Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Memorial Day: The War In Iraq’

Full post here.

‘All wars are tragic; some are also victorious.  The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known.  The victory is equally real — but the politically fastidious don’t want to look.  The minimum we owe our lost and wounded warriors is to tell the story of what they so gloriously achieved.’

We do owe our lost and wounded warriors our respect, reflection and gratitude, for they have made the deepest sacrifice.  Yesterday was a day of remembrance for the countless white crosses on the lawn in Arlington; the brothers, sons, daughters, fathers, friends lost.  We also owe them the best reasons for going to war, behind the rhetoric.

Mead argues that the achievement and victory is against Al-Qaeda, not Saddam Hussein nor the Iraqi citizens.  One could argue this, I suppose, as there has been a movement afoot of violent, radical Islamists, seeking to wage Holy War against the West and the U.S in particular. Bin Laden was their ringleader for awhile, but the sentiment is deep.  We didn’t want the battleground to be here at home (and we are in a protracted military, security, intelligence, and political conflict with Islamic terrorists) so perhaps we brought it to Iraq (thus however, fulfilling to some degree, Bin-Laden’s invitation).

The best argument I can see here is that have a new ideological enemy of sorts and a threat to our democracy and way of life (a Clash Of Civilizations?).  Unlike the fascist and imperial dictators of WWII though, and their threat to our allies and interests in Europe…unlike the protracted ideological struggle with the Soviets and communism in Eastern Europe, on the Korean peninsula, in Vietnam, and even in Cuba and South America…this new enemy is stateless, diffuse, and claims the religious and moral high ground while committing base atrocities through terror attacks in the name of Islam.   The violent elements that threaten our security here at home need to be stood up to.

Yet, does it follow that the best way to do this was by invading Iraq?

Is victory simply defeating terrorists by drawing the enemy to a country where they weren’t, and killing them?  Is victory toppling Saddam and the Iraqi Army, with limited loss of U.S. life, using Iraq as a pawn on the ideological chessboard (if they are in fact our new ideological enemy on this analysis)?  Is it creating a foundation for a form of government and way of life in our own image..that does not harbor terrorists?  Is it in creating a government that best allows for the flourishing of freedom..such as Iraqis choose…when so little of this seemed to be their choice?

Victory here is a tough sell, come what may.  There has got to be a smarter way to fight the war on terror.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”… From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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

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From Outside The Wire Via Instapundit: ‘Anarchy On the Pakistan Border’

Full post here.

That’s Anarchy Troop:

‘Magarah’s economic activity is the terrace farming of wheat, raising small herds of livestock and logging of pine trees.  Most of their work goes to producing enough to feed themselves.  A few of the houses had solar panels given out and installed by western development organizations or military Provisional Reconstruction Teams.  There were a few electric lights, but no TVs, satellite dishes or radios.  If the few electric lines and solar panels were removed, one might not be able guess what century he was in.’

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 Outside The Wire: ‘Harvest Moon’From The CSM: ‘U.S. Consulate In Peshawar Attacked By Pakistan Taliban’

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Harvey Mansfield At The City Journal: ‘Principles That Don’t Change’

Full speech here.

I think Mansfield is taking on some products of the Enlightenment that he argues have holed up on our universities, namely modernism and postmodernism, in the humanities:

‘It is the job of the humanities to make non-science into something positive that could be called human in the best sense. This crucial work, which is necessary to science and, may I add, more difficult and more important than science, is hardly even addressed in our universities.’

Via Strauss, I suspect he’s arguing that this approach has backed science into a bit of a corner…by groups of people who’ve eaten up their own departments via their theories; they have reduced themseleves to vainly copying the sciences and throwing up their hands, having politicized their own fields:

‘To scientists, the university is divided into science and non-science; the latter is not knowledge and is likely to be mush (in this last they are right). Scientists easily forget that science cannot prove science is good, that their whole project is founded upon what is at best unscientific common sense.’

Which leads to wistful sighing and a lament to the atmosphere he witnesses on campus:

“Adjusting to change” is now the unofficial motto of Harvard, mutabilitas instead of veritas. To adjust, the new Harvard must avoid adherence to any principle that does not change, even liberal principle. Yet in fact it has three principles: diversity, choice, and equality. To respect change, diversity must serve to overcome stereotypes, though stereotypes are necessary to diversity.’

Such may be the times.

Also On This Site:  Straussians likely see a long fall away from virtue, from Natural right, from the reason/revelation distinction into the flawed logic of moral relativism and the triumph of a post-Enlightenment pursuit of truth under reason alone (addition: and the 1st and 2nd crises of modernity); the successes and dangers of historicism:  From Volokh: Harvey Mansfield Reviews ‘The Executive Unbound’From The Weekly Standard: Harvey Mansfield Reviews Paul Rahe’s “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift”Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo Strauss

I’m not sure Martha Nussbaum has higher ed quite right: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Peter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxFrom Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’

Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgements apart in the humanities: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To JudgmentRoger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

More Harvard silliness: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Bryan Magee’s series available on youbtube is useful:  Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

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From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’

Interview here. (Link will not last)

Kissinger, at 88, has a new book out titled “On China“.  Interesting quote from the interview (unsurprisingly, Kissinger just wants people to read the book):

‘The remarks hint at what may be Mr. Kissinger’s fundamental view of U.S.-China relations—that they are already so fragile that it could be derailed by some candid remarks by him in a simple newspaper interview. Alternatively, he may simply have in mind his own opportunities for “maintaining influence.”‘

Also On This Site:  TED Via Youtube: Martin Jacques ‘Understanding The Rise Of China’From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’Repost-From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

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Daniel Levy At Foreign Affairs: ‘Same Netanyahu, Different Israel’

Full essay here.

‘Israel’s parliament, its politics, and its public discourse have all shifted to the right, in the direction of Netanyahu’s Likud party. The rump Zionist left-of-center in Israel’s Knesset has shriveled from 43 members in 1996 to just 11 today.’

There are many more settlements now, too, Levy points out, as well as a shifting demographic:

‘In 1996, Israel’s population was 5.7 million people; today, that number is 7.75 million. The two fastest-growing population groups are the Palestinian Arab community and ultra-Orthodox Jews (known as the Haredi).’

Were the left-of center Zionists bringing a much needed vision of democracy to the table?  Obama’s universalist vision seems to be aiming for peace and a dated conception (Levy argues) of the two-state solution, which has consequences for Israel (which Netanyahu addressed yesterday).  Does Obama have the wisdom and leadership to back up the risks he is taking…according to these principles?

Lurking behind the new round of Western involvement and hopes for an Arab spring lie an existential hatred of Israel (and political expedience in drumming it up), potentially weakened autocrats, much more tribal societies, disaffected youth with few limited economic and educational opportunities, some radical and some radicalizing Muslims, a troubled relationship with the concept of Western Church/State and separation of powers…etc.  All of this seems worthy of consideration, as Israel surely considers such problems.

Am I right back to the Clash Of Civilizations? Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Also On This Site:  A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Obama Embraces His Inner Bush’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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From CBS St. Louis: ‘UPDATED: Video of the Joplin Twister’

Full post here.

A gathering of videos at the link above.  The deadliest tornado in Missouri history, and one of the 10 deadliest single tornadoes in U.S. history.

Via the Christian Post:

Joplin, Mo., officials have updated the death toll from Sunday’s tornado to 142′

A confirmed EF5 moved across southern Joplin on Sunday night May 22nd, 2011, causing heavy damage and loss of life.  Thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors.  The Weather Channel has more.

Doppler Radar here. Helicopter video survey of the tornado’s path.  Joplin crowdmap site (online bulletin board for recovery efforts).  Some video of the tornado’s formation and passing through Joplin, and damage afterwards.

Addition:  The Weather Channel has an update on today’s tornado threat, listing key ingredients to tornadic supercell thunderstorm formation.

Another Addition:  The Daily Mail has before and after satellite images.

Related On This Site:   From The Weather Channel: 3D Image Of The Tuscaloosa Tornado April 27th, 2011Tornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler RadarTornadoes In Major Cities: Atlanta

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Ron Radosh At Pajamas Media: ‘President Obama’s Speech to AIPAC: An Assessment’

Full post here.

‘So the question is, as I conclude, whether or not the president means it, whether or not he will backpedal in the other direction, and whether he will seek to mend matters with Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than push him in directions Israel does not want to go.’

How do you satisfy the pro-peace base, the anti-war Left, and the universalist vision of a two-state solution…while maintaining good ties with Israel and its security?  You probably don’t…

Also On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Obama Embraces His Inner Bush’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom 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?

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Obama Embraces His Inner Bush’

Full piece here.

‘President Obama has long hesitated between the idea that Bush had the wrong strategy and the idea that the strategy was sound but that the tactics and presentation was poor.  He seems now to have come down firmly on the side of the core elements of the Bush strategy.  This frankly is more or less where I thought he would end up; American interests, American values and the state of the region don’t actually leave us that many alternatives.’

Mead makes a good case, but some of the administration’s undercurrents are definitely Left toward human rights (Samantha Power and Anne Marie Slaughter would be examples of Obama’s foreign policy guides…for whom Hilary Clinton’s hawkishness was likely too hawkish), while some of the bureaucratic constraints and choices would be similar for any president.

Mead goes on:

‘The President is nailing his colors to the mast of the Anglo-American revolutionary tradition.  Open societies, open economies, religious freedom, minority rights: these are revolutionary ideas in much of the world.’

I’m not necessarily convinced.  I do still think Obama is giving us more long-term leverage in the Middle-East that McCain would have. He is, to a certain extent, hitting the reset button.  This is very valuable.  As regards Israel, he seems to be more interested in peace and fairness rather than its religiously nationalistic impulses. This frustrates many Israelis and the American religious right to no end, but Obama’s view may simply be naive, aiming so directly for ‘peace’ and the kind of faith universalists have in institutions. Here’s a quote from Obama’s speech:

‘We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran.’

Domestically, Obama seems more toward the Great Society, managed economy, minority rights end of the spectrum, much more Left than I’m comfortable with.  There are parts of the  Anglo-American tradition not very well represented by Obama at all (the threat of economic liberty by growth of government, the threat of the excessive egalitarians and their illiberal impulses).

How are the two most recent president’s definitions of freedom (Bush’s human freedom…Obama’s arc of history…) getting crafted into foreign policy?

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.  Transcript of Obama’s full May 19th, 2011 speech here.

Addition: Netanyahu and Obama meeting here, where Netanyahu humbly points out that Obama’s peace vision is not based in Middle-Eastern reality.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”… From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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Stanley Fish At The NY Times Opinionator: ‘Sex, the Koch Brothers and Academic Freedom’

Full post here.

Denying CUNY’s gift of an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner does not necessarily stifle academic freedom. Fish revisits his original post.

‘My general point is that academic freedom is a useful notion only if it is narrowly defined. More things escape its ambit than fall within it.’


LeVay and Wallen are behaving as so many in the Kushner controversy did; they are crying academic freedom whenever a university does something they don’t like, and by doing so, they cheapen the concept.

because academic freedom issues:

“…arise when the university either allows its professors to appropriate the classroom for non-academic purposes, as some think John Michael Bailey did, or allows itself to become the wholly owned subsidiary of another enterprise, as FSU may have done.”

It must take a certain courage to point this out at the NY Times.

Art can serve many masters: religion, politics, ideology, commerce etc…but I suspect good art (a play, in this case) does more, at least staying faithful to simply giving pleasure…or sustaining dramatic tension?

David Mamet wakes from Brechtian slumber, and conservatives rush in.

Related On This Site: Fish defended Ward Churchill’s academic freedom too: From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux…

Broad, but maybe not broad enough.  Martha Nussbaum says the university needs to be defend Socratic reason and still be open to diversity:  From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

A lot of this could be avoided by keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart, argues Roger Scruton: Repost-’Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment’

From Scientific Blogging: ‘Geniuses Of Britain – The First Five’

Full post here.

Some science storytelling with a bit of nationalism thrown in:

‘I will contend that Britain was to science what America’s founding fathers were to democracy and China was to culture; a confluence of brilliant minds who dramatically changed the world.  And I intend to do it briefly.’

Related On This SiteRepost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is NotA Short Post On Red Sprites And Blue Jets: Cosmic Origins Of Lightning?

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