Monday, July 30, 2007

A War We Just Might Win

In a NYT op-ed, Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack write:
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
They also list a number of remaining problems and hurdles, most importantly the political in-fighting that holds up central reform. Other problems exist as well, including the lack of full U.S. coverage throughout Iraq, allowing Al-Qaeda-Iraq and others enough cracks and crevices to hide in as they continue terrorizing the population.

So the thought occurs to me: Is now the time to go back to NATO and/or the U.N. to ask for more troops? Coalition soldiers and marines are still being targeted and killed, but would this number go up or down if more nations were to commit their forces to helping stabilize Iraq?

Realistically I don't think this can happen. I don't think the Bush administration has enough mojo to convince anyone to put their troops in harm's way. But if it were possible, wouldn't this be a very, very positive thing for Iraq? Consider...

1) The surge is having positive effects, but can only last so long. It's unknown (to me anyway) what will happen when the surge ends. If we could convince other nations to commit new forces, they could replace the U.S. units rotating out from areas like Anbar where the intense fighting has died down but we still need a military presence while stability takes root.

2) Having new nations take an interest in Iraq would help dispel the notion that the U.S. is only interested in empire building.

3) This would be a major boost for morale in Iraq and throughout the region. I believe it would encourage Iraqis who want peace and stability. I also think we'd see even more interaction with local leaders, as described in the op-ed above and elsewhere.

4) This would be a major blow for insurgent morale. They've been taking heavy losses, with little or no immediate gain. Having learned that the surge wasn't going to end, and might even be increased, would I believe convince more than a few local Al-Qaeda and Sadr operatives to give up.

Like I said, I think this is a pipe dream. But I find it so enticing.

Update: Drezner blogs on a Newsweek International article by Gideon Rose, which argues the world is actually doing pretty well in spite of the negative sentiment. Relevant to the above post, Rose wrote:
At this point, having squandered most of his capital and having defined himself so starkly through his initial policies, there is little Bush can do to change anyone's mind about anything. His successor, however, will get a fresh start. And if the next administration can avoid Bush's mistakes, it should find keeping the world on track much easier than most currently expect.
I wonder if he thinks more NATO troops in Iraq would be possible once Bush leaves office.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Requiring websites to present both points of view

According to a Rasumussen poll from July, 34% of respondents answered yes to the question, "Should Gov't Require Websites That Offer Political Commentary To Present Opposing Points of View?" That strikes me as, well, unbelievable. For one, do that many people really believe in restricting free speech like that? More importantly, do that many people believe that such is even possible? They'd have to send out to China for some censorship tips.

I'm flabbergasted by that number. I acknowledge there's plenty of plenty of people in the U.S. that don't understand how web sites work. I further acknowledge there's a number of people who favor "equality" over "freedom". But one third? That seems awfully high to me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Utah Senators Like Them Some Pork

From Porkbusters and the Examiner newspapers, an index of Senate votes on twelve earmark-related bills and amendments. Hatch scored a 42% favorable, Bennett 17%.

The original spreadsheet (listing the individual votes) is here.

(Hat tip Instapundit.)

Steve Kaus on Mickey Kaus

In the course of a diavlog with Bob Wright, Steve Kaus discusses his brother's friendship with Ann Coulter. Which leads to Steve saying this...

"You know Mickey, as difficult as he is, he's not as turned off by right-wing views as you and I are. He doesn't know--like I said, 'Don't you know the good guys from the bad guys, don't you know that Scalia is a bad guy?' and he said 'No.' And so I just think his antenna is set differently from ours."

Then a few seconds later...

"It's true, he takes things seriously that you and I just dismiss as being right-wing nonsense."

I judge Bob Wright and Steve Kaus to be exceptionally intelligent, highly perceptive people. I like reading/hearing their ideas because they almost always lead me to new avenues of thought. But when reading these guys, I tend to hit a wall at some point where I'm just not following their argument. I can re-read and analyze what they've written, but I never completely grok their ideas.

I think the above exchange explains why. I come from a different political perspective than these two men. I imagine they would both dismiss many of my political beliefs as "right-wing nonsense." Since these ideas aren't worth consideration, they get left out of the discussion. Thus leaving a gap between my position and theirs, a gap that I'm left to fill myself. But of course I have to admit that I dismiss many of their views as being left-wing nonsense, so how then to bridge the gap?

This is why I read Mickey Kaus. Not because I agree with him, but because he's willing to step outside the left-liberal-progressive cocoon and take on my ideas directly. And yes, in so doing he actually agrees with some right-wing heresies like "unions are not unequivocally good." Not that this makes him a right-winger, but it does provide just enough of a bridge to allow someone like me to understand and maybe even begin to agree with his left-wing views. Further, having read Kaus for several years now, I begin to even understand the more impenetrable left-wing writers like Krugman, Drum, and even Wright himself. Mickey effectively serves as a Rosetta stone for left-liberal writing.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Healthcare Marketing

Why don't we see more healthcare marketing? Why aren't HMO's advertising more? More importantly, why do they only seem to be targeting old people? If the Republican and Democratic Parties can market themselves to teenagers, why can't the health business?