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June 12, 2006

Could I Have Been Mistaken About The Precise Nature Of Peter Beinart's Gibberish?

Below I enthusiastically made fun of Peter Beinart for saying this:

Jihadism sits at the center of a series of globalization-related threats, including global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion, which are powered by globalization-related technologies, and all of which threaten the United States more than other countries.

The "jihadism at the center of everything" part I still think is absolutely meaningless. But I believe Jethro, commenting here, is correct that I misunderstood Beinart—that rather than meaning global warming et al are greater threats to the U.S. than they are to other countries, "Beinart was trying to say terrorism and global warming threaten the US more than any particular country threatens the US."

Of course, this is still nonsensical. Among Beinart's chorus line of catastrophe—terrorism, global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion—only global warming might compare to today's greatest threat to America, which is obviously nuclear weapons. The one thing that currently could actually obliterate us is ICBMs—i.e., Russia's and perhaps someday China's nuclear arsenal. The #1 priority for any politicians who genuinely cares about U.S. security would be getting everyone's nukes off hair-trigger alert. We also should be giving them money so their early warning systems don't malfunction and lead them to mistakenly think we've launched a first strike. Beyond that we should ramp down our nuclear posturing and give up our attempts to militarize space.

So I may have wrong about the exact way Beinart wasn't making any sense. But I remain correct about the overall non-sense making.

Posted at June 12, 2006 06:47 PM | TrackBack

"Beyond that we should ramp down our nuclear posturing and give up our attempts to militarize space."

And stop using depleted uranium weapons and join the international ban on land mines (rather than developing "smart" minefields) and observe the Geneva convention and join the International Criminal Court and stop the practice of "extraordinary rendition" and torture and holding "enemy combatants" indefinitely without trial and...

I know, preaching to the choir. On a more interesting topic, your "Gerbil narcolepsy sofa-bed" sentence had me laughing uncontrollably. Well done.

Posted by: JustZisGuy at June 12, 2006 07:28 PM

What we must do is remove that "pre-emtive strike" bullshit from our stated foriegn policy. IMHO

Posted by: spiiderweb at June 12, 2006 07:41 PM

Our Administration and therefore OURSELVES ARE the geographic center of our problem. Tell me, Who else can we blame? Where do we pass the buck to from HERE?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 12, 2006 09:07 PM

Translation: I was nonsensical in trying to portray Peter Beinart as being nonsensical.

I also see we've gotten to the heart of your verdict. How can Peter Beinart state that global jihadism is the greatest threat to the United States when so obviously the greatest threat is that someone might accidentally press the Nuclear button. This is especially true when you compare how many times we've been attacked by or stopped attacks by terrorists compared to the numerous times we've been hit with nukes. What a maroon!

I instead propose that you both speak in gibberish. The greatest threat to the United States is from space army froma far away galaxy, armed with laser beam eyes that can obliterate any & all earthly matter on contact. Any opinions otherwise will be met with nothing but derision & contempt.

Posted by: Dustin at June 13, 2006 12:00 AM

Nonsense. You didn't misunderstand Beinart. His sentence is unambiguous.

Your mistake is to think Beinart is an illegal immigrant who can only sing the national anthem in Spanish. Nope. He's a Rhodes scholar, ie, a man who will say 2+2=5 but will make you believe that his 5 is the true 4, and your 4 is just an imposter.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at June 13, 2006 12:17 AM

The man is frightened. Unconsciously he knows people like himself are the problem. Meanwhile consciously he sees people like himself as the solution.

The contradiction may make him feel like his head needs to explode. Thus his mouth says 'Jihadism sits at the center' because jihadists -you know- blow things up.

His list is sort of a liberal 'rapture index'. At his psychological level his own culpability merges seamlessly with threats to himself. Overall he may experience these days like someone cutting themself.

Possibly relevant is the recent study found that a shockingly large percent of 'Ivy League' college students cut themselves. the difference with the US political classes (their parents, more or less) is that there are doppelgangers involved (the jihadists), and it's all really, really serious.

--btw, by 'financial contagion', I guess he means he doesn't know what to invest in. Stock markets, real estates - he could lose money no matter what he does?

Posted by: the guy who dissed the rock critic at June 13, 2006 12:22 AM

Whatever sequence of words useful idiots like Peter Beinart put together to justify atrocious policies - it doesn't really matter.

Posted by: abb1 at June 13, 2006 02:34 AM

You say Dustin's dismissive of the threat of nuclear weapons, while you don't even address the laser eyebeam space armada threat he brought up? HAS EVERYONE GONE MAD BUT ME AND DUSTIN?!

Posted by: BRG at June 13, 2006 08:08 AM

Actually space armadas would probably use very different weapons - Larry Niven is good reading on this subject. A big asteroid slammed into the planet would probably soften us up pretty good. Gravity is our worst enemy that way - things accelerated from orbit make pretty devastating weapons. In one of his books there's an invading army that uses, essentially, steel I-beams to destroy tank battalions from space. Energy weapons like lasers seem flashy and high-tech to us, but they're not necessarily the most effective...

Posted by: saurabh at June 13, 2006 09:32 AM

As an undergraduate in political science I had occasion to take a semester course in the theory of nuclear war. I haven't been the same since, and who knows why.

With Monty Python, I too hope there is intelligent life out there in space somewhere.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at June 13, 2006 04:21 PM

Actually, in terms of casualties, nuclear war has obliterated many more people -- in the U.S. -- than terrorism. Obviously, Dustin has never heard of either the A bomb soldiers or the results of the 90 nuclear bombs tested above ground in Nevada in the forties and fifties. His ignorance, here, isn't really his fault -- the Pentagon, the Department of Energy, and D.C. in general has never been anxious to publicize these things. However, Congress did authorize the NIH to do a study solely concerned with the effects of two radioactive isotopes, Cesium and iodine 131 -- there are, of course, something like two hundred more isotopes that are uninvestigated. Dustin might want to look at "Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests and Cancer Risks" by Steven L. Simon, Andre Bouville and Charles E. Land in this January’s American Scientist. Now, perhaps he is thinking that the fallout only affected a lot of yahoos in Utah and Nevada, but, surprisingly, the wind can carry powerful radiation an awful long way -- strewing it over Albany New York one fine day in 1953, for instance; or over southern Idaho. Now, remember, cancer is the most overt and investigated of the fallout linked diseases. From the A soldiers -- like the one's forced into Ground zero in the various insane tests conducted in Nevada in the fifties (tests that so enthused the military about using nuclear bombs as tactical weapons that one general requested the Pentagon to explode an A bomb in the middle of Camp Pendleton -- an extra special preparedness test for the lucky GIs there) we know that immune deficiency and muscular disorders also flow out of our beautiful weapons.

But hell. Your mom, dad, grandparents get that extra little flower of cancer and pops off, and that's a bummer, but at least we protected ourselves from communism and an economic downturn due to depression in the weapons industry!

Posted by: roger at June 14, 2006 04:02 PM

PS -- I forgot to say, the American Scientist article estimates that 200 to 300 thousand cancers can be traced back, statistically, to the Nevada tests. The article actually has a lot of flaws, but that's a hiroshima, I think.

Posted by: roger at June 14, 2006 04:04 PM