Wednesday, September 29

O'Rourke on Iraq

PJ O'Rourke:

As of early 2004, America didn't seem to have the answers for postwar Iraq. Then again, what were the questions?

Was there a bad man? And his bad kids? Were they running a bad country? That did bad things? Did they have a lot of oil money to do bad things with? Were they going to do more bad things?

If those were the questions, was the answer 'UN-supervised national reconciliation' or 'rapid return to self-rule'? No. The answer was blow the place to bits.

A mess was left behind. But it's a mess without a military to fight aggressive wars; a mess without the facilities to develop dangerous weapons; a mess that cannot systematically kill, torture, and oppress millions of its citizens. It's a mess with a message - don't mess with us.

In particular, I keep re-reading the first four sentences of the second paragraph. Lovely.

Tuesday, September 14

North Korean dog meat and hotel

Little point in adding to speculation about mysterious explosions in North Korea.

But I was intrigued to read about this, the spooky Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang (via Gweilo Diaries).

And The Times says that in a daring capitalist experiment, North Korea has ceased to fix the price of dog meat.

Monday, September 13

Nader to derail Democrats again?

Christopher Caldwell thinks that against the odds, Ralph Nader is strongly influencing what John Kerry can and cannot say, and will again inadvertently come to the assistance of George W Bush:

Mr Nader's support would have dissipated after 2000 had politics continued on its ordinary way. His gripes primarily concerned the sameness of the parties' economic platforms, which is less of an issue this year. But history has provided Mr Nader with another cause. He is the only pacifist candidate in this race. Solid majorities still support the war in Iraq, but many of those who oppose it do so in an uncompromising way. Mr Kerry cannot take these voters for granted. A straightforward position against the Iraq war would lose him the election. But a straightforward position in its favour would drive voters to Mr Nader. And Mr Kerry cannot afford to cede Mr Nader even 1 or 2 per cent of the vote in any key states.

Friday, September 10

Rail privatisation in the UK

Rail privatisation in the UK has been less than an startling success. Don Boudreaux believes that the ideas of economist Ronald H. Coase may help to explain why:
political prohibition against greater or lesser vertical integration -- that is, the prohibition on U.K. railway franchisees changing how much of their operations they perform in-house and how much they purchase from outside suppliers -- means that a critical tool is kept from managers who wish to improve rail service in the U.K.