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Archive for April 8th, 2006

useful idiot

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The Canadian papers – that is, the ones I get on Saturday (Globe and Mail and the Star) – are all worked up today about f’n Michael Ignatieff, the fact that he’s about to become the front man of the Liberal Party, or so it seems, how beloved he is in the Annex, and just how lubricatingly sexy he is (seriously?)

Positioning yourself as the useful idiot of some much smarter neocon goons should not, to my mind, be the golden road to electoral success up Ottawa way. Writing the ethics (and oh yeah necessity) of American Empire shouldn’t make you a hit off Bloor.

Here’s Jonathan Schell in the Nation back before the start of the war:

Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard, is also of the “do it right” school. His starting point, however, is the need to disarm Iraq. In his essay in the New York Times Magazine “The American Empire: The Burden,” he begins by noting that if Saddam Hussein is permitted to have weapons of mass destruction, he will have a “capacity to intimidate and deter others, including the United States.” Being deterred in a region of interest is evidently unacceptable for an imperial power, and forces it to remove the offending regime. Yet if the regime is to be removed, a larger imperial agenda becomes inescapable. By this reasoning Ignatieff arrives at the same destination as Friedman and Ajami: The United States must mount “an imperial operation that would commit a reluctant republic to become the guarantor of peace, stability, democratization and oil supplies in a combustible region of Islamic peoples stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan.” We arrive at a new formula that has no precedent for dealing with nuclear danger: nonproliferation by forced democratization. Ignatieff acknowledges that a republic that turns into an empire risks “endangering its identity as a free people”–thus menacing democracy at home by trying to force it on others abroad. Nevertheless, he wants the United States to take on “the burden of empire.”

If someone was interested, now or down the road, in an audio-visual demonstration of this useful idiocy, one could do worse than a greatest hits portfolio gleaned from this Charlie Rose debate between Schell and Ignatieff from February 25, 2003.

God. Ignatieff is an walking talking embodiment of the miasma of blinders-on stupidity that infected the chattering masses in the US during the run-up. Listening to this debate, reading his stuff, puts me right back in the bars of NYC in late 2002-early 2003, arguing with my bien-pensant colleagues. Hearing stuff like, “I’d support it, but only if the UN was on-board…” etc., etc., etc., Seriously, why now? Why Iraq? Why is this what we’re doing? What does this have to do with anything? Doesn’t that give you pause, to realize that there’s not a good reason and we’re doing it anyway? What do you think they’re up to with this, as expensive as it’s going to be, given that there’s no good reason? WTF?

UPDATE: Looks like it might be time for Ignatieff to get the laptop humming again. Wouldn’t want the hawkish left feeling all confused and conflicted when we end the treat of nuclear warfare in our time by dropping nukes on Iran.

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April 8, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Posted in america