Monday, August 11, 2008

Statements of the the obvious
And another one, less obvious
And we should not kid ourselves that we will find Democratic allies in Congress or the Obama campaign that are going to argue that our policy has been all wrong all along. That will never happen. If this conflict becomes a matter of debate in the presidential campaign, it will not be over the wisdom of the overall policy. Obama would be abandoned by the foreign policy Establishment in a New York Minute.*
Reading around more, I'm now not so sure that's true. There's a real fight going on. Here are Anatol Lieven and Scott Horton. But Henry Farrell is a very specific kind of idiot.
"But this also implies that Steve’s suggestion – that Western powers should have traded off Kosovan independence for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – would have been an even worse option. It would have been tantamount to an effective recognition of spheres of influence,"
Farrell is incapable of seeing anything through an imagination other than his own. He has the best intentions -I won't argue- but he also assumes his own impartiality. And he seems unable to tell the difference between his moral right to state as a private citizen that there should be no spheres of influence and his responsibility in arguments concerning the behavior of state actors who act on the knowledge that they exist. Moral seriousness is not moral responsibility. Manners are not actions. The US supports democracy when it's seen to suit our leaders' definition of American interests but otherwise is happy not to. Pakistan is only today's example.

All this ties into my annoyed but sloppy comment here.
Craftsmanship manifests self-awareness. Experience is private, but the communication of experience through a common medium -the definition of craft- re-situates us and returns us to the public world.
Art is less expression than description:
"Try writing a dialogue where the implications of each speaker’s words undermine the stated intent... try writing a dialogue [for two] that’s also a quartet."
Attention to craft can reverse-engineer an understanding of the complexities of experience, can make evident how much we craft our relations otherwise without thinking, how much we construct patterns in response to pattern, as reflex. Again this returns to the difference, and tension, between invention and observation. I almost want to say that con men are empiricists and marks are unfailingly rationalist.
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* Cognitive dissonance two days later
Maureen Dowd doesn't root for Democrats. She uses her column to mock Democrats, drive wedges between Democrats, and to reinforce negative stereotypes about Democrats.
I guess the point is not that she's always wrong but that she's insulting and frivolous.

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