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August 21, 2006

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From the end of the Washington Post piece by Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack: How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008)

Yeah, because godforbid anyone should consider the problems that the Bush administration created in the Middle East in the past five years to be a matter for contemporary debate, or should influence their vote in 2006.

Oh and thanks, Hilzoy, for the links: have a great time in Sweden. Aquavit is fantastic stuff, by the way....

I am always interested to see former supporters of the war talk about what has gone wrong, and basically say it was due to bad execution.

Please correct me if I was wrong, but are there any people out there among the pundits or politicians who say that although they did support going into iraq originally, they now realize that even going there was a mistake?

Hmmmmph. If the rotting Roundhead zombie of Cromwell were to appear, I think he might disagree with Montesquieu.

As for the tax farming story, I'm reminded of that oft-cited difference between reformers and revolutionaries, where a reformer will try to fix a system, and the revolutionary will support ways of making it yet worse, in the hopes that this will lead to a great overturning of the entirety of it. Nearly always ignoring all the costs associated with that overturning, not to mention the danger of an even worse replacement.

Grrrrrrrrr.

Still, should you see this, I hope you have a great time in Sweden. Be careful with the jet lag, though. I visited Finland for two weeks one May and never got over it the whole time I was there.

Have fun, Brunhilzoy.

I don't know about the hooking-in of Iranian nuclear weapons aspirations with the Iraq war, Hilzoy. Iran began building a gas-centrifuge refinement facility long before we invaded Iraq. Based on its level of completion in September 2001, it may even have been in construction during the Clinton administration.

Possibly, certainly, that Iran was antagonized by us, but they've been building nuclear capability for quite some time.

possibly certainly? I'll let others figure out what that means; I have no idea.

Here's a fairly short summary of the evolution of Iran's nuclear weapons programs in recent years.

Enjoy Sweden. But if you see Vikings singing about the glories of Spam, better find another cafe.

As for near-Arctic summers, I hope you bring a sleeping mask. Years ago, I went to Alaska in July, a time when Anchorage has about 3 hours of darkness per night, and the Mt. McKinley area was closer to 1 1/2 hours.

Slarti -- it's less that we somehow created their aspirations as that we have greatly limited our own freedom of action while greatly enhancing theirs. I think we might have been able to stop it without the war. The war greatly limited the number of things we could do or threaten to do, both militarily and diplomatically, and gave them a number of Very Bad Things to do to us, as well as removing their main enemy next door.

eek! the hour of departure approaches...

If you're a semi-carnivore, hilzoy, you should definitely check out the smoked reindeer tenderloin. Mmmmm...Rudolph.

I think we might have been able to stop it without the war.

That'd be an interesting topic for a blogpost of its own: how we might have persuaded Iran to step AWAY from the nuclear material had we not committed so heavily in Iraq.

I just realized I wrote a comment about Rudolph's smoking loins...so I ought to throw it in for the day, maybe.

I second JakeB.'s comment regarding outsourcing, at great expense, the collection of taxes from farmers.

This is a win-win for the Revolutionaries. Destroy the dreaded bureaucracy. Then create a situation wherein people rise up against its replacement, which really is just a form of gangster/bounty hunter reality show. Voila, no money for government.

I'm warning the Republican Party. You destroy it; don't ever think of taxing me again to get any of your hated government back. The next tax revolt will be from the Left, and it will not be the gradual descent to "no taxes" we have now; the show will be over.

As for Vikings: one thing I learned on a visit to Sweden is that "Vikings" is pronounced "Viekings" will a long "e". Somehow, "Blimey, here come the Viekings, those pests," doesn't sound nearly as fearsome as "Run for your lives and hide the women and livestock. Here come the Vikings!"

Kirk Douglas and Ernest Borgnine starred in the movie "The Vikings". With the true pronunciation, Wally Cox and Bjorn Borg would have been better casting.

Have a nice trip, Hilzoy! Take a swim in the Baltic.

See about climatic changes while you're there.

Now I really am going, but one last amusing footnote: I have just spent 45 minutes trying to reconfirm a whole bunch of airplane tickets for tomorrow. Why? The credit card company got all suspicious because, in a very short period of time, I charged a whole lot of small donations to charities, followed by airplane tickets within Sweden, got suspicious, and put a hold on my card.

Had I left for the airport a couple of hours earlier, I would have arrived in Denmark to discover that I wasn't going to Sweden after all.

Thanks, credit card company.

(The small donations being, of course, the Lebanon pledge drive. Attempted good deeds do not go unpunished.)

Hilzoy: Why? The credit card company got all suspicious because, in a very short period of time, I charged a whole lot of small donations to charities, followed by airplane tickets within Sweden, got suspicious, and put a hold on my card.

You just can't trust those damn Swedes...

Slarti writes: "That'd be an interesting topic for a blogpost of its own: how we might have persuaded Iran to step AWAY from the nuclear material had we not committed so heavily in Iraq."

So heavily, yet not heavily enough to win. Iran knows we're maxed out on troops, and that anything we do to them is going to be limited to bombing. And they know that bombing alone is no way to get us anywhere.

Speaking of bombing Iran, they also know that the current administration is a bunch of suckers for fake intelligence. Some of which was provided by a man with Iranian connections.

I'm guessing that Cheney's office has a prized stack of intel exposing the locations of Iran's nuclear and defense facilities.

And it's all completely fake.

Slartibartfast--

And here I was going to add a bit about how delicious fricaseed reindeer can be and decided it was too indelicate.

(Since we're talking about Scandinavia, nice work on designing those fjords, by the way.)

And it's all completely fake

but it could be true. and we just can't take any chances - smoking guns, flypaper, midterm elections and all that.

Not only is our military maxed out, but any move against Iran, including airstrikes would 1) get the entire Irani population behind its current leadership and 2)cause a general uprising in Iraq by the Shiites against our troops.

Thanks George.

are there any people out there among the pundits or politicians who say that although they did support going into iraq originally, they now realize that even going there was a mistake?

John Edwards.

Have a wonderful time, Hilzoy! A good friend is biking through southern Denmark and up through Sweden beginning this week; maybe you'll pass on the road...

Re: the Byman/Pollack article, I think Jim Henley has a valid, if somewhat spittle-flecked, take:

Kenneth F**king Pollack writes to tell us that civil war in Iraq is a very bad thing. Honest to god, this kind of thing is all the explanation this blog’s frequent resort to profanity requires. Ken baby, it’s your civil war as much as anyone’s. Pollack did more than anyone to encourage the famous “liberal hawks” to provide the bipartisan patina so useful in getting the Iraq invasion started. In the Army, someone would have long since left him alone in the study with a pistol and the discreet interval required to make the only appropriate gesture of regret, genuine atonement being impossible under the circumstances. In Japan he’d be a picture of the different ways light reflects off entrails and cutlery. In Washington, he gets to write new articles, as if he were an epidemiologist and not Typhoid Mary.

Emphasis added due to funnyness.

I'm late here, and Hilzoy is surely way gone already, but I since I missed this yesterday I felt like commenting.

If Sweden is anything like Norway, and I know that it is, she should find the internet pretty much everywhere. Even tiny little towns here have internet installed in a local cafe. And most hotels have access. And, failing that, the rate of people on the net in Norway is far higher than that of the US (not to mention broadband, which way more than half of all residents here have. I have a 3500kbit/s line and I only pay about 30 bucks a month) and I would suspect the same to be true of Sweden.

And reindeer is fabulous. Not only the steaks, which is the richest, tenderest steak you will ever eat, but the stew with reindeer, juniper berries and a cream sauce poured over potatoes is to die for. And for all the animal rights folks out there, whale is pretty tasty as well. Kinda like a beefy tuna steak.

Yeah, sitting pretty here with 8mbit/s-line, which is on the low end for broadband in Sweden. No, the net will be there, Hilzoy. Everywhere. Trust me on that.

Well, it's only AMOST everywhere -- meaning, in the hotel lobby, though not in my actual room.

I won't be trying reindeer -- I do periodically relax being veggie in order to try something truly exotic and strange, but having been in Sweden before, I have already eaten what's known here as renkalvsfilé (if memory serves.)

My Swedish (fluent 25 years ago) is creaking back, though oddly I am much better at saying things than at understanding. It's usually the reverse. I also find that, annoyingly, German has started to bleed into my Swedish -- annoying both because it is literally getting in the way, but also because I like Swedish better, as a language.

when you wrote "literally getting in the way", did you mean that as a figure of speech?

;)

[i think that's the appropriate emoticon. i'm not much for using them.]

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