Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Letter to Richard Cohen

This is a long one.

After reading Richard Cohen's latest steaming offering, I think I have finally grasped why it is he
is so wrong on so many issues: the man is heavily burdened with denying his complicity in the Iraq mess that he has turned to drugs or alcohol, and possibly both. How else to explain the feverish and incoherent tone of this morning's column, "A War Without Winners", in which Cohen suggests that Bashir Assad, the London-trained ophthamologist who was placed on the throne after his brother Basil, the true heir, died in a car crash, personally assasinated former Lebanese PM Rafiq Harriri.

The dictator there, Bashar Assad, is under great pressure to produce the killer or killers of Rafiq Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister. Trouble is, some of the culprits might be in Assad's own family -- if not the president himself.

Now, far be it for me to defend a dictatorship like Syria's, but the concept of Bashar Assad sneaking into Beirut unnoticed; detonating a remote controlled bomb; and then sneaking back out of the country unnoticed seem about as unlikely as George Bush personally leading a covert reconnaisance mission in Iraq.

Is the Hariri assasination something Assad could have ordered? Obviously. But to suggest that Assad personally blew up Hariri is ludicrous. But then Mr. Cohen is no stranger to the world of the ludicrous: every day he offers a new fantasy, a new imaginary scenario in which hippos can fly, Ariel Sharon is a folk hero, and Richard Cohen is as blameless as a mewling kitten. Would sir like a little more bourbon
with his Froot Loops?

Mr. Cohen offers a litany of ways the war has gone wrong, all of which the antiwar crowd pointed out were likely THREE YEARS AGO, without ever once referring to his own complicity in hyping the war, which he did EVERY SINGLE DAY until the war began, when he tucked his tail between his legs like the miserable cur he is.

Richard closes with this particular bit of brilliance: "One could almost forgive President Bush for waging war under false or mistaken pretenses had a better, more democratic Middle East come out of it." Oh look, it's almost 9:00 AM, better have a double brandy before heading to the Post.

I will quote extensively from the marvelous digby's Hullabaloo blog, because he/she answers this particularly odious hypothesis far better than I do:

The success of Bush/Iraq depended, with absolute
certainty, that just about everything the neocons
predicted would, in fact actually, happen. An unbiased
study of the full range of opinions and research on
foreign affairs -one not skewed to the right and the
far right, one not skewed towards naive optimism -
would make it abundantly clear that at best, less than
1/3 of the neocons' predictions about the course of
the war could ever possibly come true. That fact,
based on a genuine understanding of
uncertainty,exponentially increased the odds that the
alternative scenario, an unmitigated disaster, would
[Emphasis mine, bfs]

The actual odds of success were closer to
.00000000000000005% than 5%. That was patently obvious
to anyone who was doing research that wasn't

Bush/Iraq should never have been taken seriously,
anymore than Curtis Lemay's suggestion to use nuclear
bombs in Vietnam or during the Missile Crisis should
have been taken seriously. The problem was that not
only did Bush take Wolfowitz seriously. So did the
media and the liberal hawks. Had they been laughed off
the stage - as those opposed to the gutting of Social
Security have laughed Bush off the stage - the chances
of a Bush/Iraq war would have fallen close to zero.

But the idea was taken seriously by people far more
influential than you [people such as Richard Cohen,
. And that gave them the opening to make their
fallacious case. What disturbs me is that you don't
seem to recognize what the mistake was:

Not all arguments are worth the status of intellectual
consideration. Bush/Iraq was one of them, even though
a former John Hopkins professor like Wolfowitz and the
president of the United States thought otherwise.

Bush/Iraq was no more realistic than the arguments for
a UFO behind the Hale/Bopp comet and it should have
been treated accordingly. Again, not recognizing that
immediately was your mistake and that is what you need
to come to grips with. Not the morality of the war,
but the extent to which you and so many of your
colleagues were bamboozled and provided Bush with an
opening to tap into American mythologies.

And that Mr. Cohen is why you need to cap your pen and retire. You helped serve up the lies that got us where we are and now you pretend you have no reponsibility for them. It's not your dad that keeps haunting you: it's the DTs.

Brendan Skwire


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