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  • Archive for August, 2005

    Military Intelligence and the Scientific Method

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 21st August 2005 (All posts by )

    Jay Manifold of A Voyage to Arcturus here, parachuting in with a post that’s a bit more geopolitical than the sort of thing I like to do these days on my own blog. Kind of like sneaking off to a nearby town to indulge a secret vice, I guess.
    (And apologies in advance, both for having been a non-contributor of late, and for the possible breathtaking un-originality of the thesis of this post.)
    Background: so, okay, I’m in the inimitable Cargo Largo in Independence, always a serendipitous experience — quite a bit of their merchandise is the result of Customs or DEA seizures, thus the occasional pallet-load of, say, marmoset food — perusing the book rack, a bizarre mixture of English and Spanish titles of every imaginable genre, and come across Military Intelligence Blunders (actually the hardback), and snap it up for $6.
    Turning to page 6 (which is among those viewable via the Amazon link above), we find the Intelligence Cycle, which I reproduce here as a bulleted list:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 6 Comments »

    Photos from Russia 4

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 21st August 2005 (All posts by )


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Photos from Russia 3

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 21st August 2005 (All posts by )

    Some more photos and a brief history lesson:


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Photos from Russia 2

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 20th August 2005 (All posts by )


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Iran: What to Do?

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th August 2005 (All posts by )

    In my previous post, where I worried about the Iranian nuclear threat, commenter GT asked what I propose to do.

    Obviously the direct application of force will be difficult, which is why the mullahs have been able to get as far as they have in developing nuclear weapons. However, I speculate that we will do better in the long run if we take more risks now.

    In particular, I have in mind:

    -More pressure on Syria.

    -A campaign of sabotage and assassination against Iran’s nuclear industry.

    -Retaliation, including sabotage and assassination if necessary, against foreign firms that supply Iran’s nuclear industry.

    -Bombing of key Iranian facilities, even if we can’t destroy them all and even if we risk dispersing some radioactive material.

    -An information campaign to make clear what we want: the dismantling of nuke sites and abandonment of the nuke program, preferably accompanied by overthrow/assassination of the mullahs, and ideally democratization. Make clear that we will hold Iran’s leaders personally responsible for their hostile actions.

    Yeah, we would have to kill people and the Iranians might end up hating us. Too bad. Our fundamental security should be non-negotiable. What happened to all the talk about an axis of evil and about nations being either with us or with the terrorists? Some of us took those ideas seriously and still do. The Administration will get more domestic support if it does not appear wobbly.

    National leaders should be willing to risk their careers to do what’s right. Bush is a lame duck with three more years to get something done. I think the American people would go along with forceful action against Iran if Bush explained why it is important. Will he do it? I don’t know.

    It seems plain to me that Bush weakens his case by compartmentalizing the war. Are we in a global struggle against Islamic fundamentalist imperialism or merely a war against some bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan? If it’s the latter, why are we putting our people at risk over there? OTOH, if the war and combating WMD proliferation by hostile dictatorships are really important, as I think they are, we should not hesitate to use force against an Iranian regime that embodies the worst of Islamic fascism and is openly pursuing nuclear weapons. The Administration has a strong case if it would make it.

    Bush and his colleagues seem to be institutionally tongue tied. I fault them for it, but they are what they are, we are stuck with them for the foreseeable future, and anyway they are probably as good as any political leaders we are likely to get. Complaining about their mistakes and ineptitudes won’t help, nor will rationalizing inaction because many Americans don’t support that which was never adequately explained to them. A nuclear Iran worries me, but suggestions that we can’t do anything about it and may as well learn to live with it are deeply troubling. I don’t like the attitude. I also think we would do better to force the issue than to allow the mullahs to get nukes on their own timetable.

    UPDATE: In the comments, Lex makes a good point about covert-action campaigns.

    Posted in War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 19th August 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A.

    Issues discussed on this blog are likely to arise in After Words which features
    Ralph Peters
    . He discusses his book New Glory: Expanding America’s Global Supremacy. Peters,”a retired military officer, argues for a realignment of U.S. engagements abroad and reforming its military and diplomatic corps in his critique of national strategy.” He is interviewed by Anatol Lieven, journalist & Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of “America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism.” This will be Sunday at 6 and again at 9.

    And also rerun is the 3 hour “In-Depth” interview with Robert Kaplan (at noon on Sunday). Noon on Saturday will be another rerun from the “In-Depth” series. (Follow the links – they went down as I was putting this up.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off

    Photos from Russia

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 19th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Assmann Office Furniture from Germany. Nothing says prestige and professionalism like Assmann office furniture.

    Bus driving pundits? Yes, I think the EU is robbing you as well.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th August 2005 (All posts by )

    None of these revelations [about the progress of Iran's nuclear weapons program] matter because virtually no Western politician can ever use force again to prevent a regime, even one openly dedicated to terrorism, from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The subject is verboten because the Left has declared it so. Unless something radically changes, it is only logical to prepare for the consequences of this head-in-the-sand policy, a possible catastrophe beside which September 11 will diminish into insignificance. Perhaps this event is already inevitable and those future victims beyond saving. But even so, it is important to begin the work of opening our eyes now, so that we might avoid the blindness which took the world of the 1930s and the 1990s over a cliff. Some mental disease in Western culture has allowed it to stand idly by while evil grew to monstrous proportions around and within it; an infirmity dignified with the name of pacifism. Perhaps it has already killed some of us reading this post; and the least we can do, if our final moments come, is to realize why we died.

    -Wretchard

    UPDATE: Sen. Hagel thinks we should stop appeasing Iran via European surrogates, and instead should appease Iran directly. (via The Corner)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

    Personalizing the War

    Posted by Ginny on 18th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Tuesday night, on the Lehrer show, Frank Gaffney made a clear and powerful argument for the war in Iraq. (The kind, frankly, I wish Bush would make— publicly, clearly, and often.) Ironically, the context was a dialogue on the Sheehan encampment, where his view was countered by Joan Walsh, of Salon, who spoke of Bush as clueless and callous, of Sheehan as of “open heart” and an “open approach.” Gaffney countered with policy, with reasoning. In general, he spoke with understanding of what we all (including the Muslims) are up against. Like all “true believers” and absolute tyrants, the bin Ladens and Saddam Husseins will first and last eat their own.

    The dialogue was pointless, although a rich example of contrasts – the man and the woman, the head and the heart, the rational and the emotional, the public and the personal, the general and the specific. We found this also distinguished the hawks from the doves, the right from the left. When it comes to a mother’s grief, Walsh captures it better. But policy shouldn’t be based on the personal—the side with the most moving story is not necessarily the one with the best argument. And in terms of policy, of analysis, of proportionality – well, Gaffney wins hands down. His was the big picture. And, an educated heart energizes the head – his sympathy was for those under the Taliban, under Saddam Hussein, under the rule of a law we find draconian and fearsome – as well, of course, as sympathy for those killed in Bali and Madrid, London and Africa, Beirut and on the Cole, New York and Washington. On one level, this is a contrast between revenge and justice and on another between populist sentiment and reasoned policy. He demonstrates what we often describe as “being Christian” – thinking in terms of others different from the self.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 7 Comments »

    A New Twist on “Land for Peace”

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th August 2005 (All posts by )

    TMLutas has a creative idea.

    Posted in Israel | 4 Comments »

    “Home Burial”

    Posted by Ginny on 17th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Update: Most of you have proably already seen these, but Jonathan suggested two powerful takes on this from two thoughtful blogs: Neoneocon (who also suggests art can help us understand: at First Part and Second Part. Her current post is not unrelated.
    Another site frequently (and justifiably) mentioned is Varifrank (also a blog worth reading in general.)

    Earlier post starts here:
    Robert Frost’s first son died, some put it “needlessly.” That is, the doctor was called but the cholera had taken too strong a hold; Elliott, only three, died five years into a 43-year marriage. Elinor Frost sank into a depression. The couple loved each other, apparently were faithful. But his biographers argue the marriage was never the same.

    How could it be? The death of a child seems unnatural. Indeed, Anne Bradstreet’s poem mourns her grandchild; as the second stanza of the short poem makes clear, she seeks reasons for her grandchild’s death in a way she would not her own:

    By nature trees do rot when they are grown,

    And plums and apples thoroughly ripe do fall,

    And corn and grass are in their season mown,

    And time brings down what is both strong and tall.

    But plants new set to be eradicate,

    And buds new blown to have so short a date,

    Is by His hand alone that guides nature and fate.

    We understand this “why” is different from the “why” of a long full life concluded in a melancholy funeral, where tears at the life lost are mixed with laughs of appreciation at the life lived.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    More From Our Pune Correspondent

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Chicken steroid ring?

    (Previous entry is here.)

    UPDATE: Jim Miller thinks he may know what’s really going on here!

    Posted in India | 3 Comments »

    7 Phase Plan

    Posted by Ginny on 15th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Marching toward a time when “the global Islamist Caliphate will be established and they will achieve ‘definitive victory,’” Bill Roggio analyzes al Qaeda’s plan. His post is based on Yassin Musharbash’s article, “What al-Qaida Really Wants”, in Der Spiegel. Musharbash tells us “Hussein, who is based in Amman, Jordan, has succeeded in turning his correspondence with the terrorists into a remarkable book: al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation. He quotes liberally (and Roggio quotes him liberally) from the “Seven Phase Plan” Hussein outlines; it “is a scenario, proof both of the terrorists’ blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness.” However, he warns

    It is all too easy to fall prey to disinformation — al-Qaida also excels in this area. Even Hussein’s scenario should be judged skeptically.

    His book should therefore be read for what it really is: an attempt to second guess how al-Qaida terrorists think, what they really want and how they propose to get there.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Hillary Clinton, Jeanine Pirro and the 2008 Presidential Election

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Via Chris Masse and Don Luskin comes this analysis by Perry Eidelbus, which I think provides the best explanation for the recent increase in the the GOP’s odds for the 2008 presidential election. (Disclosure: ChicagoBoyz is a Tradesports/Intrade affiliate.)

    Here’s the gist of Perry’s argument:

    That was a very powerful speech. Pirro and her advisors came up with an exceptionally aggressive opening move: force Hillary to prove just how much she loves New York.

    Who really believes that, should Hillary win re-election in 2006, she won’t start her 2008 presidential campaign soon afterward? Some political analysts believe that Hillary will be too old in 2012 to run for the White House. So if Hillary accepts the challenge, pledging to serve her second Senate term in full if re-elected, there goes her best chance at the presidency. Not taking the pledge will alienate some voters all across the U.S. (but how many?), as that will prove her “full-time work for New Yorkers” was a sham.

    If she takes the pledge and breaks it, it’ll be like George H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips” disaster (notwithstanding that Congressional Democrats threatened a federal government shutdown to blackmail him into breaking that). Hillary no longer can count on mainstream media to hush up such a broken promise, not in this day of conservative news sources and blogs — ask Dan Rather.

    Hillary is already on the defensive, and her campaign can’t resort to bringing up Pirro’s husband, Al Pirro — at least not directly. Republicans could rightfully claim double-standards if that happened, since it was generally considered taboo to bring Geraldine Ferraro’s husband in the 2004 campaign. And it would be perceived as truly nasty politics, not just in New York, but all over the country. Hillary needs every opportunity to soften her reputation, not solidify it.

    IOW, if Pirro is as politically savvy as she appears to be, Clinton’s national position in 2008 will be weakened no matter how she handles the 2006 NY Senate race.

    Addendum: Lex and I have been arguing about Clinton’s political vulnerability on this issue. (He is skeptical.) With his permission I repost this comment from one of his emails:

    The pledge thing in itself is irrelevant. It won’t be difficult to respond. This comes up all the time, and the response is always the same. Say, I will do what I need to best serve the people of New York and just repeat that mantra. Everyone already knows she is running for president. That information is “in there”. You make the point, and move on. I don’t think it will do anything to Hillary. Everybody who likes her and everybody who hates her will be unmoved, and there aren’t many people left undecided about her. Some very small number of unengaged voters may be moved by it. The point is Hillary now has a scrappy and appealing opponent who will be difficult to counter, and who is going on the offensive early. That is the new news. Pirro is the story, not this supposed conundrum Hillary faces. You just brass your way through that.

    Posted in Politics | 8 Comments »

    V-J Day Remembered

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 60th anniversary of the last day of WWII, otherwise known as V-J Day.

    This is controversial, like just about anything connected with that terrible war. Some people insist that the war didn’t end until October 15, when the bulk of the Japanese armed forces surrendered in China. Some historians point to the political and ideological problems that came from WWII, problems that still plague us today, and they make the case that the war is still lurching along at a greatly reduced intensity.

    Whatever. There has to be a demarcation line somewhere, a place where the old world order ends and a new begins, and this day is as good as any and better than some.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 3 Comments »

    Good news for German industry. less so for Germany

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 14th August 2005 (All posts by )

    German industry has been working to increase productivity, with notable success:

    German firms are conquering the market for the machines that power world industry, racking up record sales of €98billion (£67billion) last year on the back of booming growth in Asia.

    Germany’s engineering federation in Frankfurt, VDMA, said the country’s share of the €500billion global market for everything from laser systems to machine tools and polymer electronics rose to 19.3pc in 2004, compared with 5.2pc for France and 4.8pc for Britain.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Schröder squeaks by again?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 14th August 2005 (All posts by )

    After a string of electoral defeats in important states, and specifically one in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced early general elections for this September, a year ahead of schedule. It wasn’t a clever ploy, but sheer necessity, for the Red-Green coalition couldn’t have withstood another year of defeats and internal bickering and already was in the process of falling apart. So the prospect of early elections was the only thing that could pull the coalition back together again, at least for a few months. The alternative would have been to see not just the coalition, but the Social Democratic party itself disintegrating. Thousands of party stalwarts have lost their seats in state parliaments and municipal councils, and a huge exodus of members is threatening to bleed the party dry. The membership also is anything but happy about Schröder and his policies (with a few exceptions) – as long as things went well for him they followed him, for he is their only ticket to hold on to power, but in time of crisis the divide between him and them, and between the different factions within the party is becoming too obvious to paper over. There also is no love lost between the Social Democrats and the Greens, who are, apart from the environmental policies, quite pro-market.

    While the announcement of early elections was nothing but damage-control, unfortunately it also seems to have caught the opposition parties on the wrong foot:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Another Tradition

    Posted by Ginny on 13th August 2005 (All posts by )

    “The Struggle for Islam’s Soul” tells us what we already knew: True Believers tend to eat their own and rewrite their own history. Ziauddin Sardar notes they do that first and last, so their own always have the most to fear. Then he describes “three inherent characteristics” in the tradition which “nourishes the mentality of the extremists.” This essay describes what we have to fear now, but also makes generalizations we can recognize (& fear) in other settings: 1) It is ahistorical; 2) monolithic; 3) aggressively self-righteous; and insists on imposing its notion of righteousness on others.

    Original sin is a useful concept to counter this tradition because it teaches us humility. The politician who would clap not for what America is but what it might be has been seduced by True Belief. And lacks humility.

    Posted in Religion | Comments Off

    Today’s Question That I Dared Not Ask

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Isn’t it uncomfortable to wear a thong under those cycling shorts?

    :)

    UPDATE: No, Ralf, I didn’t mean you!

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 12th August 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A (unannounced Friday evening).
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off

    Tradition 2: Rybczynski & Modernism

    Posted by Ginny on 12th August 2005 (All posts by )

    The same friend (a cultural geographer) who recommended Fussell’s book as we began remodeling also suggested Home by Witold Rybczynski. This wonderfully compact book begins with our nostalgia for the past (exemplified in the period-piece offices of Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder and Malcolm Forbes). He asks: “Is it simply a curious anachronism, this desire for tradition or is it a reflection of a deeper dissatisfaction with the surrounding that our modern world has created? What are we missing that we look so hard for in the past?” (13)

    Rybczynski’s critique (done with wit and wisdom) reminds us so many modern projects assume our minds define our body’s experience. For some of us, pure aesthetics has a strong hold. But, frankly, he would say, no matter how beautiful a chair, if it cuts into our thighs and leaves us immobile & set back amidst chrome and stretched leather, we are neither a comfortable guest nor a comfortable host. This as well as his chapter on “efficiency” prompts a couple of posts.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Cautious Optimism on Iraq

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Reuel Marc Gerecht evaluates Iraq’s constitutional prospects in an August 8 WSJ op-ed:

    The secularization of religious discussions in Iraq is already very far advanced–just compare the Iraqi clerical discussion of constitutional government at the time of Iran’s 1905-1911 Constitutional Revolution with the debate today and you will quickly see how successfully Western ideas, first and foremost democracy, have redefined or submerged older Islamic ideals hostile to representative government. The democratic government Iraqis are trying to build will have much more real-world appeal and traction in today’s Middle East than the very liberal democracy that many Americans in the occupation’s Coalition Provisional Authority and in Washington wanted to build in 2003.

    The Arabs imported fascism — a significant component of Baathism, pan-Arabism and today’s Islamic fundamentalist imperialism — from the West. Why should we assume they are incapable of importing democracy?

    Gerecht’s column is worth reading in full.

    (via Clive Davis)

    Posted in Iraq | 10 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th August 2005 (All posts by )

    Choose one: The gods are a) Angry, b) Happy, c) Indifferent, d) Bummed about the lousy weather.

    Posted in Photos | 17 Comments »

    Lex’s Books read Second Quarter 2005

    Posted by Lexington Green on 11th August 2005 (All posts by )

    (I finally got around to finishing this rather lengthy post.)

    Dave Grossman, On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace. Lt. Col. Grossman is an extraordinary thinker and writer. He discusses how in mortal threat situations the body often knows better than the brain what to do to survive. He notes that person-to-person violence is the “universal phobia”, in a literal not metaphorical sense. Virtually all people experience acute phobic-type responses when faced with intentional, personal violence. The unique nature of soldiers and policemen is that they “run toward gunfire” instead of away from it. The book is largely built up out of case-studies from military and police experience with “deadly force encounters”, a/k/a gun-fights. The key elements for survival and victory are (1) training and (2) a realistic appreciation of what will happen to the mind and body before, during and after the fighting. Grossman describes state-of-the art training being employed by the United States military and some of our police forces. He emphasizes the moral element — the person charged by society with the use of deadly force must believe in the rightness of his cause, and the person who is asked by society to face deadly force on its behalf should be given the tools and training and respect he needs to survive and prevail, physically and mentally. There is far more of value in this book than this short paragraph can do justice to. Very highly recommended. Grossman’s earlier books On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society and Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill : A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence are also very good. (Grossman’s website is here.)

    Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 1916-1918. Griffith is a vigorous and opinionated writer. He convincingly takes on the conventional wisdom, demonstrating that the British Army in World War I was not led by a bunch of dolts who sent their men to die in the mud year after year out of bullheadedness and ignorance. To the contrary, the British leadership dealt with the horrendous novelty of World War I reasonably well under the circumstances. It was the circumstances that caused a “reasonable” performance to still mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of men. And, partially contra Griffith, some of what the leadership did can be attributed to bullheadedness, such as pressing on with the Passchendaele battle even when the whole battlefield had been reduced to liquescent mud. Nonetheless, the British leadership were not impervious to the reality they faced. They were constantly trying to innovate, to introduce new weapons and tactics to survive and overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, and their performance improved throughout the war. The British artillery in particular became a fearsome instrument. (Ernst Junger’s book Storm of Steel has barely a page in it where someone isn’t killed by the British artillery.) Griffith notes that in the closing years of the Great War the British showed sharply increasing combat skill, much of the time. In particular, it is often forgotten that the last 100 days the British were attacking all along the line, and the Germans were in retreat. Mobility had returned to the battlefield, and it was the British who had restored it. This achievement is under-appreciated, and if it is not remembered a false lesson of abject futility is taken away from World War I. Griffith attacks what he sees an excessive regard among American military historians, and the American military, for the German achievement in the war, and for the German military more generally. This view is probably best exemplified by the response to Bruce Gudmundsson’s book Stormtroop Tactics : Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918. Gudmundsson’s book is brilliant, and has been very influential in American military circles. However, if it is read in a vacuum, a false impression is created that only the Germans were responding creatively to the new conditions of trench warfare. Also, as Griffith notes, the Germans gained much of their edge by creating elite formations, which may have been superior to their opponents, but they were unable to raise the army as a whole to this pitch of skill. The follow-on waves of under-trained infantry attacking behind the first wave of elite stosstruppen resembled “crowds going to a football match”, and were on many occasions blown to bits by the British artillery. So, Griffith convincingly teaches us not to over-credit what the Germans managed to do in the war. Eliot Cohen, reviewing another book by Griffith about the Great War, had this to say:

    Despite the writings of a few defiant historians outside the mainstream, the popular image of the British Army in World War I is one of soldiers exhibiting great valor sacrificed to the near-criminal stupidity of their high command — “lions led by donkeys,” in a memorable phrase. The current work makes an important contribution to a different view. [Griffith] is a prolific and provocative historian of tactics, a subject disdained by too many students of strategic affairs, and he has … [explored] the ways in which the British army adapted to the challenges of trench warfare. The reader comes away with two unsettling questions. If the British (and presumably other) European armies changed their approaches to war as quickly and well as is suggested, was the slaughter of World War I simply unavoidable? And if historians are only now unraveling the workings of battle in 1914-18, how certain can today’s experts be that they fully understand the workings of modern warfare?

    Cohen’s unsettling questions are unsettling because we know the answers, and we do not like the answers. Incidentally, Griffith notes the odd gap in our historiography of the Great War, the absence of a scholarly history, in English, of the French Army in World War I. It now appears we will soon be blessed with one, Pyrrhic Victory : French Strategy and Operations in the Great War by Robert A. Doughty, a very well regarded historian of the French Army, i.e. this and this . Perhaps Doughty will give us a further volume on French tactics at some point.

    Joseph Ratzinger, God and the World. I started it in the Fall, before I had any idea he’d be Pope. This is the third in a series of interviews with Cardinal Ratzinger. The fact that he is able to answer with this sort of clarity and modesty when speaking off the cuff is interesting, and shows the depth of his scholarship (and wisdom) and his style of thinking, which is at once traditional and yet aware of the modern world and its challenges. For a person who is supposedly a hard-headed proponent of orthodoxy, he is much more open to discussion and even “thinking out loud” than one might expect. Ratzinger is a man who comes off as sound on dogmatic theology, and moral theology, without being “dogmatic” in any simplistic sort of way. Of course, anyone either within or without the Church who is hoping for some basic change in long-standing theological or moral principles will find little cheer. Finally, Ratzinger seems to be a more practical and dour man than his predecessor. John Paul II was a man of preternatural cheer rooted in a deep personal prayer and an all-embracing sense of the Divine, mystical dimension of life and the world. This led him to make optimistic pronouncements which were cheering to the faithful, but also seemed at odds with the empirical facts. Ratzinger is not of that sort of mind. I expect a more focused and practical and disciplined approach — a more German approach — to the papacy from Ratzinger. I loved John Paul II and I miss him. But Joseph Ratzinger is a tough and brilliant man and I have great hope that he will serve the Church and humanity very well in whatever time he is granted as Pope. I pray for the Pope every day.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 5 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 10th August 2005 (All posts by )

    I knew there would be a hell of a big bang and it would kill a lot of people, including some American prisoners of war. I also knew that if the darned thing worked the way it was supposed to, it would demonstrate to the Japanese the futility of continuing the war.

    Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay. (More here.)

    (This was the best discussion of the necessity of the nuclear attack that I saw during the recent flurry of articles. This section, on Japan’s defensive preparations, was an eye-opener, even for me, and I have been reading about this stuff all my life.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »