Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton: Live from La Farine CXCIII: June 10, 2014
Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for June 10, 2014

If Only Batiushka, the Little Father, the Czar Knew...: Tuesday Hoisted from the Archives from Ten Years Ago

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Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: If Only Batiushka, the Little Father, the Czar Knew...:

Blogging from the root cellar as he watches the depredations of the cossacks who are the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Gregory Djerejian closes his eyes and desperately repeats the myth that if only the cossacks weren't misleading the Czar, Batiushka, the Little Father, he would do the right thing and all would be well. George W. Bush needs "better advice on the Iraq war than he is currently getting from the civilian leadership of the Pentagon." Well, Gregory, the cossacks work for and always have worked for the Czar: George W. Bush has the advisors and gets the advice he wants:

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: Another Rightist Anti-Rumsfeld Voice: ...what is really needed now is leadership and straight talk--including an honest facing up regarding the resources we may need to ensure we get the job of Iraqi democratization done.... Bush... to his immense credit, is trying to see this hugely difficult endeavour through, which is far and away the main reason why I supported him. But he seems to be hoping the elections (and a too hasty train and equip program) will prove panaceas of sorts. Put differently, and even beefing up to 150,000 (albeit too many of these overstretched, underqualified reserves), he's trying to do it on the cheap, with fingers crossed, hoping things will get better after January 30th.

But as Kagan and other adult, non-chest beating, non-breezily self-congratulatory conservatives are pointing out, that may not be the case.... Don Rumsfeld doesn't seem capable of honestly reckoning with those contingencies (nor, it appears, do the other pet budget-interested, transformationalist cheerleaders around him). So in my view, and it's getting increasingly important, the President (whom I believe truly cares about the Iraq project and has the conviction to match--but doesn't appear to fully appreciate the quantum of prospective dangers ahead) needs to get better advice on the Iraq war than he is currently getting from the civilian leadership of the Pentagon....

It is indeed very hard work to make sure that the blame for everything is laid not at the feet of Batiushka, but at the feet of the leader of the cossacks:

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: A Catalogue of Shame: Stuff happens, after all. And quite frequently, it appears. Still, war is an ugly business, of course. And Rumsfeld can't be held accountable for every last action of a private in some far-flung penal colony (though a different man, confronted with such dismaying torture scandals over the past odd year, might not have written last June: "(h)owever, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?") But anyone with half a brain who continues to insist that the torture (sorry, "abuse") story is about a few bad apples taking a frat hazing a tad too much to heart at Abu Ghraib alone are full of it and doing the country a disservice through their intellectual dishonesty.

It's clear that, while not some God-awful American gulag archipelago--torture has manifestly occurred in detention facilities from Afghanistan to Iraq to Cuba. Likewise, it's time to say loud and clear that the fact that those tortured are Arab and South Asian detainees is noteworthy. Why? Because it's reminiscent of the different treatment afforded the Japanese... during WWII... race matters.... Islam has too often been conflated in the popular imagination with the radical jihadists who would so gleefully kill thousands as they did in lower Manhattan that fateful day.... [I]t's time for intellectuals who care about the moral fiber of our polity, on both the Left and Right, to start speaking more loudly about these worrisome trends. America's better angels, and our more aspirational national narratives, simply demand it.

I would say it's at least nine months past time for the intellectuals of the right to start "speaking more loudly about these worrisome trends."

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