Sentence of the Day
September 02, 2009

WaPo: The report said supervisors held near-weekly parties in which they urinated on themselves and others, drank vodka poured off each other's exposed buttocks, fondled and kissed one another and gallivanted around virtually nude. "Virtually" nude, mind you. They had to maintain some dignity, after all!

Gadhafi's Bed and Breakfast
September 01, 2009

He apparently doesn't stay in hotels. When he travels, he brings his Bedouin tent with him. In Paris two years ago, his minions set up his big wigwam outside the Hôtel Marigny. If he ever goes to London, where there are many government ministers and bankers eager to meet him, perhaps they could arrange for his portable lodgings to be put up on the lawns of Buckingham Palace. The immediate challenge is for him to find a place to stay in New York during the annual meeting of the U.N.

The New York Times as a Family Paper: The Gadhafi Family, That Is
September 01, 2009

Everything about the Gadhafi family is news. Everything except, of course, the 40-year chronicle of what they have done to Libya and to its people. No one looks and no one cares. Moammar is an utterly deranged man with brutal instincts that he directs and redirects as his distemper decides. He holds no public office and is, therefore, under no one's supervision--and no writ or oath either. But he has been named "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution." Quite a revolution.

Deterred From Logic on Nukes
September 01, 2009

In the latest issue of Newsweek, Jonathan Tepperman has a very confused piece arguing that nuclear disarmament is a bad idea because “[t]he bomb may actually make us safer.” Taking a stand against Washington’s allegedly overwhelming “nuclear phobia,” he writes, “Knowing the truth about nukes would have a profound impact on government policy.” I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone suggest that they know “the truth” about nuclear weapons, but I’m quite certain that Tepperman hasn’t found it. The thrust of the article is that nuclear-armed states won’t fight each other because “all states are rati

Do We Have a "Moral Obligation" in Afghanistan?
September 01, 2009

Into the murky stew of rationales for fighting on in Afghanistan,  Joe Klein throws this ingredient: we have a moral obligation to the Afghan people, just as we had to the Iraqis when we stomped in there and destroyed the most basic institutions of civil society Really? America was attacked by people who were given safe harbor by Afghanistan's government. Our retaliation was well within the bounds of international conduct, as opposed to George W. Bush's extremely debatable war of choice in Iraq. It also did not involve the vast infrastructural damage that we inflicted on Iraq.

How Not to Wage a Counterinsurgency, USSR Edition
September 01, 2009

The Soviet defeat in Afghanistan is often cited as evidence that major powers simply can't tame that miserable country. But Gregory Feifer's The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan actually offers some cause for hope about America's prospects there. We are now conducting a military operation  completely different from the Red Army's stupidly brutal approach. Athough U.S.

A Letter From a Swedish Friend On the Blood Libel
September 01, 2009

“Well, it is blood libel isn't it? Of the most horrendous sort. It is also odd. Aftonbladet is a tabloid owned by the Social Democrats (I can't quite remember how, via a union perhaps, or trust). They have usually been quite pro-Israel. And traditionally in Sweden, while there was a huge degree of racialist nonsense in the interwar period, it was not directed towards the (800-odd) Jews. I know because I read the literature for an academic article I wrote.

If It's Good Enough for Iraq...
September 01, 2009

When Barack Obama pledged to leave Iraq during the 2008 campaign, he took care to address concerns that al Qaeda would set up shop there after the Americans left. For instance: In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months.

New Hope for Japan: Why I Think It Could Finally Start Acting Like a Real Democracy
August 31, 2009

John B. Judis has brought in a very interesting piece on the Japanese elections by Karel van Wolferen. Here is John’s description of van Wolferen: He is the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power, considered a classic on the exercise of power in Japan, and its history. Van Wolferen was the first author to point out that Japan lacked a center of political accountability, and that many of its problems must be seen in that light. He was initially reviled when the book appeared in 1989, but his analysis is now widely accepted in Japan.

Annals of Outreach
August 31, 2009

Obama will host a state dinner celebrating Ramadan tomorrow night, according to the White House. Update: It turns out George W. Bush did this for years, although no one seems to have paid much attention.