So This Is What Victory Looks Like? — Scott Ritter – By far the best commentary on the Iraqi situation in light of the recent “troop withdrawal.” Ritter was one of the few people who knew Iraq from the inside before the invasion and accurately predicted everything that followed. He remains one of the few people who knows what is happening on the ground and understands the underlying political and military dynamics. Here he paints a picture that all Americans need to read — every last word. And, of course, we still are ignoring the major issues: “[The] cost paid by Iraqi society, shredded by ethnic cleansing and segregation, raises the question of whether or not the alleged ‘cure’ is any better than the ‘disease’ it purports to address. […] The Shiite-Sunni schism has only worsened, and there is increasing risk that the Arab-Kurd disagreement over oil rights will escalate from a war of words into something more violent.” The most disheartening and illuminating article published on Iraq in quite some time.
The Paradox of Thrift — For Real — Paul Krugman – If you like economic-theory-made-easy, this is Krugman at his best. If you just want the bottom line, it couldn’t be clearer: “Slashing spending or raising taxes right now wouldn’t just deepen the slump — it would actually make us poorer in the future, too, because it would lead to lower overall saving and investment.”
Baseball Injuries, an Increasingly Predictable Part of the Game — New York Times – Odd timing, this article coming as the movie adaptation of “Moneyball” has apparently stalled amid administrative troubles. That sidebar aside, this is a very interesting continuation of the mathematization of our lives, across all industries and behaviors. This is a very positive development, so long as practitioners remember that all mathematical models are just models, and therefore are only useful within the correct perspective — something Wall Street has taught us lately.
Obama’s Strategic Blind Spot — Andrew J. Bacevich – Andrew Bacevich is a national treasure. No new ideas or insights here, but it is brilliant in its brevity and engaging with its historical overtones — both patented Bacevich approaches. Two golden quotes: “In Washington and in the field, a preoccupation with tactics and operations have induced strategic blindness.” and “Yet we’re more likely to enjoy success by modeling freedom rather than trying to impose it. …let’s not deny others the prerogative of defining for themselves exactly what it means to be free.”
Strands of Libertarianism — Arnold Kling – Quote of the day: “Activities that require taxation are sometimes beneficial in theory, but public choice issues make them much less beneficial in practice.” (There are areas, as indicated in my post on Waxman-Markey, where government investments do have high ROIs, but in general Kling’s point — and public choice theory, for that matter — should be given more attention by legislators and voters.)