Salon has a timely interview with Paul Berman, who wrote the New York Times Magazine article that I linked to this weekend. They also have a Berman’s book, Liberalism and Terrorism, which I’ll probably pick up.
Berman’s critique of President Bush, is, sadly, dead on:
Q: So you think the way he’s presenting this war to the world is really where he’s gone wrong.
A: Yes, it has been wretched. He’s presented his arguments for going to war partly mendaciously, which has been a disaster. He’s certainly presented them in a confused way, so that people can’t understand his reasoning. He’s aroused a lot of suspicion. Even when he’s made good arguments, he’s made them in ways that are very difficult to understand and have completely failed to get through to the general public. All in all, his inarticulateness has become something of a national security threat for the United States.
In my interpretation, the basic thing that the United States wants to do — overthrow Saddam and get rid of his weapons — is sharply in the interest of almost everybody all over the world. And although the U.S. is proposing to act in the interest of the world, Bush has managed to terrify the entire world and to turn the world against him and us and to make our situation infinitely more dangerous than it otherwise would have been. It’s a display of diplomatic and political incompetence on a colossal scale. We’re going to pay for this.
Interestingly, Berman’s theory on the origins of Baathism and Islamism are quite congruent with the Occidentalism article from the New York Review of Books by Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma that I linked to last January. It will now cost you four bucks to read, unfortunately.
Update: a friendly librarian points out that this article can be obtained at no charge at your local public library.