You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

November 08, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Why Obama's Iran Policy Will Fail
Stuck in Bush Mode in a Changed World

By Dilip Hiro

While the tone of the Obama administration is different from that of its predecessor, and some of its foreign policies diverge from those of George W. Bush, at their core both administrations subscribe to the same doctrine: Whatever the White House perceives as a threat -- whether it be Iran, North Korea, or the proliferation of long-range missiles -- must be viewed as such by Moscow and Beijing.

In addition, by the evidence available, Barack Obama has not drawn the right conclusion from his predecessor's failed Iran policy. A paradigm of sticks-and-carrots simply is not going to work in the case of the Islamic Republic. Here, a lesson is readily available, if only the Obama White House were willing to consider Iran's recent history. It is unrealistic to expect that a regime which fought Saddam Hussein's Iraq (then backed by the United States) to a standstill in a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s, unaided by any foreign power, and has for 30 years withstood the consequences of U.S.-imposed economic sanctions will be alarmed by Washington's fresh threats of "crippling sanctions."


Too Big to Fail?
Why All the President's Afghan Options Are Bad Ones

By Tom Engelhardt

In the worst of times, my father always used to say, "A good gambler cuts his losses." It's a formulation imprinted on my brain forever. That no-nonsense piece of advice still seems reasonable to me, but it doesn't apply to American war policy. Our leaders evidently never saw a war to which the word "more" didn't apply. Hence the Afghan War, where impending disaster is just an invitation to fuel the flames of an already roaring fire.

Here's a partial rundown of news from that devolving conflict: In the last week, Nuristan, a province on the Pakistani border, essentially fell to the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew its forces from four key bases. Similarly in Khost, another eastern province bordering Pakistan where U.S. forces once registered much-publicized gains (and which Richard Holbrooke, now President Obama's special envoy to the region, termed "an American success story"), the Taliban is largely in control. It is, according to Yochi Dreazen and Anand Gopal of the Wall Street Journal, now "one of the most dangerous provinces" in the country. Similarly, the Taliban insurgency, once largely restricted to the Pashtun south, has recently spread fiercely to the west and north. At the same time, neighboring Pakistan is an increasingly destabilized country amid war in its tribal borderlands, a terror campaign spreading throughout the country, escalating American drone attacks, and increasingly testy relations between American officials and the Pakistani government and military.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 8, 2009 09:45 AM

"A good gambler cuts his losses."

Who's losing?

Another quote: "A bad government loves war profiteers."

Or how about: "A politician, who points out that some wars not winnable, don't get a lot of campaign dollars."

Posted by: Paul Avery at November 8, 2009 03:53 PM

Tom Englehardt seems to me to be much closer to understanding it than Dilip Hero, but we seem hell bent on creating the sort trouble that will make rams blowing horns and chalices overflowing with blood seem like a party.

I need to listen to more happy Bach. Thank God I can't understand that.

Posted by: N E at November 9, 2009 12:27 AM

I didn't catch Dilip's shortfall. What did he have wrong?

I always said, if you want world peace, give every single country an arsenal of ICBMs launchable by air, land and sea. Then have each country acquire satellites that monitor the launch of every countrie's missiles. It sure deterred the Soviet Union from fighting the United States, most definitely vice versa and the same phenomena could happen around the world. If Vietnam had nuclear weapons, they could of made interference from both superpowers impossible, guaranteed.

It works quite well.

Posted by: Nikolay Levin at November 9, 2009 07:30 PM