By grotesque coincidence, two of the central actors in the German Third Reich squirmed loose into the world on 12 January 1893 — the 400th anniversary of the expulsion of Sicily’s entire Jewish population. Reichsmarschall Herman Goering — a Bavarian who eventually rose to be Hitler’s second in command during World War II — and the Estonian racial theorist Albert Rosenberg shared fifty-three birthdays on this earth, although Rosenberg managed to outlive Goering by a single day.
As it happened, both were scheduled for execution by hanging on 16 October 1946, as set forth by the judgments of the Nuremberg court. Goering, however, somehow came into possession of a small dose of potassium cyanide, which he ingested the night before his date with the gallows. Abandoned by the man with whom he shared a birthday, Rosenberg nevertheless had plenty of company in his last moments and may not have missed Goering at all. Instead, he ascended the scaffold with Hans Frank (Governor-General of occupied Poland), Wilhelm Frick (Interior Minister), Alfred Jodi (chief of the armed forces operational staff), Ernst Kaltenbrunner (head of the Gestapo), Wilhelm Keitel (chief of staff for the armed forces high command), Joachim von Ribbentrop (foreign minister), Julius Streicher (anti-Semitic editor and Reich propagandist), Arthur Seyss-Inquart (who oversaw the deportation of Dutch Jews), and Fritz Sauckel (whose labor bureau forcibly conscripted millions of unfree workers to advance the cause of the German people). By the time his former colleagues’ necks snapped at the end of a rope, Herman Goering had been dead of a massive cardiac arrest for hours.
Far from Nuremberg on the southern cape of Africa, Pieter Willem Botha — a racist Afrikaner who had grown disillusioned with the Nazis he once openly admired — turned 30 years old that day. A lawyer by training, Botha was only two years away from entering the South African parliament as a representative from the town of George. In 1978, Botha assumed the title of Prime Minister, defending the apartheid system with a noxious zeal that was at times described as “reformist” and “pragmatic.”
In an almost completely unrelated matter, January 12 also happens to be the birthday of Rush Hudson Limbaugh III. Known at earlier points in his radio career by such quasi-porn star names as Rusty Sharpe and Jeff Christie, Limbaugh roared ass-backward into the embittered, revanchist ideological climate of the early 1990s. His derisive style made him a star, though his wealth was never sufficient to secure his heart’s true desire — enough Oxycontin and Vicodin to keep him in a perpetual state of drooling self-satisfaction. Long an advocate for “family values,” Limbaugh has wheezed his way through a trio of failed marriages, none of which brought forth the fruit of his shriveled loins.
Reading about Peter Beinart’s attempt to turn pre-war discourse into a giant pissing contest (via Ezra) reminded me about some gossip from Spencer Ackerman. I–like I suspect most people–had always assumed that the New Republic‘s fatally ridiculous endorsement of Joe Lieberman was a Peretz special all the way. Apparently not:
It’s a common misconception about Marty and Lieberman. Without speaking for Marty, I can tell you that he absolutely did not endorse Lieberman in 2004. This was mostly a Peter decision, as I believe he explained on CNN when the endorsement came out. It’s not for me to say who Marty actually backed, but it definitely wasn’t Lieberman.
Beinart felt so strongly that he went against the publisher to endorse that feeble clown. It’s amazing.
While were engaged in TNR-related snark, I’ve mentioned before the sales of Beinart’s book would not seem to justify a $600,000 advance–as of last week, it had moved fewer than 10,000 copies (and I don’t think this is just second-guessing–it’s not as if outside the pundit class liberal hawkery is a huge market.) But that’s nothing. You know how Lee Siegel inexplicably got a deal for a book about politics and the internet? His recent book Falling Upwards has moved…304 copies. But I’m sure his expanded-to-book-length argument about why people who disagree with you on blogs are just like Mussolini will be much more successful!
Your Straightforward Reading Of The Plain Meaning Of My Words Is Proof Of Your Lack Of Reading Comprehension!
Josh Trevino claims that “[t]here’s little to be done for the reading comprehension of the online left,” and that his bringing up the Boer War was “not to make a policy prescription but to conduct a thought-experiment to demonstrate the insufficiency of the President’s ‘surge.’” Of course, nobody thought that Trevino favored the President’s plan–which is precisely what makes his claim that Bush exists on a “higher moral plane” so transparently idiotic. But is it unfair to claim that Trevino is advocating Boer War-style tactics? As a commenter at TAPPED also notes, obviously not:
- Trevino, first of all, asks us to ignore not only his argument while the tactics used in the Boer War were “cruel” and that “I endorse cruel things in war–to eschew them is folly” but his subsequent claim that Bush is on a “higher plane ” because he realizes that losing is unacceptable. The only logical reading of the post is that, while he doesn’t endorse Bush’s specific plan, he does support Boer War-style scorched-earth tactics: if we can’t lose, and the deployment of cruelty is the only way to win…there’s only one way this argument can go.
- And, of course, Trevino is not writing in a vacuum. Previously, he has written the following: “The ability of a society to see through grinding conflicts like the Philippines Insurrection or the Boer War augers well for its future, lest it lose the mere capacity to conquer, and be susceptible to humiliation by any small power with no advantage save mental fortitude. It is indeed difficult to imagine now the methods that transformed the Philippines for us, and South Africa for the British, from bitter foe to steadfast friend being applied in Iraq. Would that they were.” [my emphasis.] So this is at least the second time he’s made the argument that while the U.S. may not use brutal military tactics, it should. Again, it couldn’t be more explicit.
- And, wait–he’s also written (scroll down to “the road untaken”) that “[c]onceptually, the Algerian-style sealing of Iraqi borders coupled with Boer War-style civilian control measures are workable and even just. [my emphasis]” although “their imposition would mean the implicit repudiation of the very mythos of the war.” Do you see a pattern here? Again, the U.S. probably doesn’t have the fortitude to exterminate all the brutes–but it should.
So the idea that the problem here is a lack of reading comprehension on the part of Trevino’s critics is absurd. At least three times (and who knows how many examples there were be if his primarily online venue still had available archives) he has explictly endorsed the desirability of Boer War style tactics. It is true that he has also said that Bush will be unlikely to use them, but this is beside the point (and, indeed, just makes his support of Bush and initial support of the war incoherent.) The fact that he seems to want to back off from the plain implication of his words isn’t his critics’ problem. If he doesn’t want to be accused of supporting Boer War-style tactics, he should stop saying that he supports them.
I doubt that President Bush has any capacity to inspire Americans about the war in Iraq. I vaguely wish that he could. He’s made his decision, and I think people need to support what he’s doing and not undercut him by revealing to our enemies that we can be worn down and demoralized. Yet it doesn’t bother me that much that Americans are not fired up by presidential speeches. We don’t like war, and we especially don’t like to live with a long war that doesn’t reward us with distinct successes from time to time. We express our dissatisfaction, but I think most of us realize it’s the President’s responsibility to get us through this. Electing Democrats to Congress can be read as an expression of dissatisfaction, but does it also mean that we expect or even want Congress to interfere with the President’s plan?
– Ann Althouse, 11 January 2007
Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.
– Britney Spears, 3 September 2003
She’s now in Iraq, where the quest for Jamil Hussein has morphed into a search for “pockets of success and signs of hope amid utter despair.” Examining her photos and maudlin captions, one would think Malkin is unaware of the fact that the United States has been in Iraq — handing out soccer balls and blankets and “meeting” with displaced families — for nearly four goddamned years now. For Malkin, the “slums of Baghdad” are useful only as a squalid prop, summoned front and center in a narrative that depicts the United States and its armed forces as if it were in a state of eternal arrival, bearing absolutely no responsibility for the conditions they’re alleviating with stuffed animals and candy corns and tiny American flags.
Not to dignify Malkin’s work in any way, but all of this reminds me of Roland Bathes’ essay on margarine:
One can trace in advertising a narrative pattern which clearly shows the working of this new vaccine. It is found in the publicity of Astra magazine. The episode always begins with a cry of indignation against margarine: “A mousse? Made with margarine? Unthinkable!” “Margarine? Your uncle will be furious!” And then one’s eyes are opened, one’s conscience becomes more pliable, and margarine is a delicious food, tasty, digestible, economical, useful in all circumstances. The moral at the end is well known: “Here you are, rid of a prejudice which cost you dearly!” It is in the same way that the Established Order relieves you of your progressive prejudices. The Army, and absolute value? It is unthinkable: look at its vexations, its strictness, its always possible blindness of its chiefs. The Church, infallible? Alas, it is very doubtful: look at its bigots, its powerless priests, its murderous conformism. And then “common sense” makes its reckoning: what is this trifling dross of Order, compared with its advantages? It is well worth the price of immunization. What does it matter, after all, if margarine is just fat, when it goes further than butter, and costs less? What does it matter, after all, if Order is a little brutal or a little blind, when it allows us to live cheaply? Here we are, in our turn, rid of a prejudice which cost us dearly, too dearly, which cost us too much in scruples, in revolt, in fights, and in solitude.
What was good about the President’s speech? He remains committed to victory. Whether he will achieve it or not is a separate matter; the mere fact that he seeks it sets him on a moral plane above the mass of the American left that thinks defeat a wholly palatable option.
Yes, the fact that the President would really like to win (not that his plan might lead to victory, mind you, but that he thinks some kind of undefined “winning” would be nice) puts him on a “different moral plane” than people impertinent enough to point out that our continuing presence in Iraq is making things worse and therefore ipso facto want America to lose (which is particularly strange when Trevino says that a “desire to win is small consolation without the means to win”–without the McCarthyism, Trevino seems to have the same position on Bush’s plan as the evil, anti-American liberals.) But what makes this risible even for Tacitus is that he delivers this pompous jingoism after explaining that–as part of an invasion of a country that didn’t attack and posed no significant security threat to the United States–our military should put innocent women and children in concentration camps so that men can be indiscriminately slaughtered. Trevino and I are on “different moral planes,” all right.
…Yglesias is rather more astute about how to read the President’s empty banalities about victory:
The point of view from which the hail mary metaphor makes the most sense is if your primary concern is not the interests of the United States of America but the reputation of George W. Bush and other leading architects of war. From that point of view, the difference between initiating and then losing a war at great cost and initiating and then losing a war at even greater cost really is minimal, much like in a football game. From Bush’s point of view, conceding that his Iraq policy has failed is so catastrophic to his ego and reputation that it makes perfect sense to ask other people to bear any burden and pay any price for even the smallest sliver of a hope of even deferring the problem successfully. For the country, though, it doesn’t make sense at all.
Chilling. And I thought that the biggest problem with Canadian coins was that they were annoyingly similar to ours, yet wouldn’t be accepted by vending machines.
In a U.S. government warning high on the creepiness scale, the Defense Department cautioned its American contractors over what it described as a new espionage threat: Canadian coins with tiny radio frequency transmitters hidden inside.
The government said the mysterious coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.
Intelligence and technology experts said such transmitters, if they exist, could be used to surreptitiously track the movements of people carrying the spy coins.
Damage control has already begun.
Top suspects, according to outside experts: China, Russia or even France — all said to actively run espionage operations inside Canada with enough sophistication to produce such technology.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said it knew nothing about the coins.
“This issue has just come to our attention,” CSIS spokeswoman Barbara Campion said. “At this point, we don’t know of any basis for these claims.” She said Canada’s intelligence service works closely with its U.S. counterparts and will seek more information if necessary.
Experts were astonished about the disclosure and the novel tracking technique, but they rejected suggestions Canada’s government might be spying on American contractors. The intelligence services of the two countries are extraordinarily close and routinely share sensitive secrets.
Sounds like something is being swept under the rug. I continue to wonder if they’ve managed to deter us from significant action, somehow.
Hat tip to Davida.
The British Army? Not so much on the surging. According to Reuters, Britain will withdraw 2700 of its 7200 strong contingent by May 31. British forces are concentrated in southern Iraq, but in principle could be used anywhere, especially in the context of a major reshuffling of American and Iraqi forces. Also, if the United States is serious about ratcheting up tension with Iran (and we just busted into an Iranian consulate in Irbil), then the areas of British control are likely to see considerable unrest. I’m reminded of a scene from Go:
Simon: Marcus, lend me some money.
Marcus: Man, where’s your money?
Simon: I lost it.
Marcus: We’ve been here five minutes.
Simon: Yeah, I know, but I was playing this game at a $100 dollar table, and I didn’t understand it; now I do. I’ve figured out how to beat it!
Marcus: Alright. Give me your wallet.
Cross-posted at TAPPED.
If you believe that the “surge” will be effective, and if you believe that “rules of engagement” are the primary problem with the operation in Iraq, how can you not conclude that President Bush and his administration are among the most inept blunderers ever to conduct a war?
…more to the point, if you agree with Michael Ledeen:
it sounded like our soldiers will get Rules of Engagement that haven’t been neutered, that are not PC, but ROEs that are appropriate to winning a war rather than avoiding casualties. Maybe…
…then shouldn’t you be really, really unhappy that the guy who put together the new counterinsurgency manual (which does NOT call for looser ROEs) has just been put in charge of Iraq?
Sealand celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and has been governed by His Royal Highness Paddy Roy Bates, Prince of Sealand, since 1967, when the pirate radio broadcaster took control of Roughs Tower by chasing its previous squatters away with molotov cocktails and (possibly) gunfire. According to other reports, the price of Sealand is set at a minimum of 65 million English pounds, which is quite a lot to ask for to own a 60-year-old concrete platform and a couple of buildings that suffered fire damage last year. More significantly, in the interests of global stability the Prince has stipulated that neither the name nor the laws of Sealand may be altered by the new owners; indeed, the new “owners” would not officially own the nation, which would still officially remain within the Bates family. Still, with the transfer of authority the new sovereigns would presumably acquire the micronation’s glorious reputation for mini-golf and slot-car racing — two sports in which Sealand has performed capably in recent years. Sealand also claims the Danish football club Vestbjerg as its national team.
For those unwilling to cough up 65 million pounds, it is still possible to become a Lord, Lady, Baron or Baroness of Sealand for the smaller sum of 20 pounds. T-shirts and fire-damaged bolts are also available.