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(Note to literalists: the Watched column presently contains only a smattering of 'warblogs' because the facilitator of the template-change--Dr. Menlo--is not very familiar with them, and will be adding more as they are sent to him. Also, this blog may contain areas of allusion, satire, subtext, context and possibly even a dash of the surreal: wannabe lit-crits beware.)


[Watch this space for: Pentagon and Petroleum, The Media is only as Liberal as the Corporations Who Own Them, Wash Down With, and Recalcify]


Friday, May 24, 2002


I am here owing to a solicitation sent by the present site's chief proprietor seeking volunteers to supplement the regular army in its fight against the hysterical war mongering of, well, just about everybody. I was not outfitted with an official list of enemies, and was for some time unsure as to where to direct my fire. The names of persons who have previously come in for a fustigation on this page were largely unknown to me, but after due reconnaissance, I chose this idiot as the most offensive of the lot and hence most deserving of assault. Why? He seems to insist that all outlets publishing his work accompany his text with a photo of himself in a cowboy hat. A smarmy Californian in a cowboy hat, the most anti-Enlightenment article of clothing this side of a Waffen SS tunic or Klan robe.

In these sad days, even nominal liberals are applauding The War Against Terror (TWAT, with apologies to Bill Bonner) for averting a possible famine in Afghanistan, as if bombing the piss out of a country were the most obvious, direct, and desirable manner of aiding it. With self-identified leftists subscribing to such a pitiful doctrine, you can only imagine the obscenities emanating from the right. Particularly obscene was an outing of Young Matthew's in Reason, a journal that champions "free minds and free markets." One day Young Matthew may come to realize the irony of his habituation of a self-referential swamp of groupthinking ignoramuses while simultaneously promoting "free minds," though I doubt he'll ever perfect his appreciation of classical economics enough to realize the stupendous market failure that has rendred a "pundit" out of material better suited to the cosmetics counter at Bloomingdale's.

The piece that irritated me so mightily was titled "The Politics of Dead Children," in which Young Matthew casts doubt on the judgments of UNICEF, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN proper, the World Health Organization, "virtually every U.S. newspaper," and that damnable Noam Chomsky. Hereto, nobody has been able to provide an accurate reckoning of Iraqi children whose expiry is attributable to the current US-led (administered by the UN) sanctions. While all the preceding agencies and individuals squandered their appreciable resources only to yield flawed counts, Young Matthew managed to get it right - all by his lonesome and from a distance of 7666 miles.

The "Reason" for Young Matthew's David Irving-style tussle with the numbers is given in the second to last paragraph, and can be summarized as follows: the sanctions, insofar as they have killed far fewer babies than is commonly thought, have failed, and with "Bush set to go to war over Saddam's noncompliance with the military goals of the sanctions, there has never been a more urgent time to confront the issue with clarity." The inefficacy of the sanctions must be recognized, and the thus far insufficient death toll must be augmented with a steady delivery of ordnance lest that evil towel-head rule for another ten years.

The above "noncompliance with the military goals of the sanctions" on Mr. Hussein's part amounts, in the plainest of terms, to his failure to off himself in a manner satisfactory to Young Matthew and Paul Wolfowitz. Plain terms, however, are offensive, and the closest Young Matthew comes to broaching them is when he states that Iraq has not been cooperative with weapons inspectors and that there "have been no weapons inspectors in Iraq since 1998." This, of course, is largely untrue, though since the destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981, greatly exaggerated estimates of Iraq's nuclear capability have enjoyed currency without challenge.

But what about those chemical and biological weapons those wacky Iraqis are making here there and everywhere? They may actually may be producing the stuff, though even unlimited, unchaperoned, unannounced inspections could locate every last clandestine lab, each diligently manufacturing as much America-bound weapons-grade Bacillus anthracis as possible. That's what they're doing, right? No? Aw, fuck it, let's just bomb Cuba. They've just got to be behind something.

And that's the problem not just with this piece but with Young Matthew himself and his allied scribblers as a class. A profound lack of engagement with the real world leaves them unable to do much beyond proposing the same mono-solution to every problem of international affairs that introduces itself. Reason is never applied in an inquisitive manner, and nobody can be bothered to ask why exactly it seems the best option to Mr. Hussein to go the plainly suicidal route and "launch more wars against his neighbors." And people actually pay money for this bilge?

• • • • •

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