Ron Brownstein focuses some attention on the much-neglected subject of hard-right opposition to any hints of reasonableness on the part of Republican Party politicians. When Joe Lieberman faced a primary challenge for the sin of relentlessly supporting a catastrophically failed policy, the political establishment reacted as if this was the End Times. Now that Chuck Hagel is facing a primary challenge for the sin of mildly gesturing toward the idea that maybe we should avoid catastrophically failed policy, nobody seems to care.
24 hours before it was to hold a memorial service for Navy vet Cecil Howard Sinclair, the High Point Church in Arlington, TX, canceled the ceremony after discovering that Sinclair was gay. “It’s a slap in the face. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you,’” said Sinclair’s sister, Kathleen Wright. High Point’s pastor, Rev. Gary Simons, claimed the church acted on “principle”:
“We did decline to host the service — not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told The Associated Press. “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it — yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”
Official Iranian news sources report on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Teheran:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said Baghdad in its ties with other countries only acts based on the interests and demands of the Iraqi nation. The office of the Iraqi Prime Minister on Saturday in response to a warning by the US President George W. Bush against Baghdads development of ties with Tehran announced in a statement: The groundless warning was issued with the aim of overshadowing the successful achievements of Mr Al-Maliki in his recent visit to Tehran.The Iraqi Prime Ministers office further announced: If the US President assumes that the level of Iraqs ties with other countries would be determined according to his views, then he is wrong.George W. Bush on Thursday on the second day of Maliki’s visit to Iran repeated his baseless claims that Iran interferes in the internal affairs of Iraq. This is while Nuri Al-Maliki on the same day appreciated Iran for helping Iraq establish security and stability, calling for expansion of ties with Iran.
It seems obvious to me that the takeaway here is that we should stop expending vast amounts of resources mucking around in Iraq, but I suppose one could take the Ken Pollack view that this means we need to sink deeper into the muck by deposing (but by no means ousting) Maliki’s government and trying to find a more helpful client.
McClatchy’s Matt Stearns writes that “Taking military action against Iran could put President Bush on a collision course with Congress, leading Democrats and a Republican lawmaker cautioned Friday following Bush’s threat of unspecified consequences for alleged Iranian meddling in Iraq.” You’d like to think that starting a second war would rather than could set Bush on a collision course with congress.
That said, considering that congress was willing to cave to Bush on FISA and, eventually, on Iraq funding I don’t think Bush seriously needs to worry that congress would stop him from starting a war with Iran or, for that matter, Venezuela. The Democratic majorities aren’t large ones, and plenty of Democrats still seem to think the appropriate response to Bush yelling “Boo! National security! Here’s my plan to make everything much worse!” is surrender.
We’ve had doubts. Research says we should:
Scientists at Duke University bathed plots of North Carolina pine trees in extra carbon dioxide every day for 10 years and found that while the trees grew more tissue, only the trees that received the most water and nutrients stored enough carbon dioxide to offset the effects of global warming.
Bottom line: “if a drought takes hold, trees won’t be able to do much in the way of carbon storage.”
One researcher noted, “If water availability decreases at the same time that carbon dioxide increases, then we might not have a net gain in carbon sequestration.” Well, climate change is projected to decrease water availability in many parts of the world, including the American West.
Other interesting findings:
A powerful roadside bomb on Saturday killed Khalil Jalil Hamza, the governor of the Qadisiyah province in southern Iraq, a province “that has seen fierce internal fighting between Shiite factions. … The area also has seen a rise in internal rivalries between rival militia forces, including the Mahdi Army that is loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.”
To me, one of the most sad/funny aspects of contemporary conservatism is that Newt Gingrich seems to count as some kind of towering intellectual figure. Garance Franke-Ruta reports that she saw him speaking at the Ames Straw Poll where he proclaimed that “Real change is going to require real change.” And I suppose it will.
The New York Times does us all a great favor with this retrospective on Afghanistan:
With a senior American diplomat, R. Nicholas Burns, leading the way, they thundered around the country in Black Hawk helicopters, with little fear for their safety. They strolled quiet streets in Kandahar and sipped tea with tribal leaders. At a briefing from the United States Central Command, they were told that the Taliban were now a spent force.
Some of us were saying, Not so fast, Mr. Burns, now the under secretary of state for political affairs, recalled. While not a strategic threat, a number of us assumed that the Taliban was too enmeshed in Afghan society to just disappear. [...]
The American sense of victory had been so robust that the top C.I.A. specialists and elite Special Forces units who had helped liberate Afghanistan had long since moved on to the next war, in Iraq.
Those sweeping miscalculations were part of a pattern of assessments and decisions that helped send what many in the American military call the good war off course.
Just about the only place in the United States where you saw substantial opposition to the Afghanistan War back in the day was on college campuses. That, conveniently enough, is exactly where I was at the time, so I got to participate in a lot of arguments on this subject. One thing I’m fairly sure absolutely nobody ever pitched to me was “well, don’t you see that if we invade Afghanistan we’re just going to wind up failing to achieve any of our key strategic objectives because the administration will divert crucial resources and attention to invade Iraq instead?”
That, after all, would just be ridiculous. And yet it appears to be exactly what’s happened.
“One month from The Anniversary, I’m thinking another 9/11 would help America,” says Stu Bykofsky, conservative columnist.
I think Ross is right and Henry Farrell wrong about the best way to interpret the Kristol/Kagan argument for a “Neo-Reaganite” foreign policy — the argument about this helping the Republican Party is probably offered in a pundit’s fallacy spirit. The dark truth is probably closer to what Bykofsky expressed, something like national greatness conservatism icon Teddy Roosevelt’s sense that war was, as such, a good thing because of its influence on the national character. Strains of this kind of thinking were definitely discernable post-9/11 on both the right and in the more hawkish precincts of the left — a kind of genuine enthusiasm for violence, the sense that war is a force that gives us meaning, and that it’s only by having giant disasters occur that our true national spirit is revealed.
Photo by Flickr user Beija used under a Creative Commons license