Man Without Qualities

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Big Mo And Azimi

Maureen Dowd is off the wagon and tippling in testosterone rage again - that is, raging against those she thinks have more of it than she does (Big Mo has never, to my knowledge, acknowledged that her body produces considerable quantities of the stuff) - and she again confuses her full self immersion in sexual stereotyping for disagreement with the President's political positions:

Shouldn't real men be able to control their puppets? The Bush team could not even get Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraq Governing Council to condemn the U.N. bombing or feign putting an Iraqi face on the occupation. The puppets refused because they didn't want to be seen as puppets.

Shouldn't real men be able to admit they made a mistake and need help? Rummy & Co. bullied the U.N. and treated the allies like doormats before the war, thinking they could do everything themselves, thanks to the phony optimistic intelligence fed to them by the puppet Chalabi. No wonder they're meeting with a cold response as they slink back.

Shouldn't real men be reducing the number of Middle East terrorists rather than increasing them faster than dragon's teeth?

Could the real men please find some real men?

Well, no, Big Mo.

Real men (who, of course, need be neither heterosexual nor male - and in the case of this Administration, sometimes aren't on both counts) would neither appoint puppets to help run another country under a pretext of their independence or strike out at the good faith independence of the people they do install when they act within their agreed zone of independence. Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraq Governing Council do not seem to be "puppets" - although they do depend on the United States for their position in that country. It appears that the real men in the Administration have had the confidence to put in (some) power people who are not afraid to differ with the Administration - at least on some significant things. That seems about right.

The cold response "Rummy & Co." are now experiencing from the UN looks exactly the same as the cold response they received from the UN before any of the actions Big Mo mischaracterizes as "bullying the U.N." and "treating the allies like doormats" occurred. So those actions don't seem to have caused the cold response "Rummy & Co." are now experiencing from the UN

Shouldn't real men be able to admit they made a mistake and need help? Of course they should. So should everybody - including female columnists who invert the meaning of the President's quotes by deleting keys words and replacing them with little misleading dots, although that doesn't always happen. But the idea that "Rummy & Co." were misled by "phony optimistic intelligence fed to them by the puppet Chalabi" is quite a novel take, to say the least. It is also a little strange that Big Mo seems to be taking a holiday from suggesting that "Rummy & Co." have lied about Iraq intelligence just to suggest they were duped by the uber-mind of their own "puppet." It seems that not all puppets are created equal. Big Mo and the New York Times have old and very big chips on their shoulders for Mr. Chalabi, as Christopher Hitchens writing in Slate has noted:

Denounced only last month by yet another anonymous "report" from the CIA and sneered at on a daily basis by the New York Times, he has either failed to be sufficiently biddable by the puppet-masters or (how simple it all seems when you think of it) has cleverly arranged to be the object of his own disinformation campaign.

If it's the latter, then his stomach must be unusually strong. Maureen Dowd writes, displaying either an immense insider knowledge of day-to-day Baghdad or else no knowledge at all, that the American forces assigned to protect Chalabi would have been enough on their own to prevent the desecration of the National Museum. Since Chalabi was in Nasiriyah, far to the south, when the looting occurred, and since up until now he has provided his own security detail (I'd want my own bodyguards, too, if I'd been on Saddam's assassination list for a decade), and since we don't know by whom the actual plunder of the museum was actually planned or executed (or at least I don't), Dowd might wish either to reconsider or to offer her expertise to Gen. Garner. Dowd's bias was redressed in the New York Times on April 23, when Dilip Hiro expressed scorn for Chalabi's presence in Baghdad at all, informing him that he should really have been on the Shiite pilgrimage to Karbala but apparently "couldn't be bothered." Had Chalabi doubled back on his tracks and gone south for a self-scourging, and thus been in several places at once, we would no doubt have had Thomas Friedman or Nicholas Kristof accusing him of pandering to fundamentalism and to Iran. (And how well I remember Dilip Hiro, all those years ago, trying to reassure me that, appearances to the contrary, the Ayatollah Khomeini was just the Mahatma Gandhi of Iran.)

Shouldn't real men be reducing the number of Middle East terrorists rather than increasing them faster than dragon's teeth? Well, they should try - but as Israel's experience indicates, that isn't easy. Fortunately, there is no evidence that the number of Middle East terrorists is increasing - and the inflow of such terrorists into Iraq and continuing resistance from Saddam's remaining supporters is not to the contrary.

But there is one thing real men indisputably should do: Real men do what they can to ensure that women are treated right, and that includes accepting considerable costs to make sure that happens. That's why Big Mo might want to read an article appearing elsewhere in her own publication, an article concerning the results of another anti-terrorist war she and her publication opposed:

Until this morning, Lima Azimi of Afghanistan had never stepped onto a track, much less run 100 meters. ...

Running in her heat of the first round of the women's 100 meters at the world track and field championships, Azimi lined up at Stade de France alongside Kelli White, the United States champion, and Merlene Ottey, a winner of multiple Olympic medals for Jamaica who is now a citizen of Slovenia. ... She was the first Afghan woman to participate in a major international event in any sport, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field's world governing body.

"This was important for my country, for me, for my family," the 23-year-old Azimi said at a news conference. ....

Male athletes from Afghanistan competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics around the time the repressive Taliban regime came into power, prohibiting women from attending school and participating in sports. In 1999, the country was banned from participation by both the International Olympic Committee and by the international track federation. Afghanistan was reinstated once the United States routed the Taliban from power and restored a fragile democracy after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

According to The Associated Press, Afghanistan entered a woman in the 100 meters at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki, Finland, but she did not show up to compete. An Afghan man named Mohamed Ismail Bakaki did run the 100 at the same meet, according to the I.A.A.F., but Afghanistan did not participate in the world track championships for the next 20 years. Until today. ....

While the Taliban was in power, Azimi said, she was essentially quarantined in her house, never leaving alone. ... Once the Taliban was ousted, Azimi ... was chosen to participate in the world track championships when she beat six or seven others in an audition inside the university gym. .... Eventually, she agreed to fly to Paris when the officials told her they were not interested in her coming here to perform well. "What is important, they said, was that I took part," Azimi said. ....

"The time didn't matter," Azimi said. "My participation was more important."

Real men try to make that kind of story happen. Why can't Big Mo understand what is so transparent to Azimi?

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