Intellectual-moral-political problem arises

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

“The success of the elections poses a major intellectual-moral-political problem for people in this city,�? writes New York magazine’s Kurt Anderson:

Our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration’s awful hubris and dissembling and incompetence concerning Iraq, just might—might, possibly—have been correct to invade, to occupy, and to try to enable a democratically elected government in Iraq …

Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.

Make your choice, Bush haters.

(Via J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim B. on 02/16/2005 at 10:49 AM
    1. Its been a long time between drinks…

      Posted by crash on 02/16 at 10:54 AM • permalink


    1. “Hobbesian choice”?  Hobbes’s choice was between an individual’s consenting to the government or losing his own life.  Nothing quite so much at stake for the left-wing intelligentsia in New York.

      Posted by rexie on 02/16 at 11:07 AM • permalink


    1. Even in his admission of possible fault, this guy is still rather full of himself. As a New Yorker I resent his (and others) attempts to cast New York in such a narrow political mold. New York is not a monolithic bloc of people that read the New York Review of Books, sip chardonnay, race to Balthazar to pick up some baguettes before spending the evening at an “alternative space” theater piece. That’s Andersen’s milieu, and he makes the blinkered error of not seeing past the threshold of his co-op. There are plenty of New York liberals and democrats who (thankfully) don’t use the words “nuance” and “hubris” in their political discussions. There are plenty of apolitical people and even (gasp) conservatives and libertarians and the occasional non-affiliated who makes choices as they come along. I’m afraid that the outside world gets the wrong impression about New York owing to the fact that most of the media coming out of New York, whether print, radio or television, represents a very narrow demographic. Even in Andersen’s concessions he manages to sound simultaneously provincial and arrogant. It’s embarrassing. But despite this objection, I do congratulate Mr Andersen on facing facts that most of his colleagues continue to ignore. For someone in his social and professional sphere, it’s pretty courageous.

      The author of this piece also, for the record, hosts a program on the local NPR organ (NPR, National Public Radio, is the American radio equivalent of the ABC though, thankfully, receives much less public money that your ABC in Australia does). The show is called “Studio 360º” and is every bit as arrogant and annoying as you would expect it to be.

      Posted by goldsmith on 02/16 at 11:35 AM • permalink


    1. New York is not a monolithic bloc of people that read the New York Review of Books, sip chardonnay, race to Balthazar to pick up some baguettes before spending the evening at an “alternative space�? theater piece.

      And that’s what subways are for — to keep all those other wretched lumpen laboring-class proles underground and out of sight of their betters.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 02/16 at 11:38 AM • permalink


    1. Oh, maybe I don’t dictate reality by use of my psychoneurotic powers?

      Posted by J. Peden on 02/16 at 11:42 AM • permalink


    1. goldsmith, I agree totally with you and see this painting of New York City as but another comforting, yet basically bigoted, way of thinking similar to Red-Bluing whole states, or judging whole regions or Nations or Races or Sexes or even Sexual Orientation on that respective basis alone.

      It is still surprising how “primitive” this thinking is in spite of its endemic nature.

      Now “Bloggers” receive such an analysis. It does not seem to be a remediable condition.

      Posted by J. Peden on 02/16 at 11:55 AM • permalink


    1. Hobson (1544-1631) actually gave Hobbes (1588-1679) the original idea.

      Posted by rhhardin on 02/16 at 12:37 PM • permalink


    1. All is not lost Kurt. Just remember the similar quandary people had about Reagan.
      Reagan was demonized for just about everything he said and did regarding the Soviet Union.

      We were told by our ‘elites’ that at best Reagan has set back relations with the USSR that would take decades to repair; at worst Reagan’s policies would start WWIII and we’d all die. No denunciation of Reagan’s policies was considered too over-the-top. Instead of any of the dire predictions coming true, the Soviet Union fell.

      I’m sure there was a panic among our ‘elites’ similar to what may be happening now with Bush. The thought that Reagan may have been correct was very hard to contemplate.

      So, Reagan’s detractors managed to convince themselves that Reagan’s policies had very little to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They found other ways to explain the demise of the Soviet Union.

      I’m sure a similar thing will happen with Bush. If things work out in Iran, I’m sure our ‘elites’ will dream up explanations that give Bush as little credit as possible.

      Posted by CJosephson on 02/16 at 12:38 PM • permalink


    1. (correction to post above):

      If things work out in Iran
      should be:

      If things work out in Iraq

      Posted by CJosephson on 02/16 at 12:40 PM • permalink


    1. ”…or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians…”

      Anderson and his fellow lefties (including not a few elected officials) were so consumed with hate that they were blinded to the consequences of their actions.  Somehow, I don’t think this (very grudgingly made) admission will make the dead in Iraq stand up and go home to their loved ones.

      Granted, it’s nice to see people getting their heads out of their arses.  But it’s a day late and a dollar short.  If they want to prove their (possibly) genuine regret, head to Iraq, roll up their sleeves, and help clean up the mess they helped to make. God knows there’s plenty to do.  Or stop this de facto suppport of the terrorists.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 02/16 at 12:57 PM • permalink


    1. Pretty big of him to offer that “against [their] wills,” liberal-intellectuals had to give Reagan a large share of the credit for winning the cold war.

      I guess it would be asking too much for the self-same poseurs to admit that they were wrong about the cold war, and wrong about Reagan.

      Anderson’s article is testimony to the admission that his fellow travelers are in alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civillians.

      Yet, the part I find so contemptable, and further proof of the left’s complicity with Islamofascist terrorism, is his attempt to place blame on Bush for the left’s “nasty ethical” dilemma.

      Yeah, that’s right, it’s Bush’s fault that the left opposed regime change in Iraq, and then, after Saddam was ousted, the left continued to oppose American policy by supporting Islamofacsist terrorists intent on killing American soldiers and Iraqi civillians.

      And now, because the situation is working out, Bush might be right?

      I think this kind of reasoning–at least for those of us not a member of the liberal intelligensia–is called, a day late and a dollar short.

      But not to worry Mr. Anderson, your liberal intelligensia cohorts will eventually re-write history so it looks favorably on your “contributions” to the effort to depose Saddam Hussein, just as it has done with the left’s “contributions” towards winning the cold war.

      Posted by Forbes on 02/16 at 02:04 PM • permalink


    1. On what basis do they consider themselves more intelligent than non-lefties?

      The difference between left and right IMHO is that conservatives care about ideas and their consequences, whereas liberals care about ideas and how they make them feel.

      Posted by Rob Read on 02/16 at 02:12 PM • permalink


    1. Right on, Forbes.

      Mr. Andersen doesn’t impress me with his grudging consideration that “Chimpy McBush” may have banged out Hamlet this one time.  Big deal, he’s possibly rethinking RESULTS in Iraq.  Notice that he still calls the strategy that produced the results “reckless and incompetent.” What were we supposed to do, let Kerry pull sweetness and sunshine out of his magic hat?

      Posted by Nightfly on 02/16 at 03:32 PM • permalink


    1. Oh yeah.

      I know this routine. I heard it from my brother.

      The right wingers are making a big deal out of terrorism just like they did communism and for the same reasons: so that they can scare the feeble minded masses. But hey he is on to them.

      Nice election and all but what about F911? It proved the soldiers hated the war as much as the smart people do….

      Posted by terryelee on 02/16 at 04:49 PM • permalink


    1. CJosephson, interesting slip.

      If things work out in Iran
      should be:

      If things work out in Iraq

      Posted by aaron_ on 02/16 at 05:13 PM • permalink


    1. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads

      This is what alot of this is all about – the fat stupid chick in the office who says “I know that 911 was bad but why can’t everybody just get along?  All those bombs and missiles scare me.”

      These people are incapable of understanding that life involves nasty situations and tough decisions.  It sounds to me like Mr Anderson is one of Mark Steyn’s Quiet Lifers.

      Posted by murph on 02/16 at 07:05 PM • permalink


    1. I was a subscriber to Anderson’s brilliant SPY magazine back in the 1980’s but it always had an subcurrent of envy that he & his buddies were on the outside of New York ‘Society’, looking in.

      Now that he’s gained entry to the salons of the high & mighty, Anderson refuses to risk being cast out for any reason so base as common decency towards long suffering Iraqis. Thus, this ‘Bush is wrong even when he’s right’ pose as if any of Anderson’s cherished Dem politicians could have waged a more effective war.

      War sucks and any neocon I know would rather we didn’t have to be doing this but it has been thrust upon us. We’re no longer (if we ever were) the ones killing “thousands of innocent Iraqis”. That would be the Ba’athists and Islamists. Condemn them, Kurt. Protest their conduct of the war. Demonstrate for their immediate withdrawl from Iraqi towns and cities.

      You’ll find yourself an outsider again PDQ, writing snarky stories about Donald Trump, ‘the stubby fingered vulgarian’.

      Posted by JDB on 02/16 at 07:29 PM • permalink


    1. I realize this is mostly healthy, as the ever-trendy New Yorkers catch up geopolitically to where people from Kansas have been for years, but I have to say that this:

      “Our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness”

      is the most completely baffling example of their asinine and preposterous liberal-pseudointellectual vacuousness I’ve seen in some time…

      Posted by Mike G on 02/16 at 08:23 PM • permalink


    1. Tim B. is counterposing a very false dichotomy:

      Make your choice, Bush haters.

      I dont hate Bush. But I think that he is the worst Commander in Chief since his hero, McKinsley.

      One can criticise Bush’s policies whilst still liking his personality. I believe that is the secret of his political success.

      One can also regret Bush’s ME policies whilst hoping that they dont fail or cause disaster. Thus one can argue that Bush’s Iraq-attack was an unwise policy in that the:

      costs: ~10,000 serious US casualities, ~100,000 serious Iraqi casualties, ~$300 billion US military expenditure / Iraqi property damage, grave fractures in the Western security alliance, provocation of ME terrorism in failed states, proliferation of WMD militarism in rogue states. And still counting.

      greatly exceed

      benefits: establishment of a shaky, Islamic-inclined, pro-Iranian democracy in the second largest oil reserved state in the world. If it does not degenerate into civil war.

      Yet one can still hope that some kind of civil Iraqi government can be salvaged from the current mess ie support Bush’s anti-insurgent policies.

      Posted by Jack on 02/16 at 10:30 PM • permalink


    1. Jack, but we don’t see that often.  It’s “The Exception”.

      Posted by aaron_ on 02/16 at 11:11 PM • permalink


    1. (oh yeah, the 300 billion doesn’t just get tossed into a fire never to be seen again, it’s still in our economy, just not in the budget.  It also will be spent on restructuring our neglected military and on research and technology that will way beyond Iraq.  Same for the casualties, they don’t just get tossed into a fire.  Oh, and there’s the whole improved strategic position things you left out.  You paint the Iraq picture as lot shakier than it is.  And the pro-Iranian thing?!WTF?)

      Posted by aaron_ on 02/16 at 11:20 PM • permalink


    1. Jack Strocchi may not hate Dubya, but at least we’re still getting our alotted dose of debunked memes and pure nonsense.

      ~10,000 serious US casualities

      ~100,000 serious Iraqi casualties

      I guess we’re counting injuries as “casualties” now? Well, at least it provided you with a way to recycle the Left’s beloved 100,000 number.

      establishment of a shaky, Islamic-inclined, pro-Iranian democracy

      (Emphasis mine.) Oh please, two whoppers in one. Fer gawd’s sake, who in their right mind didn’t expect the eventual government to be “Islamic-inclined”? That strawman won’t fly. And the claim that they’re going to be pro-Iranian is simply pure, unadulterated bullshit.

      Then there’s the casual sneering at the newly elected representatives of Iraq by faux-hoping “that some kind of civil Iraqi government can be salvaged”, as if the people who were elected just crawled out of the gutter and will proceed to wreck Iraq any minute now.

      And for good measure, we get a parroting of the “unless Bush changes course by 180°, the civil war is surely coming, you hear me!” line.

      You’re still peddling the same ol’ BS you’ve shoveled out for the last two years, Jack. Go away, please.

      Incidentally, all you’re managing through your posturing is giving even moderate opponents of the war a bad name. At least have the courtesy to own up to your far-left credentials so as not to drag down people who actually can offer reasonable arguments against Bush’s Iraq strateg(er)y along with you.

      Posted by PW on 02/16 at 11:31 PM • permalink


    1. PM on 02/16 at 11:48 is utterly clueless about my ideological pedigree:

      At least have the courtesy to own up to your far-left credentials so as not to drag down people who actually can offer reasonable arguments against Bush’s Iraq strateg(er)y along with you.

      I was originally a militant supporter of the war for strategic and moralistic reasons. I have, since then, had a change of heart. And have written a few war-skeptical articles for Pat Buchanans American Conservative magazine, a journal not known as a hot bed of “far-leftism”.

      Posted by Jack on 02/17 at 12:15 AM • permalink




      Posted by Sortelli on 02/17 at 01:03 AM • permalink


    1. …Pat Buchanans American Conservative magazine, a journal not known as a hot bed of “far-leftism�?

      No, it’s known as a hot bed of “far-rightism”, anti-semitism, anti-gay-ism and xenophobia. Are you proud of that?

      The amusing thing is that you seem to think Pat Buchanan has some sort of credibility around here. There’s a reason they call us NEOcons.

      Posted by goldsmith on 02/17 at 01:25 AM • permalink


    1. Ehem! Who is/was McKinsley?

      Posted by Boss Hog on 02/17 at 01:43 AM • permalink


    1. This is the Pat Buchanan who locked his primary opponents and their delegates out of the Reform Party convention when he ran for President, right?

      Buchanan owes more to the likes of Father Coughlin than to any real conservative movement or values.  Unless there’s a neoisolationist movement no one invited me to.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 02/17 at 01:54 AM • permalink


    1. Another common idea being bandied about is that Sistani’s party is Iranian leaning. Any government elected in Iraq has to deal with Iran and is going to be more friendly to Iran than for instance the USA.

      But it is important to remember that Iran and Iraq have differences aside from the fact that Sistani and his party do not support the Mullahocracy model that Iran uses. Iranians are Persian, Iraqis Arabs. Iran and Iraq did fight a war and Iran does have a recent history of bullying its smaller Arab neighbors in the region.

      In any event one can crawl up into little armadillo balls and hope the danger passes. It isn’t it has to be faced.

      Posted by Marcus Aurelius on 02/17 at 01:55 AM • permalink


    1. Jack, using Pat Buchanan as a reference is not a good thing, unless you are far far far right in your politics.

      (side bar:  It is interesting to see that you, claiming to be right wing, use the discredited findings of left wing researchers [i.e., the 100,000 Iraqi casualties, assuming you meant “dead”].)

      I agree that this blog is largely (but not exclusively) conservative.  But few posters here are stupid.  You might keep that in mind.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 02/17 at 03:17 AM • permalink


    1. The Real JeffS — Just more proof that the difference between fascists on the right and… okay, fascists on the left. is the color of the armband…

      These people are being offered the chance to support and applaud free elections in two former dictatorships, the arrest of a bloody handed tyrant and the death of his degenerate line, a global terrorist organization reduced to blowing up Spaniards and releasing hissy-fit videos, and they see it as a “nasty ethical crossroads.” How much more attention should we really pay them?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 02/17 at 04:08 AM • permalink


    1. So Jack, are you are now against the Iraq war because it did not meet with your ideals or expectations?

      Failed to meet with your criteria?

      Is war now a Quality Assured Product?

      Has the first goal of Iraq been achieved? 2nd? 3rd?

      What would you know about a “good” or a “bad” war? (in 25 words or less)

      No, forget it.

      Posted by rog2 on 02/17 at 05:10 AM • permalink


    1. Too right, richard.  Both sides may march to a different tune, but with the same beat of the drum.  (’scuse the mixed metaphors!)

      But to answer your question:  unfortunately, a lot of attention, since they do have influence.  But not because I like what they say.  I prefer to apply the advice of Sun Tzu to politics:

      Therefore I say:

      One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles.

      One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose.

      One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 02/17 at 05:17 AM • permalink


    1. Jack says that Bush’s Iraq-attack was an unwise policy in that the:

      costs:…. (and still counting).

      greatly exceed…


      So now you want to quit?  Its not what you thought it would be? Getting too hard? Money back guarantee?

      Posted by rog2 on 02/17 at 05:18 AM • permalink


    1. I guess I must be a cynical Leftie. We got rid of Aristide in Haiti although he was democratically elected, doing our best to fix up Chavez -overwhelmingly democratically elected. Now I have a choice of supporting the occupation of Iraq in order to democratize it or not (and therefore support the terrorists) hmmm.

      Posted by orang on 02/17 at 05:33 AM • permalink


    1. An orang outing. Hmmmm indeed.
      So, what’s the bottom line?
      If we had left Aristide and Chavez alone to become, like Castro, Mugabe, and Kim Jong Il, curators of their own grotesque socialist museums, you would have supported the spread of democracy by forceful means to any other country?
      Would you like to express any regrets about any of these shit kings?

      Posted by blogstrop on 02/17 at 07:32 AM • permalink


    1. Far-right:Far-left.  Same fucking difference.

      Posted by aaron_ on 02/17 at 07:53 AM • permalink


    1. Our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness …

      Context!  I need context, damnit!

      Posted by Achillea on 02/17 at 03:27 PM • permalink


  1. Achillea – I can’t give you context, only translation:

    Our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


    We’re smarter, nobler, and humbler than the peasants; it’s astounding to think that they prefer being alive and free instead of our unwilling thralls.

    Posted by Nightfly on 02/17 at 04:45 PM • permalink