The New Republic Staff

Hands-on Leadership, Chapter Cclxxiv
January 02, 2007

From today's fine NYT piece on how Iraq went over the cliff in 2006: By May 2006, uneasy officials at the State Department and the National Security Council argued for a review of Iraq strategy. A meeting was convened at Camp David to consider those approaches, according to participants in the session, but Mr. Bush left early for a secret visit to Baghdad, where he reviewed the war plans with General Casey and Mr. Maliki, and met with the American pilot whose plane's missiles killed Iraq's Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Lost And Found
January 02, 2007

Ben Smith is a fine reporter and I heartily congratulate him on his boffo scoop: a "lost" copy of Rudy Giuliani's potential 2008 White House game plan. The particulars are interesting--but given that this black book is a whopping 140 pages, it actually sounds like somewhat of a letdown: Did we really need a secret binder to tell us, for instance, that Rudy's camp is worried about his reputation with social conservatives? And no mention of any new skeletons his operatives might be trying to hide? This reminds me of an episode from when I was a TNR intern in the early Clinton years.

You Read It Here First!
January 02, 2007

Today's Washington Post has an amusing look at the NRA's efforts to scare money out of its members at a time when the gun control movement is in deep hibernation. But TNR's Conor Clarke had a deeper dissection of the modern NRA's identity crisis in our issue published two weeks ago. Also, today's New York Times reports on how few Iraqis--many likely to be slaughtered for helping American forces--are being granted asylum in the U.S.

Tribal Glue
January 01, 2007

by Richard Stern It's said that one reason the U.S. is out of its depth in Iraq and Afghanistan is our ignorance of tribalism, yet we have our own forms of tribalism, so it shouldn't be so difficult to understand theirs. In the waning hours of 2006, I watched my beloved, yes, beloved, if also hated, Chicago Bears humiliate themselves in a cascade of ineptitude and self-destructiveness the like of which we've not seen in what has been largely a triumphant season.

Into The Past
January 01, 2007

Hundreds of demonstrators in France ring in the New Year by holding a light-hearted protest against it. Maybe the French think this is a joke. But maybe they don't. I understand why they do not want the future, and that is because the future will see the decline of France deepen. Its domestic politics is meaningless by any standard of theory and even more meaningless by any measure of practical advance. Its foreign politics is a mixture of the empty abstraction called Europe and the opposing nostalgia for empire. In any case, the French have rejected the present.

The Sunnis Respond
January 01, 2007

These are the incorrigibles, the irreconcilables, the bitter-enders. BBC tells us that among their slogans were "Saddam is the pride of the nation" and "We sacrifice our blood and soul for you Saddam." It certainly isn't poetry or pretty. In fact, these are ugly thoughts. And, if Saddam is, in fact, the pride of the nation, what a miserable nation it is. Well, the Sunnis of Iraq were content with the tyrant's murderous rule. And, now, they must face Shi'a revenge. Which makes Shi'a Iraq also murderous and grotesque. Here, in a dispatch, is a story about the revenge of the Sunnis.

Deluded To The Last
January 01, 2007

Allahu Akbar. These were Saddam Hussein's words as he neared death. And in the years since he was vanquished in the Gulf War. Then, when he was toppled like his bronze busts all over Iraq, he seized Sunni symbolism and rhetoric and made them his own. Fouad Ajami put it in a nutshell: Saddam "fell back on religious symbolism whenever calamity struck." This nutshell is included in The Sunday Times in an article I wish had appeared in TNR. Well, it didn't. Ajami's essay ties the confusing strands of the tyrant's last days (not altogether unlike the suicidal Last Days of Hitler by Hugh R.

Saddam And Gerald Have A Talk
December 31, 2006

by Richard Stern Saddam and Gerry The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd feel their hands were clean... On this third planet of the sun Among the signs of bestiality A clear conscience is Number One.     Wislawa Szymborska, "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself" In the Anteroom of the Eternal sit two former heads of state.

The Day After
December 31, 2006

Who mourned? And who did not? And who celebrated? Here's a short summation of the weeping and the cheering in the Arab world: It's in Haaretz on the last day of the year. I dimly recall from my childhood people weeping for Stalin's natural death. No, what I recall was not in Moscow. It was in New York. Jake wore a black arm-band to school that day. Did Germans cry when Hitler committed suicide with Eva in his Berlin bunker? How about when Idi Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia? Mengistu is still alive in Zimbabwe. Saved by (who else?) Mugabe.

Saddam's Final Words
December 31, 2006

In my post, "The Mourning of a Tyrant," I observed that a legend had already developed that Saddam Hussein's last words were "Palestine will be Arab." He probably didn't care a fig for the Palestinians, which is pathetic since there are so many figs in the region. In any case, the Palestinians will now have to disabuse themselves of the notion that he thought of them at the last. Another example of the self-inflicted pathos of the cause. Sorry, guys. Now, we have an authoritative report from Marc Santora in Sunday's Times about what Saddam really said.

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