Archive

  • IN HOUSE WANKING.

    IN HOUSE WANKING. I just thought I'd point out that the commenters seem to me to have the goods on Ben "TNR" Adler and the question of whether or not Israel has expansionist policies. --Matthew Yglesias
  • ADDICTED TO FAILURE.

    ADDICTED TO FAILURE. Bush says today's plots serve as a "stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." If anything, it's a stark reminder of the reverse. A stark reminder that this isn't a "war" at all -- you don't foil a plot like this with armored personnel carriers and JDAMs. We're also not going to capture the capital city of "Islamic fascism" -- not Kabul, not Baghdad, not even Teheran and Damascus -- and force our adversaries to surrender. It's not at all difficult to kill or capture terrorists. Instead, what makes them dangerous is that they're hard to identify. What makes them doubly dangerous is that because they're hard to identify, the temptation is to target them very broadly. And as we saw in the administration's desperately failed strategies in the "Sunni triangle" when you tar huge numbers of not-yet-opponents in your effort to find the bad guys, you wind up generating a much larger number of adversaries. The great challenge is to identify strategies...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SPILLS OF WAR.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SPILLS OF WAR. Christopher Moraff reports on an ongoing environmental disaster in Lebanon: a gigantic oil spill off the Mediterrenean coast caused by Israel's bombing of a power plant three weeks ago. The total spill could rival the Exxon Valdez catastrophe of 1989 -- and the continuing war is preventing government and international agencies from fully addressing the situation or containing the damage. Read the whole thing . --The Editors
  • GRATUITOUS SHOT.

    GRATUITOUS SHOT. You'd think, having just complained that The Nation and other lefty media outlets ought to be more focused on the increasing influence of rightwing Christian Zionism than on AIPAC, that I'd be delighted by this new piece by Max Blumenthal . And I am pleased to see Blumenthal's comprehensive reporting on the influential new group Christians United for Israel (CUFI), and the Armageddon-based philosophy of its founder, John Hagee . (Don't miss the extensive work done on Hagee by the Prospect 's own Sarah Posner .) But why does Blumenthal indulge in outdated Israel-baiting by saying CUFI believes "supporting Israel's expansionist policies is 'a biblical imperative'"? Expansionist policies? Didn't Israel withdraw from Gaza? Wouldn't that be precisely the opposite of expansionism? Indeed Blumenthal later mentions that when Christian Zionist Pat Robertson suggested Ariel Sharon's stroke was God's punishment for withdrawing, CUFI's spokesman defended Robertson. So wouldn't it...
  • TERROR PLOT: ...

    TERROR PLOT: NO OPPORTUNITY WASTED FOR POLITICAL GAIN. President George W. Bush could have moved to reassure the American people, in his statement from Green Bay, that their well-being is first and foremost in the minds of public officials -- that the government will leave no stone unturned in its quest to maintain the safety of American citizens. Instead, the president decided to play politics. The first public words out of the mouth of the president regarding a plot that his spokesman said was "a direct threat to the United States" was that the plot constituted a "stark reminder" that the nation is "at war with Islamic fascists." This, of course, is the rationale used by the administration for its invasion of Iraq. (Note Matt 's reference to the "fly paper" strategy.) It also comes the day after, as mentioned on MSNBC by Andrea Mitchell , a "well-coordinated" political attack by Vice President Dick Cheney on Democrats in the wake of the Lieberman defeat. From Reuters : Echoing a...
  • TOUGH NUT TO CRACK.

    TOUGH NUT TO CRACK. As Harold points out , the dawning realization on the part of the right that Iraq is facing a civil war puts enormous strain on the administration's justifications for U.S. policy there. A new National Review editorial provides an example of the kind of anguish and addled prescriptions that emerge when conservatives try to square the circle of remaining committed to the American occupation and the administration's war aims while also grappling with the reality of an Iraqi civil war in which we have no interest in picking a side: If the administration isn�t going to send more troops to Iraq, there are other things that can be done. Resources should be poured into improving the interior ministry and its forces, which have been infiltrated by the killers preying on Baghdad�s Sunnis. American advisers should be embedded with interior forces as they have been with the much more professional defense forces. We will have to confront the Shiite militias, although with some...
  • BRITISH AIRPLANE PLOT.

    BRITISH AIRPLANE PLOT. Breaking news isn't the political blogosphere's strong suit, but suffice it to say we have noticed the plot to blow up airplanes that the British government says it foiled. I'm sure at some point more information will come out that I might have opinions on, but at the moment there's not much to work with. Jim Henley notes that the never-made-sense "flypaper theory" of the Iraq War makes less sense than ever now. --Matthew Yglesias
  • TERRORISM TAKES BACK...

    TERRORISM TAKES BACK SEAT TO CRONYISM. With today's word of an apparently foiled plan for a massive, mid-air terrorism plot against airliners heading to the United States from Britain, I find myself trembling with fear at the fact that Michael Chertoff -- who proved his callous ineptitude during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath -- is the guy charged with protecting you and me from the likes of al Qaeda. The only possible explanation for Chertoff's continuing tenure as secretary of Homeland Security is his ability to keep the contracts flowing to Bush pals (even those known to have soaked the taxpayers) and away from local economies. Today the Washington Post 's Griff Witte and Spencer Hsu report on new FEMA contracts won via a bidding process by Bechtel, CH2M Hill Cos., Fluor Corp. and Shaw Group Inc. -- the same four companies awarded controversial no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina clean-up and the provision of trailers to those left homeless by the storm. The trailer...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PATRON STATE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PATRON STATE. Josh Kurlantzick points to a player to watch in Cuba, looking forward: China. With Fidel Castro ailing and his brother Raul stepping up to take the reins of the Cuban regime, Beijing's influence in the country will likely grow. --The Editors
  • WHAT CENTER?

    WHAT CENTER? Jon Chait has some issues with David Brooks � column advocating a McCain - Lieberman party of the center ( Unity '08 , anyone?) -- I have some problems of my own. Namely, on national security issues what's centrist about this party? Are there any Republicans whose national security views are clearly more hawkish than McCain's? I can't think of any. For that matter, are there any Republicans whose national security views are clearly more hawkish than Lieberman's? I can't think of any either. Of the politicians who seem to have clear convictions on the topic, these are, I think, the two leading militarists in the United States Senate. The only way you can get McCain-Lieberman as representing a "center" position on foreign policy is if you define the extreme conceptual right-wing pole as "whatever George W. Bush happens to think,� making any criticism of his policies a move to the left. In practice, however, both men's difference with Bush almost exclusively amount to the (...

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