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