Non-Candidates, Big Problems

This is so true:

Dear Pollsters,
Al Gore is not running for president. He is not going to run for president. Could you please stop running polls with him in the race? Thanks ever so.
Most gratefully yours,
–Garance Franke-Ruta

Gore is a non-candidate until proven otherwise. This should be true for all politicians. And including him in polls only renders them more meaningless than they already are. It makes them useless to politicians and the public, and wastes the polling companies’ money. It’s in the best interest of all involved to limit polls to actual, declared candidates. With eight in the race, that shouldn’t be too confining.

In Other News, Barbara Lee Wants Sarkozy to Resign

This is pretty infuriating:

Hillary: Maliki Should Go. Bush: Maliki Should Stay
Hillary Clinton called today for the ouster of Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, echoing a similar pronouncement two days ago by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI). “The Iraqi government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders,” Clinton said in a statement given to CNN. President Bush, however, voiced his support for Maliki today and said, “it’s not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. It is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.”

It’s a rare day when President Bush gets something totally right and Hillary Clinton gets it totally wrong. But this is one of those days.
The first thing to note is that this is a hubbub over nothing. The internal dynamics of the Iraqi government are about as relevant as those of the Somali government; in both cases, the central government is sufficiently hapless that changes in the government’s composition or leadership will do very little to change the facts on the ground. And when the proposed new prime minister is Ayad Allawi, who failed to govern Iraq effectively from 2004-05, when the situation was far more favorable than today, the transfer of power is especially meaningless.
But a coup like this is harmful for the same reason US support for the 2002 coup against Chavez and the 2004 coup in Haïti was harmful: it hurts our international image. When we’re directly choosing the leaders of foreign countries, it’s hard to not look like tyrannical imperialists. And it’s hard for us to push a democracy agenda (as if we were) with a straight face. One thing we must recognize in dealing with Iraq is that it’s not our country. It’s not a colony. Overtly disrespecting its sovereignty and autonomy is a insulting and dangerous move. Hell, it might even be “irresponsible and frankly naïve.”


Wow, I’ve really lived up to my promise to not blog that often. Anyway, I’ll be back in school on the 29th, so expect a return to the usual one or two posts a day after that.
In the meantime, I’ve been listening to M.I.A.’s Arular in preparation for Kala coming out, and I’ve been wondering if it’s even possible that a better album has been released since the turn of the millennium. I mean, Kid A has nothing on this, and that’s the only album that even comes close.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Democratic Overlords

When I read Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan’s op-ed in today’s Washington Post, advocating a global concert of democracies for purposes of humanitarian intervention, my first thought was that it was a good argument for a familiar, but still excellent idea, and that it was nice to see in the pages of a major paper. My second thought was, “Matt Yglesias is going to hate this.” And so he did. This is the sentence that really gets me:

In other words, if you think the main lesson of Iraq is that we need to pretend we’ve learned important lessons while adhering to the same basic doctrines, then this is a great proposal.

See, Matt seems to think that the main lesson of Iraq wasn’t that invading a country that posed no direct or indirect threat to our national security without any way of securing it thereafter is a bad idea, but that taking any military action sans U.N. fiat is a bad idea. This is stupid. Iraq would have been a bad idea with or without U.N. support. Does Matt really believe that if the U.N. had passed the resolution the U.S. presented it with in February 2003, the war would have had any more justification, or would have been any more wise? Because it appears that he does, and this strikes me as a fairly indefensible conclusion.
I opposed the war in Iraq because it had no justification and was doomed to fail, regardless of which international organizations chose to support it. I supported the air strikes in Kosovo because they had plenty of justification and were very likely to succeed, regardless of which international organizations chose to support them. And so I think it’s useful to have groups like a concert of democracies – which, for the edification of Ross Douthat, would in fact be a global version of NATO – to provide backup for interventions that, while morally justified and worthwhile, would run counter to, say, Chinese oil interests, or Russian pan-slavism. To support or oppose a war based on which organizations back it rather than based on whether they’re just and likely to succeed, strikes me as strange, to say the least.