Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE GOOD OLD DAYS....Niall Ferguson writes that he thinks the good old days of the Cold War look pretty good compared to today's complex and multipolar world:

What makes me nostalgic is that Soviet wickedness made politics so much simpler in my youth. All you had to do was to go to the Eastern Bloc to see what a real military-industrial complex looked like and to feel for yourself what the absence of freedom really meant.

....The other key difference between the Cold War era and the present is, of course, the role of Islamic fundamentalism on the global stage. With the benefit of hindsight, 1989 was not the decisive turning point of the late 20th century. That came 10 years earlier, in 1979 the year of the Iranian Revolution. And militant Islamism is now as big a headache for Russia as it is for Western Europe.

Ferguson carefully notes that he's kidding sort of but I've read this kind of thing too often not to believe that he means it. An awful lot of people who should know better make the mistake of believing that the past was simple just because we now know how things turned out. But we didn't at the time. The Depression, World War II, "losing" China, Stalin getting the bomb, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the counterculture revolution of the 60s, Watergate, stagflation and the twin oil shocks, the Iranian hostages, Afghanistan at the time, all those things seemed plenty dangerous and disorienting. A historian like Ferguson should know better than to pretend otherwise, even in a casual op-ed.

There was another thing that struck me about his op-ed too. I realize that you can't make every single relevant point in an 800-word column, but in a piece comparing the Cold War era to the world of today, surely it's at least worth noting that the modern geopolitical makeup of the Middle East is almost entirely a result of Cold War geopolitics of the 50s and 60s? Ferguson is right that militant Islamism is equally a problem for both Russia and the West, and there's a reason for that. It's because Russia and the West treated the Middle East as a proxy in their ideological war for decades, and the Iranian revolution was largely a reaction to that. It's a cliche, but we really are reaping what we've sown. Today's hawks might want to keep that in mind.

Kevin Drum 12:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Comments

Thanks Kevin, now you got the world's most obnoxious Billy Joel song stuck in my head.

"We didn't start the fire / it was always burnin' since the world's been turnin'"

Think twice before you crack off another laundry-list litany of postwar world events, k?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 30, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The columns in LA Times have become so bad that I, a faithful reader for over 35 years, am seriously thinking of canceling the subscription. On the right they have uber neocon Max Boot, the pseudo-intellectual Ferguson, and the loony Jonah Lucianne. On the other side, except for Rosa Brooks, all are lightweights who specializing in mush, can't even write an infuriating column.

Posted by: lib on January 30, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Ferguson is right that militant Islamism is equally a problem for both Russia and the West, and there's a reason for that. It's because Russia and the West treated the Middle East as a proxy in their ideological war for decades, and the Iranian revolution was largely a reaction to that."

Indeed. And if we could just get ourselves a secretary of state who's an expert on the Cold War Soviet Union, perhaps WH policy would show some sign of understanding this. Oh, wait...

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's a cliche, but we really are reaping what we've sown.

More Blame America First attitude from Kevin Drum and the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party. But we already knew that.

Posted by: Al on January 30, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ferguson's musings are hardly new. This was the caution in the early '90 right after the fall of the Berlin Wall and break-up of the Soviet Union. Though unoriginal, it may be the only sensible thing Ferguson's ever written.

Posted by: Jeff II on January 30, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Watergate was more horrifying than Osama. It cost us our innocence, our belief that the institutions of our government were permanent and that no one man could destroy them, our belief that no one we elected president would want to destroy America. And now we have another of those guys, who can't catch Osama, who is really frightening only as the man who gave us concrete evidence that our supposed strengths are weaknesses.

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 30, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised Ferguson didn't say how much simpler things were back during WWII too. Perhaps that's because even Ferguson would be embarassed by making such a claim, given British history.

Posted by: David W. on January 30, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II:

Well c'mon -- Ferguson's the guy who cornered the market on nostalgia for the everso enlightened British Empire ...

You know, reading of his shuddery passage into East Berlin only made me think of Dagmar Krause and the East German avant-garde arts movement.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 30, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

surely it's at least worth noting that the modern geopolitical makeup of the Middle East is almost entirely a result of Cold War geopolitics of the 50s and 60s?

More accurately the result of WWI, the collapse of European Imperial control and the dividing the MidEast into spheres of influence.

Posted by: Martin on January 30, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmph. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. I lived through the end of the Cold War. T'was an existential threat, very unlike the current situation.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett on January 30, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Apart from Bin Laden and the Jihadis being original assets of the CIA in Afghanistan, and the US being allied with Saddam, what wasn't to like about those days?

Oh yeah, the ten thousand ICBMs pointed at American cities.

Being nostalgic for the Cold War is like being nostalgic for the revolver you used to play russian roulette with.

Posted by: Terrance Henry Stoot on January 30, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ace, Watergate sure did suck, but Osama leads an organization that has killed thousands of innocent people around the world. Those are real lives and real destroyed families. That's a bit more serious than the loss of innocence and faith in our government, don't you think?

Posted by: Dan-O on January 30, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes I fall for the Cold War nostalgia, but if a country like the U.S. can't keep it together unless there is some evil nation realisticly threatening to obliterate us, that doesn't speak well for the human condition.

Posted by: Frank J. on January 30, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

We did what we had to do then, we do what we have to do now. It is fatuous to claim that because we are doing differently now that we were wrong before, or vice versa.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on January 30, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Walter E Wallis,

I'm drunk! [Hic!]

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

And if we could just get ourselves a secretary of state who's an expert on the Cold War Soviet Union, perhaps WH policy would show some sign of understanding this.

Somewhere, that poor woman just stumbled in her thigh-high dominatrix boots and fell on her ass.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Ace, we talk about the loss of innocence from Watergate, but that is a relativeley recent thing, only starting in the '50s or so. Our country was founded on the idea that no government run by man can be totally trusted and required constant oversight.

Posted by: clyde on January 30, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dan-O, no doubt he's a bad guy, but the question wasn't who is the worst person of the last 50 years, was it?

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 30, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Life was much simpler when you could go to the old Soviet bloc to witness the absence of freedom.

It's much more complex when we see the erosion of freedom here in the U.S.

I think that's what Ferguson is trying to say.

Posted by: JJF on January 30, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt, somehow, that the Eastern Europeans or many residents of the former Soviet republics share Ferguson's dewy nostalgie for the halcyon days of Commmunist domination.....

Posted by: Stefan on January 30, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Dan-O: Ace, Watergate sure did suck, but Osama leads an organization that has killed thousands of innocent people around the world. Those are real lives and real destroyed families. That's a bit more serious than the loss of innocence and faith in our government, don't you think?

Only if you believe a corrupt government cannot be responsible for the loss of thousands upon thousands more innocent lives.

PR: Somewhere, that poor woman just stumbled in her thigh-high dominatrix boots and fell on her ass.

Quit criticizing my outfit and lack of grace, and stay with the point of my post.

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever someone attempts to get some historical perspective on why the Moslem world is unhappy with the West, some jackass ('cough'Al, cough*) will say
"you hate America", without giving any proof of such an assertion. I hate some things Americans and the American Government have done, and, because I love my county, wish to understand them and the threat we face. Someone, in a parallel with the War on Terror and the War on Cancer, said is was as if trying to understand the genetic basis of cancer was condenmed as 'hating Health'...

Posted by: Mr. Bill on January 30, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Quit criticizing my outfit and lack of grace, and stay with the point of my post.

Your post shook the foundations of the city, and the truth of it hit home and caused poor Condi Rice to land on her butt.

It was a clean, beautiful shot and I was paying you homage.

The fact that she is the self-styled expert on all things Soviet and we have yet to get the Russians to do a single solitary thing to back us up in this world speaks volumes. You hit that point magnificently.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

I was just making a (weak) joke, PR.

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

About the outfit, I mean. Sheesh! I need coffee and less stress!

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

if a country like the U.S. can't keep it together unless there is some evil nation realisticly threatening to obliterate us, that doesn't speak well for the human condition.

The difference, FrankJ, is that the USSR really could have obliterated the US in an orgy of mutually assured destruction. al Qaeda, however it much like to, has no such power at all. And, of course, Iraq was thoroughly contained and deterred, and it never approached the existential threat that the USSR did.

It doesn't speak well for the Republicans that they apparently can't keeping it together without blowing threats to the US out of all proportion. Like many Bush critics, I note that Bush himself has done more to damage the US polity than anything al Qaeda could hope to do.

Somewhere, Sun Tzu is laughing at Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. Unfortunately, the joke is really on us.

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

a soupcon of good news:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/34383c3cc7455699c1c1a69b0aa152b2.htm

As planned, 20,000 American troops have returned home since the Iraq election.

In the Cold War era, the US tried to counter the influence of dictatorships by making friends with better dictators. Now, Bush is trying in the mideast to support the creation of democracies. Some of the "better" dictatorships of the Cold War became reasonable democracies. The outcome of this democratising project isn't known, but the course is certain to be uncertain (full of unknown unknowns in the wise words of the SecDef.)

Meanwhile, it isn't clear whether Bush's Democratic opponents are forceful advocates for more democritization, forceful advocates for less democritization, or confused bystanders hoping for democritization to fail so that they can get elected more easily.

Posted by: contentious on January 30, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm wrong, here, but it seems to me like the Russian street was a lot less anti-American and anti-European than the Arab Street.

I don't know how you'd put your finger on such a thing, but I do feel like Mideast leaders are getting a lot more mileage out of the "blame America" rhetoric than the USSR did (at least at the end, which is all I really know). It's not that everyone thinks everything is the Americans' fault, it's that more people think a bigger component of things are due to American influence.

I dunno, maybe part of this street appeal is the racism/religious chauvinism component. Your average Russian probably believed the Americans and Europeans would let him join socierty. Your average Muslim does not. That belief makes it much easier to demonize another nation in the eyes of your people.

Posted by: theorajones on January 30, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's last paragraph is perhaps in the top ten of all paragraphs he's written on this topic. Why?

Well, it combines the fact that it is a truthful insight with the fact that it was an insight that (i) one would expect from an expert in foreign policy (oh, wait, Kevin Drum's just a blogger, I meant, say, the U.S. State Department, whether Rep. or Dem) and (ii) its an insight completely ignored in the MSM.

The fact is that although we certainly begain disintangling ourselves from meddling in the affiars of proxy states post 1989, we certainly are not finished, and were not finished as of 2001.

In the context of a struggle with the Soviet Union, during which we did not know, of course, the outcome, there were plenty of decisions which now, in hindsight, we would not do again. However, by 2001, we had the benefit of hindsight.

We knew, almost exactly, the extent of our popularity among the various middle eastern countries. We knew why and to what extent we had intervened in the politics of those countries. We knew that stand-offs with the former Soviet Union were of a completely different nature than current negotiations with, say, China, one of our largest trading partners.

Yet, as best I can tell, none of this was taken into account in forming post 2001 policy.

Oh wait, my bad, it was taken into account. Anyone who mentioned it was labled a traitor.

Posted by: hank on January 30, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

All you had to do was to go to the Eastern Bloc to see what a real military-industrial complex looked like and to feel for yourself what the absence of freedom really meant.

it's not only that colonialism in the middle east helped create the conditions for what's going on today. also, colonialism itself skews ferguson's smiley-face understanding of cold war simplicity. when he says,

All you had to do was to go to the Eastern Bloc to see what a real military-industrial complex looked like and to feel for yourself what the absence of freedom really meant.

he forgets to mention the military dictatorships the u.s. installed throughout latin america. the list is long...

Posted by: dan on January 30, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I was just making a (weak) joke, PR.
About the outfit, I mean. Sheesh! I need coffee and less stress!

Are you wearing dominatrix boots today? In Chicago? Isn't that, like, illegal or something? Wouldn't it be more practical to wear corduroys and duck boots with a scarf and nice mittens?

If you put your hand size up on the blog, I can knit you a pair of mittens to go with your dominatrix boots.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Today's hawks are counting on it; they desire the ennobling and purifying spirit of war, much as decadent Europeans did prior to the two World Wars.

Posted by: matt on January 30, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

While I understand the yearning for the "simpler" time of the Cold War where it was simple to know who the enemy was and where they were and what they would do as opposed to this so called war on terror, I have to say I find it tiresome. Every time I see someone pining for the days of the Cold War I shake my head, these people seem to forget just how close we were on a daily basis to turning the entire planet into a burnt cinder. As I have noted previously I grew up in the latter half of the Cold War in a known first strike target. It was a constant shadow over the lives of everyone, but unlike what happened after 9/11/01 we did not let that fear paralyze us or cause us to surrender civil rights willy-nilly as has happened in post 9/11/01 America. For a lesser threat Americans have surrendered far more in the name of security of their rights, and that I find puzzling and more than a little disturbing.

The Cold War was in some ways simpler because it really was a binary situation, the world was effectively in one of two camps in opposition to each other. There is a powerful pull towards such easy understanding as compared to the more complex and multifaceted world that exists today. The thing though that keeps being forgotten is that it was the threat of global annihilation that polarized the world like this in the first place, and that it was on a hair trigger that (miraculously IMHO) did not go off despite a few close calls. I do not miss that period, and I find the current situation far less threatening than I did in the Cold War. In the CW an incident halfway around the world could have triggered a global thermonuclear war from which there would be no escape. Somehow I doubt that the "terrorists" out there will be able to replicate that degree of threat for some time if ever.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

I better not let my wife read those comments of yours, else she might start getting some ideas...:)

Nice seeing you again btw, sorry about the absence. I'll probaby be around a bit more again now.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: I doubt, somehow, that the Eastern Europeans or many residents of the former Soviet republics share Ferguson's dewy nostalgie for the halcyon days of Commmunist domination.....

Actually, lots of them do. Just like there are lots of Iraqi Sunnis who preferred life under Saddam. Don't underestimate the power of brainwashing and the cult of personality. Not to mention those who enrich themselves on the backs of others.

And speaking of just those things:
contentious: As planned, 20,000 American troops have returned home since the Iraq election.

Oh, that's great. Hell, that's like getting back $20 from the guy who just mugged me. And having him call it "good news".

Oh, and contentious: it's "democratization", and the answer to your inane statement is "none of the above". Go apply your propagandistic framing elsewhere.

Posted by: S Ra on January 30, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Terrance Henry Stoot: Oh yeah, the ten thousand ICBMs pointed at American cities. Being nostalgic for the Cold War is like being nostalgic for the revolver you used to play russian roulette with.

So now the USA and Russia have only about three thousand ICBMs, pointed at each other's cities.

I feel so much better.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 30, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Way back Brad Delong deconstructed Martin Feldstein praise for Bush's Social Security plan. He pointed out that although 99% of Feldsteins readers would believe that Bushs plan involved no increase in Social Security taxes, no cut in expected Social Security benefits, and voluntary accounts for everybody this was not what Feldstein was saying or what he could say to the 1% that understand the vocabulary of finance economics and still hold his credentials as an economist in good standing. What Feldsteins rhetoric left out was systematic risk. A very important point when we are talking about states of the future and returns on investments.

Niall Ferguson is not as deliciously subtle as Feldstein but he is a member of the same species- a respectable academic who uses rhetoric to say what is not true but still maintain that he is allied with the facts. He intends to say that we should all be friends (Putin is a Westerner, or is an Oriental potentate?- always hard to tell with those Russians) and join forces against Islamofasicsm.

Like the rest of those romantics that wish history where some great tableau where heroes struggle against evil made corporal, Ferguson is a gushing sissy and a fool. For someone who is a self-professed lover of empires he seems to really miss the point of the multipolar world. Mainly that the 20th century was the age of the end of empires. Spain, Britain, France, Europeans great and small, Japanese, the still-born Pan-Aryan Empire, the Soviet Union only completed the Tsarist and nationalist dream of a Pan-Slavic empire, and soon to be the hollowed-out American empire that produces nothing except printed dollars (and even imports most of its energy and food) and consumes everything from stealth bombers to ceiling fans with borrowed money. All the while the environment declines and everyone gets armed with nuclear weapons. A messy world indeed.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 30, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I see someone pining for the days of the Cold War I shake my head, these people seem to forget just how close we were on a daily basis to turning the entire planet into a burnt cinder. As I have noted previously I grew up in the latter half of the Cold War in a known first strike target. It was a constant shadow over the lives of everyone, but unlike what happened after 9/11/01 we did not let that fear paralyze us or cause us to surrender civil rights willy-nilly as has happened in post 9/11/01 America. For a lesser threat Americans have surrendered far more in the name of security of their rights, and that I find puzzling and more than a little disturbing.

Word.

If memory serves me right, my home town of Louisville, KY was considered a first strike target too. To be honest, I'm surprised no one pushed the button after all. (Given the state of proliferation, I don't think we're out of the woods yet, but at least the specter of a massive US-USSR exchange seems to be history.)

(You know, you never see any of those yellow-and-black fallout shelter trefoils any more. I wonder who took them all down?)

Bottom line is, I remember Bomb paranoia all too well. I remember the testing of the Civil Defense sirens. I knew the existential threat the Soviets posed, even if it was no friend of mine -- and al Qaeda doesn't even come close.

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

We knew, almost exactly, the extent of our popularity among the various middle eastern countries. We knew why and to what extent we had intervened in the politics of those countries.
Posted by: hank

Though the book is poorly written, Charlie Wilson's War is great for the back story of Afghanistan and our involvement with the Muslim world of the ME.

In the course of escalating the Afghan resistance from being a annoyance to the Soviets to bleeding them white, we pretty much created the Taliban and al Qaeda, which the CIA, much to its credit, had to be dragged into doing. The ME hands knew that bin Laden and Mullah Omar were radical fundis that we did not want to be supporting because of potential future "complications." (Boy. Does this scenerios sound familiar?)

Posted by: Jeff II on January 30, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

It was 50 degrees in Chicago this weekend. So shortstop can wear those thigh-high dominatrix boots without fear. Global warming does have its side benefits.

Posted by: brewmn on January 30, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

So shortstop can wear those thigh-high dominatrix boots without fear.

And the wetsuit?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Let me second Charlie Wilson's War, which makes clear how our allies in the Soviet Afghan WAr became our mortal enemies. From the overthrow of Mossadeq, to our support of Saddam pre-Kuwait, to our blatant pro-Likuhd policies of Bush2, the US government has blindly chosen a short term fix to keep power over policies that would make us safer, in a more democratic world...

Posted by: Mr. Bill on January 30, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's taking this too much at face value, as an obviously foolish comparison. He overlooks Ferguson's investment in all this. His oft-published theory of empire insists that imperialism is a good thing. So naturally he shares the Bush biases (1) to see everything in terms of nation states and (2) that assertive world power could hardly have left a bloody mess. Now we've an age in which he finds that the first doesn't apply and the second is clearly false. The remedy? Don't give up, but long for the good old days and blame it all on the silly natives who haven't played along.

Posted by: artcrit on January 30, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

gregory:

Don't forget the regular tests of the emergency broadcast system with that annoying tone they used. Then of course there was good old duck and cover, thank goodness they finally quit that idiocy. Right, a plywood desk will protect you in the event of a nuclear detonation...that always cracked me up.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

brewmn: It was 50 degrees in Chicago this weekend. So shortstop can wear those thigh-high dominatrix boots without fear.

IT WAS? I was in the north woods of Wisconsin, snowshoeing and trying to prevent the hound from waking up the black bears. I missed the only warm weekend of the winter?!?!

Scotian: Nice to see you, too. I wouldn't worry about your wife. Nathan already told her what a slut you are :)

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Right, a plywood desk will protect you in the event of a nuclear detonation...that always cracked me up.

Don't forget the holding hands with another student. No nuclear blast can best the trusty "buddy system."

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Niall really needs to improve his writing or he's going to be gone. There was almost no value to reading his column today, though had it been arranged and ordered a bit differently, with the more interesting points and conclusion about multipolarity given better framing, then nearly the same column could have been worth reading.

As is, I'm sure many just begged off after the first few paragraphs wondering "what's the use"?

Posted by: Jimm on January 30, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Scotian: Nice to see you, too. I wouldn't worry about your wife. Nathan already told her what a slut you are :)"

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 2:40 PM

Nice comeback shortstop! Not that Nathan told her anything she didn't know from when we met. I being the principled person I am gave her full disclosure so she would know what she was getting. Radical concept, hmmm? :) Mind you, I have to admit is was amusing to her as well as myself watching Nathan trying to use this to discredit me as well as to try and get me upset and to say something intemperate.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not let all this righteous Ferguson-bashing (and it is most righteous indeed) keep us from the fact that there *are* things to miss about the former dispensation.

Like a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy. Whatever you'd like to say about the cold war, the threat *was* real.

If Ferguson's (inadvertent) point is we're much more fucked now with a unipolar vision of a supposed existential threat that about half the country (nevermind the world) doesn't even see as existential -- well then, I'd have to second *that* strongly.

Of course, the damn interregnum was only 12 years ...

*Those* years (most of them under Clinton) are worth getting nostalgic over ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 30, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

So shortstop can wear those thigh-high dominatrix boots without fear.

Pale Rider: And the wetsuit?

And the PVC hood?

Posted by: Stefan on January 30, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the regular tests of the emergency broadcast system with that annoying tone they used.

Ah, how could I? Those truly were the days.

Sheesh. The Greatest Generation licked the Axis in less time than Bush the Lesser has run his so-called War on Terror. My generation got the tail end of Vietnam and Cold War bomb paranoia. And now these cringing lickspittles are so panicked at the spectre of Islamic terror that they're willing to wipe their asses with the Constitution and appoint a lifetime failure as King.

Hunter S. Thompson was right: This is a generation of swine.

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Really starting to wish I hadn't made that boot gag. Next time I let Condi take the brunt of the joke. God knows she deserves our unyielding mockery.

I work next to a school, and it has a bell that is eerily similar to the old EBS tone. It's very War of the Worlds.

Posted by: shortstop on January 30, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Don't tell me, that boot gag is leaving feeling like a heel, right? :) (yes, I know, easy shot, but I couldn't resist) Seriously though, living next to a school using that kind of tone must be incredibly irritating at times, I know I always turned the TV down when it came on because it tended to give me a headache.

Gregory:

Ah yes, the buddy system, how could anyone forget how the bonds between two children were somehow going to be more powerful than a multi-megaton blast and the overpressure wave they create. It is hard to think which is more idiotic, duck and cover or the buddy system as some sort of protection in the event of a nuclear detonation/war.

It is also a very sad commentary on the American people that after two decades of facing down such a serious threat without sacrificing the beliefs which made America what it was it took less than four years for Americans to throw their rights away because of the fear created by terrorists with airplanes flying into buildings. Thousands of nukes, Americans stay true to their convictions. Osama bin Laden gets lucky with 19 hijackers on four planes and Americans are so terrified that they are willing to sacrifice the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the supremacy of the rule of law as opposed to the rule of man, generally just about anything in the name of "security". These Americans are not the ones I grew up having respect for. I weep for what I have seen happen in America, and I hope it ends in the near future, otherwise I have to wonder if the tilting of powers to the executive branch creating the imperial Presidency in a war without end (war on terror by definition is a war without end since terrorism is a tactic and not a movement/ideology/nation) will end up being seen as the point where the death of the American republic became inevitable.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I thought I made the boot gag.

It wasn't a shot at shortstop; it was a shot at Bush's love for women who dress up and role play with him.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 30, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the regular tests of the emergency broadcast system with that annoying tone they used.

They still do that, now its called the emergency alert system and the tone is even more annoying. Every station in the country runs both a weekly and monthly test.

Posted by: blueperiod on January 30, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

the modern geopolitical makeup of the Middle East is almost entirely a result of Cold War geopolitics of the 50s and 60s?

Well, not really. If one was going to pick a specific modern "root" for the geopolitics of the Middle East, it would really have to be the post-WW1 Skykes-Picot agreement between the English and French that carved up the Middle East into artificial states and agreed on spheres of influence.

This was one of the points of David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on January 30, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

scotian wote this: It is also a very sad commentary on the American people that after two decades of facing down such a serious threat without sacrificing the beliefs which made America what it was it took less than four years for Americans to throw their rights away because of the fear created by terrorists with airplanes flying into buildings.

Which two decades are you writing of? 1945-1965? 1965-1985? both sets of decades included sacrifices of American principles (McCarthy era and evesdropping on MLK, plumbers list, enemies list and watergate, interventions in foreign nations like VietNam,Nicaragua, Guatemala and Iraq.)

Islamist terrorists are a real threat with their own aims and initiative. In France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden they are a greater threat to civil liberties than anything our government under Bush has done to us. It makes no more sense to belittle these enemies of liberal democracy than it does to exaggerate them.

I doubt you could sustain a case that Americans have fewer civil liberties than in 1945 - 1975 in consequence of expanded government surveillance.

Posted by: contentious on January 30, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

More Blame America First attitude from Kevin Drum and the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party. But we already knew that.
Posted by: Al on January 30, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is the kind of thinking that will destroy America. Overcoming this mindlessness is America's 21st century challenge.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 30, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt you could sustain a case that Americans have fewer civil liberties than in 1945 - 1975 in consequence of expanded government surveillance.

In 1945-1975 it would have been simply incredible to assert that the President had the power to, at his meer whim, order the arrest of any American citizen, with no proof of wrongdoing, and order him held incommunicado and tortured for the rest of his life, with no trial or opportunity to contest his detention. That is, sadly, no longer the case. The Bush regime asserts that we are all free only at their mercy, a mercy they are no under obligation to indulge.

Posted by: Stefan on January 30, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"mere" whim, damnation!

Posted by: Stefan on January 30, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Which two decades are you writing of? 1945-1965? 1965-1985? both sets of decades included sacrifices of American principles (McCarthy era and evesdropping on MLK, plumbers list, enemies list and watergate, interventions in foreign nations like VietNam,Nicaragua, Guatemala and Iraq.)

What do those examples of abuses above have in common? They were mostly (thought not completely, sadly) committed by the right-wing. Showing, once again, who the real threat to our domestic civil liberties really is.

Posted by: Stefan on January 30, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

contensious:

Sorry, that should have been two generations, not two decades. I missed that when I reviewed my comment. I apologize for the confusion.

Posted by: Scotian on January 30, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt you could sustain a case that Americans have fewer civil liberties than in 1945 - 1975 in consequence of expanded government surveillance.
Posted by: contentious

On a day-to-day basis 99.999% of us enjoy the same "lifestyles" we had prior to the 9/11 attacks, the annoyances and indignities of airline travel notwithstanding, and you, contentious, are still free to view all the online pornography you like (just watch out for those spybot programs).

However, we have assuredly entered a period in which a number of heretofore taken for granted domestic legal safeguards (haebeous corpus for one) seem to apply only to certain people, and treaties have been suspended in the name of national security when acting like human beings is somehow "inconvenient." This wouldn't be so alarming if the powers that be actually had the goods on some "evil doers." To date they've been grasping at straws.

On top of this you have the return of the imperial presidency by which Shrub claims (aided by his assuredly sexually frustrated, knuckle-dragging sychophants) extra-legal powers were granted by Congress (utter horse shit) to fight the "war on terror," a power grab not seen in my life time since the Nixon administration. Things are peachy for most of us, but cross certain lines (all secret, of course) and you're fucked.

The sad difference is that all the lying and incompitence are well documented and most Americans just don't seem to care.

Posted by: Jeff II on January 30, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

The middle east problems were sown in during and immediately after the first world war, the same basic sequence of events that gave birth to the Soviet Union. The treaties that ended WWI also planted the seeds for German resentment, and the fiscal imbalances eventually paived the way for that resentment to manifest itself politically in fascism.

The treaties that ended WWI also brought about the end of the Ottoman Empire and the introduction of western Colonialism deep into the middle east, the fall of the Ottoman empire ment the end to the Muslim caliphate as well.

In essence we have been cleaning up for World War I ever since. First ending the great depression, then ending Fascism, then ending Sovietism and now fixing the Middle East. But unfortunately we have got a bunch of idiots who don't know what they are doing running things in Washington a combiniation of 1920s era graft and anarchial policies combine with bereft imperialism.

If you don't know what Republican ineptness can achieve, keep in mind that their laisse faire policies gave us the great depression - paving the way for the rise of the Nazi's World War II, and yes, the holocaust. Yes I am laying it at their feet.

When MiniHitler and the Nazi's, check that when Bush and the Neocon's came to power, the U.S. was at its epigee and the world stood upon the precipice of a new global age. 911 could have triggered a new era of cohesion in the non-muslim world, imagine a NATO like structure that included Russia, China and India as well as Nato. Then remember that while not every nation that joined Nato was a democracy, ultimately they all became one. Then you get a sense of the missed opportunity having Bush in office instead of Gore during this time period.

We will be reaping the price of this for many years, just like we reaped the price of Republicanism in the 1920s for many years. God help us. In the spring of 2001 the U.S. stood off a crisis with China where we were the senior partner, and the fronteer was at China's door step. By the time Bush leaves office the United States will be a shadow of its former self. Much like Great Britain was after WWI, still large, but busted down in debt. I am sure all of this is Clinton's fault. (and perhaps it is, if he doesn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky, Gore wins the election in a land slide, instead of just a half million plurality). God help us all.

Posted by: Bubbles on January 30, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

while the old times weren't especially simple, the concept of balance of power as a deterrent to war was a basic principle for college teachers of world/European/diplomatic history. I spent a year debating nuclear deterence in high school.

Now, there is no balance of power, at least the neocons don't believe in one. And it is very, very dangerous indeed.

Posted by: christine on January 30, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Today's hawks might want to keep that in mind."

come on kevin. Hawks are after blood. You can't invest $400 billion of the world's resources every year in military hardware just to have parades: war is sex for hawks, its excitement, war is what hawks live for. Hawks are always on the prowl for a new war to have.

Posted by: zoot on January 30, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Niall Ferguson's an asswipe.

Posted by: wiggy on January 30, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who thinks laissez faire economic policies brought about the Great Depression is too ignorant to discuss the topic with, and will be until they have educated themselves regarding the histories of central banking and trade policies in the 20th century, along with comparing Hoover's policies with that of FDR's first term. Sheesh.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

war is sex for hawks, its excitement, war is what hawks live for. Hawks are always on the prowl for a new war to have.

And fear is sex for chickenhawks.

Posted by: ahem on January 31, 2006 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Today's hawks might want to keep that in mind."

come on kevin. Hawks are after blood. You can't invest $400 billion of the world's resources every year in military hardware just to have parades: war is sex for hawks, its excitement, war is what hawks live for. Hawks are always on the prowl for a new war to have.
Posted by: zoot

And the farther removed you are from actually risking spilling your own bodily fluids the more attractive the profiteering looks, heh?

About ten years ago there was a cover story in The Atlantic titled something along the lines of "Why We Will Miss the Cold War". It dwelt on all the 'fracture zones' which had been held together, often by brutal suppression and which would now begin to come violently apart. It focused on the Balkins and Central Asia. Good stuff indeed. Precient.

I have, alas, allowed my subscription to lapse and therfore can't access the Atlantic online achive for this one.

Recommended reading for anyone who wishes to discuss this topic: "A Peace to End All Peace - The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East" by David Fromkin

Posted by: CFShep on January 31, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Will Allen is completely right.

FDR had to come in and save this country's ass from the Republicans.

Rock on, Will! Whoop whoop!

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow, a thread just isn't complete without Will Allen's arrogant arguments-by-assertion.

Cue Will snorting about my lack of reading comprehension and what an idiot I am by not realizing that his loony libertarian worldview isn't obviously correct. I wonder if Will has the reading comprehension skill to realize that I have not iin fact disputed anything he's said, but rather pointed out that the manner in which he makes his comments speaks for itself.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

No, Gregory you haven't demonstrated your illiteracy in this instance, which is atypical of you. Congratulations. If you wish to believe that "laissez faire" policies caused the Great Depression, well, you just go right ahead. Ignorance comforts you so.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

If you wish to believe that "laissez faire" policies caused the Great Depression, well, you just go right ahead. Ignorance comforts you so.

Thank you for so reliably demonstrating your dishonesty, anyway, Will. I haven't said word one about what I believe or what I don't, merely that your assertions that anyone who disagrees with your loony libertarian dogma are far from convincing. Maybe it isn't me that has the literacy problem, hm?

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, Gregory cannot comprehend the meaning of the word "if". Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Apologies -- that should be "merely that your assertions that anyone who disagrees with your loony libertarian dogma are ignorant are far from convincing."

I wondered if Will has the reading comprehension skill to realize that I have not in fact disputed anything he's said, but rather pointed out that the manner in which he makes his comments speaks for itself. Evidently not.

But no -- I'm being snarky. I don't beleive for a second that it's illiteracy that causes will to claim I said something I explicitly disclaimed. No, it's just good old-fashioned intellectual dishonesty -- the bedrock of the loony libertarian "philosophy."

No one who so consistently relies on dishonestly stating what others post has any call to be taken seriously. I remind Will that his postings and those of mine and others disputing his assertions remain here for all to see and judge from. I for one am quite comfortable with this arrangement.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, Will Allen forgot that it was FDR who saved this country from Republicans...

But then, reading comprehension hasn't served him well.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, Gregory cannot comprehend the meaning of the word "if". Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Will, if you want to claim that your use of the subjunctive absolves you of the implications of your statement, you're welcome to it. As I've said, I'm quite comfortable in letting your comments and mine speak for themselves, and leaving them to the judgments of the readers. Evidently, you aren't, so I'll leave the last word to you.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, educate yourself on how FDR's economic policies and preferences in his first term differed from Hoover's. Educate yourself as to what the state of the American economy was in 1936, and how much it had improved prior to the build-up to WWII, and then your opinions on this matter will be worth considering.

Gregory, if you don't dispute anything I've written, fine. I'll simply note the irony of someone making a sarcastic comment on argument by assertion, while also denouncing the opinions of Nobel Prize winners in economics as being "loony". Certainly, such people can err, and have, but to broadly assert that such opinions are "loony", while sarcastically commenting on argument by assertion, merely demonstrates the stunning lack of self-awareness for which you are famous, along with the embarrassing lack of reading comprehension skills, of course.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II

Americans have given up on both parties. Clinton was a sleazebag, and the Dems didn't care, because he was THEIR sleazebag.

But Clinton was sane. Bush is that dangerous nether world of self hating former male cheerleaders.

If Americans are permanently under siege, there won't be a constitution. People just want to attend to their everyday work and pleasures. In times like these they opt for the "good czar".

Bush is preying on his own base, to wrest power for himself and 'the cabal'.

And it's working. The loony left doesn't get it. Americans just want some centrist governance. If the left can just feign some middle class values, they might garner a few states back from the apocalyptics.

But from what I see each time I try to interact with 'progressives' - you guys havent' a clue how damaging your looony left flank really is.

Posted by: Tj on January 31, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, educate yourself on how FDR's economic policies and preferences in his first term differed from Hoover's. Educate yourself as to what the state of the American economy was in 1936, and how much it had improved prior to the build-up to WWII, and then your opinions on this matter will be worth considering.

Okey Dokey.

I'm reading....mmm hmm...okay...hang on.

I did not know that...uh huh...

Just a minute.

Hold on--one more page...uh huh...okay.

Yep--FDR saved this country from the Republicans.

What else you got, dumbass?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

But from what I see each time I try to interact with 'progressives' - you guys havent' a clue how damaging your looony left flank really is.

Yeah, great freeper post you have here. Typically, freepers disrupt the discussion by making altruistic or generalistic statements, then end discussion with something along the lines of:

"I wanted to vote Democrat, but then they just ignored me and I will never read Kevin Drum again and I will never vote for another Democrat for as long as I live."

Brilliant.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Bask in your ignorance, Pale Rider, since being stupid seems to comfort you so. You really don't know anything, do you?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'll simply note the irony of someone making a sarcastic comment on argument by assertion, while also denouncing the opinions of Nobel Prize winners in economics as being "loony".

This must be a case of my famous lack of reading comprehension, but I totally failed to perceive any citation to "Nobel Prize winners" in your post. (Or are congratulations in order?)

As you've provided many examples of your preferred tactic on this very thread, I think nothing more need be said about that, save that, as always, I'm perfectly happy to let your statements and mine speak for themselves.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

To actually inject some facts into Pale Rider's empty skull, for instance, one may inquire as to how a 20% unemployment rate in 1938, well into FDR's second term, down from a high of 25% in 1933, constitutes "saving" the country from anything. Could you possibly get any more stupid, Rider?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bask in your ignorance, Pale Rider, since being stupid seems to comfort you so. You really don't know anything, do you?

I know FDR saved this country from the Republicans--and I know that it plainly galls wingnut conservatives to have that indisputable fact rammed down their fat little gullet.

Beyond that, what else do you need to know? I can get you a GPS system that will explain at which lat/long your head is up your ass.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

To actually inject some facts into Will Allen's empty skull,

What was the unemployment rate in 1945 when Roosevelt died?

I mean, fair's fair. Assess the complete Presidency of the man and quit cherry picking.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Gregory, if you weren't so ignorant of the opinions of Nobel Prize winners regarding the cause of the Great Depression, my paraphrasing of those opinions would not have caused you to note them as being "loony". It goes without saying, of course, that if you weren't an idiot, you would have refrained from calling such opinions "loony", while, a mere one sentence later, asserting that you hadn't expressed any disagreement with such opinions. Once again, Gregory, an inquiry must be made: Just how stupid are you? I'm quite serious. Are you unable to comprehend the inherently contradictory nature of writing the following...

"...that your assertions that anyone who disagrees with your loony libertarian dogma are ignorant are far from convincing.

I wondered if Will has the reading comprehension skill to realize that I have not in fact disputed anything he's said, but rather pointed out that the manner in which he makes his comments speaks for itself. Evidently not."

...contradictory, in that to call someone's asserted opinions "loony" implicitly disputes the factual nature of those opinions? As with the Rider above, it must be asked; could you possibly get any more stupid?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Pale Rider, after 16 million men had been conscripted into military service, and the rest of the world's industrial base had been destroyed in the greatest military conflict in human history, the U.S. employment rate had dropped significantly. You really are capable of getting dumber, aren't you?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Pale Rider, after 16 million men had been conscripted into military service, and the rest of the world's industrial base had been destroyed in the greatest military conflict in human history, the U.S. employment rate had dropped significantly. You really are capable of getting dumber, aren't you?

Not really. I mean, after all, it was The Republican Party that fought desperately to keep us out of the war, right?

Logic dictates that if the isolationist policies of the Republican Party were carried well into the 1940s, we would have never confronted Japan and Germany and the US would never have been able to climb out of the Depression.

But prattle on and on about things you can't understand. I know your daddy taught you Roosevelt was the devil.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen:

You do remember the isolationist policies of the Republican Party, do you not? You do remember Senator Taft, I gather?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Robert A. Taft (aka: Mr. Republican)

Taft remained up until his death a convinced enemy of Franklin Roosevelts New Deal and the assault on the Constitution which he believed it to represent.

Taft was also concerned about the increasing power of the executive branch of the federal government at the expense of the legislature, and this concern goes a long way toward explaining his opposition to American involvement Second World War. War measures, the senator insisted, would make the President "a complete dictator over the lives and property of all our citizens." When in 1940 President Roosevelt announced his plan to trade U.S. destroyers for British bases in the Western Hemisphere, Taft denounced what he viewed as a "complete lack of regard for the rights of Congress." The following year, when Roosevelt ordered U.S. naval vessels to shoot German submarines on sight, the senator called the move "contrary to the law and to the Constitution."

Nor did U.S. entry into the war do much to change his views. In the summer of 1942 he wrote to a friend that he feared that in the future the United States would be dragged "into every little boundary dispute that there may be among the bitterly prejudiced and badly mixed races of Central Europe."

So horrified was he by the numbers of American battlefield casualties in the First World War that, according to James T. Patterson, "he feared even to pick up a newspaper." His own experiences in postwar Europe convinced him of the futility of armed conflict. He was also painfully ignorant of military matters, habitually referring to a commanding general as "the man in charge." Such anti-military sentiments naturally contributed to his opposition to American entry into World War II. The First World War had, he claimed, "set up more extreme dictatorships than the world had seen for many days." He was certain that another war would destroy American democracy, creating "an absolute arbitrary dictatorship in Washington." "War," as he put it bluntly in March of 1941, "is worse even than a German victory." The development of the atomic bomb convinced him even further. In the final days of World War II he predicted that "in the normal developments of science a third war might well bring about the complete destruction of western civilization."

All I can add is, thank God for FDR.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Gregory, if you weren't so ignorant of the opinions of Nobel Prize winners regarding the cause of the Great Depression, my paraphrasing of those opinions would not have caused you to note them as being "loony".

Will, just so we're clear, I'm calling you a loony libertarian.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Pale Rider, I've consistently maintained, in this forum and elsewhere, that FDR was a great President for his policies vis-a-vis Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Of course, this has nothing to do with FDR "coming in" after the 1932 election, and saving the country. His intial economic policies largely mirrored Hoover's disastrous efforts, and later policies largely consisted of using the state to aid the formation of production and labor cartels, with little positive impact on the economy. Yes, unemployment fell terrifically with WWII, but this was merely the by-product of a hideous war.

By the way, I'm not a Republican.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I know, Gregory, you are ignorant of economic theory regarding the Great Depression, thus causing you to call me "loony", while not disputing what I've written (!), when I paraphrase the arguments of Nobel Prize winners regarding the topic. Look, it already has been established that you are quite stupid; there really is no need to bring forth more evidence.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

...and, to be even more clear, on the basis of your postings in general, not this one. I meant to specify as much; my bad.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Will, as I've said, I'm more than happy to let readers judge who establishes what about who on the basis of our respective posts. Your opinion, let's just say, I'll give the consideration it deserves.

Posted by: Gregory on January 31, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Gregory, you may have a point. It may be a mistake to actually read the words you write, and thus form an opinion of your thought processes, given you quite often don't grasp what the words mean.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Will,

Just so we're clear--

Get help.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 31, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Henry L. Stimson is my personal favorite for what a centrist statesman should be like. As Sec. of State under Hoover he urged a provocative embargo against Japan. Hoover wouldn't go for it, but FDR did. As FDR's Sec. of War Stimson presided over the Manhatten Project and the even more expensive Boeing B-29 to deliver the BOMB. Stimson ended W.W.II by being the swing vote in favor of the Marshall Plan to rebuild, not punish, Germany and Japan.

Stimson is credited in a 1991 "The Nation" article as being the ideological father of George H.W.Bush's Kuwait policy. All we really know is that Stimson was a Skull & Bones influence on the elder Bush.

But I like Stimson because he was a bit of a mystic. In the 1930's he climbed Ghost Mountain in Montana's Glacier Park and brought down from the peak a huge buffalo skull that some energetic young Indian man had lugged up there as part of his medicine vision. Stimson lugged it down again, maybe to add to his Skull & Bones paraphanelia.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on February 1, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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