Barnett on Clinton versus Bush
Exploration of Unity Consciousness, Christian Life, Integral Thought, and the Future of Politics in a Post-Postmodern World
Bill Kristol in Time magazine on how this election could be (should be?) RFK Jr. (aka Obama) versus Reagan Jr. (Fred Thompson).
The Democrats' situation is different. For them, recent history does not feature a grand triumph (Reagan) preceded and followed by mixed results (Nixon and the Bushes)--a narrative that yields the hope of reliving the moment of success. The modern Democrats are more a party of tragedy than of triumph: John F. Kennedy assassinated; Lyndon Johnson's presidency wrecked on the shoals of the Great Society and Vietnam; electoral defeats in the '70s and '80s interrupted only by the (failed) Carter Administration; Clinton's victories in the '90s accompanied by the Republican takeover of Congress. And at the heart of the Democrats' quasi-tragic account, at the very center of the wistful might-have-been-but-wasn't-quite-to-be narrative, is the leader who was cut down before he had the chance fully to lead: Robert Kennedy.On Reagan and Republicanism as a narrative of triumph.
Obama is, like Kennedy, a charismatic freshman Senator, running before his time but--supporters think--uniquely suited to the time. Obama follows Kennedy in being a bold liberal and a skeptic of simple ideological stances, a gifted politician and an antipolitician, a man familiar with the halls of power yet a charismatic critic of them.
In the whole pro/con debate over the word Christianism, I've never seen anyone reference what seems to me a more fruitful (and obvious) method.
The surge is inching closer to the brink of collapse. In the last week 600 were killed, the government looks even more (if this is possible) unable to stop the violence. Condi's vague Middle East plan looks dead in the water. The waters of the Persian Gulf that is.
Religious leaders commanded by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr delivered a searing speech at Friday Prayer condemning the American presence in Iraq, while militiamen loyal to Mr. Sadr engaged in street battles against Iraqi Army soldiers in southwestern Baghdad, signaling a possible resurgence of the militia. Mr. Sadr has ordered the Mahdi Army, the militia he controls, to lie low during the early days of the new Baghdad security plan so as not to provoke a direct confrontation with the Americans. With the speech on Friday, which the religious leaders attributed to Mr. Sadr, it appeared that he was continuing to walk a tightrope, not openly defying American and Iraqi government attempts to secure the capital, but still sharply criticizing the United States presence in Iraq.Sadr has shrewdly called for a massive nonviolent street protest against the American occupation on April 9th, 4th anniversary of the war. Expect Sunni insurgents to target civilians--how easy it will be to get a suicide bomber in the crowd. I'm very worried about this development. The Shia are so close to rising up en masse once more, and this time no going back.
Hamas, the dominant faction in the Palestinian government, is building its military capacity in the Gaza Strip, constructing tunnels and underground bunkers and smuggling in ground-to-air missiles and military-grade explosives, senior Israeli officials say.Training via Hezbollah and possibly Iran. Moreover,
The strengthening of Hamas and its consolidation of power in Gaza, reflected politically in Fatah’s decision to join Hamas as a junior partner in a coalition government, is a prime reason that Mr. Olmert is resisting a push from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk seriously to the Palestinians about the substance of a peace treaty with Israel.
The continuing empowerment of Hamas is also behind Mr. Olmert’s reluctance to embrace the Arab League peace initiative reconfirmed Thursday at its summit meeting. Israelis may want peace in principle, but they are very reluctant to give up more territory in the occupied West Bank, as they have done in Gaza, to a Palestinian Authority dominated by a group unwilling to recognize Israel’s right to exist or to forswear the use of violence.
The heterogenities of the Muslim Brotherhoods---many more than one.
The problem is that the United States and Britain, along with their partners France and Germany, have successfully created a huge, powerful machine of coercion against Iran—economic, political, diplomatic. And now they don’t quite know what to do with it. Similarly, the Iranians are divided about how to react, with Ahmadinejad and now apparently Khamenei himself counseling defiance while Tehran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs tries to find a way back to the table. Yes, pressure works. But exerting too much of it for too long, without offering the carrot of conciliation that can encourage moderates, usually gives the edge back to the hardliners.
As many as 50 people were killed in what appeared to be reprisal attacks in Tal Afar after a double suicide-vehicle bombing there on Tuesday killed 85 people and wounded 150, Iraqi officials and a witness said today. Armed attacks broke out against Sunnis in the Sunni neighborhood of Al Wahda, with Shiite Iraqi security forces suspected of taking part, they said.Tal Afar recall was last year hailed as proof of the new clear, clean, and hold strategy. Reprisal killings mean Shia death squads, infiltrated through police/army units.
"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate."Furthermore:
The government lacks dominance in every province, he added. One result is that "no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO [nongovernmental organization], nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection." Militias and armed bands are "in some ways more capable of independent operations" than the Iraqi army, he added.
I'm not sure "some ways" as a qualifier is correct/necessary.
From the NyTimes:
The mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and other life 65 million years ago apparently did not, contrary to conventional wisdom, immediately clear the way for the rise of today’s mammals. In fact, the ancestral branches of most mammals, including primates, rodents and hoofed animals, emerged long before the global extinction and survived it more or less intact. But it was not until at least 10 million to 15 million years afterward that the lineages of living mammals began to flourish in number and diversity.
Been reading quite a bit on (St.) Paul and his theology of late.
Wright: I am totally in agreement with that and I too have challenged my Roman Catholic friends with this. Justification by faith is not simply a doctrine about which we ought to be able to agree, it is the doctrine which says we are one in Christ, that all those who believe in Jesus belong at the same table. I do not see that as the
Dunn: But I think the point has to be pressed even more. There is only the one thing necessary for us to worship together, to work together, to mission together, and that is that God accepts us, has accepted us, and accepts others on the same terms, by grace through faith.
Here's Wright once more on justification as vindication (and not conversion):
Here's Wright once more on justification as vindication (and not conversion):
My proposal has been, and still is, that Paul uses ‘vindication’ language, i.e. the dikaioo word-group, when he is describing, not the moment when, or the process by which, someone comes from idolatry, sin and death to God, Christ and life, but rather the verdict which God pronounces consequent upon that event. dikaioo is after all a declarative word, declaring that something is the case, rather than a word for making something happen or changing the way something is.The phrase "righteousness" then is about God not humans---it is God's faithful adherence to the covenant (covenantal nomism, Gentiles brought into covenant by faith in Christ not Law but Law still good for Jews, see Paul's Letter to the Romans). Wright and Dunn are right this is Paul for an ecumenical Christian (and Jewish-Christian dialogical) age.
Violence is increasing.
Iraqi police reported at least 109 people killed or found dead nationwide. The toll included two elderly sisters — both Chaldean Catholic nuns in the increasingly tense city of Kirkuk — who were stabbed multiple times in what appeared to be a sectarian killing.100 bodies a day in the streets was the daily average count during the height of the sectarian violence. The pro-surge factions have talked about how the violence is down. Today is a particularly brutal day, but evidence is growing that the insurgents are finding their way around the surge. But that is not entirely clear at this point. If the violence does come back to 100 bodies a day for a month during the surge (I don't know if that will happen) then what becomes of the surge? Especially in the post-deadline vote and inevitable Bush veto coming.
Two truck bombs shattered markets in Tal Afar on Tuesday, killing at least 63 people and wounding dozens in the second assault in four days on a predominantly Shiite Muslim city hit by a resurgence in violence a year after it was held up as a symbol of U.S. success.The group fighting an existential fight targeted the ambulances. Reverse Maslow hierarchy--attack the lowest needs on the chain. Food, health, security, oil, etc.
Where he argues that no one could have predicted the savagery (e.g. using children as shields for suicide bombings) in Iraq prior to the invasion of Saddam Hussein. Article here.
But neither I nor anyone who predicted a civil war had so much as a premonition of this unprecedented mass murder of the men, women and children among one's own people as a military tactic to defeat an external enemy. It is, therefore, unfair to blame the Bush administration for not anticipating such a determined "insurgency." Without the mass murder of fellow Iraqis, there would hardly be any "insurgency." The combination of suicide terrorists and a theology of death has created an unprecedented form of "resistance" to an occupier: "We will murder as many men, women and children as we can until you leave." Nor is this a matter of Sunnis murdering Shiites and vice versa: college students, women shopping at a Baghdad market and hospital workers all belong to both groups. Truck bombs cannot distinguish among tribes or religious affiliations. If America had to fight an insurgency directed solely against us and coalition forces -- even including suicide bombers -- we would surely have succeeded. No one, right, left or center, could imagine a group of people so evil, so devoid of the most elementary and universal concepts of morality, that they would target their own people, especially the most vulnerable, for murder. That is why we have not yet prevailed in Iraq. Even without all the mistakes made by the Bush administration -- and what political or military leadership has not made many errors in prosecuting a war? -- it could not have foreseen this new form of evil we are witnessing in Iraq. That is why we have not won. There are respectable arguments to be made against America's initially going into Iraq. But intellectually honest opponents of the war have to acknowledge that no one could anticipate an "insurgency" that included people leaving children in a car and then blowing them up.Statements like "no one could imagine a group so evil" immediately make a warning bell go off in my mind. Particularly from a professed religious believer. [edit note: MD pointed out Prager is Jewish; I thought he was Christian. My mistake]. Millions scream out in pain daily, the Earth itself is crucified.
The paradox is that in order to pacify Iraqis under the current US strategy, they need to be isolated from the surrounding community. However, they cannot be isolated, because the very political goods that the government needs to deliver to gain their loyalty are inextricably tied to this connectivity. In short, while this connectivity brings progress, it will also deliver mayhem. There's no easy way around it.
Results in on the Quebec Provincial Elections.
Some climates may disappear from Earth entirely, not just from their current locations, while new climates could develop if the planet continues to warm, a study says. Such changes would endanger some plants and animals while providing new opportunities for others, said John W. Williams, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Got a good response from Joe P to my recent post on the Episcopal Church (USA).
Hi Chris:Joe has a follow up thread here. He concludes:
I agree with you 100% that it would be quite odd if the homosexuality issue breaks the Church whereas the slavery issue didn't.
Not to disagree, but honestly it's a pet peeve of mine when people discuss the homosexuality and Christianity issue by downplaying its significance. Spirit has chosen to make this issue absolutely vital to the unity issue in the Church right now, I believe. Failure to recognize its importance is really more of a failure to appreciate the mysterious workings of Spirit than anything else. What you or I feel are more important concerns that SHOULD be dividing the Church is irrelevant in the face of the workings of Spirit which has dictated that THIS issue right HERE and right NOW is going to divide or unite the Church.
My own intuition says that homosexuality is the BIG issue today not out of coincidence or meaningless chance, but because homosexuality is Christianity's biggest shadow. Christianity is a religion dominated by homophilic symbolism and a homophilic story about the Love of a Father and a Son and how one day it became creative and produced the Holy Spirit. Homophilia is the heart of the Christian message, more so than any other major religion on the planet. Christianity's failure to look at that issue square in the eye is the real reason why this issue has reached a boiling point in our time.One slight correction. Joe mentions I am studying to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. Actually I am studying for the Anglican Church of Canada. While the two are in full communion with each other they are not just different branches of the same central bank/church as it were. The Anglican Church of Canada grows more out of the English experience while the Episcopal Church USA has closer historic ties to Scotland. Anyway not a big difference.
Don't know. Story here.
Story on Sunni tribal leaders joining American/Iraqi Armies to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. AQI should really be re-named Salafi jihadism. The Salafis refuse to recognize the Shia--they are theologically heretical by the Salafi view. This brand of jihadism is from Abu Musab al Zarqawi and not bin Laden who never spent much time arguing against Shi'a Islam.
The American Episcopal Bishops responded to the Global Primates (heads of Anglican constituent churches, e.g. Church of Nigeria, Canada, New Zealand, Sudan, etc.) with a definite NEIN. Text here.
#3 and 4 particularly stinging in an American and Anglican context--The Revolutionary War and the Reformation not bridge builder moments in history.
First, it violates our church law in that it would call for a delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy as a Church not permissible under our Constitution.
Second, it fundamentally changes the character of the Windsor process and the covenant design process in which we thought all the Anglican Churches were participating together.
Third, it violates our founding principles as The Episcopal Church following our own liberation from colonialism and the beginning of a life independent of the Church of England.
Fourth, it is a very serious departure from our English Reformation heritage. It abandons the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition. It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century, it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.
Evidence is mounting that Sunni insurgents are beginning to understand where the weak spots are in the surge strategy. Story from USA Today here.
The fighting in Baghdad started about 1:30 p.m. when gunmen attacked Iraqi army positions in the Fadhil neighborhood, on the east side of the Tigris River, police said.And this concerning a roadside bomb in Diyala that killed 4 American soldiers (my emphasis):
The military sealed off all roads leading to the area, causing traffic jams, according to witnesses and police. Stores closed their doors as the streets emptied of people fleeing the fighting. "The gunmen were shooting at every moving object. The streets were deserted and all shops closed," said Ghaith Jassim, the 37-year-old owner of a textile store in the area. "These frequent clashes have affected our work. We cannot earn our living. People and traders are afraid of coming to our area." Jassim said the arrival of U.S. troops in the area briefly stopped the clashes but the fighting resumed when the Americans left.The COIN (counter-insurgency) strategy assumes a rural agrarian society in which all roads can be shut down in order to isolate insurgents. Iraq has rural parts no doubt, but the fighting is urban and it is not clear to me that this strategy can hold in an urban zone. Sealing off the roads kills jobs and economics as the story mentions. Which in turn feeds the insurgency.
The clashes broke out a day after at least 74 people were killed or found dead in Iraq — 47 in suicide bombings — one of the deadliest days since a U.S.-Iraqi security sweep began in Baghdad on Feb. 14.The surge will continue in the next few months, so the violence levels may increase/decrease relative to all that. The real question is whether the COIN itself is under attack. The Shia are on the sidelines watching the US fight out the Sunni. They are figuring out how they will fight the Sunni as soon as the Americans begin the eventual drawdown.
That seems to be the going logic from a number of insiders and experts (including Ahmed Rashid). If Musharraf survives the current protests over the firing of a Judge--and that's an if in the minds of some--he will be forever wounded, perhaps mortally so.
American officials who worry about General Musharraf’s longevity focus on whether he is fighting hard enough against Al Qaeda and Taliban militants on the Afghan border. But the latest unrest suggests that his vulnerability may lie more in rising anger over accountability and democracy at home.
Francois Bayrou is making a serious run, coming as the saying goes out of nowhere. Story here WashingtonPost.
With one candidate who would like France to be America and one who would like it to be Scandinavia, it is time to show France wants to be France!"The American-phile candidate is Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the right (and ruling party), known for crackdowns on French Arab youth. The Scandinavian-phile is Segolene Royal, the leftist socialist candidate who in typical leftist fashion wants to expand massively the state infrastructure and welfare apparatus. Whatever the politics, that's a nifty slogan.
[Bayrou] says he doesn't want to spend as much money on social programs as the Socialists and doesn't want to be quite as draconian on immigration matters and security issues as the ruling party, the Union for a Popular Movement. "I am a centrist," Bayrou said in an interview. "Left and right is not the only reference for people anymore." Bayrou said he believes coalitions made up of ministers from several parties are "the way to govern modern societies."The first round is April 22nd. Right now Bayrou is trailing Royal by about 3-4 points. But interestingly in every head to head poll--against either Royal or Sarkozy--Bayrou wins. He's looking like Crash....if he can only get nominated, the Oscar looks to be his.
You make comments like the following.
Praying that the tyrant Mugabe falls and Zimbabwe can open up its political process without descending into bloodshed. The country is a basket-case and he should be made to answer for his crimes. But I guess if a deal was cut where he got sanctuary somewhere for a peaceful transition post-Mugabe have to live with it.
For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.
Read a great piece in the Vancouver Sun today--unfortunately it is behind a subscription wall--on 24.
Very good piece by Laura Rozen in WashingtonMonthly on whether Condi Rice will get "Powelled" as she calls it on Iran. Like former Sec. of State Colin Powell, will Rice be outmaneuvered by Cheney and Co?
Rice knows how the system works. In February, she traveled to Jerusalem to attempt to restart the Middle East peace process. But while she was en route the neoconservative NSC adviser Elliott Abrams was, according to news reports, using contacts in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to arrange a phone call between Olmert and Bush. After the call, Olmert announced that Israel would not recognize the Palestinian unity government as a legitimate negotiating partner—an essential precondition for productive talks—and that Bush supported Israel’s stance. Her position fatally undercut, Rice returned to Washington empty-handed.Elliott Abrams the last neo-con standing in this administration working to undercut (outside their knowledge) the State Dept. simultaneously. Why does Bush seem to get such jollies after letting his kiddies fight amongst each other?
Or: Why I'm more and more convinced I want Obama.
Bernard Lewis giving the Irving Kristol Lecture at American Enterprise Institute on Islam and the West.
When Muslims came to Europe they had a certain expectation of tolerance, feeling that they were entitled to at least the degree of tolerance which they had accorded to non-Muslims in the great Muslim empires of the past. Both their expectations and their experience were very different. Coming to European countries, they got both more and less than they had expected: More in the sense that they got in theory and often in practice equal political rights, equal access to the professions, all the benefits of the welfare state, freedom of expression, and so on and so forth.I highlight that not as an argument for sharia, separate legal codes and so on--which I do not believe in. In fact, I don't believe in laws against head-dresses for that very reason: it creates a separate legal standing for one group over another. It is meant to inform--to understand that the call for these institutions and separate communal running of affairs is not simply only about radicalization or overthrowing "Christendom" (really post-Christendom in Europe). It makes sense given the history. I still think it has to be moved beyond, but it is not insane.
But they also got significantly less than they had given in traditional Islamic states. In the Ottoman Empire and other states before that--I mention the Ottoman Empire as the most recent--the non-Muslim communities had separate organizations and ran their own affairs. They collected their own taxes and enforced their own laws. There were several Christian communities, each living under its own leadership, recognized by the state. These communities were running their own schools, their own education systems, administering their own laws in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the like. The Jews did the same. So you had a situation in which three men living in the same street could die and their estates would be distributed under three different legal systems if one happened to be Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim. A Jew could be punished by a rabbinical court and jailed for violating the Sabbath or eating on Yom Kippur. A Christian could be arrested and imprisoned for taking a second wife. Bigamy is a Christian offense; it was not an Islamic or an Ottoman offense.
They do not have that degree of independence in their own social and legal life in the modern state. It is quite unrealistic for them to expect it, given the nature of the modern state, but that is not how they see it. They feel that they are entitled to receive what they gave. As one Muslim friend of mine in Europe put it, "We allowed you to practice monogamy, why should you not allow us to practice polygamy?"
Less obvious but also powerful is the appeal of freedom. In the past, in the Islamic world the word freedom was not used in a political sense. Freedom was a legal concept. You were free if you were not a slave. The institution of slavery existed. Free meant not slave. Unlike the West, they did not use freedom and slavery as a metaphor for good and bad government, as we have done for a long time in the Western world. The terms they used to denote good and bad government are justice and injustice. A good government is a just government, one in which the Holy Law, including its limitations on sovereign authority, is strictly enforced. The Islamic tradition, in theory and, until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice, emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom. But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more appreciated and more and more desired. It is perhaps in the long run our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this developing struggle.What Lewis has properly done there is noted the goodness (though imperfection relative to modern standards) of the traditional Islamic world. The problem is not the historical existence of Caliphate. It is that the Islamic world has never entered modern political reality. It has, especially in the Arab and Central Asian world, fought that evolutionary current with despotism. But as Lewis notes, the best hope is the ideal of modern political freedom (orange meme) which is why deconstructionist (green) relativist impulses alone are hurting Europeans (both Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and secular) chances for the future.
A fantastic Bloggingheads between Robert Wright and Newsweek's Michael Hirsh. For foreign policy nerds like themselves, this is ambrosia.