Thursday, April 14, 2005

And now, for no variety, a themed link dump.

I don't like John Bolton's management style. Nor am I a big fan of his foreign policy views. He doesn't really believe in using U.S. power to end genocide or promote democracy.

But it is ridiculous to say he doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians who aren't willing to say what the Bolton debate is really about.

There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along.

Bolton's "management style", as revealed in his confirmation hearings for the post of U.N. ambassador also includes attempting to fire a CIA analyst who tried to keep him from lying in public speeches. Dubya's crew doesn't much like the reality-based community. It interferes with their fantasy-based politics.

Of course, the nice thing about fantasies is that everyone gets to choose their own. At Pacific Views, Natasha is writing about a reporter from perhaps fifteen years hence who simply makes up stories. Outrageous, of course. But more outrageous than the erstwhile heroes of the New York Police Department trying to get people jailed for made-up crimes during the Republican convention?

But you can't always tell whether something is fantasy. Before the war, Paul Wolfowitz said we'd need a few tens of thousands of troops in Iraq to manage the occupation -- something much smaller than the 100,000 invasion force. In the event, this has proved a fantasy; the entire invasion force is still there, and two years after the invasion, it is still engaged in heated combat. But when right-wing blogs say that things are going "well", that is, of course, not fantasy, but unassailable fact.

Conversely, when Matt Welch and his French wife, who have experience with the health care systems in both America and France, say without hesitation that they'd rather be sick in France, Matt's libertarian colleagues at Reason correctly see it as fantasy. It goes against their ideology, so how can it possibly be right?

O'Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?


'And if the party says that it is not four but five -- then how many?'


The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston's body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O'Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended. He drew back the lever ...

"You are a slow learner, Winston," said O'Brien gently.

"How can I help it?" he blubbered. "How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."

"Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

George Orwell, 1984


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