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Atlantic Monthly, Newspaper Guild, more.

Nov 28, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 11 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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The Surrender Solution

The December issue of the Atlantic Monthly features a "Hypothetical" essay entitled "If America Left Iraq: The case for cutting and running." The author is Nir Rosen, a freelance journalist who over the last year or so has published a series of long, meticulously reported examinations of the Iraqi insurgency in au courant journals like the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. Rosen's journalism is noteworthy, the editors of the Atlantic inform us, because he "speaks Arabic" and "has spent 16 months in Iraq," mostly "among ordinary Iraqis." That, and he probably has more sources in the insurgency than any other American reporter.

And those sources, incredibly, have led him to the following insight: "If the occupation were to end," Rosen writes, "so, too, would the insurgency." Because, "after all," the "resistance movement" is "resisting" the "occupation." And if there were no "occupation" . . . well, "who would the insurgents fight"? Q.E.D.

Say what you will, this Zen-koan approach to geopolitics struck us as pretty original. Yet it turns out "If America Left Iraq" is merely a shorter, better-edited version of a September 21 "outside view" article Rosen penned for UPI entitled "The Small, Daily Abu Ghraibs." The opinions expressed in this article "are not," Rosen assures, "the ramblings of a leftwing polemicist." And he's right. They are something more sinister.

"I spent about a year and a half in Iraq," Rosen writes, and "it was obvious early on, and continues to be, that the main problem in Iraq, the main obstacle to progress, is the U.S. occupation." Cue ridiculous tautology: "When it ends, attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq will end as well."

What is more, Rosen continues, all of this is "true worldwide as well":

The American empire will cease to be a target when it ceases to directly or indirectly oppress weaker people. Terrorism--inasmuch as the word has any meaning, but that's another argument--is not a phenomenon or an entity. It is a tool of politics by other means, just like war. . . . In Iraq, America is attacked because it is a brutal occupier, humiliating Iraqis, destroying villages, arresting, beating, and killing countless innocent men, women and children. This is the main cause of the resistance. . . . If America was not occupying Iraq, there would be no resistance.

[In August], a few thousand Jewish fanatics who illegally settled on occupied land in Gaza and went on the occasional pogrom, attacking Palestinians whose land they had settled, were given more attention and sympathy by the American media in a week or two than it has given in five years to the Palestinians whose homes have been destroyed, who are not permitted to live as humans, and who inhabit a giant prison.

Bottom line: "An American withdrawal from Iraq and an Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories to the 1967 lines would do more to fight terrorism than any military action ever could." No wonder Rosen has such great access to the Baathists and jihadists who make up the Iraqi insurgency. He's on their side.

Feeling the Cheney Lash

Typically, the headlines last week all had Dick Cheney "Lashing Out" at "Iraq War Critics," as if the hysterics who chant about "Bush lies" are sober critics, and the vice president just can't stand the heat. We prefer to think of Cheney as the critic of those who have been lashing out. And a deft one, too. Here are some of the better lines in his Nov. 16 speech:

"What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures--conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers--and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone--but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.

"We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we're going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts. We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us.

"They and their families can be certain that this cause is right and just, and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable. And this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory."

Fish in a Barrel

Columnist and author James Lileks was in fine form a couple of weeks back at his "ScreedBlog," reviewing the latest issue of the Newspaper Guild's Reporter. No one who's ever perused the thing will dispute Lileks's take: "It's horribly written. Those who can, write; those who can't, organize. . . . It's the most joy-killing mag I get."

Lileks homes in on a column called "Human Rights Watch,"which "concerned itself with the horrid flaws in American society revealed by Hurricane Katrina:

"According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, a refugee is a person seeking asylum in a foreign country in order to escape persecution. Perhaps that's what the people of New Orleans looked like fleeing Hurricane Katrina, but many of them found the label to be highly offensive--yet journalists continued to use it even after this was pointed out.

Lileks: "Jesus wept. My dictionary defines a refugee as someone forced to leave his home because of war, persecution, or natural disaster. But if you can imagine the sin here: some journalists used the accurate word even after it had been pointed out that some people found it highly offensive. . . . The author continues:

"Talk about adding insult to injury! The first great injury--after the hurricane itself--was our federal government's slow-motion response, eliciting cries of racism from coast to coast. Rappers accused President Bush of not liking black people, as some of those stranded on rooftops explained they had been unable to evacuate because they had no transportation and none had been provided.

Lileks: "Mind you, this is a newsletter representing professional writers. Coast-to-coast cries elicited! Rooftop strandees, explaining!

"Although we had been pretending that it did not exist, we saw that poverty was alive and thriving.

Lileks: "Who's this we? Which newspaper in America pretends that poverty does not exist? Is she indicting the journalists? The N'Awlins Times Picayune? Did the author just pick up a paper for the first time in her life, and if so, will we be treated to a column that expresses guarded relief that newspapers have finally gotten around to covering sporting matches?"

As they say in Blogland, read the whole thing (www.lileks.com/screedblog).

Dept. of Self-Promotion

When you're ready for a break from Thanksgiving weekend football, Thomas Sowell, the scintillating conservative intellectual at the Hoover Institution, sits down for a rare interview with The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes. Sowell is iconoclastic, fearless, patriotic, funny. The interview will be broadcast in two half-hour segments on Fox News Channel at 5:30 p.m. EST, Saturday Nov. 26 and Sunday Nov. 27.