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Audio: Norm Dicks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Stimulus, Anthony Weiner

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I recorded the conversation with U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, for the Sunday story on his position on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. He is among Democrats and a few Republicans calling for a quicker withdrawal of U.S. troops.

I also asked him about Libya, Iraq and whether Anthony Weiner should resign. I cut about a minute and a half from the recording, but it’s still a bit more than 19 minutes long.

Norm Dicks on Afghanistan

Considering our nuclear future

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

If you wonder whether what is happening at Fukushima in Japan is having an impact on the future of nuclear power, it is, at least in terms of how people are talking about nuclear power.

I just found a story that highlights the hurdles nuclear energy was having anyway. Surprisingly, most of its problems are not political. They may be a question of economics.

That’s why some outside experts have long thought the nuclear renaissance was overblown, even before Fukushima. In a 2007 report for the Council on Foreign Relations, Charles Ferguson noted that all of the 104 reactors currently operating in the United States will likely need to be decommissioned by mid-century. Replacing those reactors (so simply preserving the status quo) would mean building a new reactor every four or five months for 50 years—already a “daunting” pace.

The New Republic has the goods on a nuclear future, written by Bradford Plummer.

Keep your eyes on Tiananmen Square

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

If all this government-overthrowing going on in Africa has had you wondering how it all might be playing in China, William J. Dobson writes in the New Republic of one experience he had there recently after he got to his hotel room in Beijing.

“Listening to CNN as I unpacked my suitcase, the anchor interviewed an analyst on the deteriorating situation in Libya. As soon as the anchor asked how Beijing might be viewing events, my television went dark. Roughly 60 seconds later, the TV screen came back, just in time for the anchor to thank the guest for his analysis.”

Stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and read the rest of this piece if you want to feel like you have a heads up on the news of the future.

I think China is on notice.

Writer says Bush’s interpretation was correct; No judgment on the method he used

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

From an editorial in the New York Times:

President George W. Bush’s decision to build democracy in Iraq seemed so lame to many people because it appeared, at best, to be another example of American idealism run amok — the forceful implantation of a complex Western idea into infertile authoritarian soil. But Mr. Bush, whose faith in self-government mirrors that of a frontiersman in Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” saw truths that more worldly men missed: the idea of democracy had become a potent force among Muslims, and authoritarianism had become the midwife to Islamic extremism.

Whether this means a war was the right way to support Iraqis in gaining freedom from Sadam Hussein is still open for your debate, and the author does not address that. This really is not a piece about Bush.

What it is about is the notion that people in Islamic countries are more favorable toward democracy than we might realize, and that could lessen some of our concerns about what happens in Egypt once Mubarak leaves.

The piece is also interesting in that it points out that the people we thought were the “liberals” in many of these nations were only liberal enough to not anger the rulers. The author calls them “court liberals.” The real liberals were out there, in exile or in jail, writing in Persian language, which you and I were not reading.

This is an alternative take on what our hopes and expectations could be in the Middle East.

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