October 26, 2004

BD Upgrade

Belgravia Dispatch is now running on MovableType 3.121 and we migrated to a MySQL Database. The process took quite some time because no reader comments would move over.
The reason for the update were massive amounts of spam. I deleted a couple of thousand casino and pharma spam messages.

Now with MT 3 and the newly integrated Blacklist Plug-In we hope to keep this blog free of annoying messages from all the (excuse my German) Vollidioten, who pollute the web.

I have to apologize to the two commenters who posted comments to "It's Kerry Endorsement Season!" and "The National Security Teams" - I have lost your contribution. I beg you pardon.

Please report any problems to teberle(at)g2e-media.com

Thank you all.

UPDATE: Greg here. Thomas, thanks for your help upgrading my MT platform, preserving data, getting rid of spam. It's much appreciated. If anyone needs a site design guy you should definitely look up Thomas (click on his company's logo on my sidebar for his coordinates). That said, apologies to all for any lost comments (and for having to delete the post on prospective national security teams because of an inexplicable loss of text in the main body of said post).

Anyway...I'm on my last legs. Blogging should resume tomorrow night. Key areas I am looking to dig into include the whole missing explosives story (read this from Roger Simon on the NYT angle thereto) as well as, finally, a thorough-going analysis of prospective national security cabinets for each of Bush II and Kerry I...more soon.

Posted by teberle at October 26, 2004 04:05 PM

Damn, I wish I had saved some of the comments --- there were some good things in those comments. I wrote a lot of stuff which is now gone ... oh well. Did you happen to save any of the old comments anywhere?

Posted by: Mitsu Hadeishi at October 26, 2004 08:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

mitsu, are you referring to your comments in the bush endorsement thread? they should still be there--we only lost comments on the two posts immediately below as far as i can tell.

btw, i printed out my bush post and comments thereto. the print out came out at a staggering approx 200 pages. there were many comments of real note there--and i hope to return to them at some point soon.

thomas, thanks for your efforts on this MT upgrade, spam-slaying, data preservation. much appreciated.

p.s. I'm on east coast time (though heavily jet lagged and busy) but may be back at the blogging station before nodding off this evening.

Posted by: greg at October 26, 2004 09:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, I see. The old link I had to your original archived post has no comments any longer, but scrolling down I see the comments can be seen there. Thanks.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 26, 2004 09:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(I mean, scrolling down on the new homepage, the comments seem to be there on the new links --- it's just the old links don't have comments anymore.)

Posted by: Mitsu at October 26, 2004 09:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah, MT Blacklist rocks!

Posted by: Opinionated Bastard at October 26, 2004 10:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have to apologize to the two commenters who posted comments to "It's Kerry Endorsement Season!" and "The National Security Teams" - I have lost your contribution. I beg you pardon.

That's OK, it was just a sarcastic quip. :)

Posted by: Toadmonster at October 26, 2004 11:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Argh, and Greg and I were in the midst of a good discussion, too. Oh, well.

Here's the short version: Cheney is still going to be in charge, and Greg is fooling himself to think otherwise. Susan Rice and Jamie Rubin may be mediocrities, but they aren't likely to be in charge of much and Kerry has already shown his displeasure with Rubin, who was replaced by Rice. If she isn't up to the job, Kerry won't hesitate to toss her out. She's not one of his people anyway.

Posted by: praktike at October 27, 2004 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

praktike, i think you had called condi rice and steve hadley "major losers" or some such? are bill richardson and joe biden big time "losers" too? or are they highly impressive SecState material-in-waiting, in your view? and is steve hadley a bigger "loser" than susan rice, jamie rubin, or rand beers? is so, please let us know why you so think. if powell stays and rummy goes (replaced by mccain, say), for instance, why isn't that a stronger team than, say, joe biden at state and carl levin at defense?

Posted by: greg at October 27, 2004 12:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, yes. Inflammatory language.

Fortunately, Richard Armitage agrees with me. That's why he said that "the interagency process is broken." That's why we have no Iran policy. That's why Rice paid no attention to counterterrorism before 9/11. She couldn't be bothered. Did you read yesterday's WaPo ariticle on nonproliferation by Barton Gellman? The people responsible for the interagency process, as far as I know, are Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley (who, of course, can't be bothered to check with the CIA to see if what he's having his President say in the SOTU holds water).

Holbrooke, I'm convinced, is going to get the nod at State. It's his due, and I know you agree that he is able. Biden may be a blowhard, but I see no evidence that he is incompetent. In any case, if the Dems don't win the Senate by a sufficient margin, Biden will stay there. Rand Beers seems reasonably competent, if a little too Scowcroftian and zealous about the drug war. Like I said, Kerry has shown that he'll replace people if they screw up. Bush hasn't. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney goes around yelling at briefers from the CTC because they don't tell him what he wants to here ... and he'll be back in GWB Round II. I see no sign that his nefarious influence has diminished. John Bolton is running amock. Elliot Abrams is running the Middle East Peace Process. I wonder how your dad feels about that?

As to your hypothetical, if wishes were fishes we'd all have a fry. Are you willing to take that risk? Remember, Bush's most recent appointment was ... Porter Goss. What does that tell you his priorities are?

Posted by: praktike at October 27, 2004 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not knowing anything, I'll leave the discussion above to the experts above.

I don't remember if it was before or after I voted for John Kerry, but a while back I expressed scepticism here about whether Mr. Kerry believes in democracy promotion as a strategy in the war on al Qaeda terrorism. Praktike (who contributes to a very interesting and informative foreign policy weblog which surely deserves a link from praktike's comments on other weblogs) was kind enough to point me towards an article on the subject by Spencer Ackerman writing in The New Republic. I am grateful to praktike for this.

That article finally arrived in my mailbox today -- which means that the issue with TNR's endorsement of John Kerry will probably not arrive in my mailbox until after election day. (Is Durham, North Carolina really such a remote location?)

Anyway, I don't wish to offend anyone -- and I've already openly admitted, here and elsewhere, to being unrealistic, irrational, stupid, and, at heart, a right-wing extremist fascist militarist conservative. Therefore, it's pretty easy for me to look up to other people. However, after eagerly awaiting Mr. Ackerman's article, I found that actually reading it was anti-climactic.

Most of the original ideas Mr. Ackerman attributes to Mr. Kerry -- for example, promoting educational alternatives to radical madrassas for Muslim youth -- seem to come straight out of the equally anti-climactic recommendation section of the 9/11 Commission Report. That doesn't mean these ideas are wrong. I think that all of these ideas are absolutely right. It's just that these ideas don't seem like enough -- they don't seem to be very bold.

Mr. Kerry is quoted in the article as saying that the U.S. should lend support to independent media, labor unions, and human rights organizations in the broader Middle East, in order to promote democracy from the bottom up. I think this is excellent. Then the article quotes Mr. Biden, who is a leading candidate, assuming Mr. Kerry is elected, for ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (sorry, Senator), as saying that he would require regimes to "at least squint towards democracy." I think that this is excellent as well.

Unfortunately, that's all: the word "democracy" does not appear in the rest of Mr. Ackerman's article. I was hoping Mr. Ackerman would explain why Mr. Kerry wants to promote democracy in the broader Middle East. What is the advantage of democracy over non-democracy, and what does democracy have to do with the war on al Qaeda terrorism?

I don't regret voting for Mr. Kerry. As Oxford Professor Timothy Garton Ash wrote in Sunday's Washington Post, Mr. Kerry is better equipped to unite the trans-Atlantic West, and (if I remember the Professor's sentence correctly) "Only when Europe and America work together can they unfold, for the rest of the world, the transformative power of liberty." But if John Kerry truly believes in the "transformative power of liberty", then why can't he say so?

Posted by: Arjun at October 27, 2004 01:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, my memory is worse than I had hoped -- I got Professor Ash's sentence wrong in the comment above. It was "And only if America and Europe work together can we unfold, for the rest of the world, the transforming power of liberty."

Posted by: Arjun at October 27, 2004 01:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks, Arjun. I'm sorry the article was anticlimactic. I don't think you're going to hear Kerry talk about "the transformative power of liberty" because it's not his style and because that's Bush's shtick. It's true that Kerry's more of a realist, but if he puts the money and the effort into the kinds of initiatives described by Ackerman, he'll be walking the walk whereas Bush has talked the talk. Right now in Iraq the Bush administration is busy working behind the scenes to set up a unity list of the same parties that have been running the show since the IGC was first formed. The Bush administration gave zero support to the Egyptian opposition who demanded that Mubarak not run again. They've said nothing about what's going on in Bahrain, and now it looks like they may be selling out Taiwan. They've done a good a job as can be expected on Afghanistan, but freedom is _not_ on the march in Central Asia as a whole, or in the Middle East aside from maybe Morocco. Lebanon has been sold out, too. Why do you think Rafiq Hariri resigned? My suspicion is that the Bushies have cut a deal with Syria in exchange for good behavior regarding Iraq, and told Hariri so. Note that he quit right after meeting with the U.S. All in all, I'd say that Bush's record in this regard is not stellar. Kerry deserves the benefit of the doubt for now.

BTW, can't you log in to TNR.com? As a subscriber, you should be eligible.

Posted by: praktike at October 27, 2004 02:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Surely B.D. readers would benefit from the knowledge and wisdom at Praktike's Place / Chez Nadezhda, as evidenced by the comment above.

I get your point, praktike. Thanks for it.

One minor objection I have to Mr. Ackerman's article is that he repeats the contention that "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (al Qaeda)" was responsible for 11-M, the Madrid train bombings. This contention is popular among critics of the Bush Administration because "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (al Qaeda)" issued a statement endorsing the re-election of President Bush, stating that it fears John Kerry will defeat al Qaeda using his preternatural prowess in persuasion.

My impression (please correct me if I am wrong) is "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (al Qaeda)" is a group of pro-terrorist radical Islamist losers that is not quite as important or influential as it pretends to be. For example, "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (al Qaeda)" announced a truce with Spain after the Socialists won the election and Mr. Zapatero confirmed his intention to withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq -- but in reality, there was no truce: further attacks in Spain by radical Islamist terrorists were planned, and were only prevented by effective European police work.

Posted by: Arjun at October 27, 2004 03:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You aren't going to hear Kerry talk about the transformative power of liberty because he doesn't believe in liberty. For folks in the US, much less folks in the middle east.

Much more of an aristocrat in true UN / EU style -- devolving power in equal measure to third-world tyrants, first world bureaucrats, and thoroughly corrupted multi-culti bodies like the UN, IAEA, and the like. The new aristocracy. His vision of the US is as a vassal state to the UN, hopefully along the lines of the way european countries are surrendering their sovereignty to a Franco-German Axis of unelected and unaccountable ministry. Witness his deference to the utterly autocratic machinations of the international criminal court and the world court, whose chief raison d'etre appears to be to thwart the "Great Satan" and "Lesser Satan" in their thuggish desire to defend themselves from psychotic mass murdering terrorists and their state sponsors.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at October 27, 2004 03:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I just wanted to add one other comment about the Spencer Ackerman article.

If you want Arabs and Muslims to turn away from radical Islamist terrorism, then you've got to present an attractive alternative. (Simply asking imams to denounce terrorism is not enough!) In my view, presenting an attractive alternative to radical Islamist terrorism should include using U.S. economic power to promote development in the Arab and Muslim worlds. But this is something that the Democratic Party doesn't like to do, because it prominently includes "sending our American jobs overseas to FOREIGNERS instead of keeping our jobs right here where they belong in the good old United States of America."

I don't know why the news media has such a high opinion of our next Vice President, John Edwards. In the last days of his campaign for U.S. President, Senator Edwards was desperate to discover a difference between Senator Kerry and himself, so Mr. Edwards announced his opposition to pretty much every single trade agreement that he hadn't yet voted on. He even came out against the trade agreement with Australia! Yet the news media failed to point out that this doesn't make any sense at all.

Liberalizing trade with mostly Arab countries and with mostly Muslim countries can be an effective measure in the war on al Qaeda terrorism. (This fact is also noted in praktike's interesting weblog.) But will the protectionist America-first wing of the Democratic Party, led by Vice President Edwards, block this important tactic?

Posted by: Arjun at October 27, 2004 10:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun, have you been reading too much Stephen Landsburg?

Posted by: praktike at October 27, 2004 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Perceptive question, praktike! To be very honest, I did see that little paragraph in Slate yesterday. However, I would never compare Mr. Edwards to David Duke -- after all, I actually VOTED for Mr. Edwards, whereas I would never vote for David Duke!

Admittedly, I have a long-standing personal disdain for my U.S. Senator, but my reasons are self-centered and narrowly domestic, so they are irrelevant to this website.

Honestly, however, I think the news media has been far kinder to Senator Edwards than he deserves. Did you see the Kerry-vs.-Edwards debates in the spring? In those debates, Mr. Kerry was not above pandering, but at least Mr. Kerry conveyed knowledge and depth, whereas Mr. Edwards conveyed ignorance and superficiality.

Posted by: Arjun at October 27, 2004 11:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun, I wrote you a special post on my site. Please let me know what you think.

Posted by: praktike at October 27, 2004 11:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike, thank you very much! Of course, I greatly appreciated the special post. To be brutally honest, I doubt that I deserve so much respect, but I'm extremely grateful for the post. Thank you.

Also, thanks for providing the link!

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