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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Word Games

That is to say, the instinctual, popular suspicion of the glib intellectual is not lacking merit, for today we humans are smothered with words. They tumble out of newspapers, books, reports, television, radio, and the Internet. Some are precise and useful—the formula for making bombs, the recipe for sponge cake, and so on. But most are nothing more than an invitation to rumble.

Take our commander‐in‐chief. When he learned that sovereignty had been passed back to the Iraqis, he sent a little note on his own to Condoleezza Rice. With no spinmeisters to smooth out his dyslexic syntax, he wrote, “Let freedom reign.”

We have no idea what the president meant by this. If he meant that we should now back off and “let freedom reign,” it was a strange thought for someone who had just killed several hundred thousand foreigners—who, as far as we know, never did anything to us.

But, maybe he meant that the Iraqis are now free—a situation he was applauding. But was that true, either? Left to their own devices—that is to say, free of foreign meddlers—Iraqis seemed quite content with their dictatorship. If getting rid of Saddam Hussein were so important to them, why would they not have done it themselves? Surely the Iraqis had their own Cromwell somewhere, ready to do the “cruel necessity.” It is certainly a strange freedom that is available at the whim of foreign invaders.

And it is even more certainly one of the great conceits of Western civilization, circa 2007, that freedom or ...

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