Friday, April 27, 2007

What is winning?....II

I made a comment several threads back that speaking of "winning" or "losing" in Iraq was misguided and counerproductive..

Leave it to someone much smarter to explain in detail why...


With Harry Reid's controversial 'war is lost' quote and with various other pols weighing in on whether we can 'win' or whether it's 'lost', it's a good time to consider what the hell we're actually talking about. Frankly, the whole question is stupid. Or at least it's a very stilted way of understanding what's happening, geared to guarantee President Bush's goal of staying in Iraq forever.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Important questions from Kevin Drum

So here are some questions for every one of the 2008 presidential candidates: Do you care about Muslim public opinion? Do you think it impacts U.S. national security? Which aspects of American foreign policy do you think contribute to these attitudes? What concrete steps would you take to change these parts of our foreign policy


The amount of ignorance that permeates our discourse is astounding and depressing. The sad fact remains, these are NOT the questions the candidates will face.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What is victory?

We need to work very hard to get past the idea that the Iraq war is a contest that be lost or won. It is in fact a situation that can improve or degenerate. But as long as people are thinking in terms of "winning" or "losing" they are imagining an outcome or end state after which there's no longer a contest. This is of course nonsense. But unless I'm wrong, this whole Harry Reid flap is based on this persistent illusion. By using the term "losing" he bought into the frame.

We need to work past it or it will continue to bite us in the ass.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Re: The surveillance State....

In times like these....
it always fun to regurgitate the outrage that Republicans expressed over the Clipper Chip proposals during the Clinton years.

John Ashcroft

But doing so reminds us that the battle for personal privacy cuts across party lines and that there are no shortage of Democrats who are willing to sacrifice freedom if they think it will give them "law and order" or "war on terror" cred.

I've always assumed that every link I've ever clicked as well as every case of beer I've ever purchased was available as a data point for anyone willing to dig for it. And who even knows how many servers the photos we take with our cel-phones end up on.

One of the downsides of technological advancement is that anything that can be done will be done at some point. Does everyone remember the talk of internet-enabled refrigerators?

Needless to say, the more connected we all are, the more irresistable the urge to monitor and control will become. It's just plain human nature.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Re: Michael Goldfarb and "near dictatorial power"

Anyone with a passing knowlege of history and the Constitution know why this "dictatorial" thinking is misguided and wrong. What I personally find more interesting is the insights into human nature which were apparent to the founders that caused them to frame the founding documents the way they did in the first place.

They knew that they had to impart the war-making powers to the legislature specifically because as the representatives most closely accountable to the people, they would be the ones least likely to use military engagements as a tool of self aggrandizement. They understood well how the combination of a fearful populace and ambitious leaders could result in evil forces acting under the umbrella of arbitrary law.

To those who think of themselves as individuals first and then members of society, is is indeed excruciatingly basic and obvious. To those who subsume their individuality to their tribal loyalties, it needs to be explained....again....and again.....and again....