"We have created new materials that because of their chemical structure interact with cells of the central nervous system in ways that may help prevent the formation of the scar that is often linked to paralysis after spinal cord injury," said Professor Samuel Stupp.... "...When the solution is injected into a damaged rodent spinal cord, it turns into a gel-like solid, says Stupp. The scaffold is designed to disintegrate after four to six weeks, hopefully leaving healthy spinal cord behind."No, this probably won't help Christopher Reeve walk again - but it could keep future patients walking after accidents that would otherwise leave them paralyzed. It may also improve our understanding of more complex "tissue scaffolding" projects that may one day lead to replaceable organs.
"There once was a Dervish who used to lecture regularly before a group of people, among whom were an old man accompanied by his grandson, a small boy. And, regularly as clockwork, the ancient one used to fall asleep as soon as the Dervish had got into his stride. One day the Dervish had an idea. After the meeting he took the boy aside and said, ‘I’ll give you a silver piece if you jog your grandfather awake every time he falls asleep during my lectures.’ The boy accepted. For three meetings in succession, the old man was nudged every time his eyes closed, and the Dervish was pleased. On the fourth week, however, the grandfather fell fast asleep, just as before. Taking the boy aside after that meeting, the Dervish said, ‘I thought you were going to keep the old man awake for a silver piece?’ " ’That’s right,’ said the boy, ‘but when I told him, he offered me three silver pieces not to do it.’ "As in any Sufi tale, what at first glance is a joke cleverly conceals a parable. Here, the pieces of silver have specific symbolic meanings. What do you suppose they represent?
"Because I say to you - whether there is a creator, or a soul or an afterlife or neither of those things, what is certain in your life is that there will always be birth, and death, and suffering. And what I teach will release you from the fear of those things. Because what I have said I have said, and what I have not said I have not said. And why have I not said anything about those things? Because they are profitless and do not lead to wisdom or to freedom from fear." The Buddha Majjhima NikayaCourt at Miniluv often shares Zen stories, in very much the same spirit that I share Sufi stories every week. The above quote is taken from a post he wrote on October 7, 2003 to begin to explain: What Is Zen? Court finally returns to the subject with Part 2, explaining Zen's history and the core of "Sid's" teaching: The 4 Noble Truths and The 3 Treasures.
"If a man is without hope, full of anger, fueled by religious fire, I can see where suicide bombing is something that would be a consideration. Right now I don't think it's something I could possibly ever do, personally, but I think I understand the objective factors that would lead to it." ...Here's what really bothers me about such knee-jerk "you're a terrorist too" responses. We all sit here living with our shiny veneer of civilization, working hard at our information technology jobs, driving our SUVs, and cluck-clucking at the foibles of those crazy foreigners from the televised comfort of our suburban living rooms. If you're someone surrounded by that kind of comfort and you pass judgement on someone else because terrorism is "inconceivable", you're forgetting one thing: You don't know what you'd do if you were in the same situation. We all want to believe that we wouldn't do it. It's inhuman, it's inconceivable, it's abhorrent. Not a chance…. But I'm not going to pass judgement on those who try to understand, when doing so means pretending that I know my true self, when faced with the same situation."So, the main difference between Mr. Judson and Ms. Tonge is that she's pretty sure she could do it, while he's not sure. Lovely. Ross goes on in a later comment: bq. "Joe, you don't seem to be able to draw a distinction between the words "understand" and "condone". I can objectively understand the factors that lead to an action I do not agree with. For each of those factors, I can decide whether I believe it to be justification, or not." Ross, I don't draw the distinction because Ms. Tonge clearly doesn't, and frankly I wonder about you too. Your post reads like a parody of the bleeding-heart liberal position on crime as extended to terrorism, and its effect is to remove the moral equation from discussion via "understanding" that quickly turns into "judge not" without even breaking stride. Blowing up grandmothers, children and other innocents as a matter of calculated, deliberate policy is not an unadulterated mortal evil to British MP and Party Spokeswoman for Children Jenny Tonge. No, it's "understandable." And so she refuses to judge the suicide bombers, just as Ross refuses to judge her. Morality? Standards? Requiring that others live up to them? Never heard of it. This attitude is worse than wrong. If acts really are " inhuman… inconceivable… abhorrent…" then their moral content remains regardless. Whether or not you could be persuaded to commit them is irrelevant. To say "judge not" in response to acts of evil provides cover and implicit endorsement for those who promote and commit those acts, by removing them from moral sanction. One becomes, in short, an enabler. I'm sorry if you find that word unpleasant, Ross, but it's accurate. Suicide bombers, NKVD officers in Lubyanka, concentration camp guards - all have or had their excuses and justifications. So what? The truth is that there's no excuse, no justification adequate to their acts. The only way to use the word "understandable" in conjunction with their actions, is to believe that excuses exist in the first place. Ross, you said it yourself when you used the words: bq. "… For each of those factors, I can decide whether I believe it to be justification, or not." If you're sitting there deciding in this case, then you concede there are factors you would consider to be a justification for suicide bombing. If there weren't any, after all, you wouldn't have a decision to make. Would you? The difference between us here is that I don’t have a decision to make here - and you, apparently, do. Hence the responses that so distress you, from people who perceive these links even if you yourself do not. "Of course, I'm not condoning..." says the familiar ritual tone. Yet this obligatory preface of disintersted understanding is often less than believable. Ms. Tonge seems unwilling to extend the same courtesy of 'understanding' to the Israelis, for instance, but they're just Jews so it's par for the course. Mr. Judson's political opponents right here also seem to be another story. As Mary summed up so neatly later in the discussions: bq. "Ross - You don’t know anything about Qtub, you haven’t researched the motivations of the suicide bombers, you don't know about their philosophies or beliefs – but you know that people like me are fuel "for that fire". I dunno, Ross - are you sure you couldn't be pushed into the same position? Maybe it's all understandable. Such a pity that Mr. Judson's desire for 'understanding' doesn’t seem to extend to a point that might actually be constructive. Unfortunately, without that kind of deeper grounding, what's left is little more than a cocktail of chance impressions, projection, and political prejudices loudly expressed. "Know Thyself," indeed. To use the word again: enabler. That's what MP Jenny Tonge is - and a line that you, Ross, are treading very close to. Jenny Tonge, MP, is simply an extension of your stated worldview, not a departure from it. That ought to disturb you. Someone raised outside of a systemic environment of hatred, with all of her advantages and privileges, implicitly sanctioning the deliberate murder of children by implying that it might be OK under current circumstances... and all this as a Spokeswoman for Children in Britain's Parliament. "But who's to judge?" you say. Who, indeed. At least the Liberal Democrats retained enough good sense to still value judgment, and to exercise it. A terrible pity, sir, that you did neither. I fervently hope that you might take some time, and give the matter some thought, and reformulate your position. UPDATE: Ross Judson responds. Let's just say that I don't see a lot of rethinking going on.
...President George W. Bush announced the unilateral operation to “liberate” the Red Planet earlier this month, declaring that Martian leader Marvin was secretly developing an Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator in defiance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1541. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech before the UN General Assembly last December, asserted that Marvin intended to use the weapon to destroy Earth because it was “blocking his view of Venus.” To date, no banned weapons have been found on Mars.
So even if you don't think that economic equality is any concern of the government, you should still be concerned about our ever more squeezed middle class. They are the engine of economic growth, and if we continue to pursue policies that ignore them the entire economy will pay the price. We need to start paying attention before it's too late.
Truth is, there isn't enough real risk to even be asking the question. Truth is, the Bushies are deliberately exaggerating the risk as a means of manipulating the people. They're psychological terrorists their own damn selves. If right wingers would stop acting like incredibly cowardly wimps, we could get back to trying to act like a democratic nation. I don't have much hope.
From none of the candidates have we heard anything approaching a strikingly new vision of how the United States should think about national security in a post-Cold War era marked by terrorism. And that's not because no such vision is conceivable. Rather, it's because the major Democrats ... like a herd of dairy cows trundling across a pasture ... have unthinkingly fallen in behind the tinkling bell of establishment assumptions about the world and how the United States should deal with it. ... With so little argument on the broad principles, it's no wonder Bush feels he owns the national security debate, especially at a time when America is "at war." And to me, that is precisely where the Democratic candidates for president, including Dean, have failed: They have not challenged the central premise of the Bush doctrine on national security — the endlessly repeated assertion that the United States is "at war." Initially, the "war on terrorism" was a figure of speech — like the "war on poverty" and the "war on drugs." To the extent that the "war on terrorism" has become more than that, it's because the Bush administration has elected to initiate military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and other countries of Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Caucasus and elsewhere. If the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon can be likened to Pearl Harbor, there has been nothing to match the subsequent wholesale advances of Japanese forces across Asia. And there has been no mobilization of American society — except for how the Bush administration allowed Al Qaeda's puny army to keep the American public spooked and worried about the future.Wow. Pretty strong words. The suggestion, as I understand it, is that the conflict we find ourselves in is a creature of our own making - that we're sending troops to battle the phantoms of our own fears. He's suggesting two theses with which I disagree pretty strongly: First, that 'Al Quieda's puny army' posed no real threat to us; and second, following from the first, that our military actions abroad are starting a war where there was none before.
But Americans need to seriously consider whether the long-term threat to our civil liberties is justified by the protections we may (or may not) be afforded against terrorist attacks. Reasonable people could argue for different strategies. There are alternatives that might be equally effective in reducing threats but less alarming to the public, less divisive among our allies, less go-it-alone, less in-your-face. Subtler strategies are possible. Borrowing a page from stealth technology, for instance, the United States could lower its profile as a target even as it strikes at the heart of specific terrorist groups. There's nothing soft or dovish about the punch of a Stealth B-2 bomber; it's just harder to strike back at.Well, we probably agree that the Homeland security steps taken by this administration (and largely planned in the last Congress) do more to limit our civil liberties than they do to limit our exposure to centrally-planned, large scale terrorism. His last notion, that somehow America can "lower it's profile" in a world where its existence is seen as a triumph of mercantilist colonialism is kind of a challenge, and calls out for elaboration. I'll assume that we embrace Kyoto and push away Israel; hand over our troops to the ICC (which recently was offered a case that the British use of cluster munitions in Iraq was a war crime). But maybe he means something else...and I continue to fascinated by the left's support of covert action and assassination ('Subtler strategies...') in this conflict.
"As commander in chief of the U.S. military, I will never hesitate to send troops anywhere in the world to defend the U.S.," Dean says. He might as well be Bush if this is what he really thinks.I'm inclined at this point to toss the author out as someone I should read with a serious eye. If the President of the United States isn't supposed to send troops anywhere else in the world to defend the U.S., what's the point of the job? To appeal to the U.N. for assistance, like the Rwandans, so that a decade later, they can hold hearings on what went wrong?
In the end, it comes down to the Democratic Party assertion that it could run the same war and execute many of the same policies more competently. "Me too" didn't work for Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. And Franklin D. Roosevelt argued successfully during World War II election campaigns that it was unwise "to change horses in midstream." Today, Democrats need to ask themselves: If we are in fact "at war" and facing such high stakes, why would the American public want to risk changing the White House leadership now? Seeking a penetrating answer to that question might be good politics. It would certainly be a public service.Here's the $64,000 question, indeed. I strongly dislike most of Bush's domestic policies, and think that he's doing substantial damage to our economy and polity by implementing them. In a world where 9/11 had never happened, I wouldn't for a moment be considering supporting him. And I'd be looking at other issues in choosing someone in the Democratic field than "do they have a coherent response to this?" So here's my research and thinking project for this week, as I'm travelling: Is my perception that this is a serious war wrong? Obviously, I don't think so, but every so often it's good to check. UPDATES: * The Times gave a bio of Arkin: "William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for Opinion. E-mail: warkin@igc .org". I went over to the www.igc.org website, and you should too, to help put some perspective around his writings. I'm still going to chew on the question, however. * Calpundit responds.
John Gilchrist notes that among the great mystics of Islam was a woman, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, who lived in Basra (located in present-day Iraq) in the first century after the death of Mohammed. She is perhaps best known for her insistence that Allah should be loved purely, not out of fear of wrath or for the prospect of reward. One of her best-known sayings is:
"O Allah! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty!"
(Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.42).
Another story about Rabi'a has her carrying a burning torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked why, she replied:
"I am going to set fire to Paradise and quench the fires of Hell, so that men may worship Allah for his own glory alone."
UPDATE: T.L. James in the Comments section... don't miss it! John Braue also delivers a similar quote from the Jewish Talmud.
California, after all, is in the middle of the pack in state and local taxation, and we've got personal wealth like nobody's business. The state has 95 of the country's 400 billionaires, and their net worth is $102.9 billion, according to figures sent to me by Bill Wong, chief of staff to Assemblywoman Judy Chu. It'd be chump change for them to loan us the $15 billion, interest-free.
In 2000, according to Wong's numbers, 784 Californians with incomes above $200,000 paid no income tax at all. What's the point of having an action hero as governor if he isn't going to track those people down, put them in headlocks and grab their wallets? Two professors ... John Bachar of Cal State Long Beach and Paul O'Lague of UCLA ... sent me a proposal that would raise enough money in two years to wipe out all our bills, and it wouldn't cost 97.3% of Californians a nickel.And damn, does he love that idea. He goes on to extol it more in his Jan 21 column:
...let me give you the background. "When we heard Arnold Schwarzenegger say the only way to do this was with a $15-billion bond measure, we wanted to come up with an alternative that wouldn't substantially change the lifestyle of any Californian," says Paul O'Lague, who teaches molecular biology at UCLA. O'Lague and his pal John Bachar, who teaches statistics and probability at Cal State Long Beach, have been studying income taxes and wealth distribution for years, and hosting salons to hash out their ideas. They came up with a proposal that puts a surcharge on California residents with an income above $200,000, including a joint filing in which husband and wife make that much combined. The surcharge would start at 0.5% for light heavyweights making $200,000, and climb to 7% for bombers hauling in $5 million a year or more. All told, this $200k-plus group accounts for just 3.1% of all tax returns, but has 35.9% of total personal income in the state. The surcharge would generate a fat $13 billion a year, because California has more millionaires per capita than any state. (And Golden State billionaires, who account for more than one-fifth of the nation's billionaires, have a net worth of $102.9 billion.) "How much money can you spend on yourself?" asked Bachar. He echoed his colleague's point that for the state's aristocracy, the hardship of a surcharge could mean having to settle for a $9.5-million mansion instead of a $10-million estate.Now let me point out two teeny problems with this notion. The first one is theoretical, but has been pretty well borne out in recent tax policy history. I'm willing to spend all the money I can raise by taxing you, and maybe a little more. When it doesn't cost me anything, why not? The notion that the variable tax burden can be shifted to someone else - whether higher income taxpayers, or those who make their living from wages and not dividends - makes raising those taxes and spending pretty damn attractive. To put it terms that 300K might understand, it's like giving your kid a credit card you make the payments on. it might work out, but in most cases, it will end badly. So the politics of it get messy. And then there's the little problem that it doesn't work. Somehow, the Sacramento Bee got Dan Weintraub, and we got stuck with 300K. It's just not fair. Here's Weintraub's Sunday column on the subject:
Why should we care? Because California's skewed income distribution, combined with progressive tax rates, means that the people at the very top of the income heap pay a very high percentage of the personal income tax collected in this state. Their extraordinary, onetime income surge at the end of the last century provided most of the new tax revenue that legislators and former Gov. Gray Davis used to raise teacher salaries, increase welfare benefits and expand eligibility to state-provided health care. But the decline that followed also accounted for most of the revenue drop that contributed to the state's fiscal crisis. And as of the most recent tax year, they hadn't hit bottom yet. The million-dollar earners peaked in 2000, when 44,000 of them -- about enough to fill your average baseball stadium -- reported incomes totaling $172 billion and paid more than $15 billion in taxes. The tax take from that relative handful of returns accounted for more than one-third of all income tax paid in the state. The next year, the number of returns reporting incomes that high slumped to 29,000. Their combined income also declined, by nearly half, to $95 billion. And here was the killer: Their tax liability dropped from $15 billion to just under $8 billion. The money lost to the treasury that year would have been enough to pay for the state's entire commitment to higher education, or most of the cost of the Medi-Cal system that provides health care to six million of California's poorest residents.The volatility in income and behavior mean that it's damn hard for the state to rely on stable revenues from the ever-shrinking group of people deemed rich enough to be taxed. When I talk about behavior, I mean two things: many of them move away (cf Jim Clark), and most of them (even me) can 'engineer' their income around tax policy to minimize taxes. Now, remember that I'm the guy who explicitly supports redistribution. I have no ideological bias against the idea that the rich should pay proportionately more, even a lot more. But I have this funny quirk. I believe that whatever the tax policy is, it has to work. That's because I'm a part of the future Party of the Sensible, one that believes that policies should be judged on more than their good intentions. I dinked around with an idea which I may try and get into the Hope Street competition if I can get some time to do research (or if I can find a volunteer to help out).
Sales taxes are anathema to progressives, because they are inherently regressive...lower-income household have to spend most of their income to survive, and so wind up paying a far higher percentage of their income in sales taxes. But they are stable, and more importantly, they are the means whereby those who earn in the cash economy contribute their share. Simply put, we ought to bump the state sales tax by a fairly significant amount, and rebate it back to lower- and middle-income taxpayers, possibly by covering some portion of their payroll taxes with it. Note that some burden will fall on lower- and middle- income taxpayers; that can't be avoided, although it can be meliorated. Further note that those who live in the cash economy - who include illegal immigrants - will be disproportionately affected. Good; they need to pay their share, too.Here's a set of notions that might actually work:
A few residents, including a city planning commissioner, have asked the Redondo Beach City Council to ban the activity because the planes sometimes go out of control and hit homes, cars and pedestrians in the heavily trafficked area. Lenore Bloss, a planning commissioner, asked the council earlier this month to consider an ordinance outlawing the craft in the city after she was hit in the back of the head by a low-flying plane. Though she wasn't hurt, Bloss was outraged. Not only was there a possibility of real injury, but the pilot didn't apologize.
Her story got the council's attention. Councilman Gerard Bisignano said the matter will be taken up within six weeks. ... "People do get hit and I don't deny that," Freschi said. "But to my knowledge no one has been seriously hurt. It stings and it smarts. But no blood, no broken bones." He makes an analogy that dogs bite and bicycles run into people. But these beach activities aren't banned; laws are passed to make the activities safer.First, I need to disclose that I do not and have never flown remote controlled airplanes. My sons have not flown remote controlled airplanes. I do often use the Esplanade and bike path near there, so I ought to be on the side of the angels and support banning the damn things. And hell, I'm a liberal, so regulation must be good, no? In this case, no. Boy, I have so many problems with this. First of all, it fits nicely in with my view of the SkyBox nature of our process. A planning commissioner gets hit - and her feelings, not her scalp are wounded. So A Law Must Be Passed So That They Learn A Lesson. Bull. Second, I've got to ask, where's the real risk? Kids play frisbee on the beach all the time, and the wind catches them...I've been hit by those. I've been clocked by an errant volleyball. Should we ban those? Of course not. Third, the notion that the city would ban the activity - rather than make any effort to reasonably figure out how to make it workable, when it's been done there for 40 years or more - sticks in my throat. The City Attorney says:
"City Attorney Jerry Goddard said enforcing such restrictions could be costly and difficult. Banning the gliders would be the easiest, cheapest alternative. "I have to say, reluctantly, that the level of use of The Esplanade and beach area has reached the congestion point where regulation is necessary," Goddard said. "I'm saddened by that. Mainly because I'm disappointed at the ever growing level of government regulations over citizens' lives. And I'm also disappointed in the irresponsibility of people to do anything from walking their dog on a leash to flying a model airplane in a responsible fashion." Goddard said that in his 11 years as city attorney an adult or child, car or house has been hit by a glider about every two years.Sorry, Jerry, but one reported accident every two years isn't evidence of irresponsibility, and while I think you're on the right track about intrusive regulation, saying you're against it while proposing it seems kind of disingenuous. Personally, I think there are probably some simple and easily enforceable rules - like don't fly on summer weekends or holidays after 9 or 10:00 am - which would lessen the chances of conflict and keep the pilots flying. Personally, I think Redondo is a small enough town that those affected by the flying could walk up the hill and personally interact with the glider pilots and work something out informally. But that might be too simple. Mayor Greg Hill, Councilmember Gerard Bistango, and City Manager Lou Garcia are the ones who ought to think about this. One might hope that they'd come to the conclusion that this is silly and embarrassing, and that the City has more pressing business.
"American Idol" premiered tonight, showcasing people who believe they can sing. Some move on, but most are rejected mercilessly. Caucuses "premiered" tonight, showcasing people who believe they can be president... Coincidence?
I am puzzled now by the strange way people here are dealing with mountain lions ... which is to say, letting them kill you.And last week, Diana Wagman went shooting:
Guns are bad. All my life, it's been that simple. At my son's preschool, if a child pointed a banana and said "bang," he was admonished to "use the banana in a happier way."... So what would make someone like me change my mind? I met this gun enthusiast. As research for my new novel, I asked him many questions, all the while voicing my disgust. My character might use a gun, but I never would. "Come to the range," the gun guy said. "I'll teach you to shoot."Hmmm... Go figure. UPDATE: Suman Palit is adopting the same approach.
"My wife and I went to Morocco when she was expecting a child. She went to the shop and looked at Kaftans, and very much liked one of them. The price asked was far too high, and so we left the shop, only to be pursued down the street by the proprietor, was was now trying to give it to us for nothing. I asked him why he should give it away like that. 'Don't you understand?' he shouted, 'What kind of people are you? A woman in that condition, when she covets something, puts the evil eye on anyone who doesn't give it to her! I don't want the evil eye!' I said 'That is absolute nonsense, and you know it!' 'I know it is, but what can I do? You see, I believe it!' "
Fri Jan 16, 1:46 PM ET LISBON (AFP) - Actor Tom Cruise has acted as cupid for a Portuguese couple, appearing on state television to implore a factory worker to marry her longtime cameraman boyfriend, it was reported. According to the weekly newspaper Tal e Qual, Joao Martins, who works for Portuguese state broadcaster RTP, asked the star to make the plea after he met Cruise while covering the Spanish premiere of his latest blockbuster "The Last Samurai" in Madrid last Friday. "Sonia, you have to marry Joao. Please marry Joao. He is crying behind the camera," Cruise said as he looked into the camera. "Name your children after me," the actor added. The cameraman was on the telephone with his girlfriend when Cruise's plea was broadcast on RTP later that same day and Sonia Braz immediately said yes to the marriage request, the paper reported. The couple plans to wed later this year. Martins said he never imagined Cruise would agree to his request. "All my girlfriend asked for was that I get his autograph," he told the paper. Cruise often mingles with fans, and even takes calls on their mobile phones, during walkabouts before his movie premieres.Now that's a stand up guy. Also a great story to tell little Thomas Cruz Martins one day...
Or to put it another way, unlike terrorist organizations, rogue states, notwithstanding administration declamations to the contrary, are subject to effective deterrence and therefore do not warrant status as potential objects of preventive war and its associated costs and risks. One does not doubt for a moment that al-Qaeda, had it possessed a deliverable nuclear weapon, would have used it on 9/11. But the record for rogue states is clear: none has ever used WMD against an adversary capable of inflicting unacceptable retaliatory damage. Saddam Hussein did use chemical weapons in the 1980s against helpless Kurds and Iranian infantry; however, he refrained from employing such weapons against either U.S. forces or Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, and he apparently abandoned even possession of such weapons sometime later in the decade.48 For its part, North Korea, far better armed with WMD than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, has for decades repeatedly threatened war against South Korea and the United States but has yet to initiate one. How is the inaction of Saddam Hussein and North Korea explained other than by successful deterrence?
There is no way of proving this, of course, but there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein ever intended to initiate hostilities with the United States once he acquired a nuclear weapon; if anything, rogue state regimes see in such weapons a means of deterring American military action against themselves. Interestingly, Condolezza Rice, just a year before she became National Security Adviser, voiced confidence in deterrence as the best means of dealing with Saddam. In January 2000 she published an article in Foreign Affairs in which she declared, with respect to Iraq, that "the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence--if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration." She added that rogue states "were living on borrowed time" and that "there should be no sense of panic about them." If statelessness is a terrorist enemy’s "most potent protection," then is not "stateness" a rogue state’s most potent strategic liability?Once you acknowledge that state actors can be deterred, his answer becomes simple
Traditionally, however, war has involved military operations between states or between a state and an insurgent enemy for ultimate control of that state. In both cases the primary medium for war has been combat between fielded military forces, be they regular (state) or irregular (nonstate) forces. Yet terrorist organizations do not field military forces as such and, in the case of al-Qaeda and its associated partners, are trans-state organizations that are pursuing nonterritorial ends. As such, and given their secretive, cellular, dispersed, and decentralized 'order of battle,' they are not subject to conventional military destruction. Indeed, the key to their defeat lies in the realms of intelligence and police work, with military forces playing an important but nonetheless supporting role.In detail, it looks like this:
Intelligence-based arrests and assassinations, not divisions destroyed or ships sunk, are the cutting edge of successful counterterrorism. If there is an analogy for the GWOT, it is the international war on illicit narcotics.There's lots more, and you ought to read his work. (personally, I think there are some other large holes in it, as in his inability - or unwillingness - to distinguish guerilla warfare from terrorism:
Terrorism, like guerrilla warfare, is a form of irregular warfare, or "small war" so defined by C. E. Callwell in his classic 1896 work, Small Wars, Their Principles and Practice, as "all campaigns other than those where both sides consist of regular troops." As such, terrorism, like guerrilla warfare, is a weapon of the weak against a "regular" (i.e., conventional) enemy that cannot be defeated on his own terms or quickly. Absent any prospect of a political solution, what options other than irregular warfare, including terrorism (often a companion of guerrilla warfare), are available to the politically desperate and militarily helpless? Was Jewish terrorism against British rule in Palestine, such as the 1946 Irgun bombing attack (led by future Nobel Peace Prize Winner Menachem Begin) on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem (killing 93, including 17 Jews),19 justified as a means of securing an independent Jewish state? "Terrorism may be the only feasible means of overthrowing a cruel dictatorship, the last resort of free men and women facing intolerable persecution," argues Laqueur. "In such conditions, terrorism could be a moral imperative rather than a crime--the killing of Hitler or Stalin early on in his career would have saved the lives of millions of people."Note that assassinating Hitler or Stalin - even in their early political career - would be guerilla warfare - an attack on the troops or political structure of the state. I think that he misses the key definitions of terrorism as I understand it:
If you hate the United States, or Republicans, you might believe that killing Hastert, even though he is nominally a ‘civilian’ would somehow strike at the effectiveness or strength of the U.S. or the Republican party (note: I don't advocate this, Ann, please don't get any ideas...). You'd be deranged in these cases, because one of the strength of our system is its relative independence from who wields the levers of power. But you'd be ‘understandably’ evil. Comprehensibly evil. But to kill the guy who runs the Quick Mart where Dennis stops and gets his Slim-Jims, in order to frighten or intimidate Hastert moves the evil to a whole new category. The grocer’s life becomes meaningless, you make him into a pawn, devalue him as a moral agent, and in so doing, devalue yourself morally.He buys into the notion of terrorism as an extension of warfare by irregular means. I don't. But there's a deeper blindness in his piece which keeps me from stepping back from my current positions; a simple argument which he misses and which is central to my view. Here's the rub. As I've noted in the past, I personally believe that terrorism will be here for as long as we're struggling with 'Bad Philosophy'. We will continue to see essentially random acts ranging from 'mucking' to Murrah. But the scale and threat posed by that level of terrorism will be relatively low, and the actors will be highly vulnerable to traditional police work (as were the recently-arrested Texas terrorists), unless they are backed by something that controls resources on the scale of a small state or large multinational corporation. I can get five friends together and blow up a bridge (and I have just the friends to do it, too...). But to do something at the kind of scale that 9/11 represented takes more than the willingness to die for my cause. Hezbollah can supply the bodies, but it is the cash supplied by that Iranians, Saudis, and (formerly) Iraqis that pays for the staff and infrastructure to educate children in the ways of hate and feed them until they become murderous adults. It is national governments that allow terrorist organizations to build camps to house and train their recruits, and provide the stable living conditions that allow the leadership the time and space to plan and organize. The kind of terrorism that we need to be worried about is a binary agent. It requires both the kind of human actors that can be found or created in many places, but to make their actions something other than self destructive paroxysms of rage, it takes tacticians, resources, training, and weapons that need to be provided at a larger - national - scale. And that's the fear of what a nuclear-armed Iraq or North Korea might do. Not that they would use the weapons directly - because, after all, if they do they're done for. But that they may find ways to place the weapons in the hands of those who could use them in ways that they might deny. Using his model of the 'War on Drugs' is informative; as long as there are states which are essentially captive to narcotics cartels - say, Panama - it is impossible to stop the flow of drugs. As long as there are states which use terrorist armies as proxies, we will not be safe. The answer is, I believe to simultaneously do three things: 1) work to dry up state support for terrorism as aggressively as we can; 2) improve our ability to detect and respond to terrorist activities internally; 3) fight 'Bad Philosophy'. This is one that's going to take some doing...
"Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen." "If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?"
"The other day I went to a tourist information booth and asked, "Tell me about some of the people who were here last year." "Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect." "When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep OK?' I said, 'No, I made a few mistakes.'" "I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose." "I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house... and four people died." "If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?" "Why isn't the word, 'phonetically' spelled with an ' f '?" "When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, "Well, what do you need?"Welcome to Winds of Change.NET, where we're always looking on the bright side of life... with sunglasses on. If you've heard a really good joke, email us. We'll run the ones we really like as Guest Blogs with full credit.
"I had no realistic hope of a truly visionary plan that would make use of the engine of private enterprise, nor was I surprised. I had a number of concerns that this plan would or could cripple private space efforts, and I am pleased (and a bit surprised) that it did not do so from the start. All in all, I like this plan because while it breaks no new ground, it does not appear to place limits on non-governmental possibilities. I can live with a tired re-hash of the past, provided that it does not prevent others from creating a brighter future. "
"The boys were living hard," said Lt. Col. William Buck James, battalion commander. "It rained about every three days. It was cold and it was muddy. They didn't quit and didn't complain, and kept up constant pressure. One of the sources who came up and started giving us targets, she called us ghosts. She said, 'We never know where you are coming from - you are everywhere and you are nowhere. You come and go as you please.' "In my mind, that was exactly what I wanted to do."That's a good approach in counterinsurgency situations, and the Seattle Times' articles covering Bravo Company's travails (14th Engineering Battalion) and Capt. Jim Riley's efforts in Ad Dujayl offer more useful portraits of counterinsurgency work. UPDATE: The Seattle Times also has more information about the Stryker Brigade itself, but your best ongoing source is probably the Stryker Brigade News blog.
"Perhaps the Arab world failed to realize that when they say “we will destroy you”, we actually take it to heart; after September 11th, we no longer wish to rely on their incompetence before testing the validity of the threat, and we should not relax in our wish to stop that sort of threat. In a world where one threat could very well mean the encroaching doomsday scenario, we should take these as seriously as possible. The Arab and Muslim world, however, do not see it as such. Their view and tactic has always been that these threats were negotiating points, much like haggling at a bazaar. But September 11th changed much of that with this country. Now, if a state says that it means to destroy us, we will take it as an act of war. To Arabs and Muslims in general, that threat was perhaps merely a dream, or an outlet for rage at their own inabilities in the world community to create something more valid in modern times. But they have not moved beyond this, and have utterly failed to grasp the seriousness of our resolve. Whether or not Saddam had these weapons is a futile argument at this point: he is gone, and he could have avoided it by shutting up and playing ball. He gambled on the hot air of the Arab world, and he lost. His words made him the enemy; his posturing; his inability to comprehend that when he said “we will destroy you”, that we would take that message most seriously. Therein is the Arab problem: to make them understand that this is our message. If you speak the words, you better mean them."Well, that would be a fine start, at least. For one thing, it might stem the steady cultivation of hate within their societies, by attaching real costs to fostering or tolerating it. Here's the bottom line: Right now, inculcating hate has the positive value of distracting the population from societal failure. Until the consequences clearly outweigh that benfit to the Muslim world's dictators and theocrats, it will continue. And so will the war. And so will the steady raising of the stakes, as the technology curve continues to drop and the hate continues to spread and harden beyond the capacity of peaceful means to fix. That way lies disaster, for all sides. UPDATE: While Banagor's piece clearly generalizes its key concepts beyond the British Kilroy Silk affair, British blogger and principled leftist Harry Hatchett does have lots of background on that situation if you're interested. From the right, I offer Belmont Club's perspective.
Young Nasreddin had a leaky ferry-boat, and used it to row people across the river. One day his passenger was a fussy schoolteacher, and on the way across he decided to give Nasreddin a test and see how much he knew. "Tell me, Nasreddin, what are eight sixes?" - "I've no idea" replied Nasreddin. "How do you spell magnificence?" - "I don't" replied Nasreddin. "Didn't you study anything at school?" - "No" replied Nasreddin. "In that case, half your life is lost." Just then a fierce storm blew up, and the boat began to sink. "Tell me, schoolteacher," said Nasreddin. "Did you ever learn to swim?" - "No" replied the schoolteacher. "In that case, your whole life is lost."Sufi stories generally have multiple meanings, from the practical to the spiritual. What is this one trying to tell us? Use the Comments link. UPDATE: You have got to read T.L. James comments. Brilliant.
'And some Americans get an awful lot of wood from the idea that we might be living in a time with a total war. I don't even pretend to understand why.'I commented in response:
Can I propose a corollary to Godwin's Law?? All discussions of geopolitics are ultimately reduced to psychosexual accusations about those who may in any way support war.I'll suggest that we can call it 'Kimmet's Law,' and note that fruitful discussion about issues of war pretty much ends about at that point. I'd also suggest that Kimmitt and friends may want to make their points about the psychosexual defects of those who believe that force has it's uses to a Tutsi or Bosnian Muslim. I'm sure the Dutch soldiers in Srebenca were concerned that they might appear overly butch as the Serbs came down the road, and that a careful explanation to the Hutu mobs or Serbian patramilitaries that their actions really came from a feeling of sexual inadequancy would have done the job in turning them back.
None of this is to say that these issues from previous progressive eras are dead. They aren't: healthcare, for example, is likely to be a significant issue in the coming decade. At the same time, however, they aren't likely to be the enormous drivers of social change that they have been in the past. But if the big issue of the next progressive era isn't labor, the social safety net, or individual rights, what will it be? Today, in hindsight, we can see Truman's integration of the armed forces and Jackie Robinson's debut with the Dodgers as the first faint stirrings of the great civil rights crusade that drove the 60s, but nobody in 1950 could have predicted that. Likewise, there is probably something simmering below the surface today that will drive the next big progressive era. But what?Exactly - what is the principle around which the left side of the house will coalesce? Hmmm...
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 - The Bush administration on Wednesday reasserted its broad authority to declare American citizens to be enemy combatants, and it suggested that the Supreme Court consider two prominent cases at the same time.Maybe someone smarter than I can explain to me what wouldn't work with existing laws on treason.
We cannot change other societies and cultures on our own. But we also can't just do nothing in the face of this mounting threat. What we can do is partner with the forces of moderation within these societies to help them fight the war of ideas. Because ultimately this is a struggle within the Arab-Muslim world, and we have to help our allies there, just as we did in World Wars I and II. This column is the first in a five-part series on how we can do that.If you've read my stuff at all, you'll know that I'm looking for this answer. I sometimes feel like I'm clutching at straws in doing so, but I'll deal with that. I'd keep the military warmed up while we looked, tho.
the imbalance in political power between the super-rich and the rest of us might become colossal. Of course, campaign finance reform might conceivably land Soros in jail, but the point still holds: if the super-rich become rich enough, they'll become laws unto themselves. And if that happens, it doesn't matter that the rest of us are getting richer, too.I'll agree, suggest that we're already seeing that to a great extent, and further, that what we're already seeing is having serious negative consequences on civil society. I've defended redistribution in the past
There is a critical level of diffusion of power that has made the American model work. Not too diffuse, for there we get the demos, and ultimately the mob; and not too concentrated, for there we begin to stratify as those with privilege erect barriers to make sure that they can keep it. My biggest concern is that we are near a tipping point where that delicate balance will be at risk. I, and others like me, want to shove the pendulum back the other way.Glenn thinks that the tipping point is in the far future. I don't; I think that the kind of isolation and stratification that we're talking about is here, now, and that the values of those who would toss out equality as a social good and replace it entirely with a reified hierarchy of power and wealth frighten me.
...I'll also suggest that there is also an even more significant distinction between a society that holds equality - any kind of equality - as a foundational belief, and one that does not. I used Dickens' England as an example of a class-driven society; one in which the accepted reality of inequality - in every form, political, legal, economic, and moral - is itself one of the organizing principles of the society. I could have used Elizabeth's England, or the Persia of Cyrus, but there are more people that know Dickens - and the point is more clearly made by a society closer to us - than either of those. Those are fundamentally different kinds of societies than those that hold equality as a value, regardless of what kind of equality is being discussed, and that difference ought to be obvious. If it isn't, imagine for a moment a Persian artisan making an appeal to Cyrus or Darius based on their common humanity, and on some body of common rights. Having trouble?? No kidding... The notion that people are equal in any way, and that societies should be organized on that principle was a revolutionary one, and one that we sadly take for granted. We shouldn't.
At other times, when Jeff bravely stood by Jewish kids in France by stating how he would wear a kippah if it would only help them in their struggles against French anti-semitism, I tried to help Jeff understand how anti-semitism does exist in our own country, and encouraged him to wear a kippah to help our children. Again, to my dismay, Jeff did not respond to this invitation. I know that within Jeff is a liberal heart, and a considerate man, and I only ask again for Jeff to make use of his pulpit to explore his own ideas and theories.I try and help my seven year old understand how to do division. I try and help him understand adverbs. When I am talking to my older sons, we discuss things and I express my opinions and make arguments with the intent of convincing them, because I believe they are individual actors with moral and intellectual standing comparable to my own. That may be a subtle difference to some, but to me it is as clear as a summer's day. Willis - whose blog has the tagline 'Like Kryptonite to Stupid' takes the intellectually sophisticated tack that liberal interests are served by the following:
I call these two guys on their liberalism because I am very aware of the straw man of liberalism that gets an enormous amount of play in the media and blog world. I don't expect people to toe the line with the Democratic Party, because I myself disagree with the DNC on quite a lot of issues. In their two cases, I find very little straying from the GOP line on any issue of merit. Even more so, I find that they both take every chance to bash liberals at the first blush - while giving the right a pass on practically everything. In contrast, I find folks like Alex Knapp and John Cole who are certainly more amenable to Team Bush even more critical of their "team" than Jarvis/Totten. I don't know either of them much in real life (although my brief meeting with Jeff tells me that he's wicked tall) so I look at their blogs and wonder how someone so orthodoxly in favor of the right can be considered a liberal. For Christ's sake, even the WSJ editorial page disagrees with the Bushes every 1,000 years! I look at the evidence, and call it as I see it.Help me out here, Oliver - why does 'calling someone out on their liberalism' do anything at all to advance liberal causes? As opposed to, say burnishing your own self-image? I mean you're not even taking issue with any specific thing that they say, except 'Why do you pick on the liberals?' And, sadly, the basis is right there - in his explanation that Alex Knapp and John Cole are 'more critical' of the Right than Jarvis or Totten. Because, you doofus, Totten, and Jarvis, and I all care about liberal causes - real liberal causes like improving the lives of the less-well off, defending the environment in ways that actually accomplish something, and working to create a world politics that neither empowers the multinationals nor the kleptocrats. These values have been hijacked by the Bad Philosophers and the Nannies. This means that a) they are going to lose a lot of political power; and b) where they get political power, they will imitate the California State Legislature and do and spend lots while accomplishing very little. I said it a long time ago, and I've never understood why people just won't accept it:
"...I’ll comment that while my posts are pretty critical of the DNC establishment, they are critical with an eye toward creating an unassailable Democratic hegemony...so watch out!!"We've been here before, of course. Remember POUM? And go read Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" to get a sense of what I'm talking about.
One moment that had seemed to symbolize the supreme confidence of the Bush people during this remarkable chain of events. It came in mid-August of 1991, when some Russian right-wingers mounted a coup against Gorbachev and Bush held firm, first trying to support Gorbachev and, unable to reach him, then using his influence to help the embattled Boris Yeltsin. The coup had failed. A few days later, Gorbachev, restored to power in part because of the leverage of Washington, had resigned from the Communist Party. To the Bush people, that attempted coup had been a reminder that with the Cold War officially ended or not, the Berlin Wall up or down, the world was still a dangerous place, which meant the country would surely need and want an experienced leader, preferably a Republican, at the helm. Aboard Air Force One at that time, flying with his father from Washington back to the Bush family's vacation home in Maine, was George W. Bush, the president's son. he was just coming of age as a political operative in his own right, and he was euphoric about the meaning of these latest events. "Do you think the American people are going to turn to a Democrat now?" he asked. ... [Journalist Roy] Gutman's interview with Seselj left him with no doubt about Serb intentions. He filed his story on Seselj but felt that what he'd written was somehow hopelessly inadequate. The calm, understated nature of professional journalism had not been equal to the sheer horror of the deed and the threat. Something sinister was beginning to happen, with no restraints to limit the brutality. ... Watching the intense byplay between those two [Albright and Cohen], Berger thought that one of the differences between Cohen and the activists in the administration like Albright, Clark, and Holbrooke, who was making occasional appearances at the principal's meetings, was that Cohen had not experienced the terrible human wrenching of Balkans One, in which they had stumbled, failed, and agonized over three years before finally patching together a policy that worked. None of the more senior principals ever wanted to go through that again.Do read the book.
"While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression."It seems to me that this could be the motto we apply to many of our more militant interactions abroad.
The unnamed man was in hospital for a heart-by-pass operation. But surgeons had to take out part of a large vein in his leg to replace a section of blocked artery in his chest. When they sewed up the leg wound, they removed the first two letters of the word "women", the Daily Mirror says. The patient says he has been left too embarassed to wear shorts in public. Leeds General Infirmary, where the operation was carried out, said: "Part of the tattoo was accidentally erased." The British Medical Journal later printed a picture of the tattoo, warning doctors to be careful when sewing up tattooed skin.
When I pointed out to Dean that he was depending heavily on continued failure in Iraq, he said, ''I'm not betting on it, and I'm hoping against it, but there's no indication that I should be expecting anything else.'' What neither of us knew at the time was that Saddam Hussein was already in custody, having been seized about eight hours earlier. The following day, when Hussein's capture was announced, there were endless TV images of Iraqis dancing with relief and joy, and even the most intractable foreign capitals issued gracious congratulations. There was no way of knowing whether Hussein's apprehension might prove as transitory a success as the toppling of his statue, but suddenly the antiwar position seemed like a less marketable commodity than it had the day before. And the fear of some senior Democrats -- and a considerable number of freshly polled voters -- that the party hadn't disposed of the old antiwar bogy, but rather raised it once again, appeared all too well founded.and then lets Dean set out his strategy for confronting Bush:
Toward the end of our conversation, Dean said to me: ''The line of attack is not Iraq, though there'll be some of that. The line of attack will be more, 'What have you done to make us feel safer?' I'm going to outflank him to the right on homeland security, on weapons of mass destruction and on the Saudis,'' whom Dean promises to publicly flay as a major source of terrorism. ''Our model is to get around the president's right, as John Kennedy did to Nixon.''which is a most interesting strategy. I'll suggest that Dean and I may well agree on homeland security, but probably differ on WMD and the Saudis. I think that a defense strategy based solely on containing WMD and pre-WMD artifacts is a bad, brittle strategy; that the technology is - as all technologies do - moving down the learning curve, and that effective embargoes amount to putting reassembling shattered bottles and hoping the genie will climb back in. Clearly we need to do the easy things - buy up and secure the Soviet warheads, track the large-scale industrial complexes where components and weapons will be built. But as long as there are people who want to use them, we have to assume they eventually will get them, and so in parallel we need to reduce the number of people who want them. Here his argument about the Saudis makes sense. But I'll disagree with his priority. It is clear that Saudi money and influence are a big part of what we face in Islamist terror, and worse, permeate Washington, in both parties, at high levels. And we can only assume that Europe is similarly disposed. But I don't even think that is the major obstacle to directly confronting the Saudis. It is simply that direct confrontation will lead to their collapse - and that our logical response - occupation - will provoke the Muslim-wide war I mean to avoid if possible. Here is a case where gentle pressure, patience and finesse - combined with some serious housecleaning on our part - seem like the logical paths. Which is a polite way of saying that in a year, the horse may learn to sing. Traub puts the debate into historic perspective.
The Vietnam War spelled the end of cold-war liberalism. Jackson sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1972 but lost to George McGovern, the leader of the peace wing, who had opposed almost all the weapons systems that Jackson supported. The battle inside the party continued with the election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter, who divided his foreign-policy team between the dovish Vance and the hawkish Brzezinski; the contest reached its theatrical climax when Carter nominated Paul Warnke, a former McGovern adviser, as chief negotiator on the 1979 SALT II arms talks. Warnke had stated that he would be willing to make unilateral cuts to the American nuclear arsenal. Jackson, who opposed the negotiations altogether, used Senate hearings to depict the nominee as an enemy of military prepared-ness. He brought in witnesses from the Committee on the Present Danger, an assemblage of Democratic hawks, many of whom would soon be known as ''neoconservatives.''The Democratic Party lost these hawks, and was soon moved to the sidelines on issues of security.
It remains a matter of debate whether Reagan did, in fact, spend the Soviets into the ground [A.L. note - hey, I said he was partisan...]. Nevertheless, the cold war ended on the Republicans' watch, and so Reagan's unyielding stance was given much of the credit for bringing it to a close. And while the G.O.P. emerged from that era as the party of resolution, the Democrats emerged as the party of fecklessness -- a status brought home in the most mortifying possible manner when Michael Dukakis, their nominee in 1988, posed in a tank wearing a tanker's helmet and was compared to Rocky the Flying Squirrel.The collapse of the USSR left us as the world's hyperpower, and gave us the luxury - as Halberstram describes Clinton - of being disinterested in foreign policy. It became a secondary arena for policymakers, and a place where a kind of cross-party, nonideological consensus could emerge.
There are two very large inferences that can be drawn from comments like these and, more broadly, from the current debate over national security issues in policy institutes, academia and professional journals. One is that the Bush administration stands very, very far from the foreign-policy mainstream: liberal Democrats, conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans have more in common with one another than any of them have with the Bush administration. The other conclusion is that the administration's claim that 9/11 represents such a decisive break with the past that many of the old principles no longer apply is right -- but the new principles need not be the ones the administration has advanced. A different administration could have adapted to 9/11 in a very different way. And this is why national security should be, at least potentially, such a rich target of opportunity for a Democratic candidate.The fact that the Bush policy violates so many of the 'institutional' norms ought to make him vulnerable to charges of recklessness. But...
The terrorist attacks made the moral quandaries of the 90's look like luxuries and restored the old party stereotypes with a vengeance. By the time of the 2002 midterm elections, the Republicans enjoyed an astounding 40-point advantage on the question of which party was best at ''keeping America strong''; the election was understood as a referendum on national security policy, and the G.O.P. swept the board.The Democrats are, intelligently, trying to reformulate a response. Dean has one, as does Clark. But Clark's positions are surprising, and raise questions about whether he will be able to directly confront Bush on issues of military policy.
And yet here was the former Supreme Allied Commander positioning himself slightly to Howard Dean's left. Indeed, the central paradox of Clark's campaign, which in recent months has neither gained nor lost much altitude, and remains fixed in a flight path well below Dean's, is that a candidate whose chief virtue was his credibility on national security issues has proved to be such a peacenik. People around Clark disagree as to the source of his surprising politics. One figure who has given Clark substantial advice says that Clark has moved left owing to the ''political dynamic'' fostered by Dean. Clark himself says that he's just angry at the commander in chief's failure to take responsibility. When Clark and I spoke in November, I said that those of us in the audience at the conference assumed that he believed the Bush administration could have and should have stopped the terrorist attacks -- a terrible charge, almost a calumny. No, he said; he meant that the administration had refused to conduct ''an after-action review,'' as he would have done. Of course, if that's what he meant, he could have said so. It seemed, rather, that he had decided to mine the vein that Dean had worked so effectively.And having done so, will then be presented with the dilemma of selling those views to a general electoral base far less willing to be 'weak and right' than 'strong and wrong'. Clark also has very specific criticisms:
When I asked Clark how he would have behaved differently from Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 -- we were sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport beside his campaign plane -- he said, ''You could have gone to the United Nations, and you could have asked for an international criminal tribunal on Osama bin Laden,'' thus formally declaring bin Laden a war criminal. ''You could then have gone to NATO and said: 'O.K., we want NATO for this phase. We want you to handle not only military, we want you to handle cutting of fund flow, we want you to handle harmonizing laws.''' NATO had, in fact, declared the terrorist attack a breach of the common defense pact, but the Bush administration had brushed it aside. Clark said that he would have made Afghanistan a Kosovo-style war.and
Clark argues that the very consensus war-fighting strategy that produces terribly inefficient wars also greatly increases the likelihood of a successful postwar outcome -- which is what the whole effort is supposed to be about. ''It's not where you bomb and what building you blow up that determines the outcome of the war,'' Clark said to me. ''That's what we teach majors in the Air Force to do -- make sure you hit the target. It's the overarching diplomacy, the leverage you bring to bear, what happens afterward on the ground, that gives you your success. And for that you need nations working together.'' That, in a nutshell, is the Wesley Clark alternative paradigm of national security.He's right in the sense that international consensus, once reached, is a powerful tool for managing the political aftermath of war. But discussing it and doing it are very different things.
Clark understands the lessons of the post-cold-war world as no other candidate does. But the post-cold-war world has already been superseded, at least from the American point of view, by something quite different -- the post-9/11 world. Clark argues persuasively that the NATO ''consensus engine'' forces member governments to ''buy into'' joint decisions. But what if the French or Germans don't want to buy into Iraq or, say, to a tough posture should Iran start violating critical nuclear safeguards? A key aspect of the neoconservative argument on terrorism, most associated with the analyst Robert Kagan, is that Europeans do not feel threatened by terrorism in the same way, or to the same degree, as Americans do; consensus-dependent institutions like NATO or the Security Council are thus likely to fail us in the clutch. Clark's answer is that if we take the concerns of our allies seriously, they will rally to our side. But they may not; Frenchmen may consider the United States, even under a benign President Clark, a greater threat to world peace than Iraq. It may be that in his years with NATO, Clark so thoroughly absorbed the European perspective that he has trouble recognizing how very deeply, and differently, Americans were affected by 9/11.This isn't to suggest that Clark - or any of the Democrats - are without a grounded, coherent perspective in which to place their policies.
In an article last spring in World Policy Journal, Dana H. Allin, Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O'Hanlon, foreign-policy thinkers from the conservative side of the Democratic spectrum, proposed a doctrine of ''nationalist liberalism,'' which would ''consciously accept the critical importance of power, including military power, in promoting American security, interests and values,'' as the neoconservatives had in the 1970's. But the doctrine would also recognize that America's great power ''will create resistance and resentment if it is exercised arrogantly and unilaterally, making it harder for the United States to achieve its goals.'' The authors laid out a ''generous and compelling vision of global society,'' which would include ''humanitarian intervention against genocidal violence; family planning; effective cooperation against global warming and other environmental scourges''; foreign aid; free trade; and large investments to combat AIDS. All the major Democratic candidates could be considered nationalist liberals. And it's no surprise: since this is more or less the consensual view of the foreign-policy establishment, practically everybody the candidates have been consulting takes this view. With the very important exception of Iraq, the major candidates hold essentially the same views. Hawkishness or dovishness on Iraq thus does not correlate with some larger difference in worldview, as, for example, the left and right views on Vietnam once did.What is suggested is something which seems to combine the aggressive military effort of Bush with the humanitarian - and more importantly, the internationalist from an economic, environmental, and postentially political base. I see a number of issues with this approach, and will touch on several immediately. The first is that I think it unlikely that the world community - which had a stated interest in restraining US power before Iraq - is going to accede to the unfettered use of US military forces as long as we sign Kyoto, offer cheap AIDS drugs, accept the ICC, and agree to spearhead militarily intervention to limit genocide. I don't think that one buys us the other. Domestically, I see a hard time forging a consensus for the kind of sacrifice that would take - a military large enough to both act on our behalf, and do the world's bidding at the same time that we harness our economy to benefit the world's (stipulating for the moment that those actions would in fact benefit the world economy, which is a legitimate subject for debate). All of this is an airy academic discussion unless the Democrats can either sideline defense as a subject for this election, or demostrate that their warm goodwill for foreign governments can be handcuffed to a ruthless willingness to defend US lives and interests.
Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has a nightmare in which Dean wins the nomination, conditions in Iraq improve modestly and in the course of a debate, President Bush says: ''Go to Iraq and see the mass graves. Have you been, Governor Dean?'' In this nightmare, Bush has been, and Dean hasn't. ''Saddam killed 300,000 people. He gassed many of these people. You mean I should have thought there were no chemical weapons in the hands of a guy who impeded our inspectors for 12 years and gassed his own people and the Iranians?'' O'Hanlon glumly says that he has resigned himself to the thought that ''the Democratic base is probably going to lose the Democrats the election in 2004.'' Strong and wrong beats weak and right -- that's the bugbear the Democrats have to contend with. George McGovern may have had it right in 1972, but he won Massachusetts, and Richard Nixon won the other 49 states. McGovern recently said that he is a big fan of Howard Dean, whose campaign reminds him very much of his own. Dean may want to ask him to hold off on the endorsement.No kidding. I'm wrestling with the issue of internationalism a lot these days. My core issues, simply, are that I believe that the EU elites are far more corrupt and self-serving than our own - and I distrust ours. I think that the UN has squandered it's legitimacy as it dignifies murderous kleptocrats with votes matching those of countries with legitimately chosen (or at least imposed over a long term) governments which have some legitimacy beyond the barrel of a secret policeman's gun. This is all great food for thought; sorry to have quoted so extensively, but please go read the whole article and draw your own conclusions.
A would-be seeker asked a Sufi: "How long will it take me to arrive at true understanding?" -- "As soon as you get to the stage where you do not ask how long it will take."
Gary Farber of Amygdala needs a break - no, he really needs a break.
He's so far down that he's looking up to tie his shoes.
Take a look, and if someone can help him out, do it! Here's his PayPal button.
Note that this isn't an endorsement of his blog or positions - I asked people to help Arthur Silber a while back, and I'm about to light up his ridiculous latest like a pinanta...but agree or disagree, Gary is definitely one of the good guys. Let's keep the lights on.
(JK says: Originally posted Dec. 31, 2003 - but see quality blog posts like this one about affairs inside the Saudi kingdom... please help him if you can)
"We believe we're still in combat," said Carpenter, 24, a lanky suntanned man from Jackson, Mich., one of about 600 soldiers in the Army's 181st Transportation Battalion. He and other truckers at this sprawling logistical base north of Baghdad are the lifeline for 130,000 U.S. troops flung across this California-sized country. Despite the attacks, they operate supply lines stretching over 800 miles, hauling food for 475,000 meals per day, as well as a million gallons each of fuel and water. "It's something we're proud of. We're the Road Warriors. We're based on Mad Max," said the 181st's Maj. Robert Curran, 38, of Manchester, Mass. "And we're starting to look the part."Here's where to find the whole story on Yahoo - if that fails, use the Freep link above instead. UPDATES: * Wince and Nod have more on this subject, thanks to a couple of Jefferson City, Missouri businesses. * They're not alone, either. Working with a growing team of Iraqi engineers, Reservist Capt. Darryl M. Butler of the 1st Armored Division has created a kit that turns Hummers into "Butler Mobiles." * Reader Gigi points out that some Alabama residents are also getting into the act. Note the lack of official approval from the Pentagon. Note the refusal to let that stop the locals. One more example of why the Western Way of War is so effective.