Two Hail Marys.

A mostly political Weblog.
March 17 2003 5:56 AM

Two Hail Marys

Plus: WaPo wobbles, sort of, maybe.

(Continued from Page 5)

Meanwhile, hawk Kenneth Pollack  is distancing himself from the subtitle of his own book! (The subtitle is "The Case for Invading Iraq.") But Pollack really belongs in a larger category of troubled hawks -- the He's-Botching-It Hawks, who seem to still be in favor of pulling the trigger but are focusing their fire on President Bush's handling of the pro-hawk case. This group includes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter ("He's got a good case but has made a hash out of it") and Time's Joe Klein ("he has been extremely careless").

The criticisms of this second group have some merit but they also have a distasteful distancing quality, as if proponents support the omelette but want to criticize the breaking of the eggs. 1) Along with Andrew Sullivan, I'm deeply skeptical of the idea that a greater slathering of skillful diplomatic etiquette could have suckered the French into supporting a military attack they clearly don't want to support. The only reason we can even conceive of France endorsing the eventual use of force after giving more time to meaningful, beefed-up inspections (the new Marshall and Friedman Plan, which makes sense to me if we can't get a second U.N. resolution) is that President Bush charged ahead, moved 250,000 troops into position and threatened a unilateral attack. 2) Likewise, Alter's right that Bush is unconvincing when he says a war is his "last choice." But then Alter states his own rationale for an attack:

Let's get this straight: Saddam's potential development of nuclear weapons five or 10 years from now constitutes an imminent threat to the United States, but North Korea's possession of them five to 10 weeks from now does not? I personally favor taking out Saddam now so that he's not Kim Jong Il in a few years.

Despite Bush's disingenuous clumsiness and "cowboyspeak," has any American failed to get the impression that this is also Bush's main rationale for an attack? ... P.S.: Which of the two groups of cooling-off hawks does Slate's Fred Kaplan belong in? As far as I can tell, he's somewhere in between the two -- he claims Bush has botched it ("It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign policy crisis") and seems to be conditioning his hawkishness on Bush  showing more finesse and  obtaining a second U.N. resolution. But he hasn't actually shifted to advocacy of delaying an attack (beyond  late March). ... 1:55 A.M.

Sunday, March 9, 2003

Great Moments In Social Equality: Jack Grubman's kids enter public school! (This, according to the N.Y. Post, will be after their rejection by "at least eight exclusive prep schools" ....) Memo to Jeff Zucker: Two words -- 1) sit 2) com. ... 1:20 A.M.

Is Iraq Just a Pit Stop? When even Charles Krauthammer says it's time to negotiate with North Korea, it's probably time to negotiate with North Korea. ...  Krauthammer says he's only for "temporary appeasement," and that "[t]he blandishments should be immediately withdrawn as soon as Iraq is over and we can marshal enough strength in the Northern Pacific." But aren't the North Koreans smart enough to recognize this post-Iraq possibility, and negotiate for a non-temporary deal? Or is Krauthammer arguing we should renege later on whatever it is we agree on now? ...  If Bush thinks a temporary deal is impossible, maybe one unmentionable reason for his hurry to get started with Iraq is that he thinks he needs to finish it up soon in order to shift our soldiers, sailors and pilots to the next war in the North Pacific, before the Koreans churn out a critical mass of plutonium. ... Peter Beinart's  most recent "TRB" column pointed to this possibility, as does the last graf of Michael Barone's latest. ...12:07 A.M.

Friday, March 7, 2003

A conspiracy show-trial for captured Al Qaeda members? In the middle of next year's election? Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball raise this possibility in their highly-reported new weekly Web-only feature. (Worth it for the banner picture alone!) ... But wouldn't a show trial just give the al Qaeda bigwigs a global platform for radical-Islamic, anti-U.S., rhetoric (or, if we silenced them, wouldn't it make us look thuggish)? Isn't this the very reason why, as the Washington Post reports today, some U.S. officials are arguing it would be  better if bin Laden is captured dead rather than alive? The "September show trial" seems like a trial balloon destined to be shot down. ... Update: An alert reader points out that the difference between Osama bin Laden and the already-captured al Qaeda members is that the latter are ... well, already captured. We have to do something with them. We won't have an opportunity to semi-accidentally kill them during an attempted capture. There may be nothing else to do with them except try them. ... But that doesn't mean it has to be a highly-orchestrated "grand Nuremberg-style show trial." ...  1:18 P.M. 

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Some evidence (not conclusive) for the "strong horse" theory of winning Arab hearts and minds. ... 11:38 P.M.

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