Monday, March 06, 2006

A tale of two Sullies

There's domestic Sully, who is frequently logical, readable and even right a fair amount of the time. And even when I disagree with domestic Sully (on abortion, for example), his arguments are often reasonable.

Then there's Iraq Sully -- one of the most unconvincingly delusional voices ever to out-stupid the Mustache of Freedom.

Here he adopts the "wisdom" of a reader who shares his magical thinking:

(S)uppose we hadn't gone in? True, Saddam didn't, and still wouldn't, have any WMD, but (as we know all too well right now) the WMD issue was only the beginning. The Saddam regime was inherently unstable and some kind of crackup was coming to Iraq eventually anyway.

The lesson can only be: the entire civilized world ("The West", if you will) needs to take more seriously the problem of unstable and/or failed states, and needs to develop and actual functioning machinery for dealing with them, including situations in which Iraq-style "regime change" is the agreed-upon course of action.

This is the foreign policy equivalent of the motto of the ham-fisted mechanic: "if it don't fit, force it; if it breaks, it needed replacing anyway." The convenience of this self-serving rationalization ought to make us extremely skeptical of its application. Is there a context in which Sully would not be able to justify the destruction of a nation this way? And you need to have a Dubya-class messianic streak to believe that you somehow help a failing state by hastening its collapse.

Is this the bedwetter's way of trying to escape the Pottery Barn Rule? "We don't own it, 'cause we didn't really break it if it was going to break anyway."

This lame exercise in situational ethics also leads to a place its proponents are unlikely to want to go. See, to be internally consistent, you either have to (a) accept the responsibility to destroy rescue every failed state (which means sending the military in force into Darfur and Somalia and Bosnia and on and on, or (b) admit that the invasion of Iraq was not about Iraq's alleged instability, but about something else, like... oil, perhaps?

The plea for "functioning machinery" to deal with failing states? How about the one John Bolton is busy destroying? As it turns out, the U.N. was probably doing as good a job as could have been done in dealing with Saddam, and we did a bang-up job of undermining it.

Oh, and "agreed upon course of action"? That would be an interesting universe, but it is not the universe in which most of us live. Nobody outside the Pampers set agreed on Bush's insanity. There may have been a broad acquiesence, a tragic surrender to the inevitable, but that was not agreement. And even the grudging indulgence he received was was bought with lies and misrepresentations that would void any civil contract. So calling Bush's folly the product of an "agreed upon course of action" is flagrant revisionism.

How domestic Sully and Iraq Sully can occupy the same space at the same time is a paradox that Newtonian physics is powerless to explain.


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