Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Council Winners

[Posted by Callimachus]

Being naughty I have once again fallen behind in listing Watchers Council winners, this time from the week of Aug. 28.

First place was claimed with authority by Right Wing Nut House for Iraq: Quit or Commit.

I've already written my response to this fine post, here. I also should note that Sideways manages, with characteristic orneriness, to essentially agree with it and piss on it at the same time.

Also getting votes were The Nation-State vs Anarchy and Imperialism by Gates of Vienna. It's been written about before, but it can't be emphasized often enough that the larger problems in the world today stem from the clash of these forms of human political organization, as much as from a clash of civilizations (yes, there is some overlap). And that many of the institutions we attempt to apply to these problems, from the U.N. to the Geneva Conventions, were designed primarily to apply to nation-states.

And speaking of that overlap, another first-place vote went to On Meaning by ShrinkWrapped, who puts the old dilemma in a succinct, yet startling, package:

The current war is between a civilization that has achieved the heights of material success and yet has left too many of its members bereft of meaning, and a civilization which has utterly failed its people on almost every measure, yet offers its members the certainty of God's love and favor.

Outside the council, the highest number of votes went to Bad Faith, a column by David Thompson (don't be fooled by the woman's picture; apparently that's the Web site's error) at 3AM Magazine.

Thompson takes a hypodermic needle to the puss-filled carbuncle of "cultural equivalence" (sorry: I just edited a week's worth of "ask the doctor" columns). The usual suspects shuffle in to be spanked.

Guardian regular Karen Armstrong has echoed Reverend Gaffney and dutifully reminded us that all religions have a fundamentalist fringe, and thus, apparently, no further judgment needs to be made regarding theological factors. But the size of that 'fringe', its relationship to the mainstream, and its specific ideological features are not the same for all religions.

And he asks the timeless question, Where are the Amish suicide bombers?

Pwned! Our friend Michael J. Totten took #2 and #3 on the out-of-council list: one for Terror War, from his coverage of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, and The Kurds Go Their Own Way in Reason.

It's his up-close perspective, as well as his common sense, that make him an ideal reporter for those of us trying to peer around the Gatekeeper Media's fog. If you want to know if Hezbollah rockets target Israeli military or random civilian sites, ask the guy who's there where he feels safest. Plus, you get lines like this:

“With your face,” my guide replied, “and with our Kurdish license plates on the car, we could not last two hours.”

I really think his Kurdistan stuff is his best work. He's criss-crossed the region of Iraq that the rest of the boys with pencils and notebooks are ignoring -- because its safe and prosperous. Nothing to see there. But if America insists on flagellating itself over "what went wrong in Iraq," it's essential to notice the 20 percent of it where things are going as well as all the "rosy forecasts" and "Neocon dreams" expected, and to work that into the answer. Michael J.'s coverage is as good a place as any to start.

Also getting votes was The NSA Decision: Judging Without Facts or Law by Baseball Crank, which slams the injunction against the NSA al Qaeda surveillance program as "like a parody of bad judicial reasoning;" and The Elusive War by The Belmont Club, which contrasts recent opinion pieces by Michael Ledeen and Max Hastings. Pity about Hastings. I find his "Armageddon" a useful book on the end of World War II in Europe. I didn't realize he, too, was in the "blame Bush, apologize for bin Laden" camp, but he's a British academic, so no real surprise.