Unsubtle Subtitle

Kenneth Pollack on The Case for Invading Iraq.

Writers on The Storm:Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, responds to Chris Suellentrop’s Assessment here. Pollack sees U.S. foreign policy caught between the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, “given how far down the road the Bush Administration has taken us, I think that we have no realistic choice but to go to war this year.” And yet

I think the Administration has handled the diplomacy and public diplomacy of coalition building very poorly, and I am deeply concerned about the impact this will have both on postwar reconstruction and on our ability to garner allies for the inevitable next crisis.


Personally, he is clearly tired of “[h]aving had my name tossed around so often by so many who seem to have read only the subtitle of my book” and seems to concur with Suellentrop that “A more appropriate subtitle for the book would have been The Case for Rebuilding Afghanistan, Destroying al-Qaida, Setting Israel and Palestine on the Road to Peace, and Then, a Year or Two Down the Road After Some Diplomacy, Invading Iraq,” when he says The Case for Invading Iraq “was not my choice!” 10:40 p.m.


Friday, Mar. 7, 2003

I feel your contractual obligations: William Saletan points up Bush’s inability to see where other countries are “coming from” in contrast to Clinton. In response, Thomas attacks and scribe57 defends the deadlocked internationalism of the Clinton years (not that deadlocked in the case of Kosovo …). Loran wonders if discretion isn’t the better part of leadership here. The amusing part:

If Bush were to speculate about other’s feelings or motivations would he be doing his country any favors by saying what he thinks? How would this answer play?—”I don’t know, Hutch, I think the French and the Russians have got too much investment and oil contract opportunities on the line to back what is obviously best for the world in the long term.” or”Those Chinese are just busting my balls because they want me to placate the Koreans and give a little on the One China Policy”…Really, is that what you expect him to do? …


Starring George Clooney in his Jim Byrd  mustache: Before it gets lost in the Fray sands of time, check out EarlyBird’s critique of Neal, er, Ken Pollack’s Iraq-war timeline here. For EB, Pollock wants “The Perfect Invasion” “I thought we had a Threatening Storm here, Mr. Pollack, not a Twenty Percent Chance of Light Showers” …

Dead heds: Apologies for yesterday’s lame hed. Rob_said_that proves  he can write better headlines than I can … 7 out of 10 times. … 8:50 a.m.


Thursday, Mar. 6, 2003

Greased enlightening: The Fray immediately jumps on Michael Kinsley’s theory  that making his oil buddies happy is Bush’s ulterior motive in the war for Iraq. If the point is to keep prices up, says Thomas here,


Bush should take the French position, leaving us on the verge of war with Iraq for months. That’ll keep the price of crude up, increasing domestic production and profits. For some reason, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.

Nor are his oil buddies happy, according to MatteBlacke here:

As it happens, oil company stocks are trading at about five year lows, and well below the price at which they were when the Iraq war talk started. [He links to this chart and this chart.—Ed.]Now, maybe Kinsley knows more about what makes oilmen happy than the sharks on Wall Street. But I doubt it.


Last, and perhaps most important, is this question from Chafe:

Kinsley shoots down many reasons/motives attributed by others to Mr. Bush for choosing war with Iraq. He then proposes that oil is an/the ulterior motive. Okay, so far. But what, Mr. Kinsley, is Mr. Bush’s primary motive? Or is that either an impenetrable mystery or the subject for another time? … 2:00 p.m.


Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2003

The enemy of my enemy is a putz: Christopher Hitchens and Tim Noah are both looking out for the Kurds in the coming double-cross. For Hitchens, cozying up to the Turks is a disaster. Historyprof responds with the strong geopolitical argument in favor of an alliance with Turkey—the Bosporus is crucial, Turkey checks Russia, etc. The analogue is Israel:

Supporting Turkey is a bit like supporting Israel. Yes, the Israelis are a brutal country that talks secularism and practices theocracy, but they can park a mechanized army on the banks of the Suez Canal in forty-eight hours, and whoever can do that is (when it counts) a useful ally, if not exactly a good friend. For similar reasons, this is not the time to alienate Turkey, or dredge up a whole host of Turkish historical “sins” just because we’re annoyed with the vote of the Turkish parliament.


There are good answers, too. As for screwing the Kurds, CaptainRonVoyage was ahead of the curve, as he notes in “Tomorrow’s Blowback Today.” Still, the most contrarian position on Kurdish betrayal would be “they deserve it.” Atsjackson comes close here:

Faced with a dictator committed to their destruction in defense of his ambitions, the Kurds still managed to engage in open warfare within their divided communities with near-suicidal results. If the Kurds ever intend to establish a modern nation-state, they should spend less time grousing about how they’ve been “screwed” in the past by outside forces and reflect more on those defects in their culture which cripple their abilities to live at peace with themselves and their neighbors …


C3Fray: baltimore-aureole grades Gregg Easterbrook’s sketch of a battle plan for Iraq (B-) and concludes with this:

the key to victory will be severing the command and control infrastructure between saddam and his military assets. if the generals are no longer receiving tactical instructions/threats/blustery speeches from saddam, they may find the logic of signing a surrender treaty with US commanders irresistible. saddam may want to go out as a martyr, but general Ibn Haytn Wahr probably realizes his own death will not bring him any personal glory. …

War Stories war: There are two “War Stories” pieces going up today—Easterbrook’s and Fred Kaplan’s piece on Bush’s unilateralism. The Fray may be confusing. Update: With Easterbrook’s piece now on, it will be hard to discuss Kaplan’s. One way would be to go here, where Betty_The_Crow kicked off a thread about the same passage from the NYT that Kaplan focuses on …


Complaint dept. Send comments on the new Dreamcatcher popup to … 1:05 p.m.

ΣixΣΣux: Disgruntled former (and current) GE employees have weighed in on the performance of Jack Welch’s proteges. Much of the Welchlets debate centers on the applicability of Jack’s “Six Sigma” philosophy. TonyAdragna, who cops to having been forced to try to make the thing go at Citibank, has the best one-liner here:


Against a goal of “no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities”, 4 failures of 6 opportunities says much about what Jack’s “management academy” produced…

Gamebird offers some cogent reasons for Six Sigma’s particularity here, while lone voice tuscanyron hews to the purist’s line here:


Jack’s Pals are failing is because they just give lip service to the program. The fact is that six sigma takes work, lots of hard work. Most of these guys just don’t have the patience to work through all the details of six sigma. Basically, they just want to get the product to market and in recent years they “sold the wine before it was time.” Lot’s of product and service failures.

Finally, for those who want to see what GE’s new “Imagination at Work” campaign means (when it doesn’t mean finding time to post in the Fray), check here. … 10:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2003

Shazamwatch, or, won’t you be my Nabors? Arlington thinks the future betrayal of Iraqi Kurds is like “Gomer Pyle, yelling, ‘Hey! Sergeant Carter! Guess what! Soo-prahz, soo-prahz, soo-prahz!’ ” Meanwhile, over in the Television Fray discussion of Six Feet Under, You-Me-Us is still reeling from Catherine O’Hara’s performance: “Imagine being midway through a performance of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and having Gomer Pyle walk on stage and exclaim, ‘Surprise surprise surprise!’ He would be no more out of place.” … 12:30 p.m.

Quick Cuts: Check out Deej on Ron Jeremy’s doppelganger here; Cicero, Don and MarcEJohnson on Bush’s domestic difficulties here; DeaH’s responses to the Ad Report Card on the “art exhibit with no arthere and here; and doodahman’s review of David Edelstein’s review  of Spider here. … 12:15 p.m.


SeQueL: Can’t get enough cyberterror debate? Brendan Koerner responds to daveadams here and daveadams replies here (find the complete exchange below the piece). … 11:40 a.m.

Dismal, indeed: Many people question Robert Shapiro’s take on the economic effects of terrorism: It simply can’t be irrelevant, no matter how big the U.S. economy. The_Bell offers a cynical explanation in which terrorists looking for maximum effect and anti-terror bureaucrats looking to justify security budgets


come together in a kind of downward spiral because, in order for the government to justify the expenditures it is making today for prevention, it has to keep reminding citizens that a future risk DOES exist.

But, he contends, the cynical explanation might be wrong, and he points to the anthrax letters as a better example than 9/11. Terrorism might be like war after all: “The irony is that almost all of the issues concerned in answering [this question] defy cold-blooded economic analysis. Ah, if only it WERE just a question of the budget this time!”


Of course, the cynical explanation might be true; Ashes2Dust thinks it is, at least in the context of the government’s response to cyberterror. …

SQuirreLy: Speaking of cyberterror, Brendan Koerner’s piece elicits diametrically opposed responses. On the one hand, Hickeroar thinks the cyberterror threat is more real than Koerner admits:

About the “one hacker taking out the west coast”, believe it. … Ever heard of the “SQL Slammer?” If not, I want to know where you’ve been lately. … that virus written by ONE person took out huge chunks of the internet all over the world, including mine, for about a day. it took down 7 of the 13 main DNS servers that keep the internet up and running and well as ransacked ISP’s web hosts and everything else you can imagine that’s running MS SQL server. …

On the other, several posters think that Koerner is mistaken to compare Microsoft’s “troubled SQL server” with “OpenBSD” daveadams puts it this way:

How can you even begin to compare a database server to an operating system??OpenBSD is fantastically secure, yes, but that’s because it’s based on older versions of products whose security has been vetted by the sysadmins who install and real-world-test the new versions. Those older versions are only so secure because they’ve been widely deployed, and their vulnerabilities found and patched.… There’s no open source DBMS that even comes close to the performance you can get from SQL or Oracle.

Doesn’t the first scenario make the SQL/BSDcomparison legitimate? Not that I know, but some Frayster should enlighten us. …

What kind of training, son?Readers wonder with Mike Shropshire about the passing of baseball’s Spring Training debauchery. BarkinJ thinks new media realities may have something to do with it here:

Nowadays, more small and mid-size papers rely on a wire service or pool their resources and send a few reporters to do the work that several once did. Maybe they got wise to the fact that it was possible to cover a team while downing a “six-pack of Busch Bavarian 18-ouncers.” … 4:15 a.m.