Saturday, June 21, 2014

The infallible march of the kool-aid drinking, mission accomplished triumphalists ...

Alerted by Mike Carlton - in Iraq today was sadly so inevitable - the pond soon found itself at John Quiggin's site here, and then with a link, in a hop and a trice, the pond was in la la Bolter land on 2nd November 2007.

The pond reprints it for your pleasure and insight:

There is a reason Iraq has almost disappeared as an election issue. 
Here it is: The battle is actually over. Iraq has been won. 
I know this will seem to many of you an insane claim. Ridiculous! 
After all, haven't you read countless stories that Iraq is a "disaster", turned by a "civil war" into a "killing field"? 
Didn't Labor leader Kevin Rudd, in one of his few campaign references to Iraq, say it was the "greatest ... national security policy disaster that our country has seen since Vietnam"? 
You have. And you have been misled. 
Here is just the latest underreported news, out this week. 
Just 27 American soldiers were killed in action in Iraq in October - the lowest monthly figure since March last year. (This is a provisional figure and may alter over the next week.) 
The number of Iraqi civilians killed last month - mostly by Islamist and fascist terrorists - was around 760, according to Iraqi Government sources. 
That is still tragically high, but the monthly toll has plummeted since January's grim total of 1990. What measures of success do critics of Iraq's liberation now demand? 
Violence is falling fast. Al Qaida has been crippled. 
The Shiites, Kurds and Marsh Arabs no longer face genocide. 
What's more, the country has stayed unified. The majority now rules. 
Despite that, minority Sunni leaders are co-operating in government with Shiite ones. 
There is no civil war. The Kurds have not broken away. Iran has not turned Iraq into its puppet. 
And the country's institutions are getting stronger. The Iraqi army is now at full strength, at least in numbers. 
The country has a vigorous media. A democratic constitution has been adopted and backed by a popular vote. 
 Election after election has Iraqis turning up in their millions. 
Add it all up. Iraq not only remains a democracy, but shows no sign of collapse. 
I repeat: the battle for a free Iraq has been won. 
Now the task is one familiar to every democracy, and especially any in the Middle East: eternal vigilance. 
 If you doubt my assessment of Iraq, ask Osama bin Laden.
 Al-Qaida's media arm last week released a video on the internet in which bin Laden - or a man masquerading as him - revealed how disastrously his war against democracy in Iraq was going. 
He called for intensified fighting against the Americans and pleaded for Muslims in the region to come help. 
"Where are the soldiers of the Levant and the reinforcements from Yemen?" he demanded. 
"Where are the knights of Egypt and the lions of Hejaz (in Saudi Arabia)? Come to the aid of your brothers in Iraq." 
Bin Laden even let slip how badly al-Qaida has been mauled by the Sunni sheiks who have stopped fighting the US troops and turned on bin Laden's killers instead, by pleading for "unity" from the Sunnis and admitting "mistakes" had been made. 
Take that as an admission of defeat for the terrorists, and a sign of victory for Iraq and its liberators. To talk like this will, I know, choke many critics of the war with fury. How angry so many are to hear good news from Iraq. 
And how suspicious is their reaction. 
Don't we all actually wish for Iraq to be democratic, safe and free from tyranny? 
But, they'll splutter, but, but, but... I can hear them already. 
But the bloodshed in Iraq is terrible! Call that victory? 
And, yes, the killings are ghastly. Iraq is nowhere near safe, and our help is still needed to make it so. Yet the violence now does not threaten the country or its government. 
Go back to the days when American forces were fighting Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army for control of Najaf, or al-Qaida and its allies for Fallujah. 
Such battles for territory are over. Al-Sadr has maintained a ceasefire for more than two years, and is even part of Iraq's Government. 
American troops are now based in his Shiite heartland of Sadr City, and no Iraqi city is now under terrorist control as Fallujah once was. "Insurgents" rule nowhere. 
But we went to war on a lie! 
Actually, we went to war to free Iraq from a tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction, and would not guarantee he would not do so again. 
No lie. Job done. 
In any case, whatever you may think of the arguments put in 2003, the argument today is whether Iraq will survive as a democracy, and whether we should help it. 
The answers must be yes, and yes. Mustn't they? Hello? 
But if Iraq is "won", why are so many Iraqis still dying? 
Because some of the killers are just criminals, or are trying to kill their way to a piece of the action, or are - inevitably after so much cruelty and oppression - settling scores. 
Others are agents of Iran, which wants to make America pay and Iraq obey. 
And more - and the worst - are fanatics who just want to kill for their creed, and are killing Iraqis as they are killing Pakistanis, Algerians, Egyptians, Israelis and anyone else in the way of their jihad. 
Iraq remains an ugly place, with lethal hatreds, yet none of these killers are winning and Iraq will not fall to them. 
Consider: Iraq's official estimate of civilian deaths from violence is now about 25 a day. 
In South Africa, with twice the population, the official murder toll is 52 a day. That's a rate of killing equal to Iraq's. 
Do you think those murders will topple South Africa? 
And does anyone say of South Africa that these killings just prove freedom was not worth it? 
But how can you call this winning when Iraq's power supply is terrible, its police untrustworthy, its regions divided over how to share oil revenues, and its borders threatened by Turkey, which wants to hit back at Kurdish terrorists encamped in Iraq's north? 
True, Iraq has plenty of problems. Which Arab country does not? 
But it will solve them better without Saddam than with. And perfection is nowhere. 
 But, but, but ... but it wasn't worth it! See how many died! 
And here is the only objection that can be made with integrity. 
Yes, people have died, mainly at the hands of fellow Muslims. How many, no one knows. 
Perhaps 100,000 since the war in 2003? More? 
A ghastly loss, and thank God the killings are at last dwindling. 
But Iraq was no Eden under Saddam. If the deaths today are bad, the misery before was worse. 
As, of course, was the threat. 
The battle for Iraq always involved a grim calculus: would liberation save more people than it killed? 
So let's calculate how many died under Saddam. 
In 1980, the dictator invaded Iran, starting a war in which at least 500,000 people died. 
In 1987, he crushed the Kurds, killing perhaps 100,000 or more. In 1990, he invaded Kuwait, starting a war that killed more than 23,000. 
 n his defeat, he killed some 100,000 Shiites who rebelled. 
Add the mass executions he ordered, the purges he unleashed, the opposition activists he shot, the terrorist attacks he paid for. 
Remember also the children who died, robbed of medicines by his regime. 
Add them all up, and even by the most conservative count you see Saddam did not just threaten the West, but cost the lives of more than 100 Muslims a day, every day, for the 24 years of his barbaric rule. 
That's four times more than are being killed in Iraq today, often by Saddam's heirs and Saddam's like. 
Was Iraq worth it? Yes. It stands, it stays, and the winning of Iraq was worth it, indeed.

No doubt you could do the same exercise over and over again.

Carlton also quotes the triumphalism of Gerard Henderson and Greg Sheridan ...

But the Bolter's "mission accomplished" triumphalism was exceptional.

Top notch.

I repeat: the battle for a free Iraq has been won. 

And why is it important that the whole of the piece should be republished?

Well the dissembling war monger, stung by Carlton, doubles down. You know, the usual stuff, I was misquoted, I used used caveats, and anyway, it's all Obama's fault, he blew it.

Anything rather than admit that the triumphalism was the stupid product of a stupid mind:

Uh huh. So Obama tossed away the victory.

But hang on, the victory had already been won ...

And where were the caveats when it came to that last line?

Was Iraq worth it? Yes. It stands, it stays, and the winning of Iraq was worth it, indeed. 

What's just as alarming is that this is a man who routinely delivers the same sort of triumphalist nonsense about climate science.

The tragedy of course is that far too many people pay far too much attention to the Bolter, thereby bolstering his esteem, but whenever the pond drops in on his liar, the echoes of what A. E. van Voght dubbed "the right man" are eerie:

Essential here is that the "Right Man" must always have his way and is afraid of losing face above all ("How dare you talk to me this way?"): anything that might be an indication of his infallibility or erroneous ways, something that he can never admit. (and more here)

The Bolter is incapable of admitting error, and therein lies the tragedy for him and his kool-aid devouring acolytes ... and incidentally for the Abbott government and Greg Hunt, fellow kool-aid drinkers in their desire to diminish and downgrade the matter, and so for Australia and the rest of the planet, likely victims of such notions of infallibility ...


  1. Bolt clearly has a cog or two loose. I've long suspected he had a problem with the little grey cells, and trawling through DSM I think the closest fit is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet.

    Symptoms include:

    - Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

    - Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    - Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

    - Requires excessive admiration

    - Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

    - Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

    - Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

    - Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    1. To put it bluntly, he really is a dick-head!!

  2. SMH has an interesting piece on the value of comments to articles.

    Personally I find Loonpond worth reading every day, not just because of DP's erudition, humour and insightful analysis, but also because the comments are for the most part informed, non-abusive and often point in the direction of interesting links. And with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure.

    Sadly this may just be because the usual suspects haven't 'discovered' it yet.

    1. Other Anon, that's exactly what I think every time I come here (which is on a daily basis, and I become quite ecstatic if DP has posted 2 or even 3 times in a day) ... anyhoo, anywhere else I refrain from reading comments (like the ones at The Conversation - yikes), but here they're an additional pleasure, aren't they?
      Although I do recall one strange little person a while ago coming on here and ranting/wailing/teeth-gnashing - DP saw them off by offering/threatening to lend them her frocks :)

    2. The pond really values the comments and the quirky links provided by people and yes the general absence of malice and the sense of good humour, since we're all fucked and stuck in this vale of tears, but should at least enjoy it while we can. And besides, in the old days in Tamworth, the pond was shown how to deal with rams with a little snip if they got to doing too much head butting. There's always the Bolter or Akker Dakker for that ...

  3. I remember Bolt drinking a can of Coca Cola carefully before declaring that the carbon dioxide it contained was not toxic. Therefore we had nothing to worry about concerning the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. I eagerly looked forward to him helping himself to a glass or two radioactive water from Fukushima, but he refrained from the challenge, despite declaring the water perfectly safe.

    At the time of his triumphalism the invasion had gone on for five years, somewhat longer than Bush's "Mission Accomplished" moment. Obama wound down in 2011, some eight years after the invasion and apparently it was his fault for pulling out too soon. Just how long, and how many lives do you sacrifice before you ask questions about the cost of the commitment? Or about the number of lies we were told in order to get agreement for an invasion and occupation? Or even the more fundamental one of whether democracy can be imposed on a country by conquest, occupation and force?

    For someone who is either a first-order ignoramus or a liar, or both, he really is a pompous, narcissistic little twit. Usually it is enough to slap him down with laughter but occasionally he needs a more earnest kick up the khyber.

    It's great pity that Possum never caught up with him with that Casio that time.

    1. Actually Bolt is right about CO2 being non toxic- it's a suffocant and greenhouse gas. If you breath pure CO2 it will still kill you, by suffocation...
      So all in all it shouldn't come as a surprise as the Bolter is a bullshit artist.

  4. One reason the SMH is not yet beyond redemption (apart from a weekly hit of Mike Carlton), is Godfrey Day's review of Michael Schmidt's 'The Novel: a Biography.'

    Forget that Schmidt's title is derivative, (from the extremely excellent 'London: a Biography' by Peter Ackroyd.) And also allow that Day is prone to the purplish, as in "Schmidt curates a mix of aphoristic opinion with a self-reflexive intelligence and a refreshing determination to canvas the voices not of critics and academics but of the novelists themselves", which reminds one of a Fry and Laurie sketch.

    But it is well worth reading. It doesn't patronise or dumb-down, and exercises the intelligence and is a worthy book review in a great tradition.

    1. Ooops - Gregory Day. Sorry Greg.

    2. Here's one great example.

  5. "it is just SO UNFAIR for anyone to doubt the counsel of the people who were so spectacularly wrong on Iraq the first time around. After all, they probably have a lot that they can contribute, considering their expertise in being dead wrong. Maybe they’ll be right this time. It could happen!"



Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.