Wednesday, August 23, 2006

You Know It's Bad When...

It's no secret that the circulation numbers over at The New Republic have been dwindling at a steady clip over the past handful of years, but you know it's bad when the Editor-in-Chief doesn't even bother reading the output.

OK, technically speaking the piece I'm referencing didn't appear in the print edition, but it was featured on TNR's blog just a couple of days ago - and generated a good deal of blog-related buzz. In that piece, Spencer Ackerman made the case that using the term "Islamofascist" was utterly counterproductive in that it served to alienate and antagonize moderate Muslims in the United States (and abroad) who are our necessary and useful allies in the effort to combat terrorism in the name of Islam.

On the flip-side, there is nothing really gained by using the term which is neither historically accurate, nor particularly helpful in describing the phenomenon that we are now seeking to combat. So, to summarize: high-cost, low-reward rhetoric = not smart.

Yet, despite Ackerman's insight, the very next day (just two blog entries later!), TNR head honcho Martin Peretz offers up this gem [emph. added]:

Oh, and by the way, according to The New York Times this morning, Iran's "supreme leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, (not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who increasingly and wrongly is being treated as a comic figure instead of a madman with post-modern arms at his disposal, an Islamofascist, in fact), announced yesterday that his country will "forcefully" pursue its uranium enrichment nuclear programs.

Well, you can lead a one-trick pony to water, but you can't make him drink. Speaking of "you know it's bad when," the same Spencer Ackerman makes the point today that "you know its bad in Iraq when" we're pining for the days when Iraqis considered us their primary enemy (a point Brian Ulrich also touched on today). Said Ackerman:

[I]n the grand scheme of things, it's better for Iraq (as opposed to being better for us) that Iraqis hate us more than each other: It suggests that after we leave, Iraq will have some future. According to an unfairly-neglected recent story by McClatchy's Nancy Youssef, one of the best American reporters in Iraq, that dynamic is pretty much reversed [...]

Not that this is so new, but the piece is still striking. The only ones who believe the Iraqi security forces are anything beyond sectarian forces, trusted by the people, are those who have a stake in such an answer: the Maliki government, the Iraqi officer corps, the U.S. military command, the Bush administration. Remember that the Iraqi security forces aren't just part of Bush's "strategy" for Iraq, they're the whole thing.

Not to worry. If the whole mission goes sour as the intricate web of internecine fighting tears at the seams of Iraqi society, we can just blame the Islamofascists. That'll make it easier to keep track: One size fits all.

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