February 28, 2005

In other blogs

Couple notes:

Victor Davis Hanson can go off the rails a little in column-length newspaper articles, sometimes to the point of self-parody, but he's still on his game on the long-essay form. There is much to agree with in this piece, which I would add to any soldiers' must-read list.

A useful companion (this isn't a must-read, unless you're in my occasional line of work of helping army officers simulate a hypothetical enemy) is this more technical piece on likely tactics of a future near-parity enemy.

Yes, I DO use this blog to avoid the need for bookmarking. Why do you ask?

I also find myself agreeing with Mark Steyn recently. And I agree with many other blogs that the recent developments in Egypt are promising, and to the credit of post-election U.S. diplomacy.

Re Henley's recent writing on torture shows, he obviously missed its other recent appearance, on Mythbusters (in reruns this Wednesday night in Canada on the Discovery Channel) where an attractive member of the crew becomes a torture-test subject briefly. The experiment goes somewhat pear-shaped, but the 'Busters air the results regardless, which is fairly unblinking of them... given they they were clearly going for a little titillation, and instead got some real misery. (The narrator chides them at the end for poor experiment planning, to seal the point.) There was no significant, Bybee-memo-level pain, mostly just coercion, on a willing volunteer yet, but that was still enough, and too much. Not their best show, but still instructive. Unlike the staged torture dramas of 24 and BSG, the viewer is left feeling a co-conspirator to making a real-life woman shed tears to no valid purpose: that either bothers you or it doesn't, I guess. It confirmed to my mind I'd be a lousy interrogator, anyway: the best argument about torture has always been, not that doing your worst to the worst of your enemies was wrong, but that exerting even mild coercion on 100 innocents, in hopes of getting the one guilty one in their ranks who might actually deserve it, is the inevitable and soul-destroying aspect to the practice that I for one would rather just avoid.

The blog bash on Friday was pleasant, but memorable to my mind mostly for a great discussion with David Janes... he said the insurgency in Iraq will be mostly spent in a month or two, and I disagreed. He made a very persuasive debaters' case... and regardless of my contrary position, I do hope against hope that his predictive powers will prove more accurate. Janes, as always, is on the cusp of some new invention that will reshape blogging as we know it: I look forward to hearing more.

UPDATE: Note that the Hanson piece above implicitly concedes the two points I and others have made about the Iraqi occupation... that as militarily brilliant as the initial campaign was, the failure to restore order rapidly on conquest has proven disastrous, and that the United States has not yet satisfied Hanson's own four conditions for a successful end to this rebellion: the issue, in other words, is still in the balance. This seems absolutely correct. If we could all agree to those as the initial starting points of the debate on what was done, and what should be done now, things would be a lot less vituperative.

Posted by BruceR at 12:14 PM