following fiskee:

Once again the media � which is almost genetically anti-Bush

Cf. What Liberal Media?

... has whipped itself into hysteria fueled by the hope that he will fail. I believe their hatred of him is the motivator and they are indulging in a kind of optimism that this will be his Waterloo.

He might have a whisker of a point, except for the fact that Bush�s prior career is basically a series of Waterloos (Texas ANG, Arbusto, Spectrum 7, Harken). It gives little reason to expect that he could brilliantly handle getting the United States into its first major land war in decades.

But my point is that the more they screech that we are losing, the GREATER the glory of victory.

So, it�s not enough to win, but to make people think you are going to lose and then win?

They are walking into a political trap of their own making.

See what Josh Marshall has to say about this (you�d almost think Sullivan posted this by way of rebuttal, but one still likes to think he could summon his own words and thoughts to the occasion instead of having to rely on this nitwit).

Any politician�s career is hardly an important thing compared to the outcome of a war. Bush knows this. He does not care that he is risking all on this.

Try to imagine a world in which those sentences are actually found in an econium to Bush.

And the writer leaves out an important point ... it would be one thing if Bush were the only one assuming all this risk, but he�s not. It is shared by not only those on the front lines but all those of us at home, for a lot more than we realize today depends on future American credibility and international relationships which the Bushies have so foolishly slashed and burned.

He has a deeper aspect to him that Clinton � a more "intelligent" president � never had.


For Clinton, political victory is the epicenter of the universe. For Bush in this particular, protecting the country is.

He says this about an administration with Karl Rove in an active role? Please. We don�t even think Rove himself would swallow this.

They have seen the casualties on their side. They can do the math, comparing our twenty something deaths with their hundreds, perhaps already thousands.

Yeah, but they still OWN Baghdad and a good deal of Basra as well. To say nothing of Tikrit and Kirkuk ...

Wouldn�t you love to play football against this guy? You could win, but he�d still claim victory because his team gained more yards.

This wouldn�t be complete, of course, without Sullivan as usual hedging his bets

I think it�s too soon to predict the course of this war. But there�s a pretty good chance this emailer could be right.

Of all Sully�s increasing intellectual tics, this is the one getting to us the most. If he used it more sparingly, we�d give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just being prudent. But he says it now about practically everything, and given his well-documented snakey behavior we�d say it was coldly calculated.

posted by Sully 3/30/2003 04:38:00 PM

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