Bill Keller of the New York Times reports that the second nuclear age is upon us. The first nuclear age was a balance of superpowers, the Soviets and America locked in a belligerent, but ultimately self-protective dance. Whereas in the recent past budding nuclear powers did so surreptitiously today’s developing nuclear nations are using their new found power to proudly and publicly assert themselves. Represented by India and Pakistan’s fluctuating levels of nuclear antagonism towards each other, North Korea’s posturing towards the U.S., or the ever present threat of a nation or group hostile towards a nuclear state, this new paradigm is fraught with risk.

Each new country that gets nuclear weapons multiplies the potential for a war involving a nuclear state. And numbers are not the worst of it. The original nuclear era was primarily a boxers' clinch of two great industrial powers, each claiming to represent an ideology of global appeal. The second is about insecure nations, most of them led by autocrats, most of them relatively poor, residing in rough neighborhoods, unaligned with and resentful of Western power.
The arsenals of the first nuclear age were governed by elaborate rules and sophisticated technology designed to prevent firing in haste. Some of the newcomers are thought to have far less rigorous command and control, raising fears that the lines of authority could be abandoned in the heat of battle. The newer nuclear states, after all, are dealing with enemies close at hand -- minutes away by missile -- in conflicts that could unfold quickly.

There are different approaches to dealing with the new nuclear reality.

The world of people who worry about nuclear weapons for a living is divided into two hostile camps…. The traditional arms controllers are advocates of treaties, export controls, international agencies and sanctions -- an elaborate regime intended to avert the spread and use of nuclear weapons…The arms controllers say that what is needed now is to shore up those multilateral disciplines, fortify their enforcement and restore the sense of taboo surrounding these weapons…Opposing the arms controllers is a new and ascendant camp, which asserts that the old constraints have broken down…the menu of options includes surgical intervention, blockades, economic sanctions and the purely political muscle of public exposure and brutal candor…To the counterproliferators, the main problem is not nuclear weapons; it is bad regimes armed with nuclear weapons.

Having just won a war will/should the counterproliferators continue their policies as the world spins closer towards nuclear chaos? Or should the world revert back towards a more conventional, multi-lateralist approach to weapons control? As the article discusses, the so-called Star Wars programs advocated by the counterproliferators may actually be intended to be used as an enabler of a more pro-active, pre-emptive strategy. To that end, if an anti-missile defense system is feasible, should we install one in order to confront these changing realities? Is there perhaps a third way?
I am in the woods (literally) for the next few days. No blogging at all. Until next week....


But the Sars outbreak was not just any old pretext for financial panic. Sars shared another characteristic with the previous panics about terrorism, the “war between civilisations” and the dot-com crash. All these phenomena were linked clearly to globalisation. They seemed to be caused by the way that capitalism was drawing the world together, often against the wishes of the peoples and countries involved. And globalisation was the means of disseminating these evils, as well as their cause.

From a Times piece about capatalism, "humanity's most benign creation".
China now faces an even worse epidemic than SARS.


Iowa State men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy makes $1 million per year, making him the state's highest paid employee. He has the program pointed in the right direction but the past 12 months have been trying for the team. After a 64-59 loss to the Missouri Tigers Coach Eustachy went to a party at the apartment of Missouri player Josh Kroenke. Apparently he had a good time.

Shortly afterwards pictures were released showing coach Eustachy drinking beers, hugging and kissing comely co-eds, and generally enjoying himself a bit too much on the heels of a loss. The expected controversy erupted, the school's athletic director said that he has embarrassed the university and began the process of ousting Eustachy. In tearful press conference sitting next to his wife, he announced he wouldn't resign and that he is an alcoholic and is seeking treatment.

Some pundits believe this is an attempt to jettison coach Eustachy and his high salary by an AD who inherited the coach. Others believe the school clearly has a responsibility to set a better example for the kids in their charge. What do you think? Harmless night of getting his groove on? Or shameful display of public buffoonery? And how much does his “disability” mitigate the circumstances?


Kaus takes to task those who try to parse Dean's aging empire comment too finely. And more at Slate William Saletan takes on John Kerry for the same. What Dean said was honest, few people who seriously discuss such matters hold a different view, and it's a valid consideration in many regards. Good for those who call Kerry on this one.


Mommy, what's a "Neo-con"?

Bob Lieber takes on the neo-con/Jewish conspiracy theorists right off the bat.

A small band of neoconservative (read, Jewish) defense intellectuals, led by the "mastermind," Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (according to Michael Lind, writing in the New Statesman), has taken advantage of 9/11 to put their ideas over on an ignorant, inexperienced, and "easily manipulated" president (Eric Alterman in The Nation), his "elderly figurehead" Defense Secretary (as Lind put it), and the "dutiful servant of power" who is our secretary of state (Edward Said, London Review of Books).

Thus empowered, this neoconservative conspiracy, "a product of the influential Jewish-American faction of the Trotskyist movement of the '30s and '40s" (Lind), with its own "fanatic" and "totalitarian morality" (William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune) has fomented war with Iraq -- not in the interest of the United States, but in the service of Israel's Likud government (Patrick J. Buchanan and Alterman).

And concludes that the left’s hyperbole and malicious “critiques” of the President have disabled their ability to critically assess important matters regarding the administration.

Ultimately, the neocon-conspiracy theory misinterprets as a policy coup a reasoned shift in grand strategy that the Bush administration has adopted in responding to an ominous form of external threat. Whether that strategy and its component parts prove to be as robust and effective as containment of hostile Middle Eastern states linked to terrorism remains to be seen. But to characterize it in conspiratorial terms is not only a failure to weigh policy choices on their merits, but represents a detour into the fever swamps of political demagoguery.

Joe Hagan of the NY Observer outlines the workings of the “Axis of Circumcision” focusing on its New York roots.

(A great map of the players and places within the movement here.)

One of the great difficulties in nailing down the notion of a neo-con is that it’s a grouping of ideas more so than demographics, and as in all fledging movements its early successes harvest as much confusion as clarity.

"The neocons so overwhelmingly won," said Mr. (Mark) Gerson, (president of the investor-relations company the Gerson Lehrman Group and editor of The Neoconservative Reader.) "The neocons more or less stayed true to their beliefs. Ideas rule the world, not marginal tax rates. And not politics."

The harping isn’t only on this side of the Atlantic, even in Europe they watch and wonder if the words of Lord Jopling, a former British cabinet minister will ring true, “neo-conservatives...now have a stranglehold on the Pentagon and seem, as well, to have a compliant armlock on the president himself.”

Has Trotskyism overrun the White House? Is there a swarthy, sinister cabal of puppet masters dictating foreign affairs? Does this strengthen or weaken the ideas of the Reagan Revolution? Or are we at the cusp of a new political reality? In the words of neo-con fairy God Father Rupert Murdoch, "I report, you decide".

After toppling Lott bloggers are moving on to deciding the 2004 Prez election. This according to Kurtz
smells like conspiracy theory! eery similarities between the stories published by the papers that "broke" the bin Laden/Iraq connection. The Toronto Star's story.... and the Telegraph's....


So more comes out about Mike Hawash, he's been charged in the "Portland Six" case.
Ignorant and proud. He proclaims poetry is "dead" because he doesn't read it. Egomaniacal and pointless. It's nice to have other news than the war for once but Newsweek is stretching with this one.
It's good to start Monday with good news. Slate has taken in more money then it spent.


Hey Art fans! A couple of interesting read about the lessening standards of art, art-criticism, and art appreciation. Sarah Miller offers a defense of snobs, well actually elitism. More interesting is this piece from Harpers that looks back fondly on Stanley Kubrick’s last movie Eyes Wide Shut.

Not a single critic, not even those few who claimed to like Eyes Wide Shut, made any attempt to understand the film on its own artistic terms. Instead, the critics denounced the film for not living up to the claims its publicists had made for it, reduced it to a question of its director's personality, measured it by how much information it conveyed about the familiar world around us. And I realized that something that had been stirring around in the depths of the culture had risen to the surface.
After years of vindictive, leveling memoirs of artistic figures; after countless novels, plays, films, paintings, and installations constructed to address one social issue or another; after dozens of books have been published proclaiming the importance of the "great books" and "humanist ideas" to such a point of inflation that the effect was to bury the specificity of great books and of original ideas--after the storm of all this self-indulgence had passed, a new cultural reality had taken shape. Our official arbiters of culture have lost the gift of being able to comprehend a work of art that does not reflect their immediate experience; they have become afraid of genuine art. Art-phobia is now the dominant sensibility of the official culture, and art-phobia annihilated Stanley Kubrick's autumnal work.