Readers' choices to run Iraq.

Readers' choices to run Iraq.

Readers' choices to run Iraq.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Feb. 28 2003 2:20 AM

Occupational Therapy

Readers suggest new leaders for Iraq.

Why the ACDC t-shirt?: As usual, the Readme Fray brings out the best. The tightest response to Kinsley's latest piece—on human shields and international law—comes from TitusAndricus. He asks:

Can you equate international law norms regarding collective security policy (UN authorization for use of force) and warfighting norms (on using human shields), as Kinsley apparently has? I think not.

And he answers with a mix of hardcore polisci-speak and successful folksiness:

There is a great amount of flexibility at the macro level of international law because of the fundamental anarchy of the post-Westphalian system of sovereign states. While sovereignty has been eroded somewhat, superpowers still get to play the way Michael Jordan played basketball.

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(We might call this the interplay between the post-Westphalian and the Paul Westphalian. …)

There is a general consensus in the Fray about human shields, exemplified by J_Mann here:

I actually don't think that voluntary human shields raise any war crimes by any side. If these men and women put themselves in harm's way in an effort to influence the outcome of a war, then as far as I'm concerned, they're not civilians, they're something a lot closer to combatants. We shouldn't deliberately target (or prosecute) them because they don't represent any military threat to them, but I don't see why we (or Saddam) should worry too much about a bunch of people who intentionally put themselves in harm's way.

(Also, if we haven't infiltrated the shields with spies, we're missing a great chance).

There is more to J_Mann's post, and DeaH has more to say about shield spies here.

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When it comes to multilateralism, the most pointed warrant for waiting for the UN comes from DavidInnes-3 here:

To put it bluntly I'd like to see the U.N. on board because, unlike the Bush family and their coven of loyal retainers, the U.N. has a record of following up so that another fucking mess doesn't boil up again in a couple of years.

Last, there is different kind of post altogether from Thrasymachus here. … 1:45 a.m.

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Thursday, Feb. 27, 2003

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A much bigger kitchen to do over: Following Chris Suellentrop's Assessment of "The Next MacArthur," nominations for Viceroy of Iraq are pouring in. On the more serious side, Publius suggests former Clinton Secretary of Defense Bill Perry here,and Tiresias qualifies that here with the important notion that the governor should be acceptable to the people of Iraq. Less seriously, gtomkins kicks off an excellent discussion of his own suitability here ("I feel that I am amply qualified, perhaps over-qualified, to ride a conquered Iraq into the ground in the spectacular fashion that seems envisioned by current US policy."). Dr. Tomkins, though, looks like a reasonable choice after reading Betty_The_Crow's nominationof Max Boot.

What will running Iraq be like? Publius, above, thinks it will be more like post-WWII Germany than Japan. For him, Bill Perry is a stand-in for John McCloy. Kilroy makes a case I haven't seen before that "the upcoming Iraq war has much closer analogues to the Spanish American War at the turn of the 20th century" than to the post-WWII occupations—no one has responded yet. Most ominously, The_Slasher-8 thinks Iraq will be like Lebanon, only worse:

Sooner or later, that same civil war will break out again—with our soldiers caught in the middle if they're still there. … The last time this country got involved in a civil war in the Middle East was in Lebanon in 1982, and 240-odd Marines lost their lives. Ronald Reagan, having invested very little of his prestige in that war, saw the writing on the wall and got the rest of them the hell out.

Bush has staked his Admnistration's prestige on this war—he has DEMANDED it in the face of formidable opposition. He will keep our soldiers in the line of fire for as long as it takes, whatever it costs. The war may be about WMDs NOW, but within a year it's going to be about the fact that a new collection of "the best and the brightest," on the right this time, have gotten in over their heads. And, as was the case last time, your sons and daughters will reap the whirlwind.

Or,as jackson puts it here: "It will take a lot of duct tape to keep this country together."

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Just to watch him die: There is an excellent discussion of Johnny Cash and the artistry of the cover sparked by Dilan_Esper's post here:

This is the reinvention of good material by a great singer, the sort of thing that Frank Sinatra did all the time in his prime, and that Joe Cocker was able to do to a certain extent in the late 1960's, but that we so rarely see in the modern era of prefabricated music. How ironic that it is not only Cash's mementos that sit dormant; also dormant is the great pop tradition of making a song one's own that he exemplifies in this wonderful record.

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Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2003

Adlands: The Ad Report Card Fray is filled with nasty sniping at actors who use their celebrity for personal gain. One of the less profane comes from Shelia, who draws attention to a "stunning difference" between Martin Sheen and Tom Ridge here:

Sheen spends his days in L.A., making decisions on public policy based on no more or less info than you and I have every day.

Ridge spends his days in Washington, with access to info you and I just don't have.

Whose word will YOU take as being better informed?

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Of course, there is another side to the comparison, and AnneMarie-2 takes it here:

Ridge is told what to say by the Bush regime.
Sheen is told what to say by his conscience.
I think I'll go with Sheen.

Zyzzyg takes the middle ground: "I would trust myself, because both men give me pause." He(?) also makes the interesting point that "Celebrities sold War Bonds some time ago. Was it a mistake to listen to them? Or, does it depend on the message they are delivering and if you agree with it or not?" Answers?

Publius wants to ask Sheen a tough question about the threat of the use of force here, while slims defends politically activist actors at some length here.

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Finally, andkathleen was hoping "ad" and "Sheen" "would include the Visa check card advertisement ... if only the anti-war ads were half as amusing." (BFD liked the same back on the 18th—independent of Sheen's anti-war ad; the Fray is always ahead of the curve. …)

Norah the explorer: Two topics interest the Television Fray's discussion of the Grammys: CBS's "request" that artists muzzle their antiwar opinions and the tribute to Joe Strummer. About the "repression," doodahman thinks Simon and Garfunkel were skirting the censor by performing "Sounds of Silence" here; Athairic doesn't want his politics mixed with his pop stars here. As for the Clash tribute, andkathleen doesn't think much of it, but many others do, particularly intastella here, who considers it "payback for all the dreck I've sat through over the years":

As the nostalgia trip for rock's dearly departed drew to a close with Joe Strummer's photo, you could hear the first, unmistakably percussive chords of London Calling rising from behind the giant screen fronting the stage. And when the panel rose to reveal Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl forming a battalion of guitar heroes sending their absurdly gifted colleague into the hereafter with a 24-string salute, all the contrived sadness of the memorial reel evaporated.

On this score, trainwreck thinks Run-DMC deserved a bigger tribute than the Clash. Why? See here. …

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At least Madonna likes him: As for Ali G, DilanEsper thinks he's little more than warmed-over Stuttering John, and offers a cyclical theory for why DaAli G Show won't last here:

The act eventually wears out on its own, as the handlers of famous and infamous people learn the troll's identity and steer their clients away from him or her. Stuttering John hasn't been doing his act much lately, and I doubt this HBO show is going to last very long either. But I wouldn't be surprised if someone else recycles the same premise five or ten years down the line. … 4:50 a.m.

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Monday, Feb. 24, 2003

What about Bogosian? Marc Fisher's negative prognosis for liberal talk radio combines two of the Fray's favorite subjects: stigmatizing political argumentation and media criticism. Many Fraysters want to point out to Fisher that the "shock jock" audience isn't really liberal, it's libertarian. Klug makes that point here, but BML puts it in Fray-based terms here:

Stern's really a libertarian, which would make him perfect for the blogosphere. Instapundit, really, is a more restrained version of Howard. …

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The other great topic of interest is liberal seriousness. The most elegant formulation of the claim that liberals just can't be entertaining comes from Kicksave here:

In short, it's more fun, simple, and provocative to criticize people for being brainless (which conservatives will say about liberals), than it is to criticize people for being heartless (which liberals will say about conservatives).

Finally, apparent newcomer DoctorGarage offers this fairly devastating two part rebuttal of the myth of a conservative monopoly on political yuks here:

A consistent point of argument from right-wingers, and one that is accepted fairly often on the left, is that liberals "aren't funny," or, as it's put here, never have as much fun as conservatives do when they listen to Limbaugh. This belief starts with the false idea that Rush/Hannity/Coulter/whoever are "funny." This isn't really true. They don't make "jokes." They aren't "witty." They rely on one form over and over, and that is bitter, condescending, near-hysterical sarcasm, usually based on hideously intentional distortion and exaggeration. It seems to me that if you measure funniness by the simple standard of whether people are willing to pay or watch them in a situation where comedy, not political commentary, is expected (the marketplace of ideas!), liberals are indeed funnier: Franken (and SNL generally), the Daily Show, and the Onion, for example, all tend to skew liberal. …

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Mightas Welby, M.D.: Fred Kaplan sees most of his criticisms of the Bush administration's missile defense  system confirmed by the Defense Department. The best Fray discussion begins with TonyAdragna's post "Missile Defense & the Maginot Line"; it includes TA's analogy: deploying an untested system is "like buying condoms labeled 'defective.' "

The robust consideration of historical precedent is in stark contrast to the thin debate of this excellent long post by atsjackson, an infrequent poster whose earlier contribution on nuclearizing Japan was quite well-regarded. Here is his defense of deploying an untested system:

The issue for the US and its allies is how to create a mechanism which will undermine the confidence of an enemy leader in his ability to deliver the nuclear weapon. This is the key to any missile defense system—it may not need to really work; it just needs to raise enough doubts about the ability to deliver a successful attack that the enemy stays his hand.

But the real innovation comes in shifting the grounds of the debate, which atsj does in his concluding graf, where he points out that the alternative to a Potemkin missile defense is most likely pre-emptive strike, a scenario which may cost more and be less certain than going along with the missile defense charade:

Strategic defense options which do not include some form of missile defense will still need to counter the threat of nuclear weapons in the setting of an asymmetric conflict. Most of these strategies lead to more aggressive approaches toward nuclear armed adversaries including pre-emptive attacks. The costs of these defensive strategies need to be considered in any discussion regarding the costs of missile defense systems. …

Holy reelers: Responding to Rob Weintraub's piece  on ESPN's bait & tackle t & a fest Fish On,NoStar points out that "Those Fish On girls must be good Christians. They are Fishers of Men." … 12:45 a.m.