Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

P.J. O’Rourke on Iraq

This is an interview with P.J. O’Rourke in The Atlantic. O’Rourke covers the war for both The Atlantic and ABC Radio and his piece on Kuwait and Iraq will appear in the December issue. He covers what he calls the "backside" of the war, and he is perceptive and amusing. But after Michael Kelly’s death, he replaced him as an embedded reporter with the 3rd Infantry Division, and saw things he didn’t expect to see and didn’t sign on for. The interview is broad-ranging and often very funny. 

Here is P.J.’s response to this question, "In your last interview for The Atlantic you mentioned that Chris Buckley and Dave Barry are good friends of yours. What would happen if we locked the three of you in a room—with drinks and cigars, of course—and told you to solve the problems of the Middle East?"

"First of all, it better be a lot of cigars and a lot of beer! An awful lot of beer, because we’re going to be in there for a long, long time. The problems of the Middle East are the problems of mankind since we came out of the trees. They just happen to be a little more intense. When you look at a chaotic region like the Middle East, what you’re really seeing is most of human history, and some parts of America and some parts of Europe and a few parts of Asia are glaring exceptions. The kind of peaceful, productive, incredibly wealthy life that we live in these few areas around the world—this has only been going on for a nanosecond as time goes. It’s so exceptional I’m not even sure what it means. The whole world might degenerate back into the Middle East, because that’s what it’s always been. And you can’t solve the problem of the Middle East, because it’s not a problem, it’s a condition. It’s the normal condition of mankind.

If you read Donald Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War, it’s all there. It’s been going on like this, time out of mind. Little islands of human happiness, peace, and prosperity are so exceptional at this point in history that I’m not even sure we can draw lessons from them."

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