October 04, 2002

FIGHT! FIGHT! Robert Wright kicks


Robert Wright kicks Jeffrey Goldberg around for a little while. I love it when writers I respect fight amongst themselves.

Posted by BruceR at 05:11 PM



For the first time in history, Slate, Salon, and the Weekly Standard all agree on something: Manhunter is a better movie. They're right, of course, but so much for renting THAT at the video store tonight...

Posted by BruceR at 05:05 PM



In the interest of subverting Canada Customs whenever they take a stupid stance, here's the pro-Israel pamphlet held up at the border today. Judge for yourself whether it's a hate crime.

Posted by BruceR at 04:50 PM



Glenn Reynolds cites approvingly a good piece by the estimable Max Boot summarizing previous pre-emptive and preventative strikes. He says the Boot says that "preemption is neither unusual nor in violation of international law."

Unfortunately, the latter half of that is untrue, as Boot makes no reference to international law at all in his peace. Reynolds must be projecting again.

As to the former, Boot does establish that American preemptive attacks have not been unusual historically, but curiously fails to make reference to the Monroe Doctrine that once served to rationalize them, or come up with any previous examples outside of Latin America... affirming the belief of many that the Bush Doctrine is merely Monroe rewritten to cover the entire world. One would think then, that if some are chafing as being newly downgraded to another batch of banana republics, that discomfort might be understandable. Canadians, we're used to American domination... what the rest of the world is in large part resisting against is being brought down to a Canadian/Mexican level of relative independence and sovereignty. They're not doing a very good job of it, mind you, but that's what this UN stuff is mostly all about.

Posted by BruceR at 12:41 PM



I love James Lileks in the morning, but he's got to cut down on the decaf. His latest "it's better for Americans to be feared than to be liked" screed is part of the problem, not the solution:

Do we fear the mighty Egyptian Army swimming to Florida?.. There are questions about whether al-Qaeda could attract new recruits when the most salient characteristic of Americaís opponents is a buzzing cloud of corpse-flies... Iím sure right now Tommy Franks is filling his boots with urine over the realization that the Canary Islands arenít on board yet.

And so on... when he gets into this "contempt for all who question us" vein, it's almost like he's started channelling Galadriel:

In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

Americans like Lileks have to understand that this is just not a mental frameset the rest of the world can ever easily adopt. He sure wouldn't, in our place.

CAVEATS APLENTY: Please note, that does not mean I believe the U.S. needs to wait for the approval of dithering international groups, or court allies it considers useless. It does not mean war in this particular case should be ruled out. But don't expect any of the slaves beneath your colossus-like stride to make world domination easier for you, if that's the only game you choose to play. Lileks is starting to talk like it's the U.S. versus the rest of the world now... if that's the game, then I'm one of many who won't be playing on his side. Hey, wasn't it George Bush who said America should strive to be a "humble nation?" Whatever happened to that?

PS: I find it ironic that Lileks starts his screed by summoning up the image of the Roman slave, whispering "all power is fleeting" in the ear of triumphant tribunes... who, I wonder, does he think is fulfilling that valuable role now, in a time of American ascendancy, if not his target Senator Wellstone, et al?

Posted by BruceR at 12:01 PM



I'm sorry, but in the interest of preserving some elevation in the ongoing war discourse, I must object to Jonah Goldberg's extended Muslims-as-vermin metaphor:

If a scorpion sneaks into your house and bites your child, you kill the scorpion. That's a no-brainer. But if you believe "something like this must never happen again" then you also go out in the yard and kill the other scorpions. You also kill rattlesnakes and black widow spiders... In other words, you do every reasonable thing you can. Imagine telling your wife, "Honey, I know there's that huge scorpion nest out in the yard, but I killed the scorpion responsible. Can you prove that the other scorpions had anything to do with the one that bit little Timmy?"

The comparisons with Nazi propaganda are so blatantly obvious (indeed, Goebbels could have written this, with a different target entirely) that I'm surprised Goldberg did not recoil from making them.

Posted by BruceR at 11:35 AM



I was not quick to jump on the bandwagon condemning Canada's Bonnie Brown, MP, but thanks to Damian and a fuller transcript of her remarks, I have to say she really is beyond the bounds of reason.

I think there was a case to be made that the kind of U.S. action certain other blog posters had been calling for for months... an entirely unilateral attack on Iraq, with neither Congressional debate or UNSC approval... WOULD have borne certain comparisons to both Germany in 1939 and Japan in 1941 (or perhaps more appropriately, Italy in 1935). The United States rejected aggressive war as an acceptable instrument of state policy in 1928, and I believe it would be a mistake to go back on that now... hence the need for UN involvement. And the U.S. Constitution, War Powers Act notwithstanding, does assign responsibility for war to the people's representatives in Congress, not the whims of one man elected. I shared Michael Kinsley's concern that, in the era of the hyperpower, concentrating all the power to "regime change or not regime change" for the entire world in one man, even if he is an elected President, is not a solid foundation for future international stability... it effectively puts the rest of the world in relation to Mr. Bush as the Thirteen Colonies were to George the Third, and we all know how that turned out.

Now mind, the Bush administration, with the possible exception of its increasingly erratic vice-president (can we put Cheney BACK in the bunker?) has never claimed that to be its position. I have only seen it expressed by its more enthusiastic adherents in the blogosphere. The President has since gone, hat in hand, to Congress, even when his lawyers said he didn't have to; he has also appealed to the better nature of the UN: that suffices. Let me say for the record that I disagree with my country's government that a vote in the Security Council on which a Canadian does not sit is not, should not be the last word in anyone's decision to go to war... when the League of Nations dithered on Italy's invasion of Ethiopia (never mind the Spanish Civil War or the Japanese subjugation of China) the moral thing for the great democratic powers to do was clear, and in direct contravention to the League's wishes. If, now, the moral course is clear once more, but the UN stands in the way, then the UN must likewise be pushed aside... if we are to demonstrate we have learned anything in this century at all. But I don't think it's come to that, yet.

Pearl Harbor was an atrocity not because, as historian David Bercuson argued the other day in the National Post, the Japanese were already fighting a war in China (note how Bercuson never mentions the Americans' punishing embargo). Pearl Harbor was an atrocity because it was a surprise attack preceding any declaration of war, and because it was the first act in a unilateral, aggressive war against the peace of nations. By first going to Congress for debate, by going to the UN and appealling for their sanction, even if they do not get it, the US has now eliminated any viable basis of comparison between Pearl Harbor and its actions against Iraq. And that's a good thing. Ms. Brown's speech showed, if nothing else, that she does not have the ability to read a newspaper and understand recent events. That did not merit a full-bore condemnation to my mind, however. If that was all she had said, I would have thought the fracas overblown.

But now, reading her other comments I've just read, about the war on Afghan civilians and the like, and those of her colleague Ms. Beaumier, I have to say those are in large part indefensible. Somebody actually voted for these people, did they? To quote Kent Brockman: "I've said it before, I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work."

Posted by BruceR at 11:13 AM



Good piece by Wagner James Au on the latest trends in first-person shooter games... moralistic, real-world, non-gruesome violence, in a anti-terrorism setting. Nothing aficionados didn't know (and he quotes Henry Jenkins AGAIN!) but a good primer for the non-gamer. Horrible illustration, though, completely against the tenor of the article.

Posted by BruceR at 10:39 AM