January 09, 2007

Iconic

This is iconically self-absorbed: "What's clear is the enormous price our nation is paying for President Bush's character flaws" — Paul Krugman, in an OpEd piece ("Quagmire of The Vanities") about Iraq in Monday's NYT. Gee, Paul, do you think the price their nation — you know, Iraq, the nation that didn't democratically decide as a nation to visit "freedom" on another country under utterly false pretenses — do you think they might not be paying a much bigger price? It's iconic that in the entire piece (a piece I otherwise enjoyed reading) the focus is on what's best for the US, not for Iraq. And it's iconic in blaming it all on a single person's character flaws — as if the US populace as a whole were really blameless good-hearted level-headed innocents, and that we can just blame it all on Bad Man Bush and (perhaps) a few of his crazier cronies.

And this is likely to become even more iconic in the near future: "It seems increasingly clear to me that the bame for the violence in Iraq, and for its frenzied recoil from what Fouad Ajami hopefully called 'the foreigner's gift', belongs to the Iraqis. [...] For three and a half years the Iraqis have been a free people. What have they done with their freedom? [...] After we invaded Iraq, Iraq invaded itself" (Leon Wieseltier, quoted in the LRB, 4/1/07). That last bit is sharp and insightful in a nicely soundbiteish sort of way, and I'm sure it was deeply satisfying to write. But the patronising tone of the rest of it and that well-honed ability to excuse the US by blaming Iraq for being ungrateful or unworthy for the US's gift of … well, just what exactly? … is the road to the future for both the Right and bits of the Left in US politics, I suspect. Poor old America, always being picked on by an ungrateful world.

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