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Hey and welcome to Thursday, a day for magazines! So, speaking of welcomes, remember Iraq? We were “welcomed” there in 2003 or thereabouts, right after—and because of?!—9/11. Turns out we liked it so much over there we never left. Ha ha. Well, to be fair, Dissent is still in an Iraq Of The Mind, what with their Spring 2009 Young Hollywood Iraq Package. Let’s invade it!

“It Isn’t Over”: The New Yorker‘s George Packer (he is the other film critic, along with Anthony Lane) argues his titular declaration pretty well. For one, we’re stuck there, at least for awhile—either sixteen or twenty-four months, depending on whether America is better friends with Obama or Petraeus, respectively. And two, we can’t “win” in the, uh, non-pejorative sense of the word “win” (?) because we’ve already caused enough structural, political and collateral damages to sort of solidify this whole ordeal as a bad scene. That is why you never hear Petraeus, he does Army over there and elsewhere, use that word, “win.” Still! When we do leave we should do so slowly, says George Packer, as to not cause even more disruption than this entire disruption of a war has already precipitated. Also, BONUS POINTS to Mr. Packer for writing an article about how the mission in Iraq is not, in fact, accomplished and not alluding to, invoking, or any other type of literary devicing “Mission Accomplished” so close to its sixth birthday. This is why they let you write the film reviews at the New Yorker magazine, sir. [It Isn’t Over]

“The Persistence of Empire”: David Bromwich, who holds the prestigious office of Professor of Internet Newspaper: News Blogs Video Community at Yale University, has a slightly theoried-out piece about empire and its motivations for occupying other countries. Turns out that not only is it not “selflessness” that inspires countries to occupy others, but actually no one even pretends that this is the reason, if you listen carefully. Turns out governments are orchestrating the system to be kind of double blind here, in which imperial powers know that invading another country with reckless abandon is kind of a lame thing to do and they know you know this but they also know you’ll turn a blind eye anyway. Democracy!

“Departing Responsibly”: Ooh, this one looks sobering! But actually it’s kind of the most contrarian piece in the package (ignoring the Nicolaus Mills one which isn’t online and therefore isn’t a count-y one), in that it argues that not everything in Iraq is a complete disaster—like uh, the Constitution of 2005, our involvement with which essentially consisted of “letting it happen”—and also removing Saddam was overdue because sure, that’s a thing you can say. In fact, that Constitution thing, the one that is a Success of the War and for which we’re not even really directly responsible, is actually the best chance Iraq has of recovering from Saddam’s—and later our own!—dismantling of its infrastructure. Still, we have overstayed our welcome—meta: full circle from post’s preamble now—and departing responsibly involves listening to Joe Biden (an “out” Federalist) and Hillary Clinton (who loves Kurds), and doing exactly what they prescribe. [Departing Responsibly]

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21 COMMENTS

  1. “Dissent is a low-circulation, anti-communist magazine founded in 1954 by a group of New York Intellectuals, which included Irving Howe, Lewis A. Coser, Henry Pachter, and Meyer Schapiro, who had grown dissatisfied with the political and intellectual climate of the post-war era.” Wikipedia

    Someone should tell Sen. Kim Hendren about these people. He could go on a good old fashioned Jew hunt.

  2. My friend, he were “in country” over yonder, in the shit, as it were, In Iraq… and he said they don’t take kindly to being called “ragheads”, the women were pissed as hell because now they have to wear burkah to keep from being raped, and it smells like 1,000 sumos took the hugest dumps EVAH on a vast sea of burning tires, but that it wasn’t as bad as Florida so as long as he wasn’t being shot at, he was OK.

  3. “Departing Responsibly” is insane. All we have to do (the author says) is make sure Iraq doesn’t have a strong central government, build a bunch of smaller, strong secular provincial governments, cobble them together so that they don’t fragment into different countries when we leave, and maintain security up until that happens. Which is why I vote for the strategy of getting the fuck out now and then playing some music really loud for a few years to drown out the screaming and gunfire of the inevitable bloodbath.

  4. doesn’t matter how much lipstick we put on this pig, iraq was america’s bridge too far. vietnam was the dope-slap upside our ignorant heads, but it doesn’t seem to have done us much good. the ghost of iraq — our government’s criminal invasion, incompetent management, and despicable use of torture — will haunt us for a long time to come.

  5. Difficult to know what to do when you’re an anti-communist and there is no communism left on the planet unless you count North Korea and that isn’t even the issue there. Most of those guys from the Irving Howe generation seem to have tuned into neo-cons (BTW, that term sounds pretty good in French, IYWMO). Also, “Professor of Internet Newspaper” sounds nice. With tenure.
    As for Iraq, “quagmire” seems as descriptive of the situation there as anywhere, past or present.

  6. So when do you think Dissent will be able to afford actual professional graphic artist to do their covers instead of farming the work out to kindergartners?

  7. Hard to believe Dissent continues to survive, not only in this age of the internets, but also the age of the American Prospects and Keith Olbermanns. Juli is the first person under sixty or so to pick it up in twenty years. And its not like people over sixty are fighting for the latest issue, either. BTW, George Packer is a dipshit who said the fight in Iraq is ‘for democracy’ back in 2003.

  8. Dear Iraq: Sorry about your country. We left a bill for our services ($2 trillion) on the vanity. Hey! You’re not the only ones hurtin’ here. Gotta run now. Hugs, W, Dick and Rummy.

  9. This is my favorite line of the post: “which isn’t online and therefore isn’t a count-y one.” Juli, I like your irreverent tone, especially since most of the mags are so self-important, not to mention redundant. Yay! Subversiveness & sarcasm but in a cheeky way not a mean way!

  10. I see a bar code on that picture. You mean someone actually buys magazines like that? It reminds me of those low-circulation magazines free in airline lounges that have some insane cover price of $50 but this appears to be the wrong demographic for airline lounges.

  11. FYI – Packer is definitely not the film critic for the NYer…he has been their chief correspondent in Iraq for the last 6 years.

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