Amidst the thousands of webposts about geopolitics, three stand out as the best ever IMO. Here are the winners; excerpts follow below.
- “The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics“, Matthew Yglesias, 10 June 2006
- “If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride — A Pony!“, John & Belle Have a Blog, 6 March 2004
- “The Priest-Avatar of the State“, Fafblog, 18 August 2004
(1) “The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics“, Matthew Yglesias, 10 June 2006 — Excerpt:
The ring is a bit goofy. Basically, it lets its bearer generate streams of green energy that can take on all kinds of shapes. The important point is that, when fully charged what the ring can do is limited only by the stipulation that it create green stuff and by the user’s combination of will and imagination. Consequently, the main criterion for becoming a Green Lantern is that you need to be a person capable of “overcoming fear” which allows you to unleash the ring’s full capacities.
… Suffice it to say that I think all this makes an okay premise for a comic book. But a lot of people seem to think that American military might is like one of these power rings. They seem to think that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.
What’s more, this theory can’t be empirically demonstrated to be wrong. Things that you or I might take as demonstrating the limited utility of military power to accomplish certain kinds of things are, instead, taken as evidence of lack of will. Thus we see that problems in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t reasons to avoid new military ventures, but reasons why we must embark upon them: “Add a failure in Iran to a failure in Iraq to a failure in Afghanistan, and we could supercharge Islamic radicalism in a way never before seen. The widespread and lethal impression of American weakness under the Clinton administration, which did so much to energize bin Ladenism in the 1990s, could look like the glory years of American power compared to what the Bush administration may leave in its wake.” (quote from “Cognitive Dissonance: The State of America’s Iran Policy“, Reuel Marc Gerecht, CATO, 9 July 2006.
(2) “If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride — A Pony!“, John & Belle Have a Blog, 6 March 2004 — The post is one of the best eviscerations of Libertarian theory I have seen. Excerpt:
You see, wishes are totally free. It’s like when you can’t decide whether to daydream about being a famous Hollywood star or having amazing magical powers. Why not — be a famous Hollywood star with amazing magical powers! Along these lines, John has developed an infallible way to improve any public policy wishes. You just wish for the thing, plus, wish that everyone would have their own pony! So, in Chafetz’ case, he should not only wish that Bush would say a lot of good things about democracy-building and fighting terrorism in a speech written for him by a smart person, he should also wish that Bush should actually mean the things he says and enact policies which reflect this, and he should wish that everyone gets a pony. See?
… John got the idea from a Calvin and Hobbes strip in which little Susie first wishes that Calvin was nicer, then realizes she might just as well wish for a pony while she’s at it. So, thank that Calvin and Hobbes guy, or something. Here is the original ‘might as well wish for a pony‘ strip.
(3) “The Priest-Avatar of the State“, Fafblog, 18 August 2004 — Excerpt:
There are times when the Medium Lobster is beseeched by linear beings who seek to understand a portion of that greater wisdom which is possessed by the Medium Lobster. And today the Medium Lobster has deigned it appropriate to respond.
Petitioner Stephen Richards asks: “I seek your enlightenment on the question of how much knowledge a true citizen should need before an election. In particular I am curious to whether the candidates – if deemed elected – would invade Iran to protect us all from the forces of evil.” However I am unsure if the press should even ask such a question. How much truth is too much truth for the American voter in a war for truth in the world? Should America be allowed to know where both candidates stand on this issue – before November?”
Ah, Stephen. The larger issue – should America invade Iran? – is a serious one, and will surely be addressed by the Medium Lobster in the days to follow. But your question – should the press ask the candidates if they support an invasion of Iran? – is even more crucial, for it goes to the very heart of the nature of the Presidency itself.
No, Stephen, the media should not press a candidate – or an elected President, for that matter – on his wartime plans. Not because the public does not have a right to know – although this is questionable indeed – but because it is not the job of the President to invade Iran, or conduct a war, or decide matters of policy in general. No, Stephen, the President does not exist to make petty decisions such as these, to muddy his hands in the tedious affairs of state. He exists not to guide the nation to where it should be. He exists to project an image of what it wants to be.
America doesn’t need a President to lead them; America needs a President who projects leadership. America doesn’t need a President who’s honest with his country; America needs a President who’s honest with his wife. America doesn’t need a President with a firm grasp of policy and a commitment to serving his country; America needs a President with the appearance of irrepressible optimism and Wholesome Heartland Values. America doesn’t need a capable wartime President; America needs a President who makes himself look like war.
… The job of the President of the United States is to forcefully emote the conscious and unconscious will of the American People. He is not the commander-in-chief. He is the Happy Warrior. He is the Priest-Avatar of the State.
As Colorado Governor Bill Owens said when defending President Bush’s supposedly-infamous seven minutes sitting before schoolchildren on September 11th, “A lot of what governors and presidents have to do is project a level of confidence and a level of calmness.” Indeed, and that is exactly what the President did on that terrible day: when America needed to be protected, George Bush was projecting an aura of protectedness; when America needed to be safe, George Bush was looking like safety; when America needed to be strong, George Bush was exuding something like strength. When you watch that clip again, in Michael Moore’s detestable piece of propaganda or elsewhere, remind yourself, This is what a President is for: projecting, smiling, posing, waving, doing nothing.
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