“In what appears to be a Bush Administration effort to persuade skeptical Senate Republicans to support the president’s new Iraq strategy, several of them have been summoned to the White House for a meeting this morning with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The invited Republicans included Sens. Sam Brownback, George Voinovich, John Sununu, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins.”
Prominent conservative intellectual Dinesh D’Souza has released a book titled “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.”
Last night on The Colbert Report, D’Souza repeated the right-wing attack that President Bill Clinton “did absolutely nothing” to fight global terrorists. Stephen Colbert jokingly asked, “Doesn’t some of it lie at FDR’s doorstep? Doesn’t things like Social Security and Medicare and LBJ’s Great Society, doesn’t some of that send the wrong message to our enemies?”
D’Souza answered, “Indirectly, yes,” explaining that “FDR gave away Eastern Europe through Yalta, and then the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Muslims had to fight back and that’s where bin Laden got his start.” Watch it:
D’Souza’s inflammatory book is being embraced by the conservative establishment. D’Souza currently has a feature interview in the National Review, and the Heritage Foundation will host a book event for him tomorrow.
PoliticsTV has video of the rest of Colbert’s show last night.
UPDATE: Steve Benen notes that Colbert was also able to get D’Souza to acknowledge that he agrees with some of Osama bin Laden’s critiques of the “liberal” elements of American culture.
Full transcript: Read more
Todd Hinnen, a counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council staff, is leaving to become chief counsel for Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) on the Senate
Foreign Relations Judiciary Committee. A White House ally remarked: “Once again, people on the Bush White House staff turn on him while our soldiers and Marines fight to protect the rest of us.”
I’m not sure the distinction Chris Bowers’ post here is about actually tracks the phenomenon Atrios complaints about here. Chris is pointing to the sociological phenomenon among progressive blogs of a division between what Henry Farrell calls the “wonkosphere” and the activism-oriented sites that comprise the “netroots” (see Mark Schmitt’s column) with the gap bridged primarily by Atrios’ site. This divide strikes me as a natural division of labor sort of thing. If I tried to dedicate this blog primarily to activism and movement building the result would be . . . a really bad job.
When I participate in activism it’s by doing stuff like working phone banks or knocking on doors. I’m one of the organized, not one of the organizers. Which is fine. The organizers wouldn’t have anything to do if there weren’t Indians to organize and make the calls (UPDATE: This was unclear — I meant you can’t have all chiefs and no Indians, too many cooks spoil the soup, that kind of thing), and I lack the capacity to spearhead anything more complicated than a trip to the grocery store. I think, however, that I do a pretty good job of writing a blog that’s primarily political punditry with a little pop culture and sports thrown in so that’s what I do and I primarily link to people whose blogs are similar to mine in subject matter not because our blogs are “better” than other kinds of blogs, but because it’s just in the nature of blogging that your site is going to mostly link to similar sites.
A separate question is whether or not journalists think of themselves as political actors. Overwhelmingly, I think journalists would tell you “no, they shouldn’t” and that most liberal (but not conservative) pundits would agree. To me, this is wrong. I could in perfectly good faith spend all my time looking for flawed arguments for conclusions I agree with, finding far-left people with unsound views to denounce them, and mocking the foibles of politicians whose views I agree with on the merits. A blog like that might even be entertaining and perhaps widely read. I wouldn’t do a site like that, however, because I think it would be irresponsible. I’m not a political activist by trade, I’m a writer, but hopefully my writing has some kind of impact on the world and I’d like it be a good impact rather than a bad one and that’s something I try to take seriously.
AP: “[N]early four years into the fighting, some soldiers say it’s getting more difficult to swing their legs over the edge of the cot each morning. With America’s Iraq policy in flux, some troops say they’re asking themselves for the first time whether the U.S. can win the war — or what winning really means here.”
Returning to Reuel Marc Gerecht, the essential thing anyone who wants to justify this war as some kind of nice guy method of helping Iraqis out needs to grapple with is the extraordinary opportunity costs involved in fighting it. David Leonhart writes about this today, here’s John Quiggin’s take, and here was mine.
It’s not a coincidence that the administration’s pre-war cost estimates — anywhere from $0 to $50 billion — were so badly off-base. Nobody in their right mind would have agreed ex ante to spend over $1 trillion (so far!) in order to take out Saddam Hussein. The venture was sold as something that would be cheap and easy because it only made sense under the theory that it would, in fact, be cheap and easy. Indeed, I assume most of the prime movers behind the war actually believed it would be cheap and easy. This, after all, is the typical failing of the militarist. Diplomacy, compromise, patience, etc., all seem too hard better to reach for the easy answers of the bombs and tanks. In reality, there’s nothing easy about it.
Last night on the PBS Newshour, Jim Lehrer asked President Bush why he hasn’t called on Americans — besides those serving in the volunteer military — to sacrifice something to help our country in this time of struggle. Bush claimed Americans are sacrificing: “They sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible image of violence on TV every night.” Bush explained that “the psychology of the country…is somewhat down because of this war.” Watch it:
Like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Bush said that he would “strongly oppose” raising taxes on the wealthy to help offset the increasing costs of war in Iraq because he wants “people to feel like their life’s moving on.” The Wall Street Journal reports, “The growing financial strain of Iraq will be spelled out as never before in a series of defense and war-related spending requests by the White House next month, expected to total more than $700 billion through Sept. 30, 2008.”
The other thing to be said about counterinsurgency is that times change, and ideas and technology change with them. During the high tide of Victorian imperialism (also the time of America’s conquest of the Philipines) the gap in military technology between imperialists and the imperialized was enormous. Britain’s colonial service operated on the sensible slogan that “whatever happens we have got / the maxim gun and they have not.” Subjugated peoples had an extremely difficult time acquiring firearms, especially top-notch ones, and ammunition. The weapons of the day broke a lot and were difficult for indigenous peoples to repair or replace. The modern insurgent has recourse to the AK-47, which is cheap as shit, and thanks to modern transportation technology easy to get wherever you’d like. It’s a perfectly good gun, it’s easy to maintain, and you should read all about it in Larry Kahaner’s book.
Obviously, something like the modern American military still has large technological advantages, but they’re much smaller (for these purposes — today’s Air Force could destroy a whole country with nuclear ICMBs if it was ordered to) than the advantages enjoyed by rich countries today. What’s more, literacy is much more widespread and, combined with broadcast media, means you have much deeper and wider levels of political consciousness than you did in the past. Ideas — western ideas, really — about nationalism, self-determination, autonomy, etc. have spread past the point where people are wiling to accept foreign domination.
The Bush administration last night “declared its opposition to the House Democrats’ proposed cutting of student loan interest rates.” The House bill, to be voted on today, cuts interest rates on some college student loans in half and “would help an estimated 5.5 million students who get need-based federal loans.”
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) “will join two leading Democrats in introducing a resolution opposing President Bush’s buildup of troops in Iraq, putting a bipartisan stamp on the looming Congressional showdown over the war.”
Yesterday, nearly three weeks after the fact, President Bush said the execution of Saddam Hussein “looked like it was kind of a revenge killing.” On Iraq, Bush said, “I don’t quite view it as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg … that — where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg.”
“After progress in the early 1990s, the march of global freedom that President Bush advocates has stalled — from countries of the former Soviet Union to parts of Africa and East Asia,” the Freedom House organization declares in a new report, dubbing the trend “freedom stagnation.”
Charles Stimson, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. detainees, wrote a letter to the Washington Post apologizing for saying last week that corporate clients should consider ending their business ties with legal firms whose lawyers defend prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. “[T]hose comments do not reflect my core beliefs,” Stimson writes. Read more