From The New Criterion: ‘Christopher, for better & for worse’

Full piece here.

Peter Collier offers a remembrance:

‘But the memoir gives solid hints about the elements of his composition: the adventure books for boys that made him a Romantic; first encounters on the Darwinian English schoolyard where he, a small boy deficient in physicality (sports was always near the top of his hate list along with God and Israel) learned that words were the best fists; independent socialist politics that left him with what he once called, apropos of Saul Bellow, a “trotskisant dialectic” even after his days as a self-identified leftist were over; the decision to cultivate a droll Wodehousian side to go along with the moralistic Rosa Luxemburgian one’

Related On This SiteRelated On This Site:  Via Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue……From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

From ABC News: ‘Afghans Lob Grenades at US Base, Clash With Police’

Full piece here.

I doubt the public apology from the President will have the intended effect.  Maybe advise and assist was just a cover for withdrawal, a bump on the road to the currently planned way out.  There is a high likelihood of leaving Afghanistan much as we found it:  very poor and tribal, wracked by conflict, and a strategic backyard for other interests.  The Taliban and other militia groups could gain back political control, making it hard to have enough political stability for greater economic opportunity (the Chinese will likely just take what they need, capitalizing on our efforts).  A space for terrorist activity could appear again which neither the Jirgas nor the current Afghan government would have incentive/interest enough to stop, even if they could.

Tom Ricks offers a possibly new strategy, but the underlying logic remains: no sitting U.S. President can allow a place where known terrorists have safe haven to plot and carry out attacks on our soil, without taking some action.

Related On This Site: This blog is at least two years behind events in Afghanistan, if it’s on them at all. From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger

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From The Hoover Institution: ‘Nature Fakery’

Full piece here.

Our author points out two myths underlying the environmental movement. The topic is hot given the influence of the Greens on our politics at the moment:

‘The Noble Savage is that inhabitant of a simpler world whose life harmonizes with his natural surroundings. He does not need government or law, for he has no private property, and hence no desire for wealth or status, nor for their byproducts, crime and war. His existence is peaceful, free from conflict and strife. He takes from nature only what he needs, and needs only what he takes’

On this site see Roger Sandall in Australia: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Also, our author argues:

‘The myth of the Golden Age, which the West has inherited from Ancient Greece, is another idealization of the lost simplicity of living in a complex society. This myth imagines a time before cities and technology, when humans lived intimately with a benevolent nature that provided for their needs and for lives of leisure, health, and happiness, free as they were from the unnatural desires and appetites created by civilization’

As posted on this site previously:

I would offer that there are many to whom environmentalism serves as a kind of religion.  On this view, man has fallen away from Nature, and built civilized society atop it through harmful, unsustainable means.  He must atone, and get back in harmony with Nature, as he has alienated himself from his once graceful state (tribal? romantically primitive? collectively just? equal and fair? healthy?  ”spiritually aware?” morally good?).

Related On This Site:  Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And LibertyFrom George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…people who argue the earth is warming sure don’t live like it:From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’

Repost-‘Philip Brand Reviews Kay Hymowitz At Real Clear Books: ‘Women on Top, Men at the Bottom’

Full review here.

Man-children?  A war against men? The products of feminism?  An erosion of religious values?:

‘The thrust of Manning Up is different. In her new book, Hymowitz puts economic conditions first — along with the increasing professional accomplishments of women. Preadulthood, she says, is “an adjustment to huge shifts in the economy, one that makes a college education essential to achieving or maintaining a middle-class life.” 

That’s preadulthood for men:

Preadulthood — most common among men in their twenties, though it can easily extend to one’s thirties and beyond — is a consequence of two related economic trends that are reshaping the coming-of-age experience for young Americans, both men and women. The first trend is the extended period of training — college and beyond — deemed necessary to succeed in the modern economy. The second trend is women’s participation and flourishing in the new economy.’

Related On This SiteFrom Will Wilkinson-A Response To Kay Hymowitz: ‘The “Menaissance” and Its Dickscontents’Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of DarwinismKay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’

From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: Christina Hoff Sommers “Persistent Myths In Feminist Scholarship”Wendy Kaminer At The Atlantic: ‘Sexual Harassment And The Loneliness Of The Civil Libertarian Feminist’

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

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From PhysOrg: ‘New Research On Japanese Quake Ominous For Pacific Northwest’

Full piece here.

‘The longest record for a subduction zone is from Cascadia, where scientists have linked buried marshes and submarine landslides with a series of about 22 megaquake quakes going back 10,000 years. The time between quakes ranges from 200 to 1,000 years, with an average of about 500 years’

Related On This Site:  The last big Cascadia subduction zone earthquake likely occurred on Jan 27th, 1700, at magnitude 9.0. The article suggests an occurence anywhere from 300-350 year intervals up to 400-600 year average intervals (new research suggests the former). It’s just over 311 years and counting.

USGS info here.  Some earthquake preparedness FAQ’s also from the USGS.

From The USGS: February 14th, 2011 Earthquake Near Mt. St. Helens-4.3Seattle Earthquake-January 30th 2009-4.5 On The Richter ScaleFrom The Seattle Times: ‘Hard Lessons Learned Since The 2001 Nisqually Quake’From OregonLive.Com: ‘Big Earthquake Coming Sooner Than We Thought, Oregon Geologist Says

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Repost-‘From Jaltcoh: ‘Do Addicts Have Self-Control?’

Full post here.

Addiction is a disease?  Our author reviews a few reviews and discusses the following fallacy:

1. A certain behavioral/mental problem — call it “X” — is associated with brain activity in ways that can be observed and predicted.

2. Therefore, the solution to “X” must take the form of psychiatric/medical assistance; the solution cannot be individual free choice. (Indeed, even invoking that concept may be detrimental.)

There are other potential consequences:

‘…Satel also says that the people who came up with the idea that addiction is a disease and is incompatible with self-control were motivated by political and financial concerns (and probably emotional impulses)’

Worth pointing out.

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From The New Republic: ‘A Tour Of Egypt’s Half-Finished Revolution’

Full piece here.

‘There is a correlation, I’ve noticed, between the volume of mosques’ loudspeakers in a country and its radical Islamists’ ambitions and aggressive claims to power. Thirty-three years ago, one of the first hints of rising religious despotism in Iran was the sudden increase in the volume of loudspeakers in every neighborhood mosque. Piety was no longer private and voluntary, but public and mandatory.’

Related On This SiteJames Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?’

Reason is using Harrisburg as a model for fiscal failure.

I don’t fault city fathers for trying to bring back jobs and people to the city, but the government can’t “be entrepreneurial” and likely make bad investment decisions (the incinerator and the Wild West museum boondoggle) with taxpayer money at the expense of past private good investment decisions.  Unfortunately, Harrisburg can’t bring back manufacturing and industry as it was, least of all through high taxation while driving out the tax base through political means. The city has some tough choices to make.

Libertarians thrive in California, but unlike California, a voting majority of central Pennsylvanians are likely more rural, conservative, and more religious.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Technology is making and rewarding a creative class of highly educated, smart, mobile people with wealth, but how do we make the best quality of life for ourselves without slipping into declinism and the rule of the equality crowd?:  Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’From The American Interest:

How much of a role does government have to play?:  Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’

Trade and commerce aren’t just vehicles for nanny statism, equality delivery services and racial harmony…they are well…trade and commerce:  Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

And how do big-city machines actually work (Boss Tweed and Blago come to mind): Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

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Niall Ferguson At The Daily Beast: ‘Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War’

Full post here.

Ferguson runs through 5 arguments why Israel should not attack Iran, and why he thinks they’re wrong.

‘1. The Iranians would retaliate with great fury, closing the Strait of Hormuz and unleashing the dogs of terror in Gaza, Lebanon, and Iraq.

2. The entire region would be set ablaze by irate Muslims; the Arab Spring would turn into a frigid Islamist winter.

3. The world economy would be dealt a death blow in the form of higher oil prices.

4. The Iranian regime would be strengthened, having been attacked by the Zionists its propaganda so regularly vilifies.

5. A nuclear-armed Iran is nothing to worry about. States actually become more risk-averse once they acquire nuclear weapons.’

Click through for the responses. He finishes with:

‘War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. The people who don’t yet know that are the ones still in denial about what a nuclear-armed Iran would end up costing us all.

It feels like the eve of some creative destruction.’

Related On This Site:  Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Remember Libya?’

 From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Are Airstrikes Imminent In Iran?’From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Will Israel Attack Iran This Spring?’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’…Materialism and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran

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Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Remember Libya?’

Full piece here.

Our author, as he examines a New York Times piece on the growth of militias in Libya, points out that Libya is not doing so well:

‘Be that as it may, Shadid does his usual good job of selecting representative data to paint a larger canvas. And his conclusions, foreshadowed in the subtitles quoted above, are unmistakable: Things are bad in Libya, and they are liable to get a whole lot worse.’

Worth a read.

I’ve heard Libya hailed as a model for at least two reasons:

1. The U.S. is not committed to military engagement nor a long costly war in Libya.  We don’t have troops on the ground, and have served to topple tyranny on the cheap, with a coalition of French and British capabilities.  At the very least, we’ve let our European allies pursue their interests without doing all the dirty work for them.   The West may at least sit back and observe the broken spirit of many Libyans, and the ruined institutions in Gadhafi’s wake from afar while  the problems of Libya are to be solved by Libyans’ own self-determination or by diplomatic, humanitarian and coalitional efforts that could presumably be provided by the West.

This could be argued to be a form of neoconservatism lite (showing similar concern for human rights but with a less aggressive pursuit of American interests) or as a form of aggressive humanitarianism which still requires the threat of force behind it.

What seems to be lacking in this approach, as Garfinkle points out, is dealing with potential future threats to American security at home from another failed Muslim society with no functional State.  Also, is the broader threat that many groups in the Middle-East pose to their own people and the West simply by following their stated goals to logical conclusions (the Hamas Charter, the holocaust-denying Iranian regime and Israel, Al-Qaeda and other groups that rely on Islamic grievance and moral absolutism).  Liberal internationalism has limits.

2.  The other argument runs that morally, this definition of freedom is more inclusive, and more considerate of “the will” of the people whose countries with whom we engage ourselves militarily.  This administration’s goal has been to promote an ideal of freedom which it assumes to be universal and more appealing to the Muslim-on-the-street.  I think it is in the hopes that this Muslim-on-the-street would not be as easily rallied behind the anti-American, anti-Western, anti-modern impulses that his authoritarian leaders and ruling parties would use for nationalistic aims, or that his “radical” Muslim cleric would use to foment violent and terroristic acts, or that his Muslim brotherhood would use for purposes of solidarity.

It is unsurprising that the domestic political base for such action at home is anti-colonial (MLK for Churchill), liberal internationalist (A New World Order), and might count among itself members of the New Left (where many of the Old Left have ended up, as the NY Times demonstrates).

Despite the successes or failures of this approach (and there are both), this blog is concerned about the limits of such ideas and their possible consequences, as well as the possible recoil here at home (due to the current political divide), and what that could mean foreign-policy wise in the coming years.

Related On This Site:  Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

The materialist Left: Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft…Kant often leads to a liberal political philosophy?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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’From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

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