Today's Blogs

Forget the Democracy Crap

Bloggers analyze a Guardian story that says the new plan for Iraq is more troops, less vision. They also mourn the death of Milton Friedman and, it would seem, the kindlier, wrier 007.

Forget the democracy crap: British left-wing newspaper the Guardian quotes anonymous senior administration officials who say that President Bush is planning a “last big push” in Iraq. This will include the addition of 20,000 troops, the welcome of “regional cooperation” from Iran and Syria, and—last but not least—the abandonment of the “democracy crap” for a post-Saddam nation.

John Cole, a lifelong Republican guest-posting at lefty Carpetbagger Report, isn’t holding his breath about the troop infusion: “This ‘final push’ will achieve little—the country is already too embroiled in what is now a low grade civil war, and a two-week effort to secure Baghdad while the rest of the nation is blowing up is, at this point, futile (maybe we can go take Fallujah- again). … I see no reason to pretend that this latest Bush idea is little more than a cynical and transparent attempt to control the debate at home.” senior editor Tony Karon at Rootless Cosmopolitan is equally pessimistic: “Even the expansion of U.S. troop strength, then, would be a short-term move aimed primarily at securing Baghdad in the hope that a political solution—with a strong regional component that would include drawing in Iran and Syria—could have a fighting chance of success. … Translation: The U.S. is no longer in control of events in Iraq, and no policy option decided in Washington alone will have any prospect of success in Iraq.”

Even a few conservative bloggers are unenthusiastic about injecting more might into Iraq. Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse observes, “Unless we are willing to stay for 5-10 years with this level of commitment and expenditure of blood and treasure, I can’t see how the faith of the Iraqi people in government, in law and order, in civil society can be re-established.”

And righty Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters is appalled by the suggestion that there might be a return to the status quo: “Forgetting about the ‘democracy crap’ means that all of that long-range strategy has just disappeared. Instead, the US presumably would put a strongman or military junta in place in Baghdad, probably secular, as a way of achieving stability. The new junta would likely attract the Ba’athist elements that have operated the majority of the insurgencies in Iraq, helping to end one form of terrorism in the country—but putting the terrorists back in charge again.”

Read more about the Guardian piece.

Bye, Uncle Milty: Famed Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman died Thursday at the age of 94. A champion of free markets and considered by many conservatives to be the foremost prophet of postwar American capitalism, Friedman was roundly eulogized in cyberspace—even by those who thought he got a lot wrong.

Free-market economist Tyler Cowen at The Marginal Revolution offers more of a eulogy to Friedman’s oracular qualities:“Milton had been right all along that flexible exchange rates were entirely workable. He was wrong in underestimating their volatility through periodic, and possibly inexplicable, ‘long swings’ in the levels. Oddly, his mistake on this point probably enabled currency futures and options to be even more successful than he had expected.”

“Also one could trust Professor Friedman not to say something really stupid,” observes Paul Marks at the libertarian Samizdata. “Murry Rothbard may have been from the school of economics to which I am more sympathetic (the Austrian School), but he … could never be one hundred per cent trusted not to say that the IRA were ‘defenders of freedom’ … or some other really stupid thing … “

According to Classically Liberal, Friedman was a kindred spirit: “Many people forget that Friedman in his role as an adviser to Richard Nixon was a major proponent of abolishing military conscription. This was an issue which was strongly embraced by the New Left but they had no ability to implement it. But Friedman worked hard to end forced service to the military. And the Left typically ignored that or, more likely, just never bothered to find out the truth. And in later years Friedman was one of the most vocal advocates of legalizing drugs.”

Read more about Friedman.

The spy who went back into the cold: Casino Royale, the 21st James Bond film, hits theaters this weekend, and many bloggers who’ve caught advance screenings weigh in on the darker, more severe 007 played by newbie Daniel Craig.

Londoner Nikolai overcompensates for naming his blog The Importance of Being Earnest: “I’m hoping that it’s a return to a more tradition Bond—representing Fleming’s original hard-edged, ruthless and flagrantly egotistical character. I’m a bit of a purist you see, and I miss Sean Connery. And Pierce Brosnan, despite the fact that at least a couple of his films had good plots, was too soft—he cared for and respected the women he got with—that hasn’t happened since the disastrous first and only outing of George Lazenby ‘On her Majesty’s Secret Service’ where Bond married, a film I don’t even count as part of the Bond genre, it’s so bad.”

Greg Wright at Past the Popcorn was mildly entertained: “For fans of just plain great filmmaking, though, I’d say cast your net a bit wider. Haggis’ script is pretty savvy and self-aware, Campbell’s direction is competent, and Craig’s Bond is very compelling; but the whole affair is pretty transparent nonetheless. There should be better cinematic opportunities over the holidays.”

Read more about the new Bond. Slate’s covering Casino Royale here, here, and here.