The Spectacle Blog

Re: Don’t Give Up the Ship

By on 7.24.06 | 10:31AM

Jed, I appreciate the exchange. I am going to pick one final nit, a nit I picked in the original column. You believe that building a democratic government in Iraq necessarily distracts and delays us from the necessary business of conquering the wider enemy. I do not think that needs to be so, think, in fact, that Iraq, newly constituted, may be an effective ally and forward base in that war. The Iraqis hate "the guys in black turbans" (i.e., the mullahs, the Taliban, etc.) as much as we do. And, given the map of the middle east, I believe Iraq, right in the middle of the muddle, presents a special case for nation-building, one that could not be made for, say, Syria, and that we should not need to make for Iran, once the mullahs are deposed. Question here: Can the mullahs be deposed without outright war? For example, via naval blockade?

Poulos on the Humanities

By on 7.24.06 | 7:59AM

In an earlier post, James Poulos decries the lack of priority given to the humanities versus the sciences. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the humanities and have every interest in seeing that area of inquiry become the focus of dollars and attention. Nevertheless, I can't bring myself to hope that more students will be steered in that direction. Although I am a faithful disciple of the humanities, I often take comfort in the fact that the majority of students won't have much exposure to the offerings on hand. Better they remain busy with their business and engineering degrees than that they should hear too much of the soul-killing discourses that reign in the older buildings on campus.

Re: Don’t Give up the Ship

By on 7.23.06 | 9:10AM

Larry: Thanks for the rejoinder. I know you don't intentionally counsel defeat, but that is the necessary result of the strategy you propound. The fact is now, was in 2003, and always will be that by delaying action against other terrorist regimes while we wait for the Iraqis to sort themselves out is a strategy that leads inevitably to our defeat. While Maliki and the rest fiddle, Ahmadinejad develops nukes, Syria keeps the Sunni insurgency alive in Iraq and Saudi Arabia plays both ends against each other. I'm not against helping nations achieve democracy, but I'm inalterably opposed to elevating democracy to the status of weapon or strategy. As Iran, Syria, and the rest are proving day after day, they are using our delay to their great advantage. Democracy was impossible in Germany until Hitler was dead and his regime ground into dust. Democracy in the arab world must wait until victory has been achieved. Iran? Syria? As WSC would have said, "Action This Day."

Re: Don’t Give Up the Ship

By on 7.23.06 | 4:02AM

Jed, thanks for your good and thoughtful reply. I'll take issue with two things: I do not counsel or countenance defeat. Victory means as much to me as to any Amerian. Second, Middle Eastern countries, at least some of them, represent a great deal more than Brit exercises in map-drawing. The Bible mentions several countries that still exist, among them, Iran.

It’s The Humanities, Stupid

By on 7.22.06 | 3:37PM

Some eyebrows went up when, right after Bush's State of the Union, I decried his proposed emphasis on math and science education, to the patent detriment of the humanities. Now, here comes academic luminary and prolific intellectual author Martha Nussbaum -- someone who should know, and about whom more later -- beating the same drum:

The Merry Single

By on 7.21.06 | 5:10PM

At first glance, most conservative grouches should have nodded approvingly at Katie Couric's nurturing decision to eschew reporting live from the Mideast when she hosts CBS Evening News:

"I think the situation there is so dangerous, and as a single parent with two children, that's something I won't be doing," Katie said.

On second thought -- and discounting the fact we of the 99.9% of the population less attractive than she seem to unduly enjoy always tweaking her -- there is something bothersome here that should be aired.

As the iconic New Century Woman, Katie does neither marriage, nor men, nor women any favors by referring to herself as a "single parent." By doing so, she telegraphs how deeply society has internalized the "new" (meaning "non") marriage paradigm.

Like most bad ideas, it started with good intentions. In the seventies, "single mother" was the replacement term used to avoid having a divorced woman feel shame -- a shame she may well have deserved not one scintilla. Inevitably, the term migrated to describe women with children who had never been married. For them, "single parent" dodged a potentially even greater shame.

Catching Up

By on 7.21.06 | 12:09PM

I resolved not to blog for the past couple of weeks whilst honeymooning in Europe, and of course missed out on huge and tragic news. I'm referring, of course, to the Carmen Electra-David Navarro breakup.

But also to the conflagration in the Middle East. On the plane home from Prague the other day, I read the International Herald Tribune and noted Edward Luttwak's cogent argument that a wider war is unlikely: The players, most importantly Syria and Iran, simply have too much to lose. On the same page (and I take it the New York Times had a similar juxtaposition), an editorial says that "The only beneficiaries of a wider war would be Iran, Syria and the armed Islamic radical groups that they support throughout the region." Come again?

War Warning Part 6 supplemental: North Korea/Iran

By on 7.21.06 | 11:58AM

Below from my column in today's New York Sun: detail of the Iran observers was confirmed in public (open source) yesterday in Congress testimony. Additional note: the Iranians are now ready for the US air strikes. The North Korea test (and there may be a second test) was a full scale exercise in wartime conditions. North Korea trained Iran's rocket brigades. The Iran warhead is North Korean design.