Three Questions for Liberal Hawks

Jonathan Chait and Megan McArdle have sparked a wonkosphere-wide debate with two columns/posts so self-evidently ass-saving and idiotic that I was initially loath to even comment on them. Their thesis, if you haven’t heard already, is simple: “We got Iraq wrong, and the anti-invasion people got it right. But our reputations shouldn’t be diminished and theirs should be because, you know, that makes sense.” They use all kinds of straw men to show that people who were against the invasion were reflexively antiwar hippie peaceniks whose viewpoints thus don’t matter; Chait uses Jonathan Goddamn Schell as his shining example of an anti-invasion voice (apparently Brent Scowcroft, Dominique de Villepin and Hans Blix don’t count because they’re not crazy).
But I’ll play along, just for fun. Here are three questions (with sub-questions) that I’d really like to hear Chait and McArdle answer:
1. Did you honestly believe, in 2002, that there was a chance in the forseeable future of Saddam Hussein attacking the United States, either directly or through a terrorist proxy? If so, had you known at the time that Hussein had no links to al-Qaeda and only financed anti-Israeli terror groups, and even then only very indirectly and inconsequentially? If so, why the hell did you think that an attack sponsored by Iraq against America was at all likely? If not, why the hell were you doing writing about a subject that you obviously didn’t know the background facts about?
2. Did you honestly believe, in 2002, that there was a chance that the Bush administration, which was already infamous for its incompetence at economic (the tax cuts) and military (Tora Bora) management, could turn Iraq into a functioning democracy with a troop ratio a quarter of that in Kosovo and Bosnia? If so, what on earth made you think that?
3. Did you actually think that chemical and non-smallpox biological weapons (the only weapons anyone thought Hussein had in 2002) could ever kill enough people to constitute a military threat to the United States? If not, did you actually think that preventing Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons/smallpox five-ten years later (the earliest 2002-era estimated) was a worthwhile reason to launch a war and ensuing occupation? If so, did you actually think Iraq would use them?

Tancredo: Let’s Make America Suck Again

Trying to stomach the fact that it reads like it’s been proofread by a toddler, I scanned Tom Tancredo’s issues page on his presidential exploratory committee website. And I found this all-too entertaining statement, in his section on immigration (which, of course, goes first):

The only realistic solution to the problem of illegal immigration is a strategy of attrition, which seeks to reduce the flow of the illegal alien population over time by cutting off the incentives for coming to and staying in America – most importantly by eliminating the jobs magnet.

Emphasis mine. That’s right, folks – the Tom Tancredo approach to immigration is to make America just horrible enough that no Mexican in his right mind would want to move here.

More Reasons Not To Support Edwards

This Jason Zengerle post seems specially designed to warm the cockles of my heart. It’s supposed to establish John Edwards as a realistic internationalist and not, as Zengerle puts it, a “head-in-the-sand McGovernite.” But it really just confirms that Edwards is really, really stupid:

I went to see [Edwards] speak at a Ned Lamont rally last August in New Haven. If ever there were a place to strike a McGovernite pose–to denounce the war in Iraq and then say nothing else about foreign policy–this would have been it. But in addition to the requisite apology for his initial support for the war and the requisite call for a withdrawal of troops, Edwards said the following:

I want to take just a minute and have all of us together step back and think about what’s happening in the world today, what’s on our television screens every single day. We see the fighting in Lebanon. We see Hezbollah. We see Hamas launching missiles out of Gaza into Israel. We see Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, a guy who claims the Holocaust never occurred, wants to wipe Israel off the face of the planet, a sworn enemy of the United States, trying to get a nuclear weapon. Now you think for a minute about what that means. Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the Saudis will have a nuclear weapon, the Egyptians will have a nuclear weapon, the Syrians will have a nuclear weapon, so then we have a nuclear Middle East, the hottest, most dangerous, most volatile place on the face of the planet.

Emphasis mine. Ignoring the fact that the CIA has no evidence that the Iranian nuclear weapons program even exists (which was only revealed after this speech, so I’ll give Edwards a pass on it), the President of the United States ought to have at least a basic understanding of Middle Eastern politics. Edwards’ demonstrated belief that Ahmadinejad actually matters – at all – shows that he lacks one. So not only is understanding comparative advantage too much of a toughie for poor old Johnnie – elementary comparative politics is too. And let’s not forget that in 1998 he didn’t know who Yitzak Rabin was. All this ignorance wrapped up into a tidy little box sure seems Dubya-esque.

Vive L’Union Franglais!

Am I the only one who thinks that this would have been, you know, a really, really good idea?

On September 10 1956, Guy Mollet, the then French prime minister, came to London to discuss the possibility of a merger between the two countries with his British counterpart, Sir Anthony Eden, according to declassified papers from the National Archives, uncovered by the BBC.
…When Mr Mollet’s request for a union failed, he quickly responded with another plan — that France be allowed to join the British commonwealth — which was said to have been met more warmly by Sir Anthony.

Now, the latter idea would have amounted to nothing – England would have approximately the same impact on French politics as it currently does on Canadian politics (that is to say, none). But the former is very, very intriguing. Imagine how much stronger the EU would have been if two of its major population centers were politically unified. Imagine how much this would have hurt the push to invade Iraq in 2003, and how much it would have strengthened NATO by preventing de Gaulle’s pullout. There are so many implications of this, and they are almost universally positive. Maybe I’m just a junkie for regional integration, but this seems like a major missed opportunity.

Back From Fishing

I’m back from this. So, since Thursday, Denver’s been selected as the 2008 DNC location (that’s good), Ron Paul’s announced his campaign for president (that’s pointless), Edwards went to Harlem (that’s tasteless but predictable), and Obama looks like he’s going to announce on Oprah (that’s awesome). But none of that matters. Eric Alterman doesn’t like the Stooges. That demonstrates such a complete and utter lack of any, any musical taste that it makes me disinclined to finish Alterman’s Springsteen bio that I got as a gift a while back (even though the 50-odd pages I’ve read of it were excellent). Hell, it makes me want to send Alterman a care package with Iggy and co.’s self-titled, Fun House, and Raw Power, then go to his house and force him to listen to them non-stop for five weeks or until he can’t stop singing “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” whichever comes first. Seriously, Alterman needs our help.