My friend HeadHunterPundit sent me this recent column from Taki. I responded as follows:
I like Taki, particularly his gossipy column in the Spectator. But he has been deeply mistaken about this whole Iraq thing all along, and it is a pity that he has signed on with the certifiably mad Pat Buchanan. This column is just one more egregious example.
Taki says “hear, hear” to this: “unless we address the reason these people hate us, we will never be safe.” The way we are going to address the reasons these people hate us is by liberating Iraq and imposing not “democracy” generically, but free institutions to the extent possible. (See links here.) The bottom line is the Iraqis are capable of a much better government than they have now, and it is both humane and good policy for us to help them achieve it. And since when did he become a “root causes” liberal?
He also implies that this type of thing cannot be imposed by force. Wrong. Despite mythology to the contrary, it has been done by force pretty much every time. Democracy is not a hothouse flower. Democracy comes at bayonet point. The British Parliament fought a civil war against the Crown. We did the same thing. Western Europe is democratic because of American tanks. The whole stupid litany that “war never solved anything” barely needs rebuttal. War solved whether we’d be ruled by England, it solved whether a slave-owning confederacy would secede or not, it solved whether the Third Reich would continue to exist, it solved whether the communists would take over Vietnam. War resolves all kinds of important questions, sometimes favorably. It will resolve that Iraq is not going to live under a junior-league Stalin much longer.
Taki writes that “Saddam will die amid the rubble, and the Arab world will sink into despair” — there is no evidence for this, either. Al Jazeera had a poll recently, and Saddam’s stock is at an all time low in the Arab world. In George Patton’s words, people love a winner and despise a loser. The Arabs are stuck with crappy governments. They’d like to be rid of them. In that, they are no different from anybody else. Our long-standing policy has been to support and sustain dictatorships in the Arab world for the sake of “stability.” 9/11 showed we weren’t buying a very good brand of stability. Time for a new approach.
Taki then contradicts himself and says “the Arab street” will rise up and do … what exactly? Have some riots? Maybe. Probably not. And, anyway, why does it matter?
“America has a habit of leaving the scene, as in Vietnam, for example. Does anyone truly believe that we will sit in Iraq for the next 25 years trying to establish a democracy?” Wrong again. We are in Puerto Rico 105 years later. We are in Korea 50 years later. We are in Germany nearly 60 years later. We are supporting Taiwan through thick and thin after 55 years. We’re in Bosnia with no sign we’re ever leaving. The idea that America has no staying power is a falsehood which can’t stand five seconds of reflection. We left Vietnam because the Communists waged a relentless and successful war against us, backed by the Soviets and Chinese, and we only left after losing tens of thousands of ours and killing hundreds of thousands of theirs. There is no analogy. Saddam has no friends. Any guerrilla resistance will have few friends, certainly not a nuclear-armed superpower as a backer. No one is going to push us out of Iraq. There is no analogy to Vietnam at all.
“Saddam’s dying words,” Taki says, will be: “I never thought I’d live to see the day — when a Bush would make me a hero.” — No chance. Saddam is not a hero to anyone. There is essentially no nostalgia for Hitler in Germany. There will be none for Saddam. Hitler was a thug who led his country to disaster. Same with Saddam. The Iraqi people are his victims. Neither they nor anyone else in the Arab world will see Saddam as a martyr. They will see him as a nutcase and a failure.
Taki’s biggest problem seems to be that he doesn’t like Jews. This little quip: “Sharon’s — sorry, Bush’s — next target” shows Taki’s baseless belief in a Jewish conspiracy behind all this. The fact is that the Israelis are very upset that Bush has repeatedly said that there is going to be a Palestinian state. The Israelis have always opposed that. The Bush family has never been particularly pro-Israel, and this Bush isn’t particularly pro-Israel. The last thing the Israeli Right wants is some kind of legitimate Palestinian entity it has to actually deal with and talk to rather than shoot at. Bush is jamming a Palestinian state down their throats. So much for Bush being a puppet of ”the Jews.”
Taki recalls that Bismarck said that the some piece of real estate was not worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier. Bismarck was talking about the Balkans, an area of peripheral importance then and now. However, were Bismarck miraculously restored to life and plunked down at the table with Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice it would not take a lengthy power-point presentation for the old man to see that the Persian Gulf area with its oil supplies is a highly critical area for the United States and the world economy. Moreover, the Middle East is the source of potentially devastating terrorism, and this must be addressed proactively. Again, no analogy whatsoever to the situation Bismarck was facing. A more apropos quote from Bismarck would be this: “It is not by speeches and debates that the great issues of the day will be decided, but by blood and iron.” I’d like to send our resurrected Bismarck to the UN to tell that to M. Villepin, Herr Fischer and Tariq Aziz.
Taki, the astute and cynical man about town, the world-weary but good-hearted and well-spoken wastrel, a man who is usually so perceptive and funny, has completely lost his marbles on this issue.
This whole ugly business has had the strange and distressing effect of dividing all kinds of people who by rights ought to be on the same side. I’m looking forward to having Taki back onside. Maybe he needs to be deprogrammed from his recently acquired “Buchananism.”