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The second reliberation of Iraq

June 22nd, 2007

It appears that General David Petraeus is a reader of William Tenn, having recently announced that the US is once again liberating Iraq. Tenn’s classic story The Liberation of Earth in which two alien races, the Dendi and the Troxxt repeatedly liberate earth from each other, was published back in 1953, but has, sadly, never lost its relevance for long. The ending, if I recall correctly, has the planet’s remaining inhabitants gasping for air but taking consolation in the reflection that “no planet in the history of the galaxy had been as thoroughly liberated as Earth”.

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  1. June 23rd, 2007 at 00:19 | #1

    I remember it well, and, yes, it has virtually never lost its relevance.

    One of the most brilliant pieces of short SF ever written.

  2. jstrocch
    June 23rd, 2007 at 07:50 | #2

    Pr Q says:

    Tenn’s classic story The Liberation of Earth in which two alien races, the Dendi and the Troxxt repeatedly liberate earth from each other, was published back in 1953, but has, sadly, never lost its relevance for long. The ending, if I recall correctly, has the planet’s remaining inhabitants gasping for air but taking consolation in the reflection that “no planet in the history of the galaxy had been as thoroughly liberated as Earth�.

    I think that the apprpriate literary effort for iraq’s modern history is Ground hog day. The US is a relatively late comer to the to Sytsphean task of bringing political civilization to that be-knighted country.

    I bitterly regret having briefly (six months or so) supported the war, against the prudent counsel of non-ideologues like yourself and Steve Sailer.

    I also agree with you that the US should have withdrawn after the first Iraqi elections, which is probably the preference for majority of Iraqis.

    But lets not forget who the good guys are in this fight. And what kind of people the bad guys are.

    The US Army in Iraq has a mission to protect the Iraqi state from civil implosion and preserve Iraqi democracy from aspiring dictators. This is, since the occupying forces formally ceded control to the Iraqi assembly, a UN-supported mission.

    Coalition forces are, in the main fighting nihilistic terrorists (Al Quaeda) and sectarian nationalists (Suuni & Shiite militants). These insurgents want to break up the Iraqi state, ethnicly cleanse opponent confessional areas and impose a rule of clerical terror on subject populations.

    The insurgent political system of choice would be both illiberal and unpopular. But the militant minority of Alpha Males and their wannabes dont give a fig about the wishes of the moderate majority. In the ME you weigh balls, not count noses.

    No doubt the US was wrong-headed in trying to impose liberal progressive notions of civility on in-bred tribalist peoples. And GW Bush et al are every bit as inept and pig-headed as his critics make him out to be.

    But it is a depressing form of moral equivalence to place actual liberal forces prepared to die in a good cause on the same footing as people whose idea of good govt is a boot stamping on a human face forever.

  3. jquiggin
    June 23rd, 2007 at 08:57 | #3

    You mean, people like Glenn more rubble less trouble Reynolds, or the various pundits now calling for a bombing campaign against Iran.

    One of the striking things about Tenn’s story, in retrospect, is that it’s perfectly possible that the Dendi (or maybe the Troxxt) were, in some sense, the galactic good guys. It didn’t make much difference to Earth.

  4. jstrocch
    June 23rd, 2007 at 10:01 | #4

    jquiggin Says: June 23rd, 2007 at 8:57 am

    You mean, people like Glenn more rubble less trouble Reynolds, or the various pundits now calling for a bombing campaign against Iran.

    No, FWIW for almost four years I have grown hoarse suggesting the US/AUS wthdraw from Iraq and stand off the whole blasted region. I agree that the second liberation (surge) of Iraq is a futile enterprise bound to cause only more grief to the principals. The idea of having a go at Iraq is plain lunacy.

    A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.

    George Santayana.

    What I object to is putting moderate US martial, UN official and Iraqi political elements on the same moral footing as terrorists and fascists. As I said in the comment, the good guys are the “moderate majority” of Iraqis who do not want to be ruled by clerical terrorists, divided by sectarian fascists or be permanently occupied by US forces.

    Perhaps I am making an immaterial point about supposed motives and nominal ends. Why quibble about these hi-falutin ideas given the consequences of both sides pursuing their political goals creates comparable levels of pain and suffering to the principals? Because it is at least worth keeping the good end in sight.

    A unified, secular democratic state with an end to civil strife and a withdrawal of coalition forces is the aim of the US, UN and Iraqi officials. That is a good end, and one approved by the majority of Iraqis.

    Of course Iraqs divided social structure and backward cultural scriptures may make that good end impossible to achieve. There is a lesson to be learned on that for both end of the political spectrum.

    To try to do something which is inherently impossible is always a corrupting enterprise.

    Michael Oakshott

  5. June 24th, 2007 at 09:13 | #5

    “who the good guys are?”

    the struggle for oil is going on in the middle east, not in the midwest. if you don’t like the methods that middle easterners use to express their dissatisfaction at having american soldiers on their homeland, be confident that the cia taught them all they know.

    imputing any moral quality to the presence of american armies in the middle east is breathtakingly naive, or grossly cynical hypocrisy.

  6. melanie
    June 24th, 2007 at 21:56 | #6

    Yes, Ground Hog Day. The last “surge” of note was the landing of US troops on China Beach near Da Nang. It succeeded, like this one, in increasing the death rate on both sides. Its cause was the same, attempting to recover the situation in a lost war.

    There’s also that other ‘ground hog day’ aspect – the warnings of a bloodbath if ‘we’ withdraw. You mean this is a ‘good’ bloodbath and that would be (IF it happened) a ‘bad’ one?

  7. June 26th, 2007 at 23:58 | #7

    al loommis,
    We do not need to suspect cynical plots and hypocrisy, when human arrogance and stupidity suffice.

    So, for most lame chicken-hawk bloggers, arrogance and stupidity should indeed suffice.

    That is not to say that those actually making these decisions lack any cynical hypocritical self-interested plots, because they do indeed carry those out.

    It’s just that they also happen to lead the naive, the arrogant and the fools.

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