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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Astrology & astronomy

posted by Razib Khan at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
One of the reasons that I don't blog about politics is that it seems that the discourse seems to be out of this world, literally. Consider this from Roger L. Simon:

If that's what you're looking for, play chess. In order to win WWII, we ended up destroying Tokyo and Dresden. What is going on in Lebanon is nothing at all by comparison, yet the enemy, Hezbollah-Iran, etc., is equally dangerous, perhaps more so.

Meanwhile, you have have Michael Totten, who though his heart is in the right place, seems to be rather obsessed with Israel trading in a local conflagoration for a regional war against both Syria and Iran. Over at The American Scence, one commenter who finds Michael Ledeen "reasonable" and "prudent" asks why we've let the Alawite dominated Assad dictatorship last so long?

Noah Millman has the answers to this, and much more. Noah manages to present the situation in an analytic fashion peppered with copious data points and make clear his own bias while not coming off as unhinged. That's important. When it comes to chemistry or mathematics we can keep our cool, but when it comes to foreign policy, where lives and tax dollars are at stake, we let our emotions get the better of us. Of course this happens in many public policy discussions. The important point is to keep our emotions in check when we are in analytic mode, but let the analysis serve the fire of feeling which we rightly hold close to our hearts, whatever that maybe.


The idea that militant Islam is a threat equal to Nazi Germany or the USSR, or might become that big a threat, is assumed by many and perhaps most hawks, and it really underlies the whole Iraq War. That idea is almost impossible to argue in detail and I've seldom or never seen it argued. It's just pure fantasy.

The only way the idea is even plausible is if an Islamic group or nation gets nuclear weapons (plural) and delivery systems (plural). But hawks never seem very interested in the specifics of nuclear proliferation, or in specific attempts to prevent or even track proliferation. War with Iran is an end, not a means. Iranian nuclear weapons are important as arguments for war, but not in themselves.


I would even quibble that Iranian nukes are any more cause for war than the Pakistani or Indian nukes were. The "mad mullah" theory is just as flawed as the "WW4" one.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.