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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Terrorists Don't Have ICM's
The Washington Post has a perfect editorial summary of why the missile defense system that the Bush administration is going ahead with is a waste of time and money. The editors write that if such a system is to be instituted,
"it ought to be because a potential adversary has appeared capable of attacking the United States with an intercontinental missile. Yet there appears to be no such enemy. America is at peace with Russia and China, nations that could easily overwhelm a missile defense system anyway. North Korea, the most likely suspect, does not yet have a missile capable of hitting the continental United States. The CIA believes its Taepodong-1 model, which has been tested only once, at best could reach the outskirts of Alaska -- and only then if it were not carrying a nuclear warhead."
The editors write that that the reemergence of this so-called "Star Wars" system now seems to be a political move. The current move to make this impractical and useless system tangible binds the United States to a defense policy that is twelve years obsolete.
"[T]he Bush administration's hasty drive to build a ground-based defense against long-range missiles seems to have more to do with the U.S. political calendar than with any plausible defense scenario. For the administration's missile defense hawks, the program has become an ideology; they appear determined to pour enough concrete and create enough on-the-ground hardware by the next presidential election to make it irreversible."
What makes this program even worse than the fact that it won't be effective and that it is clearly a political ploy to convince Americans that their defense is first priority, is that the enormous sums of money being spent on the program detract from the ability of the government to go after the real threats to national security, terrorists. The threat of the future will not come from intercontinental missiles, for no other state is stupid enough to attack the American military head-on. Rather the threat is covert and unpredictable and will involve more detective work than firepower.
"[T]he administration itself concedes that that system will not really exist in 2004. So why spend the money to deploy, given the absence of a tangible threat? At least some of those dollars would be better spent on controlling the very real danger posed by the nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals in the former Soviet Union, or loose fissile material elsewhere in the world -- threats the administration has been slow to address."
Such a program may be necessary in the distant future when the proliferation in missile technology reaches those willing to challenge American superpowerdom. Until that time though, a defensive shield should be tested and perfected, and should be able to actually defend against attack, and not simply provide a token dozen of missiles in Alaska against a threat that has yet to materialize.
Stop wasting time and money on "Star Wars." Only George Lucas should be running a show like that.
It really is terrible the way Trent Lott is hanging on. The fact that he can't see that his country should be more important than his own political prominance is sad really. Andrew Sullivan says Lott's inability to recognize the scope of the damage he has inflicted on his country and his party is just like "the knight in Monty Python's "Holy Grail" who gets both arms and then both legs cut off by a fellow combatant, but still refuses to give in. "It's only a flesh-wound!" he keeps bragging as blood gushes out from his arm and leg stumps." The longer Lott insists that a simple apology is adequate for this whole mess to go away, the worse off his image becomes and the worse off the Republican Party becomes (not that I mind). As I heard in an analysis on NPR a few hours ago, the Republican Party has worked hard over the past 15 years or so to correct for its spotted history of being the opponent of civil rights legislation. The GOP has done quite well in this area and is, for the first time in a long time (ever?) able to legitimately campaign for, and receive votes from minority groups in larger numbers.
This progress can vanish in an instant if Trent Lott does not remove himself as soon as possible. His own selfishness is getting the better of him, and no matter how much he claims to be a supporter of Affirmative Action on BET, his words do not match his actions. To completely cave on his principles in an apology interview was one of the worst things he could have done. It screams "insincere" and, "can-we-please-forget-how-racist-I-am-now-please?" We all know you're no supporter of Affirmative Action, and there's nothing wrong with that. But don't flip your position just to save face. Such a move only diminishes your already shaky credibility.
Trent Lott needs to step down as Majority Leader before he's removed from within his own party on January 6. He should also resign from the Senate, despite the fact that a Democrat would be appointed to fill his seat. America's progress away from segregation is far more important than the career of one lonely GOP politico. The longer he waits to resign, the more his words will ferment within the delicate racial fissure of our society. Lott's remarks may have only been over-the-top praise of a iconic colleague, but even so, I'll be waiting for the day when a northern senator makes the same glowing mistake. Such a mistake would only be made by a person who ultimately believes it. This is why Trent Lott needs to go.
Saddam Hussein is crazy. This seems to be an accepted fact. The evidence for this though, is nothing short of ridiculous. Case in point, the New York Times reports on Hussein's new obsession: building lots of huge mosques. While this in itself wouldn't put him in the realm of insane, for every dictator is entitled to his religion, the names of these newly constructed mosques definately put him over the line. For example, the Mother of All Battles Mosque on the westside of Baghdad has minarets that have been built to resemble Scud missiles, like those which Iraq fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia. Also at the Mother of All Battles Mosque, named after Hussein's version of the Gulf War, is architecture that has been designed to look like the barrels of Kalashnikov rifles. If there are still any doubters out there who question if Hussein is a true megalomaniac, I point to the Mosque of Saddam the Great, due to be completed in 2015 (good luck with that). There's also this sick little bit of lunacy:
"Inside a special sanctum, treated by the mosque's custodian with the reverence due a holy of holies, there are 650 pages of the Koran — written, it is said, in Mr. Hussein's blood. As the official legend has it, "Mr. President" donated 28 liters of his blood — about 50 pints — over two years, and a famous calligrapher, Abas al-Baghdadi, mixed it with ink and preservatives to produce the handsome writing now laid out page by page in glass-walled display cases."
Not that this is really a crucial determinant for invasion, but is a man that goes to these lengths to inflate his ego and instill himself within his society as a "god among men" (sorry Aristotle), really a logical actor in the international system who can reasonably be deterred? As much as I identify myself as a believer in Liberalism in the field of international relations, Hussein has convinced me that, at least in his case, Realism is the way to go.
(via Oliver Willis)
The Clinton-Gore comedy team was in full swing today. Clinton, at a benefit at the Robert Kennedy Memorial, mused, "When Robert Kennedy ran for president, we supported him. We're proud of it. And if he had lived and been elected, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."