Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

Will the massacre by an American in Afghanistan have long-term consequences? I sort of doubt might accelerate what was already going to happen, but I sort of doubt that much of the coming withdrawal will really be caused by this latest disaster.

The situation in Syria remains grim.

Back home...the GOP nomination contest continued basically unchanged, with Romney losing another possible opportunity to shut things down without harming his lock on the nomination at all.

I'm not sure what to make of the deal over judges. I guess it depends on what comes next.

What else? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. The massacre in Afghanistan matters. It, and other similar incidents in Iran and Afghanistan, are lessons about the limits of military power that should be remembered for a long time by those who make decisions about going to war, including those advocating for action in Syria and Iran.

    1. You misspelled "Vietnam".

      I wonder why Germany was such a success story for the US after WWII, and why the US never quite managed to replicate that success.

  2. I think the continuation of the GOP fight is important with a better economy in that it would appear that the growing consensus is that Obama won't have trouble getting reelected (I don't mean amongst the poli sci folks but in the broader thinking of the commetariat). I think this are looking better than they did six months ago but I don't think it will be easy.

    I think the voter residency stories with Lugar and Kerry are interesting and not a bad window into how strict we are in adhering to election laws and the extent to which the spirit and the letter matter there (a little similar a little different from the voter id issue and whether or not it should be required).

    The continuing questions about Iran, its intents, and whether or not it is pursuing a nuclear program is never far from the surface. A story or two in the NYT on this issue I think makes it an important backdrop.

    And the Afghanistan story -- the futility of it and the Panetta accident which plays into its futility I think is important. But not so much because it changes the course of the situation but because it may punctuate how we look back on it. Furthermore, it is a useful case study in how you need to be careful how you treat your own soldiers and appreciate their limits since one incident like this can do undermine the efforts of the president, his foreign policy advisers, and the government responsible on the ground for the country involved.

  3. Ambi Valent: In 1945-1950, the US was one of a group of nations collectively engaged in de-Nazifying Germany and ensuring resistence to the Allied Powers was absolutely over.

    About 1950, the US lumped Germany in with its erstwhile allies and gave Marshall Plan assistence for economic rebuilding, rather than insisting on repayment of colossal war reparations. It also allowed rebirth of German armed forces, under NATO command, and revival of other state functions. I.e., it was clear to all that US policy favored regeneration of a German state, and that the US was determined to defend this state against the Soviet Union.

    We went rather quickly from being assailants to defenders and then to allies, in other words. Ditto for Japan, and with some variance, for South Korea.

    You'll notice there was never the slightest interest in duplicating this process in Afghanistan or Iraq (or now Iran) at any level of the US government after Sept 2001.

    1. It's pretty hard to duplicate the process if you don't have a Soviet Union looming over the horizon. In classic power-politics style, it was the new common threat that drove the former enemies together. Otherwise, de-Nazification could have been just another source of resentment, like de-Baathification in Iraq.

    2. Scott:

      VERY sensible comment. Thanks for adding it.

  4. Possibly this matters: A Republican governor and his conservative legislative allies agreeing to extend a temporary (?) tax increase in order to have $600m more for education -- okay. When some of the legislators have signed the ATR no new taxes pledge, but nevertheless are willing to support the tax as the "prudent and fiscally responsible" thing to do -- that might be worth watching.

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