More Elections, Please!
Four years is a long time in Iraq.
[Via reader A.H.]11:29 P.M.
The NBC Nightly News netcast (available from this page) is a huge convenience. It's the same show that they broadcast. They better hope it doesn't catch on too rapidly--after all, what if everyone got their news this way? Wouldn't NBC be in trouble? It's not that I wouldn't pay money for their product. But they've been protected by their position as holder of scarce broadcast frequencies. Once the Nightly News is just another Webcast, competition will be fierce--barriers to entry in the Webcasting business, it seems, are close to zero. There will be 50 or 500 competing Webcasts, not two. Advantage: Pajamas! I suppose I'm the last guy to have figured this out. ... P.S.: Does this mean Katie Couric's salary will go down or up? Someone who can increase market share in a competitive industry, after all, might be all the more precious. ... 8:24 P.M.
The only way in which these elections may lead to a US withdrawal is that they will ensconce parliamentarians who want the US out on a short timetable. Virtually all the Sunnis who come in will push for that result (which is why the US Right is silly to be all agog about Fallujans voting), and so with the members of the Sadr Movement, now a key component of the Shiite religious United Iraqi Alliance. That is, these elections lead to a US withdrawal on terms unfavorable to the Bush administration. Nor is there much hope that a parliament that kicked the US out could turn around and restore order in the country. [Emph. added]
Er, isn't that one reason why they might not kick us out on a short timetable? Isn't it even a reason for hoping that they'll, say, balance their desire to kick us out with their desire to maintain order! Why does Cole assume that Iraqi parliamentarians are irrational? 5:09 P.M.
Iraqi democracy must have matured if voters are already worrying about "flip-flops." ... That's from much-maligned Pajamas Media's multi-blogger coverage of Iraq, which seems like a success. (But--graphically, at least--it's more fun to read Iraq the Model on his own site! Why take individualistic, colorful bloggers and plug them into a standard format?) ... Factors operating against PJ Media: There may not be as many days as inspiring as this one. And the MSM isn't standing still. John Burns' interactive report from Iraq [available from the NYT home page ] is the best thing I've seen on the Web today. It's highly informative (i.e. about Ambassador Khalilzad's preferences in a government) and if you can get through it without tearing up you're tougher than I am. ....
Less sentimentally: In a BHTV "Afterthought," Robert Wright admits that "conceivably" the Iraq War has "hastened the trend toward pluralism and, ultimately, toward democracy" in the Middle East, but he adds:
I don't see any way it could hasten the trend enough to compensate for all the blowback it's generated, blowback that will be coming home to roost for years if not decades.
That's a sophisticated, post-12/14 case against the war. I suspect Wright is right--but we don't know, do we? We don't know how fast the revolutionary info technologies that Wright says were bringing democracy anyway would have worked on regimes like Saddam's and Mubarak's. We might have been waiting a long time, enduring a status quo that wasn't exactly not generating well-funded anti-American terrorists (a status quo that democracy offers one hope of ending). We also don't know how long the anti-American blowback from Iraq will last, and whether it will be in any meaningful sense negated by a pro-American blowback. The bad blowback might well be shorter-lived than Wright expects, thanks to the faster opinion cycle generated those very information technologies he touts. Even Wright says it might only last "years." ... The important thing now, I think, is to be of two minds: Punish Bush for his miscalculations in one part of our minds, but not let that desire for accountability--i.e., the palpable urge to see him humiliated among Democrats and even some anti-war Republican Scowcroftians--prevent us (by prompting a premature troop withdrawal) from making the democracy vs. blowback calculus work as favorably as possible. ... 4:00 P.M. link
"Brokeback" Still Breaking: If homosexuality is in the genes, is aversion to homosexuality in the genes? The problem with argument-by-videoblog would seem to be its tedious inefficiency compared with swift and precise communication by typed text. But video also has advantages--for one, it can force you to go places you don't want to go (and are able to avoid in the solitary dictatorship of a blog). Here's one of those places! ** ... P.S.: I'd also claim (contra CNN's Jon Klein) that two people yelling at each other can clarify agreement and disagreement more efficiently than two people writing and linking to (and then waiting for a response from) each other. ... Bonus: In this episode, the Pinch Sulzberger Moose finds work! ... P.P.S.: Lucky neither Bob Wright nor myself lives in the U.K. According to Mark Steyn, one of us--I'm not sure which one--might get a call from police enforcing the Anti-Social Behaviour Order. ...
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.