Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mr Weathervane feels a breeze
Wants to blow it at Obama

"...acknowledging changed ideas in response to changed facts is considered a failing by the political class."

George Packer,
July 2008

I guess Packer is making his claim for full membership in the political class here. Packer needs approval for his changing ideas -- after all, he's been an Olympian weathervane on the war since it was just a gleam in Dick Cheney's evil eye. At first, Packer liked the idea of Iraq invasion. Then it got ugly and he got cold feet. Now things are a little quieter, at least momentarily for those Iraqis who are still around. No use talking about the one million dead ones and the 4-5 million forced from their homes. So he likes it again. He's telling Obama to weasel out of his promise to end the war, to be a good little boy who serves the U.S. imperial purpose.

Oh, Packer was nuanced about the war way back then. He didn't trust the Bushies and the neocons, but he sure liked the idea of the United States laying down the law in other people's countries.

To invade Iraq without immediate provocation is wrong and dangerous; to allow Saddam to threaten his own people, his neighbors, and us is wrong and dangerous; to lift sanctions strengthens him; to leave them in place hurts Iraqis; to disarm him through inspections perpetuates his people's suffering. There is a case to be made for removing a tyrant with a demonstrated willingness to use chemical weapons and a single-minded desire to acquire nuclear weapons, when there's a decent chance of a democratic opening. But the wrong people are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The Bush administration's motives are not democratic and internationalist, and so the consequences of a war are unlikely to be, either.

January, 2003

When it became obvious to anyone with eyes that Iraq was both wrong and FUBAR, he equivocated.

Before the war, I was ready to accept these possibilities as one argument for war, but about this my view has changed: The time I spent in Iraq was an education in the limits of war as an instrument of political transformation and the limits of America as its standard-bearer. Liberal democracy requires participation and consent, and as long as American military power is the prime tool for building it, Muslims around the world are unlikely to change their ideas. We need to decouple America and the promotion of democracy; the Iraq war did the opposite. The fact that tens of millions of Muslims around the world harbor increasingly hateful feelings toward America might not be rational, but it is a serious problem if this is a war for liberalism (as I think it is), though it isn't a reason not to fight worldwide Islamism.

January 2004

A little later he went looking for an escape route -- an escape route from his own previous opinions.

Q: You were "just barely" pro-war when it started.

A: There were compelling arguments -- the nature of Saddam's regime; our obligations to the Iraqis because we left him there (after the first Gulf War) and imposed sanctions, which were destroying the country; his serial aggressions in the region; his manifest desire to arm himself, whether or not he had done it; and the fact that sooner or later Iraq would implode or explode. All of that to me, and most especially the human rights argument, weighed pretty heavily. Obviously there were very good reasons on the other side, notably the regime in this country and my grave misgivings about their ability to conduct the war. I can't say that it was a rational deduction. It was just hope winning out, by a whisker, over fear.

December 2005

Now this weathervane wants to tell the U.S. people who are sick, tired and repulsed by the war that a President Obama should renege on his promise to end it? Obama may eventually violate his promise -- but I think even this candidate so vigorously currently moving to the center has shown he is smart enough to ignore this sanctimonious blitherer.
Thanks to Spencer Ackerman's reporting, we have access to this graph of violent incidents in Iraq since last October. The private contractor Gardaworld advises entrepreneurs interested in doing business in Iraq. It created this image to show prospective clients what they are up against. These guys need to be right, or they are dead.

Get the picture? No real change in the frequency of violent events since last October. Maybe a slight up tick. Would Mr. Weathervane want to live with this?


Anonymous said...

Who is George Packer?

janinsanfran said...

Guess I should have mentioned that he's a prolific New Yorker staff writer and the author of The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq.

On the positive side, he has also championed getting visas for Iraqis who have worked for the US as interpreters.

Nell said...

He's a sanctimonious "muscular liberal."

One who helped spread the psy-ops disinformation about people fed into shredders, by the way, in the immediate prewar period, in a particularly dishonest bit of "reporting": purported transmission of what was said by Iraqi exiles in Brooklyn while watching the beginning of the official invasion on TV in a cafe.

Not to be trusted. People reflexively say what a brilliant piece of reporting Assassin's Gate is, yet his other writing is so full of factual holes that I'd be very interested to see how the book holds up to examination when others take a hard look at it.

Civic Center said...

"The New Yorker" magazine has been just plain dreadful in its advancement of right-wing neoconservative causes for the entire last decade. What makes it even worse is that the history of the magazine up until this period has been very much anti-war and for justice. It's been a degrading spectacle to watch, and Packer's not even the worst of "The New Yorker" writers. I'd put Nicholas Lehmann and Jon Lee Anderson and Louis Menand as the three absolute worst writers, who have all done the world a considerable amount of harm.