Why Are Left-Wing Brits Like Hitchens, Amis And Rushdie Supporting President Bush?
March 11, 2002 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Why Are Left-Wing Brits Like Hitchens, Amis And Rushdie Supporting President Bush? In this terrific article, The New Statesman's John Lloyd dares to pose the question. To which I would add my own: so far as the campaign against terrorism is concerned, isn't the standard Right/Left dichotomy becoming an increasingly American thang? [Please look inside Ty Webb's "Axis of Evil" post for an interesting discussion on the Hitchens/Bush (dis)connection]
posted by MiguelCardoso (37 comments total)
Are they supporting Bush, or are they supporting America and the freedoms it is defending?

If anything, I think the interesting take from this is that these thinkers have stepped outside of the politics of it, at least a little. Instead of asking, Where do my political allegiances lie?, they have asked, What is right? It is the more honest question, and the more important one to answer.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:17 PM on March 11, 2002

With Rushdie, Hitchens, and Amis all living in the States it is a bit misleading to view them as representative of non-American thought.

Your take is completely the opposite of the article Miguel. The article quotes Rushdie as shocked when on a UK visit that people had a different view from his.

These authors are notable because, as individuals, they deviate from what you would expect from them on stricly partisan lines not because they represent a trend away from right and left in general.
posted by srboisvert at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2002

As we say in Britain, bollocks. No left-wingers here support Bush. In fact, few Brits support Bush full stop (or "period").

The announcement about the amended nuclear targets, no matter how the Pentagon is spinning it retrospectively, upsets and frightens people here. Many express worry that Blair will join with Bush in an Iraq attack which has no clear justification or connection with September 11th. What I find particularly disturbing is that (like with the famous photos of bound and gagged Camp X Ray prisoners), the US Government is issuing these bizarrely xenophobic press releases with no small amount of pride.
posted by skylar at 12:48 PM on March 11, 2002

Well again, prior to September 11 the left was the only political group openly critical of the Taliban as a religious theocracy for its treatment of women and suppression of both religious and secular freedom. What is ironic is that after September 11 the left allowed itself to be painted into a corner as cultural relativists, when prior to September 11 the right-wing tended to consider the Taliban to be an internal problem.

Although what the article failed to mention is that a lot of anti-Americanism is based on some valid criticisms of the realpolitik developed under Reagan and Bush that frequently treated the national sovereignty of its allies as inconvenient and best and worst something that could be easily dealt with by funding American-backed terrorist groups. A lot of people support the war in Afghanistan while not necessarily supporting Bush on the premise that even a broken clock is right a couple of times every day. On the other hand American foreign policy has a serious credibility problem while it actively courts Communist China and Vietnam as potential market partners and continues to punish Communist Cuba, when it goes to war against terrorists in Central Asia while training and funding terrorists in Central America, when it intervenes in genocide in the Balkans and turns a blind eye to genocide in Indonesia.

The article is good in pointing out that large segments of the left are motivated by the belief that the ideals that came out of the American Revolution in regards to democracy and basic freedoms should apply to all people, rather than just when it is economically convenient for the United States to make a quick dollar. The demand from most of the left is not that America should be disbanded, but that America should walk the walk of promoting freedom.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:55 PM on March 11, 2002

I think with Hitchens the point is that he burnt his bridges with much of the American left by the way he sold out Blumenthal, and he now seems determined to pick fights at every opportunity. I think most people aren't too impressed by Hitchens anymore, despite his dogged and laudable pursuit of Kissinger. He seems to have a compulsion to betray his friends, and 'contrarian' is about right.

As for Rushdie and Amis (although apparently Amis didn't mean it and still lives in London), there was always a big thing about how they fell in love with New York when they moved there and started slagging off London. As srboisvert says, they aren't representative of British thought, because they've basically gone native.
posted by Gaz at 12:56 PM on March 11, 2002

Well, judging from this little snippet in last Thursdays Guardian, Hitchens isn't about to become Dubya's poodle ,
"Very quietly, the Bush administration is moving to subvert the work of the International Criminal Court. Though it supported and even demanded the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, it now says that the cost of such trials is too high. The financial cost, I mean: while billions are being allotted to elaborate schemes of "homeland defence" and "counter-terrorism", the expense of justice is deemed prohibitive.

We don't know the cost of the Camp X-Ray facility at Guantanamo Bay, but it can't be cheap, and the whole legal and moral embarrassment of that could have been avoided if there were an international body, recognised by the US, before which those who commit crimes against humanity could be brought.

Now we learn that, though the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power has already been taken (and will probably be implemented this year), there is no intention, at least on the part of Washington, of putting Saddam himself on trial.

It's not absolutely clear how to interpret this. Some people in the administration more or less confirm, in private, that he's not expected to survive his removal. But this can only be known in advance if it has, so to speak, been decided in advance. And even then, what if he escapes to another country and asks for asylum? There will be no legal framework with which to pursue him.

Meanwhile, the US continues to shelter its own war criminal in the shape of Henry Kissinger. But the atmosphere around him continues to grow thinner. He has just had an exceedingly rough reception in Cork and Dublin, with vigorous protests at his appearances and newspaper demands for his arrest. And his visit to Brazil, scheduled for next week, has been cancelled. The Brazilian ambassador in Washington confirmed to a colleague of mine that this followed representations from the Brazilian government. There have been calls for his detention there, too. London, to its shame, seems to be one of the few capital cities that this creature can visit with impunity."
He has defended Bush in the recent past however, or at least tried to.
I think the point I am trying to make is that Hitchens has complex views on this,perhaps due to his neighbourhood coming under attack.
This apparent denunciation of intellectuals features Hitchens prominently if you can get to the end of it. I think his mate may have written it.
posted by Fat Buddha at 12:58 PM on March 11, 2002

FYI, the New Statesman is the magazine that also "dared" to offer a ransom to anyone that assassinates George W. Bush. They are the magazine that is now largely refusing to print anything that isn't virulently anti-American, even from their own regular writers.
posted by aaron at 1:04 PM on March 11, 2002

Oh yes, I almost forgot, the New Statesman's anti-Semitic as well.
posted by aaron at 1:08 PM on March 11, 2002

aaron: I'm sure you noticed that John Lloyd is the same guy as the one in your article complaining about being censored, so I guess that doesn't discredit the article Miguel posted.
Full disclosure: I have interned at the New Statesman.

And they have profusely apologised for that front cover. Don't push the anti-semitism thing too far.
posted by Gaz at 1:13 PM on March 11, 2002

I am baffled by the article and the responses. Rushdie has a thing against Muslims that I have seen from time to time. Hitchens is more to the right than to the left these days, or moves about, whichever way is profitable for him at a given time. Amis? Perhaps just an older guy (like so many) who began with the Left and with age shfted to the Right.
But that is but one issue. What was done by the terrorists and those that supported and used them made them clearly an enemy that had to be dealt with...and there are a few on the Left who are against the taking the fight to Afghanistan, though they may begin to speak up as the war on terror widens. Sort of like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Can you honestly be against striking back?
The znetters, Chomsky, Zinn, and Said of course never have anything decent to say about anything American. Why should they? They live here with tenured postions or, in Zinn's case, nicely retired.
posted by Postroad at 1:22 PM on March 11, 2002

Progressive republican (notice the little R) describes the political stands of Hitchens and Naipul. That isn't exactly “left”. In that sense they are much more accurately described as centrists — which I always thought Hitchens was anyway — than lefties.

I don’t like this idea that the “left” is a singular monolithic collection of ideas and theories. There are plenty that are perfectly supportive of the war, as some conservatives are against it. Individualism and independent thought is a characteristic to be cultivated, or so my elementary school teachers told me.

More importantly, I am wholly tired of this celebrity/hero worship focused on public intellectuals. There has been an explosion in taking stock of feuds and snipes—gossip as public affairs. Eric Alterman’s last column is a good example, this link features a professional journalist turning dueling theories into a gossip beat. These guys must really miss Lingua Franca.

When no idea adequately explains current events there seems to be a tendency to sink to the basest of the culture war. We get a balance sheet of gripes and alliances. It doesn’t really get us any closer to understanding our world, and does a pathetic job of divying up teams. One side we have freedom-loving internationalists. On the other, freedom-loving developers. Make sure you don’t think both sides have good ideas, or you’ll be assigned to the band stand. Nuance doesn’t read well in the gossip sheets.

article: “the values derived from the American revolution represent the highest achievement of political economy and that there can now be no credible challenge to them”

Ah, the end of history. I wondered where the Vandals took this relic after sacking Rome.

kirk: “the left allowed itself to be painted into a corner as cultural relativists”

I don’t really see this as a left-right culture issue. It’s powerful vs. the impotent. You have people that are very supportive of actions the powerful took and have been completely dismissive of the impotent for a long time. In the absence of revolution, those who ally themselves with the dominant culture win, or so Pierre Bourdieu said.

Buddha: USN&WR is a conservative mag owned and edited by Mort Zuckerman, a free market a go-go polemicist and hard-core Zionist.

Hey, did my reply elicudiate anyone’s understanding of current affairs or was it the epitomy of a logical fallacy (circumstantial ad hominem)? Fun and pointless. I guess I see why the intellectually feeble prefer the gossip to the ideas. So it goes.
posted by raaka at 1:30 PM on March 11, 2002

Wow, great comment raaka. I think maybe the reason why we get interested in these public intellectuals is that we feel that our own voices aren't being heard and so we want them to speak for us. Don't know how to cure that though...
posted by Gaz at 1:43 PM on March 11, 2002

Thanks, raaka, re name-dropping of Public Intellectuals that Maybe, Maybe .125 percent of the Population Know Anything About: It's like high school, only with longer words, the occasional lame pop culture reference and more journalism/political junkie lingo and jargon. It's also like the would-be pundit sector of the blogger world, only with actual salaries. There is now much crossover between the two, though, so much that you can't tell where one world begins and the other ends.
posted by raysmj at 1:47 PM on March 11, 2002

I did notice. I'm not attempting to discredit the article itself or Miguel. I was attempting to point out where this publication is coming from, and that they seem to have only run this article after caving to public pressure and/or embarrassment.

And if you think the cover was the only problem with that "Zionist lobby" issue, you're wrong.
posted by aaron at 1:56 PM on March 11, 2002

and hard-core Zionist.

raaka, I bet you just LOVED that New Statesman cover, didn't you? I mean, those guys really protect us from "Zionists", as you and mr Arafat like to say, don't they?
posted by matteo at 2:03 PM on March 11, 2002

I am wholly tired of this celebrity/hero worship focused on public intellectuals

Don't worry, outside of some weblogs (including Mefi) and political journals the public in general doesn't give a flying fuck who any of these people are. Thank god.
posted by owillis at 2:06 PM on March 11, 2002

aaron: We're increasingly off-topic, so I'll be brief. I read that issue. I thought the articles were correct: there is a (badly-organised, and somewhat laughable) Zionist lobby that attempts to influence the press. There is also a common equation of anti-Zionism with anti-semitism, which is ludicrous and damaging. I am Jewish and anti-Zionist, and I'm not 'self-hating' either. Anyway, this article pretty much sums it up. I doubt we'll agree though, so I won't go on.
posted by Gaz at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2002

i think it's a mistake to assume that these people are suddenly on the other end of the political spectrum because they're supportive of Bush's policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda. (not being a pacifist doesn't automatically make you right-winger.) It also doesn't make them supportive of Bush in general and if you read Hitchen's articles in the last couple of weeks, you'd see a lot of criticism. i think there's a small but vocal contingency on the far left that views any agreement with Bush as "selling out to the right wing" even though some of Bush's policies support causes that the left would ordinarily espouse. hitchens blamed this phenomenon on the far left's tendency to adamantly oppose any cause that would put them on the same side of the fence as their own government.

hitchens has been a long-time opponent of what he refers to as "theocratic despotism" and if Henry Kissinger happened to be President and were taking the same steps as the Bush administration, I think you'd still see some level of "agreement" on Hitchens' part, even if it forced him into the same corner as one of his favorite targets.
posted by lizs at 2:19 PM on March 11, 2002

Hmm.The New Statesman. This has always been soft left, reflecting its Fabian roots. I am sure many prominent Jews
have contributed too it over the years . The current editor has admitted that he wants to make rather than reflect the news.
Most people have never heard of it and I think it has a circulation of about 30,000, although because of its history it is assumed to carry more importance than its circulation figures would warrant. For whatever reason the editor is a scandalmonger, probably attempting to keep a high profile for himself to ensure lucrative employment as a talking head once his N.S days are over.
It is also worth noting that the 2 principle protagonists, Wilby and Lloyd are on opposing sides in the Blair/Brown contretemps and this could be little more than a snidey continuation of that battle. It interests me that Lloyd went running to the Telegraph, the most right wing of all British dailies.
Whatever, to suggest the N.S is virulently anti American and anti semetic is, I think, overstating it somewhat.
posted by Fat Buddha at 2:19 PM on March 11, 2002

Interesting article, particularly since Amis' "Time's Arrow" was so moving. Were he to create one, an Amis portrait of flying jumbo jetliners building skyscraper and life out of glass shards and flame (or of American smart bombs and missiles magically sucking the shrapnel from the bodies of Middle and Near Eastern children) would be unforgettable.

If only it could be.

But ironically, adjectives like "right" and "left" merely hide our similarities. One minute "the right" calls for isolationism, decrying "nation-building" despite clear evidence of genocide (e.g. during the Clinton years); the next moment they're sending hired guns aross the globe. "The left" is willing to give peace a chance, at least until rising gas prices and war in their own skies makes "peace" involve significant personal sacrifice and involvement.

One forgets that those on the "left" have always been perfectly ready to ram their special peace sign right up the rectum of anybody who disagrees with them. One forgets how recently the hypocrites on "the right" discovered women's rights and the dark side of religious fundamentalism...discovered human rights now that it suits their lust for war.

In the article, Lloyd writes "It is a politics that at least promises to redefine national interest to include the halt of mass murder. " A worthy goal, wouldn't you say? The corollary to Lloyd's statement, of course, is that under both "left" and "right" governments of the past, the halt of mass murder has not been our interest. What an indictment of each of us that we must speak of a "redefinition" of "national interest" to include that particular concept.

When it comes down to it -- left, or right, American or European, Taliban or Navy Seal -- when each renounces the practice of murder...the practice and insanity of violence as a response to violence...then there will be no murder.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2002

Thanks guys.

owillis: You are right. I’m not sure whether people being ignorant about public intellectuals is good or bad, though. Sorta good and sorta bad.

Gaz: Read Bob’s book, ol boy. It outlines a framework to counter-act what you describe.

matteo: Funny. Zionism isn't a bad word, but your juvenile and overwrought reaction implies you think it is.

I like f&m. The 5th paragraph is a keen insight.
posted by raaka at 3:04 PM on March 11, 2002

I think a high proportion of the (UK) population will have heard of Amis and Rushdie (not Hitchens) and will be mildly interested in what they have to say. Only mildly because they're both some years past their best.
posted by Summer at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2002

fold_and_mutilate said: But ironically, adjectives like "right" and "left" merely hide our similarities. One minute "the right" calls for isolationism, decrying "nation-building" despite clear evidence of genocide (e.g. during the Clinton years); the next moment they're sending hired guns aross the globe. "The left" is willing to give peace a chance, at least until rising gas prices and war in their own skies makes "peace" involve significant personal sacrifice and involvement.

One forgets that those on the "left" have always been perfectly ready to ram their special peace sign right up the rectum of anybody who disagrees with them. One forgets how recently the hypocrites on "the right" discovered women's rights and the dark side of religious fundamentalism...discovered human rights now that it suits their lust for war.

John Ralston Saul, a Canadian social philospher and current governer general spouse, had an interesting observation about the whole right-wing\left-wing false dichotomy. In his book The Doubter's Companion - A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense he points out that the terms are a quirk of architecture from the assembly during the French Revolution. The politico's sat with their friends who shared political beliefs and thus the metaphorical political spectrum was born. If it were not for the need to have an entrance to the hall there would have been a circular spectrum which would have had the extreme left sitting next to their closest ideological mates, the extreme right. This thought tends to make me chuckle like a WWF fan about to see the Hulkster go up against the Rock.
posted by srboisvert at 3:55 PM on March 11, 2002

A lot of pundits in the UK are pretty anti an attack on Iraq. I'm a Brit, and I say invade as soon as is possible. As far as I'm concerned, anyone that doesn't agree with that is simply ignorant, or living in a dream world.

The left can argue that the West has contributed to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children over the last 10 odd years. They can also argue that sanctions have been ineffectual as they have failed to destabilise the leadership, or prevented it from continuing his weapons programme, and that they have increased hatred of the west.

However no one, left or right, can argue that the world is safe whilst Saddam Hussein remains in power. No one can say with certainty that Saddam Hussein won't do something truly horrific before he dies.

For my money, it is likely that he will. Why? Because the guy wants to become immortal, remembered forever as one of the great Islamic warriors. He wants to be spoken of in the same breathe as Saladin. As things stand, he is not far off his goal, but not yet there. No one should under estimate him, or his desire for glory. If you leave him in power, you are playing Russian roulette, it is as simple as that.
posted by RobertLoch at 7:32 PM on March 11, 2002

Robert Loch: I won't comment on the rest of your post, but I wonder where on Earth you're coming from with the "Islamic warrior" bit. Iraq, under the leadership of el dictador Hussein, attacked freakin' Iran in 1980, which at the time of the attack had just had a Islamic fundamentalist revolution and become a conservative Muslim theocracy. Saddam is a secular Arab nationalist, not a would-be "Islamic warrior." (Iran, for the record, is not an Arab nation.)
posted by raysmj at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2002

I'm a Brit, and I say invade as soon as is possible.

You also continue to admire Thatcher, M. which places you amongst an ideological minority even smaller than the Tory party. And what raysmj said about 'Islamic warriors': frankly, Dubya looks more likely to bring upon the apocalypse in order to cement his reputation. So it's probably best if you stop reading The Sun for foreign news.
posted by riviera at 8:32 PM on March 11, 2002

The question itself belies a bias opinion.
Why Are Left-Wing Brits Like Hitchens, Amis And Rushdie Supporting President Bush?

i.e., support for Bush, regardless of specifics, is a BAD thing!
posted by HTuttle at 8:48 PM on March 11, 2002

raysmj, very good of you to point out that Iran isn't an Arab country. Perhaps you could also tell me about the religous distinctions between the 2?

To answer your question, everything that a muslim does is in the name of Allah. Saddam has one true goal, and that is the eradication of Israel.

riviera, I lived in the middle east. It is a wonderful experience living in a foreign culture. I very much recommend it to you, although, wait until you leave school. Get your education, and a bit of maturity, and then do it.
posted by RobertLoch at 11:26 PM on March 11, 2002

raysmj, Saddam is not an Islamist, but he is a Ba'athist -- which is, essentially, Islamic nationalist-socialism, theoretically replacing the soviet with the shura. It's a minor distinction. He sees himself as a new Nasser, an Arab Saladin. I am sure he considers himself a good Sunni Muslim. At the same time he has no use for the Islamist vision of a theocracy of the mullahs, especially of Shi'ite mullahs.

While it may not be the most accurate description, "Islamic warrior" probably fits as the legacy he'd like to leave in the history books.
posted by dhartung at 12:41 AM on March 12, 2002

Get your education, and a bit of maturity, and then do it.

You appear to have spat out your dummy, Tory Boy. Pick it up, won't you? (Iran is Persian, not Arab: a different linguistic, ethnic and cultural heritage. Damn my lack of education and maturity.)

On to the more egregious departure from accuracy:

he is a Ba'athist -- which is, essentially, Islamic nationalist-socialism, theoretically replacing the soviet with the shura. It's a minor distinction.

Actually, it's a rather major distinction, and it's that distinction which accounts for the political success of Ba'athism in its heyday. (Essentially, you're bullshitting, by trying to push a square peg into a round hole, and I suspect you know it.)

Ba'athism was created specifically as an pan-Arabist secular movement (ie neither nationalist nor Islamic) as an ideological antidote to both the sectarianism within Islam, and the religious boundaries in the Arab world. Its ideological founders were French-educated Syrians: an Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, and an Alawite. The distinction between Ba'athist power structures and Islamic ones was revolutionary, not evolutionary. And certainly not 'minor'.

This secularism explains the success of Ba'athism in states such as Syria and Lebanon, with large Christian, Druze and fringe Muslim denominations: it played on what united Arabs, rather than what distinguished them from each other. (Assad could never have orchestrated his coup on the basis of his Islamic credentials, given that he came from the 'heretical' Alawite sect. This also explains why he was so quick to crack down on Wahhabist fundamentalism in Syria, given its intolerance towards perceived heretics.)

While it may not be the most accurate description...

It doesn't even qualify for the accuracy playoffs. Try here, or even here (an fine Israeli source on Iraqi propaganda), for slightly more accurate background information. (You can even dive into this piece from the Washington Post, if you're looking for US sources: it's a bit slapdash, though.) Saddam's self-image is as an Arab warrior first, and 'Islamic' only when it suits the purposes of his propagandists (and those of the US). Rather like the self-image of the US as a 'defender of freedom and democracy' while propping up friendly tyrannies in Central Asia.
posted by riviera at 2:00 AM on March 12, 2002

Mid East post of the day goes to riviera. Do come again.
posted by raaka at 2:28 AM on March 12, 2002

I'd always planned on going to the Riviera. Always seemed bright and clear.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:41 AM on March 12, 2002

'Iran is Persian, not Arab.'

Really. You are obviously a real expert on the subject if you think that it is clever to know that. Are you an expert on France as well, do you know what the capital is? I'm not spitting my dubbie, I'm just recommending to you that you wait until you get a little older before you move abroad. Sound advice, that is all.

'It doesn't even qualify for the accuracy playoffs.'

I said that he wants to be remembered as a great "Islamic Warrior" which is primarily what he wants to be remembered as. If you don't understand why, doing a Google search, reading a few selected stories, and posting the results here, ain't going to help. Although it seems to impress some. Talk to an Arab, speak to an Iraqi, try and get an understanding of Saddam's perspective. For me, the more I understood, the more concerned I got.

In the meantime, read this. It is written by someone that knows what they are talking about.
posted by RobertLoch at 8:04 AM on March 12, 2002

matteo: Funny. Zionism isn't a bad word, but your juvenile and overwrought reaction implies you think it is.
Well, you called "Zionist" a guy who, btw, is a Jewish American magazine publisher, well...it's very very very close to what Anti-Semitic propaganda tries to sell: "The Zionist lobby", "the Zionist conspiracy", etc.
Check it out a little, nobody uses that word in a context like that except for AntiSemites. And anyway Dr. King said exactly that: that calling a modern-day Jewish person a Zionist is basically an AntiSemitic slur. I may be juvenile, but I prefer Dr. King's company, raaka, thank you very much.
If you're really not anti-Semite, check out who's using that word, you'll see that you're in pretty scary company.
posted by matteo at 8:09 AM on March 12, 2002

matteo: This is so ridiculous. It is not anti-semitic to call someone a Zionist, because lots of people call themselves Zionists, and it defines a political position. Zionism is simply Jewish nationalism. It would only be anti-semitic if you assumed that all Jews were Zionists, just as it would be francophobe to assume that all French people were French nationalists. The fact that Zionism is a political position, which is chosen not innate, means that it is legitimate to point out this allegiance when discussing a person's political opinions. Here's an unrelated article from a Jewish source describing Zuckerman as an "unreconstructed Zionist"; it is not an insult. There is nothing illegitimate about pointing out pro-Israel bias in the media where it occurs (though it is hardly universal). It would take very little effort with Google to discover that Zuckerman has constrained the coverage of Israel in his magazine. Since Zionism, as a form of nationalism, is not a belief that is beyond criticism, there is nothing wrong with arguing that someone is wrong because they are too Zionist. The argument about whether nationalism in general is a good idea is a more or less open one, though I suspect most people think that it is not.
posted by Gaz at 8:47 AM on March 12, 2002

The point is, that it is not how you or I see him, or how he saw himself in the past, that matters. It is how he sees himself now.

Although somewhat abstract, this book contains some good insight into where Saddam maybe heading.

A quote:
'Since the 10th century, Islamic clerics have taught that at the end of time a man from the family of the prophet Mohammed will appear and strengthen their religion and usher in an era of perfect justice. He will be called "Imam Mahdi." In recent years, Saddam has paid homage to Islam by taking a pilgrimage to Mecca. He has added the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) to the Iraqi flag. He has had a copy of the Koran handwritten in his own blood. He has begun to build the largest mosque in the world in Baghdad with room for 45,000 worshippers. He calls for the "sword of jihad" against Israel. The secular Saddam who used to wear pin-striped suits and sunglasses is being replaced by the religious Saddam pictured in Muslim prayer attire.

Recently, Saddam presented to the Iraqi public his family tree, tracing his roots back to the prophet Mohammed, whose grandson was the revered seventh century saint Hussein. Saddam has exploited the name Hussein for his own political and cultic purposes. He also compares himself to the Arab warrior Saladin, who fought the Christian crusaders. "

Regardless, I'm certain that he wants to be remembered as a true Islamic Warrior. It is typical for Dictators to increasingly believe that they have the support of God, the longer that they remain in power.

Anyhow, I believe that left unchecked he will do something truly appalling. Something that makes September 11 seem like amateur hour. Can anyone say with any certainty that I'm wrong.
posted by RobertLoch at 10:09 AM on March 12, 2002

Postroad made the following comment but I just wanted to preface my remarks by saying that they are not directed specifically at postroad but are in reaction to the ideas he stimulated:

"Sort of like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Can you honestly be against striking back?"

But, I think that may be the crux of the problem for many who are not slammed up against the left end up of the spectrum. There are people against attacking al Queda and bin Laden. Immediately after Sept. 11, Tamim Ansary wrote is somewhat infamous email about how wrong it would be to attack and it was carried far and wide. Every "lefty" I knew sent me a copy encouraging me to send it to everyone I knew. It was picked up by Salon and run in several other mainstream publications. Problem is, despite what was claimed, Ansary was not an expert on Afghanistan as everyone on the left had built him up to be. He lived there 25 years ago and came to the US where he writes . . . CHILDREN'S BOOKS!!! His claims that a war in Afghanistan was futile, have been proved wrong. His claims that attacking was simply a play into the hands of bin Laden, wrong again.

Now, one could dismiss that as simply one man, one email, one opinion. But, the problem, IMHO, is that this is the classic MO of the "intellectual left." Instead of even considering that retaliation might be in order to protect lives, the Chomsky's of the world came out in force to label the US as deserving of the attacks and thus, not justified in any sort of retaliation. But the bigger issue is that at least most people know that the average American redneck is an idiot, but leftist views displaying the same degree of ignorance are idolized by the "intellectuals."

I think this article makes a good point that being a true intellectual is about freeing yourself from the bounds of the political spectrum. How many debates here on MeFi end up with some sort of pro-Bush, anti-Bush debate on an issue that has nothing to do with Bush? All that's needed for some is the person they hate to be for or against something and like some knee-jerk reaction, they automatically take an opposing view and then label themselves an intellectual or "a free thinker." Believe it or not, sometimes the right thing is the popular thing. You don't have to always go against the grain to be right.

How can we solve problems if we reject solutions based on who's idea it is?
posted by billman at 10:23 AM on March 12, 2002

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