None the Wiser

"Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think." --J.S. Mill

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Saturday, March 22, 2003
 
I'm sorry, but this strikes me as undignified.

Note to morons everywhere: If your only son joins the Marines, don't get yourself worked into a lather when he's sent to die in some faraway country for some cause you're not so keen on. That's what Marines do, and if you haven't prepared for that fact then you need to grow up. All the free medical care and education credits don't mean that the USMC is some kind of welfare to work program with snazzy uniforms.

{link via Drudge}

 
One of my regular blogosphere reads is The Politburo. Moynihan's war coverage has been pretty darn good. Check them out.

Friday, March 21, 2003
 
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a conspiracy nut. But I have to say it seems pretty evident that Fox News is sort of an official USAF mouthiece at the moment. Every commentator drones on about the wonderful dedication of our troops, all the great benefits this will have for the poor oppressed peoples of Iraq, all the amazing toys we have, how overwhelming our capability is, and how bad the French suck ass, and on and on. I agree with them on this stuff, it's just that all this obsequious commentary is interjected into "straight news" segments. Their temporary slogan needs to be "They Decide, We Report."

All of this is to be expected, and much of it is necessary, but I'm starting to wonder what price these "embedded" reporters. Considering the total paucity of actual news coming out of those units (we're basically getting pixelated dust) it looks like the major news networks took a sucker deal. All the news is good news, none of it is somber, and Ollie North--don't even get me started on Ollie. I respect the guy and all, real patriot, blah blah. But he's a tool, and he knows it.

And what about these "surrenders" we're seeing? I saw an American rifleman patting down an Iraqi "soldier" who was dressed in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a shiny new wrist watch, and tennis shoes. Perfectly shaven, well fed, recent haircut, and clean. He looked better than I do right now. And nary a weapon in sight. This was not a guy who has been roughing it in some foxhole in the desert somewhere, and he sure as hell wasn't surrendering right then and there. This was obviously a "smile for the camera" moment.

All of this may give the impression that I want my news like CBS or NPR, with a "quagmire" here and a "failure of diplomacy" there and fatalistic, despondent reporting everywhere to accompany the proper sense of sadness over the tragedy of it all. Actually, that's not it. Peter Jennings must be destroyed.

I just hate to see hour after hour of tightly-controlled reporting, every second of which stinks of propaganda, served up as an unprecedented glimpse into the real world of American warfare. People, what we're getting is so incredibly sanitized it's unbelievable. There's simply no such thing as a war in which practically all the facts are just wonderful.

It's the most effective disinformation campaign I've ever seen, and it's impressive. The bottom line is, we aren't going to know shit about the actual goings-on in Iraq for some time, nor should we. Our only two sources of information are an autocratic police state and what little the US military clears through the censors. True, there are some independent snippets getting through from the foreign press, but it's really damned hairy in that country right now, so most of that will be rumor and conjecture. For the moment it's extremely difficult to tell truth from falsity.

Let's not forget the sheer firepower being brought to bear, and how nasty it's got to be. If there is any place you don't want to be right now without a chaperone, that's it. So this "unprecedented" look into the war has me underwhelmed. It's so incredibly ugly in Iraq right now, if we were to get that down-and dirty, under-the-fingernails inspection of the front lines people were expecting, support for the war might just take a big hit. This isn't Star Wars, where all the Imperial troops miss from four feet away, and they die invisibly behind their armor in a spray of exciting sparks. This is thousands of tons of ordinance splattering lots of things and lots of people into lots of littler things, none of which are people. We aren't seeing the real war over there, not at all.

Too much is riding on the outcome for it to work any other way, and I am a-OK with that. We're under a microscope, and the entire world wants to know every last detail. Much of it will come in time, but for now, I'm a little irritated. Maybe I need a nap.

 
If you aren't aware of it already, the major bombing phase has begun. It's quite a display of power. Yikes.

On the other hand, if you're getting your news from NTW, you need to get out more.

 
Charles Krauthammer is always right about everything all the time. Always. Read his latest on the UN, and why it is totally insane for Bush to return to them with his hat in his hands when the war is over.

UPDATE: Holy Shiznit!!! I beat LGF to this link! Woo-hoo!! (Love ya, Charles.)

 
James Lileks, Dear Leader of the Blogger's Republic, is giving us a play-by-play:

3:10 PM NPR is interviewing a Saudi editor, who warns us that the average Saudi - who of course holds Saddam in contempt as a brutal butcher - will nevertheless be very angry if America kills fifty Iraqis and continues to block UN resolutions on Israel. I say when this war is over we couple the issue of Palestinian rights with Saudi women’s rights. Self-determination for everyone. The Pals get autonomy; Saudi women get driver’s licenses. Agreed?

Go check out his war coverage, which is so good it hurts. Best update:

7:30 PM Gnat is watching her “Colors, Shapes and Numbers” video. I always commit the credits to memory in case I run across its creators, in which case I will pull out the length of piano wire I keep for just that moment. I will work quickly; the element of surprise will be on my side. I will say: this is for that Rollie Rectangle character who raps in a posh English accent. He’ll go limp. I think in a way he expected it to end this way.

I am SO not worthy.


 
Is it just me or does this little quotation by Michael Moynihan's the Politburo just tell you everything you ever needed to know about Hans Blix?

Thursday, March 20, 2003
 
Our first reported casualties of the conflict:

A CH-46 carrying 16 soldiers, a mix of UK troops and US Marines, crashed in Kuwait. There were no survivors.

Now we owe them victory, as well our never-ending gratitude. That goes for all the people of the UK as well. I for one will never forget their steadfast loyalty, and it truly pains me to know what it's costing them.

Carry on.

 
The Fruits of Unionized Government

"Operation Iraqi Freedom"??? Sorry but that's weak. Anything but that.

How about "Operation Unimaginative Hack," or "Operation Whatever Works"? Damn. Surely if we can shoot down a missile in flight we can do better than this nonsense. Even "Operation Infinite Justice" was a little bit in line with the mood of the day, though it too needed to be scrapped. Not that "Enduring Freedom" was exactly a stroke of genius either. Are we going to start putting "Freedom" at the end of every operational tag?

Next up: Operation Transparent PR Stunt...Freedom.

And what the hell is going on with Tom Ridge's little "Liberty Shield" project? That's just stupid. When the DHS is under constant criticism for threatening civil liberties, a name like "Liberty Shield" is just going to draw negative attention to that fact and piss people off. Ugh.

 
OK, OK, I know None the Wiser has been lame of late. I already apologized. Stop hassling me.

If you want good reading for the moment, I can offer you this luscious link. David Frum is (finally!) launching a full-fledged overhand right aimed at the paleo-conservative right wing's flabby chin. It is an incredible piece, and it has the feel of a project long-considered. I suspect that WFB may even have had quite a say in its make-up. This is not the first blow to be thrown in the neo-paleo schism, but it is the first time that the NR crowd has made such an overt move toward a real all-out street-brawl within the movement. It's going to be very good for American conservatism to have this fight, because the right needs to purge itself of these bigoted and paranoid freaks, pronto.

That done, they can at last complete their plan for world domination by oil-fingered Jewry (just as soon as they figure out how to get Jews in actual control of any oil).

 
Sorry for the slow posting the last couple of days. I have had my hands full nervously pacing around the house, watching the news a couple of minutes at a time, and trying to get caught up on about six weeks' worth of sentential logic. Argh.

I think I picked a very bad time to quit smoking.

So it appears that the "Shock and Awe" strategy may have been part of the Pentagon's disinformation campaign, which strikes me a truly hystrerical. Why hysterical? Because among all the ominous and grave warnings emanating from the wisest of the blogosphere's soothsayers, near the top of the list was, "There's probably a lot of misinformation going about right now, so watch what you believe. Oh, and did you hear about that monstrous bombing strategy they've got planned? It's called Shock and Awe, see, and..." Ha. Maybe there's still something like it in store, but we look to be approaching this thing in a measured way, a kind of slow, rising boil.

Which is probably better for my mental health, so I'm not complaining.

Ah, so what to say? The talking heads just keep on talking about nothing, just like they get paid to do. What's so interesting to me is the inverse relationship the actual start of hostilities has had to activity in blogosphere, as opposed to the directly proportional relationship to mainstream media chatter. Once the war started, even Instapundit went off-line for a good while. There's nothing else that seems to qualify as news by comparison to the war. But paradoxically, there's nothing to report. So, how about this weather, huh?

But cruising the net some interesting stories will always present themselves. And even as I type this more is beginning to happen worth mentioning. The Cornerites say that CNN is reporting two Iraqi oil wells on fire, and CNN itself has a piece that at this point indicates the troops themselves are a little in the dark about the details of the Grand Master Plan.

Just one last question for the "peace-at-any-price," "diplomacy failed" crowd: What in the world could possibly make you think that more diplomacy would work to tame Saddam, when the impending prospect of total annihilation still hasn't made him submit? Over a hundred warships, a quarter of a million troops, thousands of missiles, certain doom--and he is lighting his oil fields, crying havok, and going apocalyptic on Al Jazeera. And 30 more days of shouting among the Western powers at the UN would have accomplished what, exactly? A rational actor would simply surrender in the face of such an onslaught, and this is the man you say can be "contained"? A man willing to die and see his country laid waste--this is the man they seek to "deter" by stern looks accompanied by an open refusal to resort to force? Can you be serious? Wait--don't answer that. I'm not sure I want to know.

In short, what could another 250,000 pieces of paper do that 250,000 trained killers couldn't?

More later.

UPDATE: The Kolkata Libertarian agrees with my theory about shock and awe. {via Instapundit}

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
 
Pretty quiet in this, my lonely little microscopic corner of the blogosphere.

It's hard to know what to add right now to all the furious talk, and all the rumor-mongering that will beset us for the immediate future. I have only two thoughts.

I pray for victory. A "safe return for our troops" is, alas, not on the table. But a quick victory could mean a safe return for most of them, and it is for this that I'll pray.

What can I possibly say? Those soldiers will do more in the next three days for their country than I will do in my lifetime. I feel I ought to be ashamed. But I'm just proud they'll be representing me, proud they will serve under those same colors to which I pledged allegiance every day in school, all those years ago.

My mind also wanders over and over toward a much-forgotten element of this conflict, a group of people to whom we refer as a mere abstraction, even a joke. They are Iraq's regular armed forces. Fact is, most of them are irregulars: men conscripted to fight with no boots and very little food, manning a trench out someplace in the open desert with perhaps a hundred rounds of ammunition, if he's lucky. Somebody fighting at the point of a bayonet who just wants to go home, wants all of this to just be over with. I have no grievance with that guy. I don't want him to die on account of Saddam's sorry ass. But he and many of his comrades will die horrible deaths. It may not earn me any points with the hard-core warbloggers, but I don't give a shit: I honor the sacrifice those guys will make as well, offering their lives so that their families might know some small modicum of freedom from Saddam's torture chambers.

As for the real Baathists, the Republican Guard and the party faithful, and for Saddam's inner circle: No quarter for you. No tears of remorse, no mercy and no forgiveness. And when it comes to the state of your eternal soul, I'll let you do the praying.

I'll write again later. For now, if anyone is reading this, lets do this thing and do it right, no whining and no wobbling. May God forgive us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
 
The otherwise execrable Guardian has the text of Blair's speech to the House of Commons, and what a fine speech it was. Stirring, sincere, direct, convincing. Would that we had such a rhetoritician anywhere in American politics. To read the text, you simply wouldn't believe that a Third Way socialist could possibly have delivered it. And Tony practically invented the Third Way.

Such flair. Such brilliance. Such dissonance.

 
Glenn Reynold has a good stern warning for all you kiddies out there about keeping our eyes on civil liberties during the War on Terror. It's probably a good idea. Yep.

He also has a good link on Instapundit to the story making all the rounds that we have about 30 nations on board for the upcoming unilateral, go-it-alone, vigilante, cowboy action.

 
Machiavelli--Badass Motherfucker in Tights

The current unpleasantness over Iraq is probably the best illustration in my living memory of Machiavelli's (in)famous dictum that given a choice between being feared and loved, it is better to be feared.

Machiavelli's reasons for this are usually ignored. His point was not aesthetic. It was practical, based on a deeply cynical (and therefore accurate) assessment of human nature--atomistic, self-interested, flawed. The idea was in essence that affection, especially in politics, is fickle. The leader who pins his hopes on love and invests his resources in gaining it will find that it will evaporate precisely at the moment it is needed. So long as their affection does not require sacrifice, people will tend to love any ruler who purchases their allegiance with magnanimity. But loyalty so purchased is very, very weak when called upon. Call it the Corleone Principle. (Or don't, I don't care. But that's what I call it.)

We are discovering this now with respect to the Axis of Weasels, and we would do well to glean its lessons in the Middle East generally. Our decades-long record of generosity, selfish motives conceded, has not bought us the love of the French or the Greeks. Sure, we were best of friends as long as that friendship was based solely upon American protection and economic assistance. But when the bill was due, where was the love? Going up in smoke with all those American flags being lit up in the streets of Athens, Rome, Paris. In those places where we have invested the most in being loved, we are genuinely despised, and the fear there is of an unhealthy variety.

Take a look at the Middle East. Has the two billion dollars in aid every year to that country bought the adoration of average Egyptians? Granted, that money is essentially a bribe to keep them out of Israel's hair, but it's not even accomplishing that among street-level Egyptian Arabs. Did the altruistic intervention in Bosnia win the love of Muslims worldwide? Does our enormous share of economic development and IMF loan assistance and debt forgiveness in North Africa and Southeast Asia win hearts and minds? No, we are detested in such places, not in spite of but because of those things.

Nations practically never do anything because it is the right thing to do. They must be cajoled into believing the right thing is also in their interest. That's politics. That's what the last six months of diplomacy with Turkey was about. And the fact of the matter is that we will not be loved when the Iraq campaign is finished in such places as France and Germany and Saudi Arabia. But we will be feared, and in a uni-polar world that's the best you can hope for. Within Iraq itself, there will be a healthy combination of the two, as there is in Afghanistan.

The key will be to prevent that fear from turning into resentment, but I think that the way Americans exercise their power in the next couple of years can go a long way toward accomplishing that end. Surely, if we abandon the EU to its own pathetic dreams of a common defense force, and Europeans start having to make hard choices about their own security priorities, it won't be long before the memory of American dominance is as fondly romanticized in Central Europe as it still is in the former Soviet states.

As I've said before, the war in Iraq will determine much more than the fate of the Iraqi people, or any of that other flotsam being bandied around. It will also establish that the United States is a nation to be greatly feared when roused to action; if the aftermath goes well, and the conflict itself isn't too disastrous, then we will achieve that Machiavellian balance between fear and affection so critical for the leader of world affairs. And maybe, just maybe, some people on the left of this debate will figure out what he knew five centuries ago, that you cannot simply cuddle your way to greatness, or even safety.

Interesting times indeed.

Monday, March 17, 2003
 
Whenever you hear an argument against the existence of free will, be wary. It is all too often followed by a justification for the diminishment of its exercise.

This is why I have always found the basics of behaviorist psychology vaguely repellent. The model of humanity that the behaviorist presents simply doesn't resemble anything remotely human. It is a problem-solving machine, doing nothing it is not programmed to do by nature or experience (most often with an emphasis on the latter). It cannot countenance the soul.

Strangely, it is this foundation upon which so much curent leftist thought is built. It is the rationalization for endless contrarian schemes, from anti-smoking legislation to sex education for preschoolers. Without getting too far into why I reject this theoretical schematic, let me sum up by saying that if they are true, behaviorism and extreme social constructionism imply that the theories themselves are nothing more than responses to environmental stimuli that have been conditioned over time. But since the point of the theories is to alter the prevailing environment in radical and fundamental ways, then this implies that the "system" has conditioned the leftist to reject conditioning by the system--an obvious contradiction, but one rampant in nurture-based views of the world that call for such things as the abolition of private property.

Let's consider one way, howerver, in which this view might just hold some truth.

I'm always amazed by the number of very, very intelligent people who are swayed by anti-capitalist and anti-indiviualist propaganda. I have a friend in a philosophy class in which I'm currently enrolled. He is nothing short of brilliant, a whiz in psychology, philosophy, symbolic logic and so on. He's also a Chomskyite, and a devout believer in the "manufactured consent" view of American capitalist democracy. How could this be?

It occurred to me in the shower this morning. Americans, even those with a deep dislike for America, absorb an absolute truckload of anti-authoritarian, pro-freedom, anti-oppression dogma from very early on. It's part of what it means to be an American. Even those deluded communists and apologists for Hamas roaming the halls of American academia come by their politics from a deeply-ingraned thirst for the common welfare, a vision based on freedom from constraints and external impediments. That's the irony of it all.

Those who believe that Pepsi is an instrument of oppression through their supposedly nefarious, subtle manipulation of our brains by way of all those commercials and billboards, are in some respects coming by their paranoia honestly. This is just a possibility, mind you. I think that in spite of himself, even the most mindlessly anti-American leftist has absorbed a certain inherited distrust of the powerful. In effect, they see a King George behind every corporation, a King Louis XIV behind very new product. They are driven by a distinctly American impulse to find oppression and destroy it.

The trouble is, we are an incredibly free people. It is becoming more and more difficult to stamp out the hobgoblins of tyranny. Our ever-freer speech, then is often seen as proof that the Western ideal of free speech is all a clever ruse that allows the powerful to drown out the voices of the weak. Entrepreneurship is all some ingenious phantasm--the system is rigged from the start and the winners declared in advance. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that grievance is itself a cash cow these days.

Even the people who scream the loudest about the inequities of the "system" have managed to find a niche, selling books and landing lucrative jobs coaching auditoriums full of business leaders on the pernicious affects of invisible racism and entirely imagined slights. Communists and cop-killers rake in absolute fortunes at college speaking engagements and book tours. And all the while, their conviction that they are among the noblest of freedom fighters, struggling to overthrow a vicious framework for oppression, is never diminished.

So perhaps there is something quintessentially American about all of this nonsense after all. Perhaps our fixation with liberty has become something of a tic, and we would be better advised to take a step back occasionally and view how our situation compares with that of others in human history. The sheer variety so in evidence in any cursory view of history, and its tale of our constant struggle to cast of the chains of despotism, whether they are real or imagined, gives the lie to all the silly and dangerous leftist hand-wringing over the supposedly reflexive nature of our consent.

Sunday, March 16, 2003
 
Obligatory Rambling Post on the Eve of the Apocalypse

Yes, very slow posting this weekend, but there's a lot of that going about on the blogoshpere. There's an almost palpable sense of collective exhaustion over the pending Battle of Baghdad. The President has managed to keep the world at a fever pitch for just about as long as we can manage. Too much more of this and it's going to start ripping us apart.

At this juncture the only thing that can possibly help matters is victory. No 19th or 20th Resolution is going to do the trick. Chirac will never give his blessing, and we'll never get that perplexingly critical "By your leave" from the UNSC. At this juncture the UN route has been proven to be a complete debacle, a diplomatic disaster. The PR war was lost about six months ago.

The French are angling for a seat at the post-war table, in a display of gall that will only prove stunning to those of us who haven't been paying attention. The Kurds are saying "No way," but it's not altogether clear whether they'll have the kind of say they want in those matters. I suspect they're punching above their weight diplomatically, and that once the reconstruction really gets underway, they're going to get steam-rolled by the UN. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. And therein lies the potential for major inter-sectarian and inter-tribal strife.

Again, none of these issues are riding shotgun right now. Everything--everything--depends upon the outcome of the war. If the war goes badly, then nothing the President does over the next 48 hours is going to matter one whit when it's over. Ditto if the war goes well. In fact, I'd be willing to posit that we'd be worse off getting some kind of salutary seal of approval from the UNSC at this point, since it really will just give cover to the Axis of Weasels in the event of a quick and favorable resolution to the conflict. They'll have documentation that the entire disagreement with France and Germany was all a minor disagreement over "the timetable," like they've been saying, but that in the end they really were with us the whole time. Shoulder to shoulder. Yeah.

Conversely, if there is no such document the French and Germans will have a lot of explaining to do--maybe. I qualify that for one reason only. Our own logic is that R1441 gives us all the authorization for war, and that the 15-0 vote that approved it is actually all the justification we need, since Hussein is in material breach of it and a mountain of other agreements and UN decrees. Thus, by our own logic, the UNSC gets to take some credit and puff their feathers when/if we handily defeat Saddam and rose petals rain down from the skies.

This is why I have always been wary of the UN route in the first place. I understand the reasons for it just fine. Tony "The Tiger" Blair had to have some domestic cover with the LP, blah, blah, blah. But we've been suckered from day one, and it's becoming clearer that this entire affair has been a total victory for Chirac. If the war is long and bloody, or Israel gets involved, or any of those horrible scenarios we keep hearing are bound to happen actually come to pass, then Chirac and his Coalition of the Unwilling get their "Told you so" moment and suddenly France and Germany and the EUrocrats are dictating many of the terms of the post-war geopolitical world. If it goes well, they get to take some credit for that too, and best of all, they stand no chance whatsoever of losing America's friendship. And there's the rub.

At no point throughout this crisis has France stood the least risk of losing our desperation to be counted among their friends. It is a residual mentality in America, but one with a very long history, that we simply cannot imagine a world in which France is considered an adversary, or even an "unfriendly." They know this. During much of the 20th Century, the gold standard for membership in that august body known as "The Free West" was close friendship with America. America was a powerful nation, an Enlightenment project balls to bones, and the way to civilized prosperity lay through it.

Chirac has seized a singular opportunity to turn that around. Now, people everywhere stand aghast at the idea that any nation, hyperpower or no, would turn their backs on the approval and friendship of the French. The new Civilized World is represented for many by the EU, and for better or worse (guess which), that means France. As our "allies" abroad continue to actively inhibit out national security strategy, intentionally seek to demolish our standing on the world stage, sell aviation parts and equipment to a country with whom we are soon to be at belligerence, and on and on, observers and average Joes alike on both sides of the Atlantic insist that the United States is risking the loss of a close and important ally by its insistence upon staying a course of very little material consequence to said ally.

(And please, no more about France's oil ties with Hussein. There is nothing that the French are owed that could not be honored or renegotiated were they to prove amenable to war. You can't convince me we could not have arranged for their interests to be compensated by way of still more lucrative deals in a federated Iraq. No, this is about unipolarity in the world. It's as simple and as complicated as that.)

It's a bit like the scene from Mars Attacks, the Tim Burton film. Someone in the government has devised a special set of universal decoding speakers that will translate any language into English. This way, we will be sure to avoid any misunderstandings with the Martians who have surrounded the earth and established total control over its skies. As the predictable slaughter ensues and the Martians stroll about evaporating earth's cities, the loudspeakers blare constantly, "We come in peace!" Many people, too blinded by puerile hope and an inability to face the calamity going on around them, smile their way through the whole movie, confident that the little misunderstanding will all get worked out in the end.

At bottom, none of Bush's arguments have made a lot of sense when held up to the light, but that's not exactly his fault. He had some basis, I'm sure, of believing that the Weasels were going to negotiate in good faith and that "legitimacy" and "legality" would not become the insurmountable problems they are. Now he's stuck arguing that R1441 gives him the go-ahead, but we don't need R1441 since it's a matter of national security interests, but we have to go to war because Hussein is in violation of R1441, but it doesn't really matter because he's in violation of the ceasefire, and we're going to do what we want anyway, but the UN needs to enforce its resolutions, but their resolutions really aren't the point, and so forth and so on.

It comes off as extremely disingenuous because it is. But once again, you can't exactly go on the air and say, "We plan to bring democracy to the Arab world. Saudi Arabia, this means you. And we're going to make international terrorism a losing business. Sorry, Palestine. And we're going to establish a forward base of operations in the near east so we can strike out toward central Asia should things get hairy in the subcontinent in the meantime. And we're also going to smash the UN as a credible institution, and good riddance too, you bastards." Bush is known for being direct, but that's only a function of how bold his plan really is.

What should have happened from the beginning was a declaration by the president that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was in violation of the ceasefire that put a temporary halt to the Gulf War. Period. If international law and order means anything, it means abiding by your treaty obligations and security guarantees.

This would have dramatically changed the direction of the debate. Instead of desperately bowing and scraping before the UNSC, in the obvious hope of getting approval that we say we don't even need in the first place; instead of placing the litmus test for legitimacy in the one place we were least likely to be well-received, the UN; instead of campaigning for month after month after month to win the hearts and minds of people whose only information concerning Americans is provided by Michael Moore and Baywatch, we ought to have dealt directly and publicly with the violations already on record (as opposed to providing fresh opportunities for gamesmanship by Hussein), lobbied our allies in July with the understanding that we were on our way to Iraq come hell or high water, and established very early on who our partners were going to be and who was welcome to stay the hell out of the way thank you very much.

Instead, we've been publicly shamed, flogged, and berated for five months while our troops have been sitting idle with ever-eroding health and morale, given Hussein almost a year to prepare defenses that will take the lives of American soldiers, and handed our opponents in the foreign press the same time to slander the war effort and erase the affection of three quarters of the European public. I deliberately do not mention the Arab public. Fuck their opinion. When you're dealing with despotic toilet holes whose "public opinion" is in the grip of state-owned media, and who can't express their outrage through the machinery of democratic government anyway, it's a bit of a joke fretting over the possibility of the Arab Street rising up to give us our comeuppance. All we need to know is the opinion of the guy in charge, and frankly, it's been a long time since we've gotten this much cooperation from the motley Arab governments.

Maybe when I am Emperor things will be run as they should be. Maybe when I'm Emperor.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds agrees, sort of.

UPDATE: Stephen Den Beste disagrees. I don't buy his argument about congressional approval being a side benefit of going the UN route. During the election season that would have been obtained regardless, and I really don't think Bush playing footsie with the UN made much of a difference, though it might have.