Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
But just so that you don't think I'm in Obama's pocket (at least not yet,) here is a biting comment from Kevin Drum's comments section on Obama's recently unveiled health care plan: "The audacity of blah!" Yep, that about sums it up.
Friday, May 25, 2007
The reason we should leave Iraq isn't because the war is costing lives, but because the war isn't critical to our national security.
Trouble is, the area is critical to our national security. Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the world, for God's sake. It could draw its Arab neighbors into a fracticidal Sunni-Shia regional conflict. And it could draw our NATO partner Turkey to move against our stalwart Kurd allies.
Those who favor withdrawal can't be seen to be promising flowers and sweets, like the administration did before the war. When we leave, things probably will get worse. But (and here is the rhetorical frame, which also happens to have the virtue of being true): Iraqis are the only ones who can sort this out... and they can do it better by themselves.
Why? A number of reasons:
1) Civil wars are only over when one side knows it has lost. Sunnis see both Republicans and Democrats saying they want to leave; they are aware of American domestic political pressure. The Sunni insurgency will not lose hope until they can take on the Shiites solo, without American interference. Until they do so a Shiite government will not have credibility of force.
2) Any Iraqi government which depends on the protection of the Americans will not be seen as a sovereign government, thus hurting its credibility with the Iraqi people and its neighbors.
3) An Iraq government that has to cater to American desires is handicapped in building its own Iraqi constituency, which inevitably will have contrary desires to America's.
4) Only a portion of the violence in Iraq is anti-American in motivation, but it is not an insignificant portion. By disengaging in the short term and promising to withdraw in the medium-term America would be diminishing an element of opposition. Al Qaeda has very little political support in Iraq. They are thriving only because of the American presence and the anarchy present there. Once a stable government arises, Al Qaeda in Iraq will be crushed.
We have to warn the public that violence will probably get worse, and the resulting government might not be to our liking, but also make it clear that if we stayed we would probably be turning a 2-year civil war into a 10-year civil war.
In other words, we need to talk to Americans like grown-ups.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum responds by e-mail:
Points taken, but I didn't say the area wasn't critical to our national security. I said the *war* wasn't critical to our national security. In fact, I think it's detrimental. I hope this doesn't seem like nitpicking, since I think it's a pretty important difference.
I agree about the possibility that Iraq will get a lot worse once we leave. In fact, I've blogged about this a few times before. It's hard to say exactly how politicians should address this, but I agree that, one way or another, those of us who oppose the war need to prepare the public for this.
Actually, as near as I can tell, we pretty much agree with each other. If there's any real disagreement, it's pretty small.
Substantially, I think our positions are pretty close. And perhaps I didn't characterize Kevin's position fairly. But my quibble was regarding rhetorical emphasis: it's the difference between saying "the war isn't important to us" and "we aren't helping by staying." I think Americans can instinctively grasp the concept that meddling sometimes makes things worse.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Harvard is tough to get into. To be admitted to a school like that, students spend years earning good grades, doing community service and working hard to demonstrate their skills. The system has its excesses, but over all it’s good for Harvard and it’s good for the students beginning their climb to opportunity.
The United States is the Harvard of the world. Millions long to get in. Yet has this country set up an admissions system that encourages hard work, responsibility and competition? No. Under our current immigration system, most people get into the U.S. through criminality, nepotism or luck. The current system does almost nothing to encourage good behavior or maximize the nation’s supply of human capital.
Which is why the immigration deal reached in the Senate last week is, on balance, a good thing. It creates a new set of incentives for immigrants and potential immigrants. It encourages good behavior, in the manner of a demanding (though overly harsh) admissions officer. It rewards the bourgeois virtues that have always been at the heart of this nation’s immigrant success, and goes some way to assure that the people who possess these virtues can become U.S. citizens.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."
That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.
What a doofus, huh? But wait a minute... what's this Gingrich is saying on Meet the Press this morning?
And I think we have dramatically expanded the excitement and incentives of the terrorists, both in the Iranian-funded Shia wing and the Saudi-funded Sunni wing of Al Qaeda. [My Tivo-aided transcription]
And he sounded so professorial saying it too. I wonder... when will the guffaws start?
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
It's Catch-22, Iraqi-style. The U.S. can’t leave Iraq until its government can stand by itself. The Iraqi government can’t stand by itself while the U.S. is propping it up.
UPDATE: Check the link... Josh has kindly posted my response to him.