It appears another blog hiatus is looming given work demands. My rough rule of thumb, since I started this blog, has been that I'd try to hammer out a post or two if I was at the day job 12 hours or fewer a day. Lately, however, I've been pushing past that pretty often, and you know, there are only a limited amount of hours in the day. Given these timing constraints--when and if I do blog in the coming days--please expect content to be more by way of shorter links rather than longer pieces. As ever, thanks for your patience.
...of this blog, that is. Regular readers will recall that, quite a few moons ago, I tried to add regional and country-specific blogs to the blog-roll. Truth be told, the effort never really achieved lift-off. It was rather ad hoc, and never really brought to fruition. I thought it would be a handy research tool, say, if you wanted to delve into going-ons in Russia in some detail--ie. pop over into the Russia column. But I never really got into the habit of doing so, and I doubt many of my readers did. Rather than delete these nascent regional and country-specific groupings, however, I've moved them further down.
What else have I done? I've added a bunch of op-ed types to the "Columnists" section, added an entire category on "Law and Finance" (this is more for my job but readers working in the private sector might find it a helpful resource as well), and also added a "City" section (New York going-ons, including the odd obligatory real estate blog and such). In addition, I've added a few blogs to the main blog-roll section.
Coming soon too, I'm having B.D.'s software consultant upgrade us to a newer MT platform, and during this effort hope to work out some of the issues with multiple comments, spam trackbacks, and the like. Oh, and refreshing the pics at the top of the page is probably due for some attention soon too...
Anyway, if you have any wish-list items related to this site (not the substantive content but the nuts and bolts of the design, comments feature, the great blogs I've left off the blog roll etc etc) now is the time drop me a note in comments. Thanks in advance.
Between the (increasingly frustrating) transit strike, the end of the year rush at my job, holiday travel, and other assorted madness--there's just no time to blog. Hopefully back with a little Christmas blogging around the 24th/25th, but this likely rather on the limited side. Still, check in now and again through the next week and happy holidays to all.
She also saves us some research - Gregory Djerejian of Belgravia Dispatch is in the running for Best Conservative Blog, and surely merits your consideration.
Oh, this just in - A closer reading of the Anchoress post reveals that I am in the finals against Mr. Djerejian and others. Troubling -as the Anchoress notes, it really is an honor just to be considered. On the other hand, I can't be endorsing someone else, now can I?
OK, forget Djerejian - he is even more off the reservation than I am, anyway, and doesn't even try to hide it. My new goal is this - I want to place high enough in this poll to play in a meaningful bowl game on New Years Day.
Heh. Off the reservation indeed. True-blue conservatives and Plameologists should vote Maguire then! Whoever you vote for, go here to do so. Last year I won "Best U.K. blog" (I was still living in London back then), this year maybe I'll get 14th place for "Best Conservative Blog" (if I'm lucky)! Go figure. [ed. note: Not exactly drumming up support in this category with posts like these, huh? Er, you think? But look at the bright side...my certain loss is another thing I can blame Don Rumsfeld for!]
P.S. I'm on the road again for work, this time on the West Coast. I frankly have no idea if I'll have time to blog, but if I do, it will be after 10 PM PST. Back in NYC late Thurs.
I feel like I'm back in elementary school again:
Dear Mr. Djerijian: I always cut bloggers some slack about their writing, because I know they're pounding out lots of words in a very short time. But I hope you don't mind a brief word of constructive criticism. Your writing in general is fine, but you have fallen into a chronic error that you could easily avoid. The fact that more and more people are making this mistake doesn't excuse it. It's this: the term should be "couple OF [something]," not "couple [something]." You make this mistake fairly often. For example, in your recent post defending Scowcroft, you wrote ". . . based on a couple really lame quotes ... " That should be "based on a couple OF really lame quotes." When you leave out the "of," you sound like a half-literate teenager, in my opinion. I am a professional writer and editor. It really grates and seems especially odd since, as I said earlier, your writing is generally fine. Nothing personal. In fact, if I didn't find your blog worth reading, I wouldn't spend time bringing this error to your attention. Yours for maintaining our English grammar in some semblance of health,
I actually get a decent amount of this kind of mail from the grammar police every now and again. I don't mind it, and the feedback is more than welcome, indeed appreciated (though I'd ask that the Calhouns of the world at least take the time to get the spelling of my surname right when castigating me for my grammatical shortcomings!). Still, we feel duly admonished over here, and we'll do our utmost going forward to stay above 'semi-literate teenager' status whenever we can. Based on a couple (of!) other E-mails, the time has indeed come to pay better attention to these sorts of issues chez B.D....
As with Eric, I just wanted to extend my best wishes to everyone here at Belgravia Dispatch as well as to Greg for letting me guest-blog. It's been great, though time actually went much faster than I expected. So thanks to Greg for letting me guest-blog at such a great site and thanks to Eric for our little dialogues here that I hope will continue when I resume blogging over at Winds of Change.
So I'm going now and I wish you all a very fond farewell.
Through October, please find guest-blogging in this space Eric Martin (of TIA and LAT) and Dan Darling ( RC and WoC). While they each come from different sides of the political spectrum, don't expect any cross-fire antics while I'm gone! Instead, doubtless, some constructive dialogue and high quality blogging from these two estimable bloggers. Be polite to them while they mind the store, and note E-mail to them should be sent to their E-mail addresses (not B.D.'s, they will doubtless provide). See you in late October!
B.D. will be out of commission starting tomorrow and pretty much through October. Picking up the slack will be two bloggers: 1) Dan Darling who also writes at the excellent Winds of Change, and 2) Eric Martin of TIA. Dan tends to lean right, and Eric left--but both are keen proponents of effectively waging the GWOT (or whatever we are calling it these days). They will likely engage in occasional cyber-dialogues between themselves, but would suspect they will, more often than not, blog regarding whatever foreign policy matters strikes their fancy (ie, independent of what their fellow guest-blogger may be writing about). And while they will occasionally be cross-posting at their respective sites, I suspect there will be a decent amount of independent content put up here at B.D. as well. So please keep dropping by in my absence! I'll probably have a last post or two tonight, and will try to tell you a bit more about these two excellent guest bloggers then.
Are a lot of people getting the below message (italicized) when they try to comment? If so, let me know what's going on in comments and, if they are just not working at all, send a note to me at email@example.com. I'll then shoot an E-mail to my software guy to have him fix. Thanks!
Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:
In an effort to curb malicious comment posting by abusive users, I've enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to post your comment again in a short while. Thanks for your patience.
Please correct the error in the form below, then press Post to post your comment.
In an earlier post on the state of Iraq T&E, I had written: "Bill Roggio has more, and is more optimistic than B.D. perhaps, but I'd think he'd agree with my broad assessment nonetheless." I just wanted to note that several readers have written in suggesting that Roggio is not in agreement with my "broad assessment," and is instead materially "more optimistic" (to use my phraseology) regarding the state of Iraqi forces and their capability than me. Upon reflection, I feel I should note they're probably right that he's not on the same page as me, and I therefore want to apologize to Roggio for suggesting he was, more or less, in agreement with me. Roggio hasn't asked for an apology or anything, but I thought I should just clarify the record given some of the mail I've been getting. Having said this, I'd like to stress that I don't take this report too seriously (it's overly optimistic reportage in my view) with regard to how many Iraqi units are at Level 1 or Level 2, in other words, I certainly maintain my analysis--particularly given stories like these which beg so many other questions/issues. All this said, there is no need to enlist others in arguing on my behalf, especially if they likely share different views, so apologies are due Mr. Roggio!
Joseph Britt says I'm getting too little sleep and drinking too much coffee. He's prob right. FYI, it's usually 6 hrs a night (1-7)--and then a triple shot latte, followed by three additional filter coffees (black, or with one sugar), and then a Diet Coke or two and a couple espressos rounding out the late morning and early afternoon. Yeah, I know, Houston we have a problem...but is it as bad as Brad DeLong's?
Sincere apologies to any B.D. regulars out there (those of you who don't just land here after an Insta or Sully or RCP link etc. etc.). I've always strived to keep this site 'fresh', not least because the blog medium seems to demand a certain frequency and topicality of posting. This has often meant rather hurried (and tired...) post 10-11PM blogging-- but even that has simply proven impossible of late. I'm still alive and kicking--and I'm keeping a (somewhat listless, truth be told!) eye on the blogosphere when I can--while nevertheless hoping to get back in the saddle in relatively short order. Still, even writing this short note is barely possible given timing constraints--so don't expect some magnum opus in these pages soon. So, message is: sorry I've been AWOL, yes I'll be back, perhaps as soon as this weekend with any luck.
P.S. I've been getting a good deal of 'write about this when you get back' kinda E-mail. Drop a comment below for topics you think I should broach when I get back online (or just view it as an, er, civil thread...). And thanks again for your patience as B.D. has been forced into this somewhat protracted week to two week hiatus.
I get mail from one of my favorite academic correspondents re: this post:
...On the whole though, I'm with your detractors in the comments. 1) Philosophy is worthwhile 2) You aren't in a position, apparently, to judge whether it's worthwhile 3) While I think Leiter is wrong that anything like a 'brain drain' is underway, it certainly would be a bad thing if there were and 4) You might recall that political attitudes don't correspond to academic ability or accomplishment, and so you can't conclude that these characters are no loss to the U.S. just because their politics are extreme. (For what it's worth, I can attest that they are a loss, at least the names I recognize, even if the losses aren't in numbers should cause worry). 5) Because of assumptions like this, that someone's politics is a good indication of their academic accomplishment or value, your post and its less enlightened commenters do in fact make life more difficult for beleaguered conservative academics. As if we didn't have enough trouble. If all the various right-wing movements to regulate professor's political statements (cf, the horrific Academic Bill of Rights) and to abolish tenure win out, I won't have a job worth protecting from left-wing political bias.
That said, the faux dissidents are hilarious. I met a professor last year who had moved from the US to Canada. He mentioned as a reason for the move that he was "a potential victim of the Patriot Act". Not just that he didn't like the PA: he thought that he might be singled out. When I gently questioned this, he crowed that he was "an unreconstructed Communist". [emphasis in original]
I think people read a bit too much into my critique. I was really just poking some fun at Leiter and Co. for insinuating hyperbolically that the ranks of certain segments of U.S.-based academia were dangerously at risk of thinning out because of the horrors inflicted on the polity by the Bush 'regime'. Still, I take some of my correspondent's points. Just for the record, and truth be told, I consider philosophy tremendously important. Indeed Nietzsche, for instance, had a profound effect on my worldview. It was really the amazing self-contentness of Leiter's echo chamber-- linked to their so comme il faut anti-Americanism ("After Bush was reelected several of my UK colleagues as well as non-academic friends expressed amazement at the stupidity of Americans. I could not offer any defense!)--and finally coupled with the financial, er, motivations for some of the moving about 'cross the sea...well, it all served to smell quite heavily of "faux dissident" to me...
I'm in Europe, unfortunately, and have early morning travel tomorrow. Even a die-hard political junkie like me can't stay up until 3 AM to then blog the speech through 4, only to wake up several hours later and head off to a busy airport and travel day. So consider this an open thread, of sorts, and please let me know how you think Bush fared and what you thought of the speech. I'll digest comments, read the text in the Trib tomorrow, and try to blog my take by Thursday morning Europe time. See you soon.
P.S. Since I won't be seeing the speech but rather reading the text--I'd appreciate a little feedback on the intangible 'feel' people got from his delivery--as well as the basic vibe of the insta-commentary on the networks immediately after. Thanks in advance!
B.D. will be in a remote Italian village this weekend for some much needed recharging of the proverbial batteries. Little to no blogging, therefore, as I'm sure you can understand. Next week I am mostly in Geneva six hours ahead of East Coast--so new content should typically come on line around 4 PM EST. See you Sunday or Monday night my time. And have a great weekend.
P.S. I finally got around to adding perma-links to comments so that I can link directly to ones worth checking out in the future. So, whether on Iran policy or whatever else, comment away! Cheers.
P.P.S. Geneva has been rather hectic. I'll try my best to find time to post tomorrow (Tues) night.
I really enjoy reading comments on this site (I rarely have time to enter the fray, and wish I did sometimes) but lately I've noted it has gotten a tad nasty. I've got thick skin--and commenting will most certainly continue--but let me try to sketch out a way forward here. One of the reasons that I like the comments so much, in the main, is comments here aren't but an amen corner as many other blogs too often seem to be. That's not to take anything away from Kos or Atrios on the Left, or LGF, say, on the Right. Those blogs have such high traffic that the comments serve as something of an activist community board, of sorts, for all to vent and harumph with like-minded folks. (I often find the tiresome chest-thumping and boorish group-think at these venues quite sub-par, truth be told, but they serve their purposes I guess).
Over here, we seem to get rightists, centrists and leftists in comments. When I write a piece criticizing Bush, or hesitating on Bolton--the lefties are relatively pleased. When I end up supporting Bolton, say, and after trying to be as judicious as I can--I'm Monica Lewinsky, spineless, a political pimp of the lowest rung. When I condemn Don Rumsfeld, or Abu Ghraib, on the other hand, I'm a leftist wimp, a pansy, a terrorist-supporter. And so on. Well, it's to be expected really. That's the price of trying to be as intellectually honest as possible and calling them like I see them. And I think we've got a good thing going here with the lively to and fro.
That said, just in the interests of general disclosure, I thought it might be helpful to put some basic facts on the table in the interests of the general edification of any B.D. readers who might be interested. B.D. is a member of the Republican Party. I have given money to the Republican Party. And I have raised money for the Republican Party. That's not to say I would never vote for a Democrat (really). I judge candidate by candidate. If a blow-dried mediocrity like Bill Frist, say, gained the nomination--and was opposed by a serious enough Democrat (a Sam Nunn type, though I'm not sure who that would be now..), I'd vote for them in a heartbeat likely. But over the years, I've chosen to support the Republicans mostly on foreign policy and economic policy grounds. On social policy, while I lean libertarian on many issues, I do have some traditionalist impulses. Still, you won't find me getting up in arms about Roe v. Wade over here.
All this said, and perhaps not suprisingly to regular readers of this blog given the typical subject matter over here, I vote almost exclusively on foreign policy grounds. Whatever happens to Social Security or health care doesn't concern me much, to be honest. Very frankly, having visited well over 50 countries in my 32 years, I am often stunned by how much hand-wringing there is about how bad our domestic situation is. We forget, and not just the lucky souls dwelling in Greenwich and the Upper East Side, we forget how lucky we are relative to the great masses of humanity. Take a little trip here and there, I often think to myself as I hear someone rave on about flu vaccines or prescription drug benefits, to see what real suffering is. I'm reminded of a writer who described the world as being split in three rough camps. One where people are actually starving to death, one where they enjoy subsistence level existence, and the other where people are obsessed with faddish diets and weight loss programs. We mostly occupy this last category, of course, so perhaps the lack of existential stakes is what keeps me relatively unmoved by much of the domestic debates that seem to occupy so many. (Please note, however, this is most emphatically not to say that I believe endemic povery in this country doesn't exist. It does. And it must be fought tooth and nail and with passion. But I think you get my larger point).
On foreign policy issues, my default position is something of a hybrid one. I guess I'm mostly a realist, but I have strong neo-conservative (neo-Reaganite?) inclinations. I've worked for some neo-con types in the past (in the context of Bosnia policy) and consider myself more closely attuned to many hanging their hats at the AEIs rather than the Brookings. That said, I've done humanitarian work in war zones which tends to put you in touch with people of more leftist stripe and orientation. And I know that there are immensely talented foreign policy practitioners that are associated with the Democrat camp like a Richard Holbrooke or Frank Wisner.
So what's my point in all this? Maybe you now know where I'm coming from a bit better, and so can perhaps try to relax and more often give me a fair hearing. I'm not asking you not to roundly castigate me if you think I deserve it. Go for it! But just slow down and try to appreciate where I'm coming from a bit more often that it seems some of you are (on both sides of the aisle). I'm not running for anything over here, and am working in the private sector--so don't really have anyone to answer to. I'm just calling them like I see them as best I can. Don't become hysterical when I point out some obvious idiocy in the Nation, or place a little epingle in the direction of a Mike Isikoff. It's part of the blog medium, and not all posts here can be lengthy, substantive think-pieces. And even when they are, readers (whether on the Left or Right) will often find my views displeasurable to them. That's life. Anyway, I've gone on long enough. Now you know perhaps a bit more of where I'm coming from. Let's keep this little show going on, and all be as cordial as possible whilst doing so--still allowing for this mediums requisite hysterics, shouts-out, etc. Oh, and don't compare B.D. to Monica Lewinsky. That's a red-line.
I'm finally getting around to updating the blog-roll to add assorted country-specific and regional blogs. So...if odd things appear afoot to the right tonight, please accept my apologies in advance!
UPDATE: As I'm beginning to dig into this, it appears that the set-up I would most like to pursue is a regional category (ie, Asia) followed by country-specific categories below that (China, Japan, South Korea etc). I've got a decent amount of country-specific blogs to kick this off, but appear light in the regional category. Please give me ideas for Asia, Europe, CIS/FSU, Middle East, etc. if you have a moment.
MORE: OK, we're not even close to done, but we've at least got a decent skeleton in the works. I think people will have a better sense of what I'm trying to do now. Whole regions aren't up yet (South America, for instance), some regions are up (Central and Eastern Europe) but have no blogs listed yet, most other regions and countries are real thin right now. Some countries (Lebanon) have a lot listed because some commenters had happened to help me with suggestions in comments at this previous post here. I might end up striking some of these later but am putting them up for now. As for other specific countries, very important ones are missing still (this is just a start). We'll be adding Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Brazil, and many more. It's just that this blog-roll updating is very time-consuming and quite tedious. It's hard to add, say, 100 in a night. We'll keep plugging away in the coming days and weeks. And now that you've got a better idea of what I'm up to, feel free to keep the suggestions coming.
B.D.'s back from a wonderful commencement weekend up at Yale. While the skies looked threatening all morning, sunshine prevailed and all were happy. Some estimable personages were awarded honorary doctorates today including such giants as Paul Samuelson. So did my old boss Bob DeVecchi-a wonderful man who has devoted his entire career to helping refugees and the displaced the world over (most notably when he ran this excellent organization). Kudos to all, not least B.D. little sis Francesca Djerejian Yale '05!
On another matter, thanks to all who have provided input on regional and/or country specific blogs. I hope to start adding at least some initial countries this evening. Many thanks again.
A quick query. I've seen much blogospheric chit-chat of late that Sitemeter undercounts visitor hits. Is this true? Why? Is there better and/or more accurate software avail? Input appreciated.
After an extremely intense work schedule this past month or so--B.D. can finally come up for a little air! It has been a tremendously exciting period professionally but, yes, I missed the blog here and there (but boy did I need the blog-break...) Anyway, I hope to get back to at least quasi-regular blogging over the coming weeks. Joe Britt will co-blog with me through Sunday May 15th--at which point this will become a solo gig again (or be handed off to another guest blogger--the Paris-based expat attorney mentioned earlier is unavailable until at least then, however). As I told Joe in an E-mail, I found his blogging superb and really appreciated his efforts here. And, of course, you can still catch his writing through next Sunday (albeit interspersed with my shrieks, assorted shout-outs, and hysterics). Two for the price of one! Speaking of, I'm reticent to turn this into a group blog just yet. Truth be told, I like having my own little soap-box to the cyber-world over here and am not yet ready to diversify. That said, should I go the group route (which neverthless remains a possibility despite woeful monopolistic tendencies), Joe will be front and center on the list of potential co-bloggers. That is, if he doesn't start his own blog post guest-blogging here...
Back later. We're just finishing up BHL's Atlantic essay and might have a comment or two later.
UPDATE: I start blogging again and the site promptly crashes for an hour. An omen to stay away? I think a comment or two got lost in the shuffle too...apologies.
Just checking in to say a quick hello from the bowels of deal-land. First, I want to take this opportunity to thank Joseph Britt for the excellent job he's doing over here as a guest blogger. It's very much appreciated.(ed. note: Oh, and Joe, I can't seem to E-mail you at your comcast account--E-mail always bounces back. Do you have an alternate address where I can reach you?) Anyway, if JEB is up for it, I hope he'll be happy to keep on guest-blogging for another week or two into early May. Thereafter, I look to be lining up another guest-blogger (though this isn't yet confirmed). He's a Paris-based corporate attorney for a UK "magic circle" firm. He's American, voted Kerry, and is well to the left of me, but he's a fine writer and may have an interesting perspective to share with us over here at B.D. So we'll see...
And me? I'm still consumed by the day job and have greatly enjoyed not having to face the added self-inflicted pressure of blogging into the wee hours. After the deal I'm on closes--I will have a lot of overseas travel and a move to New York to grapple with (just closing on an apartment in lower Manhattan is already proving quite challenging!). So it will be very busy still. But I do anticipate posting here and there mid-Mayish. Until then, please keep enjoying Joseph Britt and, perhaps, an anonymous (necessarily, as the Firm might freak!) Paris-based American lawyer in the not too distant future.
As mentioned, we are going to hand over the keys to B.D. to a guest-blogger. And, in what may be a blogospheric first (who knows?), it's to a regular commenter on this very site. Zathras, aka Joseph Britt, will be taking up the reins at B.D. for a week or two. He'll start up tomorrow, so be sure to check in. I first noticed Joe's comments over at Dan Drezner's place--and they always struck me as well written, intellectually honest, and highly intelligent. At some point, Joe started commenting over here at B.D.--and so I got to read his comments more routinely. Now, I guess, I'll get to read his posts over in this space for a spell. Best of luck Zathras! Enjoy...and thanks for helping me feel less guilty about the blog burn-out by keeping this site 'fresh' over the next weeks. Bye for now.
Which part of Hitchens article in Slate was hackneyed and cheap exactly? Is it that you object that Hitchens focused solely on the Cardinal Law abomination, to the exclusion of all of the other positive things John Paul had done? Or do you feel that he has made some errors of fact, that it is not at all uncontroversial to assert that John Paul had a direct hand in covering up pedophilia in the Church?
Just curious. I've been a reader for oh maybe six months now. I
liked your strong independent voice on Abu Ghraib. I disagree with
your pro-Iraq War stance but I recognize the force of your arguments.
Lately, I have to say that you are writing more and more like the
Michele Malkin's of the blogosphere, insofar as you simply assert that
which you know most of your audience will agree with. Perhaps that's
unclear. But this post on Hitchens and your post on Yglesias from a
few days ago aren't arguments; they're like the applause lines
speechwriters use because they know exactly how the audience will
cheer when they hear them. I'm perfectly prepared to argue whether JP
led the Church well in dealing with the pedophilia problem. Hitchens
at least gives me something to chew on. You have the right not to
participate, but if you do, you should do so fully and not simply by
pointing out that, lo, Hitchens is often good but here, not so much.
The kind of glibness you exhibited with respect to Yglesias ("that's
just not how things work, bro" was, I think, how you put it) was just
Maybe your readership as a whole hasn't noticed or cared. I've
noticed that I get back to your feed less and less often. I hope this
email was useful and helpful. I certainly mean it to be
I'm sorry to say, but that's probably about right. I fear that my blogging has become a bit too rushed of late. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Overt polemicism. Bolton good! Kyrgystan's revolution (ed. note: or was it a coup?) borne of Bushian machinations! Hitch sucks! Or, of course, sloppy verbiage, misspellings, etc. And, yes, I was too snarky with Matt. Why not just rebut his arguments factually without recourse to sarcastic jabs and such? Yes, the blogosphere is given to rant-like discourse often. It's probably par with the course and even part of the charm. But still...
So here's the deal folks. The simple reality is that I'm burned out. I've tried to hold down what's become an 8 AM to 9:30-10 PM day job (a fascinating and challenging one, I should add) with churning out a quasi-substantive blog from 10:30ish on. And I fear I'm just too tired to produce quality material as often as I'd like. If I myself feel that some of what I write merits the criticism of my correspondent quoted above--well, why subject others to it? So here's the deal. I'm going to take a break. I'm going to hand the wheels over to an estimable guest blogger shortly for a week or two (pending said invididual's ability). Then, a couple weeks or so out, we'll re-appraise where we are at over at B.D. Maybe this space will turn into more op-ed like writings once or twice a week. Maybe we'll revert to normal production but try to change the style a little bit. Maybe we'll just have to hang up our spurs for a while. I just don't know. But I do know that I shouldn't be posting material that I'm not convinced is worthy of your attention. And, exhausted night after night at 11 PM, it's hard to pull off producing material I am happy with sadly. This isn't a good-bye. It's a hitting of the pause button for a bit as I re-appraise where to go with this website. Meantime, as I said, I'll be announcing a quality guest blogger soon. And, again, a sincere thanks for all of you loyal readers who have stuck with me over the past couple of years. It's often been fun, despite this somewhat depressing post, and I'm pretty sure there will be more good times ahead. Dare I say, as I often do, "back soon"?
We unexpectedly ran out of server space and had to go to Hosting Matters for more over the weekend. Sorry about the site crash. Back tonight or tomorrow night.
UPDATE: The day job is really crazed right now. Back when able.
OK, so after a rapid-fire, back of the envelope tally of the first 100 comments to this query (probably just around 3% of average daily unique visits so I'm not sure how representative the sample is) I can report that B.D.'s readership appears to be about 70% pro-Bush, 20-25% quite anti-the-Great-Leader, with a gaggle of unclassifiables thrown in for good measure. Well, that's a pretty good mix, I think? As I've said earlier, the point of this site isn't to throw red meat to an applause-ridden amen choir that's uber-smitten with Georgie. It's to have a debate--both with other blogs and via comments right here in this space. So, all told, I think we've got a pretty good thing going here, and I really appreciate those who took the time to add to the sample size as well as the many expressions of support. For someone in business, who is not an academic or journalist, say, I have more than my share of moments where I pause and ask myself: what am I doing here and what will random acquaintances and colleagues stumbling across this site think? Well, my employer tolerates my rantings and so that goes a long way, I suppose. But still, it's good to get a sanity check and hear support from what is clearly a very intelligent pool of readers. It makes me want to keep it up despite burning the candle at both ends and it not being a particularly orthodox hobby for someone in the corporate sector. That said, please do note that the move back to NYC (about a month or so off) will likely force a pretty significant reduction in blog production rates. But we'll get to that another day. In the meantime, business as usual with blogging typically 9 PM and on weeknights. So keep stopping by. And thanks again for the generous words of support.
So B.D.'s just touched down on Harbour Island for a little Easter R&R though Monday. The hotel has wifi--and I've dragged the laptop along--so blogging will continue here and there. I mean, why spend the whole day on the beach, right? Well, we'll see...
P.S. Thanks for all the feedback to this query. Still, I know there are many more of you lurking out there, so feel free to add to the sample size! In the meantime: 1) thanks to the loyal Bushies who continue to hang with B.D. despite the Rummy and torture issues; 2) thanks to the anti-Bushies for continuing to come around and sample the center-right brew with an open mind; 3) and, last but not least, thanks to all of you for well evidencing that Praktike hadn't hijacked my blog! I was getting worried...OK, back soon.
P.P.S. If you are going to add to the sample, best to do it at the original post so we've got the responses handy in one comment thread. And thanks again. You guys and gals make it all worth it! Serious.
Is it just me, or are most of my readers anti-Bush? Regular commenters, I think, mostly swing Democrat a la 'liberals against terrorism' crowd. Email is mixed--but I wouldn't be surprised if more are Democrats than vice versa. Odd for someone who endorsed Bush, no? Or is there a silent majority of B.D. readers that are solid Bush supporters but comment less? Unclear. Perhaps the conservatives have mostly fled because of my Rummy-bashing and outrage at torture? Don't be shy, let me know in comments below. I'm curious as to who the hell is coming over here. Thanks.
B.D. will be passing the 1 million unique visits mark sometime later today. When I started this blog out some dank winter night in London and a couple dorm-buddies from high school constituted my sole readership--it didn't cross my mind that I'd ever have a million separate visitors log on this site. So a big thanks to everyone for their readership, comments, E-mail (on this last, please note I read every last one, but am way behind. Apologies).
P.S. If you read me and haven't blog-rolled me (or still have me blog-rolled at the old blogspot address) please update your sites. We're still too drearily low in the ecosphere!
We asked for some recommendations a little while back for another addition to round out the blog-roll. Many excellent ones were proferred. Too many, in fact. So I've decided to go with one no one mentioned, Phil Carter, and leave the others to the next major round of blog-roll updating. Thanks much for all the feedback and leads on new blogs, however. Some of them will doubtless be featured in this space soon enough.
In other in-house news, I look to have a guest-blogger lined up the next time I hit the road for a little spell (likely relatively soon). He's smart, he writes well, and he will doubtless prove a nice change of pace from ye olde B.D. So keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.
Lots of travel through next Tuesday. Blogging will therefore be minimal to non-existent until Tuesday evening East Coast time (alas, only Lufthansa has wireless internet connectivity in their air cabins across Atlantic? Or do other carriers now have it too?)
Then be sure to check out my fiancee's newly launched website.
When I started this blog out two plus years ago, I thought I'd keep a pretty limited blogroll with heavyweights like Glenn and Andrew and TPM and foreign policy minded folk like Oxblog and Drezner. As time wore on, the blogroll expanded. My rule of thumb was that I'd blogroll a blog that I'd check into daily or near daily (with the exception of some like Katrina vanden Heuvel's or the New Criterion's which I linked more for the institutional connection). I never really thought I'd have much more than a dozen or score blogs on the blog-roll, truth be told (I've now got over forty with today's additions). But, and all blog triumphalism aside, there really is just too much quality stuff out there to keep one's blogroll compact anymore. I just recently made a bunch of additions, but not too long after feel compelled to do so yet again now. In no particular order, they are: 1) The Washington Note (Steve Clemons' blog); 2) Roger Simon; 3) Crooked Timber; 4)Wretchard's Belmont Club; 5) Austin Bay; 6) Jack Balkin; 7) the Becker-Posner blog, 8) James Wolcott and 9) UN Dispatch. And, yeah, there will doubtless be more additions soon.
P.S. Throw in your 2 cents to round it out to 10 new blogs added in comments if so inclined.
I'm still alive, but I've had no time to even read blogs let alone produce anything in this space. Hopefully blogging will resume tonight or tomorrow night. There's a lot to catch up on...
Just a brief reminder for anyone who missed my earlier note that I am on something of a brief blog hiatus due to professional demands and personal reasons. Regular blogging should resume around February 22nd or thereabouts. In the meantime, don't miss this article on Condi's Paris trip, her Paris speech (including the Q&A), this article on Saudi elections, this Foreign Affairs piece on North Korea (particularly given recent developments there), and this piece detailing how the U.S. is now the largest donor among all countries re: the tsunami disaster (I believe that's the case without even taking into account in kind contributions).
P.S. I've also gotten some complaints that comments need to be pre-approved on this site. For the record, I wasn't aware of anything of the sort. That said, I've looked into it and see that my blog support person has installed some anti-spam devices that include varied mechanisms to block obscene comments and spam attacks. Unfortunately, it appears, a very small percentage of 'normal' comments sometimes get erroneously blocked too. I'll have to look into this more and find a solution when I have time but please note virtually all who wish to post should be able to whenever they wish without any pre-approvals on this end (though, as always, I reserve the right to delete anything I think is obscene, offensive etc). Anyway, let me know if you are having problems so I can work this issue (you can also send E-mail if you are having problems with the comment feature to firstname.lastname@example.org). O.K., that's it for now.
Blogging will be very light through at least February 22nd or thereabouts. For one, my fiancee is visiting for a few weeks starting tomorrow (she has been shooting/directing a documentary in Brazil for a couple months). For another, the 'day' job is going full steam right now (it's nearing 3 A.M. and I'm just wrapping up for the night...). Even if I tried to blog, after days that run long like this, I doubt the content would really be of much interest to you! You know, at some point, you just have to take a breather. This is one of those times. Still, do check in intermittently as there will certainly be some blogging now and again before late Feb. But not at the same pace or levels of production. Maybe I'll even try to get to the beach a bit more. After all, there must be some benefits to working on a transaction in the Carribbean! Anyway, time to pull myself away from the nocturnal blogging station for a spell, I think. Or I'll be risking burn-out. Back soon--hopefully refreshed and with a spring in the blog-step.
Internet connectivity appears a bit spotty at the hotel tonight. Assuming it holds up, expect at least a little SOTU analysis later. And, if you're on-line and over here, feel free to drop a comment on how you think he is doing. Back later, I hope.
B.D's being accused of blogging under the influence!
P.S. It's not true. Promise. (But this old post from 2003, if memory serves, may have been by way of a quasi-hungover dispatch).
UPDATE: Self-parody watch: "A small precaution: I am convinced of the essential epistemological correctness of anti-foundationalism."
Click through for more navel-gazing from a "free-floating intellectual." (Bonus: He's Berkeley-based!)
MORE: A philosopher prof writes in:
Is that guy a friend of yours? He sounds like a blowhard.
"Moreover, it's pretty much hopeless to try to prove such a link, because the nature of irony and anti-foundationalism is that it occupies a null space: it demands silence as to positivity. Inasmuch as anti-foundationalism question all verities and destabilizes certainties, it should be pretty obvious that by definition it cannot be tied to any single set of positive beliefs".
Silence as to positivity! Whoohoo! In case you need a philosophy prof to tell you this, that is crap. You weren't saying that these lefty people drew direct logical inferences from postmodern theory (pity them if they tried!) You were saying that they were influenced in one way or another by it. Does this guy think that postmodern thought can't influence people? That it can't become associated, however loosely, with some political beliefs? Please. "Noooo, the text stands there in silence like a mocking mime!" Wasn't part of your point that PM's 'relentless silence as to positivity' made people suspicious of grand, optimistic visions? I also love Sullivan as the example of the ironic right-winger. No true ironist would post that sappy photo montage of the troops like he did the other day.
That said, I did think you went off the handle a bit in that post. I would have guessed it was blind rage at Ward Churchill, but maybe scotch is the better explanation.
Ward, not Johnnie, was to blame!
A little in-house news flash. B.D. will be relocating back to New York City after just shy of two years in London. We had a great time in olde London town, but are tremendously excited to be returning to our favorite city in the world. I'm going to keep the same name for this blog, however, despite the relocation back home (though we'll, of course, indicate somewhere that we're no longer blogging from the UK). It's a) way too much of a hassle to change the name after all of you kind souls who have blog-rolled me out there, and b) truth be told, I don't think I would have started this blog if it hadn't been for the move to London. So I'll always be grateful to Belgravia for that! As some of you out there might know, Belgravia is a pretty, er, quiet neighborhood. This, and the often dank, rainy London nights often lent themselves to staying in and hysterically pontificating about international affairs (so did relatively early pub and bar closure hours!). New York, more mad-cap and frenetic pace-wise, is not exactly the most amenable environment for blogging, perhaps. Still, I'm confident we'll be able to carve out the time to keep this blog well alive in the Big Apple. I'm touching back down sometime in mid March to April. Until then, recall, I'm in the Carribbean on temporary assignment on a deal. Blogging, during the week, should continue to occur 9-10PMish EST and on (likely similar when I get to NYC). Really then, not much will change for readers, I guess. This is really just an FYI.
P.S. Henry, did Dan Drezner put you up to this?
Hard to imagine, but yesterday marked the two year mark since inception of this blog. Thanks to everyone for their continued support, links, encouragement, comments, E-mails, readership etc etc. It's appreciated. Somehow, we'll try to keep this little show going for another year! Now, off to sleep...
P.S. If you read me, and have a blog, consider blog-rolling me (or updating your links to my old blogspot site). And if you have any suggested improvements to the site (whether related to appearance, content, stories I ignore, whatever) drop a comment below. Let me also take this opportunity to thank my site designer Thomas Eberle. I simply don't have the time to deal with all the technical complications that arise in running such a site (comments get spammed, the server crashes, archives get lost, and so on). Thomas helps make this blog possible, therefore, by allowing me to actually put up substantive content during the little windows I have to do so---rather than waste precious time dealing with site maintenance. Contact me for his coordinates if you need similar expert backup on tech support issues. And keep reading!
I've been declared "evil" by an Iranian (or something like that)!
...are down. Sorry. I've sent an E-mail to my software guy. Hopefully it will get fixed relatively soon.
UPDATE: So they're back up. Thanks to web-designer Thomas Eberle for dealing with this on a weekend.
Glenn increasingly linking me without my having sent in a link to him for the all important Roman amphitheater-like Reynoldsian thumbs up or down! Surely this is a sign that I've now arrived in the blogosphere? Or maybe Glenn is just having a slow night...
Assorted server crashes, incipient flu, a pretty crushing workload at the day job, Internet access issues at a hotel I'm temporarily living at--all are conspiring to force a little blog hiatus, I'm afraid. I'll try again tonight...
It looks like B.D. has been inaccessible since at least Saturday P.M. The server appears to have suffered some kind of crash. I've E-mailed my software design guy but, given that it's the weekend, don't know when the site will get some attention and get back up. Meanwhile, I'm not sure anyone will see this message either but here goes...
P.S. It appears some comments have been deleted. For the record, I haven't deleted anything. They appear to have been lost when the server went down.
...for the server crash. I guess a little spot of Le Monde bashing is, er, dangerous to your bandwith. Back later tonight with new content.
UPDATE: Or maybe it was just that Hosting Matters was down....
For some reason updating blog rolls seems tremendously tedious (that must be why Glenn still hasn't blog-rolled me!) but, given the New Year, now seems a good time to finally get around to it. Joining the blogroll, effective tonight, and in no particular order, are the following blogs: 1) The American Scene (they were generous enough to link me in my early days and I had then de-linked them when they appeared to stop blogging! Their recent gig over at Sully's space reminded me how good they were and are); 2) the indefatigable Arthur Chrenkoff, who blogs the good news (intelligently, exhaustively, consistently) from Down Under--thus helping provide a good counter-point to much of the MSM's knee-jerk negativism--see this B.D. thread for a lively discussion on Chrenkoff's ouevre); 3) Jon Henke of Qando, a sincere and straight-shooting blogger who has the integrity to call torture torture from the right showcasing he isn't in constant hyper-spin mode like too many of his peers; 4) the seemingly omnipresent blogospheric personage known as Praktike, who makes his home here (or is it here?) and is the type of guy who walked the Peter Beinart talk a long time ago; 5) the very smart and majorly underappreciated (at least from how rarely I see him linked in left blogs) Eric Martin of Total Information Awareness; and finally (drum-roll please!) 6) the requisite "reality based" Harvard Ph.D--the mighty Mark A.R. Kleiman.
I said these blogs were in no particular order. But, coincidentally, it's worth noting that (1)-(3) are commonly viewed as right blogs; and (4)-(6) as left ones. This isn't because of some forced drive for artificial 'balance' over here at B.D.--it's just that I think all these guys (ed. note: yeah, all guys! But don't miss excellent x-chromosomers like uber-sleuth Laura, Nationista Katrina, the irrepresible Wonkette--all already blog-rolled over to the right) are very much worth reading.
Worth mentioning too, although they're not really a blog, we will also be adding that must-read daily meta-compilation of all the collected wisdom of the political commentariat -- Real Clear Politics. (Like Dan Drezner, I want to get linked more by them this year too!).
OK, so now the tedious task of adding all these people in. Back later...
P.S. While I'm at it, did I mention I'm adding the excellent Winds of Change too?
Just a reminder that B.D. is no longer on holiday hours (ie, no more random blogging during the day as during the Christmas/New Year period). I'm still temporarily relocated out of London, on East Coast time, so please check in for new content evenings typically post nine P.M. EST. Back a little later tonight.
Apologies for the light blogging. I plead a heavy workload, travel, and Christmas shopping. Hope to have more in depth commentary up this week. Check in late evenings for fresh content. I'm trying...
UPDATE: Lots of 15 hour plus work days right now. Simply too exhausted to blog coherently. Let me at least take this opportunity to thank all who voted for B.D. in the 2004 Weblog Awards. We were lucky enough to win the "Best UK Blog" category. Your continued support is appreciated--particularly during times when I am too busy to post new content. Thanks for your patience. And your votes! Back as soon as able.
Some kindly and charitable soul has nominated B.D. for "Best U.K. Blog" in the 2004 Weblog Awards. Here's your chance to a) let a crude Yank crash the Brit party and b) keep the hegemonic aspirations of that "bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world" at bay. Who knows what could happen if they (shudder) won (and aren't they nominated in another category already, anyway)? Vote for them there instead--the better to help little solo-player B.D. go against the collective Goliath of the sinister Samizdatistas. Or, er, something like that. Go vote!
P.S. Mom, have I become a dork? Be truthful...
A French blogger who seems open to the notion that the phrase "Bushistes modérés" is not necessarily an oxymoron! Check out his blogroll. Methinks the 'Bushistes' category is stock-full of Kerry voters, however! (Perhaps once a Bushistes; always a Bushistes...)
UPDATE: From comments I see that the term "Bushistes moderes" was meant ironically. Mais bien sur...! Still, Emmanuele's blog, especially if you read French, is well worth your time. Check it.
My lovely little sis Francesca--Yale senior, Macintosh devotee, and music maven extraordinaire--hammering out varied theses in the company of her adorable cat "Scratch" over the Thanksgiving break.
Scratch, um, scratches a lot. Especially for newcomers who she doesn't trust just yet (it was only our second meeting--she lives up in New Haven with my sister). But before going out for a walk I was able to get a little quality time with her--once she had settled down a bit.
Anyway, please join me in wishing my sister continued good luck in finishing up all those papers...it all seemed much more demanding than putting up a couple blog posts daily (and brought back, from what seems so long ago, some rather harrowing college-era memories!) Oh, and if any of you out there have any leads on music journalism/industry openings for a soon-to-be-graduate--lemme know.
NB: More traditional B.D. blogging later tonight.
Just a quick note to alert readers that I've temporarily relocated out of London. I'll be in between the Caribbean and States on a transaction for approximately 3-4 months. I'll most often be on East Coast time rather than GMT, therefore, so please look for new content to typically come on line between 8 PM-midnight Eastern Standard during the week. Weekends, as before, will vary pending travel and the like. Thanks.
UPDATE: Work is particularly crazed right now. Blogging to resume as soon as possible--hopefully by mid-week. Apologies.
Dan Drezner and Henry Farrell (of Crooked Timber) have a long piece on blogs over at Foreign Policy. Somehow I missed it until today; but highly suggest you go read it. And Dan, thanks for the mention of B.D.!
Even foreign-policy novices leave their mark on the debate. David Nishimura, an art historian and vintage pen dealer, emerged as an unlikely commentator on the Iraq war through his blog, “Cronaca,” which he describes as a “compilation of news concerning art, archaeology, history, and whatever else catches the chronicler’s eye, with the odd bit of opinion and commentary thrown in.” In the month after the fall of Hussein’s regime in April 2003, there was much public hand-wringing about reports that more than 170,000 priceless antiques and treasures had been looted from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. In response to these newspaper accounts, a number of historians and archaeologists scorned the U.S. Defense Department for failing to protect the museum.
Nishimura, however, scrutinized the various media reports and found several inconsistencies. He noted that the 170,000 number was flat-out wrong; that the actual losses, though serious, were much smaller than initial reports suggested; and that museum officials might have been complicit in the looting. “Smart money still seems to be on the involvement of Ba’athists and/or museum employees,” he wrote. “The extent to which these categories overlap has been danced around so far, but until everything has been properly sorted out, it might be wise to remember how other totalitarian states have coopted cultural institutions, enlisting the past to remake the future.” Prominent right-of-center bloggers, such as Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and Virginia Postrel, cited Nishimura’s analysis to focus attention on the issue and correct the original narrative.
As the museum looting controversy reveals, blogs are now a “fifth estate” that keeps watch over the mainstream media. The speed of real-time blogger reactions often compels the media to correct errors in their own reporting before they mushroom. For example, in June 2003, the Guardian trumpeted a story in its online edition that misquoted Deputy U.S. Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz as saying that the United States invaded Iraq in order to safeguard its oil supply. The quote began to wend its way through other media outlets worldwide, including Germany’s Die Welt. In the ensuing hours, numerous bloggers led by Greg Djerijian’s [ed. note: That's, er, Djerejian] “Belgravia Dispatch” linked to the story and highlighted the error, prompting the Guardian to retract the story and apologize to its readers before publishing the story in its print version.
Bloggers have become so adept at fact-checking the media that they’ve spawned many other high-profile retractions and corrections. The most noteworthy was CBS News’ acknowledgement that it could not authenticate documents it had used in a story about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service that bloggers had identified as forgeries. When such corrections are made, bloggers create the impression at times that contemporary journalism has spun out of control. Glenn Reynolds of “Instapundit” explained to the Online Journalism Review that he sees parallels between the impact of the blogosphere and Russia’s post-Soviet glasnost. “People are appalled, saying it’s the decline of journalism.… But it’s the same as when Russia started reporting about plane crashes and everyone thought they were just suddenly happening. It was really just the first time people could read about them.” Media elites rightly retort that blogs have their own problems. Their often blatant partisanship discredits them in many newsrooms. However, as Yale University law Professor Jack Balkin says, the blogosphere has some built-in correction mechanisms for ideological bias, as “bloggers who write about political subjects cannot avoid addressing (and, more importantly, linking to) arguments made by people with different views. The reason is that much of the blogosphere is devoted to criticizing what other people have to say.”
Read the whole thing. It's well worth your time.
Oh, and if you live in the Washington DC area, don't miss your chance to have cocktails with Dan and other prominent bloggers later this month--as they discuss the burgeoning role of blogs in politics.
Lots of mail on the mini-Allawi piece (strict instructions to keep it under 200 words!) in the NYT. First, let me thank the Times for including me in their special on elections and blogs. It was more than gracious--particularly given the amount of sniping at the Times that takes place over here at B.D.
A few things I learned from the Times link. One, Glenn generates a good deal more traffic than the Gray Lady! Two, the hatemail gets nastier when you access this kind of broader audience. And, three, quite a few old friends and acquaintances come out of the woodwork with kudos, random thoughts, or round castigations!
I'll be posting some of the mail shortly but am having problems accessing the Belgravia Dispatch mail at this time. More soon.
UPDATE: THE MAIL (at least a sampling of the, er, relatively polite ones....):
I've just read the excerpt from your blog that was printed in the New York
Times, Nov. 2nd edition in which you took exception with Mr. Kerry's
characterization of Mr. Allawi as a "puppet".
Perhaps you are unaware that Mr. Allawi was previously one of Saddam
Hussein's more highly placed henchmen --- known for his particularly vicious
brutality --- who, for reasons which are unclear, was forced to leave Iraq
in a "big hurry." Following Hussein's deposition (and having curried the
favor of Americans in the meantime) Allawi returned to Iraq, well-placed to
be appointed "Interim President."
Perhaps you are not curious, as I am, about this appointment. By what
right, I wonder, does the United States name the chief official of another
country --- interim or otherwise?
Perhaps you are unaware that the "moving" speech you so highly praised was
written by one of President Bush's stable of writers --(reportedly, the
principal author was Karen Hughes, his close confidante).
Considering the foregoing, surely there is no more succinct and accurate
description of Mr. Allawi than "Puppet."
Therefore, it is my hope that you will publicly revise your description of
Mr. Kerry -- a man who correctly stated a straightforward and
America and your man, Blair (Bliar?) rushed to war on hyped, cooked, false, falsified intelligence. Allawi is just a front for American interests!
Where's you anger in Bush's, Blair's lies?
Wake up and smell the coffee, or, in London, the tea!
ALLAWI--What you seem to miss is that much of America's capital overseas has been burned by our willingness to cynically prop up anti-democratic leaders when it suits our purposes. I give you the Shah of Iran, the House of Saud, the oil grandees of Kuwait. Non worth of the term democracy. And people notice. Now this CIA manifestation Allawi, one tick on the stink-o-meter less repugnant than the fraud Chalabi. This is democracy, placing your intelligence service dupe in charge, thus giving him the inside track on the election? By guiding the result you guarantee cynicism, lack of acceptance of the body politic and continued insurgency. Bottom line: we don't trust democracy because we won't let it happen. We feel we must rig the results. Here we call that Floridca democracy.
I saw your comment in the NY Times today and have therefore come to the conclusion that you are another of those who operate according to the fantasy of what you would like the world to be to without letting reality get in the way. I believe this characterizes most of Bush supporters: his words (which people like) do not match his actions but, amazingly, you people don't seem to notice. I guess any acknowledgment of this disparity would get in the way of the fantasy. Bush is the most transparent of con men.
It would be nice if Allawi was a strong independent freedom fighter - but he isn't. Many people noticed that Allawi's speech sounded very similar to Bush speeches. Of course, as is their habit, the Bush people at first lied about having any input with Allawi's speech. It soon came out, however, that they had, indeed, largely created it. Mr. Allawi came here and gave the speech that he was told to give. That may be unpleasant but, nevertheless, true. I can't criticize Kerry for being realistic.
I was going to chat you up about the post of your column in the New York Times. But after visiting your webpage I realized whatever I had to say would probably fall on deaf ears. However you may feel about Kerry denigrating Allawi it really was a case, as was documented, of Allawi delivering Bush/Cheney/Rove talking points since it was the White House that wrote his speech (didn't you see the bump in the back of his suit coat?).
I give him credit for now speaking out for the Iraqi guard's executed alongside the road and putting the brakes on the attack on Fallajuh as the executing (oops, I mean, Executive) branch of his government.
Bush is not the one who is going to need an apologist after today. I believe it would be Prime Minister Blair (remove the mote from your own eye, Belgravia)
Oh, and an old high school acquaintance sends in a long missive from Moscow, contra my post on Tora Bora and Sully's endorsement:
Regarding your assessment of the tactical or strategic value of Tora Bora, what you fail to appreciate is whether or not the Tora Boras of this so-called war are effective in achieving our ultimate goal of victory over terror. This war is not definable by any one persona, someone whose absence from the field of battle a la Hirohito, Hitler, Attila, whoever, will bring about the end of hostilities. Our so-called enemy has no standing armies, no diplomatic apparatus, no borders. Rather, the swamps of poverty, despair and disenfranchisement are the wellsprings of terror’s legions. Military, political and diplomatic campaigns are one in the same in today’s environment. And in this light, Tora Bora can only be viewed as a strategic and tactical failure of the highest magnitude.
If hypothetically we had captured bin Laden in those mountain redoubts, we may have had the chance to make Afghanistan into a model of sorts, a message to the world that we will find and prosecute those who not only advocate and act upon threats against America, but also those who harbor such persons. Leveraging our diplomatic, economic and social strengths, a second phase of the war may have been opened, one in which we provide economic support, diplomatic assistance, a semblance of security for the Karzai-led burgeoning civil society, all the while giving Afghanis alternatives to a world of poppy plants and Kalashnikovs. So women can now vote in Afghanistan (in numbers that seemingly far exceed the actual number of women in Afghanistan if some news streams are to be believed)…well, people also vote in Zimbabwe, formerly in Iraq and China. This doesn’t mean that people are necessarily free…free from poverty, despair, intimidation and disenfranchisement. And the resurgence of the Taliban – no matter how small their numbers – the continuation of the warlord system, and the continuing reliance on opium cultivation…these are examples of the results of our failed mission.
Instead, the Tora Bora failure allowed bin Laden to fester, not so much as a direct threat, but still an inspiration to those without inspiration in the slums of Gaza, the mosques of Iran, the underground of Europe. Worse, we’ve legitimized the plight of such harbingers of hate; a powerful lesson in history is that regimes that use professional or semi-professional soldiers to quell domestic or international unrest only bequeath further destabilization to later generations. The use of force has given undue notoriety and legitimacy to nascent nationalist, religious or social movements. Examples abound of such actions in the history of Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. In Russia, nothing gave more legitimacy to nascent Russian anti-Tsarist activity than the use of Cossacks to quell labor unrest. Napoleon in Spain…Argentina in the early 1980s…even Vietnam under Diem…. Most notably, the Ghandi-led revolutionary campaign in India only gained its widespread legitimacy – at the expense of Anglophile moderates – only after English General Dyer’s professional troops opened fire on thousands of peaceful gatherers in Amritsar in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Dyer received a bejeweled sword for his actions; England lost an empire. By the use of force, a professional army – and worse, its failure – we have only further alienated those whose minds we seek and marginalized the few moderates in the Middle East who may have been able to temper the passions of the street.
Indeed, this lesson has been ignored in our whack-a-mole dealings with Iraq. Though we may have captured Saddam and the rumors of a Baathist revival may be over- or underblown, our destruction of the country’s infrastructure and indiscriminate killing of its inhabitants by the tens of thousands have only fueled the fires emanating from said swamps. Shortly after 9/11, I happened upon a Tunisian banker in a bar here in Moscow. He told me, “the thing is…America is seen as the greatest killer of Muslims.” “Absurd,” I retorted, “A guy like Saddam butchers his people indiscriminately.” “Yes…but he is seen – no matter how absurdly it seems – as a proxy for America, like Mubarak or the House of Saud. That is the challenge you face.” The scenes of death and carnage may be evidence of battles being won, but we are no closer in winning the war. In fact, I would argue we are further from the goal.
The antidote to all strife – against property, person, by hate or dogma – is economic opportunity. Look no further than the streets of New York to see evidence; was the crime drop in the 1990s due more to Guliani’s extra policemen or the level of economic growth in the city and its boroughs? Statistically, many cases have been made to support the latter, and the endemic poverty in today’s Middle East (versus yesterdays, when lower population numbers, higher petrodollar value in real terms, and infrastructure investment obscured the abysmal amount of intra-regional trade and conspired to keep the radicals at bay) is evidence of this trend. In today’s Iraq, economic hardship has been magnified, as an already strained economy has collapsed through pilfering, street violence and a misguided military adventure. Iraqi’s don’t want to vote necessarily. They want jobs, TVs, clean water, etc.
Additionally, your notion of Kerry being on the wrong side of the Cold War is simply false. Our arms build-up had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Reagan-era myth that has been given a new life with his recent death. The Soviet Union collapsed – like most geopolitical developments – under the weight of economic necessity; its people were starving for material goods, its harvests poor, its resources stretched by low oil prices and an unwieldy military structure, its strongest proponents (i.e. WWII vets) aged and dying. Star Wars? Simply that…a mythical threat that had far less of an effect on the minds of the Genshtab than the endemic corruption of the Soviet state. Our Cold War victory stems more from the economic might exercised, dating from the Marshall Plan, than any military-related initiative. Did the Ossies flee through Austria to escape Soviet guns? Hardly…Hungarians didn’t back down from Soviet tanks in 1956. Rather, East Germans needed the clothes, food, material goods available the local Sparmarkt.
Debating the success of military campaigns in Afghanistan or Iraq is a moot point, and Afghanistan’s or Iraq’s military ‘successes’ will only benefit later experts at West Point or the Naval War College. After all, General Dyer used force to achieve what he wanted…a dispersal of the crowd. But this success – thousands of dead Indians – ultimately led to British defeat. Similarly, we are losing this so-called war, for it is being fought in the wrong place in the wrong way. As a fraction of the cost – in both men and material – we could have bought Hussein, moved him to exile, and had a much better foundation from which we could have embarked on our nation-building adventure. Instead…we are faced with a situation even worse than Vietnam, a morose from which no candidate will allow us to exit gracefully. The inability of the second phase – American investment – to get off the ground is primarily due to the security situation, and the situation was created by our leadership.
I am new to blogs as a whole, so I haven’t yet digested what you have written in the past, nor do I appreciate the innuendos you make regarding other bloggers. However, though I hardly knew you at all, I recall you being a clear thinker with a unique perspective on things from our days at Andover (I am a class of 1991), so, when I saw your name in today’s Times, I figured I would take a peak (though your comments surprised me…using the term quisling is a bit of a stretch, but you have to admit, that as an ‘installed’ leader, he is a proxy for American interests. What base of support does he have, other than the rifles of American servicemen and largesse of the American taxpayer?). Though we likely view the current world through different prism’s, I appreciate your blend of hysterics and perspective.
The mailbag had some E-mails of support too. But I go on enough about my views over here--so I thought I'd air the other side of the fence today.
My recent UBL is dead post ("Who's Zed? Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead") got written up in the Washington Times (thanks to Jack Kelly for the props). And, somewhere in the great battleground (or not) state of Oregon, I've been deemed one of three "rational" blogs worth consulting if you're an undecided in the impending election--with Dan Drezner and Brad DeLong the other two (Ph.D-less and voting Bush--but still deemed "rational"! A near amazing feat, no?)
No, this isn't an Azores summit postscript or a piece on a somewhat obscure member of the coalition of the willing. Rather, it's a quick hello from a sunny Lisbon--where I just got engaged! (Did I mention she's French-Brazilian...who says B.D. doesn't believe in multipolarity!?!)
Back in London tomorrow night--blogging should resume then.
Well over 20,000 unique visitors to this site yesterday alone. Back when I started this blog in Jan '03, that was a good month! Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, Hugh Hewitt, Roger Simon (who has some tough commenters!) and Real Clear Politics for the linkage.