Some Monday Links-Syria, California & Iran

Tom Switzer At The American Conservative: ‘Three Realist Lessons From Obama’s Syria Missteps:’

‘As realists from George Kennan to Henry Kissinger have argued, Americans do not have the understanding of other societies and people, the attention span or staying power, to engage in an active, interventionist policy of nation-building and democracy-promotion on a large scale.’

What are our objectives in fighting terrorism, and how do we best achieve them?

We can’t necessarily lash out in full-scale WWII conflict, nor engage in a Cold-War style chess games against a single player, so how do we best fight our enemies and secure our interests?

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Carson Bruno & Jeremy Carl At The Hoover Institution ‘What California Comeback?:’

‘So while the media may call it a comeback, our poll suggests that Californians aren’t feeling the love as far as their pocketbooks, job prospects, and retirement plans are concerned.’

I suppose we’ll see.

Victor Davis Hanson tries to recover ‘California’s Promethean Past‘ and get back to non-governmental big public works projects.  The conservative Democrat position in California is a minority one.  Public sentiment is much more gathered around green, multicultural, and mildly collectivist thinking, which generally lead to the bureaucratic state of mind and the regulatory state.

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From The Economist on Iran Negotiations: ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm

‘If Iran resists such a deal, it would be further evidence that it is still trying to follow the North Korean route, as the Israelis keep insisting it is. If Iran however seems serious, then America is right to engage in negotiations at the highest level. The questions are when and how fast to lift sanctions.’

So, are they as bad as North Korea, back when George Bush lumped them together in the Axis Of Evil?

If only we could break through the hard-line, repressive, Islamist thugocracy down to the pragmatic, pro-democratic Green thinking, this would be a masterstroke, goes the current and perhaps wishful thinking.

I can’t help but think of all the bumbling and lack of strategy that brought us here isn’t a good sign.

From A Reader-Link to America 3.0’s Website

Post on Arnold Kling’s review here.

America 3.0 book here

Website here.

From the intro at Amazon:

‘We are in a painful transition period. Our government is crushingly expensive, failing at its basic functions, and unable to keep its promises. It does not work and it cannot continue as it is. But the inevitable end of big government does not mean the end of America. It only means the end of one phase of American life. 

America is poised to enter a new era of freedom and prosperity. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least fifteen centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving. The Founding generation of the United States lived in a world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0. This world faded away and was replaced by an industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0. Now America 2.0 is outdated and crumbling, while America 3.0 is struggling to be born. This new world will bring immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government’

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

It’s pretty safe to say that technology is certainly changing how we live, work, think and arrange our lives.  Whether or not you think the rate of technological change is increasing, these changes are naturally affecting our institutions, politics, economy & political economy.

Does it necessarily follow that these changes will be aligned with a libertarian/conservative political philosophy?

I’m partial to the idea of protecting the core unit of the family with a kind of Jeffersonian liberalism & limited government.  This is catnip for libertarian conservatives.  After all, collectivism, progressivism, and perhaps even the rights-based individualism derived from top-down (R)eason which can lead to anarchy, pose challenges to such a vision.

From the website:

Mr. Kling’s review provides a very good summary of the book. He concludes by noting:

The vision that Bennett and Lotus put forth is not the technocratically-run national system that most contemporary politicians and pundits presume is ideal. Nor is it the philosophically-driven rights-based society that libertarians might prefer. However, if the authors are correct in their cultural anthropology, then their idea of America 3.0 is what fits best with our culture.

Our antipathy toward a “technocratically-run national system” is common to most American Conservatives and Libertarians, whether capitalized or not. Mr. Kling is astute to note our vision is not one of a “philosophically-driven rights-based society” which many libertarians hope for. We do believe in a rights-based society, but we believe such a society will work, and that certain rights will be understood and respected, not due to any universally derivable philosophy, but due to a historically grounded set of cultural attitudes, orientations and practices. Our assessment of America, its history and its future, is indeed based on cultural anthropology, with economics, law and politics as superstructure on that foundation.

Thanks for the link.

Interesting times.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome, especially if you’ve read the book, as I’ve got little time but to link these days.

Kevin Williamson, at the National Review, and his new book:  ’The End Is Near, And It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave American Richer, Happier, and More Secure.’

Walter Russell Mead’s theory, in part, posits that liberalism 4.0 needs to become 5.0 and start to creatively solve the problems we’re faced with, including globalization, the decline of manufacturing and industry, and the rise of technology.  The ‘blue’ model is behind the times:

Related On This Site:  Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Arnold Kling From The Library Of Economics And Liberty: ‘My Perspective On The Budget Fight’

Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Technocratic Dilemma’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom?:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…libertarians share a definition of liberty

From The Detroit Free Press: ‘White House To Announce $300M In Aid Friday To Make Detroit Safer, Erase Blight’

Full piece here.

‘Nearly $300 million in aid for Detroit — from federal and state coffers, private businesses and charitable foundations — will be announced Friday as Obama administration officials visit the city to discuss what can be done to help eradicate blight, improve transportation, encourage new business and make residents safer.’

Life support?:

‘Sperling wasn’t immediately able to break down just how much of the $300 million represents new funding and how much had already been awarded to Detroit but, for whatever reason, hadn’t reached the city before. But he said much of it represented an effort by adminisitration officials to scour their departments for funding that Detroit could access’

How did Detroit get here?

Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.

More from Megan McArdle on the behavior that comes with pension bonuses:  Not worth saving.

Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself?  See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

A garage sale for the city’s art? Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.’From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

From Bloomberg: ‘Detroit Recovery Plan Threatens Muni-Market Underpinnings’

Dexter Filkins At The New Yorker: ‘The Shadow Commander’

Full piece here.

Filkins takes a look at Iran’s Qassem Suleimani:

‘Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq’

Related On This Site:   Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

Dexter Filkins At The New Yorker: ‘What We Don’t Know About Drones’

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

Via The NY Times: ‘Former Defense Secretaries Criticize Obama On Syria’

Full piece here.

“Iran is paying very close attention to what we’re doing,” Mr. Panetta said. “There’s no question in my mind they’re looking at the situation, and what they are seeing right now is an element of weakness.”

At the center of the liberal internationalist foreign policy team Obama’s leaning on is a serious lack of strategy and leadership.

Enough said.

Related On This Site:  A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

More Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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

Kenneth Minogue At The New Criterion: ‘The Self-Interested Society’

Full essay here.

Thanks to a reader for the link.   Deep but very readable.  How universal is the desire for individual freedom?:

‘Some people take the view that we in the West are fortunate to enjoy freedom, because it is a universal human aspiration that has been commonly frustrated in most societies. This is one of the more pernicious illusions we entertain about human kind. Most people have never lived in free societies, nor exhibited any desire or capacity for freedom’

and:

‘What most people seem to want, however, is to know exactly where they stand and to be secure in their understanding of their situation.’

Isn’t that last part a universal claim upon human nature?  If so, Minogue generally resisted the idea that evolutionary theories could be transferred successfully to Statecraft.

He is arguing that it’s easy to mistake your experiences and ideas within our Western tradition for that of peoples everywhere.

Maybe you’ve traveled and experienced the tribal taboos and family/kin loyalties of smaller bands and ethnic groups.  Maybe you’ve been up close to the transcendental submission of will in faith in Islam, uniting a patchwork of tribes and peoples under its claims with high honor ethic and a strong warrior tradition (the individual doesn’t choose whether to drink or have women work outside of the home).   Maybe you’ve seen the caste system in India, or the authoritarian feudal landownership structure in Pakistan, or the ancient, imperial Chinese structure with a Han core, now still a strong State structure charting some kind of course out of Communism.

What is unique about our traditions?

Towards the end of the essay:

‘The balance in our tradition between the rules we must respect because they are backed by the authority of law, and the free choice in the other elements of our life is one that free agents rightly will not wish to see disturbed.’

Food for thought.

Roger Kimball quoting Minogue:

The evident problem with democracy today is that the state is pre-empting—or “crowding out,” as the economists say—our moral judgments. Rulers are adding moral judgments to the expanding schedule of powers they exercise. Nor does the state deal merely with principles. It is actually telling its subjects to do very specific things. Yet decisions about how we live are what we mean by “freedom,” and freedom is incompatible with a moralizing state. That is why I am provoked to ask the question: can the moral life survive democracy?’

R.I.P.

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Related On This Site:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

..Repost-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New HumanismEd West At The Telegraph: ‘Conservatives, Depressing Everyone Since 500BC’

Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Tuesday Quotation: Mark Twain

‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.’

Mark Twain

Sandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’

Full piece here.

Now de Blasio may just be an older Leftist, running for office.

I don’t have much to say about NYC politics, but this does go to the larger theory that we lost much of establishment liberalism, or at least nationalistic liberalism, back during the 60’s cultural revolution.  Perhaps if it ever makes a comeback, it will be as a brand of neo-liberalism more like the kind we find in Britain, reaching out from a further Left base.

Why would I make such a prediction?  Well, because of the wretched state of the humanities, overrun with postmodernism and continental philosophy, for starters.  Or the soft, redistributive collectivism of much of current liberalism.  Or the fact that green thinking and feminism have made such inroads in our culture.  Or the increasing nihilism in NYC alternative and artistic cultures.

Let me know if I’m wrong.  Perhaps I’m responding too reactively to current conditions.

Michael Bloomberg’s had to navigate a career in information and finance, gradually over to using the bully pulpit of Gracie Mansion to push a kind of ‘nudging’ authoritarianism to achieve the social outcomes he wants.  He’s drifted independent.

Now NYC, often a cultural trendsetter for the rest of the nation, may be turning further Left:

‘Bill de Blasio, then 26, went to Nicaragua to help distribute food and medicine in the middle of a war between left and right. But he returned with something else entirely: a vision of the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government.

and:

‘His activism did not stop. In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. “The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle,” said a poster designed by the group’

Solidarity!

Over at Ira Stoll’s Future of Capitalism:

‘Peter Beinart wrote an article for the Daily Beast heralding Bill de Blasio’s victory in the New York Democratic Mayoral Primary as the ‘rise of the new new left.”  It describes Americans aged 18 to 30 as ‘Millennials” and claims, ‘unlike older Americans, who favor capitalism over socialism by roughly 25 points, Millenials, narrowly, favor socialism.”

If you were a beat, or a hippie, or now a hipster, you may not have to wear that Che shirt ironically any longer!

Addition: As a reader suggests, couldn’t you say the same of the Right?  Well,  the thesis here is that liberalism eventually runs aground into many of the problems of human nature, belief, ignorance etc.  Some of its organizing principles take time to root, and now they have arguably deeper than before.  One of this blog’s aims is to try and highlight some of the possible consequences of those principles.

Since it’s 1963 all over again: Clink on this link to explore the ideas of David Friedman, and his brand of libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism for yourself.  Many of his positions are well-reasoned and should be considered on their merits.  Few people make such a compelling and clear argument for private property and extend capitalism as far as it will go: Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’.

LIbertarianism at high tide against a particularly liberal administration?…Anarcho-capitalism:  Pro-market, anti-state, anti-war…paleo-libertarian: Link To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader…Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeTwo Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…new liberty away from Hobbes?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

 Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…liberals attack: From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Repentant Radical’

Full interview here.

Ahmed Akkari, one of the men behind the Danish cartoon protests, spends time on Greenland decompressing from the Islamist cocoon, and comes to renounce his former ways:

“He’s very brave. He’s taken a big step, and he’s ready to atone. He’s changed from being an Islamist to being a humanist.”

Believable?

Islamist ‘literature’ for Kierkegaard?

More details here on what he helped to inspire.

Cartoons here. (Westergaard’s is the 2nd down, I don’t have the rights to reprint).

Bonus:

Christopher Hitchens remained unmoved in a debate with Tariq Ramadan and maintained that the metaphysics of Islam will ultimately create and encourage violence through its moral absolutism and its total metaphysical prescription for all aspects of life, including politics and the public square.  Muslims are the ones right now in Europe and the Middle-East, he points out, who are violent and threatening violence and it must be stood up to.

One of the products of Europe is the secular multiculturalism to which Ramadan often appeals, but which the adherents of secular multiculturalism are not always fully willing and able to defend (free speech as broadly interpreted as it often us under the 1st amendment here under the Constitution) against Muslim threats of violence.  This secular tradition has also not been fully integrating Muslims successfully under its banner nor through public policy, the economy, or Europe’s political institutions, often creating fiefdoms and ghettoes.

Hopefully, we can still avoid getting into bed with both the neo-neo colonialists, the bien pensant Euro-Left on one hand and the Islamists on the other, without really addressing the underlying conflicts.

It should be pointed out that aside from cartoonists, filmmakers like Theo Van Gogh, and recent arrivals like Hirsi Ali, it is often the real materialists in Europe, former Marxists and socialists who speak up the loudest and possibly become marked for death:

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Here’s a further debate from Intelligence Squared with Ayan Hirsi Ali on one side, arguing that Islam is the problem (the same absolutism in Islam that will not tolerate questioning of its tenets, and its many violent passages).  A member of the opposing side suggests that Muslim alienation in British life, combined with a European influenced fascist inspired-Islamism is the problem, not Islam itself (yes, it’s colonialist Europe’s fault).  He proposes a more human-rights based Islam.

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It’s ironic that a strain of European secularism and socialism, quite fascistic, from Gadhafi to Saddam Hussein’s Baath party to Syria’s secularist Baath party still barely in power, was exported, and now we’re dealing with a fascistic Islamist response.

See Also:  Why Lars Hedegaard Still Matters

From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration Dynamic

Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie

Theodore Dalrymple argues that France has the potential to handle Muslim immigration better because of its ideological rigidity, which can better meet the ideological rigidity of its Muslim immigrants…Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain

How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’

If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Via The A & L Daily-Interview With Christopher Caldwell At Spiegel Online

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?

Full post here.

“‘…a morally concerned style of intellectual atheism openly avowed by only a small minority of individuals (for example, those who are members of the British Humanist Association) but tacitly accepted by a wide spectrum of educated people in all parts of the Western world.”