Jasper Smith

Commentary on politics, economics, culture and sports.

Archive for November 2006

Excusing the neocons

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Kevin Drum, writing about Iraq, takes the neocons to task:

David Rose’s Vanity Fair interview with the neocon elite is getting plenty of well-deserved attention this weekend. For one thing, it’s fun to play the “which quote is the most damning?” game. Is it Michael Ledeen (the most powerful people in the White House are “women who are in love with the president”)? Kenneth Adelman (“They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era”)? David Frum (George Bush “just did not absorb the ideas”)?

…What’s more, despite their conveniently-timed hand wringing about incompetent execution, there’s little evidence that the apologists would have done anything very different — in fact, little evidence that they cared very much about anything beyond “bringing down Saddam.”

Emphasis mine. I tend to think that if Kevin is right, he actually bolsters the validity of the neocons’ excuses. After all, bringing down Saddam wasn’t itself problematic. It was accomplished competently, and was a goal that was in keeping with US advantages (military power). Moreover, there was at least an arguable case, both from a geopolitical/legal standpoint (numerous violations of the ’90-’91 UN resolutions, failure to fully cooperate with the inspections regime, the regime’s previous, well-documented attempt to acquire WMD, its penchant for making war on its neighbors, etc.) and a moral one (Saddam’s habit of committing mass murder), for using force to eject Saddam from power.

The problem has been in the quixotic, bungled, and probably doomed from the start effort at nation building. Colin Powell is looking wiser and wiser by the minute. The US should have resisted the temptation to make Iraq safe for democracy via an extended and large scale occupation, and instead confined its role mainly to financial assistance. We should have handed over the keys to the Iraqis and begun withdrawing promptly — within, say, 90 days of Saddam’s downfall. I believe Kevin Drum himself has expressed the opinion that the presence of US forces exacerbates the situation in Iraq. He’s very likely correct.

Still, it’s a shame a credible case can be made that Iraq is worse off for Saddam Hussein’s removal from office. It needn’t have turned out this way. Perhaps if the administration had been more strongly guided by neoconservative principles, it wouldn’t have.

Written by Jasper

November 14, 2006 at 9:57 am

Posted in Foreign Policy, Iraq

Obama’s star power

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A commenter on Asymetrical Information opines thusly about Senator Barack Obama:

Barack Obama won’t be President, not in 2008 anyway, because despite being a darling to the media he is unknown outside of his home state.

I’d say it’s too early to be able to hope to accurately predict what will transpire in 2008. But my guess is Obama is a bit of a long shot at this point, primarily because of his lack of experience: four years in the Senate seems to me too flimsy a foundation on which to build a credible quest for the White House. Still, it’s just plain silly to say he’s “unknown outside of his home state.” Obama is now a national figure, and is on the verge of national fame (i.e, familiar even to non political-junkies and non-blog readers). I wouldn’t like Obama’s chances to win the nomination over Hillary Clinton, say, or Al Gore. But I’d never say never, and at a bare minimum Obama’s a credible candidate. He certainly could win the nomination, and I’d say it’s almost likely that he’ll end up on the ticket (if only as the VP candidate) if he wants it.

By the way, I’m not discounting the existence of racism in the US — it surely exists. My sense, though, is that the number of white voters who would never vote for a black presidential candidate is now exceeded by the number of white voters who will go out of their way to do so.

Written by Jasper

November 4, 2006 at 9:40 am

Posted in Election 08, Politics