Monday, June 11, 2007

The Mind of Mendacity

Rob Farley so thoroughly eviscerates this New York Times op-ed by Peter Rodman and William Shawcross, that the entire effort is worthy of Quote of the Day honors. In lieu of reprinting the whole thing (and because you really should read the rest at LGM), I'll leave you with two of my personal favorites (with Rob quoting the op-ed, then adding his own commentary):

The [US] defeat [in Vietnam] had a lasting and significant strategic impact. Leonid Brezhnev trumpeted that the global "correlation of forces" had shifted in favor of "socialism," and the Soviets went on a geopolitical offensive in the third world for a decade. Their invasion of Afghanistan was one result. Demoralized European leaders publicly lamented Soviet aggressiveness and American paralysis.
I'm almost impressed with this. You'd think, given that the Eastern Bloc collapsed in 1989, that Rodman and Shawcross would be embarrassed to make the "but we'll lose the Cold War if we leave Vietnam" argument.
You'd be wrong...


Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it....

What is it with right-wing hackery and Orwell? Am I wrong in thinking that Orwell would be spinning in his grave if he knew he were being used, so consistently, in such a fashion (Christopher Hitchens is an entirely separate problem)? Anyway, it would have been helpful if Shawcross and Rodman had grappled with the fact that countries don't just "choose" defeat; defeat often chooses them. It's not enough simply to say that we have to win; in 1918, Germany "had to win", just as in 1945 Japan "had to win". If we can't win, then we do nothing but exacerbate the "likely human and strategic costs [that] are appalling to contemplate".


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