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Nov. 14 2001 11:45 AM

The Scale of the War

The " Frame Game" on the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan drew a huge response and some very good arguments. Find pointers to the best at the end of the article.

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Subject: The Wrong Road
Re: "
Frame Game: Afghanistan Hijacked"
From: A1
Date: Mon Nov 12  6:05 a.m. PT

It is important that guilt is clearly proven and that the full extent of political and diplomatic means is used before military action. During the current crisis in Afghanistan, none of this is the case. … Everyone would have understood if a clear operation had been mounted by special forces and the CIA to extract Bin Ladin and those the United States thought responsible—but not the indiscriminate bombing of an entire country, with no clear goal, while working together with forces inside and outside of the country that may even be worse than the Taliban. A huge opportunity to unite the civilized world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, has been wasted by the paranoid, panic, knee-jerk reaction of the United States.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Size Counts
Re: "
War Stories: King Sy's Mistakes"
From: James Grimmelmann
Date: Fri Nov 9 6:54 a.m. PT

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What we're seeing in Afghanistan are the predictable consequences of maintaining a standing army much larger than strictly necessary. It has a bias towards always using extreme force, even when a smaller operation might be stealthier and more effective. And its operations-planning hierarchy is deeply entrenched in a mindset that knows that the opportunities for promotion are so slight that even a single significant mistake will completely scuttle them. Nobody wants to be the guy who didn't send enough reinforcements. … Suddenly you've got an army that has real trouble genuinely doing anything small.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: The Case for Middling Views
Re: "
Readme: Osama Done Told Me"
From: Dan Simon
Date: Sun Nov 11  2:03 p.m. PT

Journalists … love to portray themselves as lone voices of crusading truth in a wilderness of herd thinking. But if those voices, in their zealous pursuit of (their own version of) "truth," drift too far from the mainstream, then it is only a matter of time before the public turns to other, more congenial voices, and we lose a valuable common forum for political debate. After all, if journalists ignore popular opinion and simply chat amongst themselves, then who can blame each segment of the body politic for doing the same?

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[Find this post here.]

Subject: We Need Salieris, Too
Re: "
Culturebox: Bell Bottom" and " Billy Joel’s Classical Crossover"
From: The Bell
Date: Tue Nov 6  9:54 a.m. PT

Perhaps critics place so much value on originality and distinctiveness of style as the only expression of "genius" that they fail to properly appreciate and reward other forms of mastery. So Billy Joel and Joshua Bell are not Mozarts, they are Salieris. Despite Amadeus … Salieri was a pretty brilliant and exciting guy, and his works a worthwhile listen. Instead of bemoaning the lack of ever-rare original genius, let us instead salute our master craftsmen. A toast to our Salieris!

[Find this post here.]

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Fray Notes:
The Bell got his star: See above, and find his great posts all over the Fray.

The most unanimous Fray of the week was on David Plotz's " Assessment" on the Red Cross. Almost every post laid into the organization, and it was hard to find a voice in its favor.

The least unanimous is on "Best of the Fray": Do readers want more Fray games and long threads about posters, or do they want more serious issues and fewer self-referential posts? (See Robespierre, here, for the start of a discussion.)

We said we'd look at the contests; they're sprouting now all over "Best of the Fray," so we may not be able to keep up with them (and particularly not the one that says"make a post that Moira would be horrified to see a star next to"). We're still looking at the recommendations for favorite postersand for unrecognized greats.

Here are a couple of good suggested flames from thiscontest:

From Dizzy Broad, an iron apology to another poster: "I realize how hard it is for you to stay focused or to keep a train of thought. It must be frightening for you to feel left out."

From Brett: "The best thing about having a star is when you post something incoherent, we think it's our fault."