Wednesday, March 1

Tom this morning

Up early. That may account for some of the (positive) visceral reactions I had to reading Tom's latest posts.
+ One great way to turn this Dubai flap into some good would be to FINALLY improve our container security. It's assinine to strip-search grammas when containers come and go basically ununspected.
+ Letting things like (basically) slave labor go on in North Korea is unconscionable. Of course, it has to get in line with Sudan and other such situations the developed world has not been willing to intervene in.
  • we're not stuck in the old status quo, supporting authoritarian regimes
  • we've cracked the nut on elections and now Hamas et al. will have to answer to their constituencies and get re-elected
  • some of the outcomes will be bad, and we'll have to encourage future iterations (versions, if you will, eg Democracy 0.2) but we've helped foster change that has every chance of being good
  • you know I'm no Bush-lover, which makes the following quote more credible (coming from me):
    • 'In five years, [the Bush Administration] has brought four democratic governments to power in the Middle East: by force of arms in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through highly assertive diplomacy in Lebanon and Palestine.'
  • the Greatest Generation died in incredible numbers in WW2 to fight for freedom. Though many don't agree (it's not as obvious), we have a challenge to make the world better before us that is worth sacrifice (we're nowhere near their numbers). You can cast Afghanistan and Iraq in a negative light. However, it's also possible to see really good developments there and in the Long War.
  • a weak federal or tri-partite Iraq is not a big loss
  • much of the violence in Iraq is payback for Sunni oppression of Shia over the years and Sunnis trying to hold onto their once-enjoyed dominance
    • 'But so long as Iraq doesn't slip into outright civil war (always a possibility and yet, a muddling-through scenario of not-quite-right-civil-war-but-never-quite-the-dreamed-of-ceasefire won't be that bad either, so long as U.S. troops get to continue their withdrawal behind the wire and let the Shiite militias increasingly engage in the inevitable squelching of the Sunni-based insurgency that seeks it's survival through civil war), it's continuing source of Big Bang pressure on the rest of the region will serve a lot of good purposes. And to the extent that civil war is threatened, again, autocrats are more deeply incentivized toward change, lest their own populations catch similar fevers.'
  • we can survive an atomic Iran (but can the House of Saud?)
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