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February 26, 2006

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Completely random factoid. My brother studied with Cohen at SAIS, back in the Wolfie as Dean days. (Though he has not, AFAIK, ever supported this war, knowing well that Bush is an idiot.)

The last paragraph of his mea culpa is definitely worth reading:

There is a lot of talk these days about shaky public support for the war. That is not really the issue. Nor should cheerleading, as opposed to truth-telling, be our leaders' chief concern. If we fail in Iraq -- and I don't think we will -- it won't be because the American people lack heart, but because leaders and institutions have failed. Rather than fretting about support at home, let them show themselves dedicated to waging and winning a strange kind of war and describing it as it is, candidly and in detail. Then the American people will give them all the support they need. The scholar in me is not surprised when our leaders blunder, although the pundit in me is dismayed when they do. What the father in me expects from our leaders is, simply, the truth -- an end to happy talk and denials of error, and a seriousness equal to that of the men and women our country sends into the fight.

This guy Cohen is self-evidently a horse's ass. If we fail in Iraq -- and I don't think we will... Why bother to give him any respect? I am quite serious in this question. Our job is to point out that the king has no clothes -- not participate in the pretense.

Jan--I don't think I'm participating in any pretense. I'm a firm believer in taking seriously the ideas that animate and motivate one's adversaries. I don't believe he's correct, and I think I made that point. But it's important to understand where these lunatics are at in their thinking. Cohen is, from all accounts, a serious scholar. His arguments in terms of civilian leadership are, I think, worthy of serious consideration, and from what I know of history, quite possibly very astute. The problem, however, is the one that's bedeviled a lot of the neocons from the start: they have little or no empirically and historically informed knowledge of Iraq. They're all theoreticians and polemicists, and when you combine it with their overweening hubris, they're destined to get wrong their dreams of transforming Baghdad into a Montecello of the Middle East. But they're going to cling to their messianic beliefs, so it's important to see where they're going to go in blaming the failure of their messianic dreams.

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