There Are Some Lines You Just Don’t Cross

Remember Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party who made a big splash four years ago when he began raving about the wonders of the Bush Doctrine? Probably not, to the relief of many a neocon. He was an embarrassing ally for the warbots even back then, but now he’s gone and done the unforgivable:

A surprise reconciliation between the leaders of Hizbullah and the Progressive Socialist Party was followed on Friday by Walid Jumblatt’s re-directing his rhetoric south, to Palestine, and warning of the “absolute extremism” of the Israeli government. “I call on all of our people in Palestine to reject sectarian and non-sectarian violence and cling to their Arabism and Palestinian national project, to confront Zionist projects that promise to be more dangerous and fiercer in the coming phase,” Jumblatt said in a statement.

The PSP leader said the Israeli government had no interest in a peace settlement and “insisted on absolute extremism” in its current policies.

I suspect we won’t be seeing any more sympathetic profiles of this “insightful interpreter of the fluctuations in Middle Eastern politics” any time soon.

I Love the Smell of Vindication in the Morning

Lord knows, I tried to warn you: Andrew Sullivan is no peacenik. In the last 24 hours of his hysterical Iran!revolution!fascism!democracy!whiskey!sexy! typeathon, Sullivan has relapsed and rediscovered all his old drinking buddies from the Saddam!liberation!fascism!democracy!whiskey!sexy! days: Michael Ledeen, Glenn Reynolds, Michael Totten, Christopher Hitchens… What, no Laurie Mylroie yet?

Sure, sure, he also links to a Pat Buchanan piece advocating nonintervention, saying he agrees “for now,” but that’s typical of Sullivan’s fluttering, erratic style of punditry, which never pauses long enough to consider its own contradictions. But read his blog for a few hours, and you’ll get the general thrust, whether Sullivan is aware of it or not in his green delirium: something must be done!

Abrams to Parachute to Council on Foreign Relations

I guess this is breaking news on which I hope to have more to write later (I have a deadline on reporting Obama’s greenhouse-related announcements today), but I just confirmed that Elliott Abrams, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs since December 2002 and Deputy National Security Adviser for Global Democracy Strategy since 2005 will begin work as a Senior Fellow at the new Washington offices (one block away from his old one) of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in mid-February. Abrams, the highest-ranking neo-conservative left in the Bush administration when it finally decamped last week, served, along with help from Dick Cheney’s office, as the bureaucratic foil for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s to give some momentum to the Annapolis peace process; tried to persuade the Israelis to widen their 2006 war against Hezbollah to include Syria; and no doubt steadfastly encouraged the Olmert government to pursue its Gaza war as vigorously and as long as possible. To the extent that U.S. influence in the Middle East has diminished, Abrams can claim a good share of the credit. And his strategy to spread democracy globally (and especially in the Middle East) appears to have prospered in a similar fashion.

Cost of War #31415

The talent pool of the military officers is shrinking :

The army is losing its best and brightest. West Point, the alma mater of American generals going back to Ulysses S. Grant, has seen a relentless rise in the number of officers who leave at the earliest opportunity. Whereas only about 35% of the West Point class of 2000 had quit after five years, for the class of 2001 the proportion rose to 46% and for the class of 2002 to 58%. Retention problems are particularly severe among captains and majors with 11-17 years’ experience—the potential future military leaders. The army currently has only half as many senior captains as it needs, and forecasts that it will suffer from a shortfall of 3,000 captains and majors (out of a cadre of 52,000) until at least 2013. The maximum age for recruits has been raised to 42, and fitness and educational standards have been lowered.

Last week’s Economist has a whole section on possible changes in American foreign policy after November 2008 .