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March 12, 2008

Nir Rosen And Frederick Kagan On Surge

Here's a transcript of Nir Rosen debating Frederick Kagan about the "surge" on the Lehrer Newshour. You can watch the video here.

Oddly, the fat, pale man who doesn't speak Arabic and is paid by defense contractors thinks everything is going great, while the guy who's fluent in Arabic and has spent years on the streets of Iraq thinks it's a catastrophe. Huh. You'd assume it would be the other way around.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at March 12, 2008 06:39 PM

Nir Rosen has bushy eyebrows and a dark Semitic face, therefore he is a terror suspect. Why should he be trusted?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at March 12, 2008 10:33 PM

That is Fred Kagan? I think the only way we can move forward in a positive way with somebody like that is to move him to fat camp.

Posted by: buermann at March 12, 2008 10:49 PM

Kagan: “happy days are here again, that’s not a knife sticking out of your forehead, that’s a positive move toward the future.”

I noticed the transcript of the prez candidates on the same page as the video.

McCinsane: “If you don’t vote for me you will probably die.”

Hillary: “It’s all the fault of the Iraqi who won’t stand up and do the right thing after all we have done for them.”

Obama: “Now if only I had been in charge of the invasion and occupation things would be much better today.”

Posted by: rob payne at March 12, 2008 10:52 PM


How Nir Rosen keeps his head from exploding listening to Mr. "New Fluidity" to his left is unbelievable.

Posted by: bluestate leftist at March 13, 2008 02:11 AM

The Cheetoh crumbs on the chin are always a give-away.

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood at March 13, 2008 04:04 AM


Posted by: BobS. at March 13, 2008 07:22 AM

Kagan doesn't seem to like the word "occupation". Maybe we should call it a sleepover.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 13, 2008 07:46 AM

oh brother, how very unfunny and uninsightful. Now none of you speak Arabic either, yet you all seem to have plenty of opinions about Iraq and arab culture.

Meanwhile, Katya from Kiev rang me the other day. 21, smart and cute as a button. Eh, I'm not too hopeful, but you never know, I am in Kiev pretty frequently, wish me luck : )

Posted by: xyz at March 13, 2008 08:09 AM

I think the only way we can move forward in a positive way with somebody like that is to move him to fat camp.

Ah yes. With every objectionable thing that Kagan has said and done over the years, the most important thing is to point out that he's chubby. As the right wing has taught us with Michael Moore - if the messenger is fat then his message is immediately invalidated and no further argument is necessary.

Please. Kagan deserves to be mocked and ostracized because of the things he says and does. He's a tool who apparently is not only incapable of learning from mistakes but also seems to be completely unable to identify mistakes that needs to be learned from. Those types of people need to be kept as far away from the levers of power as humanly possible - whether we're talking about the power of the nation with the largest standing army in the world or the power of the Assistant Manager at the local Burger King.

But Kagan's lack of physical fitness is the last thing anyone but his doctor needs to be critiquing him on.

Posted by: NonyNony at March 13, 2008 08:36 AM

With every objectionable thing that Kagan has said and done over the years, the most important thing is to point out that he's chubby.

Normally I'd say it's a cheap shot, but not in this one case. I think it's probably impossible to be a genuine expert on what's going on in Iraq while being fat and pale.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 13, 2008 09:29 AM

I remember Kagan pere, Donald Kagan, from Stutts. He seemed mean and hard and quite frightening. The son, not so much, at least in this picture.

It seems to me it's not a cheap shot to make fun of a flabby guy if he was an instructor at West Fucking Point. And also, if he's clearly an ignoramus.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at March 13, 2008 10:35 AM

I saw the transcript of that interview, and I blogged it because it was so easy to refute what Kagan was saying.

What I also noticed was that Kagan went out of his way to parrot the line that the surge is working (as we speak, it's beginning to unravel) and to flippantly dismiss anything that was said.

If you don't mind me posting a blogwhore link, I explain why Kagan doesn't want to talk about the Eastern side of Baghdad, where a Sunni enclave sits, walled off, in a perfectly "ethnically cleansed neighborhood.

Thanks--glad to see others went after Kagan for his dishonesty.

Posted by: Pale Rider at March 13, 2008 11:07 AM

I've come to think that when the object of scorn is someone with a lot of power and who misuses that power, all bets are off in terms of political correctness. Well, I guess I just rethought that. Sexual orientation probably is not a fair cheap shot, nor is disability. Oh, hell, why can't they just all go away, fat or thin?

Nir Rosen is terrific, and I can't believe he was on the Lehrer News Hour.

Posted by: catherine at March 13, 2008 11:20 AM

"a cease-fire called by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army."

Again - GW Bush takes credit for the "surge" when Sadr told his army to lay down their arms and "don't fight".

Posted by: Martha at March 13, 2008 11:27 AM

It would make a lot of sense if this fat ass would actually GO to Iraq and talk to the folks "on the ground" but NNNOOO...all this moron can do is sit on his fat butt in his ivory tower and pontificate on what he's done...

It's because of him and his buddies that were recruited by Cheenney/Rumsfeld/w that we're spending a BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK in this abyss....

Say good bye to $5/$10 gas as you bike by.....

Posted by: RB-Chicago at March 13, 2008 11:29 AM

i think the one on the right is the war supporter. obviously he's happily liberated. the one on the left is somebody's bitch.

Posted by: hapa at March 13, 2008 01:28 PM

Thanks for linking this. I'm about to take a gander.

Posted by: Batocchio at March 13, 2008 02:12 PM

Normally I'd say it's a cheap shot, but not in this one case. I think it's probably impossible to be a genuine expert on what's going on in Iraq while being fat and pale.

Wow. I have a lot of respect for your writing, Jonathan, but that's a level of idiocy distilled down into words that shocks me.

Would Juan Cole's insights be less valuable if he put on 50 lbs.? Were Judith Miller's observations better because she's a skinny woman with a tan instead of a fat and pasty white dude? Does Michael Moore give up his right to be critical of the war effort because he's tubby? Do we need to have a picture of you posted somewhere so that we can judge whether you're skinny and tan enough to have a worthwhile opinion on current events?

The important part is Rosen's obvious superiority in credentials and previous work. Had Ahmed Chalabi been sitting in Kagan's place and Juan Cole in Nir Rosen's, Chalabi wouldn't become suddenly more credible just because his skin tone is darker and he's from the place they're talking about. Likewise Kagan's lack of authority comes from the fact that he's a shill for the administration and he's been wrong just about every time he opens his mouth.

Posted by: NonyNony at March 13, 2008 02:39 PM

If I get Kagan right, there is no sectarian killing at the moment because there is none left to do and nothing bad will happen if we leave because we are never going to leave. On that last point, at least, Rosen, Kagan and I agree.

Whether to castigate Kagan for his slovenly personal habits is a close question, so in the spirit of the political season I will simply note that comments on his obesity may not be in order, but his fatheaded refusal to call the occupation an occupation makes him seem dim witted.

Finally, the always enlightening Rosen made clear that Sunnis use Iranian to denote Shia. I never knew that. It explinsa great deal.

Posted by: drip at March 13, 2008 02:45 PM

Last sentence: It explains a great deal. And I should not add sentences after proofreading.

Posted by: drip at March 13, 2008 02:48 PM

One talking point Kagan humps: Don't say "occupation" because our presence is legitimized by UN Resolution.

Truth is it was pushed through by the U.S. over the objections of by the Iraqi Parliament, which disputes the resolution's legality.

From AlterNet:
"As Orwellian as it is, the United States, having bombed the hell out of Iraq, invaded it with a huge mechanized army and installed a government that exists wholly within the confines of its sheltered "international zone" -- the "Green Zone" -- and now maintains that its troops are in the country by the invitation of that government. The United Nations' mandate is a key part of maintaining that fiction."

Occupation. Occupation. Occupation.

Posted by: JamesJr54 at March 13, 2008 02:58 PM

Nonynony, you misunderstand me -- which is not surprising, since I didn't explain what I was talking about.

What I meant was this: to be a genuine expert on what's going on in Iraq, you have to spend a fair amount of time there, actually on the streets. But if you did so while being fat and pale, one of two things would happen: either you would be kidnapped and/or killed because you stuck out so much, or if you avoided that you'd rapidly become less fat and less pale because of all the walking and sun.

Thus, being fat and pale does not in itself disqualify you, but it signifies something else about you which does.

I'd also say that the pro and anti-war positions are not symmetrical in this kind of thing. You don't need to speak another country's language to be pretty sure the people there don't appreciate being bombed. That's basic human nature. However, if you're going to make the argument that this is some kind of extremely unusual situation in which they'll be grateful for it, you'd better know how to talk to them in their own language.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 13, 2008 03:09 PM

oh but why. the right ones all speak english.

Posted by: hapa at March 13, 2008 04:30 PM

I suppose one could honestly analyze all the information available and make a reasonable assessment while being pale and fat. Understanding the language would really help, though. Also not being one of the biggest neocon hacks and frauds.

Posted by: abb1 at March 13, 2008 05:41 PM

All I meant by it was that - if Frederick Kagan was volunteering for the quest to seek out the Lost Rainbow Lollipop Village of West Baghdad and discover the Secret of Unoccupation that would make Shia and Sunni hold hands and sing songs of praise to America long past their curfew - it'd be a crime against humanity if we didn't make a good faith effort to get him into shape first.

Posted by: buermann at March 13, 2008 08:39 PM

yeah, why does everyone pick on the rich fat guys for being fat?

Posted by: almostinfamous at March 14, 2008 01:33 PM

Wasn't the surge Kagan's idea? Why would you ask him if he thinks its a good idea?

and he's fat! He was beat up on the playground every day for being a pudgy little effeminate girly boy. Now he can feel powerful by playing army man with real people.

Posted by: An Outhouse at March 14, 2008 04:24 PM

There's a scene in Genius by Patrick Dennis where the gross fat guy they're hoping will bankroll a picture goes on for about an hour about his conquest of a beautiful young lady who insists afterward on giving him expensive presents, and the Welles-like director tells his translator that, in his experience, the ones who talk about it the most do it the least.

I wonder what made that come to mind. After all, this is a foreign policy discussion.

Posted by: Kip W at March 16, 2008 07:00 PM