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Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Glenn Harlan Reynolds, employing a euphemism fashionable among the killbloggers, lets it be known that he’s “pro-liberation.” His affirmation follows a lengthy excerpt from a José Ramos-Horta Times op-ed piece. At first blush it seems curious that GHR, an avowed enemy of multilateralism who never lets pass an opportunity to deride the UN, gives several column inches to someone discussing upholding the efficacy and moral rectitude of the UN’s conduct. But, given that the exercise was successful, it’s not that surprising.

For Reynolds, the salience of the fact that intervention worked overrides the nest of inconveniences couching that fact - most notably that the actors in East Timor are not coterminous with the actors in the approaching shock and awe of the Iraqi people. A more appropriate point of comparison would have been the war in Afghanistan. As anyone reading regularly across the spectrum of pro-liberation press - from Instapuppet to the reliably martial Raines Times - soon realizes, nobody’s much interested in depicting what U.S. bomb-induced liberation looks like.

An exception is Robert Fisk. On the eve of the February 5 meeting of the UN Security Council Fisk was certain that:

Colin Powell will not be boasting to the Security Council today of America's success in the intelligence war in Afghanistan. It's one thing to claim that satellite pictures show chemicals being transported around Iraq, or that telephone intercepts prove Iraqi scientists are still at their dirty work; quite another to explain how all the "communications chatter" intercepts which the US supposedly picked up in Afghanistan proved nothing. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, you can quote Basil Fawlty: "Whatever you do, don't mention the war."
Fisk’s piece concerned itself mainly with recent American military setbacks, mentioning "the anarchy in the cities outside Kabul, the warlordism and drug trafficking and steadily increasing toll of murders" secondarily. Reynolds and his supporters don’t treat the preceding at all, nor do they treat the refugees of the Jalozai and Chaman camps whose family members perished in the bombing.

Their preference is to catalogue the boons of liberation, a novel take on which was recently provided by Human Rights Watch:

The United States blocked proposals by Afghan leaders, including President Hamid Karzai, and the United Nations, for an expanded ISAF to patrol the countryside and act as a deterrent to renewed fighting and human rights abuses by warlords and their subordinates. The solution offered by the U.S., to have warlords provide security outside of Kabul while the international community trains a future Afghan army, has proven to be a failure.

Failure in the instance of Afghanistan took the form of racist violence perpetrated by rampaging ethnic militias, of further devastation and ruin, and of the continued repression of women. Professor Reynolds, safe behind the burqa with which he shrouds his intellect, is determined not to let this obvious and inconvenient parallel dim his enthusiasm for liberation.

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