Friday, 21 February 2003

Belittling READY.GOV

The latest craze in the blogosphere is apparently to make fun of READY.GOV, the Department of Homeland Security's website where you too can learn how to save your ass in the event of a WMD attack.

While I agree at some level with The Fat Guy's critique of the craze (the site does seem to have some moderately useful information, in contrast with the downright creepy main DHS site), you've got to admit that the free graphics are providing a field day for the artistically-impaired; take, for example Kieran Healy's storyboard of the Iraq crisis, Amish Tech Support's “The Adventures of... THE FLAMING FART!”, Michele's captioning series, a two-parter at The Short Strange Trip, and general humor from Davezilla, among others. And, since I'm nothing if not artistically-impaired, here's my contribution to the genre:

Image of a man next to a filing cabinet and a bookshelf, with a NO sign.

Bob resolved then and there to quit his paper-pushing job and to return to school so he could hone his true passion, interpretive dance.

Image of a radio with a man deciding whether to duck and cover or run away.

When Christina Aguilera's “Dirrty” came on the radio, Steve was again faced with his classic dilemma: should he cower in fear and hope the song would end soon, or should he flee the building entirely on the premise that it's just the start of a “Former Mouseketeers” block?

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis and the others who have linked (some of whom are listed in the TrackBack link below). If it's your first visit, feel free to look around. And don't miss the continuation of the series

Iraq and containment

One of the more reasoned (and reasonable) arguments against a war in Iraq is that Iraq can be effectively contained. In the short term, containment is a viable option; however, beyond the short term, containment solves relatively few problems:

  • Effective containment requires the inspection process to continue. Without the imminent threat of U.S. and allied military action, the Iraqi regime is unlikely to continue to cooperate (and I use that term loosely) with inspectors.

  • Effective containment requires a long-term U.S. commitment to maintain an imminent threat of military action. The U.S. cannot afford to station a large permanent force in the region for years, perhaps decades. “Friendly” states like Saudi Arabia cannot host a large permanent force for domestic political reasons, at least under their current regimes.

  • Effective containment requires the sanctions regime to remain in place. France, China, and Russia are on record as wanting to loosen the sanctions or eliminate the sanctions regime altogether.

  • Effective containment does nothing to hasten the end of the Iraqi regime. Twelve years of sanctions, enforced about as well as one can reasonably expect, have given Saddam Hussein a pretext to impoverish and starve the Iraqi people but otherwise have had little impact on his ability to enrich himself or consolidate his hold on power.

The only realistic long-term alternative to war in Iraq, or regime change accomplished by some other (unspecified) means, is a complete dismantling of the sanctions regime and an end to any pretense of containment. So, the big question is: in 2020, do we want a different regime in Iraq, or do we want Saddam or Uday still running the show with a rebuilt military and large quantities of WMD at their disposal?

E. Nough has some additional thoughts on Iraqi exceptionalism (or, why we're not planning invasions of Venezuela and Zimbabwe). Meanwhile, here's one for the “those who don't learn history” file. Neville Chamberlain would be proud.

Of two-by-fours and men

Mindles H. Dreck, the less-fair half of Asymmetrical Information, brings us the ultimate cultural exegesis of the role of the two-by-four in modern American culture, including a link to this bizarre photo essay obviously produced by drunk college students.