I tend to get nostalgic for the days when people could engage the issues without getting childish and personal.
Reality bites. Here's a clip from the era before William F. Buckley, who passed away this week, developed that way-back-in-the-chair posture that became his trademark; he's sparring with Gore Vidal. In the space of just over a minute, Vidal calls Buckley a crypto-Nazi and Buckley calls Vidal a queer. Buckley then threatens to "sock you in your g__damn face, and you'll stay plastered."
Ah, the purity of intellectual jousting ...
Interestingly in light of our current situation, Buckley says "I'm for ostracizing people who egg on other people to shoot at American marines and American soldiers...". In Iraq today, the Bush administration "eggs on" - - i.e. hands bricks of money to resistance fighters who were blowing up Americans with IEDs just weeks before - - so they can join the "Iraqi Security Volunteers" (aka Sahwa, or "the Awakening"). This is part of the "surge.'
The PR guys at the official United States army website shines this turd as if writing the text-crawl for a the beginning of a new Star Wars film.
Determined to rise up against al Qaeda terrorists, concerned local citizens, working together with coalition forces, have started neighborhood watch programs in northern Iraq. The citizens are calling the movement "Sahwa," an Arabic term that means "awakening."
Inspiring, But, as most any real army soldier on the ground in Iraq would tell you, not really true. Listen to a correspondent in Baghdad:
Among the recent arrests in Baghdad, the U.S. military counted six members of the Sahwa (Awakening) forces. This is a force of resistance fighters now ostensibly working with the U.S. military. The U.S. pays each member 300 dollars monthly. More than 80 percent of about 70,000 Sahwa members are Sunni.
The arrest of some Sahwa members is indication of U.S. military doubts about the loyalties of some of these Sahwa fighters. Shia political parties and militias already accuse them of being resistance fighters in disguise. Many believe that large numbers of Sahwa forces are resistance fighters simply riding the "surge".
"How come Sunni parts of Baghdad became so quiet all of a sudden," says Jawad Salman, a former resident of Amiriya who fled his house in 2006 after Iraqi resistance members accused him of being a government spy. "It is a game well played by terrorists to divert the fight against Shia groups. I lived there and I know that all residents fully support what the U.S. calls the terrorists."
And when the money stops? Back to Star Wars - remember the scene in the last prequel when the clone army got their signal from the raisin-faced emperor and turned their guns on all the Jedi?
Anyway, in the meantime enjoy some old fashioned civility, Buckley-style.
(Also: From Slate - "Why Did William F. Buckley Talk Like That?")
(Video found at the New Yorker Blog).