Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday.

- I'd think it's worth questioning whether we should be so quick to radically change our basic social assumptions based on a declaration of "war" at all. But Dan Gardner nicely points out the problem with using "war" language to deal with issues which obviously aren't subject to resolution through a one-time conflict:
(H)yperbole about terrorism isn’t mere nonsense. It’s what the terrorists want. And that may be the least of the damage done by framing the response to terrorism as a “war.”

The enemy in this “war” is not a nation. He has no armies to defeat in the field, no capital to occupy, no supreme commander who can agree to end hostilities. There can be no V-E Day. If this is war, get used to it. It’s permanent.

Dick Cheney was explicit about that. He warned of “decades” of fighting ahead. So did neo-conservative strategist Richard Perle and former Bush speech writer David Frum in their book An End To Evil. And Norman Podhoretz, the dean of the neo-cons, topped them all in his book World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. In Podhoretz’s view, the Cold War was a 42-year-long world war, which makes “war on terror” the World War IV. Expect it to “go on for a very long time,” Podhoretz wrote.

The implication is as obvious as it is frightening. Peace is not the normal state of affairs in this mindset. Wars are not occasional and brief interruptions. Instead, war is the norm, and peace is but a brief interlude between conflicts.

But as we are constantly told, war is an emergency. It’s an existential struggle. To the extent that civil liberties and standards of civilized conduct get in the way of victory, they must be suspended. And since war is endless, the suspension is permanent — which is why, as James Madison observed long ago, “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

To be blunt, any politician or journalist who demands liberty and civility be curtailed because “we are at war” is a bigger threat to liberal democracy and western civilization than any terrorist.
- It's well and good for the Libs to point out a few prominent examples of how the Cons are wasting public money. But it's worth taking some time as well to go beyond the last two weeks' worth of headlines - and the Cons' longstanding commitment to throwing money at public-private partnerships wouldn't be a bad place to start.

- Not that I much disagree with Haroon Siddiqui. But can anybody explain why there would be any need for him to start his column on the Cons flat out making up "facts" with the qualifier "(w)hen cornered"?

- Finally, a shorter Eric Duhaime: We must fight the requests of mere undeserving artists at every turn, and instead take pity on their poor, helpless corporate distributors.

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