It seems the White House is mad at Gordon Brown who, like me, but unlike The Washington Post editorial page, doesn’t understand why blustery threats to start a war are the best way “to help avert a new war in the Middle East.”
Since Bill Kristol and Joe Lieberman both believe in a policy of all-war, all-the-time and both seem to put more weight on warmongering than anything else in American politics, I wasn’t surprised to see Kristol float a trial balloon suggesting Lieberman could be a good Republican vice presidential nominee. Peter Wehner liking the idea seems a bit more surprising, since Lieberman’s views on most everything else are well to the left of the GOP consensus and surely it’s not hard to find Republicans with Lieberman-like levels of fanatical devotion to the killing of foreigners.
Fred Kaplan’s Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power won’t be in stores for a few months yet, but it’s terrific stuff, mostly focused on how the disasters of the Bush foreign policy stem from Bush’s bad ideas rather than some lack of “competence” and that what’s needed to replace them isn’t just better people, but better ideas. Some of it, though, is good old fashioned mocking of the dumb stuff Bush says and does. For example:
For several months afterward, as the insurgency morphed into sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, President Bush invoked the elections to dispute that anything of the sort was happening. “I hear a lot about ‘civil war,’” he said at one press conference. “The Iraqis want a unified country. . . . Twelve million Iraqis votes. . . . It’s an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society.”
But it indicated no such thing. Had Bush looked at his own country’s history, he would have seen that the election sporting the highest turnout ever, with 83 percent of the eligible population voting, was the election of 1860 — the election right before the American Civil War.
Get it? At any rate, I’m afraid you may buy only one Eric Nelson-edited book about American foreign policy published by John Wiley & Sons in 2008, and if so I want to make sure it’s my book and not Kaplan’s that you buy. So whatever else you do, don’t buy Fred Kaplan’s book! But if you can borrow a review copy from a blogger friend or something, it’d be well worth your time to read it. Might even whet your appetite for someone else’s book….
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad of The Guardian has a great profile of Hajji Abu Abed, one of the anti-government insurgent commanders who we’re now paying to not shoot at American troops and to at least claim that whoever his men do shoot are al-Qaeda.
I guess it never occurred to me that there might be a sizable and vocal minority of Israelis who go around booing moments of silence for Yitzhak Rabin, urging lenient treatment of Yigal Amir by the Israeli prison system, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it. It’s hardly an original-to-me observation, but Amir really does seem like the rare assassin who actually managed to be quite effective at advancing his agenda.