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Books

Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria

Polyarchy

Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with Amazon.com

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck

Archive


 

What is our real grudge with Iraq? Why have they become the definitive state enemy so conclusively since September 11? We all agree that Saddam Hussein is bad news, but other than being a terrible pain for our hegemonic dreams, he has done nothing different since September 11. Why then is all of Washington determined that Iraq is the number one priority in the "War against Terrorism?" No connection has, or likely ever will be made between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.
Surely President Bush had some antimosity towards Hussein on behalf of his father's failures at the end of the Gulf War, but prior to September 11 there was nothing that suggested a need to take Iraq off the map. Now, suddenly, there is a tremendous drive to attack Iraq with everything we've got. Yes, it would be great to get Hussein out of the director's chair in what would be such a key nation to have influence in, but we have no right to do so at this time. Iraq is a problem, but in comparison to non-state terrorist groups, it is a very stable enemy. Hussein has something to lose by giving any hint of being an aggressor. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is free from consequences and therefore is the enemy that needs to be controlled.
Perhaps it's the Wolfowitz Doctrine that, "when one has power, one must use it," which has driven the recent propoganda against Iraq. Perhaps it is simply a desire by Bush to keep his war going for as long as possible in order to keep his wartime approval ratings high going into his 2004 reelection bid. Whatever it is, such an attack against Iraq is uncalled for right now. Bush's recently outlined doctrine that a "pre-emptive attack against terror" is the way U.S. foreign policy for the future will work is an unstable and irresponsible understanding of the basic status of international animosity today. As the author of the article points out, "[a]ll this is a clever way of getting around a major inconvenience: Hussein's refusal to provoke us." It sure is a shame that Bush has had to completely alter U.S. policy just to provide justification for an attack on Iraq. Perhaps we should question why we must produce justification instead of using the justification that exists. It is because at this time, no such justification exists.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:31:00 PM


Saturday, June 22, 2002  

 

I received my first paycheck for the summer today. It took out the usual Social Security, Medicare, federal tax, and state tax. What bugged me though is that the biggest deduction of these was Social Security. I have no problem doing my part to make my grandparents, and others like them, more comfortable except for the fact that I will most likely never, ever, see a penny of that money again. Rough estimates that I have heard about the longevity of Social Security range from 10 years to more than 50, which would just begin to give me some return. Selfishness is not my goal, but when a chunk of my income is taken to support a program that will die before I get any benefit from it I wonder why I should be happy about its concept.
The economics of the Social Security debate are beyond me, at least for now, but someone needs to figure out how to make the system fair for both benefactor and beneficiary. Everyone deserves to be both.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 7:54:00 PM


Friday, June 21, 2002  

 

I was watching ABCNews tonight and they reported that the Israeli army had moved into a few Palestinian towns, including Jenin and Nablus. They said that in Jenin, Israeli tanks had fired on a fruit and vegetable market. A fruit and vegetable market! Is that honestly where the haven of suicide bombers is, in a produce market? Is Israel now giving up on capturing these terrorists, or as Andrew Sullivan is calling them now, "Islamikazes"? Are they instead focusing on destroying the basic sustenance of Palestinian existence by destroying their markets? There’s no excuse for that.
I too am frustrated and appalled by the continuing suicide attacks (username and password is "thelofty"), but a response like this is uncalled for. Arrest who you must in order to end the violence, but don’t punish an entire people by destroying their fruit!


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 7:35:00 PM



 

I've been seeing the previews for this new Tom Cruise movie called Minority Report. Frankly it looks a little scary, or at least the idea of what the movie portrays. In it, a "pre-crime" police group goes around arresting people before they have committed a single crime. While in the movie it is portrayed as effective (I think. It hasn't been released yet), the idea of detaining people before they have committed a crime is something that frightens me. Granted there are certain things that people can be arrested for pre-emptively such as conspiracy, but all and all unfounded detentions are something that should never be allowed. In the article, Jeremy Lott points out the chilling similarities between this new Steven Spielberg film and the current treatment of "terrorists" by Bush's Justice Department.
Read it and then go ask if you could have your civil liberties back. Good luck.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 4:57:00 PM


Wednesday, June 19, 2002  

 

Oh, and are you kidding me about the success of U.S. soccer?! This is amazing. For all you doubters out there, let me clue you in:
This World Cup has produced some of the most exciting games and the most remarkable outcomes. Who would have thought that France, Portugal and Argentina would have lost in the first round and that France wouldn't even score a single goal in three games? Who would have thought that the two teams to advance from Group D would be the U.S. and South Korea? Who would have projected Senegal, South Korea, Turkey and the U.S. would all be in the Round of Eight? It's incredible. How great would it be to see the final four teams be the U.S., South Korea, Senegal and Brazil or England? Get on the bandwagon for U.S. soccer, and international soccer in general, it's not too late.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 6:42:00 PM


Monday, June 17, 2002  

 

I love the Third Way. The brainchild of President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair and several other progressive European leaders was the best thing that could have come out of the post-Cold War period. It combined safeguards for workers and reforms to social welfare with an opening of markets and freedom for business competition. The center-left was finding its stride.
With September 11, President Bush has changed the course of social, economic and foreign policy worldwide. In our time of need in the days after September 11 I found myself wishing Tony Blair had been born in the U.S. so he could have been our president. The founding leader of the Third Way was the leader who most knew how to react and the man whom Bush had to turn to for support and guidance.
In the past few months the world has shown the consequences that September 11 has had on the Third Way. As the author of the article points out, the Third Way has not been discarded, but the fears of a now vulnerable public have made a new conservativism control all of the policy that the Third Way had so perfectly managed. You can see it in France with a harsh turn against immigrants and the surprising success of Le Pen and his National Front Party. You can see it in Great Britain with Blair facing the criticism of his Tory opposition and even among his own Labour party over the level of involvement that Britain would take in the "War on Terror." Even here in the U.S. the unfortunate discarding of the Third Way has shown itself in the Bush administration's policies on the everglades, steel protectionism, Cuba, domestic privacy issues, and international policing.
I can only hope that the Third Way is only taking a temporary vacation from policy-making. The alternative is not very inviting. Here's to a rejuvenation of the Third Way!


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 5:35:00 PM