Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Watcher's Winners for March 10, 2005

Watcher's CouncilGates of Vienna placed first for The Bloody Borders Project. It was a long, hard slog — thanks for the votes, guys.

Second place, Glittering Eye’s “From Way Up Here,” is not a post to be summarized, but an essay to be pondered. Here is the opening:

One of the many things I love about my country is the way that historical arguments have a way of raising their heads, projecting themselves into the public discourse, being challenged, tried, and proven in the crucible of that discourse and finally emerging as a policy that amazingly, miraculously reveals for us the way ahead. It isn’t merely by the accidents of geography or the good luck of vast natural resources or even divine intervention viz. the remark attributed to 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck “The Lord God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America”, that has made America the pre-eminent world power. It is all of those things and the emergent force of many voices on American foreign policy.
Go and read the rest. Dave Schuler is a first rate essayist and this look at us is perceptive and well worth your time:

America is very different from the rest of the world—even the putative democracies. Our expectations of the proper roles of government and the individual and our notions in the area of freedom of expression and property are quite different from those of even those cultures which resemble ours the most. Regardless of the acrimony between them, our liberals and conservatives continue to resemble each other in their views more closely than they do their corresponding numbers in other countries (much to the confusion and dismay of foreign observers).

In the non-council section, Neo neocon took first place with "Ex-Taliban at Yale: Another Changed Mind?"

If you read Neo with any regularity, you know her interest is in how people change. With that focus, she writes across a breadth of subjects (both the human and the intellectual variety). In this one, it’s best to begin at the end of her post, where she presents her reasoning:

[NOTE: I'm fully aware that some may quarrel with affording Rahmatullah the opportunity to study at Yale and to be in this country at all, considering his background. And I'm likewise aware, as I said in the article, that he may be dissembling about his actual point of view, both then and now. In fact, much of the talk around the blogosphere about Rahmatullah is universally against his being at Yale. The point of this post is not to take a position on that one way or the other--I myself have some doubts about the whole endeavor.

I found, on a quick perusal of posts about this subject throughout the blogosphere, that none of their authors seem to have taken the time to carefully read the original article and to analyze what might have gone on with Rahmatullah himself. Because my particular interest is different--understanding political change--I've written this post from that perspective. And so I've decided to take the article at face value, because if it does in fact represent what actually happened, I believe it's another fascinating case of change. At this moment, my personal opinion is that it has the ring of truth. Either that, or Rahmatullah is an excellent spin doctor indeed--which is certainly possible, in which case the change would be no change at all.]

Varifrank placed a close second with Just a Passing Thought, his ruminations on Iran:

I spend alot of time thinking about Iran. Because for me, it all started with Iran. Some of us even think it all started long ago, back when they called it "Persia", and we of "the west" were just Greeks.
I had a dream awhile back that I was standing in Athens listening to some half crocked citizen speaking out about why "we greeks really didnt need to fight the persians", that they could be reasoned with if only we would take the time.
And while he talked, a small group of us in the back of the crowd quietly listened, and just as quietly, gathered our tools and sharpened our spears.

I won’t spoil it after that introduction. Finish reading his passing thought for yourself.

And don’t forget the rest of the Watcher’s posts for this time around.