Showing posts from August, 2007

the blood cost of withdrawal

I think it's probably necessary to preface this post with the following disclosures: I was against invading Iraq; I am a pragmatic liberal interventionist as regards to foreign policy; I think that the argument for total and complete withdrawal from Iraq is a. genuinely harmful to America's self-interest (in a global sense) and b. not on the table, regardless of who wins the election in 2008. The very term "withdrawal" is in fact meaningless, but there's some irony in the fact that the rabid Article III/Section 3-quoting right-wingers and the reflexively anti-military ultra-leftists define the term in precisely the same way. Rather analogous to how Islamophobes and Al Qaeda interpret the Qur'an the same way, in fact, but that's truly tangential. Small-w withdrawal can take many forms, and there are costs and benefits accordingly. For the sake of discussion, let's define Withdrawal with a capital W as the total Vietnam-esque withdrawal of every last sol

Pakistan gets interesting

There's not been much coverage in the VSP-sphere about Pakistan's pending regime change, but there's a great overview article in the LA Times that points out that the clock is ticking for Pervez Musharraf : his country's long-running political crisis has entered a decisive phase, with developments in coming weeks likely to determine whether President Pervez Musharraf is able to hang on to power or is pushed aside. Exiled opponents such as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto are vowing to return and reclaim a place on the political stage. The current parliament, whose rubber-stamp approval Musharraf wants for another term as president, is nearing the end of its tenure. An emboldened Supreme Court is weighing legal challenges to Musharraf's participation in politics while he retains his position as military chief. And all the while, popular anger simmers. Celebrations last week of the 60th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule and the advent of statehood we

Japanese activist gives PM the finger

A Japanese political activist has been arrested after he cut off his little finger and posted it to PM Shinzo Abe's ruling party, according to police. Yoshihiro Tanjo said he was protesting against Mr Abe's refusal to visit a war shrine, on the 62nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. The Yasukuni shrine is the one in Tokyo that honors all the Japanese war dead - including those later convicted of being war criminals. Personally I think that while cutting off your finger is extreme, there's a pretty cogent critique of Shinzo Abe to be made here. It's worth noting that the previous PM, Junichiro Koizumi, made a point of visiting the shrine despite the outcry of protests. I think that it's appropriate for the PM to do so, for the same reason that Confederate soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC - they were soldiers who fought for their nation, and even if there are a handful of genuine criminals buried alongside there,

Richardson pandering to the pro-withdrawal base?

There's a handy chart at myDD that purports to show, with references, where the dmeocratic candidates stand on various issues related to withdrawal from Iraq. Richardson comes out looking the most committed to withdrawal as soon as possible, which isn't surprising given that his campaign put the chart together (sourced from his affiliated campaign site, No Troops Left Behind ). However, Richardson gave a speech ("the New Realism") at the CSIS (PDF) a while back wherein he said several things that I think contradict the image he is trying to put forth here. in the introductory remarks he explicitly calls for increase in the size of the military: if America is to lead again, we need to remember this history and to rebuild our overextended military, increase the size of our Army, revive our alliances, and restore our reputation as a nation which respects international law, human rights, and civil liberties. But over the course of the rest of the speech, he doesn't

Very Serious Policy

Atrios has been on a snark roll recently lampooning what he calls the club of "very serious people" aka the VSP who dominate foreign policy debate. Glenn Greenwald recently alluded to the same, arguing that the sacred cow of American foreign policy is that America has a right to intervene around the world in its own interests . He casts this as a " rigid pro-war ideology " but frankly, this is a perfectly reasonable prime motivator for any nation's self-interest; given that America has the most power of all nations in the world (and more than the rest combined), a truly liberal and moral foreign policy demands not that we have the right to intervene, but rather that we have the obligation to intervene. Pragmatic and liberal intervention , of course - and always firmly within the bounds of international law. (It bears repeating that the Iraq war was perfectly legal and bore UN sanction). I kind of like the acronym, VSP. Might as well adopt it - as Very Seriou


The strange contradiction of the mass media is that it combines true journalism - the nuts and bolts, reporters on the street, old school journalism trade - with talking heads up their own asses who write "opinion". Frankly the blogsphere obsoletes the latter. I am not one of those blog triumphalists who think the blogsphere can replace the former, but there certainly are good examples of blogs who make the attempt; on the right, Patterico comes to mind, whereas on the left, Josh Marshall's TPM . Both are examples of blogs that do honest and genuine reporting. Which is why the punditocracy is so threatened. Michael Skube of the LA Times today tries to argue that the blogsphere is a ranting mob as usual . But note anything odd in his examples? The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined. And to think most bloggers are doing all this on the side. "No man bu

Edwards ahead in Iowa

It seems that Edwards is on track to pull off an upset in Iowa. In discussion at myDD, someone asks whether Obama would be finished if he lost both Iowa (to both Edwards and Clinton) and New Hampshire (to Clinton). I don't think that Obama's base would evaporate. he has better anti-Clinton credentials than Edwards. If things shake out as I expect, ie Edwards 1st, Clinton 2nd and Obama 3rd in Iowa, and Clinton 1st and Obama 2nd in NH, then we are probably still looking at Clinton vs Obama for the nomination. Unless Edwards wins NH outright, he's really running for VP again. If Gore enters the race, the dynamics change of course. Speaking purely in wishful thinking mode, I think a Gore-Obama matchup would be the strongest ticket.

Al Gore on nuclear power

In a nutshell, Gore is not opposed to nuclear power, but his focus is on global warming, and as far as nuclear power is being promoted (for example, by Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore ) as a panacea to the GW problem, he is skeptical, for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons. I think this is a realistic approach, and is perfectly compatible with rigorous pro-nuclear domestic energy policy. From Gore's climate policy speech at the NYU Law School on Sep. 18, 2006. Many believe that a responsible approach to sharply reducing global warming pollution would involve a significant increase in the use of nuclear power plants as a substitute for coal-fired generators. While I am not opposed to nuclear power and expect to see some modest increased use of nuclear reactors, I doubt that they will play a significant role in most countries as a new source of electricity. The main reason for my skepticism about nuclear power playing a much larger role in the world's energy future is no

anti-intellectualism, left and right

I'm not sure what this signifies in a broader sense, but it's worth noting that there's a strain of anti-intellectualism in modern society running underneath both the left and the right. I think the right is more susceptible to it, by virtue of heavy weighting towards religious dogma. Usually, you see it among Christian conservatives, but I was rather surprised to see this sneer at panspermia theory from a well-educated, Jewish lawyer like Ron: We can admit the preposterousness of the suggestion that life spontaneously began and then, after a few tough winters, turned into Albert Einstein, Merv Griffin and Alex Rodriguez on this lonely sphere, because we have an alternative “scientific” explanation: It “could have happened,” see, that life came to earth on magic flying incubator rocks, which are uh-infinity old. How do “radioactive elements … keep[ing] water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years… mak[es] them potentially ideal ‘incubators’ for early life.

pining for 9-11?

today at RedState I saw this fairly odious piece of conservative conventional wisdom again rear its head: that Democrats actively desire failure in Iraq. I don't believe for a second that anyone in the political class, or the pundit class, genuinely believes or wants us as a nation to fail. It's a little thing called Benefit of the Doubt; in a civilized society with free speech and democratic process, its our responsibility to extend this basic courtesy to our opponents. The problem in modern discourse is that this basic civility has been sacrificed on the altar of immediate, short term political gain. That benefit of the doubt is why I refuse to castigate Stu Bykofsky for his provocative column titled " To save America, we need another 9/11 ". His thesis is that ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America. What kind of a sick bastard would write such a thing? A bastard so sick of how splintered we are politically - thanks mainly