Archive

  • COUNTER-INSURGENCY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE.

    COUNTER-INSURGENCY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE. I think Matt is missing the point of the renewed emphasis on counter-insurgency doctrine in the U.S. military. Matt's focus is on the Iraq campaign, and he's making two arguments. First, not invading Iraq would have been a better idea than developing an outstanding counter-insurgency strategy. Second, bad counter-insurgency is one of the things that the "incompetence dodgers" most often mention when they want to explain why Iraq failed. I actually agree with Matt on both of these points, but the issue of counter-insurgency doctrine has implications that go well beyond the Iraq campaign. The United States military is completely dominant in high intensity warfare. Consequently, any potential foes are likely to develop asymmetric strategies, including insurgency campaigns and guerilla tactics. The next war that the United States fights, justified or no, is likely to be a counter-insurgency campaign. Given this, the military ought to be thinking...
  • EATING THEIR YOUNG.

    EATING THEIR YOUNG. While the talking heads make great hay out of the drubbing John Kerry has received this week at the hands of many fellow Democrats, it will be interesting to see if similar attention is paid to the utterances of religious right leaders about their former good friend and potential heir to the leadership of the religious right kingdom, Ted Haggard , who yesterday resigned the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals after a self-described male "escort" alleged, as reported here yesterday, a three-year, sex-for-money relationship with Haggard. Until yesterday, Haggard, who has temporarily stepped aside from the leadership of his 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, enjoyed a spot in the inner circle of the Bush administration's religious right advisers, participating in weekly White House phone conferences with the likes of Karl Rove , and often Bush himself. He's been a big player in the right's anti-gay activities, championing a...
  • SUPPORT THE IMAGINARY...

    SUPPORT THE IMAGINARY TROOPS. I've been struggling to articulate what most unnerves me about the Kerry flap for a couple of days, trying to figure out how to say this without it being ripped out of context mere microseconds after posting. Not easy. But let's start with the education issue: There are a lot of different estimates as to the education level of the troops in Iraq. The best conclusion you can draw is that they're relatively educated (and rarely un educated), working-to-middle class, and heavily Southern and Southwestern. In other words, they're not sons of privilege, but nor are they refuges from the streets. It's the American Dream with guns. But I loathe the tendency -- by politicians and pundits, liberals and conservatives -- to dreamily speak of the great sacrifice, magnificent courage, inspiring intellect, and extraordinary characters of our troops. It's bullshit. And it's bullshit designed to make us feel better, so we don't have to face what we've done to these young...
  • THE WAR'S LATEST CASUALTIES.

    THE WAR'S LATEST CASUALTIES. Of course, our own high chief, Harold Meyerson , is dead-on in his latest Prospect/WaPo piece about the conversion (finally!) of the North to blue. Indeed, the big story of 2006 will be the fulfillment of the partisan realignment that started with the Brown v. Board decision a half-century ago. That transformation started in the South at the presidential level, worked its way all the way down to sheriffs (see David Lublin 's compelling book, The Republican South ), and is now beginning to purge the Rust Belt of many of the remaining Ford - Rockefeller Republicans who found themselves playing second banana to the GOP's southernized, evangelized, big-government-conservatism wing. But watch for Republicans, and conservatives in particular, to paint 2006 as some validation of their principles by focusing incessantly on western North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler , or either Harold Ford or Jim Webb , should they win. (Or even if they lose.) These same folks...
  • Productivity Tanks, No One Notices

    Okay, that's not quite right, the Wall Street Journal came though with a front page story . But the reporting on the latest productivity data was buried near the end of a story on retail sales in the NYT and nowhere to be found in the Post or on National Public Radio. Just to get people's eyes on the ball, productivity growth is a big deal. In the long-run, it determines the size of the pie that we have to cut up. I take distribution very seriously (a bit less for Bill Gates and friends is a lot more for everyone else), but the world looks much better, both in ensuring decent living standards and dealing with environmental problems like global warming, if we can sustain strong rates of productivity growth. The Labor Department reported that 3rd quarter productivity growth was flat. The quarterly numbers are very erratic, but looking back over a year productivity growth was just 1.3 percent. Since the big upturn in productivity growth in the 2nd half of 1995, there were only two...
  • ARCTIC NOT SO HOT AFTER ALL?

    ARCTIC NOT SO HOT AFTER ALL? Joshua Kurlantzick's story in this month's Prospect was a fascinating look at how huge energy companies (including some that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to undermine the global scientific consensus that the Earth is warming and that we are responsible) are rushing to lock up oil and gas resources in the Arctic region. Yesterday, however, energy consultants Wood Mackenzie and geoscientists Fugro Robertson released a joint study casting doubt on what Wood Mackenzie's VP called "the long-considered view that the Arctic represents one of the last great oil and gas frontiers and a strategic energy supply cache for the U.S." Most of the resources up there, moreover, are difficult-to-transport gas rather than oil. No doubt the report's findings will curb some enthusiasm for Arctic drilling among the oil majors. More here from the Houston Chronicle . I'd be interested to hear Kurlantzick's thoughts. --Blake Hounshell
  • EN GARDE.

    EN GARDE. One of my own personal quirks is that I am an aging epee hack. I have been fencing, off and on, since 1971, having picked it up again in 1993. To my friends who play other sports, I make note often of the very cool facts that, a) Neil Diamond was a sabreur and the fencing captain at NYU, and b) that Bruce Dickinson , the lead singer of Iron Maiden, is a world-class foilist. So, I have to admit that, while I was cruising along the various tubes of the Internets, this (from a few months ago) freaking alarmed me . You and me, Annie . Fifteen touches. The CNN studios. Book it. --Charles P. Pierce
  • AZ SEN: PEDERSON MAKES HIS MOVE?

    AZ SEN: PEDERSON MAKES HIS MOVE? When we last checked in with the Senate race in Arizona, businessman Jim Pederson (D) was inching closer to incumbent Sen. Jon Kyl (R), narrowing the gap to just six points in a race Republicans didn't expect to be competitive this year. It continues to get more interesting by the day. National Journal reports that the DSCC is watching the race closely and is making an 11th-hour investment in pulling an upset. According to two sources familiar with the TV ad buy sheets in Arizona, the DSCC is buying up as much time as they can find in the Tuscon and Phoenix for TV ads that will begin airing tomorrow. With the NRSC trying to put more Dem seats in play earlier this week (see MD, MT and MI), it's not surprising that the Dems wouldn't try the same thing, especially since they are still raising money at an incredibly fast clip. As for the AZ race, our sources tell us that Republican Jon Kyl continues to hold a mid-to-high-single digit lead but Dems are...
  • WAR ON WHAT NOW?

    WAR ON WHAT NOW? Timothy Garton Ash makes a good (if familiar) point on the naming of the War on Terror: Apart from anything else, to use this language dignified the terrorists with the status of belligerents when they should have been treated as criminals. In a backhanded way, the coinage was itself a kind of glorification of terrorism. Right. Referring to anti-terror operations as "war" fulfilled some emotional needs (and laid the framework for the Bush adminstration's accumulation of executive power) but it hamstrung the actual fight against terrorism. The elimination of terrorism is simply not a plausible foreign policy goal. It's not logically impossible (thinking of terrorism as a social institution somewhat akin to dueling or slavery is helpful in this regard) but it's practically impossible, meaning that any war fought to defeat terrorism will invariably fail to achieve its end. There will be no final moment in which terrorism surrenders upon the deck of a Zumwalt class...
  • NE 3: SIGN OF THE TIMES IN NEBRASKA.

    NE 3: SIGN OF THE TIMES IN NEBRASKA. Indicative of the kind of year it's been for the GOP, President Bush will spend the final weekend before the midterm elections in Nebraska, campaigning in one of the country's most Republican congressional districts. As the GOP battles nationwide to keep control of Congress, Bush's plans to attend the Sunday rally in western Nebraska's 3rd District calls attention to the competitive race there between Republican State Sen. Adrian Smith of Scottsbluff and Democrat Scott Kleeb. [...] Bush's visit means that despite fiercely contested races across the country, he is choosing to spend some precious last-minute campaign time in a district where he won 75 percent of the 2004 presidential vote and where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-to-1. Western Nebraska hasn't sent a Democrat to the U.S. House since 1958, and no Democrat has ever been elected from the state's 3rd congressional district, but Scott Kleeb clearly has the Republican establishment's...

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