Saturday, September 21, 2002
The Washington Post has a piece on possible consequences of the newly announced national security doctrine
I think I agree with the arguments as to why this doctrine could be dangerous, but I found the apparently-included-for-balance, contrary argument dubious:
For those of you who thought that just because you were too smart or too honest to fall for the Nigerian money transfer fraud, it would never cost you any money, here is a story that might make you think twice. Apparently a woman sent $2.1 million dollars of her law firm's clients' money to fraudsters, without anyone noticing anything amiss.
Friday, September 20, 2002
People interested in the rebuilding Iraq idea should also probably look at the James Fallows article in the Atlantic on this subject. I wish I believed that the US had the determination to stick with a project like this for the long, long time it would probably take. But I don't see it.
I am trying to understand how the policy enunciated in the national security policy document released today is going to be a good idea. I'm OK with the idea that new times may require new measures, but the policy that this document appears to outline has tremendous potential to undermine US interests.
For example, in conjunction with this interpretation of Donald Rumsfeld's press conference on the 16th this seems to me like a large incentive to covert nuclear proliferation, either by internal development or transfer of actual weapons. (Why? Because previously states that didn't actually attack anyone could assume that they wouldn't be attacked by the US. Now they can't assume that, but if possessing nuclear weapons will deter preemptive US action, this increases the desirability of having them substantially. Of course, you have to not get caught, but that was probably true already.)
If nothing else, since this document is unlikely to convince anyone who isn't already with the program, why even release it? It seems a lot more dangerous than telling us how many people are being held at Guantanamo.
I'll probably have more to say about this after I have time to give it additional thought.
Steven den Beste responded to my objections in my last post in an update to his post of the 18th. I take his point on the restrictions on the free flow of information, but while I think we still disagree about some of the specifics--how "restrictive" the religion was, and perhaps what it means to accept responsibility for collective failure--I don't think that is in fact the key difference in our thinking here.
Japan was a functioning society which had already made the transition to modernity, and although it had some serious and destructive quirks, fixing it didn't require creating a whole new way of life and thinking on top of a pre-modern base. Nor did the reconstruction of Germany.
It seems to me that a better comparison might be US governance of the Phillippines (certainly did some good, not enough) or perhaps our time in Haiti (completely useless). Something like Puerto Rico might be a possible goal, but that has been a century in the making, it is a lot smaller and nearer, and it is still massively subsidized after 100 years.
So I continue to think that making Iraq (and then apparently much of the rest of the region) into a functioning society is probably both beyond our capabilities and our attention span.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Steven DenBeste suggests at length that more-or-less the whole Arab world needs to be remade, and until then we will not be safe from al-Queda type threats. He then uses the rebuilding of Japan as an example of how such a threat was removed. The points he makes to support the idea that this is necessary are debatable, but what I found surprising was the idea that we had the power to do this remaking.