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Archive for June, 2008

Sort of a “Best Of Zenpundit” Post

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Over at CTLabNeurocognitive Implications of Nation-Building.

More here later today.

New to the Blogroll

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Two great new adds:

In Harmonium : Fellow SWC member, Dr. Marc Tyrell’s blog dedicated to symbolic anthropology, COIN, education, music, knowledge and other subjects.

FANTOM PLANET : A blog about geographic studies, tech, maps, Web 2.0 and other intersectional things.

On Historians and Others

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I have a new post up at Progressive Historians:

On Historians and Others….

….Historians are not theorists, though they may entertain certain theories in the course of interpreting an event they do not begin with answers as does a theorist but with questions. Questions they try to answer with research and evidence because history, while not a science, is an empirical discipline. Historians are not poets, they do not aim to create sweeping, romantic, myths, though like anyone else, historians admire mythic ideals but their task is to reveal where reality may have fallen short. Historians are not social scientists, though they sometimes borrow their tools; nor are they economists constructing abstract models hoping to predict events. A historian who tries to predict what will happen based upon the past is engaging in futurism, a very different and more difficult art.

….The public is not well prepared to handle or comment upon historical monographs of an esoteric or technical nature, only other specialists can do that. Nor are historians who have spent most of their career in a very rarefied subfield – say researching currency fluctuations in the Spanish Netherlands during the early modern period or Women’s social status in the Caribbean during the late Colonial era – well positioned to write a panoramic history of Western civilization, of the history of technology or similarly big picture subjects desired by the layman who wants to “read some history”. At least not without a major time investment.”

Read the rest here.

Recommended Reading

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Thought I’d start with a Point-Counterpoint theme and then go from there:

Top Billing!: Matthew Burton -“Why I Help “The Man”, and Why You Should Too” paired with Michael Tanji -“helping the man

Food for thought for this community of readers and bloggers in particular. Burton deserves praise for getting the esteemed Tanji out of his usual, eliptical, IC blogger’s shorthand and into something closer to an actual essay 😉

Smitten Eagle at Chicago Boyz -“Thomas PM Barnett, Rule-Sets, and Democratic Sovereignty” and Tom’s response-“What I was trying to say about Ireland and the EU

Reviving the rule-set theory discussion along with other normative political questions. I was tempted to jump into this one and then just backed away slowly and put the keyboard down.

Abu Muqawama –  “Big Gains in Iraq?” (Dr. iRack) and  “How Do You Solve A Problem Like the Pashtun?” (Troy)

This one is NOT “point-counterpoint”, simply two good, meaty, posts on Iraq and Afghanistan, the second one one by rookie Troy.

Whirledview – “Cleaning Up the Shenanigans and Reinstituting The Golden Rule” (PHK)

Patricia deftly reviews the extent to how badly the State Department  is internally screwed up and beset by bureaucratic favortism in personnel policies. That being said, IMHO any major reforms at State need to be accompanied by increases in funding and personnel so that  State can morph into a 21st century institution with effective, operational, IO and administrative capabilities to complement traditional diplomatic skills. A major project for the next president, if they can see the dire need.

John Robb has a book review up at City Journal.

SWJ BlogForeign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited?

Sic Semper TyrannisThe Oil Meeting at Jeddah

HNNDavid Kyvig -“How Presidential Power Became Untouchable

I’ve attended lectures by David Kyvig on several occasions and found him to be a serious, careful and first rate scholarly mind. Here however, he is falling prey to the same sort of Boomer generational political and Constitutional assumptions that plague Robert Dallek, David Kaiser and many other liberal historians who came of age intellectually in that period. These assumptions do not have traction with people from previous or successive generations, at least not on the scale Boomers imagine they do, because the lack of emotive associations (or more accurately, different ones) cause them to consider other variables than the Boomers do.

Nick CarrDoes my brain look fat?

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…..

Michael ScheuerHistory’s Muse Prepares to Ring the Closing Bell on the West’s War in Afghanistan

At Jamestown. Scheuer writes:

Such talk signals how deeply mired Western leaders remain in Cold War thinking; they are trying to manage the Afghan war-not win it-and speak almost as if there was no aggressive, thinking and adaptable enemy opposing them. It is as if they are saying: “If we just get funding levels right, curtail corruption, increase troop strength marginally, and be patient, we will win. After all, the enemy is only a few unreconstructed ‘Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants’ and they will oblige us by giving us time to get our house in order.”

Well, no. The truth is that time is about up for the United States, and NATO in Afghanistan; they will soon have to choose between massively reinforcing their Afghan garrison-Minister Fitzgibbon’s 10,000 soldiers might be a one-twenty-fifth step toward a workable total-or withdraw ignominiously. The idea that the West is confronting only the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda is a beloved figment of the official Western imagination

That’s it.

From Purpleslog: “The World of WifeCraft”

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

I was amused.

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