The story featured in today’s edition of the local newspaper is the death of a dog, whose claim to fame was appearing in TV ads for a car dealership hereabouts. With a large picture, the article covered slightly more than half the news space on the front page. How Ol’ Blue achieved such notoriety in seven years of life is not specified. It could be that my neighbors exceed the national average for hours of TV watched per day. Perhaps there aren’t very many commercials here, and the local stations just run those over and over. Or maybe the dog was particularly convincing. Of course, he wasn’t just a dog, he was a bluetick coonhound, which might explain it. For all I know.
And, for the conspiracy-minded, what’s with Ol’ Blue dying of natural causes at seven? The canine sites I visited mentioned normal lifespans of about twelve years. I smell coverup…
In any case, there was at least one other interesting bit of news this week. The folks at Foreign Policy published the results — eighty pages in Word format — of a survey of more than a hundred foreign policy experts, a group that replaced Kissinger with, say, James Woolsey (Mister World War IV), but also included Larry Johnson, Richard Clarke, Steve Coll, Walter Pincus, William Odom, Gary Hart, and so on. Objective measures of quality are difficult to find, but this is clearly a varied group in terms both of background and of political bent. So it’s a bit surprising how much they agree.
Eighty-four percent say the US isn’t winning the war on terror. Eighty-one percent think Guantánamo negatively affects the WoT. Eighty-six percent think the world is getting more dangerous for Americans. The respondents favor multilateralism and support the UN by about three to one.
Asked which country produced the largest number of global terrorists, 62% chose Saudi Arabia, 13% Egypt, and 11% Pakistan. So where’s Iran, Syria, North Korea, all the bad guys we keep hearing about? And how come the top three are all supposed US allies?
Eighty-four percent think a 9/11-scale terrorist attack in the US is likely or certain in the next five years. About the same percentage expect it to be a suicide bomb. We’d have to do some serious shopping to distract ourselves from that. Perhaps we could convince Senator Frist to support a $250 gift certificate from the government to each individual. Not only is it soothing to shop, the gift also serves as a sort of “Sorry we failed to protect you” acknowledgement; it’s unfortunate how well such strategies work.
I thought one of the most surprising results was what the respondents would prioritize in the war on terror. Some favored catch-the-leaders, some wanted to start by spreading democracy, and so on. But the most frequently chosen item to prioritize, picked by 82%, was independence of foreign oil. And:
…nearly two thirds said that current U.S. energy policies are actually making matters worse, not better. “We borrow a billion dollars every working day to import oil, an increasing share of it coming from the Middle East,” says index participant and former cia director James Woolsey. “[F]or example in Saudi Arabia, billions are transferred to the Wahhabis and like-minded groups who then indoctrinate young people to hate Shiites, Sufis, Jews, Christians, and democracy, and to oppress women horribly.”
James Woolsey and Jörg Haider talking sense? I must be in Wonderland.