Mara Rudman and Brian Katulis on addressing the crisis in the Palestinian territories.
With civil war breaking out in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon while the weather Gods give DC a respite from summer humidity in favor of something cooler and more pleasant, why not revisit the Arab Spring of 2005? Here’s Charles Krauthammer:
The Bush doctrine, which we have pursued since 9/11, is based on what states do internally. We care about their external actions, but we also care about who makes the decisions. The theory is that non-dictatorial regimes—which represent democratic aspirations and adhere to the democratic principles of the rule of law, protection of minorities, and human rights—are more likely to have normal relations with us.
We have now tested the theory. And just recently we have had the Lebanese revolution, the Egyptian announcement about electoral changes, the Iraqi elections, the Afghan elections. Kuwait has just extended suffrage to women, and Syria has announced, however disingenuously, that they are moving toward legalizing political parties, purging the ruling Baath Party, sponsoring free municipal elections in 2007, and formally endorsing a market economy (Washington Post, May 17). What we have seen in the last six months has been simply astonishing—well, astonishing to the critics. I am pleasantly but not entirely surprised.
Nothing, however, can beat this Jeff Jacoby op-ed, which consists essentially entirely of gloating that’s mostly conducted via fake exhortations against gloating.
Justin Logan seems to see growing British disenchantment with the “do what America wants” approach to foreign policy, but the Anatole Kaletsky column to which he links seems to demonstrate the reverse:
When Gordon Brown returned from his fact-finding tour of Iraq on Monday, he proclaimed the importance of learning from our mistakes but also of looking forward instead of backward. Did this admission hint at a shift in Britain’s foreign policy when Mr Brown takes over in ten days’ time? To judge by the announcement he made in the next sentence – a restructuring of the British security apparatus to guard against future intelligence failures such as the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction – the answer is “no”. Mr Brown’s foreign policy will remain as backward-looking and self-deluding as Tony Blair’s.
In short, Kaletsky thinks Britain needs a new approach (“breaking publicly with the Bush Administration and trying to develop a genuine European alternative to the suicidal American-led policies, not only in Iraq, but also in Israel, Palestine and Iran”) but Gordon Brown is reasonably happy with the status quo. It seems to me that there are strong sociological reasons to think a substantial reorientation of UK foreign policy is unlikely in the short run. At this point, everyone in a commanding position in the UK diplomatic, military, and intelligence apparatus will have essentially spent his entire life implementing a policy of being a loyal ally to the United States and are going to be strongly inclined to belief (not necessarily wrongly) that the current series of disasters are a passing storm that will soon be over.
Now, if by 2009-2010 the US is still pursuing policies that everyone all ’round the world think are crazy (also very possible) then things may well change. The significance of the Bush administration and its initiatives is something we’re only going to be able to grasp in retrospect. If his successor substantially changes course, he’ll be an outlier. If not, then not.
The American Propsect excerpts a bit from Tara McKelvey’s new book Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:
Seventy to ninety percent of the detainees at Abu Ghraib, according to an October 2003 International Committee of the Red Cross report and sworn statements made by members of the 470th Military Intelligence Group, the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, and the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, were arrested by mistake or had no intelligence value.
Provance met one of the prisoners who seemed to be there for the wrong reason. "They got him to the point where he was naked, shivering, and covered in mud and then showed him to his father. That’s what broke [General Zabar] down after a 14-hour interrogation," says Provance. "He said, ‘I’ll tell you anything.’"
"It struck me as morally reprehensible," Provance says.
In November, he says, he overheard a conversation in the dining hall at Camp Victory. One soldier told his friends at a cafeteria table how detainees were being treated in Abu Ghraib. "They would hit the detainees as practice shots…The detainees would plead for mercy," according to Provance’s sworn statement in Major General Antonio Taguba’s March 2004 report on military abuse, "Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade."
"The whole table was howling with laughing," Provance tells me.
You can buy the book here.
Brendan Nyhan whacks Bill Richardson:
On a related but less serious note, Bill Richardson was quoted saying the following about negotiating with North Korea: “Their U.N. guy calls. His name is Ambassador Kim. K-I-M. They’re all named Kim.” A tip for future presidential candidates: It’s never a good idea to say “They’re all named ____” about any ethnic group.
I’m not one to rant and rave about political correctness out of control, but this is political correctness out of control! If you’ve ever tried to learn about anything Korea-related, as an American, one thing that happens is you rapidly become confused about who’s who because, well, it’s actually the case that an incredibly large proportion of Koreans are named “Kim.” Specifically, of the nine members of the DPRK cabinet, eight are named Kim. Wikipedia says that twenty percent of South Koreans are named “Kim.” It makes telling anecdotes about one’s interactions with Korean officials somewhat confusing in a funny kind of war.
UPDATE: As you should be able to see at the link, it’s four not eight Kims out of the nine DPRK cabinet members. I have no idea how I made that mistake. Apologies.
I like to think of Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes as locked in a perpetual struggle for the title of “America’s worst pundit.” Brian Beutler, however, views Bill Kriston as the country’s “most dangerous” pundit on the grounds that he “has what seems like a mainline to the White House and yet, of all his colleagues, he is the most casually dishonest, the most outwardly war-hungry, and the most recklessly illogical.” Beutler cites the following as an example:
Real progress has already been made in the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the terrorists know it.That’s why they’re surging against our surge, and why they are attempting to convince us that we have lost when it is they who are losing.
Also: War is awesome. Indeed, Kristol is like a horrifying right-pundit Chimera fusing together the worst aspects of Krauthammer and Barnes, but adding in a strain of raw cleverness that elevates — and yet denigrates — the resulting punditry from banal categories like “worst” to more exalted realms of “dangerousness.”