Sunday, January 28, 2007

Volokh got into Discourses on Livy which has a new translation By Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard classics prof, who wrote a probably unpopular book on Masculinity this year. 'Discourses' is available at our library as an ebook, the first one I have gotten into. Anyway, the quote they take from Machiavelli in Volokh seems to rather sum up Iranian behavior. One of the interesting things about Machiavelli is that he believed republican and other conflict was inevitable, rather like Adam Smith who saw an 'invisible (beneficial) hand' in organizing the self interests of men (and women) properly. Political theory at the time was inclined to the idea of a patriarchal, beneficent ruler, rather like the statist views of today and the last century.
Megan McArdle, Irish american economista, looks at the abortion debaters and the debate.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Betrayal in Kerbala

Per Omar, the deaths of Americans in the Kerbala attack yells 'inside job.'

It is a duplicity that asks for mental exercise in unraveling the possibilities. One scenario: Financed by Iran. Those SUVs don't come cheap, not to mention coordination. Word is given at a high level: let the pseudoAmericans through. The real Americans are planning protection of Shiites at their most invested pilgrimage. Now or in the future Shiites are to be sacrificed to create a turn to a strong man; burn the Reichstag anyone; blow up Moscow apt. buildings; murder, the earlier referred to, 'angels' at the university in Baghdad?

It reminds me of a certain C company in VN. One day it's members saw a group of soldiers with tubes for a weapon, antiaircraft apparently, in ARVN, that's our side, uniforms. Some days later B company, a company of Rangers 60-120 men, is cut down in the open by this weapon, 3 survivors. Earlier it had been the enemy in allies uniforms.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

B'nai Mitvah

Dr. Rousch put up a generic invitation to go to his twins Bar Mitvah. Never one to demand a personal invitation, I showed up. The neighbors fence was falling down next to the parking lot, convention room chairs in the sanctuary, the kids doing the responses rather than the invocations for a few verses; cool. But the rabbi quite sincere in encouraging and loving the boys, comments on the Torah portion. 'The Jews were in slavery but it's human nature not to want to change from what is known' (learned helplessness in my lingo). Etc. 'To the cognitive dissonance of, in the midst of a discussion of freedom and slavery, to talk about families and generations. I see many familiar Jewish names here, but I never knew a Mishi; that would be worse than being a boy named Sue.' All in all an informality and an inclusion of others particular the B'nai Mitvah boys that you wouldn't see in a Christian ceremony. An interesting analogy between keeping the Torah in a sanctuary box and Catholics keeping the Eucharist there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

For shame! No WMD in Iraq.

The superiority de jour over the U.S. is Bush being mistaken over the presence of WMD in Iraq. I thought I'd gather my comments on that given in the Volokh Conspiracy and Asymmetrical Information:

I appreciate your criticising Mr. Bush without vitriol. You know there were arguments in the months prior to our going to the UN when it was clear that Mr. Bush wanted to invade Iraq. Saddam had a clear history of murdering innocent and mere opponents, in a sense was like the man eating tiger who had to be considered dangerous for living in that unnatural manner. If Saddam didn't have dangerous WMD, he had them on his Muslim holiday list along with suicide bombers of Israeli children; and the sanctions were tenuous. The Democrats and media, representing you presumably, said we had to get the acquiescence of the world community. Was he going to say that 'after 9/11 (and implications noted by Tony Blair above) I don't think I can do my duty as first soldier and guardian of the country with Saddam Hussein in office?' No, he had to make a case on UN precedents and Saddam's failure to comply. Like the prosecutors we have been lambasting in recent blog posts, he, for you (i.e. those demanding international acquiescence), put on the case with the evidence he had. The case came down not to a conviction or acquittal of Saddam, because there really wasn't sufficient evidence, in part because there was 'obstruction of justice (or investigation).' This then lacked a definitive finding from the UN, and Saddam appeared not to cooperate believing his French and Russian allies would necessitate an affirmative finding on the first charge; but Bush was never compelled by their finding to begin with, only ours of making an honorable international trial, and proceeded then with the public impression of Saddam's obstruction of justice to war.

From my interviews with patients from the First Gulf War, I believe that Saddam used them, chemical weapons, against our troops to a limited extent (or with limited penetrance). Lets assume he still had them. He had a decision to make. The issue before the U.N. was, 'Is war justified by his possession of WMD?' If he attacks our troops with them, then that justifies our aggression. This is only really useful for him if it determines the outcome of the war. Another alternative is to ship them to Syria, which a senior Iraqi Air Force officer has reported in a book. Remember pan-Arabism? Syria is controlled by the Baath party, same as was in Iraq. The information about a planned chemical attack on Amman is consistent with there being in Syria. Also WMD not being found can be a justification for his allies or right minded thinkers to attack the integrity of those who attacked Iraq. The third alternative, simply leaving them in Iraq, can be easily eliminated from his multiple choice answer because that is as bad as using them and without benefit. His stalling and giving incomplete reports leads credence to his having this multiple choice. You ever wonder why the police don't publish in the paper who they're going to bust for marijuana possession next Saturday?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush's speech

I heard it in my car, liked it a lot. Instapundit links to Don Souber 'on Kennedy' in which piece is an elegaic, if abstract, reflection of what we lost by abandoning VN. We didn't watch as Creighton Abrams, Gen. Westmoreland's successor, and our diminishing soldiers, with the Vietnamese, building on earlier sacrifices established a new country there which our congress, taking to heart our cynicism, abandoned. Our ability to learn and the posibility of rehabilitation contribute to my faith that we can bring a good peace and not accept a sardonic and cynical view.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Truth stumbles into us

The Dallas newspaper's Steve Blow (reg. required) is saying that if only Gerald Ford had told us about his questions about what George Bush was going to do in Iraq, the debate could have saved us. Journalist star Woodward got former President Ford to say some things, which come out at us now like him falling out of a helicopter, perhaps as a way to have the star's rapt attention. To say that this would have saved us is to have trouble in a marital relationship and say if only we had talked to Anna Nicole Smith's 91 year old husband before getting into the relationship everything would've been fine. To paraphrase Animal Farm, 'Any thing's possible but some things are more possible than others.'

The problem with this approach is that it really has to do with the 'Go/ No go' question with regard to the war. In regard to that question, I think you have to look at Kesher Talk's unmarked milestone. Could we have significantly turned over policy decisions to a group of notables there shortly after the overthrow of Saddam? That would be my speculation for what would have the best post 'Mission accomplished' course. I think you would have the inherent drive of the Sadr forces to dominate over other elements that wouldn't have been solved directly by this method. Nevertheless, I think this course which would have recapitulated the beginning of our own development. Those people largely had the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqis as did the prosperous landowners and others at the start of America. In our plodding way though, we are hoping for and making the conditions for a democratic solution there in Iraq.

Tom Maguire has been reading in these subjects,