TRB: The Good Fight
December 20, 2004
Last week, I wrote a cover story in The New Republic arguing that the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism should define contemporary liberalism, as the struggle against Soviet totalitarianism defined liberalism during the early cold war ("A Fighting Faith," December 13). This week, I waded through responses--some supportive, some critical, some both. The most surprising came from Kevin Drum, who writes the blog Political Animal at washingtonmonthly.com.
A Fighting Faith
December 13, 2004
On January 4, 1947, 130 men and women met at Washington's Willard Hotel to save American liberalism. A few months earlier, in articles in The New Republic and elsewhere, the columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop had warned that "the liberal movement is now engaged in sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Liberals, they argued, "consistently avoided the great political reality of the present: the Soviet challenge to the West." Unless that changed, "In the spasm of terror which will seize this country ...
July 28, 2004
JOHN ASHCROFT, RIGHT ON TIME … BILL FRIST: NO BUDGET? THAT'S FINE? AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY … “Conservatives can still learn from his example." "He made us face up to present dangers." "He was the father of the new space age." "We are living in his world." "His leadership of the coalition made the difference." "He led an intellectual revolution, too." "He made principles easily accessible." "He linked economic growth with strength overseas." "He would have been the right man at any time." --A sampling of article teasers from National Review Online's remembrance of Ronald Reagan.
Were We Wrong?
June 28, 2004
This magazine supported the Iraq war for two reasons, one primarily strategic, one primarily moral. The strategic reason was simple: We considered war the only way to ensure that Saddam Hussein never acquired a nuclear weapon. The Bush administration spoke about "weapons of mass destruction"--lumping biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons together and making the former appear more menacing by their association with the latter. But we believed biological weapons constituted a threat only if transferred to Al Qaeda—a scenario for which there was no evidence.
June 28, 2004
ONE: We have learned that Saddam Hussein's Baathist dictatorship was just as bad as everyone said, and worse. We have learned about the 300,000 Shia killed after the 1991 war, the perhaps 30,000 people buried in a single grave, the 40,000 marsh Arabs killed, the millions of refugees, and so forth--mass destruction with and without weapons of mass destruction. We have learned about the survivors. In Baghdad, a woman schoolteacher approached George Packer of The New Yorker and said, "Please, sir, can you help me? ...
Key to Success
June 07, 2004
In March 2003, Americans thrilled to televised scenes of U.S. forces moving into Iraq. Well-spoken soldiers, modern equipment, and embedded reporters suggested a sense of purpose, competence, and courage that resonated across the country. But today, 14 months later, the mission is in shambles, scarred by rising Iraqi popular discontent, continued attacks against U.S. forces, infiltration of foreign fighters, mounting civil strife, and no credible sense of direction. Despite President George W. Bush's calls for staying the course, American public opinion has clearly turned against the mission.
May 03, 2004
LAST WEEK, THE BIG NEWS from the 9/11 Commission was the disastrous counterterrorism performance of both the CIA and FBI over many years. (With Bob Woodward’s description of CIA Director George Tenet’s declaration to a skeptical George W. Bush in late 2002 that the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction [WMD] was a “slam dunk,” Tenet now has the dubious distinction of having utterly failed on the two most important intelligence-related issues of our time.
TRB From Washington: Enemy Within
May 03, 2004
REPUBLICANS SAY THEY ARE dismayed by the partisanship of the 9/11 Commission and, if you define partisanship as criticism of the Bush administration--the working definition on much of the right--they are exactly right. But, if you define partisanship the way it's traditionally understood--as placing party interests above national ones--then the 9/11 Commission hasn't been very partisan at all. And that's what really irks the GOP: They're dismayed that the 9/11 Commission isn't partisan enough.
March 01, 2004
How Saudi Arabia and Yemen's fraught relationship threatens us all.
Kant at Ground Zero
February 09, 2004
Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida Edited by Giovanna Borradori (University of Chicago Press, 208 pp., $25) I. Was philosophy prepared for the events of September 11? To judge by all available evidence, the answer must be a resounding “no.” For some time now, contemporary philosophy has viewed “worldliness”—the perfectly natural idea that thought should take a healthy and constructive interest in worldly affairs—as a source of contamination. Analytic philosophy’s triumph in the decades following World War II meant that henceforth philosophy would