Friday, December 01, 2006

He seems fit enough. Have him report to me in Istanbul in 24 hours.

The apparent assassination of dissident Alexander Litvinenko by radiation poisoning at first left me to briefly wonder whether Vladimir Putin and his government really realize the cold war is over. The whole episode has a James Bond/ poison-tipped boot aspect to it that would've been right at home forty years ago.

Upon further reflection it appears the threat Litvinenko posed to Moscow was more political than security related. Putin worried what Livinenko's outspoken criticism would mean to his and his deputies electoral fortunes.

Ultimately if Putin ordered Litvinenko's assassination then he actually is crudely following Western political models. He just hasn't completely grasped the concept that in our political system it's the reputation of our political opponents that we send hit squads after not the political opponents themselves. I believe we refer to this as "swiftboating." Once he comes to terms with this concept he'll save himself a ton of time, effort and embarrassment in the future.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Well surprise, surprise.

So the Iraq Study Group, also known as the Iraq CBA ("Cover Bush's Ass") Group comes to the stunning conclusion that the best option for Iraq is withdrawal of U.S. forces, but refuses to put a timeline on such a withdrawal. We should pull out of Iraq? Thanks for the hard work figuring that out, Captain Obvious.

The longer this drags on the more dangerous the inevitable withdrawal will be. Delaying the withdrawal simply because President Chuckles and the chattering classes don't want to admit they were wrong on the war is a morally wretched position that puts their reputation before our troops' lives.

I don't give a flying figg if George W. Bush goes down in history as the architect of the worst U.S. policy debacle in history. What I want is our covenant with the troops to be honored. Their service is based on trust in the wise stewardship of their leaders. Neither Bush nor the Iraq Study Group are providing that.

Scenes like that pictured below involving REAL marines have got to stop.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

They don't have a name for what he is.

George W. Bush - still a heartless sociopath.

How can all these things happen to just one person?

Of all the excuses posited to explain away the 18,000 undervotes in District 13, Florida the weakest has to be the "intentional decision by voters to skip this race." As someone who has voted in every election since I was 18 I can say the only races I might intentionally skip are those down-ballot like judgeships in which I might not know a lot about the candidates. On the high-profile congressional and gubernatorial votes it always comes down to the lesser of two evils.

(The "Bringing up Baby" quote was for Aaron. Probably the best of the great screwball comedies, IMHO.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes? I'll tell ya. 'Cause the guy you were looking for was too close.

"Bush to press Iraqi leader on 'strategy'"

"Joker to press Batman on rise in Gotham crime."

"Industry to press environmental activists on emissions."

"Man to press dog on cell phone use."

"Yoko to press John on shrieking voice heard in his songs."

"Doctor to press patient..."

You get the picture.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

The end is nigh.

We've got nothing to do with the war. Maybe that's why we're on this ship, cause we're not good enough to fight.

In my tryptophan-induced coma last week I missed a post by tristero at Digby's in which he wrestles with the question of whether one must themselves fight in a war they support.

Jose Chung and DavidByron both seem to believe (and I'm sure they'll correct me if I'm wrong!) that the chickenhawk issue really is about whether only those with military service are qualified to opine on the subject of war. But that's not quite right. Of course, military service, or the lack of, has no genuine importance to the worth of an argument pro or con the Bush/Iraq war.* The real issue is the total cluelessness of a particular group of war advocates whose drooling enthusiasm for war isn't grounded in reality.

I tried to make it clear in my post - but it wasn't clear enough, apparently - that the hostile question, "well, if you support the war so much, why doncha serve?" is no query at all, but an angry, exasperated, assertion amounting to saying, "You don't know a damn thing about what you're talking about, or you wouldn't talk about Bush/Iraq in such a foolish, callous way." So yes, as DavidByron says, the question is a nasty, sarcastic, ad hominem attack. What makes it appropriate is that the reasoning of the chickenhawks was beyond serious discussion. Thomas Friedman's insistence that even if Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 or had WMD's, "we" still oughta whack him because "we" can. George Packer's utterly naive kumbaya-save-the-world attitude. John Podhoretz' floating the suggestion that maybe US forces should have killed more young Iraqi males at the beginning of the invasion. And, of course, the 101st Keyboarders who talk as if Mr. Kurtz's "Exterminate all of the brutes" doesn't go far enough by half.

I've been tossing this question of whether or not one is qualified to speak on military matters if one has never worn the uniform of the United States military. Obviously from a purely pedantic standpoint the answer is in the affirmative. Citizens make decisions on the use of military in broad strokes through support of platforms advocated by individual candidates at the ballot box. Support of specific military action (such as that in Kosovo or Iraq) generally takes the form of arguing the necessity of the action with their fellow citizens and bumper stickers. Speech and franchise are constitutionally protected with no caveat of prior military service necessary.

Ultimately the chickenhawk issue is really a question of personal morality. There's a whole series of questions that those of us practicing realpolitik work through before deciding to lend their support to specific military action. Is this action necessary for the security of the Untied States an it's allies? Does it meet the long term strategic interests of the United States? Have we exhausted all diplomatic and alternative means of solving the problem? Does it meet the Powell Doctrine and, if not, would I be willing to send me an mine to fight?

Chickenhawks aren't just people who avoided service but are today glib about sending others to fight in wars they advocate. Chickhawks are people who refuse to ask themselves any of all of those moral questions before advocating military conflict. They chose not to expose themselves to the moral ambiguity of war when they were younger and choose today not to expose themselves to the moral ambiguities of war by not facing and coming to terms with them today. They are both physical and moral cowards.