June 16, 2005

Liberation - For the Record

I have never been to Iraq, and I can't act as a witness to anything there. Christopher Hitchens has been and can be, though, and I'd like to reproduce something he said for the record. History should not be rewritten as it has been.

Here he is talking to Peter Robinson on the Uncommon Knowledge program. This excerpt of the transcript has been revised by Norm Geras after he watched the video and corrected it.
Christopher Hitchens: The welcome that I've seen American and British forces get in parts of Iraq is something I want to start - I want to mention first because there are people who say that that never happened. It is commonly said by, umm, political philosophers like Maureen Dowd say that the - where were the sweets and where were the flowers? Well, I saw it happen with my own eyes and no one's going to tell me that I didn't. I saw it with - months after the invasion, people still lining the roads, especially in the south.

Peter Robinson: In the south?

Christopher Hitchens: Especially in the south - still lining the roads and waving and the children waving which is always the sign, because if the parents don't want them to, they don't. For miles, it was like going - it was like, this is the nearest I'll get to taking part in the liberation of the country, to ride in with the liberating army. I'll never forget, and I will not allow it not to be said that that did not happen. And in the marshes too - the marsh Arab area of the country which was drained and burned out and poisoned by Saddam Hussein. Again, almost hysterical welcome, and in Kurdistan in the north. So, extraordinary. But remember you said the population hated Saddam Hussein, that's true, really true. But more than anything, they feared him. They were terrified of him. These are people who were not just forced to obey under terrible and believable threat, but made to applaud, made to participate, made to come out and vote, made to come out and demonstrate that they loved him, made to applaud when their relatives were executed. If your kids were going to be shot, you had to attend and you had to applaud...
Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 16, 2005 06:29 PM

"political philosophers like Maureen Dowd"


Michael, thanks for posting this. This needs to be recorded and remembered.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at June 16, 2005 07:38 PM

We must never forget that Saddam was our guy. We're paying a tragic price for our earlier malfeasance... But this was our mess to clean up. Compare the elections of 2005 to that of 2002.

Posted by: Crid at June 16, 2005 07:47 PM

It seems obvious to me that the following is true.

Iraq is a country of 24 million, of whom lets say 1/4 are males of military age. That means 6 million or so. Automatic weapons etc. are plentiful in Iraq. No army, even with air supremacy, armor etc. can stand against 50-1 odds on the other guy's turf if the other side desires a fight. The common Iraqi has had two years to decide to wipe us out. They have chosen not to. If they truly wanted us out we wouldn't last a week. Heck, let's go further. If only 1/10th of the military aged males came against us, we'd lose hundreds a week. THAT would be Vietnam.

We remain in Iraq, as we always have, only with the goodwill, or at least tolerance of the general population.

Posted by: spc67 at June 16, 2005 08:15 PM

I thought that was a wonderful quote from Hitchens, too. It's hard to argue with someone who was there--although I have very little doubt that many will do just that.

The funny thing is, I've never understood the "so, where have all the flowers gone?" people. Unless my memory is deceiving me, I remember seeing a fair amount of flowers and waves and cheering myself, on TV--and marveling that anyone at all was brave enough to venture out and risk doing so at the time.

Posted by: neo-neocon at June 16, 2005 10:17 PM

Well i saw it in TV not flowers but people hand clapping here in Portuguese TV in first days . I think the lawless in beginning was very damaging to the trustiness in America, dunno why that happened. I feel that America didnt assumed occupation, State Department Culture?Were they expecting that police would still go to work next day...?

Posted by: lucklucky at June 16, 2005 10:19 PM

Crid, maybe you don't remember the Cold War very well, but there were a lot of situations where our choices were between diabolical and monstrous. So we hired a young thug to assasinate a tyrant, and said young thug botched it. Should we have then put a bullet in his head? In retrospect that might have been a good idea, but hardly sporting; after all, you're right, he was "our guy".

And between Iraq and Iran in the early 80s, to quote Tom Petty, "I can't decide which is worse."

Or were you thinking about all those US-made tanks and planes and rifles and we gave Iraq?

Oh, wait....

But yeah, I know, at root everything bad is America's fault. I just haven't gotten to the point where I can swallow that without gagging. Call me slow.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 17, 2005 01:43 AM

Just re-read that. Being hung-over in Amsterdam obviously does nothing for the chip on my shoulder....

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 17, 2005 03:17 AM

I agree, thanks for posting. Very important this not be forgotten.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 06:28 AM

reductio ad Americanum is the European intellectual's sine qua non

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 06:43 AM

Perhaps even their raison d'etre

This comment and above for Mark Poling.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 06:44 AM

If recent polls are to be believed, Mr. Hitchens and the pro-war(including myself) crowd need to stop denouncing the(fringe) anti-war left and ask why average Americans are turning more and more against the war.

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at June 17, 2005 07:08 AM


The latter is largely because of the former. The antiwar left aren't a voiceless fringe, they're 2/3 of journalists.

You might instead ask why Iraqis support the war in higher percentages than Americans.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 07:14 AM


"But yeah, I know, at root everything bad is America's fault. I just haven't gotten to the point where I can swallow that without gagging. Call me slow."

You know, if we would just stick with the basics we wouldn't ever have to swallow that pill.

"peace, commerce, friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none."

IF we had followed that, Saddam wouldn't have had enough weapons to maintain the stranglehold on his people. He wouldn't have had the weapons to stock the insurgency. He likely wouldn't even have been able to gas all those Kurds.

Sometimes we can learn from history.

Sometimes, we prefer to learn from fantasy.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at June 17, 2005 07:39 AM

What you're suggessting is that(all of a sudden) Americans are starting to believe pure propaganda. I'm not American, but I know they are not stupid.
I just think it might be time for the pro-war crowd to stop the constant drumbeat against the anti-war left, and take a hard look at the policies of Bush, Rumsfield etc. For example, look into war profiteering, access whether or not there was a lack of planning for administrating post saddam Iraq(and if so) hold people accountable, find and punish those who allowed Chalabi's lies to influence policy etc.
I think the pro-war argument would be stronger if it would expand its willingness to criticise all sides in the debate.

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at June 17, 2005 07:42 AM

The profiteering that made the war necessary was done through by the U.N. through the Oil For Food program.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 17, 2005 07:52 AM


All of the sudden? Do you think it's a coincidence the Republican majority suddenly sprouted right after the Fairness Doctrine was ended and conservatives were allowed to break the liberal monopoly on information dissemination?

It's not propaganda, it's slanting the facts to fit their view. It's entirely possible (easy, even) to present a factually accurate story that is completely misleading for what it reports, what it omits and who it cites as experts.

War profiteering and bad intel gathering are investigated every day. There's no story there, or the massive numbers of lefty journalists would have turned it up long ago.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 08:06 AM

Congress is starting to get antsy about Iraq. Conservative Walter Jones is planning on introducing an "exit strategy" resolution, and suddenly it is getting harder and harder to change the subject to Howard Dean and Noam Chomsky.

Yup, a lot of the neoconservative agenda is going bust. And I'm not entirely cheering. Iraqi developments reduce our military's ability to deal with other threats.

Don't even think about military action in Iran.

(And if in fact we have o cut bait in Iraq, this is not the end of facilitating the develeopment of democracy in the Middle East. The best candidates for pro-western Arab democracy remain: Lebanon, Syria and a sovereign Palestinian state.)

Posted by: markus rose at June 17, 2005 08:21 AM


A well stated post. I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of the United States in world history. Originally, it began as an experiment in democracy. The states were given near sovrign rights so that any state that wished to experiment with a new social or political idea could do so, without jepordizing the entire country. I guess we could say that the founding fathers created a continental sociology lab.

Then I have to think about neo-conservativism... the only way to see if the theory was good or bad, was to test it. The only way to determine if a nation could force regime change in a useful way was to try it. The only way to see if a "War On Terror" would wark, was to experiment. So perhaps thats what we've been in this whole time... a 4 year experiment.

Now, the experiments ongoing, we're getting back test results and they don't match the predictions. I think it would be wise for the theorists to step back and examine the experiment, the results and determine the correctness of their hypothesis.

It would appear that the time of analysis has begun.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at June 17, 2005 08:30 AM

It is obvious that Christopher Hitchens in this case is a liar. Does he happen to have some personally taken photographs to back up his claims? Forgot the camera at the hotel room, did he? Aaahh! Too bad. But I guess that's alright, since he saw it 'with his own eyes'. The rest of us are all just mindless fools, so why shouldn't we trust him?

Next time he can tell us that that he saw lines of Syrians, all begging the USA to invade their country too. He heard them with his own ears. Don't ask about his knowledge of Arabic, petty details. His OWN ears, man!

Sorry, I must stop now. There's a firebreathing dragon flying just outside my window, burning bushes and trees. I must rush out and extinguish the fire. With my own pee.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 17, 2005 09:59 AM
"peace, commerce, friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none."
"IF we had followed that, Saddam wouldn't have had enough weapons to maintain the stranglehold on his people.

Fuzzy-tailed Rat, I'm calling you on a non-sequiter. Iraq's weaponry was assuredly NOT American; mostly Russian as I understand it, with some French and Chinese goods where the Russian stuff was just too cheesey.

With great oil reserves comes great buying power.

And what do you do when Nations decide you're a perfect foil to distract their own masses? (I'm in Europe right now; trust me, it's not just the tin-pot dictators who do that.) I mean, some of those people chanting "Death to America!" mean it.

Nope, evil exists, and any day now we can expect it to walk right up to our door, blow it down with low-grade nukes, and liven up the place with interesting biologicals.

And I'm STILL waiting for a Plan B that isn't a replay of Lucky Limburgh's America First movement.

So yeah, let's evaluate and modify tactics as necessary, but if you're going to criticize strategy come up with something better than "can't we all just get along?"

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 17, 2005 10:07 AM

Ummm, that should have been "Lindbergh."

Guess the word "cheese" shook up my already poor spelling facilities.

Oh, and Tatter, why is it obvious Hitchens is lying? Because what he says doesn't fit in your cognitive schema? Obviously that's one solution, but you should really consider the others as well. But stop if you get a nosebleed.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 17, 2005 10:14 AM

I was curious about the origin of that "flowers and sweets" phrase, wondering exactly when the Bush administration had made the prediction, since it seems to have taken on such a life of its own. I did some research and here's the answer, at least as best I could determine.

Posted by: neo-neocon at June 17, 2005 10:20 AM

Look: the "insurgents" have as their most effective tactic blowing up Iraqi Security recruiting centers, because there are lots of recruits and not-so-many "insurgents".

It's an effective tactic, of course, trading one man for 10 or 15. Any Civil War general would have jumped at that kind of tradeoff.

But aren't any of the naysayers getting the significance of that ratio? Or understanding the desparation of the side resorting to the tactic?

I think we owe it to all the Iraqis who stood in line, both to vote and to sign up, to stick it out a good while longer. "Cutting bait" in this case would be the same as cutting throats, Markus, and I can't believe you would advocate that.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 17, 2005 10:46 AM

The neocon agenda is going bust for very simple reason. No one in the Administration will explain what exactly "sticking it out" means. When have we reached "Democracy"? Will it be in August? When there's a new constitution? 10 years from now? When the Syrian and Iranian regimes collapse? When we have attracted enough Al Qaeda recruits to the "flytrap" and killed them? I think most Americans would be willing to stick it out if the President can explain what the reward is - freedom, democracy and security are all very vague words that different people define in their own way.

On Iraq there are three broad constituencies in America -the anti-war group (liberals), the "let's punish Saddam and destroy his ability to threaten us" (traditional conservatives), and the build Democracy in the Middle East faction (neo-cons, former liberals, and presumably the Administration). The longer we sit in Iraq with no compelling arguments from the Administration as to why we are there, the more traditional conservatives are going to drift to the anti-war camp. And together those two factions vastly outnumber the democracy builders. From a traditional conservative viewpoint the war's over and we won. We got Saddam, there are no WMDs in Iraq. Time to move on. Probably the only thing keeping traditional conservatives on board right now is an instinctual dislike of the left. But Bush's natural supporters are not nation-builders, and most nation-builders are not natural Bush supporters, so politically Bush is really going to have to work to keep Iraq on track. I don't get the impression he recognizes this. Telling people things are great in Iraq and then blaming the liberal media for only telling bad news is a total cop out. If there is so much good news why is the Adminstration so inept at getting the message out?

Posted by: Vanya at June 17, 2005 11:59 AM

Re, Crid's comment,

Of course if we would have intervened in order to depose someone like Hussein, let's say in the early 80's - either by invading militarily or by helping to forward a coup internally in Iraq, via covert and black-op initiatives - then that would have been acceptable to critics and to the Left in general? This is a good example as to why so much of the hard and the softer Left reflects little more than a childish whine and endless drone. Nothing short of absolute perfection satisfies, indeed, if perfection were ever to be effected, that too would be ignored since obduracy typifies so much of their agitprop and rhetoric. Inconvenient facts, regardless as to how prominent and salient they may be, are readily ignored, MoDo being merely one example in this vein.

Presently, now that we have deposed Hussein and sons Uday and Qusay, the Left/MSM and various EU powers are forever whining that we should have refrained, we should have dealt with them on the basis of some type of realpolitik. Yet prior to 2003 when we were working within a framework of realpolitik, the implication was that we shouldn't have had anything to do with Hussein, as if we were suppose to ignore global political realities wholesale. Drone and whine, endlessly and obdurately, such typifies Leftist praxis, reminiscent of the Western Left's Tet and post-Tet agitprop and praxis more generally.

Posted by: Michael B at June 17, 2005 01:26 PM

> Being hung-over in Amsterdam
> obviously does nothing for
> the chip on my shoulder....

Nor does it strengthen your appreciation of context. Or responsibility.

> you're right, he was "our guy".

Thanks for being clear about it, if only backhandedly. The United States of America bears a fundamental if not endless responsibility for the wretchedness that's befallen that nation, horrors including but not limited to:

- A political culture of mundane intrigue, killing and torture
- Mass graves
- A million-plus-casualty war with one neighbor
- Invasion and annhilation of another neighbor
- A crippled economy
- The gassing of the Kurds
- Psychotic, murderous sons, and their rape of brides in veils
- Incompetent civilian engineering
- The burning of the oil fields
- The draining of the marshes
- The '91 massacre of 100,000 shiites by helicopter
- A growing national culture of religious intolerance
- Safe harbor and sponsorship of terrorists
- The biggest financial scandal in history, ie oil-for-food

(Details on request, or Google at your leisure).

> to quote Tom Petty

Tom Petty sucks. A tuneless, aftermarket, menopausal Beatle.

> Or were you thinking about all
> those US-made tanks and planes
> and rifles and we gave Iraq?

When the right-wing wackos can publish a page like this, we have to wonder WHY so many on the left believed in WMDs too. My own pet theory aligns with yours: Someone in the West was holding the receipts.

We OWED the people of Iraq. To date, a population of American solidiers (barely) smaller than my high school has lost their lives in this effort. Could we possibly, possibly have imagined getting off the hook easier than this?

I wish someone on the antiwar left could tell me how that would have worked... Or why it didn't.

Posted by: Cridland at June 17, 2005 06:48 PM

No one in the Administration will explain what exactly "sticking it out" means.

They've explain it ad nauseam. When the Iraqi forces can defend the elected gov't from the wannabe tyrants, we can leave.

Posted by: TallDave at June 17, 2005 09:15 PM

:Oh, and Tatter, why is it obvious Hitchens is lying?

When someone uses the expression "with my own eyes" it almost always indicates that he's lying. (Scientifically proved) Also, Hitchens has no footage to show, no photos, no sound recordings of happy shining Iraqis, no tangible evidence whatsoever, except, uh, his OWN eyes.

Cameras and tape recorders are cheap, Hitchens trade is publishing, Iraq is a foreign exotic country. So why did he not take pictures? Too advanced a task for him? Difficulties with point and click? Not likely. He took no pictures, because the things he supposedly saw with his OWN eyes never happened.

Reading the rest of the interview on that linked page also indicates that Hitchens is an immoral person, gloating over how young Iranians supposedly hate their own government and love America.

Just this mention of loving America indicates he's lying. Nobody loves America today. After seeing what has happened to Iraq, I doubt anyone would wish the same for his country. No matter how much they dislike their own leaders.

In other words, Hitchens is both immoral and a liar.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 18, 2005 05:59 AM

Crid, I'm actually in agreement with you that we have a responsibility to Iraq; that we failed that responsibility badly back in '91; and that the CIA of the '60s (Camelot, remember?) and '80s hurt as often as it helped. (Hell, there was a recent "slam dunk" that turned out pretty badly, for that matter.)

On the other hand, calling Saddam a creation of the United States takes a worldview that is both narcissistic and masochistic (assuming you're an American; otherwise it's just self-loating and nasty). The US is not, was not, will not be the sole responsible actor in the world.

To be possibly brutally pedantic, I would also point out that the link about the "receipts" is from a Swiss company selling heavy equipment to North Korea. Rumsfeld had a seat on the Swiss company's Board of Directors. The story, artfully titled "Rumsfeld was on board Of Company That Sold North Korea two nuclear power plants" at least admits that there's no way to know whether the BoD had any oversight of that sale, and if it did whether Rumsfeld was fer it or agin' it.

In other words, life's more complicated than simplistic "The United States of America bears a fundamental if not endless responsibility for the wretchedness that's befallen that nation". It's in our interests to see a peaceful, strong Iraq that buys into the idea of a global community, the same way that it was in our interest to do the same in Japan and Germany after WWII.

Tatter, tatter, tatter; as neo-neocon pointed out, the pictures of Iraqis welcoming Americans were out there, are out there, but they're buried beneath the conventional wisdom that Iraq is Vietnam. (That link takes a while to load, but it's worth the wait. Here's one of my favorites; as a single image it should load faster.)

Nobody loves America today.

Don't get out much, do you?

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2005 08:25 AM

When someone says that something has been "scientifically proved" and offers neither a URL, nor the author or title of any single study "proving" his point, nor even a hint as to what particular branch of the hard sciences would or could prove such a thing, that person is nearly always making a false statement. Whether Tatterdemalion is lying or just extremely confused I cannot say. By the way, I have more than once told someone that I saw something "with my own eyes", and have been told such a thing dozens of times by others, and few if any of those assertions were lies. What TD claims to have been "scientifically proved" isn't even provable, because it's not true. If he hasn't heard that most Iranians despise their government, and quite a few would like the U.S. to do for Iran what we have done for Iraq, he's also abysmally ignorant.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at June 18, 2005 09:54 AM


Let's not speak falsely now.

Firstly. I was asking for pictures taken by Christopher Hitchens himself, at that occasion of which he was speaking about. Your links are someone else's pictures and have no connection to CH's story in time nor in place.

Secondly. Not one single picture on that link is showing adult men and women cheering american soldiers. In fact no one is actually cheering in any single one picture.

There are mostly scenes of iraqi children and american soldiers. You can find such pictures from WW2 of german soldiers and children in various occupied countries in Europe. In both wars the pictures were taken for the same purposes and both are actually telling us absolutely nothing about the general sentiment of the occupied population.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 18, 2005 10:40 AM

Michael, have you seen this insanely cool application of Flickr technology? It displays uploaded pictures in terms of where in the world they were taken:


It occurs to me that a similar application could easily be created for Iraq, to determine whether coalition troops are welcomed as liberators. Create a detailed map of the country with all the cities and regions. Then let coalition soldiers upload photos of themselves interacting with Iraqis in all regions of the country. After awhile, we'd have a pictorial representation that documents exactly where coalition troops are greeted by smiling women, kids waving at them, etc.-- and where they're not.

Posted by: Wagner James Au at June 18, 2005 10:45 AM

Dr. Weevil,

I assumed you had access to Google and other search engines. Ooops! Now I did it again. I mentioned something without providing a link. Bad me. Here's your link:


Do your own searches.

Don't many, or even most, Americans too, just as Iranians, dislike their own government? Does that mean Americans would love the Chinese to invade their country?

I think not.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 18, 2005 10:50 AM

I saw some adults in those pictures, but Tatter, I'm not arguing with you; I'm making fun of you.

Hitchens is a writer; a gifted one. Calling him a lier because he's doing what he does and not doing what you think he shoud be doing is downright stupid. Do you ask photographers to write theses on what they've pictured? Well, you would if their pictures didn't support your worldview, I guess:

You can find such pictures from WW2 of german soldiers and children in various occupied countries in Europe.

Nazis. I hate those guys.

The difference of course is that the pictures I linked to are taken by American troops and distributed through a photo sharing site, because our big media isn't state-controlled, and it prefers to tell horror stories. Other than that, we're just like Nazi Germany.

I know the pictures aren't the whole story, but I gave up a long time ago on the idea that I was going to get the whole story from anyone. You apparently believe you have the whole story down pat. I'm sure it's been scientifically proven somewhere.

I respect Hitchens for having the guts to go see for himself. Some good writers who did didn't make it back. I certainly wouldn't call him a lier to his face, but give me a name and I'll call you a fool to yours, should we meet.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2005 11:34 AM

It's amusing, in a bittersweet way, to see this post right after reading the previous one, which contains this comment from a recently returned Iraq vet:

... even a 3 humvee convoy is highly disruptive to normal traffic... cars either get out of the way or get ventilated.

Somehow, arguing how we were received two years ago seems depressingly irrelevant when I read that quote.

Although perhaps some of you may wish to address how we went from "sweets and flowers" to "get out of the way or get ventilated," and what this says about what we've accomplished in Iraq.

Posted by: Swopa at June 18, 2005 02:11 PM

So Swopa, you rooting for the carbombers? 'Cause unless I'm missing something, they're the reason for the preemptive ventilations.

Great quoting out of context.

But hey, at least Saddam kept the oil-for-food gravy trains running on time.

So bittersweet.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2005 02:28 PM

> ...calling Saddam a creation
> of the United States...

...I didn't...

> ...takes a worldview that is
> both narcissistic and
> masochistic...

Good so far as it goes. That's an important point to make to antiwar types who imagine there are no limits to our wealth and responsibility to those less fortunate. There ARE limits. But having plucked this particular monster from a hillbilly crime family and steadfastly nourishing and approving his ascension to power over my lifetime, we are not now permitted to pretend that violent oligarchy is just another way of doing civilization's business, one freely chosen by the (little/brown/muslim) people under his control.

My 'fundamental' sentence was anything but simplistic. You're reaching... As if you're afraid that other bills might come due in other parts of the world. Be confident that they will, and that we'll be grateful for this Iraq experience, if never happy about it.

Posted by: Crid at June 18, 2005 02:38 PM

Crid, I admire your ideals, but I'm afraid I don't agree with some basic assumptions. You always use the tools you have, and Saddam during JFK's time may have been the best tool at hand. Likewise, during the Iran/Iraq war, picking a dog in the fight was a matter of choosing between dogs.

Of course, we could emulate Switzerland, but then we'd still be selling heavy equipment to the NoKos, wouldn't we?

Actually, lots of bills are out there coming due, but just because we're the only left with money in our pockets and a sense of moral responsibilty, that doesn't mean those bills belong to us.

As I said, realpolitik sucks. Right now in Venezeuala there's a ugly little man taking a perfectly sleazy little oligarchy and turning it a Castro-modelled state. Which is worse? I have strong suspicions, but damned if I know how to cleanly prevent the situation going from bad to truly screwed.

Do you?

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2005 03:08 PM

> how to cleanly prevent
> the situation going from
> bad to truly screwed.

Call me a liberal: The decency of a society might well be judged by the infrequency with which it turns to this or that population which it has freshly diddled to say "Sorry, but you're just truly screwed."

I'm with Hitchens. "Realpolitik sucks" doesn't quite convey the horror, and a fondness for "cleanly" solving problems is what got us here in the first place.

Posted by: Crid at June 18, 2005 03:15 PM

Crid, a desire to "cleanly" solve problems is exactly what separates the civilized from the barbarian, or at least from the Conquistadors.

Washing our hands of a world which we can't help but diddle won't help either.

I'm on your side, just not for the same reasons. If that makes me a fellow traveller in the quest for a Global Enlightenment, so be it.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2005 03:41 PM

So Swopa, you rooting for the carbombers?

No, and you can take your loathsome straw-man appeal to political correctness and shove it up your backside.

I'll give you another chance: Would you care to address how we went from "sweets and flowers" to "get out of the way or get ventilated," and what this says about what we've accomplished in Iraq?

Granted, it's a little harder than calling names. But maybe you could give it a try anyway.

Posted by: Swopa at June 18, 2005 03:43 PM


If it's so easy to Google the "scientific studies" you mention, why not take 30 seconds and prove me a fool by providing a specific Google search and the URLs you found with it? Otherwise you look like a fool yourself -- or a liar.

Let me give you an example. One reason I think many Iranians would like the U.S. to liberate Iran from the mullahs is that even the Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson is in favor. Try Googling "Khomein's grandson" + "invasion" + "Iran". The second hit was what I was looking for, a Hitchen's interview (as it happens) with young Khomeini in Slate. Of course, you can dismiss it as coming from Hitchens, but he was there and you weren't. (Oops, I forgot: the mere fact that he claims to have actually interviewed young Khomeini proves that Hitchens was lying! That damned eyewitness evidence again! It's almost Zen-like: according to you we can only know what we are ignorant of.)

See how easy that was? Now you can either provide a URL or two to back up your claim about eyewitness evidence, or we can all conclude that your own testimony on all subjects whatsoever is worthless. I'm really not interested in going on a snipe hunt.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at June 18, 2005 09:04 PM

Dr. Weevil,

Since I didn't derive my information from Google in the first place, but from someone who is a psychologist, I can't claim verification that way. I did a Google search, but didn't find anything useful at this time. Maybe it's there, maybe it's not. But I can assure you that I heard this qualified professional with my OWN ears. Does that count? If Hitchens can claim truthfulness this way, why shouldn't I? You're not all of a sudden using double standards, are you?

Well. It seems we have a little dilemma here. Either Hitchens is a liar, or I am talking out of some other anatomical opening than what's considered normal. If and when he puts up those pictures on the net I guess I'll have to eat some crow. That will be quite embarassing for me, won't it? Now's your chance. Go get those pictures. Do it. Contact Hitchens.

Maybe he took some pictures with poorer quality, not suitable for web publications? Fuzzy and not well composed? But that's OK. We're not after art, just facts. After all, it's for a good cause.

In the mean time, you can ponder on this authentic statement, from an american soldier who served in Iraq:

"He also told me that the one thing he felt the worst about his actions in Iraq was that the U.S. Soldiers would routinely round up the kids and use them as human shields. I asked him why they did that, and he replied that it was because the Muslims would not shoot their own children."

And here's the link to the page I found it on:


Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 19, 2005 04:39 AM

Bittersweet, swopa.

Getting to "Get out of the way or get ventilated" is easy to reconcile with "flowers and sweets."

The people in the pictures I linked to may be 99% of the population. I don't have a clue, but I at least believe they exist. To hear you and tatter, they're simply figments of our right-wing imaginations.

However, I'm pretty sure it's only a a small minority who does things like park in front of (insert target here) and blowing to kingdom come anyone and anything in a large radius. If it were everyone, we'd be talking WWII Pacific-theater casualty numbers, and we aren't. But since the "to hell and back" fringe does exist, our troops do what they can to keep the tactic from working. And that hypothetical majority is probably clued-in to reasoning.

So I think it's perfectly reasonable to believe that, say, 95% of the contact between US and Iraqi civilians is purely civil. Hell, there may be flowers and candy, who knows but the soldiers who've been there? (Actually, I know a couple, but there "with my own eyes" testimony is obviously to be discounted. tatter, from now on I will only listen to second-hand reports from anonymous posters on Kos, thanks for the tip.)

In the end, what I want to know is where you got that bittersweet feeling you shared with us all?

How's that resistance army in Fallujah holding out, by the way?

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 19, 2005 06:42 AM


So a nameless friend of yours assures you that these "scientific studies" exist, though none can be found on the web? I don't believe it. Your next step is obvious: call your psychologist friend and ask him to provide some specific references: either a URL or an old-fashioned journal reference (author, title, journal, volume, year, and page numbers). I can easily check out non-web sources at a university library. Fair enough? Or would you rather admit that you made it all up? You've already admitted that your sneering exhortation that I should use Google myself was fraudulent, since you can't find anything relevant on Google yourself. Of course, an honest person would be a bit more apologetic about sending others on a snipe hunt.

Please don’t claim that you met the psychologist at a party once, and can’t remember his name or anything else about him. If you don’t know him well enough to be able to get specific references from him, you have no reason to believe that they exist. And until I read some specific references to studies actually proving what you say they prove, I will not believe that the studies exist, and will harbor grave doubts about the existence of your psychologist acquaintance.

Your assumption that Hitchens couldn't have seen what he says he saw unless he took pictures is remarkably obtuse. Why should a print journalist feel obligated to take pictures? Pictures of smiling, cheering, and waving Iraqis are easy enough to find on the web. Want to challenge me on that by pretending not to be able to find any yourself? Go ahead, make my day.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at June 19, 2005 08:04 AM

Dr. Weevil,

Impressive how structured and methodical you've suddenly become. When it comes to verifying something you don't feel like believing in.

All your suggestions are just and on the spot. The psychologist was my exwife, so there's no problem finding her and asking her. Will do that.

But asking for a simple snapshot from Mr Hitchens is at the same time 'remarkably obtuse'? His statement about cheering Iraqis is so far from reality or even reasonability, that I and many with me simply won't take his neocon word for it. Even if he swore on his mother's grave it was true.

Since Iraqis according to Hitchens seem to be so happy about this occupation of their country, and of the use of their children as human shields, then it should be no problem producing a bit wee more proof than 'his own eyes', should there?

There are lots of troops, lots of Iraqis, and lots of cheering, n'est ce pas? I'm not asking for lots of pictures, just one. One cheap little snapshot. One. But not a false one, like the ones in that link Mark posted.

I have a feeling there will be no pictures. In which case Hitchens is proven a liar. Psychological report or not.

I sincerely hope that those pictures will surface, even at the expense of me being proven wrong. For the sake of the Iraqi people, for the sake of America, and for the sake of believing in the good in men.

Good luck.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 19, 2005 09:11 AM

What precisely is "false" about the dozens of pictures in the link Mark Poling gave? Other than the fact that if they're genuine they prove you're wrong. Care to offer any evidence that they're fake?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at June 19, 2005 10:04 AM

I asked for pictures of what Christopher Hitchens saw, with his own eyes. Not for some old archived material where children smile for having been treated with some candy.

That's what's fake about the link. You and Mark very well know this, but you pretend ignorance.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 20, 2005 09:23 AM

And should those hypothetical Hitchens pictures appear, you would say they were staged. ("Smile for having been treated to some candy.")

Tatter, we tease you because we find the froth amusing.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 20, 2005 11:51 AM

Tattered's wastreled maunderings.

Posted by: Michael B at June 20, 2005 02:49 PM

:Tatter, we tease you because
:we find the froth amusing.

Joke it away. But realize that you just lost a lot of credibility among the people that are reading this.

You have merely displayed your own lies and falsness for everyone to see. If I were you, I'd be ashamed.

Posted by: Tatterdemalion at June 21, 2005 09:13 AM

I link, therefore I lie. I'm skeptical, therefore I'm false.

I get it.

"Nasty tricksy hobbitses!"

The only thing I'm a little bit ashamed of is jousting with someone whom I believe to be a little bit unhinged. Otherwise, I'm more than willing to let you keep digging your own rhetorical holes.

Have a nice day.

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