Bush's dubious Dubai guilt-trip.

A mostly political Weblog.
Feb. 24 2006 3:28 PM

Bush Dubious Dubai Guilt-Trip

Are port-sale critics a bunch of bigots?

(Continued from Page 4)

Harmonic convergence of right-wing isssues:  Gay marriage becomes immigration loophole in UK. ... "Immigrants face less rigorous tests if they seek to gain British citizenship through a civil partnership," notes the Sunday Times--though I doubt the additional "consummation" requirement for heteros is rigorously enforced. ... Isn't the problem simply that a gay-union loophole multiplies the number of possibilities for sham marriages (and probably by more than a factor of 2, because it's less of a psychological effort for heteros to room with a same-sex pal for two years than to feign marriage with an opposite-sex pal)? ... [via Lucianne12:23 P.M.

RTN408:   A couple of obvious points in defense of "return to normalcy" as an overarching theme** for Democrats, against criticisms from Roger Simon and his commenters:

To Roger's commenters: RTN can be a statement of strength, not a proposal for retreat to a pre-9/11 mindset. The struggle against Al Qaeda is now up to speed, the argument goes. It can now become--or, rather, we are now strong enough to have it become--one of the normal jobs of government, as standing off against the Communists was for four decades during which Americans managed to pay attention to other issues and lead normal lives that were only occasionally punctured by a sense of crisis (e.g. Cuban missiles).

To Roger: We even elected Democrats during those decades, yet somehow Communism was still contained and then defeated. Even accepting your assertion that Al Qaeda is an enemy that's less "normal" than Russian Bolsheviks, it's not our enemies I'd have the Dems "normalize," but the fight against them (including all sorts of additional eavesdropping, provisions of the Patriot Act, etc., if necessary). Do you plan on keeping the country in a permanent state of forget-all-else crisis until Al Qaeda (and its inevitable imitators) are completely defeated? Then the terrorists will have ...

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Nor do Dems have to use the actual phrase "return to normalcy," of course. Preferably not, in fact. But that's the gist. ... Bonus: The theme is one of the few that might be effective against John McCain, whose highly advertised flaw is that he's a hothead, who will probably have a tumult-inducing domestic reform agenda, and whose less highly advertised flaw may be that he's  "never seen a war he didn't want to start." [v] ... 1:01 A.M. link

Abandoning Democracy--Shibley's Choice: An unsatisfying op-ed by Shibley Telhami  argues that U.S. Middle East policy has a choice to make:

1) Continue to pursue democracy, knowing the elections will be won by Islamists, but expecting that through a policy of "partial engagement and patience" that "their aims once they are in power" can be moderated; or

2) "[R]ethink the policy of accelerated electoral democracy and focus on a more incremental approach of institutional and economic reforms of existing [i.e. non-democratic] governments."

There's no third way, Telhami says--specifically, no hope that elections will bring to power secular reformers anytime soon. ... So far, so good. ... But then it becomes clear Telhami himself favors Choice 2, without giving much of a reason for it. "[E]conomic, educational and judicial development, coupled with a strong human rights policy, have a far greater chance to make a difference," he asserts. Why? When has Mideast "development" ever worked in the past? Haven't we been pursuing "development" in Egypt for decades? Choice 1, as described by Telhami himself, seems quite appealing. In Palestine, as he concedes--and Iraq, as David Ignatius argues--it still might work. There may be reasons it's a bad choice,** but Telhami doesn't bother to give them. ...

P.S.: Why doesn't this statement, made by U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad about the dickering Iraqi factions, reflect the proper, adult, non-bullying/non-enabling attitude that might also be taken with respect to Hamas? 

"They will make their choices. We will make our choices, based on their choices."

**--You could argue, for example (as does my colleague Robert Wright [ search for "meme" ]), that modern info technology will produce democracy anyway, with or without aggressive promotion by the U.S..  That may render Choice #1 unnecessary. But it also complicates choice #2, no? Will pursuing an "incremental" approach ensure that when democracy does come there will be a vibrant civil middle to throw its electoral weight around? Telhami's own skepticism seems to argue against any hope that the mosques will quickly fade into the background. Isn't it just as likely that our support of "existing governments" will guarantee that when democracy comes we're seen as full enemies and not half-allies by the victorious Islamists? [You say that like it's a bad thing not to be everybody's friend-ed. Good point. Yes, my Telhami-like assumption is that it's easier to get elected Islamist governments to moderate if we avoid 100% enmity.] ... 11:04 P.M.