Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There Are Limits

Great post by August J. Pollak. (Thanks, Chana.) He details dimensions of the hurricane damage in New Orleans that I hadn't even thought of: the environmental catastrophe; the effect on wooden structures of soaking in water for weeks; etc. Then he makes the political connection:

So even if you are for the war in Iraq, even if you think the President is the glue holding this entire nation together, I simply cannot understand, or for that matter even believe at this point, the suggestion that this is less important than "fighting terror." Nor would I understand you or believe you if you said the money and resources we currently don't have to aid this nightmare were "better spent" protecting us from imagined threats in Iraq.
Two years ago we were told we needed to attack Saddam so one of our cities wouldn't be destroyed. One of our cities was just destroyed. And it appears that many more lives could have been saved, and many things protected, if there was more funding for infrastructure, more devotion to protective efforts, and more National Guardsmen here at home to do their actual job- guarding our nation- rather than deployed in Iraq.

Every idea, even a great one, has a cost. Even a nation with the strength of arms and noble ideals of the USA, has limits to what it can do, has to weigh potential benefits against their costs.

Christopher Hitchens has a new piece in the Weekly Standard, and masochist that I am, I read it. Poor Hitchens is really showing signs of wear and tear. While the thesis of the article is how proud Americans should be of the Iraq war effort and its many positive effects--a nutty, vainglorious and thoroughly Hitchensian position--he also occasionally (can I be reading right?) makes certain halting gestures toward admitting some second thoughts, some failures of prophecy on his own (Hitchens's!) part. One paragraph will make me cross-eyed with rage, which is totally normal and reassuring. Then the next will have me reeling in partial agreement. Like, for instance, Hitch has some pretty cutting things to say about President Bush.

But there's lots and lots of bloodthirsty lunacy too, less artfully stated than Hitchens usually manages. Near the end, he offers up his Top Ten Good Things About Dubya's Excellent Iraqi Adventure, which is pure comedy gold.

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact.

Naturally, we had to go to war to make sure that our stated reason for going to war was valid.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

Which is a serious matter--a whole lot more serious than all the discredited charges about Saddam's WMD programs. Which begs the question, why didn't we invade Pakistan and currently have A.Q. Khan in custody. But let's move on.

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

See # 1 above.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

Did you realize that Iraq was just a warm-up? A preseason war!

Hitchens is the greatest force of nihilism and absolutism in journalism today. This is all a game of Risk to him.

Nope, there are limits.

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