May 28, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CVI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Note: This was much better, but MT lost the whole damn thing so I've had to recreate it while drunk, tired and frustrated. Enjoy.

All I want to do is get back to you
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

Everything is going in the wrong direction.
The doctor wants to give me more injections.
Giving me shots for a thousand rare infections
And I don't know if he'll let me go

Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make it, connection
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

My bags they get a very close inspection.
I wonder why it is that they suspect 'em
They're dying to add me to their collection
And I don't know if they'll let me go

Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

Rolling Stones or Richard Cohen in Consistently Disconnected?

On a recent Sunday four men, stripped to their underpants, were paraded through the city on the back of a pickup truck. They were escorted by scores of masked men shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and their backs were bleeding from the 80 lashes each had received for selling alcohol. Later, they were treated at a hospital and released -- another example to the populace that things had radically changed.

Or perhaps that we are being far, far too lenient with this medieval monsters.

Where has this happened, you're probably wondering?

Well, no, actually, because I read the papers and cruise the blogosphere. I know exactly where it happened, but I’m fascinated to see how this is going to be President George W. Bush’s fault.

Well, …


… it's Fallujah,

Like, duh.

… the Iraqi city described by George Bush in the most serene terms in his address at the Army War College the other night.

Something to do with Muqtada al-Sadr leaving, if I remember correctly, after our troops successfully applied careful force where necessary, incorporated new Iraqi security forces into their maneuvers, and avoided leveling large areas as every other conquering imperialist power has always done in the past. Perhaps it is hard to find a way to twist this to benefit John Kerry since there weren’t any free fire zones.

He mentioned the city when he said military commanders had exercised commendable restraint in not leveling the place after American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated and hung from a bridge.

Yes, and your point is what exactly?

"We're making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah," the president told the nation. "Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city."

You know, Dick, at some point Iraqis will be performing all these functions without American troops to back them up, and I’ll bet that even then there will be something above a crime rate of 0.0%. Hard to believe isn’t it, especially for someone who lives in Washington D.C.

But an Associated Press dispatch by Hamza Hendawi offers a different picture.

Well, there’s a surprise. As we all know, they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.

The president's "all-Iraqi security force" has allowed Fallujah to become "an Islamic mini-state" -- complete with floggings and the usual restrictions on women.

Considering the usual need to respect multicultural diversity and Islam, I’m having some trouble understanding why this is a problem for Richard Cohen. It’s not as though he’s been concerned about floggings and the treatment of women throughout the Arab world before now.

In this manner, it has been liberated from both the secular Saddam Hussein and the democratic Americans.

Is this supposed to be clever? Are secular and democratic now in opposition? What do either of these adjectives have to do with anything? Would it have been better if we were talking about the people of Mecca being rescued from the religious House of Saud or the non-democratic Chinese? The days of wine and roses (assuming that’s what it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge) have been spoiled by whom? American troops? Iraqi security forces? What an asshole.

The contrast between what the president said and what the AP reported is jarring, but it is also somewhat typical.

Yes, we have come to expect this of the press.

There was something detached about the president's address.

Not to mention the media reports from Fallujah.

Once again, for instance, he made Iraq the centerpiece of his war on terrorism when, as we all know by now, there was never a proven link between Hussein and al Qaeda.

“As we all know.” I suppose this is supposed to inhibit argument or crush my dissent, but um, sorry Dick. The links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein keep becoming more and more obvious every day. (Interestingly enough, that hyperlink is from an article in The Weekly Standard named “The Connection”.) And have you noticed how “never a link” has now become “never a proven link” in the same manner that “no WMDs” became “no stockpiles of WMDs”? Or as Roger L. Simon wrote: “Have they been conclusively proven? Maybe not (though I tend to think so). But anyone who can assert they are ‘blatantly false’ is either a liar or a fool. Or both.” Since we are talking about Richard Cohen, I vote for both.

He went on in this vein nonetheless, not mentioning that it was weapons of mass destruction we were once after but, …

Still after Dick. Maybe we should start looking in Syria.

… aside from a single trace of sarin …

Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft, who as we all know, is always looking to take away our freedoms?

… uncovered recently and dating to before the Persian Gulf War,

Whoa! It has been dated to before the Persian Gulf War? And who’s word do we have for this besides the discredited Scott Ritter?

… none have been found.

Aside from the mustard gas. Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft to take away our freedoms?

As for terrorism, the president made no mention of the apparent fact that the war in Iraq has proved a boon to terrorists.

Yes, apparently Allah is having trouble making virgins fast enough for them. This particular argument, a variant of “whatever you do, don’t do anything to make them mad,” makes me especially angry. At some point we will have to finally stand up to terrorism. Whenever we do, there is bound to be an redoubling of effort by the bad guys. I can only assume that Richard Cohen has never played poker -- for money.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the war has been a recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Bill Clinton’s “peace” was so much more effective.

Foreign fighters -- maybe as many as 1,000 of them -- have infiltrated Iraq, where they have been able to inflict casualties on American forces.

Um, don’t forget that they are dieing rapidly. And I much prefer that they are facing our armed and trained troops than the soft civilian targets here in the US. Aren’t you?

They have made it even harder to bring Iraq under control

Of course they have. That’s the plan, Dick.

… and, in effect, have suckered the United States into the sort of guerrilla war we tried to avoid.

Of course, but cut and run isn’t exactly how we should respond.

In this respect, Iraq could wind up being an ambush.

Just like Tet!

On another matter, the president also talked as if he has been spending the past several weeks under the bed covers.


He mentioned Abu Ghraib prison as "a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops," when it now seems that those "few" were either following orders or were operating with the silent approval of superiors who simply looked away from torture and abuse.

Oh, please. Is Dick suggesting that “I was just following orders” is now a valid defense? Please name the superiors you are talking about Dick, aside from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush. Say, Dick’s not jumping on the let’s-make-General-Karpinski-a-scapegoat bandwagon is he?

The International Red Cross complained of this early on -- only to get a shrug from the military brass.

Unfortunately, The ICRC and so many others have turned into such anti-American propaganda machines that it’s tough to know when they have a point anymore.

America is trapped.

Don’t throw us in that briar patch!

Having gone into Iraq, we cannot now pull out. In its own region, the country is more important than Vietnam ever was -- and not because it can become a democracy that will be emulated by others in the Middle East.

Vietnam! There, he said it.

It's rather that without an American military presence, Iraq will almost certainly fall into chaos, a bloody civil war that might well draw in its neighbors.

Bring. It. On.

Bad could turn out to be much worse.

For instance, we could have had Al Gore as President.

But having said that, it's hard to feel confident that the Bush administration is prepared for the challenge ahead.


It has been unforgivably incompetent so far, …

Only by utopian standards.

… going to war for one reason, staying for another and layering contradictory facts with Sunday-school rhetoric.

What exactly would Richard Cohen know about Sunday-school rhetoric? Oh, I get it, it’s about those fundamentalist Christains.

Fallujah, a compromised compromise, becomes a sterling success in the president's mouth.

No, just a success. But “in the presiden’t mouth” is a very strange phrase.

A systemic failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions becomes the kinky work of a few.

Wrong. First of all, so far as any of us know right now, it was just the work of a kinky few. Second, I haven’t yet seen anything that indicates that those abused were allowed the protections of the Geneva Convention. If they were terrorists then they certainly were not. I’m not saying that what was done was right, but only that Richard Cohen is leaping to conclusions which cannot be proven.

The war over WMDs becomes one over terror.

Was it ever otherwise? God, what an idiot.

And Ahmed Chalabi, the erstwhile George Washington of Iraq, becomes Benedict Arnold virtually overnight.

Perhaps, though I certainly would never have called him the George Washington of Iraq. And if he is what he is now being accused of, it didn’t happen overnight. Say, who hired George Tenet anyway?

One moment he's Laura Bush's guest at the State of the Union speech; the next he's ranting anti-American screeds in Baghdad.

So, once he’s discovered to be two-faced and possibly feeding information to Iran, he should still be treated with respect?

The Bush administration's rap on John Kerry is that he is inconsistent.

No, that’s humanity’s rap on John Kerry. It comes from paying attention.

The president's virtue, on the other hand, is supposedly his consistency.

Supposedly. And tax cuts.

But to stick to the same rhetoric when the facts have changed, to insist on what is palpably false, to render black as white and to say it all with a childlike faith in civics class bromides is not commendable consistency.

Kind of reminds me of all those columns Richard Cohen wrote supporting Al Gore and ill Clinton, come to think of it. But didn’t Dick just complain that Chalabi was thrown out on his ear when the facts changed?

It is instead the mark of a narrow mind overwhelmed by large events.

Whereas, Dick’s wide mind seems incapable of grasping even small ones.

Posted by Charles Austin at May 28, 2004 11:04 PM

Scourgeous! I have noticed though, that this isn't the first time that MT has eaten one of your posts. I never had that problem myself, but it's been a long time since I put a really long post on MT (and my own blog is run by Wordpress now). What exactly happens when this occurs? I am wondering if keeping the blogs on MT is still feasible. (By the way, the database for all the blogs is a mysql database, I don't use the feeble one that came with MT.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 03:15 PM

It went away to "rebuilding Scourge" and "pinging posts" and when it came back the title was "..." and there was nothing in the body of the post.

Sometimes in the past, I've been able to back up to the previous page when I've inadvertently done something stupid. But not this time.

Posted by: charles austin at 05:52 PM

That's really weird. I wonder if the database is getting cacked. It might also be the pinging that's the problem. If you'd rather, I'll turn that off. When I was posting on MT I noticed that pinging took about a century, and sometimes never finished. I decided to turn off MT's ping capabilities and ping the site by hand. (I just go to Blogrolling and's ping sites and fill in the name and url of the blog.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 12:51 PM