January 21, 2003

'It's Too Bad Matt Welch Ha...

'It's Too Bad Matt Welch Has Gone AWOL on us': The blogger known as Decnavda writes:

The entire pundacracy, including in the blogisphere, is seriously out of touch with mainstream opinion. Every pundit I have read so far is either for an attack on Iraq regardless of the U.N., or against an attack on Iraq, regardless of the U.N. Has any opinion-giver out there come out in favor of an attack only if the U.N. approves? Like, apparently, half the American population?

It's too bad Matt Welch has gone AWOL on us...

He's an e-mail chum, so I wrote him an intensely muddled response, which he swore I should post here. I'll do so, against my better judgment, and with the caveat that I refuse to argue with any of you in the comments section about any of this, on account of I'm aware it's incoherent & filled with basic errors of ignorance.
Dear Decnavda,

Where's your blog? I'll post a link immediately!

A short & flippant answer to your question can be found here; mostly, my views on the whole thing are very mixed, so I've found it more useful to probe the issue through journalism, not opinionated hectoring. I'm very glad there are weapons inspectors in Iraq, and I believe they wouldn't be there today if Bush hadn't threatened a unilateral war. I even have pretty strong hope that there won't be a war, and that this is all a very elaborate (and on some counts, effective) bluff. Does that mean Bush should have threatened war? I don't know! Does that mean that the poisonous relationship with Saudi Arabia gets tabled yet again? Looks like it! (See Deals With the Devil.) Does the whole process seem to extend America's power, which is ultimately dangerous no matter how nobly expended (not to say that it's being nobly expended now)? I think so! (See: The U.S. Version of Adult Supervision and Weaning Europeans from America's Teat.) Is there any chance in hell the U.S. will launch a "unilateral" war? No! (England, for one, will stand shoulder-to-Anglo-Saxon-shoulder).

Etc. Whatever happens, I have the distinct feeling that the U.N. will approve of it. I think it's eminently possible that Saddam will be spirited away to some dreadful country. I'd love to see him go, and I'm worried about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive Regime Change.

I breathe easier knowing that there are inspectors in Iraq. It gets more labored when thinking about Bush's secrecy, his Administration's Saudi dealings, and the scatter-brained policy toward North Korea. What I'm trying to say here Decnavda is that I'M PRETTY CONFLICTED ABOUT IT ALL. I hope there's no war, I hope Saddam is removed, I even kinda hope the Kurds get their own country, though my ignorance on that count is stunning. I hope France stays obstructionist, and that Blair's lip remains stiff. I hope that we drastically cut back and/or eliminate the sale and donation of weapons to repressive regimes, and I include Turkey and Israel on that list. I hope Sharon loses big, that the settlements are pulled back, and that Arafat crawls off to Mordor. I hope the Democrats run against Dubya's Saudi chumminess, his tightening of civil liberties (especially the right of the accused to have legal counsel, and their whereabouts known), and his incoherent Homeland Security program. I think the Dept. of Homeland Security is a terrible idea, and that anyone named "Poindexter," "Abrams," "Negroponte" and "Reich" should be sent on the slow boat to Mauritius.

Finally, I have been A) in Europe for a month, B) busy with putting together a newspaper. I feel that my use is best served exploring my conflicted feelings by asking questions. Three questions I'll be asking in upcoming columns: Is Bush Bluffing? Should the U.S. Uphold Random Borders Containing Multiple Competing Ethnicities? And, How Have Immigration Politics and Policy Changed, Concretely, Since Sept. 11?

Now I have to get back to work. I grow weary of reading yet another schmuck's opinion about the War, pro or con, and see no great reason in arguing my bizarre position. As usual, people seem to have drifted into enemy camps, and wandering into their polemics is as pleasant as plucking my own nosehair. At some point I'll address that mutual intolerance & incoherence, because it's interesting, but for now I'm more interested in meeting the trillion deadlines that are competing on my desk.

Best,
Matt

Posted by at January 21, 2003 08:02 PM
Comments

No argument from me. Just to say it makes a great post. And I suspect you know it anyway!

Posted by: philippe at January 22, 2003 02:10 AM

Matt, here's what's been on my mind about that, and if anyone can help I'd be very grateful. Have you noticed how here in Silverlake there are many "No War" yard signs but not one sign expressing support for the other side? Here's the thing: You can't buy one! I've tried and can't find any. Of course, "No War" is a brilliant and succint (despite specious) piece of propaganda because no one wants war. It's like the anti-abortion crowd using the term "Pro-Life." As if everyone else is against life. Sometimes you need to be willing to fight small wars in order to avoid larger ones. Except "Yes War" is ungrammatical and "No Appeasement" is too long and most people probably wouldn't know what it means anyway. What I'd like is a sign that says "Give War a Chance" (a la P.J. O/p>

NO WAR FOR A FREE IRAQ

DON'T IMPOSE WESTERN VALUES ON SADDAM'S SECRET POLICE

But in the end, the one I like best is:

TODAY IRAQ, TOMORROW MECCA

Posted by: Mike G at January 22, 2003 03:03 PM

These slogans are so brilliant I kick myself for not thinking of them myself! Thanks to everyone who came up with them. I particularly like "Yes, Comma, War" and "Today Iraq -- Tomorrow Mecca" but I think "Free Iraq" probably is most effective, because less bellicose. And less likely to get the garage egged, which has happened before for some reason. Now if only someone would print it up and sell it as a yard sign -- otherwise I guess I'll have to get out the old poster paint and stencils. There's a site called www.americasnewwarzone.com that sells this sort of stuff but so far no yard signs, just bumper stickers.

Posted by: Cathy Seipp at January 22, 2003 04:05 PM

"It's like the anti-abortion crowd using the term 'Pro-Life.' As if everyone else is against life."

No, it's not like that at all, and I'm dissapointed that you chose to tarnish the message of an otherwise-good and completely separate political observation with a pointlessly off-topic remark.

Pro-Lifers call themselves that because they believe the issue at stake in the abortion debate is a human life; Pro-Choicers call themselves that because they believe the issue at stake is the right to reproductive choice. Yet I don't hear too many of the former's ranks refer to the opposed side as the "anti-life" crowd. Maybe some do on the fringes, but it's not especially common. Mainstream Pro-Lifers in my experience use the terms Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Concomitantly, while the Pro-Choice side usually refers to its supporters as Pro-Choice or Pro-Abortion, the opposed view is almost inevitably "anti-abortion" or "anti-choice."

No really, look me in the eye and explain that the connotative messages are not intentional.

Or go back to what you were originally doing -- pro-war signs -- and then contemplate how well it would play to your ears if the no-war advocates were to generally identify under "pro-peace," and refer to all opposed viewpoints "anti-peace."

Mmmmf...

Posted by: anony-mouse at January 22, 2003 04:24 PM

Not to mention you never hear Italian chefs call their opponents "pro-pasto" or "anti-valone"!

Say good night Gracie...

Posted by">Posted by: Mike G at January 22, 2003 05:03 PM

Mike G. is clever with the "today Iraq, tomorrow Mecca". I agree with Cathy Seipp, "Free Iraq" is less bellicose and gets the message across without dumbfounding hesitation.
I think that, unfortunately, in CA, there are so many anti-war people that a lot of Cathy's neighbors would be indifferent to her, and it would be no use...

Posted by: cecile dubois at January 22, 2003 07:29 PM

Cecile -- When are you finally going to start a blog, smarty?

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 22, 2003 07:36 PM

What, so no one likes "Human Shield?"

True, it's not really a pro-war argument, but as far as mocking the rhetoric and tactics of the anti-war movement, I think it's flawless.

(sniff sniff)

Posted by: Bill Herbert at January 22, 2003 09:14 PM

I'm partial to "F*CK MUMIA. FREE IRAQ."

Posted by: Jeff Wimble at January 22, 2003 09:41 PM

Why curse Mauritius with a human tick like Otto Reich? They good people..

Posted by: gregor at January 23, 2003 07:00 AM

You pluck? You should MOW, man! Get with it!

I hear waxing is a good solution, but I'm not that brave.

Posted by: David Perron at January 23, 2003 09:24 AM

THIS SIGN IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 23, 2003 10:45 AM

TGC! TGC!

I'm partial to: "Treacher Sez O, Hee"

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 23, 2003 11:01 AM

I'm not clear on the appropriate slogan for my sign: "Still evolving my position!"?

"Still On My Fence!"?

"Open-minded Towards Pro-War Arguments, But Not Remotely Confident Of Them To Make Many Of Them Myself, Not In Firm Support Of War!"?

Maybe just: "Still Unsure"?

I think it's maybe best I don't carry a sign, or have a slogan. For now.

I realize this position is probably un-American, but it's certainly not apolitical.

I just prefer to argue things I'm reasonably sure about, rather than voice an opinion for the sake of hearing the sound of my own voice.

Which strikes me as not far from your position, Matt, if I'm not projecting.

Posted by: Gary Farber at January 25, 2003 11:58 PM

"This hedge kills fascists."

"Today Mecca, tomorrow the Vatican."

Posted by: xian at January 29, 2003 12:49 AM
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>

I'm partial to "F*CK MUMIA. FREE IRAQ."

Posted by: Jeff Wimble at January 22, 2003 09:41 PM

Why curse Mauritius with a human tick like Otto Reich? They good people..

Posted by: gregor at January 23, 2003 07:00 AM

You pluck? You should MOW, man! Get with it!

I hear waxing is a good solution, but I'm not that brave.

Posted by: David Perron at January 23, 2003 09:24 AM

THIS SIGN IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 23, 2003 10:45 AM

TGC! TGC!

I'm partial to: "Treacher Sez O, Hee"

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 23, 2003 11:01 AM

I'm not clear on the appropriate slogan for my sign: "Still evolving my position!"?

"Still On My Fence!"?

"Open-minded Towards Pro-War Arguments, But Not Remotely Confident Of Them To Make Many Of Them Myself, Not In Firm Support Of War!"?

Maybe just: "Still Unsure"?

I think it's maybe best I don't carry a sign, or have a slogan. For now.

I realize this position is probably un-American, but it's certainly not apolitical.

I just prefer to argue things I'm reasonably sure about, rather than voice an opinion for the sake of hearing the sound of my own voice.

Which strikes me as not far from your position, Matt, if I'm not projecting.

Posted by: Gary Farber at January 25, 2003 11:58 PM

"This hedge kills fascists."

"Today Mecca, tomorrow the Vatican."

Posted by: xian at January 29, 2003 12:49 AM
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Remember personal info?






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