Max Boot jumps on the Boer War bandwagon, explaining calmly that what we need is such things as many more people rounded up and held without charges, although he’s careful not to say how much more violence will be necessary. Since most of these things–especially moving the soldiers out of the Green Zone and other secure quarters–have no chance of being implemented, somebody should ask Boot why he actually supports the war.
Speaking of the temptations of aesthetic Stalinism, I see that Veronica Mars has a script that involves Plan B causing a miscarriage. Ugh. (I haven’t actually seen VM since the second episode of the year, so I can’t verify its widely rumored artistic decline until I see the DVD.)
[HT: Prof. B]
…According to Wendy in comments, it was RU-486, so it just just a wrong title. Good.
…Ann Freidman says there were significant problems with the episode, however.
Rodger points to Larry Diamond’s op-ed in the LAT about the possibility of war with Iran. We’ve all learned that it’s never sensible to discount the recklessness of this administration, but I’m betting pretty heavily against war. The reasons:
1. The Bush administration has made only a minimal and not terribly successful effort to sell this war, both domestically and abroad. No one will be with us on this except for Israel. This is in contrast to 2002-3, when the administration made a big diplomatic push and even a bigger domestic PR push to sell the war. Since the success of an attack against Iran depends almost wholly on the international community accepting the verdict of the war and continuing to support containment of the war, diplomatic tolerance (if not military support) of the US is critical, and the administration doesn’t have it. It’s oft said that this administration doesn’t care what the world thinks, but that’s only meaningful in a relative sense; it cares less than previous administrations, but it still tries to build international support for its preferred policy options. Same thing on the domestic side, only more so.
2. If plans for war were seriously on the table, I think that the senior brass would be signalling its disapproval in all kinds of informal ways. While they’ll certainly obey orders and may even believe that they can win (although senior military leadership has historically been more skeptical of the efficacy of military force than civilians, even before this administration), it’s unlikely they want to go to war with public support as it now stands. Since Vietnam, the uniformed services DO NOT like to fight unpopular, or even semi-popular, wars. The services will be around after the Bush administration, and don’t want to have to deal with a hostile public and a hostile Congress. I believe that if they believed war was imminent, we’d know about it.
But hey, when you’re right 38% of the time, you’re wrong 62% of the time. Maybe the brass have been so cowed by the administration that they won’t put up a fight. Maybe the administration just really doesn’t care about either domestic or international support, and maybe the President’s messianic tendencies have led to the belief that history will vindicate whatever he does. I’m putting my money on the “no war”, though.
UPDATE: To be clear, I include airstrikes in my definition of war. I don’t think we’ll see them.
Chuck Norris has endorsed Gingrich, so I guess we can declare the primary race over. I did enjoy his claim that “we need someone at the helm of our country who holds to old-fashioned values.” Hmm. Like this?
But the most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, “Let Our Family Represent Your Family.” (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair’s Gail Sheehy: “We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, ‘I never slept with her.’” Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.
Well, those are “values” of some sort…
Scott has inveighed against Stalinist aesthetics many times here and elsewhere, so I offer this up with some trepidation — but I must say that as fond as my memories are of listening to Blue Oyster Cult as a teen (years after their last decent album had been released), the fact that Donald Roeser is evidently a reader of Powerline and Instapundit gives me great pause. Scott Johnson writes:
We’ve had a lot of highs over the past five years in writing for Power Line, but hearing from the composer of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in response to this post stands with the best of them. Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser has kindly written:
I’m Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser from Blue Oyster Cult, lead guitarist and the author and vocalist of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”
I’m a longtime frequent Power Line reader, and I’m enjoying the play BOC and The Reaper have recently gotten on the Power Line blog, in the “Don’t Fear the Professor” and “More Cowbell” posts.
Keep up the good work. You folks, Glenn Reynolds and others are some of my prime news aggregators these days. Heck, I’ve even got the t-shirt.
Rather than immediately trash my copy of Secret Treaties, I’m going to apply the Wingnut Sourcing Standard (WSS) most recently perfected by Malkin, Confederate Yankee and Flopping Aces throughout the Jamil Hussein “scandal.” Unless “Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser — lead guitarist and the author and vocalist of ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’” — shows up on the comments thread to explain why he spends his time reading these hacks, I will only be able to conclude that PowerLine is relying on imaginary sources.
Meantime, I will continue to hold steady in my view that “Godzilla” is the second-greatest song ever about a giant creature who destroys things:
trolling prodigious non-sequiturs really should check out the comments thread here. A commenter repeatedly claims that the grossly offensive analogy between the Duke lacrosse case and the Scottsboro boys case should be defended because someone else had once made the same analogy to defend the prosecution. OK, so far merely have a garden-variety bad argument, self-evidently illogical and devoid of merit but not special. But it gets better–when pressed the commenter can’t even produce evidence that the initial analogy was even made! Longtime readers will be reminded of the great Niels Jackson–when they open the Bad Arguments Hall of Fame, Luker will go in on the first ballot.
For the punchline, check out this post begging for reinforcements; you’ll be shocked to discover that legions of defenders have not come forward to defend the propositions that 1)unsubstantiated charges of rape that were dropped as the prosecutor recuses himself in disgrace are analogous to a case where poor blacks in the apartheid south where railroaded to Death Row via a formalized lynching, and 2)that Party A’s use of a bad analogy insulates Party B’s use of said analogy from criticism from Party C. I particularly like the high stakes adduced by Luker–”reputations at stake?” Personally, I think anyone’s reputation can survive a use of an offensive analogy; a reputation can probably even survive using every ounce of ressentiment you can muster to invent someone’s use of a bad analogy to prop up an argument that would be risibly feeble even if the fictitious analogy was real.
…in fairness, Luker is right to note in comments the “or not” added to the end of his sentence, which suggests that he as at least half-joking.
First, if Iran does achieve an effective nuclear deterrent that might, in fact, make it easier for Iran to pursue certain kinds of aggressive actions. This risk reflects B. H. Liddell Hart’s stability-instability paradox (PDF): mutual strategic deterrence might make it easier for states like Iran to contemplate small-scale actions–directly or via proxy–against their neighbors. There’s a robust debate about whether Indian and Pakistani nuclear capabilities have de-escalated conflicts between them or led to (1) greater Pakastani willingness to support insurgent and terrorist groups against India and (2) greater willingness by India to engage in limited conventional operations that would have once risked full-scale Indian-Pakistani warfare.
This is an excellent point, and does suggest that Iranian nuclear weapons may have some diplomatic effect beyond the establishment of a deterrent and the achievement of prestige. Dan also points out that the US is in a situation of extended deterrence vis-a-vis Israel and Iraq, which makes the commitment less credible. In my defense I’ll make three points. First, Iran will never, at least in the foreseeable future, acquire a second strike capability agains the United States. As Daryl Press and Keir Lieber have demonstrated, the capacity of even the Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals to respond to a US first strike is in serious doubt. This helps take the teeth out of the extended deterrence scenario, since, while will to use is asymmetric, capability is also asymmetric. Second, it’s unclear what exactly the Israeli and US nuclear arsenals are deterring Iran from doing right now. In addition to their nuclear superiority, Israel and the US also have prohibitive conventional superiority, which will limit Tehran’s ability to take diplomatic advantage of its weapons. As Dan notes, the evidence on stability-instability is fairly weak in any case. Finally, refuting Oren and Halevi’s arguments is rather a low bar, as they assert that Tehran will be able to achieve most every diplomatic goal ever imputed to it. Even an increased Iranian willingness to create mischief won’t allow it to dictate the price of oil, the diplomacy of Damscus, Cairo, and Riyadh, or the behavior of the international investment community
I’m less certain about Dan’s third point, that nuclear weapons may not have a sufficient deterrent effect in the Middle East. He invokes the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a case in which Syria and Egypt pursued aggression in spite of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. I would note first that Syria and Egypt expected that Soviet and American pressure would prevent Israel from using its nuclear weapons, and second that the military goals of both Syria and Egypt in 1973 were explicitly limited, such that they could expect to fight without triggering an Israeli nuclear strike. It’s only through the most contorted of mental gymnastics that someone could argue the same about an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel.
Nevertheless, an excellent commentary.
Cross-posted to Tapped.
Long awaited, but with the excuse that I live in Lexington, Kentucky. Scott has no such defense. This is more or less in order, in the sense that I liked the first two much more than the last two. I’d be reluctant, however, to defend the argument that #3 was notably better than #4, and so forth.
Pan’s Labyrinth: My favorite film of the year. Made more compelling, I think, by the essential futility of the guerillas. Knowing how poorly their struggle will turn out (Franco, after all, lasted until the 1970s), rendered the struggle more complex, as I found myself unwilling to simply adopt the guerilla point of view. The end left me… emotional, a feeling which was only partially mitigated by the drug-addled morons kicking my chair throughout the film.
The Departed: Discussed here.
Children of Men: Regardless of political interpretation, clearly one of the best films of the year. Cuaron creates a compelling image of a society collapsing under its own weight, and tells a fine (if not always believable) story. The battle scenes toward the end were simply magnificently constructed.
The Queen: Discussed here.
Letters from Iwo Jima: I’ll have a longer review later, but suffice it to say that this was a genuinely great war film. Eastwood’s success here, however, doesn’t redeem his companion project in the slightest.
Babel: Discussed here.
Casino Royale: Discussed here.
United 93: Discussed here.
Notes from a Scandal: The final act didn’t quite hold together, but Blanchett and especially Dench are good enough to forgive that.
Descent: It’s a solid flick that can freak you out ever before the appearance of the CHUDS.
Last King of Scotland: The last cut from the list. Whittaker’s performance is obviously magnificent, but that’s hardly surprising. In spite of the explicit (and contrived) effort to avoid the “adventurous white guy” scenario, however, the film couldn’t in the end avoid focusing on its white protagonist at the expense of all the people who actually died at the hands of Idi Amin.
Science of Sleep: A worthy effort that disappeared without much of a mention.
Volver: It doesn’t help that I recently watched Talk to Her again. Bad Education was a step down from Talk to Her, and Volver a considerable step down from Bad Education. The starting point is still almost high enough to merit inclusion here, but not quite. It just didn’t hang together well enough.
Little Miss Sunshine: It has its clever moments, and I certainly enjoyed it. The van without a starter bit cracked me up every time. However, that can’t take away from the fact of the lazy and sloppy writing and execution.