Lord knows I’ve had my run–ins with Andrew Sullivan, who seems to think that a devotion to gay rights and Obama constitutes a form of “conservatism,” and yet I’ve got to give the guy credit for writing this on the occasion of Irving Kristol’s demise:
The gimmick of the Kristols was to wrap a Trotskyite mentality in a world-weary, bourgeois gauze. It enabled them to evade any responsibility for their grotesque errors, errors which led to the deaths and torture of countless people, and the bankrupting of America, while pretending to be reasonable and empirical intellectuals. The urbane patina of moderation was, in other words, a lie. You know: one of those many lies that the Kristols believe are good for the rest of us.
The decision by the Obama administration to scrap the missile “defense” shield that Bush had promised to install in Poland and the Czech Republic has been described by the neocon Right as nothing short of “appeasement”—but whom, exactly, is Obama supposed to be “appeasing”? According to the War Party, it’s Vladimir Putin, who is regularly portrayed as the neo-Stalin, ready, willing, and able to move westward and revive the Warsaw Pact. Yet the ostensible reason for installing this expensive, untested, and generally unreliable weapons system a few hundred miles from Moscow was, supposedly, to deter the Iranians from launching a missile attack on Warsaw and/or Prague—an explanation so patently absurd that it’s hard to believe even the Bushies swallowed it. Besides being a subsidy to the U.S. armaments industry, which made huge profits off the deal and stood to make still more, the program was a calculated insult to the Russians, meant to humiliate and otherwise put them in their place. Aside from that, however, it was an explicit threat: for the missile “shield,” in spite of its name, is very far from being a defensive weapon. Protected against the prospect of a retaliatory strike, NATO troops stationed half a hour from Moscow could take the Kremlin in less than a day. No nation could permit this, or recognize it as anything other than a mortal threat. For the United States to maintain this posture would have been costly, dangerous—and out of step with the President’s much-touted self-consciously “pragmatic” approach.
Whether Obama’s brand of pragmatism turns out to resemble realism—or is, instead, another form of pie-in-the-sky “idealism” spawned by the machinations of foreign lobbyists and internal political considerations—remains to be seen. At this point in his presidency, the results are mixed—with realism winning out on the European front, and a Bush-lite version of the same old manifest-destinarian “idealism” so far holding sway the further East we go (Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.).
Now here’s a news item I want to note before Taki gets a chance to:
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has a rather curious new addition built in to his latest oversized yacht. The 557-foot boat Eclipse, the price tag of which has almost doubled since original plans were drawn to almost $1.2 billion, set sail this week with a slew of show-off features, from two helipads, two swimming pools and six-foot movie screens in all guest cabins, to a mini-submarine and missile-proof windows to combat piracy.
It might not seem like somebody with such ostentatious tastes would crave privacy, but along with these expensive toys, Ambramovich has installed an anti-paparazzi “shield”. Lasers sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph. According to the Times, these don’t run all the time, so friends and guests should still be able to grab snaps. Instead, they will be activated when guards spot the scourge of professional photography, paparazzi, loitering nearby.