I haven't finished reading Jeffrey Goldberg's new article on "the next phase of Middle East history," but this anecdote is worth sharing:

Just before the “Mission Accomplished” phase of the war, I spoke about Kurd­istan to an audience that included Norman Podhoretz, the vicariously martial neoconservative who is now a Middle East adviser to Rudolph Giuliani. After the event, Podhoretz seemed authentically bewildered. “What’s a Kurd, anyway?” he asked me.

Understand, Podhoretz had spent the previous months arguing for invading Iraq, apparently without having bothered to learn enough about the country to know who the Kurds were. Given that it's pretty hard to read a magazine article, let alone an entire book about modern Iraq without coming across at least some mention of the Kurds, this does not speak well of the expertise of our leading neoconservative warmongers. Podhoretz's innocence will come as no surprise to those who have read his World War IV, which is similarly untroubled by anything like actual knowledge of the Middle East whose forcible transformation he advocates. His new article on why we should just bomb Iran regardless of the NIE, in which he continues to flog the "nation as suicide bomber" theory of Iranian foreign policy so prevalent in Michael Ledeen's kitchen, indicates that he hasn't bothered himself reading much about Iran, either. As always, Podhoretz is less interested in understanding the history, culture, and internal functioning of countries he'd like to bomb than he is in questioning the fortitude of those who disagree.

--Matthew Duss