It's rare for so many of the sites I visit to have so many interesting posts at once, of hugely varying length. I never do links roundups for their own sake, but I just want to archive just a few of some of today's musings for posterity and future reference:
Naval and Space Warfare. Steven den Beste, inspired by an anime series, discusses the history of naval warfare, preparing for a discussion of space warfare tomorrow. My feeling is that any space warfare between ships will happen at such high relative rates of speed that the only viable method of destroying your enemy will be energy-based weapons. Ships attacking ground-based targets will have maximum effeciency with kinetic weapons (stick a propulsion motor on a medium-sized asteroid, and then wait for orbital dynamics to do its inexorable thing).
Winning the War on Terror. Jim Henley explains his grand strategy for dealing with terror. The plan, titled Grand Disengagement, is strongly influenced by his libertarian outlook. Personally, I disagree, favoring an active foreign policy along neo-wilsonian lines. I'm a devoted nation-builder, and would reserve military force for defense, intervention in human rights crises, and security for civilian reconstruction. Actively oppressive regimes, such as Iran and N. Korea, should be targeted with non-military "soft power" such as economic incentives, cultural imperialism, translation of literature into native languages, unblockable internet pathways, etc. I prefer to float all boats on a rising tide rather than draining the swamp or isolation.
Losing the War on Iraq. Tacitus reprints some thoughts about the responsibilities of those supporting war on Iraq, from February 2003. In the context of the post-war incompetence of the Administration, the musings are especially relevant. Tacitus takes great pains to justify the notion that nation-building can succeed despite the failures of its implementation thus far under this specific Administration, but I think the he glosses over the relevance of international cooperation to any such grand project. Yes, there are uses for unilateral action, but for the purpose of remaking the Middle East, this was not one of them. The options we have left are clearly summarized by Kevin Drum and if there's one lesson that Tacitus and other pro-war conservatives need to take, it's that ideological opposition to multilateralism is as disastrous as ideological commitment to it. Thus far, the track record of Republican foreign policies specifically is poor and largely explained by their failure to understand this axiom. It's time that these ideologies were evaluated against their success rate and not by what could have been.
Transcending Left vs. Right. But by far the most interesting is the multi-blog conversation about the future of the Great Divide in American politics. Mark Schmitt wonders whether Kerry will get a honeymoon after inauguration - from the left. Given that continued Republican control of one, possibly both houses of Congress is almost certain after November, Kerry will have to reach across the aisle and try to build moderate bridges in order for progress. Doing so will ensure that he gets vilified from the extremists at the furthest Left. Ezra argues that Kerry would be less beholden to the left than, say Dean (who I've noted made explicit attempts to speak across the Great Divide). Mark proposes a "1/21 Project" for discussing what comes after Inauguration in terms of restoring political dialouge and debate to the public sphere. However, as Matthew notes, there is no representative entity on the Right that can provide the needed, truly conservative counterpoint. Rather, the present-day GOP is an alliance of social theocrats and corporatist lobbies, which uses ideology cynically. Mark Kleiman prints an email from a friend who argues that the Right is held together by the glue of common hatred of Liberalism, which serves as their unifying force. Certainly hatred of Bush has a unifying effect on the Left, but Mark Schmitt's main point is that the Left's unity is ephemeral compared to the long, sustained unity-of-enmity on the Right. Kevin Drum is correct that it's highly unlikely for any attempt to bridge the Great Divide to originate from the Right, less unlikely but still improbable that it will originate from the Left. What is needed is a new American Centrism, but that means an explicit rejection of the function of political parties themselves.