Martyrology 101—an elective course

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Aug. 14 2006 3:15 AM

Martyrology 101

It's an elective course.

(Continued from Page 3)

Chauncy agrees that this election was about more than one issue, including Lieberman's "view toward privatizing social security, supporting corporate interests, and allowing Supreme Court nominees to remain filibuster free." That said, "I also feel that too much credit is being given to the bloggers. In my neighborhood, I don't know of too many people that keep up with the blogs. Rightwing talk radio, yes, blogs no. The blogs still seem to be wonky and insulated to me. Yes they affect discourse, but so do the MSM and radio."

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Lamont's candidacy reaks of opportunism more than idealism, from mallardsballad's standpoint:

It doesn't take million dollar consultants to figure out that a very blue state with an established but aloof senator makes an opportune target for those that have the money, a sense of adventure and greedy ambition…

Could it possibly be that the tasty yet empty issue of war be a line used to feed Lamont's own rich boy ambition of being a senator?

…the Senate seat is just a stepping stone for personal ambitions and the issue of war is a big hallow plank used as a convenient shortcut to get through the muddy political bog and to that Senate stepping stone.

The Big Idea Fray is an embarrassment of riches at the moment, generating more intelligent debate than can be summarized in this column. For all of Weisberg's detractors here, it's worth noting that his interpretation of Lieberman's defeat is echoed by Jonah Goldberg's Los Angeles Times op-ed and Thomas B. Edsall's article in The New Republic. AC 4:50pm PDT

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Friday, August 4, 2006

Jacob Weisberg's analysis of why sanctions don't work prompted this response from Derek Tonkin, former British ambassador to Thailand (1983-86), essentially affirming Weisberg's view of the situation in Burma:

Sanctions have only made the situation worse, entrenched the military regime in power, and delayed the deliverance of the Burmese people from their misfortunes. Yet you have Senator Mitch McConnell assuring the Senate on 26 July 2006 when supporting the renewal for another three years of the sanctions contained in the "Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act 2003" that: "The Burmese people want these sanctions because they want democracy, justice and freedom, and we stand with them." Although it is true that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whom I met in December 1999, has for her own reasons supported sanctions, I have met no-one during my visits to Burma who thought that sanctions were helping them achieve freedom, and I can only marvel at the Senator's assertion which is not supported by any empirical or anecdotal evidence, naturally in the absence of any opinion polls.

Artlessdodger assesses the effectiveness of the Cuban model:

The first problem with using Cuba as a model for the failure of sanctions is that for most of the period we've had sanctions against Castro's regime, they've had an outside benefactors to take our place, first the Soviet Union for almost 30 years, then Chavez whose support in recent years has allowed Castro to move away from market reforms tentatively put in place in the 90s. North Korea is also dependent on outside help from China. Zimbabwe lacks substantial outside aid, and Mugabe's regime is clearly the more vulnerable than Cuba, or North Korea. Though aside from his delusions, Mugabe actually doesn't have foreign enemies deadset on seeing him overthrown either.

I suspect the real reason for Castro's success, aside from his genuinely impressive healthcare system, is geography, that so many would be dissidents simply leave the island. IT really is difficult to foment a coup when access to the island is so limited. Besides, since the 60s Cuba has been seen as more of an annoyance than a threat, so the goal of overthrowing Cuba hasn't been a high priority since then. The sanctions have been fairly effective in discouraging the Cuban model. They've contributed to the impoverishment of the island. The sanctions show other governments, and other people in Latin America, the heavy cost of choosing an adverserial with the United States. That's part of why communism never really caught on in the Western hemisphere.

the_slasher14 notes that, in terms of its social makeup, Iran lacks the "racial divide" that made South Africa so internally resistant to reform. Furthermore, "once it becomes obvious that the mullahs are presiding over a system where the standard of living is going to drop sharply as long as they're around, it is unlikely Iranians will spend a generation dithering over what to do." legas is more skeptical, given Iran's possession of "a highly fungable resource" in the midst of a world energy crisis.

For certainly, there is stability in hypocrisy, with ineffective boycotts benefiting both sides politically in favor of the status quo: