Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.
The government has got itself into an awful mess over whether, and in what sense, the Iraq venture is a “war for oil’. Brendan Nelson says it is, Peter Costello says it isn’t, and John Howard is equivocal. I thought I’d dig out my thoughts on the topic from April 2003, which are over the fold. There are a couple of minor errors (for example, the US managed to get UN approval for the occupation) but I don’t think they affect the analysis much.
In particular, the first point in my explanation – that the (supposed) right of the US and its allies to run the affairs of a distant part of the world is based on the (supposed) strategic centrality of oil – is, pretty clearly, the claim being made by Nelson and partially endorsed by Howard.
Mingle2 – Online Dating
silly quiz hat-tip Dan Drezner.
Glen Greenwald took a few bites out the latest NYTimes transcription, by White House stenographer Michael Gordon, of Administration/military talking points in the campaign for war against Iran, made by Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, now US military spokesman in Iraq and previously, (not reported) Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq. So somebody at the Gray Lady apparently decided that the piece might be improved by a mininal amount of actual reporting, such as the fact that the claims in question have been repeatedly denied by the Iranian government (with backing, although this is not mentioned, from a large number of independent analysts).
What’s interesting to me is that these changes are not noted. But if the journal of record had attributed the remarks to the wrong general or mis-stated the spokesman’s position, the error would surely have been noted with a correction. A blogger who made a change like this in response to justified criticism would get accused, rightly, of a stealth correction. Shouldn’t the New York Times be held to at least as high a standard?
The arrest of a doctor in at the Gold Coast Hospital, accused of being connected to the failed terror attacks in London and Glasgow, brings international terrorism a lot closer to home than it has ever been before for me. Of course, it’s front page news, and the fact that most of the (alleged) participants in these attacks were doctors is pretty disturbing. Not surprisingly, the hospital’s switchboard was jammed with calls.
Still, my impression is that most people here are taking it in their stride. The risk of being caught up in a terror attack is part of the background of modern life, along with other largely random risks like hit-and-run drivers and street thugs, to name just two. At a policy level, of course, these problems are very different, and require different responses. But as far as day to day life is concerned, it’s mainly a matter of getting on with it.
Update “Alleged” turns out to be the operative word. The case against the Brisbane doctor apparently turns on the fact that when police tried to interview him about his links to one of the British accused, they found him at the airport with a one-way ticket to India. But it appears he was going there to join his wife who had gone home a week or so earlier after having a baby.