Bombing Syria is not a last resort, so bombing Syria is neither just nor justifiable


What would convince me that military action against Syria is justifiable as a last resort? Show me a press conference outside of the Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge, Mass., with Gene Sharp standing at a podium, flanked by the joint chiefs of staff, the president and the secretary of defense. “There’s no other option,” Sharp says. “This would be the most effective, wisest approach. The best remaining option for the people of Syria.” Show me that and I’ll accept that this is a last resort. [Read more...]

Theodicy and foreign policy: The U.S. is not omnipotent


Andrew Tabler is trying to revive one of the nastiest, most illogical of all the nasty, illogical arguments that misled America into the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. He’s repeating Glenn Reynolds’ ugly, foolish slur that anyone who opposed invading Iraq was “objectively pro-Saddam.” This accusation doesn’t make any more sense in 2013 than it did a decade ago, but I think I’ve finally figured out why people like Reynolds and Tabler trick themselves into thinking it does. They’re not really talking about foreign policy. They’re talking about theodicy. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things

Linda J. Bilmes and Shelby Chodos: “Want to stimulate the economy? Let’s hand cash directly to the states“ A state-directed recovery initiative would be the quickest, easiest way to reduce unemployment and get the economy moving again. Congress would simply distribute money to the states, based on population and with no strings attached. Each state [Read More...]

An island paradise for former dictators

It’s nice to get a link from a high-traffic blog like Andrew Sullivan’s. Unfortunately, that link goes to what I think is one of my more hare-brained ideas — a weird scheme to conscript jury duty into service as an employment office. This is, I think, a Bad Idea — see the comment thread there [Read More...]

Don't you know that you can count me out

The tea party and the loudest, most strident voices of anti-abortion politics love to flirt with the idea of armed revolution. This is, for the most part, just adolescent foolishness — a kind of fantasy play-acting that can be summed up in a single word: Wolveriiiiiines! By pretending to believe that America is on the [Read More...]

Sez who?

"Nature and Nature's God" was Thomas Jefferson's lovely phrase for the basis of the rights we asserted in the Declaration of Independence. That was his shorthand answer to the question "Sez who?" He didn't have time in that document for a treatise on the basis, source or origin of human rights. His point wasn't to [Read More...]

August 9

It is not permissible to deliberately target non-combatants with a weapon of mass destruction. To do so is always, in all times and places, wrong and monstrous and forbidden. That's not my rule. It existed for centuries before I was born and it will remain true long after I die. It has, over the centuries, [Read More...]

Military precision

With all due respect to India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and with sympathy for the tragic loss of life his country recently suffered in the murderous attacks in Mumbai, it’s still necessary to point out that his statement earlier today grievously — and destructively — mischaracterizes those attacks. Here is what the prime minister said: [Read More...]