A God-damned hippie

So far, although I have occasionally been called an ‘extreme right winger’,  an anarchist, or a Commie, I have only once been called a God-damned hippie – due to this article of mine.

A metaphorical cee-gar to the first person who figures out how the editors messed up one line.


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85 Responses to A God-damned hippie

  1. Greying Wanderer says:

    all i can think of is “our other elves”

  2. Fake Herzog says:

    That was a great article I had never read (and I’m a neocon supporter of the War in Iraq).

    This is a tough question…I’m wondering if this is the line:

    “I would guess that those disasters irretrievably darkened their political perspective, just as our World War I left an entire generation embittered and disaffected.”

    Your original had “Vietnam” and the editors changed it to “World War I”, prompting an angry reader who fondly remembers the roaring 20s (he’s an older gentleman) to call you a God-d*mn hippie. It’s a stretch, but I can’t figure out what else it could be.

    Oh, and by the way, everyone knows that Iran was/is cooperating with the Taliban:


    • gcochran9 says:

      Wasn’t so when Condi said it – she is a moron. While presumably you are just a blood-enemy of the United States.

      • Fake Herzog says:

        “On 7 January 2000, the detainee and three other Taliban officials attended a meeting with Iranian and Hizbi Islami-Gulbuddin Hikmatyar faction officials. Present at the meeting were Afghan Hizbi Islami-Gulbuddin leader, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Topics of discussion included United States intervention in the region, restoration of peace in Afghanistan and strengthening the Taliban’s ties with [the] Iran[ian] government.”

        Oops. (Also, if we are correcting your errors in that piece, which I must say again is really quite amusing, I find it hard to believe that when you wrote the piece in 2007 Bush kept “saying that Saddam refused to admit those UN arms inspectors back in 2002 and early 2003”? I suppose it is possible, but he spent all that time working with his people to try and get that second Security Council Resolution passed after 1441, so let’s just say I’m skeptical of your claim. A link to one example would be appreciated.)

        But I’m still stumped as to why you were called a hippie! Here’s another guess:

        “One in which World War II dragged on long after the indecisive Battle of Midway.”

        Obviously in our real world, the Battle of Midway was decisive; but WWII did drag on quite a bit after that battle. So a veteran of D-Day or the Bulge or perhaps a military historian saw that line and got crazy.

        It’s a theory.

        • gcochran9 says:

          [Reporter’s question] If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq War?

          “Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld.”
          —President George W. Bush, Dec. 1, 2008

          “And so the choice was Saddam Hussein’s choice. He could have not fooled the inspectors. He could have welcomed the world in. He could have told us what was going on. But he didn’t. And so we moved.”
          —President George W. Bush, July 7, 2006

          “… We worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.”
          —President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

          [Reporter’s question] Mr. President, but how do you describe and account for the difference between what you claimed prior to the war about what he possessed and what he was capable of, and what the intelligence said he possessed and was capable of in terms of a nuclear weapon within the decade, and the fact that David Kay says the intelligence was inaccurate and wrong, and nothing has been found? Don’t you owe the American people an explanation?

          “Well, I think the Iraq Survey Group must do its work. Again, I appreciate David Kay’s contribution. I said in the run-up to the war against Iraq that — first of all, I hoped the international community would take care of him. I was hoping the United Nations would enforce its resolutions, one of many. And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution — 1441 — unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.” —President George W. Bush, Jan. 27, 2004

          “The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region.” —President George W. Bush, July 14, 2003

          I’m supposed to take some unauthenticated crap beaten out of someone at Gitmo seriously? How about this: resurrect the 4000 we lost for nothing in Iraq, heal the tens of thousands of cripples, pony up the trillion dollars, and I’ll call it square. If not, I guess we’ll have to take out of your hide – you, and the other reptiles like you.

        • Pale Primate says:

          You are a damn idiot. Iran wanted to invade Afghanistan & destroy the Taliban in the late 1990s, but the USA told them not to.

          “This incident caused a public furor in Iran and many observers were worried Iran would be involved in a military response to the attack. At the time, more than 70,000 Iranian troops were deployed along the Afghan border. Mediation by the United Nations defused the situation and all the hostages were eventually released. Later in February 1999, Iran and Taliban held talks, but Iranian-Taliban relations did not improve.”


          Then, Iran HELPED the USA after 9/11:


          And how did the George W. Bush administration repay them? By lumping them into “The Axis of Evil” with countries that they had no alliance with and with whom they hated.

          And Dick Cheney said: “We don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it.”

          The dumb SOBs in the Bush administration fucked up everything they touched, & the neocons should all be put up against the wall for lying the USA into a stupid war for Israel.

      • misdreavus says:

        Ouch. Ownage!

    • nameless37 says:

      Could have been the other way around. The original had “World War I” but the editor thought that it was a mistake and it was supposed to be “Vietnam”. Then an angry reader took it as a put-down of the Vietnam war and accused Cochran of being a hippie and a pacifist.

  3. “new physics that may lead to the long-desired marriage of quantum mechanics and general relativity. It’s either this or string theory.”

    String theory *is* supposed to marry QM with GR. I could imagine an editor messing this line up.

  4. Andrew says:

    It’s Greg’s long hair!

  5. Harold says:

    “It can’t be that they’re just pig-ignorant—of their own history, yet. There has to be a deeper, more subtle explanation.”

    This part seems to be messed up.

    Perhaps the ‘can’t’ should be ‘could’, and the punctuation is all wrong. I attempt to re-punctuate it myself but I’d just embarrass myself. I never could get the hang of punctuation.

  6. Jaim Jota says:

    “pig-ignorant”. Only a god-damned hippie would use that expression.

  7. Jim says:

    George W. Bush is a contemptible piece of shit.

  8. Fake Herzog says:

    Notice I asked for a link: context is important with Bush since he often mangled the English language. Look at the March 21, 2006 quote “…when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose…” — to me that reads like what actually happened — inspectors went in and were stymied in their efforts to get straight answers from Saddam and his people.

    Apparently Greg can’t have a reasonable debate about the Iraq War with anyone, but longtime readers already knew that from his encounter with Mencius.

    • gcochran9 says:

      What you said is of course a lie. Scared to death, the Baathists let inspectors go anywhere they wanted. The UN inspectors responded to something like 50 US tips: every one came up empty. This ( as reported in the press) was enough for the old Republican lady next door to deduce that all our intelligence, all our claims, were false. I had come to the same conclusion , earlier, but then I had worked in aerospace for years, have a degree in physics, helped designed the star sensor on the Trident II, etc. She was (and is) a lot smarter and more honest than you, or the entire Bush administration. She’s also quite gracious about returning soccer balls and toy airplanes.

      You guys make me wish I’d been born with fangs.

      I think the time for debate is over. I prefer trial by combat. You can have Saddam’s entire nuclear arsenal. I get a baseball bat.

      Mencius is a fool, of course.

      • Fake Herzog says:

        Deal, trial by combat.

        You get the bat but I want the Al-Samoud.

        Can you come visit Chicago? We can get an excellent hot dog, right near my house, before the festivities?

        • gcochran9 says:

          The Al-Samoud missile was basically a scaled-down Scud with a 140 kg conventional warhead. It had the half the range and one-seventh the warhead of a V-2, which killed two Brits per missile. Truly a weapon of mass destruction.

          Do you even know what a nuclear weapon is? Or do you just emit random noise when someone has you dead to rights? Parenthetically, with the end of testing, especially above-ground testing, I suspect that nukes are becoming more and more unreal to most people.

  9. ziel says:

    I’m guessing it’s one of your obscure allusions like Sabine women or Stuart Little that most of us don’t get and the editor didn’t get either.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Of course their briefing books would refer to this world, not theirs. My cognitively bounded editors messed it up. The original line went like this: “When tired or stressed, they keep referring to the history that they lived and learned in school, rather than the one in their briefing books.”

      When this came out, my daughter was attending SSP, a summer math/astronomy program in Socorro. She showed the article to one the few rightwingers among the students (most were foolish in the other direction), hiding the author with her finger. That kid said that whoever wrote that article was a God-damned hippie. Ginny then revealed my name, and said ” That’s my Dad!”

  10. Jason says:

    Or maybe they said Savings and Loan instead of Building and Loan because they hadn’t seen the movie that Greg has seen a few hundred times.

  11. Mike Eisenstadt says:

    You sure have a pig-ignorant bunch of readers. A German friend of mine, 7 years old in 1945 told me that there was a soupcon of resistance in his village area. He went on to say that the US Army had everyone out on the streets along the main road and then ran a convoy of heavy gear down the highway stretching for MILES. And that was the end of the resistance, according to Hans-Pieter remembering this from when he was 7.

  12. Jaim Jota says:

    I would not call that a soupçon of guerilla warfare. Maybe you are referring to Herrmann Goering’s surrender. He drove his official Mercedes directly into an American military base, but the guard “resisted” and didnt allow him to enter.

  13. I have general agreement – Werewolf was real but almost entirely ineffective, and the other group (Edelweiss Pirates, I had to look it up) not much better, for example. But Fake Herzog has not been answered justly, and the word “lie” seems to drop on your screen easily. I admire your work in general, link to you, and quote you, but you overstate, and then merely try to bully your way out by being dismissive when you are challenged.

    You dislike some evidence in long war journal and so just reject it. Could be true though. Or are you asserting that it is absolutely impossible for any of it to be true? That would be a rather large claim, yet you seem to be making it. You are the one staking out the absolutist position, after all.

    • gcochran says:

      The Bush administration said a lot of things about Iraq, before we invaded. Almost all of them were false. The details, and the gist. They did a lot of things once we invaded and occupied the place, and almost all of them were stupid. They said lots of things once we were there, and most of those statements were false, occasionally rising to the point of sheer madness.

      That statement from “long war journal’ is not the sort of evidence that anyone would take seriously. We elicited tons of nonsense from prisoners, mainly because nonsense was what we wanted to hear. You can certainly beat useful information out of people – the Axis did it all the time in WWII- but you have to actually want information.

      The Bush administration are the sort of people who could give torture itself a bad name. As for their near-compulsive lying, I guess it’s what you expect from a bunch of cocky incompetents who have just managed a five-meter dive into a cesspool. Too bad that most of the younger members of the conservative commentariat cut their teeth defending and elaborating those lies.

      Iraq had no ongoing nuclear weapons program. That was knowable in advance, and the professionals in places like Los Alamos and Sandia knew it. I knew it. The Baathists were old-fashioned secular modernizers: they had nothing to do with 9-11. Being broke, and with ~75% of the population in a no-fly zone [ Kurds] or itching to revolt [Shi’ites] they were no threat to any of their neighbors, other than Kuwait, which would feel threatened by a Boy Scout troop. They were no threat to the US.

      We invaded them for no practical reason at all: that was easy to figure out at the time, if you knew anything about the situation and modern military affairs. Of course NO ONE in public life does.

      I don’t like wars of aggression, which is exactly what this was, on our part. Even more, I don’t like them when they don’t have any practical payoff, and of course this one did not. I like them even less when they’re fucking expensive.

      Condoleeza Rice, in an interview with the New York Times in 2000 AD, suggested that the Taliban was working with Iran. The reporter tried to save her from an obvious gaffe – since the two were on the hairy verge of war at the time – but she insisted on being stupid, as she did every time she opened her mouth for the rest of her life.

      She later talked about all the guerrilla warfare in occupied Germany, after their surrender, in 1945 – compared it with Iraq. There wasn’t any. You’d have to be profoundly ignorant of American history to think otherwise, but of course she is that ignorant. As is Rumsfeld – although you have to admit that comparisons of Iraq to post-revolutionary America takes it to a higher plane.

      As far as I can tell, even though the press knew that Rice was hapless, probably the worst NSC head we have ever had, and stupid to boot, they refrained from criticizing much because A. She’s a twofer, maybe even a threefer – black, female, and with any luck gay and B. She was a less toxic influence on Bush than Cheney.

      Stupid. She and the other know-nothings just knew that free elections would solve all our problems in the Mideast: she was genuinely surprised that Hamas won in Gaza.
      Well, I fucking wasn’t, nor was I surprised that fairly conservative Moslem-religious parties would dominate in the Arab Spring.

      Bush was a Renaissance idiot. It wasn’t just Iraq. He appointed that wonderful no-enforcement SEC – Bernie Maddoff is our friend! When you follow the timeline of the Vioxx scandal, and it looks as if the CDC is maybe going to nip the prob;em in the bud, before a lot of people get killed – Bush appointed someone from Merck to HHS – someone involved in the continued pushing of a dangerous drug. It was his insane notion of building a pro-American government in Afghanistan, it was his pro-billionaire (and anti-everyone else) economic policy, it was No Child Left Behind. It was ceasing all enforcement of immigration law. He and his pack of morons deliberately ignored all the warnings from career government officials about some dude named Osama Bin Laden – the Busheviks just knew that the real threat was Iraq, even though they had done jack for a decade or more…

      He appointed Bernie Kerik for head of Homeland Security. Bernie had a few problems, maybe you’ve heard. But being a bigamist, mobbed-up and the son of a whore, I think he would have fit right in. Speaking of, I have a theory that may explain his rapid rise from Giuliani’s chauffeur to Police Commissioner and almost-head of HS: one single sentence. ” Sir, get off the babysitter.”

      On Iraq again. Bremer fired the entire Iraqi Army, which was an insane thing to do. The Principals Committee of the NSC had already considered the issue, and decided not to disband. Bremer went ahead anyway – he strongly suggests that someone higher up told him too, but apparently nobody knows who. Not even Bush. Of course, if Bush had actually been President, rather than the RKO version of the Manchurian Candidate, he would made it fucking clear that he was the boss.

      Shall I go on? I got a million of ’em.

      • Fake Herzog says:

        Yes please do go on, because you are making a fool of yourself.

        I was tempted to respond to this nonsense, but then it hit me — all the name calling “near-compulsive lying”, “know-nothings”, etc. And the fake expertise on subjects you know nothing about (“his pro-billionaire (and anti-everyone else) economic policy”). You aren’t a “God-d*amned hippie” — just another garden-variety angry left-wing crank.

        P.S. I was going to go out and buy The 10,000 Year Explosion but now I demand you send me a signed copy complete with an angry note: “To my favorite blood enemy of the U.S., here is the book you wanted — when you are finished there is a quiz and if we don’t get the answer we want, the waterboard will be your best friend. All my best, gcochran”

        • gcochran9 says:

          In 2003, I had been a straight-ticket, registered Republican for 30 years (and six generations). I went door-to-door for Ronnie. I lie: I voted for a Democrat once, for County Clerk: he had had his arm caught in a corn -picker, had cut it off with a pocket-knife, tied a tourniquet and then walked two miles for help. Our family respected him and thought he needed a desk job, so he won by six votes.

          Let me tell you who else thinks like me, about Iraq: the War College. Or consider Gregory Newbold, who was a three-star Marine general, director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs from 2000-2002. He was offered the #2 position in the invasion of Iraq, which is of course the sort of combat command that every officer aspires to.

          Instead, he took early retirement: he thought it that stupid.

          Or consider the British equivalents of the Joint Chiefs, Sky Marshals and such: every single one of them thought invading Iraq was a mistake.

      • gothamette says:

        If Cochran is a garden variety left-wing crank, then so am I and so are a lot of other people who are so left wing we can’t stomach Conservatism, Inc. anymore.* You know who else thought invading Iraq was a mistake? Omar Sharif. He said you’ll never get the Sunni and the Shia to work together, ever, not to mention all the other fractious groups. He knew more than our miitary brass – and I bet he looks better in a uniform. (His is a changed name. His origins are Lebanese Christians who moved to Egypt.)

        For an example of Conservatism, Inc., see Peggy Noonan, who actually thinks the country is now nostalgic for Bush, after 6 years of Obama. Dimwit and fraud. Every time I think that Obama is running the country into a ditch, I remember that really, it was Bush who did it – in reverse. It’s only fair to remember that.

      • gothamette says:

        Yeah, go on. The real estate frenzy took place under Bush’s watch. Irrelevant? I don’t think so. While the productive sector of our once majestic economy was being auctioned off, hollowed out, we needed to make money somehow (you can borrow a lot but not everything) so speculation took its place – all of which was actively encouraged by Bushco.

        We need some tax base, after all, to support all this invading and blowing up, and people need the illusion of wealth for social stability. Also there’s a stratospheric level of society, far above little people like me, where it all converges in fund raising and socializing and backslapping and palm greasing. Blame the housing bubble on Bush, too. It made the Reagan era S&L scandal (a piddly few billion) look like nursery school.

    • gcochran says:

      Let me talk purely about Iran’s role in these follies. I think that they were happy to have us knock over Saddam – not because he was a threat at the time, but basically because of his past history of attacking Iran. They didn’t like the Taliban, either, since they had persecuted Shi’ite groups in Afganistan ( Hazaras, mainly) and had killed iranian diplomats. I don’t think they had anything to with 9-11.

      Once we overthrew the Taliban, I think the Iranians wanted us out, as opposed to staying there forever. Although there is a funny pattern of zero hard evidence, it seems possible to me that they have given some aid to anti-US forces in Afghanistan, as we claim every now and then – though apparently not nearly as much as aid as Pakistan. But I guess that’s OK, since Pakistan is an ally, using the current definition of someone we give money to.

      In Iraq, the Iranians had a natural in, since ~60% of the population is Shi’ite, and most of the Shi’ite political leaders, such as Maliki. spent many years in exile in Iran ( also Syria).
      When we occupied Iraq, the Sunnis, who had run the show, deeply resented their overthrow, and fired off a low-level guerrilla war. The Shi’ites thought that knocking over the Baathists was fine – but expected to run things themselves, rather than being part of a US satrapy. Which is what we intended, if you can characterize the US government as having any plan at all – that’s why we didn’t want general elections back then. But then, in 2004, the Shi’ites revolted. They weren’t very effective, but they made clear that we had hardly anyone supporting us in Iraq, other than the Kurds. Not enough to stand up a government. So we agreed to elections – probably because of our own approaching elections – and that meant we had signed on to a fairly-Shi’ite Iraq that would be close to Iran.. which is what we have today.

      The Sunnis kept causing trouble, and for a while the Shi’ites were happy enough to let the US put down their enemies. But the Sunnis committed too many atrocities, and finally the Shi’ites decided it was time for some ethnic cleansing. They killed or expelled most of the Sunnis from Baghdad, and ended up pushing about half of the entire Sunni population into Syria and Jordan. At that point came the Sunni Awakening: we were less dangerous than the Shi’ites, and we’d pay them, being chumps. We protected the Sunnis from their former serfs.. until we left.

      Iran was in this story, but not as a real major player. The Shi’ites in Iraq figured out that they wanted to run the country all by themselves.

      Now what did the US get out of all this? Nothing. Well, I suppose we learned what fraction of the talking classes are suckers for nonsense: practically all of them. That’s worth knowing. I sure hope we don’t have to learn it again any time soon. And we’ve learned a lot about repetitive brain injury: maybe the Iraq War will lead to the end of football.


      • Fake Herzog says:

        “Iran was in this story, but not as a real major player.”

        Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by “major player”:

        •Iranian preparations for Iranian intervention in Iraq date from as early as 2002.
        •Beginning in 2003, Iran has worked to create a vast network to transport and distribute Iranian arms to insurgents across Iraq.
        •Iranian and Hezbollah agents in Iraq began to recruit and train Shi’a militia members, including the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, in 2003.
        •These groups of twenty to sixty Iraqis trained, armed, and funded by Hezbollah and Iran are known as ‘Special Groups’ or ‘secret cells.’
        •With the creation of militia training facilities in Iran in 2005, the number of secret cells in Iraq has grown and they have become much more deadly. Today [August 2007] there are three of these training camps outside Tehran to train Iraqis for four to six weeks.
        •In May 2006, the Qods Force and Hezbollah reorganized the Special Groups in Iraq along a Hezbollah-like model. Ali Mussa Daqduq, a Lebanese Hezbollah operative, became the chief advisor in Iraq.
        •By June 2006, Qais Khazali, an Iraqi and former Sadrist, became the head of Special Groups in Iraq.
        •The precise aims of the IRGC-QF remain unclear, but the results are not. They developed a Hezbollah-like secret cell network dependent on Iranian support. They developed an organization that could operate within the umbrella of government institutions to undermine or replace the elected government of Iraq.
        •Special Groups have actively undermined the Maliki government since its inception in May 2006. They have targeted important government figures, Coalition forces, and Iraqi Security Forces.
        •Special Groups have kidnapped or assassinated Iraqi government officials; individuals working for the government (including the November 15, 2006 mass kidnapping of employees from the Ministry of Education); and U.S. soldiers at the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center.
        •Iranian-funded and made explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs), rockets, and mortars flowed into and around Iraq via the Special Groups’ transit routes.
        •Special Groups have escalated attacks on Coalition forces in the Diyala province and the Green Zone in Baghdad.
        [from this report: http://www.understandingwar.org/report/irans-proxy-war-against-united-states-and-iraq%5D

        Or if you prefer a report that wasn’t prepared by a neocon, there is this:


      • gothamette says:

        Fake Herzog, that link is dead. I looked at the root URL and see that the org. is run by a Kagan. In her bio it states that she served in Kabul in 2010-2011, enough to immediately disqualify her as a serious thinker, IMO. (She’s just part of the unspeakably stupid system we’ve created, of NGOs, “helping” organizations, and so on. They are all fucking useless.) No mention of the fact that Kimmie is married to Frederick, who is the son of Don, who is an asshole.

        Economic oppression and imperialism (factories) is far preferable to foreign aid.

        I’m gonna bow out of this discussion now. Thinking about the Kagans and these networks of propaganda and aid and money and waste and fraud and abuse and death and destruction depresses me because there’s nothing I can do about them. I now subscribe to the ethos of Dr. Pangloss: “cultivate your own garden.” Thinking about these people makes the weeds grow.

      • gothamette says:

        Fake Herzog,

        I said I wasn’t gonna say anything more but I lied. More about that Understanding War bullshit organization from whose website you quoted from (dead link, fix it).

        “Beginning in 2003, Iran has worked to create a vast network to transport and distribute Iranian arms to insurgents across Iraq.”

        This alone is bullshit. Iran is a drug-riddled cesspool with a negative birth rate. This quote makes it sound like the Jews in British Palestine: a tight knit highly organized group of people, contending factions sure, but willing to work together effectively when the need arose. The only time these dudes cooperate is when they are setting up drug networks. Now that, I expect, they do very effectively. And the weapons were used to enforce terms in drug dealing, as much as anything else.

        A few words about the Kagans. First of all, if Fred wants me to take him seriously as a lean, mean, military dude, he’ll have to drop 40 pounds. Anybody who doesn’t have the discipline to eat less and move more should stop compusively recommending wars that kill fine young men for no good reason. He should be forced to eat gruel for the rest of his life.

        That Kimberly taught or is teaching in West Point is an absurdity. This country is drowning in absurdity. This country IS an absurdity. We have reached the point of near-perfect absurdity, when someone like Kimmie is teaching our warriors.

        Finally, and I mean it now, just reading about the Kagans and their connections is enough to make me want to puke. I have a very large network of social acquaintances, ranging from working class people who join the military, to the wealth class and I can tell you that the latter are utterly disengaged from the former and don’t give a shit about them. To the rich, the kinds of people who join up and get brain damaged are total abstractions. Fat Fred and Kimmie are part of the wealth class. Their fantasies are fueled by the availability of bodies. This makes me very very sad.

        Fake Herzog, the point of this is, pay attention to the sources of your information. That is more important than supplying live links.

  14. Fake Herzog says:

    One last note: thinking that the Afghanistan or Iraq Wars were mistakes — perfectly respectable, conservative positions to hold. Treating those who disagree with you and any attempt to argue with you in good faith with contempt — not so much.

    • gcochran says:

      Well, you know, if Iraq had been about 50 times cheaper, in terms of money and casualties and reputation, I could maybe see someone reasonable arguing that it wasn’t a mistake, or at least wasn’t the stupidest thing this country has ever done.

      But it wasn’t 50 times cheaper.. Reminds me of someone who was sure it did make sense, because we didn’t have to continue that terribly expensive no-fly policy anymore. I knew that that Air Force claimed that no-fly was costing about 1.7 billion dollars a year (operational: they never shot down one of our planes). But from what I know of Air Force accounting, I guessed it was more like a billion.. I tried to explain that spending $100 billion a year, with a fair number of casualties, is actually worse than spending $1.7 billion a year while losing nobody, but he couldn’t see it. But I guess I shouldn’t have mocked him.

      Sterilization seems more appropriate, don’t you think?

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I tried to explain that spending $100 billion a year, with a fair number of casualties, is actually worse than spending $1.7 billion a year while losing nobody, but he couldn’t see it.

        Isn’t that because the Military wanted to use those pretty toys we pay for and because most people in government think that money grows on trees?

        Also, even if the Iraqis had lots of reasonably modern Russian equipment, it’s not as if they were capable of seriously resisting US military might.

        Heck, I wonder if the Russians put the Iraqis up to the Kuwait thing as a ploy to take the Iraqis out of the oil supply business so that Russian Oil and Gas would be more lucrative.

        • gcochran9 says:

          The Joint Chiefs weren’t for it. Two out of the previous three CENTCOM commanders were openly against it – the other said nothing. Schwartzkopf had real doubts. On the other hand, there was a widespread feeling in the military (and in the country as a whole) that we needed to attack someone. Afghanistan wasn’t that satisfying. John Derbyshire told that was his reason for supporting it. I told him he would not enjoy the consequences, and would end up admitting to me that he had been wrong. And he did. Whee.

          As for believing that that money grows on trees, probably everyone in Washington believes that.

      • nameless37 says:

        If the goal was to attack _someone_, North Korea would have been much more fun. Much bigger and much more thoroughly brainwashed army, plus some actual WMD to find. It would have taken far more than three weeks from the invasion to the fall of Pyongyang.
        Of course, NK wouldn’t have played well in mass media, it’s too hard for an average Joe to visualize a link between Koreans and Muslims.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Someone Arab. Tom Friedman summed it up here. Just as we used to go out and gank a few Iroquois after a Comanche raid, except that we didn’t, not being crazy back then.

          Speaking of which, why does Friedman have a job? Any job?

    • J says:

      To support the waste of all that American blood and treasure to “liberate” Iraqis on trumped up lies by the Bush Administration is a treacherous position, and those who continue to remain intentionally deluded even after the whole debacle has been exposed deserve nothing but scorn and contempt. Those dead and maimed soldiers being forced to play World Police aren’t just statistics, they were real people with families, and dying by the thousands. Because of lies and pipe dreams.

  15. Jim says:

    Greg – I remember reading that sentence when I first read your article some time ago and I thought it sounded a little strange but I thought you were making some kind of really subtle point.

  16. Jim says:

    I don’t have any of Cochran’s technical knowledge but it was obvious at the time of the invasion that Bush and the people around him were lying shamelessly. For Condi Rice mediocrity was totally beyond her. Has anybody dumber ever been Secretary of State? Scowcraft made an effort
    to head things off but got nowhere.
    What most amazes me though, aside from the incredible stupidity of the American people, was that the media made not the slightest effort to provide any remotely objective information about the whole situation.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      The main stream media is essentially an arm of the government complex and has been for a long while.

      • gcochran9 says:

        I don’t think that is really true, or even an good approximation.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I don’t think that is really true, or even an good approximation.

        Well, how about: They have a love-hate relationship with the government. They love it when their guys are in power and hate it when they are not.

        In any event, as far as I can see, the media only knows how to string words together. They don’t really know how things work and they might not even be smart enough to understand how things work.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not their job to provide objective information. The purpose of the media is simply to tell you what people are talking about.

      It’s something that taps into our nature as social animals and has only the most incidental relationship to any kind of objective truth or rational thought.

    • JS says:

      I think that the media felt humiliated after all the fear they promoted before Gulf War I, which turned out to be a cakewalk, as far as wars go. So they weren’t going to make the same mistake again. Plus, with 9/11 still on everyone’s mind they just went along for the ride. They said, we really don’t know what we’re talking about when it comes to military matters, so if we’re told we can do it, we must be able to.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Might have been part of it. I thought that the Gulf War would be easy as wars go – real easy – but it was even easier than that. Someone deep in the Pentagon made a Lanchester-equation type model and came up with a casualty estimate that was within 20%. I did a back-of-the-envelope hack, comparing it with the 73 Arab-Israeli war and trying to add some huge positive fudge factors to allow for all the extra advantages the US had over the Israelis: six months to get ready, satellite recon, JSTARS, total air domination, A-10s, far better tanks (better guns, superior armor, infrared capability, laser ranging, computerized fire-control), MLRS, etc.

  17. Jim says:

    Yes, Hamas winning in Gaza did seem to surprise Condi. It also seemed to surprise the neocons in general that the Arabs didn’t love them. Their lack of the most elementary understanding of human nature is mind-boggling.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I am reminded of a story. Richard Perle was suggesting that we work harder at telling Ivan in Afghanistan that he could defect to the muj and taste the delights of freedom. Someone who had actually worked with the mujahedin pointed out that might not work out so well, as the muj, particularly Pathans (of course) would likely sodomize those Russian defectors to the point of death, which isn’t to everyone’s taste.

    • Melykin says:

      The same could be said about the present administration who encouraged the Arab Spring in Egypt and actually helped it along in Libya and now in Syria. I fear they are going to send troops into Syria now that there is supposedly evidence of chemical warfare.

      All these Arab Spring revolutions are just replacing corrupt, repressive dictators with Islamist versions of corrupt, repressive dictators who are probably worse then the dictators they replaced.

      • Anonymous says:

        About the same, probably, The problem is the population itself, more than the form of government.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Sure, but as yet they haven’t turned it into an expensive ground war.

      • melykin says:

        There is no money left to start a ground war even if they wanted to. However they shipped war jets to Egypt and it is reported they are giving support to the rebels in Syria. Better to steer clear of these places entirely. Let them all kill each other if they are determined to do so.

  18. Jim says:

    I wouldn’t want to wareboard Fake Herzog but drawing and quartering him might be kind of fun.

  19. Jaim Jota says:

    Bush Jr. showed the humanity that an American President can invade any country and hang its leader if he feels like his Papa has been disrespected. Humanity understood.

  20. Stephen lawrence says:

    “Pretty fly for a dead guy”

  21. My Dogma ran over your Karma says:

    I sat here reading, and finally got the explanation of who had called Cochrane a dirty hippy.

    I also read Fake Herzog, and realized that he will never understand the Iraq debacle, and indeed that any US intervention in Asia is a total waste of time and resources. You can drive from Moscow to Kabul, but the sheer waste of resources implied in sending a man from the United States, all the way around the world, is insane. And then telling him to die for a worthless piece of real estate like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korengal_Valley while shipping him drinking water?

    One should finally admit the Bush administration was simply the triumph of the military industrial complex over the will of the people. Goebbels himself would have been astounded at the mastery of the big lie, in the service of wasting immense amounts of resources to enrich those who own us. The Carlyle Group http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlyle_Group springs straight to mind, and oh wait, the Bush family has ties galore.

    The funny part is the Conservative Party in America should have been utterly against wasting lives and resources on any occupation of Islamic countries, as it would naturally degenerate into a debacle. I guess the neoCons did not bother to read about the disasters the British had in dealing with post-Ottoman Iraq, and thought they could do better, well utter failure was the result on a scale not dreamed of since Whitehall attempted to run the place.

    But money has corrupted America to a level not seen since Rome, and the imperial overstretch is deadly and apparent. Our fate as a political heir to Rome is also becoming apparent.

  22. Fake Herzog says:


    Sorry about the dead link, this one will work:


    If you all want to read classy opponents of Iraq and the “War on Terror” (a ridiculous name if there ever was one), you should seek out essays by Angelo Codevilla and Mark Helprin in the Claremont Review of Books. Of course you’ll also find smart supporters in those pages, so don’t get your panties in a bunch — just take a deep breath, read and try and learn something about history, military strategy and terrorism. Speaking of which, it’s funny Greg never mentions 9/11, as if such an event wouldn’t change U.S. strategic considerations…”funny” but telling.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I know a fair amount about war, strategy, and intelligence. And history. Enough that I did a lot better in predicting the score in Iraq than any of your buddies. Better than the CIA, too, and with a significantly smaller budget. Accurate prediction is the only real test of expertise. Not that anybody’s perfect, but what’s the use of people who have never been right?

      But your favorites misread everything. Still do. What’s the attraction of being on the short bus?

      • Fake Herzog says:

        “Accurate prediction is the only real test of expertise.”

        FIne — you should propose five plausible real world scenarious to your readers and give us your predictions (e.g. Iran get the bomb before Israel bombs their uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, the Bushehr reactor, etc.) and let us compete with you. Keep the timetable to within the next year — winner gets a copy of your book (if we beat your predictions), and if we lose we have to donate $100 to Ginny’s college fund (or a charity of your choice).

      • Ginny says:

        I don’t have a college fund, per se, since I’m in grad school – you can just send me a check.

  23. Philip Neal says:

    “We’re an empire now. We make reality.” “I’m the decider and I’ve decided.” I take it that the real issue is the puzzling leftiness of the people around Bush, the tone of post-modern unreality. I suggest that the key to it is Harvard Business School. A look at its website suggests that it is a place where hypotheses are evaluated with reference to their influence on ‘outcomes’, a home of evidence-based policy making, a ‘school’ where truth is regarded as a means to an end. Can it be that Bush attended the nonsense Harvard, rather than the actual university, and learned his thinking there?

    No idea what the messed-up line is.

  24. Toddy Cat says:

    Dr. Cochran,
    You have called Fake Hertzog a “traitor” several times. Treason is defined by Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) as “…[a]…citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation. This implies an active third party. To whom do you believe FH is betraying the U.S.?

    • gcochran9 says:

      I use a broader definition, personally – more like advocating policies or committing actions that do harm to the US, usually with the idea of helping some other country, but often doing no one any good. Israel, of course. The Soviet Union no longer exists, so it has to do. Of course you could have someone advocate policies like that because he was ignorant or crazy, too: in principle motives matter. Self-deception also complicates the issue. And there are other kinds of traitor: you could just hate this country without particularly liking any other, although in practice that makes you likely to latch on to somebody.

      Of course, allegiance to Israel doesn’t have to be an all-bad thing. it is now, because it uniformly drags the US in stupid directions, but I can remember when our interests occasionally aligned. For example, right after Vietnam, polls indicated that the US wouldn’t fight to support any ally – including real treaty allies of strategic value like England. Around that time, Alan Cranston was an idiot liberal Senator from California, and was against pretty much every kind of military spending, including the kind that makes sense, such as keeping the nuclear deterrent healthy. Simcha Dinitz, then Israeli ambassador to the US, explained to Cranston that the US wouldn’t be able to help and support Israel very effectively if it couldn’t protect itself. That convinced Cranston to vote for the military appropriations bill. Although, thinking about it, Cranston was a sappy world government type, probably not desperately in love with Israel. More likely he just knew where ~70% of his campaign donations came from.

      In fact, I think that Nixon – the guy who began significant aid to Israel in 1969 – was (among other things) trying to get American Jews more on board with the Cold War. There have been historical events that support this approach, for example, a number of American Jewish Communists only realized that the Communist Party wasn’t their cup of tea when the Soviets supported Nasser in 1956.

      Philip Zelikow, in a speech to the President’s Foreign Policy Advisory Board, said “”Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 – it’s the threat against Israel. ..”And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell “.

      That’s probably what Zelikow was thinking. I might point out that it doesn’t make much sense, because Iraq wasn’t a threat to anyone – but motives don’t have to make sense. I don’t think it was what everyone else in the Bush Administration was thinking. I doubt if Cheney thought that. I don’t know what Bush was thinking, although I’d love to find out. I doubt if Rumsfeld was thinking that. But was Doug Feith thinking along those lines? sure seems likely. Richard Perle? I doubt if he’s ever thought anything else.

      If Armenians made up 25% of the ruling class of the US, we’d constantly be hearing about the strategic importance of Nagorno-Karabakh. I’m sure that we couldn’t just stand idly by while the great moral issue of the age was fought out. Western civilization itself would be on the verge of tottering if Armenia lost. Not all, probably not even most Armenians would put much effort into that nonsense, but enough would – and since there is no powerful lobby that is actually interested in the welfare of generic Americans, they’d win. You’d see near-unanimous Congressional votes saying that we would stand forever with Armenia, that great ally that never fought on our side, had no treaty of alliance, and only took our money.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Treason is defined by Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) as “…[a]…citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation.”

      I want some philosopher type to come up with a simple but different definition based more on the concept of “duty of care” or similar.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        I’d agree that “Duty of Care” or something like it is an integral part of patriotism, but I don’t think that simple lack of patriotism is the same as treason.

  25. Fake Herzog says:


    I’d be happy to send you the check after your Dad wins the competition I propose. I’m waiting for his scenarios and predictions.

  26. Greying Wanderer says:

    Toddy Cat
    “I’d agree that “Duty of Care” or something like it is an integral part of patriotism, but I don’t think that simple lack of patriotism is the same as treason.”

    You may be right. I’m thinking more in terms of 1) maintaining group-altruism beyond close kin requiring cultural punishment and 2) situations where there is no external power e.g. advocating open borders when it is in the advocate’s interests but against the interests of their fellow citizens.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      Certainly, there are all too many people who don’t give a damn about their country or their fellow citizens, and there should be sanctions (both legal and social) against those people. But I’m still not sure that I’d call them “traitors”.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        I agree it would have to be a pretty dramatic failure in duty of care before it would be reasonable to call it treason. It’s just a thought though – related to the idea of maintaining minimum levels of asibiyah.

      • Discard says:

        I suppose that a definition of “treason” might vary with one’s loyalty to one’s country. In my view, anyone who worries more about the well-being of Mexicans than of working class Americans is a traitor. But maybe that’s really just a measure of my blood lust.

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