Category Archives: Politics

Deenver: An Evaluation

Brian Appleyard’s take midway through the convention (early Wednesday) is amusing and not a little ironic.  The Democrats are squandering their natural advantages in that the media loves that narrative and will continue to run it at every opportunity.

I think this is the story of the Democratic convention: Buchanan’s assessment of Obama’s acceptance speech.  I found it very moving.

If you want to see any of the speeches from the Democratic convention then get it from the DNC—it is in a different class from any other internet video I have seen—the first high fidelity media I have ever seen on the internet.  The whole production is very, very classy.

Fukuyama and Kagan

Blogging heads.tv have a fascinating discussion between Francis Fukuyama and Robert Kagan providing as good a critique of the neoconservative project as you will see.  Robert Kagan is probably one of the smartest neo-cons since Fukuyama departed over the Iraq war but Fukuyama is quietly brilliant and in a different league.  It just leaves my shaking my head in disbelief that someone of this calibre got sucked up in the neoconservative project.  Kagan make sone very revealing comment about the way that good historians will trace the origin of the recent American hubris not to the start of the Bush administration but to ’90s and the Clinton administration (and the first Bush administration).  He is quite right of course, even if the neocons took it to pathological extremes.

Jeff and Gershom on Obama

Two of my favourite bloggers—Commander Huber of The Pen and Sword and Gershom Gorenberg of South Jerusalem—have written similar and different articles on Obama’s foreign policy.  The commander analyses the ducking and diving in Obama’s Iran policy from the perspective of the Pentagon while Gorenberg takes the foggy bottom angle of his Israel policy.  They agree on the difficulties he faces (you have to work with the political context you have rather than the the one you would like) and that while some of his tactical manoeuvres may have caused some dismay, it is quite possible (so they argue) to pick out a coherent strategy.  Needless to say we will need more data, but that reading seems defensible to me, and is consistent with his record, such as it is.

I am most curious to know whether Gershom Gorenberg agrees with Comander Huber’s analysis.

Iran again

I have added the following comment on Yglesias’s solution-in-search-of-a-problem article, Exciting New Reasons to Bomb Iran.  As I am in the middle of a blogging drought I thought I would repost it here.

Matt, as often you are so right about this.

As Scott Ritter points out the Iranians have switched from talking down the US/Israeli sabre rattling as bluster to responding in kind and they are doing this to give Mullen and the realists the ammo to argue that there is no way the fallout for an attack on Iran can be restricted without much more serious preparations than those that have already been made and, of course, those preparations can’t be made before January.

Cheney and the neocons have been desperate since 2005 to bring about regime change and they figure that whatever the outside chances bombing is their last best shot. They don’t care about the risks to the Middle East and the American/world economy: that kind of pain will be felt by poor people and foreign suckers.

However the neocons need a plausible rationale to sell to the rest of us. As Matt says they have a solution in search of a problem.

Iran Insanity Update

I read an account by a member of the paratroop regiment serving in the Falklands conflict.  After the surrender of the Argentine forces some bored members of the regiment were play a game of cricket, with hand grenades and some improvised bat.  The batter would have to hit the grenades into the sea where they could safely explode.

This reminds me of the games that we are playing at the moment with Iran.  Maybe we are all bored and in need of some entertainment–not able to get the kick out of destroying other people’s countries we need to make the game a little more exciting.  Let us hope that we keep on hitting the grenades into the sea.

Many with a good knowledge of what is going on, and a good track record in finding things out, are saying that we are nat making any sense.  Nothing has changed since the Iraq fiasco.  But when the fireworks start this time we are all going to get seriously hurt.  Before we started destroying the Iraqi people and their country they were an industrialized country with cities, hospitals, schools, power grids, water treatment and so on.  We systematically wrecked that so it makes a good study of what could happen in the industrial world if we pull down all those systems.  They, and our economies, are all dependent on oil.

This is why the Iranians have no need for a strategic nuclear deterrent.  They just need control a single narrow shipping lane.  They have always been clear about this, and they have had plenty of time to prepare.

Nothing that we are doing makes any sense at all.  We accuse them of undermining the nuclear weapons proliferation agreements, but it is us that are destroying these agreements.  We accuse them of destabilising the middles east but it is us that are doing so.  We accuse them of supporting terrorism and yet we hear that the Bush administration has asked for $400m from Congress to terrorize Iran and Congress are playing along and considering authorizing a naval blockade of Iran.  And we continue to terrorize and kill people in the region in quite high numbers, far, far higher numbers than the paramilitary groups that we obsess over.

We are nuts.  I don’t know how it is going to play out and it is not worth losing sleep over.  Worrying is a mug’s game.  All I can do is call it as I see it.

For those that are interested, Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter have interviews (Hersh, Ritter) and articles (Hersh, Ritter) spelling out what is going on.  Gordon Prather’s articles on nuclear weapons proliferation are excellent, as are Gareth Porter’s on the wider issues.

The Best Take on Clarkgate

Bryan Appleyard’s recent comments on the importance of literary tone came to mind reading Gail Collin’s article in the NYT today.  I have been reading Collins on and off for a while and not really getting it, until today.  She is writing on the brouha over Clark’s ‘swiftboating’ of McCain and deftly puts it into perspective while also dealing with the McCain campaign package and the way military service has played out in presidential election campaigns.  Obama being the skillful operator has no intention of impaling his candidacy on the issue, knowing that if the past is any guide it won’t do McCain any good—indeed it may be a lethal distraction for the McCain campaign.  They would do better to find something of substance—anything—that is going to appeal to the voters.

This column is really very good.

Clarke’s Statement

John Cole makes a good point; it is not as if you need to trawl through hours of debate to reconstruct the context.

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn’t had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.

That sure is a mean and vicious swiftboating.

Continue reading