First, he mischaracterizes (in order to attack) the argument against war with Iran as the "because we can't do everything, we shouldn't do anything" argument. Of course, this is nonsense: while we can do lots of things, we really can't do everything, and there are lots of historical figures who would like to talk to Mr. Lileks about the advisability of opening a second front in a war that you're already not exactly winning. But, like most conservatives who pretend that fringe, or even nonexistent, arguments are the mainstream of opposition thoughts, he likes to attribute extremist positions to people who have not made them. I can't think of anyone -- not even in my pinko inner circle, let alone the Democratic mainstream -- who has claimed we shouldn't do anything about Iran. Saying that just maybe an invasion is not a good idea is a million miles from saying we should just bug off and let Iran nuke whoever they please; "don't do something stupid" is a different argument than "don't do anything". Lileks is so blinkered by the possibility that he's been wrong all along that he won't consider the fact that if we'd approached Iraq a little differently, things might not be so fucked up right now; so he's perfectly willing to repeat the same mistake in hopes that he won't have to admit it was a mistake. (Curiously, he subverts his own argument later in the piece; he claims that people like Barbara Boxer, having discovered that Iran is quite far away from being a nuclear power, want to fritter away their time on congressional investigations into the (deliberately?) crappy intelligence that got us into the Iraq war, instead of invading Iran like we're sposed to. Uh, isn't that making the argument that since we can't do everything we shouldn't do anything?)
Later on, he uses some unnamed college roommate of his ex-girlfriend to bolster the patently absurd claim that American liberals were happy to see the Ayatollah Khomeini seize power in Iran. This is frankly ridiculous, and I'm not aware of any American writers at the time of any political stripe who were pleased that fundamentalist lunatics had taken power. Were there claims that the Ayatollah was better than the Shah? Sure. And, you know, in a lot of ways -- particularly bodycounts -- he was. Was there a lot of America-bashing? You bet. The fact is, the Shah was an unspeakably brutal, incompetent, greedy, bloodthirsty dictator who was only in power because the United States put him there. (Lileks and his ilk conveniently fail to ask why the Ayatollah's revolution was so popular to begin with, no matter how badly it turned out in the end.) But did any American leftists jump around and have parties in the streets to see a repressive, misogynist theocracy take over the country? Of course not. We want Iran to be free, and the best way to have ensured that would be not to have put a dictator in power; we just weren't surprised at the way it finally shook down. I guess mentioning that chickens eventually find their way back to the roost is anti-American these days.
Speaking of bullshit, consider this: the press shrugs and rolls its eyes when a million people turn out in the streets to protest the war, or when political figures run non-stop war cant despite vast majorities of their public opposing their policies. But if a couple of wind-spewing jackoffs cite the appearance of Mexican flags at immigration reform rallies as evidence of the existence of a sinister plot by brown people to take over America using the Protocols of the Elders of Chorizo, it is very quickly front-page news and talk-show fodder. What does this prove? That the media will listen to any goddamn bullshit thing, as long as a rich middle-aged white guy says it.