Does McCain really think that the disputes between Iraq’s Shiites and Sunnis—a complex of historical, social, tribal, cultural, religious, and economic fissures—amount to nothing deeper than “bullshit” that can be swept away by a session of sit-down and straight-talking? ~Fred Kaplan, Slate

Well, yes, actually, I think that a good politico trained up in the school of Washington typically regards complexity of all kinds as a kind of smokescreen that he, the supposed rational lawmaker, is here to dispel. The atmosphere is not helped when Dobleve assures everyone that everyone in the world yearns for freedom and democracy makes everyone peaceful. Well, if it’s that simple, what else could be behind fractious in-fighting except a lot of ego and BS? (There is also the possibility too painful for the McCain-loving media to allow, which is that the man may not be so very terribly quick-witted and regards complex divisions in a society as “bullshit” becasuse he cannot be bothered to understand them.) But at bottom those who prattle on about the “Rights of Man” have no patience for sectarians squabbling over their share of the political pie. What is there to squabble about, after all? The universal principles of democratism are there for the taking and, as Prof. Ryn would say of the neo-Jacobins, “it’s all so clear.” Approaching complex cultural and historical divisions with the mind of a terrible simplifier, these divisions will appear to be the fruit of just so much arbitrariness and nonsense, because the simplifier has already deemed anything that does not square with his preconceived notion of what politics ought to be to be irrational and ridiculous. If people in the real world object to this overly simplistic view, that is their problem, not his.