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Drones split GOP

W. James Antle III in The American Conservative writes that the Republican Party is still reeling from Sen. Rand Paul's drone-strike filibuster on March 6 because it placed conservative foreign policy under a microscope. By highlighting the intramural rebuke from the Weekly Standard's William Kristol and others, Mr. Antle arrives at a diagnosis.

"Paul's critics are unnerved precisely because he is pointing out the obvious: When most Americans -- and even most conservatives -- signed up for the war on terror, they meant retaliating against those who attacked us on 9/11 and taking greater care to prevent future attacks. They did not sign up for routine presidential military interventions in a growing number of countries loosely based on a decade-old authorization of force. And they definitely did not believe they were consenting to live under the laws of war at home in a conflict without geographic or temporal limits."


Everybody's bullied

Emily Bazelon in The New York Times says we don't know what "bullying" means anymore: "The word is being overused -- expanding, accordion-like, to encompass both appalling violence or harassment and a few mean words ... When every bad thing that happens to children gets called bullying, we end up with misleading narratives that obscure other distinct forms of harm," writes Ms. Bazelon. "Bullying is a problem we can and should address, but not if we're wrongly led to believe that it's everything and everywhere."


Oil rules

Robert Bryce for National Review: "Among the Mount Everest of inanities ever uttered on the subject of energy, the blue-ribbon winner must be this: 'the tyranny of oil.' Both Barack Obama and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have used the line. Obama claimed it for his own back in 2007 when he declared his run for the White House ... [and] said, 'Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.'

"The claim that a super-high-energy-density substance that can be deployed for myriad purposes -- from pumping well water in Kenya to emergency generation of electricity in Lower Manhattan -- is somehow bad or even tyrannical is ludicrous. ...

"The wealth and power that are achieved through the finding and burning of hydrocarbons are enormous. That much is indisputable. And of the hydrocarbons -- coal, oil and natural gas -- oil is the unchallenged king. No other substance this side of uranium comes close to oil with respect to energy density -- the amount of energy, measured in joules or BTUs, that can be contained in a given volume or mass. Moreover, the products that can be produced from petroleum are relatively cheap, easily transported, usually stable at standard temperature and pressure, and essential for everything from making shoelaces to fueling jumbo jets."


Drone the other guy

The Borowitz Report: "In a possible setback for the administration's controversial drone policy, a new poll conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that a broad majority of Americans are opposed to being killed by a drone strike on U.S. soil. The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, showed that 97 percent of those surveyed 'strongly agreed' with the statement, 'I personally do not want to be killed by a drone,' with 3 percent responding, 'Don't know/No opinion.'

" 'There's no other way to interpret these numbers,' said the University of Minnesota's Davis Logsdon, who oversaw the survey. 'The idea of being killed by a drone is not playing well out there.' ...

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney tried to make the best of the poll results, telling reporters, 'Look, people are afraid of getting killed by a drone. We get that. But there is still broad public support for drones killing somebody else.' "


Calm down on Asia

The Atlantic Wire noticed a piece in The Diplomat on the Asia-Pacific "arms race" in which Geoffrey Till wants us all to calm down about the likelihood of conflict breaking out in the East or South China seas. We're unlikely to see a repeat of World War I in Asia, he argues: "There are some major differences between pre-war Europe and the situation now," he writes, citing how little of their budgets many Asian countries are actually spending on defense. Communication technology has also vastly improved, and foreign relations are much less hostile now than they were in the early 20th century.

"Crucially, few national leaders, diplomats or even sailors talk in arms-race terms, and they certainly do not justify their efforts by the need to 'get ahead,' " Till writes. "On the contrary, policymakers make every effort to avoid publicly naming possible adversaries that they need to build against."

opinion_commentary

Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com)


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