From Reason TV: Nick Gillespie on Freedom Watch With Judge Andrew Napolitano

Full post and video here.

Both men suggest that, perhaps, libertarianism is the current heart of the conservative project with its continued focus upon individualism and limited government.   There’s been a tendency for Reagan, the recent George Bush, and of course now Obama to increase the government’s size and scope.   In fact, they invoke the spirit of Barry Goldwater in the search for roots.  It’s a little grandiose, but is libertarianism growing up (getting more mainstream credibility and creating a history for itself?) and dealing more and more with genuine policy problems?:

A commenter notes:

 “The problem with “returning to our Goldwater roots” — Goldwater never got elected president. The “roots” are all about a beautiful theory that’s never been tested in the crucible of actual governing experience.”

To be even more skeptical:  Is this a high-watermark for the libertarians…where do they go from here? 

See Also On This Site:  In response to Obama’s presidency and the current political landscape, is Will Wilkinson moving toward a more liberal youth?:  Will Wilkinson And Jonah Goldberg On Bloggingheads: Updating Libertarianism?From Reason’s Hit And Run: What Kind Of Libertarian Are You?

Also:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Ayn Rand was deep, but still kind of a cult-figure:  Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

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

Book here.

Obama has pulled out of the missile defense program in Eastern Europe, and some are calling this a capitulation to Russia. Here’s a quote from Robert Kagan that perhaps could clarify that position a little better:

“That is the primary motive behind Russia’s opposition to American missile defense programs in Poland and the Czech Republic.  It is not only that Russians fear the proposed sites may someday threaten their nuclear strike capacity:  Putin has suggested placing the sites in Italy, Turkey, or France instead.  He wants to turn Poland and other eastern members of NATO into a strategic neutral zone.”

Because, as Kagan argues, we’re not living anymore in the heady days after the fall of communism and a coming liberal international order (See Francis Fukuyama’s The End Of History).  We’re living in a world where Russia is playing old-style, nation-state power politics to regain its former scope, complete with a lot of strong-arming its former satellites and shutting off access to its resources when it sees fit.

Kagan broadens the picture further:   China and India are gaining national strength (though still fragile) and their governments’ and peoples’ conception of their own identity will change accordingly.  They will want more resources, to have more control over their own waters and trade routes, and have larger and larger spheres of influence.   Matters of national pride and identity (Taiwan) are not to be taken lightly.  They will push nations into potential conflicts, shifting alliances, and a scene more closely resembling 18th and 19th century European states and geo-politics.

Philosophically, Kagan clearly has doubts about the Enlightenment roots of the popular vision of  liberal international order (with roots in Kantian “perpetual peace” and Hegelian dialectical progress…).  However, he argues that there is a future, and there are moral obligations that (I would imagine individuals have in it), and that democracies have to one another to shape that world going forward (as we progress through our collective will?).

It’s definitely worth a read for its keen eye on the international scene and its challenge to a liberal internationalism.


So,  as for the missile-defense program…was it an appeasement to Putin…do you trust Obama’s vision for the world and America’s place in it…is he positioning us well between our own interests and our own moral obligations?

Addition:  A reader links to this piece and argues that this is Obama trying to forge common interest with Russia, which may bear fruit.

Yet Another Addition:  It’s looking like Russia’s not on board with Iranian sanctions.

See Also On This Site:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed: Russian Forum…Dick Cheney Travels To Georgia: Is the U.S. Allied With Georgia?

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From The Atlantic Wire: Obama’s Speech To The UN

Full post here (pre-speech)

Afterwards here.

The criticism from the right will continue:  Obama is not much of a leader, trying to be all things to all people.    The U.N. is simply a world stage for him to do this.  Later on, behind closed doors, political realities will force him to make deals and decisions within his own party, against the interests of many Americans (and people on the right), as well as most other countries at some point.

Also, it will be interesting to watch how the Russian-Iranian-Venezuelan allignment plays out.  The leaders of each of these countries and their people have a strong anti-American pool of sentiment to draw upon, as they set up policy and diplomacy (and nuclear programs) against us, exploiting our over-reach and any mis-steps to solidify their own power.

Also On This Site:  Do we have to rationally pursue most of our interests outside the U.N.?: From Bloggingheads: Robert Kagan Discusses The U.N. Security CouncilBarack Obama President Elect: A Few Hopes From An Independent

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From The Telegraph Via A & L Daily: ‘The Lost Symbol And The Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown’s 20 Worst Sentences’

Full article here.

Many of the commenters seem to think that whatever pleasure Dan Brown gives them, it’s perhaps worth more than this little bit of criticism.

Related On This Site:  More Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘What Should Colleges Teach-Part 3′  Gore Vidal’s power as an essayist can almost convince one of the rightness of his assertions:  Vidal/Buckley Debate, 1968

Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

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Repost: Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads

Here is an interesting conversation about Daniel Deudney’s new book (over 2 years ago now), Bounding Power.

Here are a few arguments he makes:

1.  America is in part designed by the founders to avoid the extremes of anarchy and hierarchy; and was a conscious project to not merely recreate the centralized power structures of Europe. 

2.  By extension, America continues a Western dialogue that stretches all the way back to the Greeks.   A dialogue that has proposed the basic rights to life and right to subsistence that are taken for granted in our daily lives.

3.  Present day American liberal internationalism can be redirected back to the founding principles and political traditions of our country.  Liberals can do the work they need to do here in order to do it everywhere.

4.  Libertarians should get back to the basic right of freedom from violence.

Fascinating and very well done.  If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts.

Related On This Site:  Are there dangers of idealism/German idealism that come with a Kantian influence in the political realm?  Are they addressed here?:   From The Internet Encyclopedia Of Knowledge: Immanuel Kant And Utilitarianism.  Kantian Metaphysics and J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism  More On Daniel Deudney’s Bounding Power

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From Andrew Sullivan: Reader Response-Islam Undergoing A Reformation?

Full post here.

Thought this would be worth posting, a reader response to a comparison between modernizing Islam and the Protestant Reformation in England:

“In immigrant communities and in urban enclaves, they tend to be embarrassed by the clergy imported from their native lands or from the countryside…”

…along with this article via the A & L Daily, about the rise of Muslim creationism, or perhaps the attempt to fit all of the world (including the Enlightenment and post-enlightenment) into the Quran:

Full article here at the New Humanist.

Are we anywhere close to having enough Muslims in America that their religious conservatism finds allies with the religious and political right?

Too soon? A pipe dream?

From Julian Sanchez here, suggesting that if you’re living in an urban area:

 “…if you’re a believer convinced that there’s one uniquely authoritative set of commands and practices that have been divinely ordained, this can provoke enormous cognitive dissonance—and prompt a search for the “true” version of Islam purged of all these regional variations. Insofar as this also purges the system of its evolved adaptations, the result is apt to be more radical, and potentially more dangerous.”

Once you become concerned, in some way, about Islam, you have to deal with its claims (and more radical claimants) more seriously (as in extending moral concern to the Islamic world).  Some of these claims are openly and directly hostile to the West, don’t care at all for separation of church and state, and are perhaps sympathetic ideologically, if not morally, to the radicals.

Some of this has to do with the influence of the West upon the Middle East, which is unjust in some cases, and Muslims have legitimate grievances.

So…surely extending moral concern to Islam is a possible way forward, but must that moral concern be religious?  must it be in conflict with Islam?  It surely must deal with the powder keg of occupied lands, relatively weak economies, and some pretty tribal areas under which Islam is the uniting glue, as well as some of Islams claims to religious conquest?

A pipe dream?

See Also:  From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’…From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”…From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

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From The WSJ: Graham, Lieberman and McCain “Only Decisive Force Can Prevail In Afghanistan’

Full post here.

Our 2 Republican senators and Lieberman acknowledge that the war has been mismanaged and misallocated during the last 8 years, and only now:

“At last, we have the right strategy and the civilian and military leaders on the ground in Afghanistan to carry it out. This is a must-win war. And now is the time to commit the decisive military force necessary to prevail.”

We need to thrust forward on the military front (as opposed to the many other points of contact America and Islam are having, sometimes much more productively), and…stamp out the Taliban.  It’s not the fault of Afghans, but rather ours, for not making a good plan and sticking to it:

“Moreover, in the absence of basic security, the other crucial components of successful counterinsurgency—fostering the emergence of effective, legitimate government and economic development—simply cannot get off the ground.”

Yet, surely there are politics (ours) involved here.  One of the central problems in Afghanistan is the lack of infrastructure, education, literacy, national identity etc that is filled, at times,by poppies, tribal identity, corruption, and the Taliban (as well as space for Al Qaeda).  This is why reasonable Americans are nervous.   I am suspicious that any Afghan government will sink back down upon these support (or lack thereof) structures.

Add to that the republican party’s disarray right now and I’m even more nervous.  

The stakes remain high, and allowing the region to become utterly lawless (except by perhaps the Taliban’s version of Islam) and once again a haven for Al Qaeda is nearly a non-starter.

See Also On This Site:  Anthony Cordesman At CSIS: Resourcing For Defeat…From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”…From Bloomberg: More Troops To Afghanistan? A Memo From Henry Kissinger To Gerald Ford?…From Fareed Zakaria On Afghanistan…Afghanistan Is Not Vietnam.

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Mark Lilla At The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: ‘Taking The Right Seriously’

Full piece here.

The University of California at Berkeley has just opened a Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements.  

It’s Berkeley, so what did you expect?

Lilla, as a professor of the humanities, hopes it will actually open a discussion, and perhaps, someday, be a place for serious intellectual inquiry (strengthening the debate away from the likes of David Horowitz):

So, in the end, I give my ex-conservative blessing to the Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements and wish it a long life. If nothing else, it will get professors and students to discuss ideas and read books that until now have been relegated to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.”

Via the A & L Daily as well, there are a few responses, and Lilla responds back.

Related On This Site:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

From Prospect: Eric Kaufmann On ‘The Meaning Of Huntington’…A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche Connection

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From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Full post here.

On what Mohammed Atta may have been looking for in the Bab-al Nasr district of Aleppo, Syria, as an architectectural student:

“Just a few paces into the labyrinth, the din of vehicular traffic is replaced by the banter of conversation in the marketplace. A brief stroll deeper, and the voices of men are replaced by the voices of boys chasing after a soccer ball in a courtyard as a hijab clad mother looks on from the window above”

Beauty, the past, meaning, religious purity…and perhaps confirmation of what he already believed:

To Atta, the French planners’ imposition of modernist urbanism on this “Islamic-Oriental city” wasn’t just architecturally ugly—it undermined the traditional Islamic culture of the neighborhood. So did globalization, an economic force of impersonal, mechanistic transactionsthat bestows inordinate power on wealthy, non-Muslim countries

…restoring a supposed Middle Eastern golden age that existed before Western encroachment and secularization. Atta has written this arcadia into his thesis.”

…ideas that helped Atta lead, as Atta led himself, to New York on a path of extreme and radical violence, which is tough to discuss, let alone forgive.

Though I could still, aesthetically and politically, have some sympathy for Atta as our author informs us of his hometown:

“With the crumbling legacy of European imperialism and American-backed dictatorship written into its Paris-meets-Houston cityscape, Cairo is one of the world’s worst advertisements for East-West relations.”

See Also On This Site:  Christopher Caldwell points out that multiculturalism is an obviously insufficient set of ideas for dealing with the tensions between native Europeans and largely immigrant Muslims:  From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Are secular humanism and the kind of political freedoms we enjoy in the West incompatible with Islam?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

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