Saturday, March 22, 2003
# Posted 11:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Nonetheless, I find it hard to accept that American strategy should focus on minimizing Iraq's military casualties. Were that our approach, fighting a war would simply become impossible. While minimizing opposition casualties is a noble goal, it is one best achieved through the swiftest possible victory. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While I am inclined to give Keller one more chance, the next time this happens I will add him to my list of unreadables. For the moment, it includes Kristof, Krugman and McGrory on the left, Will and Krauthammer on the right. Dowd almost made it, but her special relationship with Josh makes reading her just a little bit more fun... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As Enron demonstrated, American corporations are no strangers to massive fraud. If scandals emerge, the administration will be hard-pressed to defend itself from charges that corporate interests are running US foreign policy.
Even worse, American corruption may alienate the people of Iraq while also ensuring that dishonest business practices become part and parcel of the political culture in postwar Iraq. While the Bush administration has never been a fan of strong corporate regulations, that is it's only hope of ensuring that Iraq becomes a prosperous democracy rather than a failed state run by organized criminals. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
According to the WaPo's sub-headline, "Chirac Vows to Block U.S., British Attempts to Govern Post-War Iraq." But that is not what Chirac said. In fact, what he opposes is providing international legitimacy to the Anglo-American occupation.
There is no indication that the French will actually do anything to stop the US or UK from administering Iraq, since that might involve paying some of the costs of the occupation. And why pay if the US and UK are going to take care of the occupation on their own?
In a sense, Chirac's attitude toward the occupation is identical to his attitude toward the war: Let the British and Americans do what has to be done while the French insist that they could have done it better. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As the co-founder of OxDem, I found the essays thoroughly depressing. Taken as whole, the essays' message is that there is little hope for promoting democracy in Iraq or in the Middle East. Fortunately, the logic on which this message rests is absurd to the point of self-contradiction.
Wesley Clark spends most of his time explaining why Iraq is not Japan and why we cannot expect to transform it via military occupation. According to Clark,
The circumstances of Japan and its transformation bear so little resemblance to those of present-day Iraq that both the analogy and the pursuit of a new MacArthur are off the mark. Almost nothing from the lessons of postwar Japan can be applied directly to Iraq, and consequently, neither the approach nor the character of a MacArthur are appropriate for the mission in Iraq. Just consider the facts.Pardon me, General, but that description of Japan's total defeat seems to fit Iraq perfectly. Except that Iraq's casualties will have come mostly at the hands of Saddam Hussein.
Clark is right to point out that Japan was ethnically unified whereas Iraq is diverse, in both ethnic and religious terms. Yet as Andrew Cockburn points out in his essay, uninformed Western observers have ignored considerable evidence that Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish Iraqis are ready to share a single state. Yes, he is referring to you, General Clark.
Adopting a regional perspective, Youssef Ibrahim insists that promoting democracy in the Middle East will accomplish nothing more than bringing violent fundamentalists to power. This, however, is an argument that OxBlog has been in the process of dismantling since December.
Ibrahim draws his evidence mostly from Egypt and Algeria. Had he taken the time to read over Oxblog's in-depth posts on Egypt and Algeria, he might have recognized that the evidence he focuses on is thoroughly misleading.
Ibrahim also mentions in passing both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which OxBlog has also profiled as part of its ongoing series on democracy and Islam. Once again, Ibrahim's evidence is far from persuasive.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of Ibrahim's essay is the author's willingness to trust Hosni Mubarak's assertion -- made in private conversation with the author -- that democratic reforms in Egypt will provoke a fundamentalist backlash. Apparently, Ibrahim is so naive that he doesn't recognize how Mubarak and other dictators have systematically exaggerated the fundamentalist threat in order to prevent the United States from demanding democratic reforms.
Yet as OxBlog has insisted time and again, it is the dictators themselves who are holding back the establishment of democracy in the Middle East. While it might be foolish for Mubarak or Assad to suddenly resign and hold elections, there is no reason to think that a gradual transition to democracy would promote a fundamentalist backlash. Rather, a gradual transition will show the people of the Middle East that they do not have to choose between secular dictators and Islamic radicals. Instead, they can reject both and govern themselves.
The final pair of essays in the Post, by Robert Kuttner and Max Boot, provide left- and right-wing approaches to international order in the aftermath of war. What is sad about both essays is that neither focuses on the importance of democratic reform for preventing international conflict.
Kuttner's essay confirms that the anti-war left has no intention of speaking out on behalf of the Iraqi people once the war is over. Rather, it will focus on protesting against "the Bush administration's plans for global hegemony." Forget the starving Iraqi children that were a staple of the protesters' rhetoric. Let someone else take care of them.
While Max Boot's essay is as firmly conservative as Kuttner's is liberal, Boot rises above the simplistic UN-bashing that conservative commentators so often indulge in. His wisest advice to conservatives is not to abandon those allies who voice their resentment of American power. While rhetorical attacks are unpleasant, the behavior of such allies demonstrates that they expect the United States to be the ultimate guarantor of international security. Or as OxBlog put it,
In time, the current Euro-American rift will become yet another memorial to the unprecedented flexibility of alliances between democratic nations. It was that flexibility that ensured our victory in the Cold War, and which will ensure our victory in the war on terror.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:08 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Yes, the pizza is kosher. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As far as I'm concerned, that doesn't change a thing. Rangel opposes having a volunteer army on the grounds that it lets rich white congressmen send poor black citizens off to die for their country. Yet Rangel was one of just eleven congressmen who voted against a resolution expressing support for the troops but not for the war.
Why, pray tell, won't Congressman Rangel express his support for the selfsame troops whose selfless sacrifice he described as a justification for reinstating the draft? Answer: hypocrisy.
NB: Rangel is actually wrong about black soldiers dying for a white government. While there are more minorities in the army than in society as a whole, they tend to enlist in non-combat units. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, March 21, 2003
# Posted 11:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Slogans and cliches abound in the anti-war movement. One does not have to be Donald Rumsfeld to puncture the mindless litany of one-liners that protesters and activists intone.But if not for the pretensions of moral purity, cheap sloganeering and manifest insults, some of us hawks might actually have been persuaded by the protesters!!! Oh well... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Turkey has spoken of not going beyond a "buffer zone" reaching some 20 km (12 miles) into northern Iraq but said it could go deeper if its national interests were threatened.While that doesn't sound good, I sense that the Turkish refusal to host US ground forces will ensure that the US keeps Turkish interference to a minimum.
On a related note, the Cougars think that this CNN article constitutes evidence of an Arab backlash. But I'm not impressed. None of the protests mentioned by CNN had more than 10,000 marchers.
Perhaps more importantly, the Cougars ought to recall my statement that
even those [Arabs] who are not firmly anti-American will be deeply suspicious of American motives. Thus, there may well be riots or other disturbances. However, if it becomes clear that the West has replaced Saddam with a government more democratic than any other in the Middle East, the initial outburst of anti-Americansim will abate.A real backlash will have to entail more than ineffective protests.
CORRECTION: According to the AP, the Cairo protest hit 10,000 and the one Yemen hit 30,000. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority of African-American representatives refused to support the resolution. But two of those who did were Denise Majette (D-GA) and Arthur Davis (D-AL), both whom defeated far-left anti-Semites (Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, respectively) in last year's Democratic primaries. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
So you've started a war. Well done America. Hope you're ready for the consequences because your greatest threat now - is not muslim fundamentalists. It's the hatred of millions of white westerners.I'm tempted to agree. But if this guy's right, should we start bombing France? Or would that lead to protests in the Muslim world?
Anyway, I'm a moderate, so what I recommend is for the US to hold off bombing Paris until the first French suicide bomber shows up in New York. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As far as I can tell, the best evidence for a backlash is coming straight out of San Francisco. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
There is some division, however, on whether the US will have won if it doesn't kill or capture Saddam. Also very interesting is that most Americans expect the war to last for months, not days or weeks. Strangely, 80% of respondents expect fewer than 1000 casualties despite the length of the war.
If you look at the raw data, there are a couple of other points worth noting. First of all, Bush's approval ratings -- both for general performance and for his handling of Iraq -- rose by 5-10% over the late February numbers. Not exactly a surprise.
The more interesting thing is that 67% of respondents thought that the President had done a good job of explaining his reasons for going to war. In light of the pundits' constant criticism of the president on that point, one has to wonder whether they were missing something.
My guess is that Saddam's transparent efforts to block inspections made it clear that he has a lot to hide and was not going to cooperate. Even if Bush was less than consistent in his public statements, he recognized that Saddam was playing games, which was what most Americans already knew.
Think of it this way: The pundits are like theater critics who will only applaud a brilliant performance. Everyone else is the audience. They know whether they like the film or not, but don't get worked up about the details.
PS I am a pundit. But I respect the audience.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, March 20, 2003
# Posted 6:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
What Kaplan does not confront, however, is the fact that the GOP's commitment to Wilsonian ideals remains unproven. Precisely because Kaplan is well aware of this fact, his exclusive criticism of prominent Democrats rings somewhat hollow. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Also note the opening sentence: "Hundreds of thousands of people marched on American embassies in world capitals Thursday to protest the war against Iraq, including a violent clash in Cairo..." Turns out that the hundres of thousands were mainly in Athens, Rome and Milan, cities not known for being part of the Arab world. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Read your posting on anti-semitism in the South with great interest. I can't really speak for other parts of 'Dixie' but as a South Carolinian I can tell you that I have seen very little of that in my lifetime in the Palmetto state. For many years (from the 50's through the early 80's one of the most powerful politicians in South Carolina was Salomon Blatt...Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives). In the 90's we had a Jewish Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court -- Julius 'Bubba' Ness -- and as a boy I remember meeting, during a class trip, one of the powers of the state Senate, Senator Hyman Rubin.It goes without my saying it that the prominence of Jews within the SC elite is absolutley remarkable. Still, I hesitate to consider such prominence as evidence for the sincere acceptance of Jews as equal citizens. Throughout the 19th century, Jews achieved remarkable prominence throughout Western Europe, only to have those same Western Europeans turn against them later on. Regardless, this sort of strange co-existence raises sophisticated questions about what tolerance is and how it is experessed.
Moving on: Complementing DM's Palmetto report, WG writes in on behalf of the Deep South. He writes that
I may be a bit late to this thread but here is a little evidence for your files. My wife's father is a devout Episcopalian in his mid 60s. He grew up in Greenville, Miss. His best friend in the world is a gentleman named Ed Kostman who is Jewish. They grew up together in Geenville. If there is a deeper part of the deep south I don't know where it is. Sonny moved to Chicago and eventually Danville, VA where my wife grew up. Ed stayed in Greenville. Presumably antisemitism was not rife enough to prevent him from eventually own 4 car dealerships. I've never had a discussion with either of these guys about antisemitisim but they treat each other and their families treat each other the same way we would treat Baptists, Presbyterians or any of the other weird sects we Episcopalians find in the South. In Danville, VA my wife grew up with a number of Jewish kids, so did my first wife in Petersburg, VA,. Neither places are pillars of enlightened thought. In fact, they are both as full of red necks as any small southern town but those people are in a very distinct minority in my opinion. In the big city of Richmond, I also grew up with numerous Jewish kids and never considered their religion as anything other than their religion. Of course we made fun of each other and called each other names and befriended each other the way kids do, or at least used to do before PC made everyone so damn hyper sensitive. It is also true that the civil rights struggle was going on while I was growing up and I never had anything like the kind of interaction with African Americans that I had with Jews.Finally we come to the thoughts of AT, an Oxonian from Arkanas. She comments that
I've been following your posts about Southern anti-Semitism with interest. I found it very amusing that you would not be surprised at Moran's and Lott's offensive remarks based on the fact that they areAll I can say is that if the spokesmen of the South were as civilized as AT herself, then all of America would look forward to the South rising again. For the moment, it may be worth considering the relationship between thought and action. How is it that certain individuals openly accept stereotypes but still act in a fair and color-blind manner? What role do such stereotypes then play in the behavior of those who are racists?
In light of WG's concern about political correctness, one recognizes that such questions have to be answered before one can object to speech codes on ethical grounds rather than libertarian ones.
Before signing off, a couple of quick notes: DH writes back with a link to this article about that brief moment in Georgian history when Jews were the majority in said colony.
AS recalls hearing a British version of the Lt. Goldstein joke. Appropriately, the British version was more subtle. On a related point, I have to confess that I went astray in telling the Lt. Goldstein joke. The dowager in question actually requests that no Jews be sent to her home for dinner, not no blacks. This correction actually adds a level of sophistication that places the Southern version of the joke on par with the British one. TTFN!
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# Posted 12:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The respones of both the students and their professor to this challenge are a powerful statement about what it means to be a professional soldier. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
For the moment, the balance on our block is 2 for war, 2 against. Along with the Union Jack/Stars & Stripes display at 17 East Avenue, someone at No. 15 has had a poster up that says "Appeasment is not an option. It is a suicide note."
Across the street, there is a window with a "No War on Iraq" sign. A few houses down on our side of the street there is a poster that shows a B-52 in action along with the words: "Stop Humaniterrorism!" Looks like someone hasn't been reading OxBlog...
PS Later on tonight I'll tell you all a little more about my time in Israel. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
# Posted 3:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Everyone here is pretty calm, though I've hard that things in Tel Aviv are a bit more tense. I think things will turn out all right. I hope. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, March 16, 2003
# Posted 2:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Saturday, March 15, 2003
# Posted 11:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
They're right, but it seems that the attitude I described is the one that makes it into print far more than the one they describe. Would that it were not so! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"It amazes me that so many American bloggers and professional pundits can argue that Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction poses such a grave danger that we must be prepared to launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq, yet they remain vitually mute in the face of our government's failure to protect us against Saddam's potential use of smallpox against our cities. I agree that we must be prepared to disarm Saddam by force, but I am also convinced that our lethargic reaction to the smallpox threat places us all in great peril.If it's any consolation to our stateside readers, the UK is just as vulnerable... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I don't have any kind of statistics handy, and I'm a bit loath to do other people's online research without a darned good reason (that's a hint to try googling up some yourself), but first an observation: there are and particularly were in the Sixties and earlier, far, far, far, more "blacks" in the South than Jews. So I'm hardly surprised to see anyone testify what I'm sure is completely true: that they heard far more anti-black remarks than anti-semitic remarks, and witnessed far more anti-black acts, etc. It only stands to reason.I think Gary says it pretty well. And whereas his mother was asked about her horns in the 1940s, I have friends who were asked about their horns in the 1990s. (It probably didn't help that my friend's last name was Horn, but anyway.)
Reader BR, a Southern native, thinks that the premise of Southern anti-Semitism should take into account the difference between Catholics and Protestants. As he observes:
I grew up in Alabama -- Mobile to be specific. I attended Catholic grade and high school from 1948 to 1960. Not once did I hear a disparaging remark from the nuns or the brothers aginst the Jews. Oddly enought Mobile has a substantial Catholic, and I suspect, a respectablely sized Jewish populations.Another reader -- one who happens to share the initials DH -- adds that all those who think of the South as more anti-Semitic should take into account the often more offensive racism and anti-Semitism of the North. As he recalls,
I lived in Atlanta, and traveled the across the deep south, but no further north than Richmond until I went to Hofstra U. ( Long Island ). I am 39, from a white, Southern Baptist upbringing. My experience is similar to the DH you quote, but coming along at the tail end of the desegregation struggle, I heard very few openly expressed anti-black comments either. Prejudice was not extinguished by any means, but race problems had become a source of regional shame. I remember being stunned to hear my roommate from New England unselfconsciously ask me, "How can you stand all the niggers down there?" The "N-word" was considered a hyper-obscenity in my southern circle of friends.A point worth making. Last but not least, blogger Dan Gelfand adds that
among my father's generation (he's 52), the perception of southern anti-Semitism seems to have at least partly resulted from the murders of Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman. It's something that seems to have stuck in the heads of many people. That said, I don't really know how much of that perception is actually true.In closing, I offer a thought and a joke. The thought: Northern Jews' strong identification with the civil rights movement has led them to assume that the racists of the South must have also been anti-Semites. Regardless of our white skin, we know that Teutons and Anglo-Saxons often consider us to be less than white.
And the (moderately offensive) joke:
In 1944, a lonely southern dowager sent a telegram to the local army base to let it be known that she would be glad to host two or three young G.I.'s for Saturday dinner. She requested, however, that only white soldiers be sent.Cheers! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, March 14, 2003
# Posted 8:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Judith Weiss' response is also well worth your time. Finally, don't forget Jonah Goldberg's devastating attack on those who attack neo-conservatives because they are afraid to admit they are anti-Semites. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
it is naïve to think that war in Iraq will not increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks during the conflict. However, increased terrorism would be a strategic decision on the part of Al Qaeda, and not a direct result of the US invasion. Those who want to do harm to the US and the West need no further incentive, but an invasion of Iraq will be an opportune time to strike.If there's a backlash, it will be planned. Anyway, go and read the rest of Ben's post. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I do not doubt that you and some of your friends may perceive that anti-Semitism is much more common in the South than in the North. However, in making statements based on such "perceptions" about groups of people, I think it's important to be careful that the perceptions stem from actual facts instead of stereotypes that themselves create the perception. To be more blunt, I think it's likely that the reason you and others perceive that Southerners are more likely to be anti-Semitic than Northerners is a general stereotype of white Southerners as bigoted. In this particular instance, I doubt that the stereotype has any basis in fact.DH is right. I don't have evidence, just experience. If any of you have thoughts on this one, let me know. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Thanks to RB for the link. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anyway, while you're over at Oraculations, don't forget to enjoy some of the other bizarre, twisted and hi-f*****- larious posts. I think Howard may be even more evil than the Angry Cyclist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
On the one hand, Clinton's attacks weren't much better than cheap shots. But the simple fact that he does support the war shows that he has a certain minimal degree of integrity. Cough--cough--Algore--cough--cough...
(Thanks to reader JW for the link.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:57 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I've stayed away from that last one despite Andrew Sullivan's pronounced interest. But since Glenn asked whether there is a double-standard regarding such stautes on university campuses, I thought I'd add my two cents.
At Yale, there is exactly such a statue, known as the Women's Table. It was designed by Maya Lin, better known for her work on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. The Table is the regular site of demonstrations and counter demonstrations about gender issues.
From this photo, it's hard to tell that there is anything even vaguely reproductive about the statue. But if you look at the Table from above, it looks exactly like an Oval Orifice. In fact, the Table has even been the victim of a "symbolic rape".
Anyway, it's time for me to go to the gym. Sensei Ohta is visiting, and I have the chance to move one step closer to being a black belt if I impress him enough. Cheers! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I'm guessed that Josh would come up with Ronald Reagan, but I was wrong. He got Ralph Nader. Go figure. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:49 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Thanks to reader SR, we have our first answer. According to Khalid Turaani, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ),
“Anti-Semitism is repulsive and intolerable. At the same time it is profoundly un-American to stifle discussion of the well-documented Israeli push for committing American troops to invade Iraq. Israel is a big factor in our decision to go to war...Israel Firsters want a war sooner than later, without regard for American interests or American lives."Let me translate that for you in case you were having some trouble: "Anti-Semitism is bad, but American Jews are traitors who will sell out America on Israel's behalf."
The hypocrisy continues on AMJ's website. The highlight is AMJ's "Congress Watch", a comprhensive rating of all 535 congressmen's support for the Palestinians. At the end of the report is the AMJ "Hall of Fame" which includes (drum roll please): James Moran. Not to mention Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney.
There's a Hall of Shame as well, which includes hateful reactionary Arab bashers such as Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein.
Also worth reading are some of the AMJ press releases, which do their best to pretend that Israeli soldiers show the same malicious disregard for human life as Palestinian suicide bombers. As is obligatory, the AMJ tries to compare Israeli crimes to the Holocaust.
After all, Auschwitz was nothing more than a justified response to fundamentalist Jews who strapped dynamite to themselves and wandered into Munich beerhalls. Right.
All this should really come as no surprise. As Daniel Pipes has shown, AMJ is nothing more than a moderate front for vicious anti-Semitic agenda. Sadly, the war on terror will have to confront enemies within the United States as well as abroad. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
You'll have to admit, these aren't the sort of folks you think of as hawks. But they are. They support the war against Saddam. And -- more importantly -- they are stronlgy in favor of a serious commitment to building democracy in postwar Iraq. Click here for a copy of an open letter to the President on behalf of democracy in Iraq, signed by an SDUSA official as well as neo-cons like Robert Kagan. Strange bedfellows, I say...but all for a good cause!
UPDATE: Special thanks to readers MC and TM who point out that SDUSA is one of the splinters that resulted from the break up of the original American socialist party. Closer to the neo-cons than one might expect, SDUSA has often taken a hawkish line on foreign policy. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:32 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I have just witnessed a mild form of the LA riots or the French Revolution. Around two o'clock this afternoon, a huge mass of school kids (I estimate about 500), most of whom seemed to be about 14, 15 years old, turned up in the main shopping street of Oxford (Corn Market Street) carrying anti-war posters and chanting "No to War!" Some were wearing T-shirts that said: "Let's bomb Texas. They have oil too." They hung around the city center for a good hour and a half. Eventually they stormed Oxford Castle. Then the mob turned violent. They began to hurl rocks at busses and innocent by-standers (such as your humble correspondent). Later they occupied Carfax, the very heart of the city, and blocked buses. Security guards and the odd police officer tried to protect a nearby mall, when the kids threatened to go there next. I spoke to a couple of them, and they told me that they had broken out of their classes, with the tacit support of their anti-war teachers. "The teachers can't let us go, because it's illegal and they'd get sacked, but they wanted us to go", a girl told me. Almost all were pupils from Cheney School (If only the Vice President knew what they are doing in his name), where I imagine some unpleasant conversations will have to take place with staff tomorrow morning.Not to be outdone, Oxford's students (participating in a larger demonstration) broke into an actual air force base. The BBC reported this as a criminal activity. In contrast, I received the following message from Rhodes Scholars Against the War maillist:
Thank you to everyone who came to our events this week, especially those who came to lie in the cold street on Saturday for the die-in, and those who made the journey to RAF Fairford on Sunday.While, in a literal sense, this is sabotage, I'm not going to get worked up about it. These protesters will convince themselves of their own righteousness, ignore the Iraqi liberation once it happens, and then go back to protesting globalization like they did before September 11. Ho-hum. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, March 13, 2003
# Posted 10:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"Interesting video of the AC-130 Specter gunship in action. Note the ability of the crew to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants (not firing on the mosque, which was right next to the target). It is also important to remember there are Special Forces teams on the ground that spotted the target and determined that the Afghanis in the area are combatants."[Note: The link above will directly open a wmv file.]
UPDATE: Here is some more information about the AC-130. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Also visit the Ranting Rantionalist, a new blog which describes its aspriations as follows:
Hopefully, my rantings will at least vaguely interest those of you who crave rational discourse. I am similarly hopeful that you liberal, subjectivist, collectivist simpletons are roundly agitated and annoyed. The ideas expressed on this Blog will not be subject to any form of political correctness. Facts and thoughts, no matter how unpalatable or taboo, will be presented in an unflinchingly honest fashion. It is my belief that political correctness is a shocking and fetid fact of modern intellectual life; nothing to expand it's already ubiquitous presence will be fostered here.Read some RR posts and you'll see that Nick means business. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In a bold move reminiscient of Andrew Sullivan, Sean-Paul has decided to turn to the blogosphere for support. He doesn't need $100,000, only $2500. And instead of earmarking it for personal consumption, Sean-Paul will be spending the cash on a worthy intellectual endeavour.
If 100 people pledge $25 each, Sean-Paul can write his book. Or make that 99. This OxBlogger has put his money where his mouth is. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
And don't forget to check out WMI's gonzo journalism exploits, which include crashing anti-war rallies and a contest for silliest anti-war poster. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anderson's sharpest point is his refutation of the argument that a unilateral invasion of Iraq will undermine either the institution of international law or the trans-atlantic alliance on which it depends. As he observes:
Historically, the United States has always reserved the right to act alone where necessary, while seeking allies wherever possible. In recent years it acted alone in Grenada, in Panama, in Nicaragua, and which of its allies now complains about current arrangements in any of these countries? As for the UN, NATO did not consult it when it launched its attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, in which every European ally that now talks of the need for authorisation from the Security Council fully participated, and which 90 per cent of the opinion that now complains about our plans for Iraq warmly supported.I might add that the unprecedented influence that the United Nations has at the moment is in part a response to American (and European) disrespect for its mandate. As I've said before, an invasion of Iraq is thus as likely to strengthen the UN as it is to destroy it.
The idiosyncratic side of Anderson's argument emerges in the form of warm praise for arch-realists Kenneth Waltz, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. Incomprehensibly, Anderson endorses Waltz's bizarre hypothesis that the spread of nuclear weapons will make the world safer. Perhaps Prof. Anderson has not heard of a man by the name of Kim Jong Il?
All in all, Anderson's essay is well worth reading. Yet, as always, caveat emptor.
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# Posted 6:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But the really great thing is that Jeneane Garafolo has become a casualty counter as well, and has begun to double Herold's figures! (Read the whole interview. It's absolutely hilarious.)
PS The Angry Cylcist took the Evil Test and it turns out he is very, very evil. I am not surprised! (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As KB asked in a letter to the BBC, "What about the cost of NOT going to war?" Hard to put a number on that, but considering that Saddam Hussein will have an untouchable stockpile of chemical weapons if we don't disarm him now, I imagine military spending will rise to take that fact into account.
Anyhow, the really disappointing thing about the BBC's doomsday scenario is that it's so moderate. The BBC seems profoundly concerned that the UK may have to spend 10 billion pounds. Surely the BBC could've called Bill Nordhaus and gotten him to say that the cost of war will be 50 times that!
Frankly, the BBC's concern about this sort of pocket change reminds me of all the Oxford students who become indignant at the thought that they may someday have to pay a few thousand pounds a year for the privilege of attending their nation's best university. Show them a tuition bill from Harvard and they might realize that the British government is covering the costs of an education that will make them rich while the rest of Britain struggles to get by. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In an interesting turnabout for a hawk, Steve lays responsibility for the UN's dithering on the shoulders of Bush and Blair. After all, if they are serious about Iraq, why are they letting incoherent French and German objections get in their way?
I definitely have some sympathy for this view, but I think sometimes Steve takes it a bit far, for example holding Blair responsible for depending on the British left in Parliament. Remember: Blair is the one responsible for transforming the Labour Party from a retrograde and unelectable socialist dinosaur into the monopoly party of the British center. It is because of this triumph that the United Kingdom has been able to stand by the side of the United States in opposing Iraq.
In another interesting post, Steve takes on all those bleeding-heart humanitarians who say you can't put a price on human life. Steve does, and he breaks down the price structure according to nationality and political beliefs.
Generously, Steve declares that a Frenchman is worth .8 of a Brit. What I don't get is why a Frenchman is worth five times as much as an Iraqi civilian. I mean, hey, the Iraqi people are actually Bush's strongest supporters outside of the Dallas city limits!
Keep it up, Steve!
UPDATE: Steve responds to my comments on Blair. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
# Posted 10:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Daniel Drezner's brilliant column in TNR exposes the false premises of the nonstop talk about how hard it will be to bring democracy to Iraq. As he observes,
...it is intellectually fashionable these days to believe that local conditions always triumph over grand theory. But the local conditions argument overlooks a crucial detail: Over the past century, international factors have been more important than domestic factors in determining the success of democratic transition and consolidation. And the international factors surrounding Iraq are more favorable than one might think.Read the rest of the column to find out what those factors are. (Tony Smith, if you're reading this, I know you deserve credit for the "international factors" argument as well.
The bad news is that international factor #1 (the US government) can't get it's act together. Also in TNR, Lawrence Kaplan provides a devastating account of the State Department's efforts to trade democracy for stability in postwar Iraq. [Full text for subscribers only.]
Foggy Bottom's strategy for ensuring stability is to leave most of the centralized Ba'ath power structure in place after the war, rather than signing off on a federal constitution that would give considerable authority to Iraq's provincial governments. As Jacob Levy explains in (guess where!) TNR, a federal state structure is the best means of balancing ethnic voting blocs as well as stopping authoritariansim from emerging at the center.
The main flaw in Kaplan's account is its whitewash of the Iraqi opposition-in-exile supported by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. As both TNR and OxBlog have argued, however, there is good reason to believe that the opposition-in-exile is power hungry, incompetent, and unable to command the loyalty of anyone actually living in Iraq.
Thus, an extended US occupation may be quite a good thing if it gives time for indigenous democratic forces to organize themselves and draft a workable constitution. If the State Department directs the occupation, that may never happen. However, there are signs that the Pentagon will insist on taking control if an extended occupation is what the president decides on.
So things may work out all right in the end, thanks to a strange sort of dumb luck that combines the best of the Pentagon and State Department's flawed proposals for rebuilding Iraq. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
This time, his subject is the shopworn discussion of whether Bush is personally responsible for the marked rise in global anti-Americanism. Josh Marshall, E.J. Dionne and Richard Cohen all say yes.
Howard Kurtz argues, that criticism from such quarters is quite credible, since Marshall, Dionne, and Cohen have consistently argued that Iraq is a threat that must be dealt with. I don't think such criticism is all that suprising, however. For centrist liberals such as M, D and C, there is a tendency to recognize the importance of dealing with threats forcefully, but also a tendency to believe that American arrogance is the cause of any resentment our policies generate abroad.
Ironically, this fear of arrogance is itself quite arrogant, since it assumes that other governments are so beholden to their emotions that their reactions to US decisions depends not on such decisions' actual content, but on whether or not their presentation is "arrogant". As I've said before,
" A unilateral invasion of Iraq is simply unacceptable in Europe. No amount of spin can change that. What the US has to decide is whether invading Iraq is important enough to disregard criticism of it."Now that I've said my piece, we finally comeback to Jackson Diehl's column, which is the first one I've seen to make a similar point. As he writes:
Some would argue that what increasingly looks like a severe rift in the Western democracies was entirely man-made -- and that clumsy and arrogant acts by the Bush administration started the trouble...Diehl goes on to argue, however, that this sort of conflict cannot account for the hesitation of Mexico, Chile and Turkey to support the US. In these three cases, bad diplomacy has made all the difference.
While I think that the administration did a reasonable job with Turkey, I am still extremely impressed by Diehl's subtle analysis. The question is, when will the NYT hire him to replace Maureen Dowd?
PS Mickey Kaus makes a similar point to Diehl's in his March 10 post. [Is it me, or does Kaus not have permalinks?] (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:08 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
No less predictably, the article raises unsubstantiated fears about an Islamist victory were the Saudis to hold open elections. As always, the Post's correspondent makes no effort to distinguish peaceful Islamists from their violent counterparts. Yet as OxBlog observed some time ago, this is a critical distinction both in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Muslim world.
While peaceful Islamists are often anti-American, they often condemn terrorists as un-Islamic. As the conduct of the current Saudi government shows, a peaceful anti-American democracy may be preferable to a nominally pro-Western dictatorship. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
More interestingly, President Bush called Hamid Karzai to apologize for his grilling by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the hearing,
"Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) warned that if Karzai told the committee everything was going well, "the next time you come back, then your credibility will be in question. Hagel said later that he felt the administration had "coached" Karzai.While it's hard to know exactly what Hagel meant, I sense that he wants to make sure the administration doesn't forget about Afghanistan. In the mold of Richard Lugar (R-IN), Hagel seems to be one of few Senators who understands the importance of addressing fthose foreign policy issues that may have a critical impact on American security but not attract much attention from the media. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I have to admit, I'm having a hard time getting worked up about this, since it is so cliche. Southerner says Elders of Zion control America. I'm the sure the Anti-Defamation League will deal with it. Then again, I thought nothing of it when Trent Lott made his infamous remarks. A racist from Mississippi. Shocking.
But here's an interesting question: Will Arab-American groups say anything about Moran's remarks? That would be impressive.
CLARIFICATION: A reader has sarcastically observed that my comment above about Southerners is just as enlightened as Moran's comment about Jews. I beg to differ. It simply my own experience and that of many Jewish friends -- yes, some of my best friends are Jewish! -- that anti-Semitism is much more common in Southern states than in the North. While most Southerners -- and almost all the Southerners I personally know -- are very open-minded, there are a disproportionate number that aren't. Thus, my comment entailed an observation. Moran told an out and out lie. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"to pay the salaries of 2 million or more Iraqi bureaucrats and soldiers to help stabilize Iraq after the fall of President Saddam Hussein, Pentagon officials said yesterday in revealing new details of a broad strategy to occupy and rebuild the country.I'd have to imagine that the Pentagon is taking on this incredible responsibility because it understands that a half-hearted approach to occupation cannot work. As a peacetime Powell Doctrine might have said, one goes in with overwhelming funds, or one doesn't go in at all. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Isn't it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness? Wouldn't people subjected to brutal governments be encouraged to see the human rights of Muslims valiantly secured by Americans — rights that are assigned rather cheap value by the critics' definition of justice?Let's hope that he shares out commitment to the hard work that comes after liberation. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I'm beginning to sense that brown belts are the karate equivalent of World War I infantrymen. They go out there knowing they are going to be slaughtered. My first fight at last Sunday's tournament actually wasn't all that bad. My opponent was very conservative, and we spent most of the time trying to establish a better position to attack from, rather than simply attacking.
He got ahead 1-0, however, and then I had to chase him during the last 30 seconds of the match in order to try for an equalizer. I tried, but his fist "equalized" my nose. I actually bled, though not much. The only consolation was that my opponent went on to win his next three matches and qualify for the final round. At least I lost to someone good.
What hurts more than losing is losing without a fight, which is what happened in my second match. Around 30 seconds in, my opponent swept my front leg. I barely resisted. It was 5:30pm, I'd gotten three hours of sleep the night before, and I had been at the tournament since 8:30 that morning.
I just sort of floated with my opponent's leg sweep, feeling that it was almost natural to follow the force he generated rather than resisting it. Of course, turning my back ended the match. I didn't feel a thing. My opponent barely touched me. All he needed to do was show that he could've hit me had he wanted to.
When I got back on Sunday night, I started working on my presentation for today's OxDem panel discussion. And that is pretty much all I have done since then.
I haven't written one word of my thesis since last Friday. I've put up one real post on OxBlog. But now that's all behind me and I'm back in business.
The panel came off quite well in terms of audience reaction. Regardless of their political views, members of the audience seemed to believe that it was an enriching discussion. They also were very positive about our decision to have a student-centered discussion rather than a lecturing profession.
Later on, Josh or I may post some sort of summary or partial transcript. Don't expect any sound files, though. Our recording device was none other than the hand-held tape recorder I used to conduct interviews for my senior thesis in college.
In political terms, it's hard to know if the panel was a success or not. Naturally, we didn't expect anyone to change their views in the space of an hour and a half. I think our main concerns was to demonstrate that one can be very well-informed and still support both the use of force against Iraq and democratization afterward.
From my perspective, it was most important to demonstrate this fact to the significant number of Americans in Oxford who are very hesistant to make their views about the war known, since they do not want to bear the responsibility of justifiying their position if it comes anywhere close to supporting for the war.
On some level, I am uncomfortable with such individuals' unwillingness to take a stand and make an effort to become informed. On the other hand, one has to have a tremendous amount of information at one's fingertips in order to respond to accusations that a war will result in hundreds of thousands of civlian deaths, that it will undermine the United Nations and that it will provoke a terrorist backlash throughout the Middle East.
On behalf of all those who sense that these are simplistic and false arguments, Josh and I tried to show that there is a solid case to be made for confronting Saddam and embarking on a project of democratization in the Middle East. Beyond that, we're just keeping our fingers crossed. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
# Posted 9:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In short, Jacob argues that the now-apparent lack of common interests within the ranks of democratic nations will bring to an end the brief era of international cooperation that lasted throughout the 1990s.
The central point on which I differ with Jacob is his exclusive focus on common interests and disregard for common ideas. As is always the case with realists, their realism shades into ivory tower abstraction when they insist on thinking of states as having only interests but not ideas.
To be fair, Jacob never explicitly states that ideas do not matter. But his analysis is clearly interest-driven.
From my perspective, the current conflict between the United States and Europe should not be read as the downfall of an outdated international order. Rather, it is a further demonstration that shared democratic ideals are not enough to ensure constant coordination between American and European foreign policy.
Remember that not one of the United States' dissenting allies has indicated that it would do anything to stop a US invasion or defend Iraq should war breakout. Realists take note: the balance of power is still dead.
In time, the current Euro-American rift will become yet another memorial to the unprecedented flexibility of alliances between democratic nations. It was that flexibility that ensured our victory in the Cold War, and which will ensure our victory in the war on terror. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:57 PM by Dan
# Posted 8:25 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Today's evidence is on Martin's side, though, with the Washington Post reporting that scholars at Al-Azhar University (the Harvard of the Islamic world) calling for jihad in the event of an invasion.
The Al-Azhar declaration states that, "According to Islamic law, if the enemy steps on Muslims' land, jihad becomes a duty on every male and female Muslim." Funny how twelve years of US stepping on Saudi land hasn't provoked that kind of statement before. In light of most Arabs' negative views of Saddam, I sense that having US troops cross the border from one Muslim land to another won't make a lasting difference. But we'll see. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, March 08, 2003
# Posted 8:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
graduate students went on strike. I did, too — reluctantly. But on the picket line, something happened to me. As we marched around the freshman quad, an undergraduate yelled out his dorm window, "Get back to work." For the first time in my life, I felt like a maid. And suddenly I realized that this was how other workers at Yale — in the dining halls, the labs, the offices — routinely felt. I kept marching, determined never to forget what it's like to work at a place like Yale.Typical. For whatever reason, pro-union grad students at Yale delude themselves into believing that Yale's undergraduates are the heartless scions of an American plutocracy, rather than the middle-of-the-road middle-class liberals that they actually are. (FYI Nader came within 20 or so votes of beating Dole at the Yale polling station when I was a sophomore in 1996. Clinton was far ahead of both of them.)
But I won't say any more, since a letter to the Times has said it best:
Mr. Robin does Yale students a disservice when he transplants the opinion of one conservative columnist onto the entire student body. As a Yale sophomore, I have noticed an attitude on campus that is quite distant from the "imperial disregard" of which he accuses undergraduates.While I wouldn't say that students supported the strikers demands' all that strongly when I was there, respect for the members of Locals 34 and 35 and the tremendous amount they did for us was semething almost everyone could agree on. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If not for Al Jazeera, Brokaw says, the state-run Arab media might have been able to persuade the Arab street that US policy isn't so bad after all. I'm not so sure. Considering that the Arab media have long been filled with hateful anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Western diatribes, I have a hard time believing that Al Jazeera made any sort of difference.
That point aside, it is important to recognize Brokaw's argument as the current version of the liberal cliche that if the US was just better at explaining it policies, people wouldn't resent it so much. In his column, Brokaw sympathetically quotes a Pentagon planner who says that "We've done a terrible job out here explaining why we're going after Saddam Hussein." (For a similar view, visit Bloggy Fottom.)
But the real problems are the policies themselves. A unilateral invasion of Iraq is simply unacceptable in Europe. No amount of spin can change that. What the US has to decide is whether invading Iraq is important enough to disregard criticism of it. I, for one, say yes.
And I suspect that there will be much less criticism once we find Saddam's chemical weapons stockpile and show the French and Germans what they are pretending doesn't exist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 6:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The one point I'm going to take issue with is Sean-Paul's description of these efforts as "appeasement" and "Clintonian". What they may indicate is that the US has recognized the futility of stopping North Korea from going nuclear. If that's the case, Clintonian appeasement may have been preferable.
(I can't believe I just said that! Then again, even Charlie K. thinks that "the time for appeasement may indeed have arrived.") (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Kaplan's criticisms stung enough for CASI, the NGO which published the UN estimate, to post a response on its website.
I didn't find the response all that convincing, since its essential premise is that the US will completely disregard the effects of its warfighting strategies on Iraqi civilians. While there is no question that the Pentagon is less than honest about such issues, it's record in Afghanistan and Kosovo shows that it takes them quite seriously.
Last but not least, make sure to take a look at Brookings scholar Michael O'Hanlon's article on US and Iraqi military casualties in a second Gulf war. In urban fighting, the US may have to accept thousands of casualties. That is a very sobering thought.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Ben is a liberal hawk who has lots of very sensible things to say about foreign policy. Especially interesting is his Call to Unite in Disarming Iraq.
Read it and you'll see that Ben is much closer to the Kevin Drum model of liberal hawkishness than to my own. In other words, Ben's domestic politics are as aggressively liberal as his stance on foreign policy.
In contrast, I am a liberal hawk by virtue of my belief that America must promote liberalism -- in the form of democracy and human rights -- across the globe. We must do so because the liberal principles on which American was founded are universal.
However, I do not believe that these liberal values are identical to those that animate the Democratic agenda on social policy. Rather, both parties promote agendas that represent different variants of the same liberal values on which America was founded. As I see it, the choice between them is more often one of pragmatism than of principle.
So Ben, welcome to the blogosphere! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:05 PM by Dan
In his column today, Bill Keller quotes a Republican strategist who says: "If the policy (the Iraq war) succeeds in the war and the peace....you'll see a further tectonic shift of Jewish political support, both in terms of money and votes, toward Bush. That's not why it's being done, but it will be a consequence if they're successful." I agree that Jewish money will flow toward Bush--Jews who are interested in foreign policy tend to be more hawkish and active politically. But I disagree with the contention that Jews will vote in significantly higher numbers for Bush.
Broadly speaking, Israel is not the top issue on which American Jews vote. Like other Americans, Jews are deeply concerned with domestic issues like the economy, choice, education, the separation of church and state, health care, social security, and the environment. In polling from the 1990s, Israel did not make the top 10 of issues. With the second intifada and 9/11, one could argue that Israel and foreign policy in general has become a greater concern for American Jews. Still, I don't think matters pertaining to Israel will be the decisive factor for Jewish voters in 2004.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion