June 28, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, Max Boot and the American non-Empire [Karl]

PJM’s Richard Fernandez notes the debate between Excitable Andy and Max Boot over America’s postwar relationship with Iraq.

Sullivan once asked how having 50 long-term bases in Iraq was not empire, only to adopt a modified, limted hang-out position on his own question about two weeks later.  He still gets itchy over Boot invoking postwar Germany as any sort of historical analogy for a long-term presence in Iraq, arguing that a presence in Iraq will be a perpetual irritant in Iraq.  Fernandez quotes from Boot’s response:

Perhaps [Sullivan] doesn’t realize that the U.S. already has a string of bases in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other Middle Eastern countries. Having visited many of these installations I haven’t noticed a lot of fighting there. In fact they are peaceful and relatively uncontroversial. Granted, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia was more controversial: Osama bin Laden cited it as a justification for his campaign of terrorism. But we now know that was simply a pretext, since his calls for violence in his homeland have not ended even though we have withdrawn our troops.

Indeed, two of the 19 Islamists who took part in 9/11 attacks said in videotaped statements that their actions were inspired by an urge to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.  The US helped protect Muslims in Bosnia and had nothing to do with their plight in Chechnya, which underscores Osama bin Laden’s own comment in October 2001,”This battle is not between al Qaeda and the US. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders.”

As for internal Iraqi objections to the security pact being negotiated, Sullivan seems to believe he is a superior judge of what Iraqis will tolerate than increasingly strong Iraqi government (whose position is bolstered, not weakened, by popular protest) and the US officials negotiating with that government.  Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, has said the US was showing “great flexibility” and that he was confident the deal would be finalized before the current UN mandate expires.  Amb. Ryan Crocker anticipates that the agreement will expressly forswear the establishment of permanent bases, even if such is an exercise in taqiyya to obscure an inconvenient truth, or a face-saving measure in a shame/honor culture.

Thus, it becomes difficult to avoid suggesting — as Boot does — that Sullivan’s objections are similarly obscuring an inconvenient truth, i.e., that Sullivan is now so heavily invested in having the mission in Iraq be seen as a failure that any objection that falls to hand will be wielded as a convenient cudgel.  A US-Iraqi security agreement would make it easier for Sullivan’s favored candidate, Barack Obama, to shape Iraq policy should he be elected president.  But that irony is equally inconvenient — and equally overlooked — by Sullivan.

(h/t Memeorandum.)

Update: Insta-lanche!

Posted by Karl @ 8:00am
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Comments (12)

  1. Indeed, two of the 19 Islamists who took part in 9/11 attacks said in videotaped statements that their actions were inspired by an urge to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.

    I see what has happened here. A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage. That and also being stupid hateful little monkeys.

  2. As for internal Iraqi objections to the security pact being negotiated, Sullivan seems to believe he is a superior judge of what Iraqis will tolerate than increasingly strong Iraqi government (whose position is bolstered, not weakened, by popular protest) and the US officials negotiating with that government.

    AS: But how can I be so wrong when I’m so earnest? …I so want this to be the right answer…all my friends in Provincetown tell me I’m right. It’s so unfair.

  3. The problem is with Wahhabism; more than 90 years since any of Arabia, had any foreign influence; Lawrence was their in the Hejaz, (near Aquaba, remember) made the influence of the Ilkwan tribes of the Nejd, like the Katany, Meteyr, & A’teyba almost unlimited. As Marc Steyn, has pointed out, even the 1945 Saud/Roosevelt understanding which were behind the
    Dhahran (Khobar) basin rights, mandated
    no interference with the Wahhabi creed. “We can have your steel, but not your faith”. Wahhabism, not the Nazis as that Millenium episode suggests were the real victors of the cold war. They used the last twenty years to cement their influence in Pakistan; that a hundred years of British influence helped block; through their funding of the Deobandi
    sect. They have permeated the Egyptian society and bureacracy, through the Brotherhood. They commandeered the nationalist movement in Chechnya. They
    run the Muslim establishment in Canada,
    England, France, Germany. Only in Kosovo and Bosnia; among all of Europe has their influence been effectively challenged. And in Iraq; their outrages
    against Sunni and Shia alike; have earned them a black mark by the people then.

  4. I posted on this yesterday, highlighting the conclusion to Boot’s post – Josh Marshall, Andrew Sullivan, et al., want retreat, plain and simple, damn the consequences.

    Nice posting … keep on these guys…

  5. - In an earlier sentence that should read “San Diego Union”…

  6. Pingback: ZEITGEIST

  7. Jezus effing-effity-eff key-reist …

    the gee-dee phrase “long term bases” refers to construction techniques used *not* how long we plan on being there.

    “We plan on building 50 long-term bases. We’ll be using concrete, asphalt, that sort of stuff.”

    argh.

  8. Boumediene takes a step towards empire since our own Supreme Court has now endowed enemy combatants in foreign theaters with the protections of the Bill of Rights. It’s certainly some measure of our imperial presumption to transfer those rights to people whose religion denies the validity of the Constitution —as it was something made merely by man and not SkyGod.

  9. A post about Raggedy Andy gets spammed by someone trying to sell “Long Silk Dress”.

    Okay, I got nothin’ here.

  10. I can vision him in a moo moo.

  11. I can vision him in a moo moo.

    I would not stoop so far as to accuse Andy of bestiality. But that’s just me.

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