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Thank you, Kit Baker, for your thoughtful comments. I will try to address a couple of your points. First, about the curious fact that "Fahrenheit 9/11" contains no reference to Israel. "Since the Bush administration has hardly mentioned Israel in its pronouncements on the Iraq war," you write, "why should we fault Moore for doing the same?" Well, because Moore is trading in every other coin of the conspiratorial realm. Why not this one?

Second, about oil. To anyone who can remember the ideological battles of the post-Vietnam era, Moore's caricature of America as a greedy imperialist power out to exploit the world's resources must feel as comfy and familiar as an old pair of slippers. Unfortunately it's also about as sturdy. It does not even come close to describing the complex geopolitics of oil in the 21st century. For a sense of this complexity, see "Saving Iraq From Its Oil," by Nancy Birdsall and Arvind Subramanian, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

Moore is shocked, shocked, that economic self-interest was part of the reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq. But isn't he the one who worries about the prosperity of working Americans? Didn't every politician, Democrat and Republican, pro and con, refer to "America's vital interests in the region?" What did Moore think they were all talking about? If he sees something illegitimate about being interested in oil, then by all means follow through, and say why America, alone among all the countries of the world, should not be so interested. But Moore deals in innuendos, not real questions.

Consider: what if Al Gore had been president on 9/11? What would he have done differently? If Moore is serious about wanting to elect a Democrat, as opposed to, say, lead a socialist revolution, then this is the narrow space where he ought to be aiming his barbs. Scattershot is OK, but in troubled times like these, precision is preferable.

July 13, 2004 6:03 AM |



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