‘Many analysts believe the Kandahar operation will be much more difficult than the recent Marjah offensive because of the greater dispersion of Taliban forces, the urban environment in Kandahar city and the complex political and tribal forces at work in the province.’
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.”
Is Paul Berman the left you’ve been looking for (if you’re not really on the left)? or more a person on the left adhering to a fundamentally libertarian proposition: freedom from violence in this case?
“By the “flight of the intellectuals,” Berman means their flight from the values they espoused when defending Salman Rushdie in 1989, and their sniping, snarking, and subverting Ayaan Hirsi Ali this century.”
“Is there a paradox at the heart of Enlightenment values? Should a belief in “tolerance” extend to the intolerant? Must Enlightenment values stop short of challenging multicultural values? Or do multicultural values sometimes entail moral relativism? One key issue, for instance, is whether Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s campaign against female genital mutilation makes her—as the intellectuals Berman attacks have called her—an “Enlightenment fundamentalist,”
Of course, the economy has a lot to do with how well or not well (more likely) Muslims are being integrated into European societies as well. It’s really up to Europeans.
“Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism. The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the “gentle” nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic”permissive egalitarianism”, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.”
Originally, a letter was written by Syed Soharwardy, an imam living in Alberta, to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Soharwardy claimed that the cartoons were morally offensive to the religion of Islam. Levant believes his decision to publish the cartoons is protected by Canadian law, and that Soharwardy found a path to legal action (at the expense of Canadian taxpayers) through the Human Rights Commission because no one else would take Soharwardy’s claims seriously.
During his defense, Levant has made as much noise as possible, grandstanded a bit, and also stood up to the Human Rights Commission, swaying public opinion along the way. One of Levant’s main concerns seems to be the the way in which someone like Soharwardy, (with unchallenged religious beliefs, and illiberal ideas of social freedom), has taken advantage of Canadian law and perhaps even lack of intellectual rigor behind an institution like the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
An idealogue himself? Genuinely aggrieved citizen performing a valuable service?
The Economist has more here about how Western democracies are handling the influx of immigration.
Here are Levant’s opening statements during his investigation:
“Even as they [sic Americans] rightly deplore the injustice of the occupation and last year’s war in Gaza, they fail to recognize the complexity of trying to reach a final resolution when the Palestinians are so deeply and ruinously divided and when so many Israeli supporters of a two-state solution have, after Oslo, Camp David, and Taba, despaired of getting a workable deal.”
It is not merely a partisan issue, but this quote from Samuel Huntington is interesting in this context:
“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.
Reason magazine is trying to put a few ideas to the test in Cleveland. Of course they go after government, but they have an important piece of the puzzle. Here are a few of their suggestions:
1. Make it easier to attract business to Cleveland. Zoning laws, permits, and city councils may mean well, but they ignore what created the city in the first place: Rapid economic growth through industry. Building new stadiums and a new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are nice, but won’t drive the growth that made Cleveland. They use Houston as an example of a low-regulation city.
2. Education: Try charter schools. Loosen the grip of the teacher’s union upon what are admittedly underperforming schools. The problems the unions and school districts face in the city (hungry kids, violent kids, desperate for attention kids, the sons and daughters of those originally looking for economic opportunity kids and now adrift with few skills and opportunities) may be best served otherwise.
3. Potentially privatize public sector oversight of parking, maintenance, and management of public spaces.
At least someone might be buying the houses, and some good art could even come of it, but there’s a kind of a anti-establishment tone (mixing art and politics in a questionable way): artists buying cheap houses in Detroit.
“First is the increasingly rapid unraveling of employer- based health insurance. Second is the plight of Medicaid, an increasingly crucial program that is under both fiscal and political attack. Third is the long-term problem of the federal government’s solvency, which is, as we’ll explain, largely a problem of health care costs.”
Of course, “free market ideology” and politics are getting in the way of what Krugman argues is the only effective solution: these separate problems need comprehensive reform, and the government is the only entity capable of delivering it.
Of course, we’ll still have poor people without much/any access, a need for rationing (never enough money, always too much need), waste, inefficient spending due to self-interest etc as well as what I think Krugman underestimates as the potential for simple corruption, government inefficiency, and the dangers of tying political interests to so much money and human need (the innovation that will be lost). He doesn’t spend much time discussing the downsides.
But, where is there a counter-vision by a fiscal conservative?
Link: Reihan Salam at Bloggingheads states it simply: Forget all this compromise talk and smoke and mirrors. The left is this close to winning a philosophical victory, and this is the first step toward what the progressive left really wants, which is government controlled health-care.
Update: A reader sent this link to the Heritage Foundation. It’s a start. If you have other links, fell free to send them in.
You may have noticed a shift in thinking about Israel lately, or a greater willingness in American political and social life (mostly on the left, but not only) to consider the conditions and injustices under which the Palestinians live.
There may be many reasons for this:
1. A reaction to some of the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq…combined with a weak economy.
2. A still relatively intellectually confused but resurgent American left.
3. A demographic shift toward a larger Arab population in both Europe and the U.S.
4. Our interaction with the Arab world through rapidly advancing technology.
As Israel sees it (and there are many good reasons for seeing it this way), any concession to the violence of Hamas is unacceptable. Any loss of Israeli life to a Hamas rocket attack is cause for military operation to protect the civil order. Despite the rallying anger, resentment and threats of violence by much the Arab world (to which the Israelis have long since steeled themselves) they’ve gone ahead and pursued a military operation.
I don’t necessarily have a response to such current events…
…so much as I’d argue that one of our most important shared interests with Israel is still through its functioning democracy: Israeli military force is eventually answerable to the Israeli people through its laws, lawmakers, and ultimately to the people themselves. This is a form of government cast in our own image, with which we identify and understand as vital to our own freedoms and way of life.
The current wellspring of sentiment in America toward the Palestinian situation has important truths to it…but look for it to be used accordingly by groups for peace…for aid…for Islam…for social justice (to rally the blame America first crowd)…and more generally by U.S. politicians as they may eventually navigate these waters. As a result, perhaps U.S. foreign policy in the region may gradually be changing in much the same way…if it hasn’t been already.
Some people insist that the current health-care bill is the only option to resolve rising health-care costs…does the Ryan plan address their needs enough? An enormous bill and an enormously complicated debate.
Is India pursuing equality too zealously in this case, risking too much change too quickly, foisting top-down legislation upon traditions that will resist it and do not recognize its legitimacy? In pursuing (or at least legislating it), do you also risk less equality?
Derek Bok, who was asked to step back in at Harvard after Summers was ousted, has his book, the Politics Of Happiness reviewed here. Have we backed into an idealism not sufficiently skeptical of what government can do?
Rather than see the vote as a failure to allow Muslims their religious freedoms (populist response to the immigration wave?), Hirsi Ali suggests the ban rather should be thought of, in part, as a check upon the political ambitions that stem from Islamic theology:
“Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual’s relationship to the state; that the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword.”
Because this fits into a view that many Europeans already have about how their own societies should be run:
“In their response to the presence of Islam in their midst, Europeans have developed what one can discern as roughly two competing views. The first view emphasizes accuracy. Is it accurate to equate political symbols like those used by Communists and Nazis with a religious symbol like the minaret and its accessories of crescent and star.”
According to Ali, it’s not an attack on religion per se, but rather a workable European solution to to Islam’s inability to separate politics from religion… because (what I think is the real target here) there’s another view of Islam in Europe:
“The second view refuses to equate political symbols of various forms of white fascism with the symbols of a religion. In this school of thought, Islamic Scripture is compared to Christian and Jewish Scripture. Those who reason from this perspective preach pragmatism. According to them, the key to the assimilation of Muslims is dialogue.”
“These two contrasting perspectives correspond to two quite distinct groups in Europe. The first are mainly the working class. The second are the classes that George Orwell described as “indeterminate.” Cosmopolitan in outlook, they include diplomats, businesspeople, mainstream politicians, and journalists. They are well versed in globalization and tend to focus on the international image of their respective countries.”
As a good American, I don’t know where I stand on day to day European politics, I’ll try and leave that to Europeans. I have to say, though, Hirsi Ali is a pretty smooth political operator herself in a cosmopolitan, populist sort of way.
Are you convinced?
Addition: I think Hirsi Ali correctly points out how much room for improvement there is in Europe’s handling of Muslim immigration…
Another Addition: She has directly challenged Islam as well, and this is not tolerated, resulting in numerous death threats.