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Archive for August, 2010

The Revelations, They… Don’t Seem Very Revelatory

[ 9 ] August 12, 2010 |

Michael Oren and Yossi Halevi:

An Israeli assault could only delay Iran’s nuclear program, not eliminate it. That’s because Israel cannot sustain an air campaign against such remote targets for days on end. This can only be accomplished by the United States, perhaps together with NATO allies, by mounting an ongoing series of air strikes similar to the “shock and awe” campaign conducted against Iraq at the beginning of the war. Israelis, though, are divided over the likelihood of U.S. military action. Some experts believe President Bush will attack, if only to prevent being recorded by history as a leader who fought the wrong war while failing to fight the right one. Others speculate that a politically devastated Bush will leave the resolution of the Iranian crisis to his successor.

If Israel is forced, by default, to strike, it is likely to happen within the next 18 months. An attack needs to take place before the nuclear facilities become radioactive; waiting too long could result in massive civilian casualties. Still, Israel will almost certainly wait until it becomes clear that sanctions have failed and that the United States or NATO won’t strike. The toughest decision, then, will be timing: determining that delicate moment when it becomes clear that the international community has failed but before the facilities turn lethal.

The linked article was published on January 27, 2007. By my count, it’s been 25.5 months since Israel should have been “forced, by default, to strike.” While I’ll have more on Jeffrey Goldberg’s breathless account of Israeli strategic thought tomorrow, I’m thoroughly unconvinced that it’s revelatory of anything new about Israel’s Iran policy. The core of this policy, as far as I can tell, remains “try to convince the US to attack Iran.”


Again With Wikileaks

[ 30 ] August 12, 2010 |

OK, I know some of you are sick to death wearying of the Wikileaks story. A few commenters have argued that I’ve already spent a disproportionate amount of time on it.

(What can I say? I follow stories more closely when they happen to dovetail precisely with at least three of my five areas of current research interest and expertise: laws of war, transnational advocacy networks, human security, new media, and civil-military relations. I also tend to be more opinionated about issues where I feel like my expertise allows me to add value or offer a fresh perspective in an ongoing debate, particularly one with practical, immediate implications for human security).

The Wikileaks story has had all these elements, including intersecting with all five of my research interests. So I’ve been a little excited about it, not least because I’ve been learning a great deal from watching the conversations unfold in the comments threads.

Don’t worry, I’ll soon be back to blogging randomly on an assortment of human security / pop cultural / foreign policy topics.

But first I wanted to draw your attention to some final thoughts on Wikileaks and human security, now online at Foreign Policy. As you’ll see, it’s possible to completely disagree with the likes of Marc Thiessen, while standing by the claim that organizations Wikileaks must follow some basic ethical guidelines in order to promote rather than threaten human security.

The first paragraph is below the fold. Read more…


[ 46 ] August 12, 2010 |

Dear Ross Douthat:

Please, for the love of Christ, desist from using the word “thick.”

Everybody in the World

Thanks to Peter Kirsanow…

[ 10 ] August 12, 2010 |

…you can now purchase a 100-proof version of your favorite overblown conservative rhetoric. (After all, he is clearly, and spectacularly, drunk on it.)

Nice Job, Cap’n

[ 6 ] August 12, 2010 |


You eat at enough DFACs and you’re going to see some awesomely bad Armed Forces Network commercials. One series that I actually like features MLB players, vets and managers telling the troops how much they appreciate them and want them to get home safe. (Josh Hamilton, Mike Scioscia, Dave Winfield, Rafael Furcal, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Victor Martinez, etc.) It comes across as a nice, heartfelt message.

Except, unfortunately for Derek Jeter, who looks into the camera and says, “To the troops, wanna thank you for your support…” Fingernails on a chalkboard.

Now we know what we’re fighting for.

More On Goldberg and the “Living Constitution”

[ 12 ] August 12, 2010 |

I’m out of town for a funeral and don’t time to fully get into this, but I couple of quick points to add to SEK’s demolition of Jonah below:

  • Note how tendentious Goldberg’s examples are.  He happens to choose a from the tiny handful of examples — the abolition of slavery, female suffrage — where a substantive right was granted by formal constitutional amendment.   But one could just as easily adduce examples such as school desegregation, the right to interracial marriage, other forms of gender equality, etc. — which were granted through changing understandings of the broad language of constitutional provisions.
  • We’re all “living constitutionalists.”   The ratifiers of the 5th Amendment “would be stunned to learn” that in 1791 had just created a rule preventing the federal government from ever using a racial classification, but that hasn’t stopped Scalia and Thomas from arguing this, with a notable lack of dissent from Goldberg or other conservative pundits.    When you add this to cases like Brown and Loving, which can be defended as “originalist” only defining terms at a sufficiently high level of abstraction that William Brennan could be called an “originalist,” nobody really thinks that the intentions of the framers are always binding.
  • Moreover, if the framers and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment had wanted to pre-empt a decision like Perry, they could have limited its reach to cases involving racial classification (as the 15th Amendment did.)   The language of the Constitution itself suggests that originalism as Goldberg defines it is non-originalist.

Today’s dose of health scaremongering

[ 42 ] August 12, 2010 |

It hardly bears mentioning that The Huffington Post remains one of the least reliable sources of decent, scientifically-literate reporting on health and medicine, but this piece by natural diet guru John Robbins is nearly beyond belief. Inspired by vague, unconfirmed reports that a handful of Chinese babies have grown breasts after consuming infant formula, Robbins builds a meandering, tissue-thin argument that, as best I can reconstruct it, follows like so:

  1. Chinese babies are growing breasts
  2. Hormones in milk production are to blame
  3. Here are links to my books and website
  4. Something weird happened in Puerto Rico in the early 1980s
  5. Hormones are used in US milk production
  6. High levels of certain hormones are associated with certain cancers
  7. Monsanto is SO FUCKING EVIL
  8. Women should breastfeed their babies and restrict themselves to European cheese
  9. Read more…

An accurate description of your work requires adjectives I don’t have.

[ 55 ] August 11, 2010 |

Jonah Goldberg proves, as if we needed reminding, that the people “who talk about reverence for the Constitution … consistent with the ‘genius of our constitutional design'” are the ones who haven’t read it. For example, one such person, Jonah Goldberg, writes both the previous and the following in the same article:

When one discusses the Constitution on college campuses, students and even professors will object that without a “living Constitution,” blacks would still be slaves and women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Nonsense. Those indispensable changes to the Constitution came not from judges reading new rights into the document but from Americans lawfully amending it.

Someone needs to remind this self-professed “strict constructionist” that “Americans” do not amend the Constitution, lawfully or otherwise. Know how I know? It’s in the Constitution:

Read more…

How About Some Collateral Damage Control?

[ 3 ] August 11, 2010 |

In an earlier post on the lessons of the Afghan War Diaries, I pointed out an unfortunate legal fact: that civilian harms aren’t necessarily evidence of war crimes.

But I also argued, as I long have, that such “unintentional” civilian casualties are unacceptably high.

Today, I have an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune that goes a bit further, suggesting a number of ways that the rules of war themselves could and should be updated to hold governments more accountable for civilian harms even when they’re unintended. Read more…

“This is not a joke.” Perhaps not, but you are.

[ 22 ] August 11, 2010 |

Greg Gutfeld circa 2003:

In 2003 [while serving as the Editor in Chief of Stuff], Gutfeld hired several dwarves to attend a magazine conference, on the topic of “buzz,” in his place. During one of the lectures, they chatted loudly on cell phones and munched potato chips. “The midget thing got me in trouble” he said. “And the reason I didn’t tell anybody about it in advance is because then it wouldn’t have happened. I thought it made perfect sense: There’s a conference on ‘buzz’ by a bunch of self-congratulating idiots—I’ll show you buzz.”

Greg Gutfeld circa 2010:

I’m announcing tonight, that I am planning to build and open the first gay bar that caters not only to the west, but also Islamic gay men. To best express my sincere desire for dialogue, the bar will be situated next to the mosque Park51, in an available commercial space. This is not a joke. I’ve already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance.

Clearly, the man has grown more dignified these past seven years: whereas he previously used minorities as props to create “buzz” for Stuff, now he’s using them as props in a “bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance” of a lifestyle he thinks so highly of he wants to use those who practice it as props.

Just in case you thought—I know you didn’t—that this proposal amounted to anything more than a puerile prank, Gutfeld elaborated on Glenn Beck:

Read more…

Who Will Make it Three?

[ 5 ] August 11, 2010 |

Dan Rostenkowski, 1928-2010.  The quintessential Chicago pol.

“New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion”

[ 7 ] August 10, 2010 |

New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion

I’m not sure which is more dead-on: the satire of arbitrary abortion regulations, or the satire of the pundit reaction…

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