Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Couple of Good Pieces

1.) (via Metafilter)

P.J. O'Rourke interviews Colin Powell. You know where they both come from and the interview is like two old buddies fishing (or jacking each other off), but interesting...

P. J. O'ROURKE: In terms of non-zero-sum thinking, is our country in the unique historical position of wanting other nations to be as powerful as we are?

Powell looked at me over the top of his glasses.

SECRETARY POWELL: Wanting other nations to be as powerful? No, I wouldn't say that. I think our historical position is we are a superpower that cannot be touched in this generation by anyone in terms of military power, economic power, the strength of our political system and our values system. What we would like to see is a greater understanding of power, of the democratic system, the open market economic system, the rights of men and women to achieve their destiny as God has directed them to do if they are willing to work for it. And we really do not wish to go to war with people. But, by God, we will have the strongest military around. And that's not a bad thing to have. It encourages and champions our friends that are weak and it chills the ambitions of the evil.

A deputy secretary interrupted. "That's good," she said. "Did you just make that up?"

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. Not bad, eh?


In glaring contrast, "by God," to this peppy optimistic banter about "destiny as God has directed," I submit:

2.) NOT ONLINE In this month's Vanity Fair (September), there is an excellent article by Niall Ferguson (I recently read his two-volume biography of the Rothschilds) called The Monarchy of George II. It is a fascinating and humorous comparison between GW and Henry the V. Also, the James Wolcott piece Color me Khaki is, as always, the main reason to buy the magazine. I've happily transcribed a bit of Wolcott for you:

"As the aftermath to September 11 has shown, the unified spirit of W.W. II is all in our mouths. Americans extend homage to the notion of sacrifice through ceremonial gestures without having or wanting to inconvenience our huge butts in the slightest. We pay lip service to honoring our troops in Iraq while keeping them past their enlistment dates (and hauling thousands of reserves out of civilian life through involuntary call-up), and keeping the flag-draped coffins of the dead off-camera, and deploying units stationed Stateside as photo-op backdrops in presidential campaigns. A country that is told during a time of war to go out shopping, do nothing to reduce fuel consumption, and stock up on duct tape is a country that no longer has a serious leadership class and a serious citizenry."