July 10, 2007

Quote of the Day

Ehud Olmert: "Bashar al-Assad, you know that I am ready for direct talks with you."

Heh. Guess Olmert finally prevailed on Bush (read: Cheney, Abrams, etc) to let him put out a feeler to his counterpart in Damascus. Still, they'll be many a long face around the AEI conference room tables this week at this renewed display of cowardice. Bolton will be livid (his cheeks will turn a deep scarlet, and his moustache will bristle, helped along too by the summer heat). Ledeen will sputter on rabidly and, of course, incoherently ( about "Syran" or such). Pletka will nod her head knowingly in agreement, expressing deep woe, and rueing yet another display of Olmertian meekness. Juniors will then join and holds hands too, and someone will call Elliott wanting to know how it all happened. And so on.

Then everyone gets to go home to sleep in Chevy Chase or Bethesda, far from the crisis zones. Which is the point with all these 'more Catholic than the Pope types', no? They rant from afar, while your quotidian Israeli has to live with his or her neighbors, however unsavory, for a helluva long time. That's why you talk to enemies sometimes gang, cuz it's a big, mean world out there, at least outside the fantasy world of 17th Street, where one can simply topple the Saddams and Bashars and Ahmadi-Nejad's, hand out the Federalist Papers to the rapturously grateful masses in the main square of the capital, and swiftly move on to the next scheduled gig.

Meanwhile, the Syrians reportedly say (rather predictably) 'nyet' for now (which will precipitate the AEI crowd frothing even more loudly that this was display of abject weakness, click through NRO's Corner later today, there will doubtless be a reference somewhere...), but nonethless you can be certain there's more complex back-channeling than that afoot, and regardless such feelers, even if not leading to imminent talks, at least have as effect reducing the chances of another disasterous summer war...

P.S. Meantime, and with an obliviousness to his ignorance on foreign policy matters so total that it can only be described as somehow charming, if in a poignant way, Glenn Reynolds is proudly manning the ramparts of the blogospheric 'know-nothing' brigades, as is his wont, announcing simply: "Syria Invades Lebanon", sans the merest smidgen of context. Well, yes, Glenn, Syrian troops might have gone 3 kms into Lebanese-Syrian border areas, as they've done for many decades, and by that standard, you can be assured Turkey has invaded Kurdistan, Iranians agents parts of Iraq, even potentially special Saudi forces Sunni areas of Iraq abutting the Kingdom, Israel Gaza, and so on and on. So what should we do now Glenn? Invade all those bastards messing with our allies Olmert and Maliki and give 'em a good licking, Nashville style? Tell us more, please, at least when you're not busily spewing out links to assorted ignoramuses dumping on just about each and every sane policy prescription of the past half-decade (Note: I'm not speaking of Totten here, a well-meaning blogger whom, while I don't read him regularly, at least by the post Glenn linked to appears to have gotten a bit carried away by all the charms of Beirut during his various pass-throughs...). Anyway, I propose a new motto for Glenn: Think before you link, even for just a second or two, or at least provide a modicum of context, as any reasonably educated Yale Law alum might deign to do. But I'm keeping my expectations very low, as prior experience would amply counsel...

Posted by Gregory at July 10, 2007 09:51 AM
Comments


http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2005/05/cant_we_all_just_get_along.html

May 19, 2005

'There's an increasingly nasty spat brewing between Andrew and Glenn. As these are my two favorite bloggers, all told, I'm a tad saddened they are quarreling so.'

Posted by: David Tomlin at July 10, 2007 02:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Followed the link from Yglesias, and posted there as well: Glenn Reynolds is in Knoxville (Knox County in 2004: Bush 62%, Kerry 37%), not Nashville (Kerry 55%, Bush 45%). It's a red state overall, and Nashville's surrounded by rabidly Republican collar counties, but it's nowhere near as bad as east TN.

Posted by: latts at July 10, 2007 03:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David -

There are a lot -- a lot -- of former Reynolds fans who recognize that Reynolds is hopelessly naive on foriegn policy matters, yet fancies himself an expert. This would be particularly annoying to members of the Republican party foreign policy establishment, of whom BD is an honorary member and whom Reynolds routinely mocks -- directly and implicitly -- nevermind that they were proven right on Iraq, right on Israel, right on the GWOT (or whatever it goes by now), right on NK, and a whole host of other issues. Indeed, if the Republican party is going to claw itself back from the brink and reclaim its mantle as the party of grownups, it needs to rid itself of Reynoldsian hyperidealism.

We need to stop living in a Tom Clancy novel. It hasn't worked.

von

Posted by: von at July 10, 2007 03:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Reynoldsian hyperidealism."

I'm not sure that the word idealism in any form applies to the Nutty Professor's "more rubble less trouble" worldview. Reynolds is a cynic and a pessimist who believes that brute force, or at least, the constant threat of it, is the only foreign policy tool that matters. That's as far from idealism as you can get.

Posted by: Chris Wren at July 10, 2007 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

thanks von.

Posted by: greg djerejian at July 10, 2007 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not sure that the word idealism in any form applies to the Nutty Professor's "more rubble less trouble" worldview.

It surely does: you have to be an extravagant idealist to believe that military force will actually achieve the outcomes desired by Reynolds, rather than making things worse. The same instinct that causes some folks on the left to believe that the sins of the world will be absolved via the magic potion of understanding, negotiation, and the UN drives those on the right who think that we are only one (more) good bomb-dropping from a Middle East of goodness and happiness.

Posted by: von at July 10, 2007 05:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


There are a lot -- a lot -- of former Reynolds fans . . .

Indeed.

I never took Reynolds seriously for a second. I find it hard to take seriously anyone who ever did.

Posted by: David Tomlin at July 10, 2007 06:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you have to be an extravagant idealist to believe that military force will actually achieve the outcomes desired by Reynolds, rather than making things worse.

Is this the same Von who wrote this? Seems like only last year or so this other Von was still angrily wagging his finger and lecturing the defeatist Dems for not getting behind the Prez and his plan 110%.

Ah, memories.

Again, glad to have you on board the sanity train, Von, but geebus grist, maybe next time you could get on a few more stops ahead when it could do some frickin' good instead of when it simply becomes impossible but all for the Reynolds of this world to ignore the festering trash heap rotting on the front door step.

Posted by: Azael at July 11, 2007 01:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

[M]aybe next time you could get on a few more stops ahead when it could do some frickin' good.

That's the real issue; remembering this calamity and giving the back of your hand to every politician and appointed official who created it. Not just now, but in every election cycle from now on, until the last of the Bushies is out of politics altogether.

Reagan-Bush I was Nixon redux; Bush II is Nixon/Reagan/Bush I in its penultimate deadly blossoming. In 10 years, or 20, as surely as the seasons turn, there will be another gang of demagogs who apprenticed under Bush II looking to use fear and hatred again to get elected, after which they will rape and pillage the country again.

Don't just oppose Bush now. It doesn't do any good anyway: he's beyond political pressure, and just doesn't give a damn what happens to his Party (he's never cared much what happens to the country).

Oppose the GOP which is still trying to protect him by refusing to vote for any bill or order which might rein him in and get our troops out of Iraq. If you have a GOP Senator or Representative, tell them you want them to vote with the Democrats. Oppose all the major GOP Presidential candidates, since not a single one of them has renounced Bush's policies.

And never, ever, vote for any candidate who was part of the travesty; no one who aided and abetted, enabled and covered for, Bush now. No matter what they're running for, no matter what they say. Not even people like Hagel or Lugar, because when push came to shove, they backed down.

Posted by: CaseyL at July 11, 2007 02:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's worth noting that the piece Reynolds links to is by Michael Totten and it's not the first time Totten decided to post something with a lot of sound and fury without digging a lttile deeper and oh, getting some facts and perspective behind him.

He decided to bash John Kerry on Haiti, a position which was easily refuted, decided to use a comment by a downright Francoist newspaper that the "Spanish media are blasting Prime Minster José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as as the anti-American asshat that he is", when in fact major papers like El pais were doing nothing of the kind and makes silly assumptions such as assuming that Charles Taylor left Liberia because of US warships off the coast, ignoring the work of the ECOWAS nations and all other efforts to get Taylor to leave.

I believe he means well, but posts like the one Reynolds linked to is journalism in the tradition of Hearst. I respect the fact that he has decided to attempt to make a career of it, but I think that there are others who do a much better job with much fewer resources than he has.

Posted by: Randy Paul at July 11, 2007 03:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is this the same Von who wrote this? Seems like only last year or so this other Von was still angrily wagging his finger and lecturing the defeatist Dems for not getting behind the Prez and his plan 110%.

Yup, same Von, who wrote (in December '05, mind you, not "only last year"):

The only question we have to answer is what to do now to give us the best chance of winning (or, at least, not losing) Iraq. Some say that pulling out will give us the best chance of victory. I disagree, and not just because it sounds like a stupid idea.* Although I've been deeply critical of this administration's policy on Iraq, there have been some hopeful signs that the present course is finally starting to work. We just had an immensely successful election. The army and police are beginning to be rebuilt. The outcome is not yet certain -- for all we know, the Iraqis just elected Sauraman as their leader -- but there's room enough to keep from despair.

Does this mean we airkiss "bygones" and rally behind the President? No; this ain't an episode of Ally McBeal (which, for good reason, has been canceled for quite some time). But it does mean that we rally behind the mission.

We have to succeed in Iraq. We will not succeed if we preemptively declare defeat and go home.

And, yes, I stand by it: the outcome wasn't certain in December of 2005 - not based on what we knew in 2005. But, then, the President again failed to commit the necessary troops. And he kept on a failed SecDef for another year. And the elected government that started with so much promise failed. And so on.

My goal, at every point, is to achieve the best possible result in Iraq. Leaving at the end of '05 would have been a mistake - and it would have been a mistake even with the benefit of today's hindsight.


Posted by: von at July 11, 2007 07:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Stopped in to see if the blog had gotten any better. IMO it used to be one of the best and I was an avid reader. Haven't been back in a while. The sarcasm and personal attacks really lowered the level of discourse, and I'm sorry to see that it's still ongoing.


Posted by: David in DC at July 11, 2007 08:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I second David in DC's comments.

Posted by: Geoff in NY at July 12, 2007 02:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

von:

Leaving at the end of '05 would have been a mistake - and it would have been a mistake even with the benefit of today's hindsight.

What has been accomplished since then that is worth the costs?

Posted by: David Tomlin at July 12, 2007 08:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David -

"What has been accomplished since then that is worth the costs?"

To leave in '05 (or early '06) would mean that there would be no Iraqi government, period. The establishment of an Iraqi government is likely to lead to a less explosive (or fracturered) civil war, because, excepting the Kurds, the competing forces will likely either line up as nominally "for" or "against" the government. Though a full-blown civil war isn't the best of things, to say the least, this kind of war is an improvement over the alternatives.

Posted by: von at July 12, 2007 07:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


von:

To leave in '05 (or early '06) would mean that there would be no Iraqi government, period.

Iraq is a failed state. The existence of a nominal government seems to me to make little difference.

Posted by: David Tomlin at July 13, 2007 04:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can see von's point. At least there is now a political arena in which battles for control over the actual nation can be fought, a national radio station to be occupied etc, rather than only local, tribal/neighborhood mini-statelets fighting against each other.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at July 13, 2007 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Disagree with David in NYC. Although it probably wouldn't do any harm to make the exact same point regarding instapundit, with less repetition and theater in the language.

Changing the basic message would be a mistake, and I suspect that's the camouflaged agenda of the seemingly polite posters.

Posted by: glasnost at July 17, 2007 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pointing out the simplistic, elastic, manipulative, essentially misleading nature of the headline "Syria Invades Lebanon" is not a personal attack, it's a highly neccesary descrambling of the meaning of words and the context of state action. The bitterness adjectives towards Reynolds is optional, but well earned.

Posted by: glasnost at July 17, 2007 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


More About the Author
Email the Author

Recent Entries
Search



The News
The Blogs
Foreign Affairs Commentariat
Law & Finance
Think Tanks
Security
Books
The City
Epicurean Corner
Archives
Syndicate this site:
XML RSS

Belgravia Dispatch Maintained by:
www.vikeny.com

Powered by