Wednesday, December 24, 2003

semen found on cookies; Santa blamed

The Maximum Leader reads the same guest blog on Cerebral Bypass and declares it (mostly) beneath his attention.

More LOTR "Return of the King" commentary: Cobb found some fault but enjoyed it overall; Dan Darling (who's a huge LOTR fan to begin with) doesn't care much for the political spin accompanying many people's appraisal of the films, but uses LOTR as a jumping-off point for a very good meditation on Tolkien, war, etc.

I'll probably see the movie this week.

America freaks out as a single cow is discovered to have Mad Cow Disease. Japan and Korea freak, too.

California farts and kills two people in my absence.

(Speaking of my absence, Williamsburg was nice: unseasonably warm, but a great day for strolling along Duke of Gloucester Street and learning how colonists used their rifles to greet each other at Christmastime.)

If you aren't FIRING SCROTON TORPEDOES, you obviously don't have any scrotons.

Meta-commentary on North Korea at Seeing Eye Blog.

Ryan the Buddhologist takes the postmodernist quiz and rates "Theory Slut."

Annika names me Huge Comment of the Week, which makes my nipple hairs wave about like a sea anemone's tentacles. And she's obviously bitten off at least one of Wesley Clark's balls. Clark appears to have been caught in mid-rimjob, slurping up that last clinging dingleberry from Europe's fetid, twitching ass crack. With one ball gone, and Annika poised to bite off the other, Clark better watch his step.

"Xmas" isn't as disrespectful as all that. Having gone to Catholic universites of one sort or another since age 18, I've been acutely aware of this but felt I should share. Anyone who's seen the XP (chi-rho), which always reminds me of the Rx "prescription" symbol, knows what I'm talking about.

From KBJ: more Nietzsche than you can shake your dick at! And in this post, KBJ argues for the consistency of Dubya's judgement.

Glenn has (temporarily???) changed the look of his blog, giving his blog's name a new, ironic, and heavily commentarial spin. In short, I was rolling. Glenn also weighs in on "Return of the King."

"Europe's Enron." Heh.

Andrew Sullivan drops his pants and squeezes out a lovely, steaming turd onto France.

A chunk from Den Beste on the implications of Saddam's capture:

Why did this happen? What was different? It isn't too difficult to figure it out.

What was different was that someone had finally gone beyond diplomacy and soft power and was poised to crush a dictator who had been doing the same kinds of things that Qaddafi had been doing. Qaddafi didn't want to be the next crushee.

It was not "We're all reasonable men here" diplomacy (a la Solana) which ultimately did it; it was a clear and naked threat. Qaddafi was afraid of American military power and afraid of President Bush's determination.

Why did he call the British, rather than the French or the Russians or the EU or the UN? That's another interesting piece to the puzzle. What has developed over the last couple years is that Blair and Bush are doing a superb good-cop/bad-cop act. Blair is the good cop, the "reasonable" one. Unlike Australian PM John Howard, Blair has leftist/internationalist credentials, and has positioned himself to be the only world leader with such credentials who has significant influence with Bush and who has some ability to restrain or deflect Bush. Bush is the bad cop, the cowboy, the moron, the devout Christian, the one with blood in his eye, who also happens to be commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world and appears very willing and perhaps even eager to use it against those he dislikes.

That characterization of Bush is facile and wrong, of course; but he has that reputation in many places and it has actually served us well. Those who oppose Bush keep underestimating him, for one thing. But it also makes Bush a nearly ideal "bad cop", a barely controlled danger who can only be restrained by the "good cop", Tony Blair, through persuasion.

In looking for international allies to try to restrain America and protect himself against invasion, Saddam bet the farm on the French, Germans and Russians and the UN. He bet on the idea that it was somehow possible to force America to act in certain ways against its will, that it was possible for diplomacy in the UN to block American military action. After Bush and Blair and Aznar publicly made their announcement last March that they had given up on the UN and would attack anyway, Saddam lost that bet. And his ignominious capture a week ago made clear just how poor of a bet it had really been, and just how badly he had lost.

Qaddafi didn't want to share that fate and certainly didn't intend to make the same mistake. So when he decided to look for a way to avoid it, he called London. And the unique diplomatic position of the British with respect to the US put British negotiators in an excellent position to wring major concessions out of him. The substance of this agreement is that Qaddafi has totally capitulated. The reason this is important is not merely that an agreement was reached, but that Qaddafi gave up so much in that agreement, because he really needed an agreement.

It appears that the French had told Saddam that they could prevent the US from attacking even if Bush wanted to launch an attack. Because of that, Saddam thought he did not need to give much away.

The British position with Qaddafi, on the other hand, was that they had considerable influence with Washington but no veto over American actions. If you Libyans give us a deal with thus-and-so concessions, we think we can sell it to Bush and we promise to try really hard. We want to work with you here and to help you on this. But if you don't offer us enough there won't be anything we can do to keep the Americans from coming to visit you with extreme prejudice, like they just visited your buddy Saddam.

The paradoxical result is that it was precisely the fact that the British claimed less ability to influence Washington than the French had which made it possible for the British to convince Libya to give far more up. Not for we Brits, you do understand, old boy, but because we still have to sell this deal to that rough-riding cowboy over there who definitely has a list with your name on it.

Den Beste also joins Sullivan in treating France like a toilet.

The JoongAng Ilbo has an editorial titled "Seoul's Little America," dealing with questions surrounding the thorny issue of US troop relocation, and what this means for both property and staffers.

And that's it for the moment.


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