Two of my recent commentaries on Iraq and related political issues have been posted online:
In the February issue of Chronicles:
It’s the War, Stupid!
Election 2006 and Beyond
by Leon Hadar
Political analysts, consultants, and “scientists,” envious of the success of economists in turning the study of wealth creation into a scientific discipline and a lucrative profession, are always searching for rules and laws to explain and discover certain regular and logical structures in human efforts involved in winning, preserving, and expanding power. Elections provide a wonderful opportunity for the members of this “profession” or “industry” to win fame, fortune, and, yes, power. Consultants dispense advice to candidates; pollsters “measure” public opinion; academics think-tank about the recent debate between the candidates; journalists cover the horse race; and pundits produce sound bites for 24/7 cable-television news.
In addition to the hundreds of seminars, studies, articles, and books that result from each election campaign, there is the occasional theoretical model to be “discovered” by the clever political scientist or witty pundit. Couched in statistics and scientific mumbo-jumbo, the model then gives birth to the inevitable “rule” that tends to be recycled to death and transformed eventually into conventional wisdom or even a political axiom. For example: If it rains in southeast California on Election Day, you can expect that a majority of short white men between the ages of 27 and 38 who live in Upstate New York will vote for Republican candidates. ((Read the rest)
And in the February 26 issues of The American Conservative:
February 26, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative
Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Spoiling for another fight, the United States may try to provoke Iran.
by Leon Hadar
The Iraq War has produced many, sometimes contradictory, historical analogies, ranging from Munich to the fall of Saigon, as pundits highlight their dubious relevance to Mesopotamia.
Following President Bush’s Jan. 11 speech on U.S. policy in Iraq, in which he accused Tehran of meddling and threatened to “interrupt” the flow of support to Iraqi insurgents, Sen. Chuck Hagel added a new analogy: Nixon’s decision to expand the war in Vietnam into Cambodia as part of a strategy to “interrupt” the flow of support to those other insurgents, the National Liberation Front, from sanctuaries along Cambodia’s eastern border.
“[O]nce you get to hot pursuit, no one can say we won’t engage across border,” Hagel told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “Some of us remember 1970 and Cambodia, and our government lied to us and said we didn’t cross the border,” he said. “When you set in motion the kind of policy the president is talking about here, it is very, very dangerous.”
But Cambodia was never a regional power in Southeast Asia in the way that Iran is today. Like North Vietnam’s anti-U.S. strategy in South Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, Iran has the military power and policy influence to disrupt U.S. policies in neighboring Iraq, with the Shi’ite militias it supports playing a similar role to that of the Vietcong in South Vietnam.
Thus the correct historical analogy may not be Nixon’s secret air campaign and incursions into Cambodia, but the Tonkin Gulf incident—the alleged pair of attacks by North Vietnamese naval forces against American destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used to win public support and congressional approval for escalating the confrontation with North Vietnam.(Read the rest)