You know, if a guy

by Nathan Hamm on 12/12/2003

You know, if a guy is
going to email you and be a total dick for saying something you didn’t,
the least he can do is link you. Email exchange will be posted later.
UPDATE: Here’s the exchange. As will probably be obvious, my problem
with Hesiod (which is my problem with a lot of today’s left), is that
he comes on too strong and makes and alienates the people he’s trying
to win over. Exactly the kind of thing one should avoid. So here it is in all it’s glory (very long and a strong argument for me moving over the MT, any suggestionsout there?):

Nathan,

You’re wrong about Uzbekistan. VERY wrong.

http://counterspin.blogspot.com/2003_12_07_counterspin_archive.html#107123976475846259

In fact, you’re so wrong its actually disturbing.

–Hesiod

I think this is a response to this post. I don’t think his new post says anything new. Here’s MY response:

“Which part? About the commenting on Human Rights by our
officials? Veneman, as Agriculture Secretary probably wouldn’t have
much to say.
The Iraq comparison? I know there’s an enormous qualitative difference
including scale of problems in Uzbekistan and the intentions of the
Uzbek government towards us. Antagonizing Karimov is counterproductive
as is shown by his response to HRW activities in the country. That
isn’t to say that we should appease him though. We should play on his
fears of Russia to get what we want.
I just notice that there’s a strong tendency that’s covertly evident in
your angle and overtly evident in your commenters to exaggerate and
conflate issues to go after Bush. There’s so much else to nail him on
that you don’t have to go overboard on this.
I especially like the comment to the effect of “Bush sucks Karimov’s
dick for oil and gas.” Spoken like a true ignoramus. Uzbekistan has no
significant oil reserves and we can get better gas cheaper elsewhere.
The only resource we get from them is gold, and that’s from ore they’ve
already processed, so no one can say we’re stealing from the poor
Uzbeks.
People who haven’t lived in Central Asia and understand the way it
works tend to misinterpret things. The same can be said of people who
comment on other regions. I try not to say anything about Africa or
Latin America, I don’t know shit about them.
You do make a valuable point, the situation in Uzbekistan is bad. There
was a lot that I was not privy to when I lived there–things only
hinted at. At the same time, claims of boiling people alive get
overblown. There are three confirmed cases of this and about
6,000-10,000 political religious prisoners in Uzbekistan. One of either
is too many, but these numbers don’t compare to Iraq.
I don’t really have an email policy, so if you don’t want me to quote
your emails, I won’t. I would at least like to know what you think I’m
so disturbingly wrong about so I’m not swinging at phantoms.
I try, and might fail, to make clear that I don’t want to condone or
excuse Human Rights issues in Uzbekistan. They are important, and the
depressing emails I get from friends that are trapped there are one of
the few things that crack my usual stoicism. I share your conviction
about the importance of these issues, but I think that the way that you
cynically manipulate these issues to simply attack Bush undercuts your
credibility and the depth of your conviction to human rights in
Uzbekistan.
Nathan”

And from HESIOD:

I am not only criticizing the hypocrisy of the Bush
adminsitration, which is genuine and pathetic. I’m criticising the
dishonesty of Iraq war supporters who claim it was all worth it on
“human rights” grounds. It’s obviously a lie. It’s also obviously a
stance taken purely to affect moral superiority to those who opposed
the war on pragmatic grounds. Now, I recognize that you can both be
appalled by Uzbekistan’s human rights abuses, and not be in favor of
invading the country and “changing” its regime. But, as I pointed out,
those who supported the Iraq war make no such distinctions with respect
to Iraq war opponents. If you were not in favor of the invasion, you
were with Saddam. Hence my argument that if you are not in favor of an
invasion of Uzbekistan, you are with Karimov. If that makes you feel
uncomfortable, or angry…good. That was its intent. My suggestion,
then, is to stop accusing anti-war advocates of being in league with,
or dupes of Saddam. M’Kay? Either debate the plusses or minuses of the
invasion and occupation on the merits (or lack thereof) or shut the
ever lovin’ fuck up. In case you hadn’t noticed, we are going to fight
back…hard…against your McCarthyite tactics. Either abandon them, or
continue to get your ass kicked. Your choice.

I follow this, but it doesn’t really answer anything I
said. Cute that he called me “McCarthyite,” especially because I’m not
particularly known for my Iraq coverage… I don’t know where this is
coming from, but like I mentioned before, Hesiod doesn’t seem
interested in winning me or anyone else over to his point of view. He’s
just pissed, and it really shouldn’t even be at me. I agree that
anti-war does not equal pro-Saddam and I don’t buy into that
“objectively pro-Saddam/pro-fascist” stuff off of someone’s point of
view on one issue. Anyway, MY response:

You’re why I left the left. You brook no dissent.
If I ever made the claim that being against the invasion is pro-Saddam,
I (and you can quote me on this) was being unfair, and I don’t believe
that. I had my reservations about the war, not the least of which is
that while I think Bush has vision, his planning abilities aren’t up to
snuff.
I would rather debate the war on policy grounds than moral grounds
because the odds of intelligent debate are much better with the former.
But, I don’t see you doing the former. Your “reporting” is the same
kind of innuendo that you are so critical of from the right.
Though, if you deny that human rights can be one possible justification
for the invasion of Iraq, you are being dishonest. It may not be enough
for you, and I’m fine with that. I don’t know if you noticed that I
don’t cover Iraq too much, so I don’t know where you are getting my
arguments from. You can guess on them; you might get them right, but
you are still resorting to ad hominem attacks on a straw man. If that’s
kicking my ass, go right ahead and keep doing it. It’s not going to win
you the hearts and minds you need to win the White House in ’04, and
that pisses me off. The Democrats and the left are so infected with the
“Hate Bush” virus (kind of like the “Hate Clinton” one that probably
bugs you as much as it does me), that they can’t get serious about
winning.
And seriously, before you rip me for what I say about Iraq, check to
see if I really say anything. If you’re looking for the convenient
target on Central Asia, look elsewhere. If your knowledge of the area
is even just a whit above that of your commenters or the journalists
who take short sojourns there, you’re just blowing smoke up people’s
asses. The only thing that makes me at all uncomfortable or angry is
that you’re vague, distort and exxagerate facts, and emblematic of the
reason I lost faith in the left.
I don’t worry about what you have to say about my home away from home,
you’re so wedded to your distortions that you have no interest in
learning about all the issues involved. If anything, sending me a terse
email with “you’re wrong.” as the subject makes you look a little
angrier that I had the temerity to say I think you’re wrong.

It’s probably not worth quoting the final exchange. I
should be fair and mention that Hesiod made a lot more sense. Still
angry at the wrong guy, but he made some points on Iraq I agree with.
What rankles me over this whole thing and is pretty instructive as to
the kind of person Hesiod is and represents (his commenters are much
worse) is that he entirely ignores that what this should be about is
Uzbekistan compared to Iraq. He apparently doesn’t want to deal with
the facts, especially when they undercut
his criticisms of Bush.
From what I can tell, Hesiod doesn’t care too much about knowing what
he’s writing about as long as he can get his swipes in on Bush.


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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