Archive | June, 2010

From Volokh: ‘Conservatives, Libertarians, and Civil Rights History’

Full post here.

‘The Taft-Eisenhower battle illuminates the fact that the more libertarian-oriented conservative tradition was civil-rights friendly. The more traditionalist National Review crowd, which took over the conservative movement, was not. Yet more reason for conservatives to be more abashed about claiming that their position on civil rights makes them superior to libertarians, and, for that matter, for some of our commenters to be a bit more circumspect about reading classical liberals out of the modern civil rights movement.’

Here’s another take from a previous post on this site. Information found here:

Sowell’s argument is a relatively simple one:  ”innate” mental abilities do not develop spontaneously but must undergo development, which is differentially fostered by different cultures, even when the abilities are general and abstract and do not consist of items of cultural knowledge.

“…Sowell’s approach splits the difference between “nature” and “nurture“…

Also On This Site:  Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight…Thomas Sowell archives here.

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From The CSM: ‘General Petraeus Rethinking Rules Of Engagement’

Full post here.

“What precise changes Petraeus is considering in the rules of engagement here are not yet clear, thought he helped write the US counterinsurgency manual that stresses the importance of civilian casualties that deeply informed McChrystal’s approach while running the war.”

For the sake of the troops…Obama likely understands the security risks, but many in his party will push him in other directions, and he will have to appeal to the base.

Quote by Kissinger from a previous post:

“Nobody has more at stake than the administration in office. But if you look at the debates we had on Vietnam, Iraq, and so forth, ending the war became defined as the withdrawal of forces and as the primary if not the exclusive exit strategy. But in fact the best exit strategy is victory. Another is diplomacy. Another is the war just dying out. But if you identify exit with withdrawal of American forces, you neglect the political objective.”

What are the best arguments for victory…what is victory in Afghanistan?  So many moving parts…

Also On This Site:  Gen. Petraeus At Foreign Policy: ‘None Of This Is Easy’

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David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘The Culture Of Exposure’

Full piece here.

“Then, after Vietnam, an ethos of exposure swept the culture. The assumption among many journalists was that the establishment may seem upstanding, but there is a secret corruption deep down. It became the task of journalism to expose the underbelly of public life, to hunt for impurity, assuming that the dark hidden lives of public officials were more important than the official performances.”

The personal is political?  A culture of spectacle?

I’ll take serious liberties here:  Perhaps there’s a broader theory in the piece, which contains important truths :  The 1960’s was a period of cultural excess and an excessive pursuit of freedom, without sufficient responsibility.  The excessive individualism (bordering on narcissism) of the boomer generation has left a serious impression.  Upon this period of excess, we have been culturally replacing deeper religious traditions which maintained a more shrewd, realistic general opinion of public life…with a shallower, more idealistic (more European left?) set of ideas.  At the very least, this idealism ignores the duties maintained by the public for its public officials in the old setup.

Incidentally, this is why I deeply mistrust progressivism; behind the idealism and very occasional moral high ground are the same old desires to have one’s ideas triumph in policy and government.  Often this means to centralize power and threaten personal liberty.  I don’t see sufficient checks upon those desires, at the moment.

If it is a spectacle, don’t we all bear responsibility despite the blame?

Of course, there’s also new technology.  Use at your own peril:

“Then came cable, the Internet, and the profusion of media sources. Now you have outlets, shows and Web sites whose only real interest is the kvetching and inside baseball.”

Brooks ties this in to Stanley McChrystal, who acted pretty recklessly:

“By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.”

Are you convinced?

Also On This Site:  Repost-From The NY Times: David Brooks On Simon Schama’s New Book-’Mirror On America’

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’

I’m not sure Charles Murray has convinced me, but he is a loyal contrarian:  Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…and maybe you should still go to college if you can:  Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?

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Gen. Petraeus At Foreign Policy: ‘None Of This Is Easy’

Full piece here.

Likely worth your time, as Petraeus is in now charge of Afghanistan.

A tremendous amount is being asked of our soldiers to act politically and diplomatically as well as militarily (often at their risk).  Whether or not you think the war in Afghanistan can be won, and how it could be better prosecuted (e.g the danger to troops of announcing a timeline, or Biden’s plan to withdraw),  our military has been engaged directly since 9/11 in the Muslim world to break up the terrorists and incidentally, involve itself many other projects of stability and nation-building.  Now that we are reflecting a little on our moral commitments and points of contact, there are still groups of Muslims, often stateless, driven by a violent interpretation of Islam that are willing to attack us for any injustice, perceived or real.

Also On This Site: Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.

Related On This Site:  From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’

Full post here.

A follow up on what kind of punishment UC Irvine has given to the Muslim Student Union for this protest of Michael Oren:

Also On This Site: From The Volokh Conspiracy: ‘Free Speech on Campus: Michael Oren at UC Irvine’ Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes?

A Few Thoughts On (Absolute) Idealism, Both Religious And Political/Philosophical

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From Law At The End Of The Day: ‘Torn Between Religion And Law In Spain’

Full post here.

“The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on a movement that has been gaining much ground in the autonomous community of Catlunya this summer–the regulation of the veil within Catalan cities.”

How to deal with Islamic immigration in law, and the open expression of its traditions immediately recognized as symbols of the faith?

Catalunya, has its own language, Catalan, which I remember being promoted in the schools in addition to/perhaps against the Castillian Spanish that the Franco regime had often maintained…and brutally enforced.

I also recall that in parts of Spain, despite being one of the most Catholic countries in Europe in culture, tradition, and education, many Spaniards I knew were happy to expound how secular and modern the culture was…and in many ways it was…but perhaps that was a little optimistic with regards the economy.

Also On This Site:  Low European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?

Do you go so far as to strip the cross (or any religious symbol) from its meaning in law?: From The Strasbourg Observers: ‘Remembering Lautsi (And The Cross)’

What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment:  A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Why do people who understand the depths of Nietzsche so often use him for modern secular/multicultural pursuits (aside from his God Is Dead arguments) despite his nihilism?:  A Few Thoughts On The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry: Nietzsche’s Moral And Political Philosophy

Leo Strauss tried to tackle that problem, among others with the reason/revelation distinction, did he succeed?:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy

Law At The End Of The Day:  From Kant to Fichte to…Right Now

080405_046 by *chiwai*.

A little further south in Spain, and many centuries ago.

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From Foreign Policy: ‘The Reality Of The ‘China Fantasy”

Full post here.

The “China fantasy” was based more on hope than experience, but the benefit of recent experiences with state capitalism is the chance to replace hope with prudence.

Also On This Site: Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’ From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

See James Fallows’ Atlantic Monthly site.

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From The Nation Via The A & L Daily: ‘God, Science, And Philanthropy’

Full piece here.

Isn’t this always the dilemma when you accept money from someone else?:

“Though some critics refuse to go near anything associated with Templeton, others are forced by its ubiquity to make compromises. Sean Carroll, for one, will work only on scientific projects funded by Templeton (such as the FQXi) that aren’t solely under the foundation’s banner. “It represents a serious ethical dilemma,” says A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and former columnist for New Scientist magazine; he accuses the foundation of “borrowing respectability from science for religion.”

Templeton site here.   Does it frame the questions in the right way?  And the final paragraph:

“John Templeton did want to hijack the meaning of life; he meant to remake the human race’s moral and cosmic toolbox in some scientific revolution of the spirit. His money has given new life to ancient questions that matter to all of us. But there is also an inescapable curiosity—or for some, like Margaret Poloma, good luck—in the idea that how we think about the most lofty things has become so much at the mercy of an eccentric investor’s later-life dreams.”

Duly noted.  Of course, funding for The Nation comes from somewhere as well…

Also On This Site:  From Nextbook: Philosopher Of Science Hilary Putnam On The Jewish Faith

—Martha Nussbaum suggests re-examining the religious roots of the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams (Williams College)…perhaps to prevent excessive and ideological secularism?:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder.

—Daniel Dennet (Christianty paved the way for much of science, it’s time to keep moving on) debates Dinesh D’Souza (who ironically brings up both Nietzsche and Kant to support his religious arguments…to his detriment?): Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy.

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Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Kagan challenges liberal internationalism in his recent book “The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams

Deudney argues that we don’t necessarily need to get back into 19th century power games, and instead need to build on the institutions that exist, despite their flaws.   We shouldn’t undermine China and Russia’s autonomy (Chechnya and Taiwan).  We need to be smarter about it.  He argues:

1.  There are now a dense network of international institutions that have sprung up from liberal democracies…that simply didn’t exist in the world 19th century European states.

2.  Nuclear weapons have made deployment of troops to solve conflicts (as in 19th century Europe) much riskier.  They’ve changed the game and now’s there’s an incentive for large statesnot to go to war with each other for fear of annihilation, and also to work together to make sure non-state actors (any rogue group) doesn’t get nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.  Also, on a smaller scale (Vietnam), with technological advancements (Kalishnikofs), it’s harder to go subdue territories to grow your empire.  You can’t play Risk anymore, or not with the same expectations.

3.  International trade has made autocratic states (China) more interdependent upon everyone else (and vice-versa).  I’m presuming that this would off-set their more nationalistic and militaristic aims to some extent.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.  Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Also On This Site:  Repost: Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads

Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

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Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Dicsussion here.

Moosa page here.

Having a foot in both worlds, Moosa offers insight into some of the kind of reform that the Muslim world needs to help alleviate its poverty, illiteracy, relatively weak economies, and its non-representative governments.  He argues that part of the problem lies in the kinds of Islamic states that have been pursued, and are still being pursued, by many in the Islamic world for well over a century.  This brand of Islam (and the circumstances in which it lives, including against Western points of contact and colonial involvement) can lead to the kind of violent extremism that provoked the terror attacks that have helped to provoke the American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Moosa suggest that working toward some sort of moral equivalence between the American and Muslims worlds (a way of valuing Afghan and Iraqi lives as much as our own, or at least recognizing the deaths as individuals and letting it sink in) is a worthwhile goal for Americans.  Pragmatically,  this could help alleviate some of the moral outrage in the Muslim world that is being directed toward destructive aims against the West.  Morally, I find this interesting though it would need to be clarified.

Politically and diplomatically however, as something of a skeptic, I wonder how much ground we should give politically and diplomatically to the Muslim world for its internal problems, or at least to its violent extremists when we have our national security at stake.

Perhaps, in extending such moral thinking to Muslims in religious doctrine, we run a potential risk of pitting Christianity against Islam, and Al-Qaeda, for example, would like nothing more.  There are drawbacks to such an approach and both monotheistic religions have had competing interests in seeking to proselytize, and so often conquer, the more tribal parts of the world in the name of their God (though I don’t count myself an atheist, nor among the secularists).

On the other hand, human rights groups, groups for aid, groups for sustainable economic development etc. are clearly vital and often the first points of contact between the West and the Muslim world, but sometimes they don’t necessarily solve the problems they intend to solve.  Perhaps they can’t.   Without the Muslim world making its own destiny (which could still lead to points of conflict), they are likely inadequate.  Simply including Muslims in the web of Western moral relativism, for example, has led to some of the worst Muslim-European ghettoes and a lot of sloppy thinking and the potential to back our way into more conflicts.

Food for thought.  Any comments are welcome.

080405_046 by *chiwai*.

Also On This Site:  Daniel Deudney has some ideas on how to build a world raft, though it might have some drawbacks:  Repost: Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads

Fareed Zakaria points out that terrorism and the Pakistani state have a close relationship:  Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Do you stand up to the Muslims in Western societies who threaten free speech?:  Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast

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