“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stupidity over Conspiracy, Incompetence over Cunning?

"Is the Armenian resolution her (Pelosi's) way of unconsciously sabotaging the U.S. war effort, after she had failed to stop it by more direct means? I leave that question to psychiatry. Instead, I fall back on Krauthammer's razor (with apologies to Occam): In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit."- Charles Krauthammer

October 19, 2007
Pelosi's Armenian Gambit
By Charles Krauthammer Real Clear Politics
There are three relevant questions concerning the Armenian genocide.
  • (a) Did it happen?
  • (b) Should the U.S. House of Representatives be expressing itself on this now?
  • (c) Was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's determination to bring this to a vote, knowing that it risked provoking Turkey into withdrawing crucial assistance to American soldiers in Iraq, a conscious (columnist Thomas Sowell) or unconscious (blogger Mickey Kaus) attempt to sabotage the U.S. war effort?
The answers are:
  • (a) Yes, unequivocally.
  • (b) No, unequivocally.
  • (c) God only knows.
That between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians were brutally and systematically massacred starting in 1915 in a deliberate genocidal campaign is a matter of simple historical record. If you really want to deepen and broaden awareness of that historical record, you should support the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial in Washington. But to pass a declarative resolution in the House of Representatives in the middle of a war in which we are inordinately dependent on Turkey would be the height of irresponsibility.

The atrocities happened 90 years ago. Not a single living Turk under the age of 102 is in any way culpable. Even Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian community in Turkey, has stated that his community is opposed to the resolution, correctly calling it the result of domestic American politics.

Turkey is already massing troops near its border with Iraq, threatening a campaign against Kurdish rebels that could destabilize the one stable front in Iraq. The same House of Representatives that has been complaining loudly about the lack of armored vehicles for our troops is blithely jeopardizing relations with the country through which 95 percent of the new heavily armored vehicles are now transiting on the way to saving American lives in Iraq.

And for what? To feel morally clean?

How does this work? Pelosi says: "Genocide still exists, and we saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur." Precisely. And what exactly is she doing about Darfur? Nothing. Pronouncing yourself on a genocide committed 90 years ago by an empire that no longer exists is Pelosi's demonstration of seriousness about existing, ongoing genocide?

Indeed, the Democratic Party she's leading in the House has been trying for months to force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq that could very well lead to genocidal civil war. This prospect has apparently not deterred her in the least.

"Friends don't let friends commit crimes against humanity," explained Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which approved the Armenian genocide resolution. This must rank among the most stupid statements ever uttered by a member of Congress, admittedly a very high bar.

Does Smith know anything about the history of the Armenian genocide? Of the role played by Henry Morgenthau? As U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Morgenthau tried desperately to intervene on behalf of the Armenians. It was his consular officials deep within Turkey who (together with missionaries) brought out news of the genocide. And it was Morgenthau who helped tell the world about it in his writings. Near East Relief, the U.S. charity strongly backed by President Woodrow Wilson and the Congress, raised and distributed an astonishing $117 million in food, clothing and other vital assistance that, wrote historian Howard Sachar, "quite literally kept an entire nation alive."

So much for the United States letting friends commit crimes against humanity. And at the time, the Ottomans were not friends. They were an enemy power in World War I, allied with Germany. Now the Turks are indeed friends, giving us indispensable logistical help in our war against today's premier perpetrators of crimes against humanity -- al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan. Friends don't gratuitously antagonize friends who are helping to fight the world's foremost war criminals.

So why has Pelosi been so committed to bringing this resolution to the floor? (At least until a revolt within her party and the prospect of defeat caused her to waver.) Because she is deeply unserious about foreign policy. This little stunt gets added to the ledger: first, her visit to Syria, which did nothing but give legitimacy to Bashar al-Assad, who continues to engage in the systematic murder of pro-Western Lebanese members of parliament; then, her letter to Costa Rica's ambassador, just nine days before a national referendum, aiding and abetting opponents of a very important free-trade agreement with the United States.

Is the Armenian resolution her way of unconsciously sabotaging the U.S. war effort, after she had failed to stop it by more direct means? I leave that question to psychiatry. Instead, I fall back on Krauthammer's razor (with apologies to Occam): In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The Turkish troops are not massed on the Iraqi border because Ms Pelosi may bring the Armenian issue to the floor.
    Nor because the French had the strength of their antiIslamic convictions and voted a similar measure into law.

    Is it not genocide denial that provides a prima facia example of Iran's flight from the current "realities"?

    One genocide was 90 years ago, and must be ignored and forgotten. The other genocide, 60 years past, must be celebrated, with museums and monuments, even has a motto for the survivors
    "Never Again!"

    In the case of Armenia, "Never Was!" is much more fitting a position for US to take.

    Submitting to radicalized mussulman sensibilities and perspectives, to further the battle against radical mussulmen.

    The Turks are massed on the Iraqi border because the US and it's Iraqi proxies have failed to secure that border, either. The free flow of terrorists not stemmed, by US.

    We've been discussing the PKK for well over three years, the PKK and the US's refusal to adequately address the issues they represent.

  3. With due respect to Krauthammer, I don't think its a good idea to dismiss all this as mere stupidity. The Dems brought it up for a reason. A political reason. DR's comments are true and valid but the timing of the whole issue...What useful purpose does it serve? The best explanation I've read is that this is simply another monkey wrench thrown in the gears by the Democrats for political purposes. Another to defeat the cause. That being said, the whole Arab/Islamic issue has become tiresome. Its obvious that the Arab world is dysfunctional. What remains to be seen is how much that dysfunction will affect the rest of us.

  4. Pelosi is a driven partisan, where winning is everything. She is also not that bright and like many liberals and leftists hopelessly naive as to the degree and depth of evil in the hearts of mankind. She is plump loin on the chopping block of international diplomacy.

  5. The Turks are massed on the Iraqi border because the US and it's Iraqi proxies have failed to secure that border, either.

    Maybe we can hire the Turks to patrol our border when this blows over.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Well, let's put it perspective, from the US viewpoint.
    In Iraq:
    The Marines Corps requested being reassigned, to Afghanistan. There is no "war" in Iraq,
    the Marines not wanting to train as Peacekeepers.
    The Coalition has begun to withdraw from Iraq, with promises of more to come. 5,000 out by Christmas, 30,000 by July.
    The Iraqi Army will be capable of acting independently in 16 to 20 months, per General Jones's schedule.
    Everywhere in southern and central Iraq that the Coalition hands over control, violence diminishes, as exemplified in Basra.

    Turkey is the third largest reciprient of US aid, Israel and Eygpt being 1 & 2.

    The U.S. brought Turkey into NATO, built up its military and backed its membership in the European Union. Washington granted most-favored-nation trading status to Turkey, resulting in some $7 billion in annual trade between the two countries and $2 billion in U.S. investments there. Only Israel and Egypt outrank Turkey as recipients of U.S. foreign assistance. And fourth, for all the help Turkey has given the U.S. concerning Iraq, Ankara turned down Washington's request to use Turkish bases to launch the Iraq invasion, and it ignored Washington's protests by massing 60,000 troops at the Iraq border this month as a prelude to a widely expected attack in Iraqi Kurdistan. In other words, while Turkey may invoke the genocide resolution as grounds for ignoring U.S. wishes, it has a longer history of snubbing Washington when it wants to.

    The "War" in Iraq is no reason to let the Islamists of Ankara dictate how the US percieves history. Less so than US newspapers should have repressed those Mohammed mocking cartoons.

    It is one thing fpr Mussuelmen to intimidate newspaper editors, another entirely to dictate historical storylines to the US Congress.

  8. Ms Pelosi and her crew may or may not know what they are doing, but they are in the process of expanding the conlict, in the US public's mind. Especially if the Turks were to retaliate, logistically.

    Or if the Islamist Mr Guls sends his Army into Iraq.

    What is the problem?
    Who is the prolem?

    Not feckless US politicos, we've always had those.

    If the "enemy" is aQIraq, the battle is over. The Generals have spoken, General O, last August, to Ralph Peters. Then the Spec Ops General, this past week.

    The US has never declared a Regional Conflict, a Battle of Iran, nor a "War on Islam". In fact denied profusly the "War on Islam"

    The Turks are not terrorists, neither, now, are the 1920 Brigades nor the Badr Brigade nor even the Mahdi Army.

  9. Beware Dumb Broads In Head

    Bhutto ought to be shot for not listening to her security people about being bombed, and they had a helicopter ready to fly her home. But no, she's got to do the ego thing and take the slow drive through town amongst the crowds. Over a hundred of whom are now dead, with hundreds wounded. Beware inflated broads in head scarves.

    Even I knew, sitting way over here, there's going to be a welcome home, Benazir.

  10. This is good news, if they follow it up and build a nuclear generating plant instead. But the greenies will probably try to stop that too. So get out the candles, woodstoves, and rickshaws, farmers of Kansas.

  11. J.T. has been telling them all along that they have been pouring that concrete too thin. Now, today, the shit is going to hit the fan, and the building collapse, on 'The Young and the Restless', according to my wife. You don't know what I put up with, and this semi retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. But she deserves her rest, spend it how she will. I just hope like hell Victor Newman is not in that building.
    Though with all the problems he's got, and what he's been through, he might be better off dead.

  12. Victor Newman, a part of my family.

    CEO Newman Enterprizes.

  13. "Longing for work, Julia took a modeling job with photographer Michael Scott, who was attracted to her. Victor became instantly jealous, and when Julia turned up pregnant, he was convinced that the baby was Michael's. In retaliation, Victor imprisoned Michael in the bomb shelter at the ranch. It was this story that turned Victor into a villain, a character type he has largely stayed true to over the course of two decades.

    Julia found Michael and freed him from the bomb shelter. While attempting to flee the Newman Ranch, Victor happened upon the pair and a fist fight between Michael, and Victor ensued. Julia got caught up in the crossfire, and suffered a terrible fall, and had a miscarriage. Blood tests later proved that Victor was in fact the father. Julia and Michael left town."

    Vic's got his own bomb shelter he uses as a part time jail, a good idea these days. The man is not afraid to take a decision.

  14. Falling into the grips of popular culture, bob.
    Now you can see why Mr Romney is such a "looker".
    Right out of the afternoon soaps central casting for the part.

    When I was in Panama Armed Forces TV ran a limited schedule of programing. The Prime Time hit, on every evening, was General Hospital. A show I and mi amigos would have never watched, in "real life".

    Yet the were soldiers that could get all wrapped up in the plot twists and character development.
    TV addicts.

  15. It's terrible, Rat. I can't escape. I feel trapped in a bomb shelter on a ranch somewhere, force fed via Tube, but without the safety and serenity of a shelter.

  16. ayeee...that makes it worse, brings back memories:)

    Thankfully I have stuff to do today, keep my mind off Vic. Later.