(For a news source that requires a username and password, use "thelofty" for both.)
(* means blog has been updated recently)
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
The 50 State Bush Sweep?
I think not. The latest Newsweek poll shows all of the major Democratic candidates statistically tied with Bush. And this is before the nominee gains the momentum of you know, being the nominee. The numbers are as follows:
I think I've finally figured out why I am always stuck in the middle when I argue about the war in Iraq. I supported the war based mostly on the liberation grounds. Saddam was a tyrant and as the world's preminent power the U.S. has an obligation to preside over the expansion of freedom for people around the world. In that way I find myself sounding like a hardcore hawk - and I guess I am - but it worries me how much my perceived opinion sounds like Bush's when I argue with my liberal friends.
On the other side I am constantly amazed at the ineptitude of the Bush administration. They squandered the massive potential of international goodwill from after September 11 and quickly pursued a screw-it-I'm-doing-what-I-want attitude. That's not the way to get things done. They inflated the evidence that persuaded the country that war was the right thing to do and that Iraq was a growing threat that needed to be taken down as a step in the war on terror.
In the 2003 State of the Union Bush outlined the threat posed by Iraq:
- 25,000 liters of anthrax - 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin - 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent
- 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents
- Mobile biological weapons labs - An advanced nuclear weapons development program, a design for a nuclear weapon and five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb
- Significant quantities of uranium from Africa
- High-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production
To date none of these things have been found in any threatening capacity. Yet the administration feels it did nothing wrong, did not deceive and did not hype a non-existant threat.
Bush in the State of the Union, 2004:
- "We have discovered dozens of weapons of mass destruction related program activities."
Now compare those lists. The first one is a bit longer, no? And what exactly is a "WMD-related program activity"? And "dozens"? That's weak. It seems to me that the administration is coming up a bit short. Surely they wouldn't lie, would they?
Every time Bush fails to present any compelling threat evidence I feel like my reasons to support the war are in conflict. Why? Because my support wasn't about that. I think my case for the war in Iraq is not only different than Bush's, its part of an entirely different war.
Through out the posturing and chest-pounding that has led the Bush administration to war in Iraq, the motivation has been very closely linked to the War on Terror. Administration officials even juxtaposed it so well that a majority of Americans became convinced that Saddam had something to do with September 11. (That doesn't say much about the American population, but that's a topic for later.) Iraq was, they said, a step in the War on Terror - just one battle in the struggle to defeat those who terrorize the world.
But for me Iraq wasn't about that very much. To me Iraq was the beginning of a much nobler effort: a War for Freedom. This "war" needn't be a military conflict in all its forms, but its overriding goal should be the liberation of people who live in fear for their lives, who can't express their views publically, who have not experienced the freedom and liberty that we take for granted as Americans.
Iraq wasn't part of the War on Terror - it was the first step in what should have been our duty to begin with: spreading freedom. I don't see these as one in the same as most do. Some may point to Abu Nadal or support for Hamas and say Iraq certainly was a prime target for ending terrorism. I don't buy it. These were, on their own, not reasons to go to war - yet the Bush administration insisted that this was enough.
No, our efforts in the War on Terror should remain focused on those responsible for bringing terror to the U.S. - namely al-Qaeda. Over two years after September 11 Osama bin Laden and his top deputy are still on the loose. That is where the War on Terror should be, not in Iraq.
This then is why I have had a hard time separating the means from the ends. Clearly the ends produced by the war in Iraq are the same ends I would seek as the first step in a War for Freedom. But using the War on Terror as the justification for liberating Iraq is the wrong method.
America owes it to the world to advance the cause of freedom around the world everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Syria to North Korea to Nigeria and the Sudan. The War on Terror should pursue those responsible for terrorism against America. The War for Freedom though should be America's long term project for making the world a better, more prosperous place.
We've liberated Iraq. Let's finish the job and show the world we can truely bring liberty to those who lived in oppression before. After Iraq there are plenty of peoples around the world who would benefit from our strength. Let's use it wisely.
Last night was a true spectacle. Iowa voters spurred the pundits and did nearly the opposite of what they were expected to do. Instead of a Gephardt/Dean battle late into the night, John Kerry and John Edwards came out of nowhere to dominate the night. Kerry scooped up a solid 38% of the caucuses while Edwards followed with 32%. Gephardt - the man I was rooting for and the one that most people thought was the best situated to pull off a win - lost big. He came in a distant fourth with just 11%.
It was a sad end for the Missouri congressman. It was a good call by him to end his campaign immediately instead of dragging the remnant of Iowa's loss with him. By doing so his campaign support can more quickly move to another anti-Dean - a concept that might not be necessary if Dean keeps up the performance he put on last night.
In attempting to silent the critics who say Dean is angry, angry, angry, Dean responded by being furious, stupid and quite possible drunk. In his Iowa concession speech Dean appeared completely without tact and reason. He screamed out the states that he was determined to win - repeating Michigan at least three times. He also screamed out "Viva New Mexico" with "New" being the only english word in the phrase. Another favorite was "Si se puede," which Dean belted out to his supporters encouraging them to go to New Hampshire - "if you can." It was bizarre. Hardly fitting the straight-talking, pragmatic governor image that he's been trying to portray. Dean was angry - very angry - that his movement hadn't done it on its own. He hadn't magically swept Iowans off their feet.
If there is any consolation in Gephardt's painful fourth place finish, its that in the process of volleying negative attack ads at each other for the past two months, Gephardt has managed to take Dean down with him. That alone could make Gephardt deserving of the VP spot under someone like Clark who Gephardt would balance quite well. Maybe the sudden rise of John Edwards will signal a second coming of Bill Clinton but without the sex. Here's hoping.
Either way Karl Rove is one nervous man today. Today he's facing the real possibility that he could have his AWOL Bush up against two Vietnam vets who took real flak in the jungle or a good looking southerner with genuine populist appeal. I hope the Dean campaign goes down in flames with a solid Clark win in New Hampshire. Its our best shot.