Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, no matter how you choose to celebrate them. As for me, I'm looking forward to what promises to be a splendid rendition of Handel's Messiah at the Riverside Church in Harlem tomorrow night. That, and not working again until Tuesday. Also, gifts (the giving and receiving).

If the holiday season leaves you wanting to curl up next to the yule-time fire with a nice book blog this weekend, though, I'd recommend Nadezhda's analysis of the impact of the Baker-Hamilton report, and the broader implications in the realm of politics, policy and the interaction of the two. A teaser:

There's been a great deal of moaning that the ISG Report brought forth a mouse which has vanished from relevancy in near-record time. Personally, I'm of the James Fallows view, that the ISG Report will eventually be seen as the "Walter Cronkite" of the Iraq war that shifts the basis of any future debates. [...]

Since 9/11, the Bush White House has confused electoral politics with the politics of domestic policy and diplomacy. It has applied its polarizing, "us vs them," Rovian approach to both domestic governance and international relations. Baker, by contrast, is capable of distinguishing between the zero-sum winner-take-all logic of election campaigns versus the politics of managing mutual and conflicting interests in governance and diplomacy. Baker (and Bush pere) is demonstratively of the "win-win" school, which tries to maximize one's interests over the long haul while giving the other party a positive framework in which cooperation can develop and be sustained. Quite a contrast to Junior's "slash and burn" style that tries to demonize, dominate or destroy the other, whether potential partner or enemy.

Also, Spencer examines a topic near and dear to my heart: the tendency of people to - incorrectly - conflate the use of violence with strength.

Lord knows I am no political scientist. But there are some big conceptual problems with Matt Continetti's cover story in the Standard this week. Continetti argues that an overlook partisan divide in America centers around what he terms the Peace Party and the Power Party. You can guess which is which. And, I suppose, it's true enough, in a banal sense. But problems lurk beneath the surface.

The evidence Continetti marshals doesn't actually hover around power as such. It has to do with war, or perhaps more accurately, militarism. He does a good job of demonstrating that Democratic voters are vastly more skeptical of military force. But the conceptual slip is in the conflation of military power with American power.
The notion that power equates to one's willingness to wage war seems like a particularly peculiar thesis to be discussing so near to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the divinity one ascribes to Jesus, it would be hard to argue that he was an individual that lacked "power."

Yet, I seem to recall him having a pretty negative view of war and violence.

To which I say, hallelujah.

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