HOW TO ARGUE LIKE A HAWK. As you may recall, a little while back Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad sent George W. Bush a somewhat rambling letter. One passage in the letter noted that if the billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War had instead been spent on fighting global poverty and improving worldwide public health, the United States would be liked instead of hated. This is, as best I can tell, entirely true. When I read that, I did a blog post noting the passage's existence, noting its accuracy, and saying that Iran's president was "making a lot of sense" in that particular passage. That blog post is now the subject of a denunciatory half-page front-of-the-book item in The Weekly Standard that doesn't even do me the service of using my name.
But more to the point, it doesn't even try to argue that I'm wrong. Apparently, since Ahmadinejad is a bad guy, it's categorically out of the question to point out that he's right about something, even when he is, in fact, right about the thing in question. Or, maybe, anything he says is automatically wrong, even if it would be true had he not said it. Or who knows what they mean. But one way or another, whatever you think of the messenger, the message raises an important point: Wouldn't it make more sense, both as an expression of American ideals and as a matter of American national security, to spend less money fighting wars and more money on popularity-building poverty-fighting initiatives?