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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Read this essay by Paul Begala. Just do it. It's an exquisitely written defense of the idea of human-rights-based military intervention, and of the need to balance a disgust for the actions of dictators with a different kind of disgust for Dubya's personal failings.

Read it, and then consider Jon Stewart's comment last night on the Bush Doctrine -- you can state the rules that justify a pre-emptive war, and yet you still will not know which country is being described because there are too many candidates. Shall we raise taxes by 40% and institute the draft, so that we may ramp up our military and do the only honorable thing in Sudan? So that we can disarm and feed the desperate people of North Korea? Shall we invade the countries that are genuine threats to our security, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? (Pakistan is, after all, a proven seller of WMDs to nutsos, and Saudi Arabia has a genuine-if-modest connection to 9/11.)

Consider these thoughts and let me know what you think.

As for myself, I think that Berman's article is very thought-provoking, but that he jumps the rails when he fails to distinguish between America's need for a retroactive justification for Iraq (our soldiers can be motivated by the knowledge that Hussein was a human-rights nightmare) and America's need to establish a new set of rules for future engagements. It's one thing to say we should get over our dislike of Bush in the former case; it's another thing to set aside the reasonable apprehension that Bush can ever achieve the latter.

 12:00 PM

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