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Josh Marshall’s Max Boot Challenge: Cheerfully Accepted, Sir

My old boss Josh Marshall notes that Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations is now an official McCain campaign surrogate. Gleefully, Josh asks:

I’d be interested in seeing a list of all the completely insane things Max has said and written over the last decade.

Why, so would I! But I’m going to be lazy and stick to the locus classicus of Max Boot batshittery: “The Case For American Empire,” from the Weekly Standard’s October 15, 2001 issue. I hear you objecting — Yeah, yeah, we know all about that one. But do you? Do you? Sure, you remember this quote:

Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.

But it’s a shame, really, because the baroque foolishness of that line — no Englishman, for instance, would be ahistorical enough to engage in such unironic empire-nostalgia — has obscured the less-florid-but-still-barking-mad bits of the essay. For instance, let’s take my favorite:

Once Afghanistan has been dealt with, America should turn its attention to Iraq. It will probably not be possible to remove Saddam quickly without a U.S. invasion and occupation–though it will hardly require half a million men, since Saddam’s army is much diminished since the Gulf War, and we will probably have plenty of help from Iraqis, once they trust that we intend to finish the job this time. Once we have deposed Saddam, we can impose an American-led, international regency in Baghdad, to go along with the one in Kabul. With American seriousness and credibility thus restored, we will enjoy fruitful cooperation from the region’s many opportunists, who will show a newfound eagerness to be helpful in our larger task of rolling up the international terror network that threatens us.

Pretty much every clause of that paragraph has been, uh, overtaken by events. It says oh so much about John McCain that he’d pick such a paragon of insight, curiosity and sagacity as a foreign-policy surrogate.

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