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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Clarifying an Analogy

To the Editor:

In his April 22 column "Why War? Why Not?" Ethan Richards wrote "In his rush to pinpoint the shortcomings of standard liberal arguments, Mr. Weiss ironically forgets to look for areas where he might find the opportunity to criticize himself."

There's nothing ironic about that, but there is something hypocritical. So, I dug up a self-criticism. It didn't take as long as I might have liked, but such is life.

In my article, I forgot to clarify my literary references with their proper cultural and historical contexts. How else to explain this little nugget of insight: "The case for war as a stimulator of great artistic minds certainly isn't a new one, but in mentioning the 'Arab Solzhenitsyns, Sakharovs and Havels who emerge from a postwar Iraq,' Mr. Weiss makes especially effective and subtle use of an old argument while simultaneously strengthening the parallel between Hitler and Hussein that seems to be prevalent in some circles." The parallel is between Stalin and Hussein, not Hitler and Hussein. Even if Richards hasn't read any of these authors you'd think the Slavic names would indicate their Eastern bloc origins. And I never made the argument for war as a "stimulator of artist minds," which is as ridiculous as Richard's misinterpretation of what I did say: "it'll be interesting to see if the Arab Solzhenitsyns, Sakharovs and Havels who emerge from a postwar Iraq to challenge our imaginations with their grim real life horror stories are met with as much enthusiasm on the New York Times Bestsellers List as Michael Moore."

Indeed, it will be. Hegel -- who hailed from another Security Council member nation of "Old Europe" put it best: "The owl of Minerva takes flight at dusk." We've provided the "dusk" of Hussein's brutal regime. Let now the inheritors of a free Iraq, with a clear conscience and room finally to breath, provide the truth about it -- and let us all pay attention when they do.