February 09, 2003

History rewrite attempt no. 4785

Matt Welch find a snide little bit of business over at the Guardian. One Jonathan Steele opines that:

The crisis over Iraq shows how the US will attempt to manipulate the latest adherents to the EU, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe. Nations that were once the vassals of the Soviet Union are now in danger of becoming vassals of the US. In addition to the three former members of the Warsaw pact which signed the "gang of eight" letter, on Wednesday a new group, a "gang of 10" - consisting of the three Baltic states, plus Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia - issued a strong statement of support for the US over Iraq.

In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war. While the EU insisted on a slow and complex process of economically painful adjustment, joining Nato was relatively easy and the US used a mix of fear, flattery and economic incentives to get them to sign up.

Guh. Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, there are people like Matt Welch, who actually lived in the countries in question during the time of rebuilding and liberation, not to mention people who still live there and know a little more about what is going on than one Guardian lackey. (Must. Stop. Self. From making joke about poster of Che Guevara that probably hangs above Steele's desk. Oops. Too late. It was Jebus! He made me do it! He turned my coffee into bourbon! Darned inconvenient miracles.)

Side note: one of the commenters to Mr. Welch's post keeps spouting the "America forgets about everyone it promises to help, look at Afghanistan" line, and it is beginning to cheese me off. No, it has cheesed me off. Let's review:

Afghanistan is not like a corner of Idaho or Maine, we cannot transform the country into a prosperous, self-sufficient nation -- hell, even plain old self-sufficiency would do -- in the space of less than two years, all by our lonesome. As a matter of fact, we have not abandoned the place, as a random Googling will show. But for some reason the fact that there aren't hourly features on that country on CNN means that Afghanistan has been "forgotten" by some entity known as "America." Well. What is meant by "America" in this context? Does it mean the guy at the corner grocery, the taxicab driver, the newsstand guy, the hot dog stand guy -- or, to pick some examples from parts of America other than New York City, does it mean the teacher, the baker, the comic book maker? Or does it mean to be a complaint that the president is not calling me, personally, every day to brief me on the day-in-day-out plans for every thing and every place the US is currently involved in? Let me bring you up to date on something: there is nary a country on the planet that the US is not doing something with, for, or to, and there is no way to compress news of all these activities into an hour-long press conference. Most of these activities are deadly dull, and a report of them would put you, the Concerned Average Citizen, to sleep faster than a Quaalude and vodka cocktail. Let's be real here: when people say "America has abandoned (insert country it was spectacularly doing something to or for last week)," we really mean, "America has been doing a lot of tedious, detail-oriented, time-consuming stuff that is slow to show results in (insert country) but it's too boring to talk about."

I have some advice for those of you who are sitting on your butts grousing about how "America forgets" everything, like an absent-minded housewife who keeps losing her car keys. TURN OFF THE GODDAMN TV. Try using this internet thing, just like I did up there. If you hate Google, there are other search engines. If you hate the internet (then how are you reading this? Liar.) then go to the fricken' library. I'd suggest checking out one of the large university libraries if it is possible; they have meatier stuff, like reams upon reams of boring statistics, charts, and reports like "PERIODIC REPORT ON THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAQ... HOUSE DOCUMENT 107-179... 107TH CONGRESS, 2D SESSION." I mean, if you really want to know stuff and aren't just talking out of your ass in order to prove how hip and cynical you are about Dubya and the Repugnicans.

And please, please use some common sense: do you think that this nation, for better or worse, got into the position of power it is in today by forgetting any damn thing? If so, you have been h4X0rd and are now OWNED.

Update: a commentary from someone who currently lives in Bulgaria.

Posted by Andrea Harris at February 9, 2003 12:46 AM

Now, it may be true that we're not doing enough in Afghanistan. It certainly seems that one can put together a list of news articles either way, with enough searching. (Rantburg is a help.)
However, I really don't think that anyone knows enough to definitively say what is and isn't possible in Afghanistan, and whether we're doing enough. Anyone who claims that we've definitely abandoned Afghanistan either isn't paying attention, or being dishonest. (Or making assumptions without knowledge.) It's also a really easy, cheap complaint to make. "We should be doing more!" How simple to say, how difficult to actually back up, or admit that it's a tough decision.
Often I feel that no matter what we'd do, it would be "abandoning" up until the point that it was "imperialism," with even some overlap, according to some people.

Posted by: John Thacker at February 9, 2003 at 01:03 AM

I fixed your link to Rantburg. Watch those quotation marks! I need to add a "url" thing to the formatting links, but for some reason the script I found only came with those three.

Yes, Rantburg is a help, but I am thinking of people who sneer at blogs but who might be persuaded if they found something on a "neutral" search engine or in the hallowed halls of academe.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 9, 2003 at 01:24 AM

This is not unlike some of the snearing going among certain people who suggest that "Al Qaeda and bin Laden have been forgotten." A simple Google News search shows that Al Qaeda members are being pursued, caught, and tried on an almost daily basis, in countries all over the world where the FBI and CIA are working with the local authorities.

But hey, you know, we're going after Iraq and have forgotten about Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda isn't on the news every night.

Never mind the Iraq-Al Qaeda links that we've known about for almost a year, either.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at February 9, 2003 at 04:14 AM

And most US gummint agencies have pretty informative web sites. I ought to know; I work for one. There's an informal competition to cram in the most information. USAID's is pretty good. But why work when you can vent?

Posted by: Jack at February 9, 2003 at 04:38 AM

Nobody seems to care that our troops are still being kept busy exchanging fire with fresh supplies of Islamofascist coming over the Pakistan border with complete impunity. so much for our ally.

Afghanistan has been a festering pit throughout recorded history. Making it anything else is a massive task even without being under fire.

Posted by: Eric Pobirs at February 9, 2003 at 06:11 AM

One mustn't expect much else from the hard-core anti-American left, Andrea. Think of them as flatworms who've been swimming a single maze all their lives, and their behavior becomes more comprehensible.

If it promotes free enterprise, requires a military initiative, or highlights the benevolence and efficacy of American ways, they're against it. If it's against capitalism, against international dynamism, or against America, they're for it. They've been conditioned to see these things as irredeemably evil, and their premise of moral superiority requires that they oppose them.

Seeing themselves as noble Davids standing athwart the American Goliath couldn't hurt their self-images, either.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at February 9, 2003 at 07:45 AM

The Left can only sustain itself through lies - like this.

Posted by: blaster at February 9, 2003 at 11:51 AM

Technically, a Quaalude and vodka cocktail is known as a "Dowd"

A Quaalude and gin cocktail is a "Molly Ivans"

Imperial Falconer

Posted by: MonkeyPanst at February 9, 2003 at 10:12 PM

Mmmmmmmmmmm, Quaalude and vodka cocktail.

Posted by: Dave Himrich at February 9, 2003 at 10:21 PM