Giuliani’s Partisan Problem with National Security

Rudy Giuliani has proclaimed that he made a mistake in joining (and not attending) the Iraq Study Group (hat tip Majikthise).  He was perhaps unintentionally revealing:

Giuliani said the main reason he quit was that it “didn’t seem that I would really be able to keep the thing focused on a bipartisan, nonpolitical resolution.” [AP]

This tells us two things.  First, that Giuliani considers “bipartisan, nopolitical” resolutions to be a good and necessary thing.  Second, that he does not think he can provide such a resolution (at least when it comes to questions of war and national security).

With arguments like this, who needs opponents?

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FBI To Institute Student Fear Campaign

The FBI is providing a list of “espionage indicators” to new england universities.  (Press Esc va Slashdot):

FBI is offering to brief faculty, students and staff on what it calls “espionage indicators” aimed at identifying foreign agents.

Unexplained affluence, failing to report overseas travel, showing unusual interest in information outside the job scope, keeping unusual work hours, unreported contacts with foreign nationals, unreported contact with foreign government, military, or intelligence officials, attempting to gain new accesses without the need to know, and unexplained absences are all considered potential espionage indicators.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to monitor their colleagues for signs of suspicious behaviour and report any concerns to the FBI or the military.

This will have a chilling effect on students and faculty at some of the nation’s top research universities.

US university students will not be able to work late at the campus, travel abroad, show interest in their colleagues’ work, have friends outside the United States, engage in independent research, or make extra money without the prior consent of the authorities, according to a set of guidelines given to administrators by the FBI.

While these activities are not expressly verboten, they are meant to trigger a “spy on your friends and colleagues” mentality that is sure to impact behavior.  Given the troubled history of political groups and US intelligence agencies, how will more overt attention from the FBI be received on campus?

Hopefully with a patriotic one fingered salute.

We are Ahmadinejad’s Useful Enemy

The NYTimes has an article up on Iran’s recent crackdown on dissidents, the press, and rights groups:

The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.

The hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, analysts say, faces rising pressure for failing to deliver on promises of greater prosperity from soaring oil revenue. It has been using American support for a change in government as well as a possible military attack as a pretext to hound his opposition and its sympathizers.

Meanwhile our “tough talk” (read: warmongering) is playing right into the hands of Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President gets to follow in our own fearless leader’s footsteps. As long as we remain an obvious threat to the region, despots and terrorists have their enemy signed and delivered for domestic consumption.  This helps free them from the responsibility of addressing pressing domestic issues or adhering to the will of the people.  One of the very real effects of abdicating our place as defender of liberty in favor of naked imperial desire is we provide an opening to power hungry politicians who smell opportunity in our war cries.

Analysts trace the broadening crackdown to a March speech by Ayatollah Khamenei, whose pronouncements carry the weight of law. He warned that no one should damage national unity when the West was waging psychological war on Iran. The country has been under fire, particularly from the United States, which accuses it of trying to develop nuclear weapons and fomenting violence in Iraq.

Imagine a foreign policy towards Iran that dropped the threat of war, and took up the hard work of friendship and diplomacy. The Iranian people are being oppressed, but waving our overextended military in their face won’t help anyone. And judging by Iraq, the Iranians might be reasonably wary about the real-world effects of being “liberated”.

We should drop the tough talk on weapons, and start the tough talk on rights. But this is a discussion that will move forward with greater speed and stability if we approach it as friends, and not as useful enemies.

Thinking Blogger Award

Chris at From The Left tagged me for a Thinking Blogger Award! I feel honored, excited, and humbled by the recognition. Doubly so by his description of my blog:

Smart, insightful news analysis with stylish writing.

Weeee! Here is the award:

And here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Much like Chris and Mirth, I find that picking only 5 blogs is tough. I could really just point to my blogroll, push a big green “award” button and be very happy with the results. In making my choices, I aimed for blogs that have not yet received the award and cover a wide breadth of issues. Here are my five (in no particular order):

  1. !Para Justicia y Libertad! (xicanopwr): Well researched writing that digs deep into issues of immigration and liberal politics.  He does more than shine light on the problems that fall through the cracks.  He lifts them back out and provides rhetorical sealant.  A first stop for many news stories.
  2. August Pollack (xoverboard): I started reading August through a link from Tom Tomorrow, and have been hooked since. One of the first blogs I read regularly, and with very good reason. August mixes insight, humor and political acumen into a very small space. That concentrated goodness also comes with a frequent side of witty cartoons over easy.
  3. Majikthise (Lindsay Beyerstein): Lindsay brings professional photojournalism and a highly analytic yet accessible style of writing to the table.  Another blogger who catches a lot of substantial news items first.  Together with reasoning forged in philosophy and an eagle’s eye for photography, Majikthise is a daily must-read.
  4. Dennis Perrin: Provides a much needed slap of reality to the progressive movement.  Stoutly anti-corporatism and pro-people, he is a liberal and a radical when everyone else is afraid to be.
  5. Our Descent Into Madness (80Proof: Emily and Daisy): Insightful News, Perspectives and Analysis covering a wide range of progressive issues.  Perhaps the very definition of a blog that makes you think, Emily and Daisy hit stories you’ve never seen before from angles you didn’t know existed.  The result is supremely informative and entertaining reading.

Thanks again to Chris for the award.  And a very big thanks to everyone who stops by to read, talk and think.  Enjoy the links, and also check out the blogroll: they are all blogs that will make you think.