Archive

  • MY POINT EXACTLY....

    MY POINT EXACTLY. I think Fast Leon 's making my case for me . Best as I can tell, genocide isn't the issue in Sudan at this point. Rather, the two sides are wrangling over the terms of a political resolution to the conflict. The United States has a point of view that's more favorable to the Darfur rebel groups than does the African Union, and the rebels are engaged in tactical gambits to try and win more concessions. Perhaps the American position on this is warranted, but either way it's just not the case that Khartoum is hell-bent on perpetuating the slaughter and only unilateral use of force -- or even increased pressure on the Sudanese government in any form -- can make it stop. The rallies and so forth seem to be coming too late and operating off outdated talking points, and an awful lot of folks (not the ralliers, though) are more interested in the issue's potential as a rhetorical bludgeon to be used against UNniks and Iraq War opponents than they are in anything relating to...
  • MORE ON ABUJA....

    MORE ON ABUJA. Just to respond to Matt , this update on the Abuja negotiations from the Sudan Tribune seems to indicate that the rebels� initial rejection of an African Union draft accord was a tactically wise move. Since the U.S. delegation arrived on Monday, the A.U. draft has been scrapped. It seems that Robert Zoellick and Co. have effectively sidelined the A.U., making the Abuja agreement a thoroughly American affair. And the Americans, much more than the A.U., have been able to wriggle more concessions out of Khartoum than the A.U. could have hoped for. The rebels now have a much more appealing document to sign. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • DAVID IGNATIUS: MCCAIN'S...

    DAVID IGNATIUS: MCCAIN'S A MAVERICK BECAUSE I LIKE HIM. A quick point to add to Matt 's deft skewering of David Ignatius 's column on John McCain. What's amazing is that Ignatius is saying the jury's out on whether McCain will prove in the future to be adequately capable of flip-flopping -- yet in the same column, Ignatius also lists two instances where McCain already flip-flopped. Ignatius writes: "Some people...have a knack for making easy compromises on the road to election, but McCain isn't one of them." Yet earlier Ignatius had already pointed to two of McCain's "easy compromises": his recent sucking up to Jerry Falwell and his vote to make President Bush 's tax cuts permanent "despite his own past warnings about the country's fiscal mess." But these, well, they don't really count because...McCain apparently didn't enjoy doing this. This begs a question. How many times does McCain have to flip-flop or betray stated principles before columnists like Ignatius will stop saying that...
  • OFF THE RESERVATION....

    OFF THE RESERVATION. I'm sorry to admit that I'm edging into full-blown Chomsky ism, but I totally don't understand why we're even debating whether or not to bomb Khartoum when the Sudanese government's already agreed to disarm the Janjaweed and halt the killing in Darfur, only to have an African Union-approved peace plan rejected by Darfuri rebels. If we're going to threaten to bomb anyone, shouldn't it be the side refusing to make peace rather than the side that has Arabs on it? Meanwhile, I used Iraq hawks as my foil in this week's column but it's actually a better argument with regard to Darfur. The WHO says we could prevent over 400,000 measles deaths annually if someone would pony up an additional $332 million in funding. Wouldn't that be easier than intervening in Sudan? Save more lives? Anyone? Also, yeah, before we start killing people to stop Darfuris from dying, why not send food to starving Darfuris ? Wouldn't that be easier than bombing? Cheaper? More helpful? --Matthew...
  • THE BEST COVER...

    THE BEST COVER EVER. Via Atrios , I see HuffPo contributor Philip Weiss has some concerns about Kenneth Pollack 's new book, The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America : I just got a copy of Ken Pollack's latest book on Iran, The Persian Puzzle, and was shocked on flipping to page 429, the Author's Note at the end of the book, to read that Pollack has never been to Iran and doesn't speak Persian, has only dribs and drabs of Arabic. You'd think a book that purports to explain the "Persian Puzzle" might have offered that disclaimer at the front. Pollack is an influential intellectual. As a scholar at the liberal Brookings Institution, whatever liberal means these days, he advocated invasion of Iraq in the book The Threatening Storm, back in 2002, thereby giving crucial centrist support to the neocons. Pollack argued that the way to peace in the Middle East lay through Baghdad. I.e., convert the Arabs to democracy there and everything else will fall into place. That book...
  • TNR AND DARFUR...

    TNR AND DARFUR TNR �s Adam B. Kushner went to the Save Darfur rally on Sunday, and concludes that we liberals are na�ve to think that anything short of military strikes will stop the carnage in Darfur. This seems to be the emerging line over at The New Republic . Last week, I responded to a similar argument by Lawrence Kaplan by spelling out some intermediate steps that the administration has been loathe to take but could go a very long way to pressing Khartoum to cease their aggression. So rather than repeat myself, I�ll respond to Kushner by invoking Samantha Power �s exhortation that when we define doing "something meaningful" exclusively as �intervening militarily� we set the bar for intervention too high. Thankfully, Kushner only calls for air strikes, not dispatching marines to Darfur. But knee-jerk lines like, �Only by exerting the full force of American power, which liberals have thoroughly come to fear in the last decade, can anybody really �Save� Darfur,� are both untrue and...
  • BETWEEN WAR AND...

    BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE, MORE WAR. If you're looking for an illustration of Jason Zengerle 's point that John McCain continues to enjoy strong support from the MSM, look no further than David Ignatius 's column on the maverick in which McCain's opportunism and flip-flopping turn out to be virtues because he's so tortured about his opportunism, and the only real question is whether McCain can develop the cojones to flip-flop enough to win. Even better is this: "The most polarizing issue for the country is the Iraq war. Here, as on other fronts, McCain tries to bridge the extremes." Really? I thought McCain was a die-hard hawk, darling of Bill Kristol , committed to an extremist position to the right of George W. Bush . Or, as Ignatius puts it: "He has been one of the sharpest critics of the administration's strategy in Iraq, arguing loudly since 2003 that there weren't enough U.S. troops to stabilize the country . . . at the same time, McCain has backed President Bush and the basic U.S...
  • WHITE HOUSE: EARTH...

    WHITE HOUSE: EARTH MAY BE ROUND, FURTHER STUDY NEEDED. An administration-commissioned scientific study has concluded what everyone already knows: Global warming is real and human activity is an important factor. Is a change of heart on the White House's part in the offing? Of course not: "White House officials noted that this was just the first of 21 assessments planned by the federal Climate Change Science Program, which was created by the administration in 2002 to address what it called unresolved questions." Twenty-one assessments! We also learn that the administration remains committed to "using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide." Obviously, using voluntary means to curb dangerous negative externalities of profit-making businesses isn't going to work. But there's a kind of deeper dishonesty here as well, where the implication is that if you could use voluntary means to slow the growth of carbon emissions, this would be a...
  • LIBERAL BLOGGERS DON'T...

    LIBERAL BLOGGERS DON'T WANT TO DESTROY THE "MSM" -- THEY WANT TO MAKE IT BETTER. Just about everyone in the lefty blogosphere has taken a swing at Mike McCurry 's piece over at The Huffington Post, and now it's my turn. In case you missed it, McCurry wrote that he knows reporters -- and Pulitzer Prize winners, at that -- who feel "intimidated" because "most of the blogosphere spends hours making them feel that way." There are a few striking misconceptions here worth unpacking. The first is the notion that anyone in the press would see it as "intimidating" that people are scrutinizing his or her work. An unnamed reporter wrote in to Josh Marshall claiming that death threats and all sorts of other horrors descend on any media figure fingered by bloggers. That may be, and it's unfortunate that some Web denizens give ammo to critics of the Internet by doing such things. But the fact remains that any serious reporter should see the added scrutiny not as a threat, but as an enhancement of...
  • Sweatshops in Jordan

    Steven Greenhouse had an excellent piece in today's New York Times about sweatshops in Jordan that manufacture apparel for export to the United States. This industry has been developed largely as a result of a trade agreement that Jordan signed with the United States in the late nineties. The article describes slave-like conditions, as foreign workers routinely have their passports confiscated by factory owners so that they cannot freely leave. According to the article, workers can be forced to work up to 48 hours straight, are routinely ripped off for their pay, and are beaten if they complain. Two aspects of the article raise especially interesting questions. First, the article indicates that the apparel jobs have gone almost exclusively to foreign (largely Bangladeshi) workers. It is unlikely that the trade agreement was sold in Jordan based on the jobs that it would create for guest workers. The benefits to Jordan's economy from this trade would be very limited. Second, the Jordan...

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