Today's Blogs

Dictatorships and Single Standards

Bloggers react to Condoleezza Rice’s response to one key recommendation of the Iraq Study Group Report. They also grumble about a “broken army” and marvel at the world’s tallest man’s act of kindness to a fellow mammal.

Dictatorships and single standards: In an extensive interview with the Washington Post [Note: Slateis owned by the Washington Post Co.], Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice dismissed the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States enact a sort of Levantine detente with Iran and Syria. Bloggers either see a noble rejection of cynical realpolitik, or more of the same failed idealism.

Lefty “dzhessi” at DailyKos wants Condi fired: “[F]or Condoleezza Rice to come out this quickly and take something this big off the table without apparently even waiting to hear from her own advisors is absolutely reckless. Rice has probably violated every rule of diplomacy with this action.”

Liberal Matt Yglesias would rather try to make nice with Iran and Syria: “The way the world works is that if you want some countries to do some things, you need to discuss this fact with them, ascertain what their actual views on the matter are, see what they would want you to do in exchange, and then make a decision. … [Rice] won’t talk to Syria and Iran to explore options because the price might—might—be too high. Why not find out?”

Because, conservative “streiff” at Red State writes, the proposal is “a Blanche DuBois foreign policy in which we rely upon the kindness of strangers. … Secretary Rice has it right. If Iran and Syria have an interest in stability in Iraq they will take unilateral action to reduce that instability in which case there is no need for us to negotiate with them. If they are comfortable with the instability in Iraq they will take no action and negotiating with them will be fruitless.”

But Ezra Klein at progressive magazine the American Prospect’s Tapped can’t understand how Rice’s announcement is being met by apathy: “[S]houldn’t the media be freaking out? Bush has contravened the bipartisan sanctity of the ISG, ruled out the treasured solutions of every pundit whose paychecks aren’t signed by Murdoch, and promised to do precisely what the American people overwhelmingly voted against in November. The obstinance of this crew has emerged an almost transcendent quality … “

Read more about Rice’s kibosh on the ISG advice.

The hollow men: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker yesterday gave a grim assessment of the U.S. military. Citing the fact that only 90,000 out of 522,000 National Guardsmen and reservists are currently available for active duty, Schoomaker said the Army was “out of Schlitz.” Bloggers tend to agree.

At toohotfortnr, former New Republic writer Spencer Ackerman remembers when Schoomaker was a dittohead of Donald Rumsfeld: “I have no doubt that Schoomaker is right in his assessment. But he deserves condemnation for only issuing this warning now that his boss is out the door. In February, when Rumsfeld had to go to the Hill to refute charges of breaking the Army, he brought Schoomaker along for insulation.”

Military blogger MountainRunner is blunt: “The quality of recruits are falling, quite simply. Necessary increases in enlistment incentives and re-enlistment bonuses are not simply to meet private sector competition, which requires higher-caliber personnel and the bulk of current Army recruits, but indicate deeper and longer term problems. What does it say about motivation when recruits cost nearly twice as much today as five years ago when the ‘Long War’ began?”

Lefty P.M. Carpenter at p m carpenter’s commentary notes that “we spend nearly 10 times what China does … But let’s be fair. That’s only because, as was reported into Congressional oversight oblivion in 2003, the Defense Department ‘couldn’t account for more than a trillion dollars [as in 1000 billion] in financial transactions, not to mention … [d]efense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.’”

Read more about Schoomaker’s Army assessment.

Stretch Armstrong: Bao Xishun is a Mongolian herdsman—and, at 7 feet 9 inches, the world’s tallest man. He recently helped save two ailing dolphins in northeast China, both of whom had swallowed shards of plastic, by reaching his lengthy arms into the creatures’ stomachs and removed the offending matter. Very cool, says cyberspace.

G-Wee at Cool Looking Stuff notes: “This is not the first time this has happened. In late 1978 Clifford Ray a famous basketball player had use long arm to remove some item another dolphins swallowed. Makes you think that they should stop these dolphins from eating plastic.”

And how ‘bout that for the lock-in-key creationism? “[I]f I were am Intelligent Design freak,” submitsdriftglass, “I’d be all over this shit. ‘You mean you believe the tallest man in the world’s arm just happens to be exactly the right length to pull the seat cushion outta Flipper’s gullet? Please! Just hadda be Jebus. Case closed. Christmas War over.’”

Read more about the dolphin rescue.