Friday, January 26, 2007

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

This week's Watchers Council winners have been posted.

First place within the council went to On the Possibility of an Embargo of Iranian Oil by American Future, which describes in detail an intriguing alternative for confronting Iran over its nuclear policies. My reaction? It could be an excellent short-term tool for pressuring the government in Tehran, but the longer it goes on, the more the Iranians will sap it, as Saddam did the Iraq embargo.

Votes also went to Teacher Merit Pay, an excellent and thorough argument against teacher merit pay by The Colossus of Rhodey.

Other votes went to Iraqi Refugees by Done With Mirrors; ‘Moderate’ Abbas: “Aim the Guns Against Israel!” by Joshuapundit; and A Mandatory Disaggregation by Eternity Road.

Two other runners-up struck me as excellent and made me wish I had more than one vote. Alas, though, this is not North Philadelphia. One was Too Much Munich? by Soccer Dad, part of a large-scale reassessment of the hostile reaction many friends of Israel had to Stephen Spielberg's "Munich" (a discussion also represented here).

The other was D'Souza and the Illiberality of Criticism by Right Wing Nut House, who in the best spirit of blogging, despite not having read the book has a strong opinion nonetheless about "The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11."

D'Souza has been drifting toward this argument for a few years, and I'm actually glad he made it; it gets something out in the open that needs to be hashed. He'll get no thanks from the left for effectively confirming their blunt guess that there's not an inch of daylight between an Islamic fundamentalist and a Protestant one. But the differences are worth learning, and maybe this is the only way it can be done.

At any rate, we're looking again at Qutb, which is not at all a bad thing; not because he's all that important on his own, but because his encounter with America can be a good, manageable small-stage version of the big conflict between Us and Them.

Sullivan, for instance, says Qutb, so far from being dogmatically aligned with the Christian right in America, was "a liberal snob, condescending to small-town American life." (more on Qutb in America here and here).

I have read one book of his, Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview. I wanted to read his thoughts in whole and sympathetic presentations, not just as fortune cookie blurbs plucked by his enemies. But it was disappointing. Instead of telling me anything about Islam as he sees it or how the world should be, he can't stop railing about everything he hates about everyone else's worldview.

First- and second-place finishers outside the council were two worthy examples of Weblog journalism: “Because the Language They Use Is Killing,” Bill's interview with an anonymous Fallujah police officer at INDC Journal; and The Blitzing of Haret Hreik, Michael J. Totten's reporting from the lair of the Hezbollah beast in Lebanon.

Also getting votes were Make the Child Pay by Baytown Bert's Blog -- The Way I See It; and To the Shores of Tripoli by The Belmont Club.