Steve Sachs Duke


Sunday, November 30, 2003


"Name That War": Nick Kristof announces the winners of his mock contest:

On the model of the War of Jenkins' Ear, one reader suggested "The War of Bush's Flight Suit." Harold Kramer of Massachusetts singlehandedly came up with "Rummy's Retreat," "Cheney's Chaos," "Perle's Predicament," "Powell's Problem" and "Rice's Regret."

Others came up with "King George's New Colony," "The War of the Roves" and "The War That Cried Wolfowitz."...

The five winners, each of whom gets a 250-dinar note left over from my last Iraq trip, are: Brad Corsello of New York for "Dubya Dubya III"; Richard Sanders for "Rolling Blunder"; John Fell of California for "Desert Slog," Will Hutchinson of Vermont for "Mess in Potamia"; and Willard Oriol of New York for "Blood, Baath and Beyond."

More seriously, during this holiday weekend, I hope we'll think often and appreciatively of those Americans who are in Iraq right now. Humor cannot erase their fear and loneliness in the face of Washington's policy failures, or the heartbreak here in so many homes where bereaved parents, spouses and orphans are struggling in this season to remember why they should be giving thanks.

What bothers me most isn't the bizarre change in tone of the last paragraph (what--it's poor taste to make fun of death and suffering?), but rather the easy assumption running throughout the column that nothing of good could possibly have been accomplished. The war as a whole was a complete mistake, leaving in its wake only blood and alliteration.

Looking back at my thoughts at this time a year ago, I don't know if I would have been strong enough in my moral commitment to support a war justified solely on humanitarian grounds. But at the very least, I now know that nightmares like these are no longer coming true. And as I've argued before, the process we're currently seeing--though it may be messy and deserving of criticism--is just about the best shot at democratization Iraqis could ever hope for.

Kristof's 250-dinar prizes, by the way, are being paid in old dinar notes--the ones with Saddam's picture on the front. (It's a collector's item, see? Like the old reichsmarks with the swastikas on them.) The new dinar, though, doesn't bear the image of the smiling dictator. Isn't that something worth being thankful for?




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