Archive

  • MORE IMPORTANTLY?

    MORE IMPORTANTLY? I spent my morning at the Iraq Study Group's press conference on the Hill. (I'll have a piece for TAP on all this imminently.) Many bizarre things were said, but one that revealed the ISG's midset particularly well was this, courtesy of co-chair Lee Hamilton : "We have one last chance at making Iraq work, and, more importantly, one last chance to unite this country on this war." Jigga what? Why is it more important to rally the country behind a war that has only "one last chance" to it? Why is it important at all? What's the virtue of uniting behind a mission that's crashing and burning? And, if you believe that it's really important to "win" (or, at least, "not lose") the war, why would you possibly think that uniting the country behind that objective is even more important than the objective itself? --Spencer Ackerman
  • WHAT IF WE...

    WHAT IF WE JUST ASK NICELY? Matt , whom we all miss terribly, has a terrific summary of the ISG report. As he notes, there's a somewhat sad dynamic underlying all this, which is that even good policy and competent leadership can't obviate the fundamental tensions and rivalries powering the annihilating devolution of Iraq. We all want, on every issue, to be able to craft the right set of policies and programs to fix systemic problems. Problem is, in government, as an occupying power, we only have access to certain levers and buttons. And in Iraq, none of them control the relevant actors and forces. So we can craft all the enlightened policy we want -- without a way to make the Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds stop hating each other, we'll not get anywhere quick. Iraq lives or dies on grounds of national reconciliation, and despite the reports frequent calls for Iraqis to pursue it and Iranians to force it , nobody relevant seems sufficiently interested in achieving it by methods more...
  • FOR "GROUP THINK."

    FOR "GROUP THINK." Elle Reeve has a diarist up today in TNR tut-tutting the tendency of young Washingtonians to screen their roommates for political leanings. She writes, Julie puts her political orientation in her ad because she's "part of an interracial couple and my housemate is gay, so we like to put this up front so that no NRA white-supremacist homophobes [will] think they might want to live here." (Otherwise, presumably, she'd have to beat back the hordes of gun-lovers desperate to live with her in this handgun-free city.) But someone could obviously be an NRA member, or an NRA lobbyist, and live in Washington. More to the point, Julie's focus of concern clearly wasn't gun control policy, but racism and homophobia. I think it's quite reasonable for Julie to take the position that her gay roommate should be spared living with someone who doesn't recognize his or her equal rights under the law. Reeve completely avoids this serious concern and goes for an irrelevant side point,...
  • MORE POST SELF-PARODY...

    MORE POST SELF-PARODY -- AND BETTER! Ok, scratch what I said before, Ruth Marcus has nothing on Broder . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • DON'T TELL CHENEY....

    DON'T TELL CHENEY. It's something less than revelatory to suggest the Bush White House doesn't exhibit the level of harmoniousness and constructive self-criticism one might hope. Still, I found this bit on the genesis of the Baker-Hamilton Commission depressing: To bring Bush aboard, Solomon, Hamre and Abshire approached the one person in Bushland who still had a reputation for realism and who could command the President's ear, alone: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice . Would she propose the commission to the President? After some hesitation, Rice agreed, but she made one request: the commission had to look forward, not backward, in part because she knew the dysfunctional Bush foreign policy operation, tilted as it was so heavily along the Cheney-Rumsfeld axis, would not permit, much less sustain, scrutiny. As the trio departed, a Rice aide asked one of her suitors not to inform anyone at the Pentagon that chairmen had been chosen and the study group was moving forward. If Rumsfeld...
  • MORE HIDEOUSLY TWISTED...

    MORE HIDEOUSLY TWISTED LOGIC FROM MCCAIN ABOUT TROOP INCREASES. This has passed unnoticed, but it's definitely worth a look. Yesterday John McCain used his questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates at the confirmation hearing to push his politically-calculated demand that more troops be sent to Iraq. This was predictable enough, but it's interesting to look at what he actually said. Check out this passage from a transcript of McCain's remarks : MCCAIN: Do you agree that, at the time of the invasion, we didn't have sufficient troops to control the country, in hindsight? GATES: Well, I had to deal with hindsight in some of the decisions that I've made, Senator McCain, and sometimes it's not very comfortable. I suspect, in hindsight, some of the folks in the administration probably would not make the same decisions that they made. GATES: And I think one of those is that there clearly were insufficient troops in Iraq after the initial invasion to establish control over the...
  • STOP TALKING CRAZY....

    STOP TALKING CRAZY. From the excerpts of the Iraq Study Group's report : ''If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al-Qaida could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized.'' Yeah, sure glad none of that's happened. --Ezra Klein
  • CALL THE WAHMBULANCE....

    CALL THE WAHMBULANCE. Sounds to me like Congressman Jack Kingston wants another job... --Ezra Klein
  • POST SELF-PARODY WATCH....

    POST SELF-PARODY WATCH. Dean already flagged this in the wee hours of the morning, but it's worth emphasizing the goofiness of this Ruth Marcus column proposing a "commission made in heaven" -- a Social Security reform group headed up by John McCain and Hillary Clinton . Marcus manages to explicitly avoid the pernicious conflation of Social Security and Medicare finance issues that Dean tracks so often in elite media commentary, and yet still thinks now is the moment to "fix" Social Security, basically just for the hell of it. The number of Beltway press ticks this single column incorporates -- bipartisanship, our "broken" political system, painful entitlement reform, political courage, commissions, Clinton and McCain obsession, the assumption of mass public interest in what is actually an elite policy obsession, did I mention bipartisanship? -- is truly impressive. If that's the right word. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HACKER ATTACKS.

    HACKER ATTACKS. CNN: Hackers attacked the computer network at the Naval War College in Newport, taking down the school's network for more than two weeks, including some e-mail services and the college's Web site. The Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command in Norfolk, Virginia, detected the intrusion around November 16 and took the system offline, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Doug Gabos said. He said the unclassified network was used by students. Military spokesmen would not give an estimate on when the school's Web site, www.nwc.navy.mil , will be back up... Gabos would not comment on who is suspected of attacking the network. Who is responsible? DoD, the Commerce Department, the Army , and the state of Kentucky (believe it or not) have all suffered extensive attacks by Chinese hackers in the last couple years. There's some unwillingness to directly blame the Chinese government, but most associated seem to believe that the attacks are at least tacitly supported by Beijing. The choice of target...

Pages