Making enemies into friends
Denizens of the blogosphere have long been trying to answer 20 and more questions on Iraq. Steven Den Beste, known for lengthy, content-packed posts on his USS Clueless blog (denbeste.nu), wrote about the reconstruction of Iraq: "If you take the long view, concentrating on changes over months instead of over days, then if you look at what's going on in Iraq you see that things are definitely improving and changing, and that the rate of change is accelerating."
Mr. Den Beste claimed that Iraqis are "not used to being free.... People who go through a terrible experience go through a period in which they don't quite believe it's over.... We will eliminate our enemies not by killing them in hordes but by infecting them with ideas which will convert most of them to friends. That process has now begun."
Blogs have helped soldiers in Iraq to provide first-person perspectives. Blogger Chief Wiggles (chiefwiggles.blog-city.com) wrote, "We feel like we are swimming in a sea of honey, hardly able to make any progress as we pull and push with every stroke, with every intention of moving forward along this journey but not sure if we have even moved an inch." Despite the difficulties, Chief Wiggles is optimistic: "We are still very positive about our efforts in the overall scheme of things, knowing deep down inside that each person we touch gets us that much closer to our goal of winning the hearts and minds of these people."
Can blog attacks help to get rid of particular government projects? Gregg Easterbrook (tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml) is starting a series on Pentagon weapons development, analyzing which projects should be funded and which should be scrapped. His first target is the F-22 Raptor, which has a ballooning cost and apparently-due to the development of the cheaper Joint Strike Fighter-only a marginal benefit. Mr. Easterbrook wondered if Donald Rumsfeld would have the guts to cut the program: "Rumsfeld, a former fighter jock himself, loves the Air Force. If he gives in to the Air Force on F-22 after canceling the Army's Crusader-a much less expensive program than F-22, and one that would have brought the United States military a needed new capability-Rumsfeld will be exposed as a sham reformer."
Glenn Reynolds (instapundit.com) is hoping that an "instalanche" of blogger comments can create opposition to a U.S. structuring of some costs of Iraq reconstruction as loans. Such a structure would force an already debt-laden Iraq to repay up to $20 billion to the United States. "If things go badly as a result," he wrote, "I promise to publish the pictures, names-and home phone numbers, if I can get 'em-of the senators voting for this bill. I'll also publish weblinks so that people can give money to their opponents, regardless of party."
Hard-left demonstrators have regularly sported "Bush=Hitler" signs. The Elder (fraterslibertas.com) pointed out just how ridiculous that comparison is: "If Bush were like Hitler, post-9/11 events would have unfolded quite a bit differently. Muslims would have been beaten in the streets of the U.S., some to death. Mosques would have burned. Muslim shops would have been looted.... The Democratic party would have been outlawed."
Meanwhile, John Weidner (randomjottings.net) is proposing Swiss-style federalism for Iraq: "Ever wonder why the German-speaking Swiss don't oppress the French-speaking Swiss? And the French-speakers don't fight with the Italian-speakers? It's because most of the important Swiss decisions are made in the Cantons. Even if you became President-for-Life of Switzerland, it wouldn't do you much good, because the central government doesn't control very much."
Speaking of tyrants, bloggers have been trying to figure out why OPEC oligarchs have cut oil production at a time when it is economically harmful to their countries. Lexington Green of the Chicago Boyz blog (chicagoboyz.net) thinks he has the answer: "If I were the Saudis and the Iranians and Hugo Chavez and others in OPEC, I think it would be worth it to suffer some economic loss in the short term if I could bring on a recession which would finish off Bush's chances of reelection. The Saudis in particular know that they are in the cross-hairs. Get rid of Bush, and you have a new lease on life."