Saddam Hussein

Ending Our Age of Suffering
October 10, 2009

Genocide is much discussed and poorly understood. It is regularly decried, yet little is done to prevent it. It is seen to be one of the most intractable of modern phenomena, a periodic cataclysm that erupts seemingly out of nowhere, often in distant places--Indonesia, Guatemala, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur--where ethnic conflict or hatred is said to have spun out of control. So we can do little about it.

The Debates We Are Not Having on Iran
October 06, 2009

Michael Crowley expresses shock over a new Pew poll finding that 61% of Americans would favor military action to prevent Iranian development of nuclear weapons if other options fail.  I'm less shocked.  In the run-up to the Iraq War, the belief that Saddam Hussein had developed or was rapidly developing WMD, including nuclear weapons, was a pretty important factor in the robust majorities that favored military action.  And the discovery that he actually didn't have WMD helped turn Americans against the war once his regime had been toppled.  Since evidence of an Iranian nuclear program is far

The School-Speech Craziness Gets Crazier
September 04, 2009

Even as I blogged yesterday about conservatives' uproar over Obama's planned back-to-school speech, I was unaware of the actual level of paranoid nuttiness we are looking at. Today's NYT helpfully clarifies the situation, with its front-pager on how some school districts are under growing pressure by parents to let kids sit out the speech for fear that one glimpse of Obama will transform their budding Dittoheads into miniature Hugo Chavezes.

Beware: Do Not Read if All You Want Is an Intellectual Fix for One of Your Political Prejudices. This Is Serious Stuff!
August 26, 2009

Jeffrey Herf is one of the pre-eminent intellectual historians of totalitarianism. He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic. See, for example, his last few contributions here, here, and here. You can also find a TNR review of one of his books, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys, here. In the current issue of The American Interest, Herf makes a highly convincing argument that radical Islam today is in fact a totalitarian movement with totalitarian ideology and totalitarian methods. No, it is not Nazism or Communism.

The Decider
August 12, 2009

On the evening of Saturday, June 13, a day after the Iranian presidential election, Vice President Joe Biden was preparing for an appearance the next morning on NBC's "Meet the Press." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian incumbent, was already claiming a preposterously large margin of victory, and reformist protesters were clashing with basiij thugs in Tehran. The Obama administration faced a delicate and fluid situation, and it was far from clear what Biden should say. In circumstances like these, the vice president--especially this vice president--could not simply wing it.

Now We Know
June 17, 2009

Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev (Yale University Press, 637 pp., $35) If one were trying to define the lowest point in the long and venerable tradition of American anti-communism, surely it came in 2003, with the publication of Ann Coulter's Treason.

Lights On
March 04, 2009

Baghdad, Iraq In December 2007, the Alpha Company of the 4-64 Armor Battalion of the Fourth Brigade, Third Infantry Division, arrived in the neighborhood of Saidiyah in southwest Baghdad. More than half of the onceupscale, religiously mixed neighborhood's 60,000 residents had fled to Jordan, Syria, or other parts of Iraq. Those who stayed rarely ventured out of their homes. Up until a few months earlier, human corpses had littered the street, where stray dogs feasted on them.

Who Was More Irrational, Bush Or Saddam?
February 12, 2009

Thanks to Jonathan Chait for his kind remarks about my attempt to understand where the liberal hawks went wrong. He criticizes me for myopia toward Saddam Hussein, however, arguing that Saddam would have started up his weapons of mass destruction programs if he had gotten the chance. There are two problems with what Chait says here. The first is that, according to Chait, the fact that Hussein was willing to take the risk of developing such programs, convinced as he was that the U.S. would never confront him, proves that he was irrational. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

Who Was More Irrational, Bush Or Saddam?
February 12, 2009

Thanks to Jonathan Chait for his kind remarks about my attempt to understand where the liberal hawks went wrong. He criticizes me for myopia toward Saddam Hussein, however, arguing that Saddam would have started up his weapons of mass destruction programs if he had gotten the chance. There are two problems with what Chait says here. The first is that, according to Chait, the fact that Hussein was willing to take the risk of developing such programs, convinced as he was that the U.S. would never confront him, proves that he was irrational. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

What Liberal Hawks Got Wrong And Right
February 11, 2009

Frequent TNR contributor Alan Wolfe has an interesting and worthwhile essay in World Affairs about liberal hawks. Wolfe dissects the way that liberal hawks (I'd put myself in that category) focused too much on the justice of going to war and failed to think carefully enough about occupation: Alas for liberal hawkishness, safeguarding the individual against the evil designs of tyrants all too often comes into conflict with the desire of nations to manage their own future.

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