I would just like to thank you for using my photo to show people that the U.S. military is doing good things here in Afghanistan.I just sent a short e-mail in reply because that wasn't an appropriate platform for pontifaction. That's what I have this blog for.
I was particularly struck by the picture because it so clearly shows what differentiates the American hegemony from those that preceeded it in history. Our troops don't fight for the sake of glory or loot or death, but for what we see in the picture. Of course, not every American soldier is a paladin, a paragon of selfless honor. But overall, and in contrast to previous world powers, the military and the citizenry are glad to see this as the end result of our military operation. First and foremost we want security for ourselves. But we as a nation do not begrudge this kind of help and comfort to others, even the citizens of a formerly enemy nation. For it is not the wealth of other nations or control of their people we seek, but safety for ourselves. And those farther sighted among know that grace in victory and a helping hand in peace builds security for us. Because of this the war part of the conquest of Iraq will be fast and easy in contrast to what we must do to truly deal with the dangers to us from that region. And it will be actions just like that in the picture that will play a key role in that effort.
Yes, this hasn't always been true. But it has been since at least WWII and probably since WWI.
An American "conquest" (as Steven [Den Beste] calls it) debases the very values on which this country stands for, and if executed - stains us all in its power lust.But then aren't we already stained from our conquest of Germany and Japan 50 years ago? To say that conquest in and of itself is morally staining is to be morally obtuse, to claim that there are no sins of omission. Willis also views the US as the antagonist in this relationship. Apparently Saddam's attacks on Iran and Kuwait or his flagrant violations of treaties and agreements and UN Security Council resolutions don't count as "antagonism". Willis also drags out the "US armed Iraq" argument as a point against intervention now. But as many others have said, if it was really our fault (and not the Axis Of Weasel's) don't we owe it to the Iraqi people to do what we can to clean up our mess? I would think that one key American value is "you shoot your own dog".
Critics have labelled the global economy "Robin Hood in reverse" at the World Social Forum"Critics". Is this different than "random whiners"?
"Money is being taken from the poor to be given to the rich," according to Social Watch, a participant at the forum, which noted that the world economy "works like a reverse Robin Hood".Where is that happening? No example is provided, nor even a plausible means by which this would occur. What I see is oppressive rich dictators in third world countries taking money from the poor and the rich countries to line their pockets. Strangely, I don't see many protests about them.
Poverty reduction goals in the world for 2005 will not be met and financial resources transferred from developed countries to poor countries has decreased every year since 1997, according to the group.Ah, so what's happening is the poor aren't receiving enough of the rich's money. That's must be what's meant by "taking".
The six-day forum in this southern Brazilian city is a counterweight to the World Economic Forum, a meeting of the world's top business, financial and political leaders, held currently at a ski resort in Davos, SwitzerlandPerhaps they should spend more on the poor and less on conferences?
The kind of free market economic policies discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos have dashed hopes of full employment or even the chance of holding a dignified job for most workers, according to labor leaders speaking in Brazil.What seems to work better than aid is trade but then you'd have those icky free markets where the poor make their own decisions instead of doing what conference attendees want them to do, like taking low wage jobs instead of starving or eating at McDonalds. And clearly it takes a strong socialist government like Robert Mugabe's to bring dignity to the common laborer, such as farmers, unlike the oppressed farmers in the US.
"In third world countries, workers are not protected and there is a high level of mortality," World Confederation of Labor president Basile Mahan Gahe told AFP.Because most third world countries are ruled by thugs and despots and there is no rule of law like one would have with free markets?
Under the pretext of "deregulation," hopes of full employment are "today further than ever," said Magdalena Leon, Ecuadoran representative of the Latin American Women's Network.Yes, if you deregulate you might get the massive unemployment that plagues the US, unlike the tight labor markets in Europe.
Huh Young Ku, a South Korean labor leader, said that the austere International Monetary Fund program imposed on his country over the past five years has led to a concentration ownership of industry among a few conglomerates.Yes, the chaebol are a recent result of IMF policies. And North Korea is your friend. Instead South Korea should become more socialists and concentrate ownership of industry in a few government appointees. That would be more fair and beneficial to the poor. Just look at the difference between North and South Korea from the North getting rid of free markets and conglomerates.
Labor leaders from South Africa, Brazil, Ecuador, Italy and France were among the participants.There's a set of governments who clearly know how to run an economy ... into the ground.
On the other hand, perhaps Saddam would organize the disaffected Muslim population of France and take over.
Many of the problems we have now with the Middle East are because Bush 41 thought it was enough to beat Saddam's force in the field without achieving real victory. I believe the biggest reason his "victory" didn't stick internally is because it wasn't really one. Saddam was still around, murdering Iraqis who were our allies (the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs) and thumbing his nose at America and the UN. What I hope Bush 43 has learned is that if you send the US to war, kick ass and take names. Leave no doubt whatsoever about who won. Make it clear that after the war, the US will do whatever it wants to the opposing leaders, people and nation, that there is no negotiating or weaseling. This is particularly important to do to dishonorable enemies. Honorable enemies can be treated more leniently.
The final victory in WWIV will be a long time coming, but it will come faster if we have some very clear smaller victories, like grinding Saddam and his regime into a very fine paste and freeing the Iraqi people.
In a very similary way the failings of the current administration on the domestic security policy front seems to me to have a single source - the unwillingness to confront or change procedure. I think it's clear that our intelligence agencies, both the CIA and the FBI, failed miserably in the lead up to the 11 Sep attacks. I don't see any evidence of change, which would normally seem to be a high priority for an administration at war. Neither the personel nor the structure of these agencies has really been changed. The Homeland Security Department is just the standard bureaocratic response to any problem - make a bigger agency. This seem more "old Europe" than modern America. It's not clear that there would be any political price for confronting these agencies and their directors. In fact, it seems to be politically more expensive not to.
Unfortunately for the Democrats and Hart, it's not politcally feasible for any of them to run to Bush's right on this issue. The problem is that once you start looking at shaking up our intelligence agencies and directors for poor job performance and to enforce accountablity, the voters may start asking why that's not a good idea for other agencies. There's no good for the part of Big Government down that road.
Stop bemoaning the fact that not all will share your wider liberal analysis of the war. Greens, socialists, anarchists etc. have always been the "vanguard" of social change -- the spearheads as it were of positions that people such as yourself can come along and safely adopt when the coast is clear. [...] Accept that no war is the goal, drop your intellectual haughtiness and try to engage with people more.I would say that there is Kelly's original point. The putative goals that liberals have, greater freedom, fairness, justice, equality, all tossed for the goal of "no war". And not even that - really just "no war by the United States". I don't remember any kind of protest like this when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The "engage with people more" is just as bizarre. Yes, those protest signs of "Bush == Hitler" and unfavorable comparisons of US electoral practices against Iraq's, the greetings from the mujahadeen, now that's engaging with people. But the commentator probably believes that those are mainstream positions. That's the kind of insularity that's pushing the death spiral along. Even a major geek like me is better connected with mainstream thought than that.
After returning from talks in Pyongyang, the adviser, Maurice Strong, told reporters that North Korea made it clear to him that the UN Security Council should not take up the issueSounds like an endorsement to me!
But that's not really much different than the boosters claim, is it? What is missing is an appropriate time scale. For a developed nation the Internet can change things on "Internet time" but that's not how things work in other places. Certain habits and traits of mind are required for that (habits and traits that are much more prevalent in the Anglosphere), such as a habit of compromise or free exchange of information and opinions. These aren't acquired by a culture very rapidly. There is also the tendency to overestimate the penetration of the Internet in other countries or the difficulties in connecting. Even for communications and media, the Internet is having a bigger effect on mainstream media in the US than anywhere else. Blogosphere triumphalism aside, I think it's becoming clearly harder for the old gatekeepers to in the US to control or shape the information available to citizens. Again, this hasn't happened overnight nor do I expect the New York Times to suddenly go straight, but the impact is there and will continue to increase.
The Internet is an enabling technology. The biggest effect in terms of national liberation will be that non-liberal, non-connected states will be increasingly unable to interact with the developed / networked world and therefore increasingly poorer (relatively and possibly absolutely), just as even allied militaries are finding it difficult to operate on the same battlefield as American troops. It is the case (as the book points out) that oppressive government doesn't seem so oppressive as long as it's delivering prosperity, in which people are more interested in breaking the Great Firewall of China to find porn than political tracts. When you'll see the Internet make a difference is when such regimes fail to deliver. In Iran, for instance, disatisfaction with the regime is being aided by network technology but the Internet is not the source of the discontent. But the main effect will be the disparate economic results which of themselves can drive a lot of discontent.
The belief in the immanent liberation of mankind via the Internet is standard millenialism (the flip side of conspiracy theories). But that doesn't mean that it won't have a profound, liberating effect over the long term.
The article also claims that if France doesn't join up, then the cost of the war will be much higher for the US. I find this laughable - as has been mentioned recent US military actions have carefully avoiding putting any non-Anglosphere forces on a critical path.
Sadly, I must do a little defense of France. After reading multiple accounts, it's clear that the statement "We [France] believe that today nothing justifies envisaging military action" is clearly with reference to Iraq and the evidence that has been found to date, not in abstract and in general. I find that claim risible but not utter lunacy. It doesn't really matter - if we go in I have no doubt that we'll find evidence of French and German cooperation with Saddam's regime. Their intrasegience will cost them the remains of respect from the US, destroy NATO and potentially break up the EU. The castigation of the blogosphere is rather pale compared to that.
I would also like to note that while anti-US sentiment gets lot of play, pro-US sentiment is underreported. Still, there is a problem that most of the pro-US demonstrators are older, i.e. likely to have experienced the war or have close relatives who did. There appears to be a new generation growing up believing that the North Korean regime isn't their enemy.
There is no legal means of fixing responsibility on consumers, whose individual emissions are very small.Just not true. This could be done in multiple ways, generally through taxes on things which contribute to fossil fuel burning, such as fuel or vehicles. Oh, they mean that there is no way to do so through the court system.
Consumers arguably have little choice in the matter, given that infrastructure and product availability in most of the U.S. makes high use of fossile fuels unavoidable.Not true. Any consumer could find solar power products to reduce fossil fuel consumption (just don't ask how much fossil fuel was used to manufacture these products). Or consumers could car pool, drive less, adjust their thermostats, etc. There's plenty of choice, but that's the problem - it's a choice and can't be court imposed.
Energy producers and other fossil-fuel corporations are in a better position than consumers to internalize the costs of climate change and to implement less damaging technology. The consumer might ultimately have to pay anyway, through higher fossil-fuel prices.I think by "better positioned" the author means "we can sue them". There is also the presupposition of global warming, along with implicit claim that the "costs of climate change" are well enough known and agreed upon to use in corporate budgeting. The author also seems to have the view that these costs will be "internalized" and not passed on to the consumer. And what's this with high fossil fuel prices? Could that be code for "carbon taxes"?
This isn't really all that excerable for an general audience opinion magazine. But what is it doing in a alledgedgly scientific magazine? If I want politically correct drivel, I'll pick up a mainstream magazine.
I wonder if part of the rightward drift is that more and more people are exposed to actual system design. If you, as many young kids do, design a level or mission for a first person action game (such as Unreal Tournament or Red Faction) there's no fudging it. The level fits together or it doesn't. And when you show it to your friends, they can be brutal about the deficiencies. There's a very hard edge of evaulation that can't be finessed, or argued away. On the other hand there is a lot of cooperation, designers sharing techniques and resources. What's different than in the past is that much more objective judgement both by the computer and by peers. And such judgement frequently hinges on small details, such as the distance from one ledge to another or placement of entry points. The lesson is that grand plans for the ultimate "cool" level can be destroyed by poor execution or small mistakes or unintended consequences. And is this not the mode of failure for grand liberal schemes to design society? They seem nice until one gets to the details and starts to ask hard questions about specific mechanisms. It can't be good for the left to have lots of the hoi polloi asking questions like that.
So all in all not as bad a day as the previous ones. For personal interactions, one lady mentioned that part of the problem was that the Israelis hadn't gotten over hating the Nazis and without the Nazis around they hated the Palestinians instead. I pointed out that the local Arab states were unreformed Nazi allies in which Nazi propaganda was widespread, so the Israelis perceiving a continuing Nazi menace was not delusional. She thanked me after the meeting, although I'm not sure for what.
The article, Greenhouse Suits, comes with a subtitle that sets the tone: "Litigation becomes a tool against global warming". This presumes the reality of global warming and that the people litigating understand the problem well enough to successfully work against it and that those efforts are the correct response. The lead paragraph ends with a stronger restatement of this
Rather than treaties and regulations, litigation may soon be the weapon of choice for those concerned about human-induced global warming.For those concerned, the assumption being that anyone who is concerned will of course agree on the appropriate response, which is litigation and restriction of human activity. No one concerned about that would ever favor a technological solution such as orbiting sun shades / power stations. This idea is undermined by the point that resorting to litigation as a "tool" is an indication of failure to achieve one's political goals by politics.
The suit highlighted by the article, where the plaintiffs
charge that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank (ExIm) have provided $32 billion for [...] fossil fuel endeavors. In contrast the agencies provided only $1.3 billion for renewable-energy projects [...]Ignoring that my first response to any mention of problems with the OPIC or ExIm is to say "fine, let's abolish them", it's not clear why this would be a basis for a lawsuit. Despite this lead up, what the lawsuit is actually about is getting OPIC and ExIm to produce "cumulative impact on the climate" statements for all funded projects. The claim is that this is required by the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act. The article then goes on to state some of the hurdles faced by the plaintiffs, the primary one being able to show harm to the plaintiffs from the agencies actions. Why would that be? If the actions of the agencies are really illegal, why would it be necessary to show harm? Are government agencies free to behave illegally as long as no citizen can show harm? There's clearly something left unsaid here.
But we get to the meat of the issue in the penultimate paragraph with a claim from Donald Goldberg of the Center for International Environmental Law: "Goldberg holds that U.S. courts can solve the problem of apportioning blame". Ah, the U.S. courts. Is this because only U.S. companies are evil entities bent on warming the globe? Or because only U.S. companies should bear the burden? Why is someone from an organization for "International Law" claiming that the solution to a global problem is using U.S. courts to rule on U.S. law against U.S. companies? A cynical person might view this as more motivated by punishing the U.S. than solving the problem.
A recent UN study has focused new attention on the destruction of southern Iraq's vast marshlands at the heart of the Fertile Crescent. The study calls the loss of the wetlands an ecological catastrophe comparable to the deforestation of the Amazon and the shrinking of the Aral Sea. The drainage of the marshlands is part of a deliberate policy by Baghdad since 1991Why isn't this considered big news by say, the Greens in Germany who are so opposed to overthrowing the Saddam regime? Or by any of the ecologically correct protestors who were out on the streets today? What of the multiculturalists - the draining of the swamps is eradicating both a people and a way of life. Of course, Saddam has spent huge amount of money and effort to wreak this havoc in preference to feeding the Iraqi people but hey, sacrifices have to be made. Saddam would have been easily able to afford this if it weren't for those darn sanctions.
This is actually worse than "no war for oil" because at least that one, while delusional, is consistent with the general policies of those making it. And certainly an oppressive government that murders its citizens has never been against the principles of the Left. Yet there they are, promoting conservation to avoid having to "fight for oil" while actively supporting someone who's draining the largest wetlands in the Middle East and killing tens of thousands of people in the process. The final ironic touch is that the draining has allowed Iraq to do more drilling for oil in the area.
P.S. Hey, isn't that kind of ecological damage against international law?
Update: Damian Penny beat me to this. Interesting that this story, buried so long, is now percolating out as my original source is different than Mr. Penny's.
the number of these people does not exceed 500 at the maximum and so they are next to nil compared to the vast majority of the Palestinian people who support the [suicide bombing] operationsJust a bit later in the same article we have
Responding to a question about the intention of Sharon’s government to deport the families of the Palestinian suicide bombers outside the Palestinian lands or to Gaza Strip, Rantisi said, “these people do not believe in law. Their law is the law of jungle, terrorism and killing"I see. So supporting suicide bombings, killing children in front of their parents and working on chemical weapons is completely different from deporting people who do these kind of things.
Rantisi also claims that with respect to Egypt, the country we pay billions of dollars a year to help bring peace to the Middle East, “There have been no pressures by our brothers in Egypt". Rantisi also denied any pressure from Syria as well, but that's to be expected. We also have the following two statements:
Rantisi denied as “baseless” the accusations that his movement has been blackmailing Fatah through exploiting the issue of suicide operations inside Israel in order to achieve political gains from the dialogue between the two factionsand
“The phrase ‘halt of martyrdom operations’ is not a relevant title for the dialogue [between PA and Hamas],” said Rantisi reiterating that Hamas wants the title to be ‘what is good for the Palestinian interests.” He added, “halting the [suicide bombing] operations will minimize the importance of the dialogue.”Is it just me, or does it follow that if the suicide bombing operations serve to make the dialogue with the PA important, that's using those operations to achieve political gains in the dialogues? Wouldn't it be better to at least put those sorts of contradictions in different interviews? But I suspect that Rantisi and his cohorts don't see any contradition there.
Someone from the Fourth Freedom Foundation went on about how "they" wanted the inspection results to be ambiguous, that "they" didn't want actual violations to be found. Just who "they" were wasn't specified. I presume that the speaker was referring to the Bush Administration but perhaps he meant the UN inspectors or Big Oil. Bad speaking or bad editing or both. But that didn't really matter, as another speaker worked on moving the bar. Even actual chemical warheads or a factory producing chemical weapon precursors wouldn't be sufficient now. What would be wasn't stated. Of course, the NPR announcer kept using the phrasing "the most recent UN resolutions" when talking about compliance by Iraq, presumably because those are the only ones that it's not indisputable that Iraq has flagrantly violated. The best bit was the comment that if WMD was found, then we'd know that Iraq has been lying. Oh yeah, that revelation should definitely be a blind-side hit.
It's just really bizarre, this presumption of innocence and lack of guile on the part of Iraq while the US and the Bush Administration in particular are presumed to be devious lying weasels with nefarious ulterior motives. Of course, one needs to assume that in order to make any kind of case on behalf of Iraq.
As a U.S. congressman in the 1990s, Richardson went to Pyongyang three times. In 1994, after a U.S. Army helicopter was shot down after accidentally crossing the DMZ, he negotiated the release of the pilot's remains. (The pilot was one of his constituents.) In 1996, partly on the basis of this contact, Richardson was called on to play an active role in hammering out a proposal for "Four-Party Talks," in which the two Koreas, China, and the United States might at last settle the remaining issues of the 1950-53 war. (The talks broke down when a North Korean submarine ran aground in South Korean waters.) Finally, that same year, Richardson negotiated the release of Evan Hunziker, an American peace activist who was arrested as a spy after trying to swim across the Yalu River. Richardson also used the occasion to inform the North Koreans of President Clinton's interest in arranging formal bilateral meetings.What the author fails to wonder about is why it is in the best interests of the US to cooperate. The desired endpoint seems to be that the North Koreans gives us the same thing they've given us before (an end to their nuclear weapons development) and we give them more stuff. There is no discussion of why the North Koreans would follow the agreement this time ("Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!") and how we would know if North Korea didn't. But if the lack of any evidence that North Korea upholds any of its agreements isn't the reason Bush has been refusing to negotiate, what is? Why, personal antipathy to that great statesman Bill Clinton! The author expresses this as the hope that
Maybe, just maybe, Bush will overcome his allergy to anything touched by Clinton and give this deal a tryWhy yes, since the last deal worked out so well for the US, why not do the same thing again? And, since the North Koreans are the ones who violated the agreement, why shouldn't we help them by negotiating and bribing them back to the status quo ante? Any objections are just Clinton-hating. It's all so clear now.
Ironically enough, that [violation] could be a disincentive for Mugabe to resignWhy yes, it is. This was in fact commented on heavily at the time and in my view was a strong discentive to going after Pinochet. Will those who went after Pinochet feel any guilt if Mugabe murders a few million people instead of bugging out because some "do-gooders" wanted to make some headlines and feel good about themselves? It comes down to trying to do justice to dictators vs. saving the people he is oppressing. This is something that I've pondered in various forms for many a year, but recently I've come down on the side of compassion to the people. If this is the kind of deal it takes to get Mugabe out and prevent mass starvation in Zimbabwe, well fine. Get him a villa on the Riveria. I'll chip in. The truth is, there is no way justice can be done in a case like this. There is no punishment that fits the crime. So justice is a chimera which serves only to prolong the suffering of the innocent. Not a pleasant thought but pretending otherwise benefits no one.
The most disconcerting moment was a segue from stories about the IDF violating churches. I pointed out that Palestinian had used chuches for military purposes so perhaps this wasn't completely unjustified. We went to the occupation of the Church of the Nativity as an example. This was excused by gathered Lutherans for two reasons: the gunmen were being pursued by the IDF and they didn't actually fire their weapons from the Church. I didn't know how to respond to that. But at least this week I wasn't the lone voice of dissent - someone tried to bring in context instead of just reading sad tales.
Why the excuses for Palestinian behaviour? I think it was revealed when the pastor mentioend that things are different for those who have power and those who don't, and that the Israelis are powerful. I suppose those with this view consider it pointless to think about why it's the Israelis are powerful. Or that being powerless isn't a moral blank check. But that would require making actual judgements and that's hard. Better to leave it someone else.
North Korea hasn't actually tested any nuclear devices. It's not really that simple to build a nuclear weapon, despite the scare stories you see published. While the general theory is simple, it requires some sophisticated engineering to get all of the pieces to work correctly (for instance, getting the shaped charges to collapse the critical mass). Without testing, it's not clear that the things will actually work. Note that that the US is concerned that without testing we can't be confident in our own weapons and we have much better technological capabilities than North Korea.
Even if the nukes work, how much damage will they do? There's a mythology about nukes that they are incomparably more powerful than any other weapon. That's just not the case - even in WWII the nuclear attacks on Japan were not the most deadly bombing attacks of the war. It's extremely doubtful that NK has nukes much bigger than the minimum size, about 5-10 kTons. Seoul might well be in more danger from the amount of artillery NK has massed in range than a low yield nuke. More over, if you really want to destroy a city you need to have an air burst - going off on the ground causes a lot more fallout but much less initial damage. During a war, no airplane from the North is going to make it to Seoul. Even missiles are difficult. There's a fairly narrow range of useful altitudes and a ballistic missile is going to go through it in a very short time. The nuke needs to go off between 0 and 25000 ft and at Mach3 (over .5 miles / second, slow for a ballistic missile) that's only a 10 second window. If the timer's too long the device won't go off at all. It takes very high tech to get a nuclear device to survive a supersonic ground impact and still go off. While there's nothing all that fundamental that's difficult about a timing or radar based detonator, it's like the nuke itself - the devil is in the details and without practice, it's very hard to get right the first time without a top notch tech base. Given the history of problems with NK's missiles it's not clear how much confidence we should have in their ability to deliver a nuke that works.
But here's a nasty scenario that my associate BBB suggested. North Korea has a few commercial airliners. Put the nuke on one of those and then fly it to Seoul, claiming it's been hijacked by asylum seekers. It seems unlikely that it would be shot down before it was over Seoul, at which point the nuke is detonated. This wouldn't work during war, but as an opening gambit it might be very effective. Alternatively, use a plane or a truck to drive it into the DMZ and set it off.
But we have to ask, what's in any of this for North Korean leadership? They have gotten a lot of mileage out of threatening to go postal, but actually going postal is signing their death warrants (unless they believe that China will bail them out again, which is not all that implausible). The NK leadership has consistently shown a very high regard for their own benefit so it's reasonable to expect them to do so in the future. That's why I think that the DMZ scenario is more likely. It would basically be impossible to stop and would give them at least a slim chance of conquering enough of South Korea to have a bargaining position. Nuking Seoul right off or worse a city in Japan just doesn't have a payoff that I can see but guarantees the destruction of the leadership. One may argue that they'd have to if we called their bluff to maintain credibility for next time. But it's very likely that if NK uses a nuke (especially on a city) there won't be a next time for them.
P.S. An interesting question to ask is, suppose NK fires a nuclear armed missile that impacts in Seoul and doesn't go off? What might the reaction be? Discuss amongst yourselves.
UPDATE: I failed to credit the commercial airliner trick to the original proponent, my co-worker BBB. I have corrected this error in the text.
UPDATE: A similar post showed up a few days later at Transterrestrial Musings.
UPDATE [22 Jan 2003]: Two good posts. One on cold testing where the nuclear device is tested on unenriched uranium to verify the mechanical / explosive properties. The technical help for this was alledgedly supplied by Pakistan. The other post discusses the level of corruption (high) in the North Korean military. This has an interesting correlation with an increase in the refugees [source] escaping from North Korea (which is indicative of corruption at the lowest, border guard level).
Orin Judd says:I have some sympathy too, but the European elites have actively contributed to this problem so my sympathy is limited. While I've said that I would have more sympathy if the European governments did something to ameloriate the problem, this isn't what I meant. But considering the parties involved and their mindsets, I am beginning to wonder what other outcomes are possible.But the question is, will we stand by when they start gassing Muslims?That is a horrifying question that I have pondered myself. And I would certainly like to think the answer is no. But what if Europe is going after Muslims in response to 10,000 dead in the subways of Paris and London? What if that oh-so-tolerant multi-culturalism has produced thousands of Muslims that consider their European homes to be enemy societies, to be attacked relentlessly in the name of God? What if the very weakness of Europe that we have all talked about is seen as an opportunity by those who would literally destroy the West and Judeo-Christian society as a whole? And I repeat and re-phrase.... what would be our opinion be of the German murder of the Jews the 40's their actions were after fanatical Jews murdered 10,000 Berliners, destroyed Cologne cathedral and others, stockpiled mustard and nerve gasses, and sent out radio and news releases essentially laughing at their successes, promising more and worse to come, and calling upon fellow Jews to murder Germans wherever they could be found? (All of this hypothetically taking place before any holocaust against the Jews, not after.)
So, horrible as it is to think about, just what would be our response? Should we wage war upon Germans to enable fanatics to continue their relentless mass murder against them? What options ARE we prepared to offer or expect from another country in such a situation?
It's a fair bet that question may need a real answer at some point soon. I'm not a huge fan of the 21st Century so far. And as a pretty harsh critic of Europe of late, I am not without sympathy. I believe they are facing a very difficult future, and some extremely hard choices.
Certainly the steel tarrifs were bad and I am not as sanguine as Mr. Judd about them. But it's only fair to laud President Bush for moving taking a big step forward with this treaty. The efforts of his administration to bring extend NAFTA from Mexico down through all of Central America is truly wonderful news as well. If this effort is successful, then I'll let the steel tarrifs go as just a bump in the road. Perhaps President Bush did it as an object lesson, because the bad effects made a lot of news and there was little backlash when multiple large holes were punched in the tarriffs in the following months. Is Bush saving this up for when protectionist in the Senate starts whining about the Chile FTA? That could be interesting.
it still isn't clear exactly why Hamdi is an enemy combatant, other than the government's say so. It's the kind of thing, oh, a court might need to decideWell, according to Eugene Volokh the court record does not dispute that Hamdi went to Afghanistan to join the Taliban, that he was on the field of battle for the Taliban and that he had a weapon. Apparently what was disputed is whether he actually fired his weapon. Is Taylor agreeing that that as long as Hamdi didn't actually pull the trigger, he's not an enemy combatant? Further, three courts have now found the government's claim reasonable. So, in a real sense, multiple courts have decided it. This is knee-jerk libertarianism. Getting hysterical about cases like this is simply going to convince the American public that the Constitution is a barrier to security (when, IMHO, it's not). I'm not going to lose sleep because US citizens who take up arms against their own nation in foreign battles can be detained as POWs.
If Bush adds tax cuts for the old to tax cuts for the dead, there's no telling how far down the life cycle he could go. Tax breaks on leisure travel, in the name of older Americans? Tax breaks on second homes, in the name of the middle-aged? Tax breaks on capital gains, in the name of the overweight? Inventing euphemisms for the rich never gets old.Just switch "old"/"older Americans" to "the children" and you have most of the Democratic Party play book.
No, the problem comes from not having a proper list of gradients that are attempted with the last item being war. Even with war, there would be some gradients - military blockade all the war to the highest gradient of Nuclear responseto which Den Beste replies
Having a public list like that would be an extremely grave mistake. [.…] What it means is that an enemy has a menu he can consult to determine how far he can push you, because he can see at any given point just how far down your list of standard steps of escalation you’ve gone through so far. If he’s willing to tolerate up to step 8 and you’ve only reached step 5, then he knows he can keep pushingI agree that a list like that described is a bad idea for the same reasons Den Beste mentions. However, I think that a different list is a positive good. One can consider Den Beste’s position that a list is ok as long as there is a single item on it - “we may respond in any way to any action”. I think a middle ground, a list with a few items on it, is better than either extreme. As Den Beste himself goes on about at length, we had such a list during WWII and it worked well. That was, “we won’t use chemical weapons as long as our enemies don’t”. Den Beste notes well the ways in which an unscrupulous actor can abuse such a list, but ignores the way such a list can encourage such actors to behave. The key is to have few levels on the list, or alternative big steps so that it’s hard to game the system because at each level there is a broad range of possible response. For instance, Jacksonians have three levels on the list:
I think that this is better than the single level of response Den Beste seems to be advocating, because then a scrupulous actor doesn’t really know what you might do. A list like the one above reassures such actors while giving little away to unscrupulous ones. Unpredictability morphs into irrationality quite easily and so it’s not an unalloyed good. And as Den Beste observes it’s good to have carrots as well as sticks and a short list provides carrot while not overly restricting the choice of sticks.
There's something else driving the non-loonie opposition to the war with Iraq, but I can't figure out what it is. It's something so powerful that it makes people ignore things like horrific children's prisons, the same sort of people who not so long ago advocated military adventures across the planet (Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, etc.). I don't believe that its simply anti-Americanism, that's not consistent with the things in the previous sentence. Could it be fear of a truly hyper-power America? One can still argue, feebly, that America is not yet the global hegemon. But if we take out Saddam and reshape the Middle East over the next decade or so, there will be no disputing it. Is this outcome seen as the straw that will break that back of collectivism? Is it some visceral anti-Bush feeling, where nothing is more important that Bush being shown to actually be an idiot? The "Bush is a moron" meme will move out to the tinfoil hat room if the war in Iraq goes well and Iran has a revolution. But that seems too petty. It passes my understanding.
One thing recommended by Monbiot is negative interest rates to encourage consumption and discourage accumulating cash. This is supposed to lead to ecologically sensitive prosperity. One way to get negative interest rates is when inflation is higher than nominal interest rates. This could be done by legally limiting interest paid to depositors and then inflating the currency. Didn't the US try this during the 1970's? That worked well. (Woops, apparently some of the Samizdata comments bring this up).
There are limits to growth, but they are so far away from where we are now that there's no point in us worrying about them. It's just like the following joke:
A student is in an astronomy class and suddenly jumps up, wildly agitated. He shouts at the professor "WHAT DID YOU SAY?". The professor replies, "The Sun will burn out 5 billion years from now". The student, now visibly calmed, sits back down and says "Oh. I thought you said 5 million years".There even limits on computation based on the background temperature of the universe (basically, if you destroy information then you end up with waste heat which must be disposed of, and the background temperature of the universe limits your ability to do that. All current technology destroys information at massive rate, although there are some theoretical systems that do not). It's senseless for us to try to do anything about these limits for two reasons. The problem is so far in the future that nothing we set up now will still be operating then, and even if it could, it would be like us consulting Neanderthals about whether we should use thin or thick computational nodes for the next generation Internet.
But to a large extent the documents (an example which was handed out, a rebuttal which wasn't) aren't filled with big lies, but selective omissions (as in the refugee issue mentioned above). The result of this is to paint the plight of the Palestinians as (1) unique and (2) externally imposed. Of course, their plight is neither and the solutions generally proposed require historically unique resolutions to common events and even if implemented would be rapidly destroyed by the dysfunctional politics and societal structure of the Palestinians, just like they destroyed Lebanon and almost destroyed Jordan. I see no hope until the Palestinians are willing to admit that other people have legitimate rights and desires. I see no evidence of that at present. And as long as we have religious organizations like this indulging the Palestinians in their delusion that everything should be arranged for teir benefit, there's little hope of change.
This is an editorial from the The Asia Times Online which discusses how to deal with North Korea. The basic thrust of the article is that the North Korean leadership should realize that it's in the best interests of the North Korean people to engage in constructive diplomacy and open up to economic development. Gosh, really? Those 50 years of beligerence, assassination, kidnapping, treaty violations, vicious oppression and mass starvation are just because the North Korean leadership is confused about how to help the general populace? Here's a representative paragraph:
The answer is in Pyongyang, and it hinges on the strength and determination of the present leadership. Contrary to what it may seem, if Kim Jong-il is strong in his position and determined to get his country out of its misery, he should quickly stop this nuclear slide. If the saber-rattling goes on, it could indicate deep weaknesses in the North Korean leadership, strong rivalry, power struggles and a simple lack of basic understanding of the world. And that would be a nuisance.A nuisance. Jeepers, we wouldn't want that. How could preventing misery in North Korea not be right up there on Kim Jong Il's "to-do" list? But it would take a failure now to indicate weakness in the NK leadership or a lack of basic understanding of the world? The entire editorial is written in this vaguely puzzled and disapproving tone because the author just can't figure out why Kim Jong Il won't do these things that would be good for the North Koreans. But the most bizarre part is that earlier, the author writes
[...] its [North Korea's] leadership is unreliable [...] some 20 million people are held hostage, as human shields, by their manipulative leaders who have no scruples.Dude, perhaps that's related to why the leadership doesn't seem to be "determined to get the country out of its misery".
The left has always had a tendency toward "logo-realism", mistaking the word for the thing. We can see this in much of their efforts to get people to use different words, as if that would change the underlying reality (the failure of this demonstrates the fundamental correctness of hermeneutics as described above - the instances exist regardless of what word is attached to the set of them). However, crossing this with hermeneutics leads directly to the idea that nothing is real, that all reality is a social construct, because if the words are socially constructed, and reality is controlled by words, then social constructs control reality. This is not at all what hermeneutics is about, but that's never stopped the kind of people who advocate racial preferences as a solution to racial preferences.
I believe that people are innately good, because otherwise we wouldn't have a civilization and we wouldn't see communities forming wherever there are people. We wouldn't even be having this discussion about good if this basic fact weren't true. I probably lost Judd and Prager here, as they believe that there is another force that would provide this impetus. But I would counter that not all communities know Him, and communities were forming long before religion existed, and finally that He doesn't decided on every little detail of existence (something we discussed before).
The key points where I diverge from the leftist pollyanas are that something innate is not necessarily expressed and that not everyone has the same innate abilities. The best analogy is language. Humans have an innate ability to use language. This doesn't mean that we don't need to teach language to humans, or that instruction in grammar, spelling and vocabulary isn't necessary to achieving true use of language. But such instruction draws on that innate ability, strengthens and shapes it. And in fact, if no training is available there may be no expression of the innate ability at all (cf. Helen Keller, abandoned children). I believe that the trait we call "goodness" has the property. Additionally, not everyone has the same amount of talent for language, so it doesn't seem implausible to me that people differ in their innate "goodness". The secular humanists derided by Prager and Judd seem to hold the belief that every one is born with the maximum amount of innate goodness, a belief I find highly implausible.
Getting back to Prager, I will address his points and show that those he castigates are at least ideologically consistent, in that the mental errors they make in this regard are specific instances of more general errors. First we have
First, if you believe people are born good, you will attribute evil to forces outside the individualNo, one can attribute that to bad environment, bad parents or bad genetics. Some people are born aphasic, some without little or no innate goodness. This may be a handicap, but we expect people to work to overcome handicaps and if not, and it endangers others, society can remove such people from itself to protect the rest of society (because this maximizes consent). In general, the secular humanists require that society adapt itself regardless of cost to disabilities and so are treating this one no different. Secondly we have
if you believe people are born good, you will not stress character development when you raise childrenNo more than one wouldn't stress language skills and expect children to speak and write well. Oh, wait, that's exactly what is being done in many schools. Third we have
Third, if you believe that people are basically good, G-d and religion are morally unnecessary, even harmful. Why would basically good people need a G-d or religion to provide moral standardsAs with language, the precise form and structure are not innate, but must come from outside. Religion and other societal organizations are repositories of laboriously and painfully acquired knowledge of the details of goodness and building a society. Like language, if they are thrown away then eventually new versions will arise to replace them (as a pidgin will evolve into a full language) but it can be a bit rough in the mean time so I can't recommend it. Blowing off millenia of accumulated knowledge seems ... sub-optimal. Finally there is
Fourth, if you believe people are basically good, you, of course, believe that you are good -- and therefore those who disagree with you must be bad, not merely wrongThat's certainly a trait of many secular humanists (which may be why I get along better with people like Orin Judd than many of my fellow atheists). I believe that I am "good" in the sense that I want to do good, I want to be right. That's very different from believing that I always know what is good and right. I will do all I can to learn what is good and right and do them. But my thoughts and knowledge are imperfect and as a result I will do bad and wrong things. I admit that. To believe otherwise is to fall victim to what Prager describes here, or to collapse into negation (as many leftists seem to be doing these days). And when I say people are innately good, I mean that the vast majority of people want this same thing. Those who do evil would have no need of cloaking their evil in the words of good if that were not true. If you believe in a loving God, how could you believe that He would create a world where evil had the advantage? Would He not create one where people can choose, but there is a structural bias for good?
I can't agree more with John's warning that "trial lawyer" is not a bad thing to call someone in a campaign. There's a reason successful trial lawyers are successful: They're good at persuading voters (a.k.a. jurors) to join their side.I'm not sure how valid that is. Jurors are in general quite distinct from the general public, and trial lawyers operate in an environment where they can greatly restrict the information available to the jurors. Perhaps Ms. Postrel should read Reason magazine which has an article on jury packing. The lawyers make a determined effort to eliminate any potential juror that is (1) intelligent, (2) well-learned or (3) knowledgeable about the subject. Apparently they consider this necessary in order to persuade the jury. Moreover, the article has many examples of how the trial lawyers exclude clearly relevant facts about the case. The jurors, with the connivance of the judge, aren't allowed to ask questions or find their own experts. I wonder just how effective techniques that succeed in that environment will be in the open environment of a general election.
It may a lack of being able to think dynamically. The set of blogs in operation will change rapidly - I expect that after the blogosphere matures (which I do agree with Russ Smith that that will be fairly soon, within a year) there will be a lot of turnover. But there are way too many people who do this because they must rather than because they need money for there to be only a "few survivors". Blogs have been around long enough to see a number of good writers give up, but over time accumulating so much pent up verbiage that they are compelled to start writing again. I suspect I will be the same way. I try to write every day, but sometimes it's a burden. Other times I can't type fast enough to express what I have to say. But ultimately this blog is about satisfying me. Part of that is providing something pleasing to others, but that's not the only thing. And I suspect that most bloggers are the same way. People can walk away or ignore you in person, but if you've got a blog they can't shut you up.
Nellie Muriel declares that green & blue slopes (i.e. beginner and intermediate) are "gay" -- the latest, and I think rather interesting, sub-teen synonym for "beneath contempt," "babyish," "lame," etc.Well, back when I was a sub-teen (and that was many a year ago), a very common expression for exactly that sort of thing was "homo", short for "homosexual". So it isn't very new - it's a retread of slang that been around for a long, long time. Only the word in common use to denote it has changed. That would seem to detract from the "interesting" part. Next, Derbyshire will discover the "latest" slang for weak or ineffectual - "girly".
UPDATE: Derbyshire is deluged with e-mail pointing out the same thing I did.
In August, soldiers pressed 19-year old Nidal Abu Mukhsan to enter the house of a Hamas activist and tell him to come out quietly. The activist, Nasser Jarar, mistook Mr Abu Mukhsan for a soldier and shot him fatally in the head.The "activist" shot him in the head. And the Israelis should have not only expected an "activist" to have a gun but to shoot any soldier he sees in the head.
This story also almost qualifies for the International Law Watch for the following paragraph:
But this is very dangerous for the people they [the IDF] force to do it, and it is completely illegal under international lawIs it? The PA is not a party to and certainly never obeys the Geneva conventions that outlaw this, which if I recall correctly causes Israel to not be bound either.
So let's recap: Israeli soldiers are not expected to abuse, threaten or infringe the rights of the Palestinians in any way (and the Israeli government at least attempts to investigate lapses), while it should be considered normal for Palestinian "activists" to shoot in the head any Israeli soldier they see without warning, which apparently is not against any "international law". As Dorothy Parker said, "I try to be cynical but it's hard to keep up".
It is possible that the Bush gang is applying its Florida recount strategy to the U.N.'s inspection of Iraq's weapons? Just as they delayed the recount until it was too late, the are delaying the inspection or finding fault with the inspection plan - delaying until the administration comes up with enough "intelligence" to justify a preemptive strike.I just wonder, how exactly is the "Bush gang" delaying the inspections? Does the VRWC control the UN representatives of France and Russia? And I'm speechless at the idea that someone paying attention could apparently believe that the Iraq inspections are flawless. Even granting this theory of the 2000 elections (which is very generous of me), this still seems to be a rather severe fixation on seeing everything through the single paradigm of the 2000 elections.