I wanted to write about this but I am just too angry to take it on. I’ll leave it to Brendan to explain why Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is the Wanker of the Century. Just as a teaser to encourage you to go read Brendan’s diatribe, here is the most amazing part of Cohen’s latest piece:
I thought the war would do wonders for the Middle East and that it would last, at the most, a week or two. In this I was assured by the usual experts in and out of government. My head nodded like one of those little toy dogs in the window of the car ahead of you.
Considering how risible the rest of Cohen’s article is, Brendan is remarkably restrained. But can Cohen be serious? One or two weeks?
Here is James Fallows from his November 2002 Atlantic Monthly cover story on the potential invasion of Iraq, The Fifty-First State.
Absent ninjas, getting Saddam out will mean bringing in men, machinery, and devastation. If the United States launched a big tank-borne campaign, as suggested by some of the battle plans leaked to the press, tens of thousands of soldiers, with their ponderous logistics trail, would be in the middle of a foreign country when the fighting ended. If the U.S. military relied on an air campaign against Baghdad, as other leaked plans have implied, it would inevitably kill many Iraqi civilians before it killed Saddam. One way or another, America would leave a large footprint on Iraq, which would take time to remove.
And logistics wouldn’t be the only impediment to quick withdrawal. Having taken dramatic action, we would no doubt be seen—by the world and ourselves, by al Jazeera and CNN—as responsible for the consequences. The United States could have stopped the Khmer Rouge slaughter in Cambodia in the 1970s, but it was not going to, having spent the previous decade in a doomed struggle in Vietnam. It could have prevented some of the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s, and didn’t, but at least it did not trigger the slaughter by its own actions. “It is quite possible that if we went in, took out Saddam Hussein, and then left quickly, the result would be an extremely bloody civil war,” says William Galston, the director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, who was a Marine during the Vietnam War. “That blood would be directly on our hands.” Most people I spoke with, whether in favor of war or not, recognized that military action is a barbed hook: once it goes in, there is no quick release.
Richard Cohen thought the war would take one or two weeks? Why can’t he just say, ‘I used to serve a useful purpose informing the public but I have been at it too long and my brain has obviously softened. I declare that I am retiring. In the interest of the country I love, I am retiring’?