Gleanings, 22.03.11

George Will: Is it America’s duty to intervene wherever regime change is needed? (MUST READ)

In today’s episode, America has intervened in a civil war in a tribal society, the dynamics of which America does not understand … In Libya, mission creep began before the mission did. A no-fly zone would not accomplish what Barack Obama calls “a well-defined goal,” the “protection of civilians.” So the no-fly zone immediately became protection for aircraft conducting combat operations against Gaddafi’s ground forces. America’s war aim is inseparable from — indeed, obviously is — destruction of that regime. So our purpose is to create a political vacuum, into which we hope — this is the “audacity of hope” as foreign policy — good things will spontaneously flow. But if Gaddafi cannot be beaten by the rebels, are we prepared to supply their military deficiencies? And if the decapitation of his regime produces what the removal of Saddam Hussein did — bloody chaos — what then are our responsibilities regarding the tribal vendettas we may have unleashed? How long are we prepared to police the partitioning of Libya?

Stratfor: Yemen in Crisis: A Special Report

While a Western-led military intervention in Libya is dominating the headlines, the crisis in Yemen and its implications for Persian Gulf stability is of greater strategic consequence. Saudi Arabia is already facing the threat of an Iranian destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia and has deployed forces to Bahrain in an effort to prevent Shiite unrest from spreading. With a second front now threatening the Saudi underbelly, the situation in Yemen is becoming one that the Saudis can no longer leave on the backburner.

Richard Perle: Losing Libya VI

It is hard to know what made the greatest contribution to the fiasco that the administration’s Libyan policy has become: The debilitating delay that transformed a relatively easy mission into a hard one, or the current confusion about the goals of our intervention, the source of its legitimacy, and a strategy for success.

Hussein Ibish: Why do we treat Arab demagogues like Qaradawi and Atwan with undeserved respect?

There’s a strange unwillingness to apply the same standards we would to a Sarah Palin, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi or Michael Moore to Arab voices that are also prominent but also equally irresponsible or dangerous … Atwan is perhaps the most important, and certainly the loudest, of the remaining left-nationalist Arab voices, particularly those that are counterintuitively and inexplicably enamored of the Islamist religious right … Put in the American political terms, he combines something like Pat Buchanan’s level of chauvinism with a Michael Moore-style lowest common denominator populist demagoguery … Yusuf Qaradawi could be explained as something like the Jerry Falwell of the Arab world, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the most prominent and influential Islamist and reactionary religious politician in the entire region. Here is a man who metaphorically sits at a desk that has two quasi-spiritual but actually political boxes in front of him, like a pair of giant files, if you will. He then takes everything that comes before him and puts it into one of these two simple boxes: the halal (permitted) and the haram (forbidden), with gradations of what is encouraged or discouraged in between (his most famous book was actually called “The Halal and the Haram in Islam”)

Mortimer B. Zuckerman: Israel Faces a Culture of Hatred and Violence

This is a culture where sermons legitimize violence in the name of Islam and have shaped generations of Arabs with what writer Eli Hertz calls “a steady diet of poison-filled propaganda.” Hertz writes: “For non-Arabic speakers, it is hard to grasp just how pervasive the propaganda is in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and throughout the Arab world. It is omnipresent: in state-controlled media outlets, in schools and mosques, at rallies, in speeches and articles.” Professor Bernard Lewis, the great academic authority on Islam, has said that if the West knew what was being said in Arabic, people would be horrified.

Walter Russell Mead: Obama’s War

A certain pattern seems to be emerging in this President’s foreign policy process.  On the one hand, he is instinctively drawn to the cool logic of the Jeffersonian realists who believe that the safest and wisest course for the United States is to draw in our horns and make peace with decline.  If he could design the world from scratch, he would build one where the United States had a much smaller military budget and a much shorter list of strategic international interests.  No drone strikes, no confrontations with Iran, no troops in combat overseas and no prisoners at Guantanamo: just the peaceful construction of high speed rail, the implementation of the health legislation and a focus on education.

But when it is time to choose, this President consistently chooses a more active course.  He would rather not think about Iraq, but if he must, he will stick to George W. Bush’s withdrawal plans.  He would rather not have a war in Afghanistan, but since he has one he will escalate the drone strikes and step up troop levels.  He would very much have preferred the Libyan situation to resolve itself without American participation, but forced to choose between action and doing nothing, he acts.  He listens to the realists and makes them feel important — but at least since their ideas on how to handle Israel went so badly wrong, he doesn’t seem to take their advice.

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

4 Responses to Gleanings, 22.03.11

  1. All too frequently these days I am asked whether our past polling at Zogby International gave us any advance clues to the uprisings that have occurred in several Arab countries. The subcommittees meeting today to explore whether there are risk factors or preincident indicators of terrorist activity identified by intelligence and law enforcement organizations to enable them in thwarting attacks while preserving — let me repeat that — preserving individuals right to privacy and civil liberties.

  2. Cynic says:


    I came across this following blog post which I found interesting and in my cognitive egocentrism think that you will also find the critique of what goes on all the time among academicpsychologists and sociologistss to be in line with our comments here.
    It’s entitled How political biases sometimes yield invalid research.

    However, some of the research in sub-fields like political psychology and attitudes has deviated sharply from valid scientific methods. Researchers sometimes embed ideological assumptions into their hypotheses, constructs, and measures, in ways that make their studies invalid or even meaningless. Regrettably, I can’t properly make my point without evaluating the work of noted social psychologists. I’m willing to do so here, and in future settings, because a) I think this is a serious problem …
    My first example of the phenomenon is the Napier and Jost (2008) Psych Science article “Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?”

    In this article, the authors want to show that conservatives are happier than liberals because they “rationalize inequality” (by which they mean economic or financial inequality, such as unequal incomes). This is already an unanswerable research question. Why? To rationalize is to explain away an uncomfortable reality, often by making excuses for it. It is dissonance reduction. Thus, a basic precondition for conservatives to rationalize economic inequality is that economic inequality be uncomfortable for them. However, economic inequality is particularly uncomfortable only for leftists.
    Environmentalism is a political ideology, and as such it rests on various philosophical assumptions and values (e.g. a conception of the natural world as sacred; a view of human activities as unnatural; resources as static and collectively-owned; and a propensity to value the preservation of status quo ecologies more highly than some increment of human prosperity). Reasonable people might embrace or reject environmentalism, in whole or in part, for any number of reasons. We cannot treat environmentalism as self-evidently correct, any more than we can treat conservatism or Kantianism as self-evidently correct.

    Interesting if we move away from Social Psychology into the realm of the media. Social Communication?

    • oao says:

      Heh, heh, heh. I spent over 15 years in PoliSci specializing in research methods, with the added advantage of having a natural science background and, thus, knowing and understanding the real scientific method; and the luck of having a mentor who was an ace in it.

      I found out that the methodological knowledge of social scientists was already appalling and deteriorating and, in fact, was one of the major factors in me abandoning an academic career.

      A lot of socsc academics are essentially frustrated political activists and would not know what sceince is if it bit them on the ass. Neither do they care that they don’t. Some of them were clever enouugh to obscure that lack of knowledge by the shrewd use of language and jargon, but even those are disappearing and are replaced by younger ones who are outright ideologues without any methodological background.

      That is why you see so much published garbage, indoctrination and this is what explains their so easily falling prey to corruption by dictators, becoming useful idiots –they produce crap that nobody reads but themselves and that’s one reason why they strive for outside attention.

      I recommend this:

      Lee Smith: Committed

  3. Must Read:

    “Anti-Semitism 2.0”, by Mudar Zahran, March 21, 2011; “Mudar Zahran is a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan, who now resides in the UK as a political refugee.”

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