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August 18, 2006


Talladega Nights and George Bush's America
Posted by Michael Signer

So I wasn't sure if a post on Talladega Nights would be timely, but as the movie is number one in America for the second week in a row, how could it be more timely?

You might not think a movie about an erstwhile NASCAR racer, bedeviled by inner demons and subjected to the wiles of a catty trophy wife, insane children, and fickle fans would be connected to foreign policy.

Oh, how wrong you are.

Continue reading "Talladega Nights and George Bush's America" »

August 17, 2006


Two Wars on Terror
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Here's a piece I just published at the American Prospect Online

Five years after September 11, it is possible to take stock of what parts of the battle against terrorism are succeeding and failing, and why. The thwarting of an elaborate terrorist plot against trans-Atlantic flights last week prevented what some maintain could have been a second September 11-style attack. Regardless of what the would-be perpetrators were actually capable of, credit goes to the intelligence, law enforcement and transportation security agencies that uncovered the plan, caught the culprits, and protected the public.

The rest of the picture is bleaker. The announcement that more than 3,400 Iraqi civilians died in unrest in the month of July is a shocking reminder that the world’s most powerful military has, let’s face it, failed in its chief aim of stabilizing Iraq. The Israel Defense Forces’ inability to vanquish Hezbollah in a month-long fight further shows that when in on-the-ground combat, terrorist groups can stand up to the world’s most advanced armies

It’s clear that meticulous intelligence and collaborative criminal enforcement can curb terrorists’ ability to carry out episodic headline-grabbing attacks. But when it comes to uprooting endemic terrorist schemers with roots in unstable societies, at least as a military matter, the task is virtually impossible. The war on terror is happening on two fronts, but headway is being made on only one.

The conclusion is not a surprise. During the last three decades, Israel, despite preventing targeted killings and kidnappings around the globe, never effectively clamped down on the intifada back home. The United States likewise had an easier time defending itself against hijackings and assassinations than it had fighting Viet Cong forces hidden in jungles.

The reasons for the disparity are clear. To succeed in sowing fear, terrorist attacks must be carried out in places and against people who are well-protected and feel safe. Grassroots terrorist activity targets vulnerable populations in already unstable situations. High-profile attacks require perpetrators to risk suicide, capture, or life on the run. Endemic terrorists can melt away anonymously. Whereas splashy international terrorists must plot with utmost secrecy and isolation, domestic terrorists can draw succor from supportive civilian populations.

To read the rest, click here.


Giving up on Iraqi Democracy?
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Knowing what we do about this administration, it shouldn't strike anyone as surprising that Bush and his buddies are giving up on Iraqi democracy. From the New York Times:

“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

It's time for Democrats to go on the offensive. We don't have to defer to this administration and play nice and cute Lieberman-style. Let's say it like it is: the Bush administration is quite possibly the most hypocritical in US history. They trumpet up democracy and America's mission to "end tyranny," but no one is subverting that worthy mission more than they are, not just in Iraq but throughout the Middle East. They have betrayed our ideals by continuing to coddle dictators in Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and just about everywhere else. They also continue to green-light torture with impunity. These issues must be raised by Democratic congressional candidates. Let's make this a campaign issue and take our case to the American people. This administration has lost any national security credentials it might have still had left.

August 15, 2006

Middle East

Policy Tips from the Armageddon Lobby
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Now, as I child I attended a Christian church that left me with quite a nice impression of Jesus and Christianity as a religion. Maybe its because my church worried just as much about the here as the hereafter. With that in mind,  I'd sure like to be at this week's Heritage Foundation event: Conflict with the West: Religious Drivers and Strategies of Jihad  in the hopes of getting some insight on our own homegrown armageddon policy planners. 

The blurb promises that the speakers will look at how:

the use of apocalyptic rhetoric for motivation of followers is not easily distinguished from the real expectations and practical plans of radical leaders

Its no secret that the Bush/Rove team relies on the religious right to elect Republicans. Today's LA Times reports on Evangelicals seeking to sign up a new flock of GOP supporters in states with crucial November races.

I hope the IRS reads the LA Times. But where this election strategy meets policy is where I get really nervous. Two items: the latest Seymour Hersh article on the administration's support of Israel's air campaign against Hezbollah as a demonstration experiment for Iran, plus the news that the Bush White House has met repeatedly to discuss Middle East policy with religious-right leaders.  Specifically, they've met with Christians United for Israel CUFI, whose founder, Richard Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West.

Sarah Posner at alternet has a splendid piece up about this trend.  Where are the guffaws from the majority of liberal American Jews about this clearly one-sided "partnership"? Of course, there will be little room in the rapture-train for them unless they renounce their religion and become fundamentalist Christians on command.  Little room for people like me, too, I imagine, with our warm-fuzzy visions of Jesus and all that peacemaking blah blah.