Silber Strikes Gold

Arthur Silber sees two options for Iraq policy: we can spend decades and billions in a futile attempt to turn Iraq into Switzerland (as the brilliant Jonah Goldberg once suggested),

Or we can simply leave as quickly as possible — which means that Iraq is likely to become what it was not before our invasion and occupation: a state which serves as headquarters for those who wish to destroy us, and which is genuinely and in fact a grave threat to us. Which, I repeat, it was not before. That obviously is not a very good idea, either. So the only way out that I see at this point, which admittedly is not a good “solution” at all, is to bring the international community into a much more active role in rebuilding Iraq, and as quickly as possible. (That would mean, among other things, that we cease demanding that others pay for the reconstruction efforts, while maintaining almost all control ourselves.) That would serve several ends: it would lessen the financial burden on the United States; it would defuse at least some of the enmity currently directed toward us; and it might save some American and Iraqi lives. Not a good solution in my view, but markedly better than the others.

But there is one tactic the hawks ought to give up at this point. They should stop saying, as one of the commenters to my earlier post did, that none of those who opposed the war with Iraq are offering “constructive” proposals at this point. This is remarkably offensive for several reasons. First, it wasn’t the opponents’ policies that created this horrible dilemma. It was the hawks’ policies. They are responsible for this nightmare, and no one else. They shouldn’t expect — and often demand — others to offer solutions to the daunting problems that their policies have created. Where is the justice in that? Or even the common sense? They got us all here; they ought to show some intellectual responsibility and creativity of their own, and get us out.

Not to hog the spotlight, but I said pretty much the same thing here and here. At any rate, tell ’em, Arthur.

(Got this link from Liberty & Power.)

What Gregg Easterbrook Should Have Written

John Laughland on violence, fictional and real, in The Spectator:

During the recent Anglo-American attack on Iraq, no seriously disturbing images of corpses or wounded bodies were broadcast, just as they had not been during the Kosovo war in 1999 or the Afghan war in 2001. CNN and the BBC had plenty of such pictures, but chose not to show them. Indeed, with the partial exception of the first Gulf war in 1991, no lurid images of the effects of war have been broadcast since Vietnam, when the novelty of television meant that the military authorities were unprepared for its power. Perhaps it is this which explains that war’s astonishing unpopularity. Today, television channels such as Al-Jazeera think that it is an important part of reporting to show the effects of violence — they regularly show gruesome shots of bodies severely mutilated by bombs — while Western TV channels prefer not to shock the sensibilities of their viewers. This plays straight into the hands of our governments, who are happy for people to believe the reassuring myth that our high-precision weapons do not decapitate children or blow apart the bodies of their mothers, and that war is but a sort of video game.

A Pulitzer for [i]Stars & Stripes[/i]?

Not that the Pulitzers mean anything, but notice all the buzz around Stars & Stripes lately? Well, there’s another reference in this article on military voters squirming loose of the GOP claw. I pondered this possibility early last week (you heard it here first!), and now it seems even more plausible. Here’s one thing I learned:

The Department of Defense, which since 1955 has had an office designed to promote voting among the military and track participation rates, does not keep statistics on how many soldiers vote Democrat or Republican, though it does know that they vote at slightly higher rates than average Americans. And ever since shortly after World War II, when academics first became numerous and frisky enough to want to poll soldiers, there have been laws making it illegal to do so.

Which could make the military vote the unheard shot that fells this administration:

A reassignment of less than two-hundredths of 1 percent in the military vote to the Democrats from the Republicans in Florida in 2000 would have moved that state to the Democratic column, and a similar shift of less than 5 percent in the veteran vote alone would have given Arkansas, Nevada, and New Hampshire’s electoral votes to Gore, not Bush. And Pennsylvania and Ohio, expected to be crucial swing states in the next presidential election, each have more than a million veteran voters.

(Props on link to Hit & Run.)

Missing the Cold War

Speaking of “OK, So Vietnam Wasn’t Do-or-Die, but We Promise This War Is“…

Arnold Beichman’s featured Opinon piece in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal is titled “Why I Miss the Cold War.”

Am I being wholly rational when I say that I miss the Cold War?

“There was a time, say a decade ago, when I wouldn’t have hesitated for a minute to answer that I most certainly do not miss the Cold War. But as I pull my shoes back on at Sea-Tac airport, rebuckle by belt, repack my laptop, mourn the confiscation of my metal money clip (with a tiny, hidden knife blade) and watch female airport security agents pass their wands over the bras of female passengers, I have a curious thought: In the worst days of the Cold War, even during the Cuban missile crisis, you simply showed your ticket and marched onto the plane. And if your plane was hijacked to Cuba, it might only mean a short delay for refueling and back home without a scratch.”

According to Condoleeza Rice, the Cold War cost the US taxpayers $15,000,000,000,000. Which is over $150,000 per American household. And more than twice the US national debt. And it’s about the same as the US housing stock; that is, the value of every house, duplex, condo, apartment and trailer in the USA. If you counted one dollar per second non-stop it would take about 3 million years to count $15 Trillion dollars.

According to a Rand study released this year, there’s a greater risk of accidental nuclear holocaust now than during the Cold War: “the United States and Russia retain large nuclear forces on ‘hair-trigger’ alert, meaning they could be launched in minutes and destroy both societies in an hour.”