Monday, March 21, 2011

Read Stuff, You Should

You know, there's no question that the liberal critique of neo-cons, that for some people it's always Munich, is correct. For them, it hardly matters what the consequences are of war, because it's just a question of fighting now or fighting later. "Bobbing and squinting/just like a nitwit" indeed.

But I'm also struck about the extent to which many antiwar liberals really do seem to see Vietnam around every corner -- every involvement will inevitably wind up worse than the currently foreseeable worst case scenario; every claim of progress from the military is phony; every claim of limited goals is a smokescreen. Not that they're always wrong! And it's certainly better than taking everything the president or the Pentagon says at face value. However, seeing only the downside of military action can lead to mistakes, too. All of which is an elaborate introduction to an excellent series about leaving Iraq by Whitney Terrell in Slate. The first segment is an absolute must-read. 

More good stuff, as  I wonder whether I can really pretend that Paul Krugman was including me as one of the "Jons at the New Republic"...nothing from the real Jonathans, Chait and Cohn, below, but as always you should be reading them. Also:

1. Budget and the economy: from a ways back but hardly stale, a great piece by James Lardner over at the excellent Remapping Debate site on how Pete Peterson brings deficit idealism to students. Stan Collender's birthday tribute to Alice Rivlin. David Leonhardt on economic blind spots. Jobs are good -- even public sector ones, Ezra Klein reminds us. And Brad DeLong takes down a Tyler Cowen column.

2. Thanks to all those votes in the House so far, we already know that the House is polarized but that as Barry Pump points out Democrats aren't quite as unified now that they're in the minority.

3. The Republican war on women, from David S. Bernstein -- and on contraception, from Lindsey Beyerstein.

4. Conor Friedersdorf, continuing to take on blowhards; Beyerstein carves up O'Keefe. Also, Adam Serwer on Grover Nordquist and Jihad.

5. Did I say Adam Serwer? How about one from him on homophobia. And one on Gitmo. And one on W. and freedom.

6. Black gentrification, from Shani O. Hilton. Real good.

7. More political scientists...Seth Masket knows that government isn't a business. Lisa Blaydes and Drew Linzer study anti-American sentiment in Muslim nations. Henry Farrell has a good complaint about the NYT.

8. And in case you missed them originally: Superman and immigration, and you know that this Fun With Newt was one of my favorite things ever, even if they didn't ever do Newt with Bill McNeil.



  1. Here's the thing: Liberals have been more right than wrong about Vietnam and Iraq, and in each case were often told to sit down and shut up while the grownups took care of business. And even worse, the grownups who were wrong about one or both of those conflicts are often still sought out for TV appearances and other interviewers as if their past advice was so great. (You can say similar things about the financial situation and tax policy) Its almost reflexive to call b.s. whenever our serious, political grownups begin to support something.

  2. yeah, I don't think it is so much the spectre of vietnam. It is the spectre of Iraq.

  3. I think that the Vietnam War made certain segments of liberals always associate military intervention with colonialism/imperialism. This is especially true of the liberals that lean closer to ideologies farther to the right. The plus side is that liberals are more skeptical about what the President/Pentagon says. The down side is that they haven't really articulated an alternative ideology that politicians could use without facing the specter or loosing an election because of public disapproval. The people who protested military intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11 haven't articulated a politically palatable alternative.

  4. The run-up to Iraq was the left blogosphere's Spitfire Summer. Locked in single combat with the numerically superior Nazis, the Few, their finest hour, etc....

    It's not surprising that everything is seen through that axis.

    The down side is that they haven't really articulated an alternative ideology

    There's a principled case for non-interventionism from a nationalist, Westphalian position, and one from a pacifist, universalist, perspective. They're debatable, but they're principled.

    What frosts my cupcakes is the argument that from some people that runs more or less "Well, you're not doing anything in Darfur, or Bahrein, or Syria, or Gaza, or Côte d'Ivoire, and if you can't do all of them, you can't do any of them."

    Oil makes everyone crazy. On both sides.


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