Technology

Nonplussed

by Geoffrey Nunberg Now it's a "plus-up" in Iraq. Over recent weeks, the term has been popping up in stories in The Atlantic and Time and on Fox News and CNN, as well as in remarks by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Tony Snow: Our local commander believes that a couple additional U.S. battalions, basically a plus-up -- net plus-up of about 4,000 would enhance our ability to help the Iraqi forces there exploit the opportunity. Granted, "plus up" is a long ways from driving surge to the sidelines. But it's clearly a comer.

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More On Iran

I'm hesitant to get into a full-blown debate about Iran and Israel because I don't want to preempt Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren, whose upcoming piece addresses the subject thoughtfully and in great detail. Unlike me, Yossi and Michael actually know what they're talking about. So I'll leave the big questions to them. But I do want to make a few narrow points. Brad, you note that Khamenei has issued a fatwa against developing nuclear weapons. But just about every reputable observer--left, right, dove, hawk, American, Israeli, European--believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

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A Leading Senator?

Upon reading in Saturday's Times a front page article, by Mark Mazzetti and headlined "Leading Senator Assails President Over Iran Stance," I rushed to the website of Senator John (Jay) D. Rockefeller IV to see what accomplishments of his I hadn't known of that made him a truly "leading" senator. Now that I have looked, I still haven't a clue. He's "worked hard" and "fought" (even "tirelessly") and "co-sponsored" and "consistently supported" and "been instrumental" for all kinds of white bread liberal legislation which, generally, are to my liking.

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Surprise, Clinton's In

Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Saturday that she was beginning a "conversation" with the American electorate. But her actual announcement was as far from a conversation as anyone can imagine. Or, as Susan Milligan reported in the Boston Globe on Sunday, it came "in an Internet video statement" without reporters or citizen questioners. OK, a conversation this campaign won't be.

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Brad, you note below that Ahmadinejad's power is waning and the country's supreme leader Ali Khamenei appears to be reasserting control over foreign policy. You take this development as evidence that "Iran is much like any other country, with its own concerns and political disputes, not just single-mindedly obsessed with the destruction of Israel and the West." But for that to be right, you would have to show that Khamenei is significantly less committed to Israel's destruction than Ahmadinejad. And that isn't true.

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by Eric Rauchway Jane Galt says you can't just get the ball in the pocket, you have to call your shot. Which is to say: I was wrong to impute excessive competence to the government.... This has not convinced me of the brilliance of the doves, because precisely none of the ones that I argued with predicted that things would go wrong in the way they did. If you get the right result, with the wrong mechanism, do you get credit for being right, or being lucky? In some way, they got it just as wrong as I did: nothing that they predicted came to pass. I don't know which anti-war voice Ms.

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The Mystique Of Air Power

The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Dan Halutz, the ramatkal, has resigned in advance of the report of the special commission studying why the Lebanon war ended so ... well, let's be generous ... ambiguously. Doubtless, other heads will fall. This is a time of testing for the IDF, and a time of clarification. The brass in the Israeli military had become haughty, leaving the mid-level officer class resentful and justifiably so. In any case, this Spine is not about developments in Israel.

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Crying Wolfowitz

The United States helped found the World Bank in 1945. It was designed initially to aid in postwar reconstruction, but it has developed a focus on alleviating extreme poverty and encouraging development in the world's poorest countries. American officials did not conceive of the bank as a vehicle for carrying out a particular administration's foreign policy objectives. When Robert Macnamara left the Pentagon to become World Bank president in 1968, for instance, he did not use his tenure to advance the American war effort in Vietnam.

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A brief, off-topic post for DC-area residents: This morning I suffered what I imagine is a widespread annoyance. Driving into work, I was hectored by a large public-safety ad that jeered, "Hey Slick, email the office later.

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"We need to cut through the confusion. Bringing security to Baghdad--the essential precondition for political compromise, national reconciliation and economic development--is possible only with a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so.

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