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realpolitik: wednesday edition

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Once upon a time I said I'd talk about politics only occasionally; I thought maybe Fridays or something. Well, I think it's going to be more. Because it's on my mind a lot these days. Not just electoral, but international realpolitik, at least as much. So I'm going to limit myself to once a week commenting on and pointing at political news and commentary that's realpolitik, and once on kulturpolitik. I'll label posts, so anybody out there who thinks I'm crazy can ignore me selectively. (You're welcome!)

We'll start with Michael Moore at the hands of those fine Euro-folk:

Of course, that's what happens to such a demagogue at the hands of a better class of Euro, a la the Telegraph. Ce la vie -- oui, Monsieur Moore?

Enough of shooting the carp scraping the bottom of the barrel, though. Just note the effect that the Telegraph reviewer thinks Moore is going to have on the 2004 election. And what was made of Moore's endorsement of Clark, lately departed, along with his alloy-metallic political ear... (Thanks, Lileks!)

Which brings us to Iraq, of course.

But first a stop in Afghanistan the Forgotten, by way of Guantanamo Bay, where conditions (humanitarian and human-rights) were such that the teenaged detainee said in an interview that "They gave me a good time in Cuba." Telegraph background remark: "His words of praise for the American soldiers in Guantanamo Bay echo those of Faiz Mohammed, an elderly Afghan farmer who was detained at the base for eight months before being released in October 2002." The article actually illustrates some definite problems in the Guantanamo detentions, but those problems are procedural and judicial, not a matter of cruelty or indifference (quite the contrary) toward the detained. The problem is simply that those released are returned, not after a hearing or trial, but simply on the executive prerogative of the military authorities. (Mind you, I'd trust myself to US military discretion gobs more than any judicial proceedings in i.e., Turkey, 7 days a week for justice, but there are principles the military is there to defend.)

Back at the start of the year in Iraq, this article remarked on the growing presence of Iraqi security forces doing their own clean work. In the last few days, it looks like the trend to a self-sufficient Iraqi people is pissing off the right people -- bombs hit recruiting days for the police forces, about six weeks after this article.

If the military is getting smarter, perhaps the press is getting dumber. I know, it seems impossible. But irrationality even seeps into the AP headlines, and it's pretty pathetic: "...we discover that "most" means 14 percent..."

Of course, every time I think the Bushies are bloody fools in international matters, they do something which makes me think they might just be faking to keep people off their guard. Like wrapping Pakistan around their little fingers on the nuke-proliferation problem. The States didn't have to make a big fuss about the Khan affair - they'd already dealt with it and set things in stone behind the scenes. Musharraf was left to clean his own kitchen. has more speculation on how this played out, but certainly, even what's known for sure in the papers is very very interesting.

Proliferation and "WMD". The man who was one of the biggest factors in making the case for taking down Saddam Hussein because of his weapons programs and proven track record of deranged internal and external policy is Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton administration security advisor. In the Atlantic (Jan./Feb.), he writes an extended article simply titled "Spie s, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong". I paid good money for the dead-tree version, if that tells you anything. Pollack's The Threatening Storm was a major influence in convincing me that sooner, rather than later, was the time to deal with Saddam, permanently. Pollack doesn't think that the occupation of Iraq was a strategic error, either, and his article is altogether worth reading as a sober assessment of 'lessons learned'.

A Grauniad film review includes the reviewer's recollections of the subject: the Khmer Rouge. Worth reading, despite some soapboxing in place of review at the end. I'll try to find the film, and then try to steel myself to watch it.

Turning to lighter news, we have the chief Volokh trashes five myths told by conservatives about the First Amendment (in the National Review, pleasantly). And in Switzerland, direct democracy smacks the political class around a bit as the people vote in appropriately harsh punishment for pedophiliac abuse. Some EuroBureau apparatchnik types said there might be problems with the so-called "European Court of Justice" which might not like the laws. (Which is exactly the sort of thing that gives human rights activists a bad name, really.)

Finally, to close the circle and make a little happy face, the George W. Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator! Huzzah!

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