No matter how much Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan sneer at their favorite whipping boy, whom they derisively refer to as “Enron advisor Paul Krugman,” he continues to be just about the bravest and, often, most intelligent pundit out there. Don’t miss his latest column on Dick Cheney’s sickening courtship of the energy industry, and the parallels that can be drawn between his communications on that subject and on the war with Iraq.
(Everytime Sullivan or Kaus refer to him as Enron Advisor Paul Krugman, I wonder how they’d react if journalists always referred to their hero as “President Bush, who failed to win the popular election….”)
There’s another interesting column in the Times on how this war is perceived outside of the US. As an expat I can verify that Americans would be shocked at the bellicose reaction this war has ignited. They would also be amazed to learn that there is a perception out there that we are losing this war, and that the surprising tenacity of the Iraqis proves Bush to have been a blatant liar from day one.
As the three or four visitors to this site know, I was always in favor of the invasion though critical of its implementers’ diplomatic skills. So I defend this war, and when my colleagues up in Beijing scolded me for that and insisted we (Americans) were just out to slaughter Iraqi civilians, I found myself involved in a frustrating and ultimately hopeless debate. The Chinese simply believe that we are idiots, liars, scoundrels and breakers of international law. They actually believe their twisted media — a big shock for me, since it is such a blatant and embarrassing propaganda tool, I assumed everyone just chuckled at it. A wake-up call to America: a lot of people hate us more than you’d ever imagine. Even more vitriolic is their attitude toward our president. I can safely say that precious few Americans have any idea whatsoever of how despised and sneered at our leader is. I was actually trying to defend him during my office debate, to no avail — they see him as a pure force of evil, on a par with, yes, Hitler. As I tried to convince them otherwise I realized they were actually laughing at me for trying to do so. It was another of those moments when I wondered why I was living in China.
Anyway, I am paying for this at my hotel’s business center, so to avoid bankruptcy I’d better stop here.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.