Anne Applebaum, Voice of the Voiceful

Another week, another dreadful column from Anne Applebaum, this time about why we can never ever ever ever leave Iraq. Applebaum, along with Cathy Young and a few others, occupies a weird niche in establishment punditry: as yawn-inducing in her analysis as David Broder and as neocon in her foreign policy as anyone at The Weekly Standard, she nonetheless manages to double-dip as a libertarian sage, at least in some quarters. Fortunately, some libertarians aren’t letting her get away with it.

Jim Henley shreds her latest:

This is the stupidest column anyone has ever written for any venue. I sure am glad Anne Applebaum returned to Washington in time to let us all know that, like Madeleine Albright’s America, she sees farther than others. I know just where “a dose of humility” is missing: Applebaum’s column.

There’s an implication lurking underneath the self-regard – that since all the Iraq options have downsides, what we happened to be doing at the exact moment Anne Applebaum started paying attention again is the sensible course. Needless to say, there’s no argument in favor of, to coin a phrase, staying the course. …


Rarely are all the miserable aspects of the sunk costs fallacy so energetically invoked at a columnist’s Ouija. The author reviews briefly a series of bogus politicians’ bogus plans for Iraq, finds them all lacking, and prescribes that since we’re already soldiering, we must therefore soldier on. …

Applebaum lists a series of mighty disasters proceeding from an American departure, then says:

Perhaps these things would never have happened if we hadn’t gone there in the first place–but if we leave, we’ll be morally responsible.

We’re already morally responsible. We did something wrongly, and we don’t have the power to put it right. It cannot be rectified, remediated, or forgiven. The practical, tactical, strategic, ethical, and moral failures are ours already. We can’t take them back, but we can leave and stop implicating ourselves ever further in their unwinding.

Henley and IOZ have been monitoring Applebaum’s abortions for some time now, and nary a word needs to be added to their collective verdict. As a columnist at the Washington Post, Applebaum has all the exposure a person of her talents could possibly ask for – there’s no need, and no reason, for libertarians to expand her platform by treating her as a kindred spirit, much less calling her “outstanding,” “one of America’s most insightful journalists,” “a fine journalist, an excellent writer, and a judicious historical researcher,” and “a fantastic writer, a careful scholar, and possessed of a moral sensibility that is judicious, practical, and finely tuned.”* There are already enough lips stuck to the backside of this bien-pensant bore.

*Obviously, I invented these clumsy, fawning quotations, and hastily, I might add. No one would really write such things.