Saturday, March 22, 2003 :::
US-EUROPEAN RELATIONS: Matt Welch describes an experience virtually identical to many I have had myself. "It was December, 2000, and I was in Lyon for the annual Christmas visit with the in-laws. The U.S. election was still contested, but it looked like Bush had won. Students at a nearby university were on the streets, protesting. Why? Bush's support for the death penalty. It didn't matter, to them, Bush's predecessor actually expanded the federal death penalty more than any president in history, or that the Clinton Administration, too, opposed Kyoto and the International Criminal Court. No, Bush was a dangerous cowboy, and Americans were crazy for electing him."
FAIR AND BALANCED. That, at least, is what we try to be here at Giants and Dwarfs. Whether the same can be said for these Giant Sand Dwarfs -what else are we to call the scribblers at the world socialist web site- I leave up to you (link via Die Zeit - and yes, that is a Weasel, erm, German newspaper).
Friday, March 21, 2003 :::
BIG PROBLEMS IN NORTHERN IRAQ. If this is reliable news, we have a very big problem on our hands. Clearly, the Kurds will resist any invasion of Kurdish controlled Northern Iraq with all military means available. Since those means are limited, the Turks will win. Then Northern Iraq moves from being a free place into Turkish occupation. Which is of course absolutely unacceptable to the US. I also understand the US specifically warned the Turks from crossing over the border. Will we have to fight them?
IS SADDAM DEAD? Strange things are happening. In an abrupt change of plan, the US decides to strike a limited target in Baghdad, because they suspect Saddam and/or his henchmen are there. This really completely throw the entire war planning in disarray, so obviously their information was credible. Equally obviously they hit that house in the south of Baghdad with all the force and fury available. Logically speaking, that certainly gives them a pretty good chance of actually having hit Saddam. And yet he appears in what is thought to have been a live speech on TV, which specifically refers to the raid at dawn on today's date. I think we may have seen one of those famous "doubles" who are surgically enhanced to look like Saddam. I find it odd that we don't seem to have moved at all since these opening shots. I find it odd that Saddam was wearing big glasses and read from paper, looking confused. I find it odd that almost nothing has happened in military terms all day. So, is Saddam dead already? Is this war already over and is the US government simply waiting for confirmation? The two Saddams:
WAR BLOGGING. Although Giants & Dwarfs aims to stay away from the tyranny of the newscycle to focus more on culture, education and other long-term factors, in the weeks ahead everyone will of course be pre-occupied by the war. We'll try to identify some of the best blogs. Andrew Sullivan has promised around-the-clock-coverage (and stayed up till 3:09 am yesterday night to prove it). There is also an apparently for-real blogger from Baghdad. We like to read Little Green Footballs for excellent coverage of the Middle East, the irreverent Stephen Green, and Steven den Beste for informed speculation on military strategy. Like in every war, new voices will probably spring up. We'll be looking for them. UPDATE: This guy looks like an interesting war-blogger.
"I just found your site because of a refer due to your link to me [...] .Of course, what I saw was "giantsanddwarfs". And I ended up parsing that as "Giant Sand Dwarfs", which is certainly a curious image, and which led me to believe that you had a site talking about how Saddam talks big but is mostly hot air."
CASTING OUT THE PALEOCONS. In a devasting, lengthy hit piece in the flagship publication of the conservative movement, National Review, former Presidential speechwriter David Frum, author of such books as Dead Right, excommunicates the "paleoconservatives" -- a small group of hacks around Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis, Joe Sobran, Thomas Fleming, and Lew Rockwell -- from the mainstream conservative movement. Bound to become a classic in the genre, Frum rips into the paleocons who, he argues, are motivated by spite, polluted by anti-Semitism, and increasingly allying themselves with the anti-American Left. Jonah Goldberg explains some of the background to the piece. Grandee reporter Robert Novak, aligned with the paleocons, must have gotten advanced warning of the attack, since he has a pre-emptive personal attack on Frum in the current issue of Buchanan's magazine The American Conservative. Stay tuned.
PRECEDENTS? Many, particularly those inflected with the lawyer's way of thinking, have argued that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq (technically they actually mean a preventative strike, and since this war is the logical continuation of the last one, the impending invasion is really neither) will set a dangerous precedent. Would not India be justified in striking Pakistan, or could Iran and China use this "precedent" to wage aggressive wars under pretext? Eugene Volkokh explains why this way of thinking is wrong.
BOYCOTTING IS NONSENSE. Although the French have behave with treachery, it's down-right stupid to favor economic boycotts against "French" companies in a globalized economy, as pointed out by the Mises Institute. Of course, booking that holiday to the Italian Riviera instead remains an option...
MICKEY KAUS (no permalink, but scroll down to "No Chemisty?") thinks that Saddam is unlikely to use chemical weapons because then he would lose all political support from his French and Russians allies at the UN. According to well-informed observers such as Amir Taheri, Saddam's war plans appear to call for a concerted attempt to halt the invasion troops for as long as possible, and hole up in Baghdad. With human casualties mounting, and the siege of Baghdad entering its sixth week, the political pressure on Bush might become enormous to cut some kind of deal, particularly if Saddam were to throw in another concession, such as a resignation on condition that be permitted to stay in Iraq and not be prosecuted for war crimes and such. But of course, it Saddam were to use chemical weapons, all such bets are off. Although I understand the reasoning of Mr Kaus, it strikes me this is overly optimistic with respect to Saddam's rationality. If he had really mainly be interested in staying in power, why didn't he simply give up his WMDs? UPDATE: Some more thoughts over here.
SOME GOOD BLOGS FROM GOOD CAMPUSES. There are more good bloggers from the universities of Chicago and Harvard than those who post here. (links via that other good blog from the University of Oxford). Any site with the motto "Commentary on the crazy antics of the feminist left and, sometimes, other things" must be visited early and often.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003 :::
STEVEN DEN BESTE thinks that Chirac messed up big-time. Well, those are not the actual words he uses (and Heaven knows he uses a lot of words), but it is certainly worth the read.
ANNE APPLEBAUM has insightful reflections on the consequences of confronting Saddam militarily. The stakes are very high, she believes: "If the war is a great victory, if it lasts just a few days, and if it results in a democratic Iraq, Mr Bush will get a chance of being re-elected, Mr Blair will be vindicated, France will be cowed. A new Nato will probably rise from the ashes, centred on the "new" Europe: America, Britain, Spain, eastern Europe. The UN Security Council could lose its role as a body which blesses American interventions. The ability of European states such as Britain and Spain to make their own foreign policy, outside the European Union, will be strengthened. But the war does not have to be lost to produce quite a different result. If it lasts much longer than it is supposed to do, if it degenerates into civil war, if the fighting in Baghdad is bloody and chaotic and expensive, then the aftermath may look quite different. President Bush may be finished, along with Mr Blair and Nato. France and Germany will once again be the most important countries in the EU. The next US president will think twice before doing anything without UN approval, and the next British prime minister will think twice before involving himself in foreign adventures without the explicit permission of his European colleagues. There is an analogy with Suez here, although it is not precise. If the lesson of Suez was that Britain can't do anything without America, the lesson of a botched war in Iraq will be that a British prime minister can no longer make foreign policy outside the confines of the EU or act in defiance of Germany and France. The stakes are high here, much higher than the mere political futures of Mr Bush and Mr Blair. It is disturbing to think how much damage Saddam's Iraq, even in defeat, might still be able to wreak."