Scotland

Really, when you think about it neither independence nor a “no” vote is the worst answer for Scotland. What’s about to happen seems to be: a close vote. Current polls show just under 50% voting against independence, about 6% more than the yes vote with the remainder undecided. The late breakers seem to be going towards ‘yes’ which is odd in a referendum. Still, it’s unclear whether these are “likely voters” or not. Older folks are hugely against independence and are more likely to vote. 

Anything less than a 10% margin of victory for either side will be terrible for Scotland. Can you take such a major step with only 50% support? On the contrary, can you deny that many people’s wish for self-determination?

This isn’t to say that Westminster should have set the referendum up to requirer a supermajority, which probably would have only backfired. But one would have hoped that there would have been more clarity this late in the game. With so many undecideds and such a small margin (and perhaps not the gold-standard polling we are used to in American races of this magnitude) this late, it’s a recipe for chaos.

If Obama Really Followed The “Bush Doctrine” He Would Attack ISIS

Liberals from Rachel Maddow on down have accused President Obama of following the “Bush Doctrine.” This is wrong. Bush’s doctrine of “preemptive strikes” is both neither Bush’s in the sense that he didn’t invent it (The Six Day War comes to mind, but there are others) and in that he didn’t follow it.

International law does not require you to literally wait until the bombs are falling on you. It has to be real and unavoidable, then you may attack to defend. This is not all that controversial. Bush did neither. There was no threat from Iraq. The evidence was fraudulent. That is the real Bush doctrine: fraud.

So when people trot out this “hurr durr they’re the same” argument regarding Obama and Bush, what they really mean is that Obama (allegedly) is doing what Bush claimed he did. They are not claiming Obama is lying us into a war. But since what Bush claimed he did isn’t a bad thing just because Bush did it, it’s ridiculous to try and tar Obama this way.

Even still, it’s not true. Obama has never launched a pre-emptive war. 

If he were pre-disposed to do so, he would being broader scale, boots-on-the-ground, operations against ISIS now. This is not to say that he should or shouldn’t do so, but that if he were even with two logical steps of actually following the “Bush Doctrine” he would do so.

So far I think he’s unglamorously doing mostly the right thing with respect to ISIS, but needs a longer-term strategy.

Democracy and Diplomacy

Read an article about any of the current international crisis, be it Ukraine/Russia, Israel/Gaza, or anywhere else and it is not too hard to read what people think is the chess master play, but then things get in the way.

In Israel, there’s a lot of talk of the right-wing parties dominating the coalition and people wondering why Netanyahu won’t just “do the right thing” as they see it. To us, bringing down a government is not big thing in the face of “doing the right thing.”

It’s possible that while the crisis lasts, the Labor Party and Shas could compensate for a departure of one or both of the other coalition members, but it would mean new elections right after a war, which would probably mean even more right wing MKs.

But why?

Well, because of democracy. Thinking that something is awful doesn’t mean that it’s unlikely. Would we prefer than Bibi is a dictator? Maybe then he could do whatever he wants!

Similarly, in the US we like to think that politicians should fall on their swords for “the right thing.” Obamacare might have been the one thing in the last decade that fit the bill. For the most part, political suicide doesn’t mean turning over the reins to someone better, it means someone worse. Politicians believe if they can hold on, they can do lots more incremental change and calculate whether the one big thing they’re asked to blow themselves up for is worth it.