Starting the Discussion

I attended Ron’s post-worship sermon discussion last Sunday and thought we had a good turnout and lively talk. One of the things we briefly covered at the end was our sources of information, both from places we tend to agree with as well as those that have an opposing viewpoint. Ron suggested that we come up with a list of sources that we could share with others, say, in the Overture.

To that end, I’d like to begin this blog by repeating that question: Where do you get your information from? What do you read, and why?

I’ll get us started:

I keep up with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal pretty much on a daily basis, especially their Best of the Web Today. Some others:


  1. Jack Easterling said,

    November 17, 2004 @ 11:22 am

    I have found The Atlantic a good source for in depth coverage. Monthly columns include both liberals and conservatives, but the main articles are written by those who should know. I also read the Wall Street Journal Opinion page (normally not the editorials). There was a great article in today’s issue entitled, “From Colin to Condoleezza”. I am attaching for your view. Note the quote from CS Lewis at the end.




    An Online Journal Giveaway:

    From Colin to Condoleezza

    November 17, 2004; Page A16

    To the role of secretary of state, Colin Powell brought enormous popularity in the U.S. and abroad, charisma and the instincts and habits of a skilled leader. He brought a fund of experience, including service as national security adviser, as well as the outlook of a prudent and moderate man. He had as his deputy a formidable friend and leader in his own right, Richard Armitage, to whom he could delegate with confidence, and on whose counsel he could rely. He won the allegiance of Foggy Bottom by doing what leaders do — listening, making it easier for the operators to do their jobs, attending to the needs of those on the front lines.

    And yet, he will not go down in history as a successful secretary of state. The two views of Mr. Powell that those about him have fostered — loyal soldier of the administration and thwarted internal dissident — do not quite mesh. He did not stop a war that he probably thought deeply unwise; he did not forestall a shredding of American reputation among allies and neutrals alike; he does not leave the U.S. more respected, and certainly leaves it less admired, than when he came to office.

    “Not his fault,” some might say, and “Who cares?” others might shrug. He was up against formidable opponents within, and intractable circumstances without, no doubt: But that is not quite enough of a response. In thinking about his tenure, and in contemplating her own path forward, the new secretary of state should think about how a superbly qualified man failed to achieve what was expected of him.

    The Bush administration has two great strengths in its foreign policy: backbone, and clarity of vision. Those qualities, indispensable in time of war, have their accompanying weaknesses. Their resulting price has been sheer stubbornness, culpable tactlessness, and more dangerously, a lack of realism. Whether in dismissing the Kyoto treaty without suggesting some kind of alternative, or indeed treating seriously the problems it was meant to address; or in failing to acknowledge the errors and mistakes that have landed us in a full-blown guerrilla war in an Iraq that did not have the weapons a hapless secretary of state insisted to the world it did have, the administration has alienated more friends than it needed to, and made itself look arrogant to the point of blindness. The world gives us opponents enough: No need to cool our friends and heat our enemies by our own words and deeds.

    Mr. Powell knew all that, but was not successful, in part because he did not make adequate use of the chief resource at his disposal. A secretary of state does not command a large budget or a vast work force. He or she cannot, as the secretary of defense can, send thousands of soldiers into battle, build roads, or catch terrorists. What the secretary has is, chiefly, the English language. Aside from an impassioned speech at the U.N. and a stirring evocation of the American record in Europe at Davos, Secretary Powell will leave behind no memorable words, no speeches that clarify the American position abroad, explain it at home, or guide those who must implement it.

    The rhetorical function of leadership has succumbed to PowerPoint, e-mail, and telephone calls; indeed, the word “rhetoric” itself now has a pejorative connotation. But now more than ever we need rhetoric in its true sense, persuasive and illuminating speech about the troubles of our times.

    As Mr. Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice should begin by casting aside the ungainly acronym GWOT, and the more obscure term for which it stands: the Global War on Terror, a term that makes as much sense as if Americans had responded to Pearl Harbor by declaring a global war on dive bombers. She must tackle head-on the question of what the threat from Salafist terrorism is, whence it came, and how it can be combated. She must tell the world and the peoples of the Middle East what the U.S. can hope to achieve in Iraq, now that the mirage of a swift creation of a liberal state is gone. She must reinvent our public diplomacy, articulating abroad the values for which the U.S. stands, using not the techniques of Madison Avenue executives (one of the failures of the first part of the administration) but speech rooted in America’s history and politics. She needs to explain how the administration will manage its new strategic partnerships, such as that with India, and its uneasy relationship with the rising power of China. She must describe what Americans expect international institutions to be able to do, and what we understand they cannot. She should, in other words, make an argument about what the world is, the extent to which we think we can shape it, and the extent to which we will be shaped by it.

    Such a return to argument, persuasion and rhetoric goes against the grain of the administration; it implies a respect for opinions and discourse that it has not thus far evinced. The inner values of the administration were those of loyalty and discipline. It purchased these at the expense of vigorous debate within and reputation abroad. Too often administration members fell back on the phrase “the President thinks” or “the President believes” — phrases more suited to the courts of monarchs than the public squares of republics. By refusing to concede an inch, to admit mistakes, to confess to surprise, to accept open disagreement as a fact of life, the administration created an image for itself of dogged arrogance — an image at odds, in some cases, with quiet adjustments to reality out of the public view. It did so out of fear of what its political opponents might do to it with such candor, but surely that fear has now passed.

    The administration turned its back on rhetoric as well out of the comfortable certainty bred of decision-making by a small, intimate, coterie from which Mr. Powell was often excluded. In a justly famous essay, the moralist C.S. Lewis warned of the dangerous lure of the Inner Ring, the tiny group that really matters. The Inner Ring of this administration’s foreign-policy makers has been very small, and if history, psychology and common sense have anything to teach, it is that such policy-making groups become contemptuous of disagreement, indifferent to contrary arguments, and at the end, impervious to reality itself. Such isolation, summed up in “trust us,” or “we know what we’re doing,” or “the President believes,” is dangerous, a sentiment with which, one suspects, Colin Powell might sadly agree.

    Mr. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins, is the author of “Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime” (Anchor, 2003).

  2. Jack Easterling said,

    November 17, 2004 @ 11:22 am

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Jack Easterling said,

    November 17, 2004 @ 11:22 am

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Jack Easterling said,

    November 17, 2004 @ 11:22 am

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Pip said,

    November 17, 2004 @ 12:15 pm

    Administrator’s Note: I removed Jack’s three duplicate posts as he requested.

  6. Pip said,

    November 18, 2004 @ 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the article, Jack.

    Cohen does a good job of pointing out the role of today’s Sec. of State.

    I think a lot of the allegations about Pres. Bush, like some of Ron’s comments, were largely unfounded or founded upon conjecture. For example, the “he does not leave the U.S. more respected, and certainly leaves it less admired” comes straight from the Kerry campaign and partisan leftists, such as the NYTimes’ Paul Krugman (whom Ron quoted directly). But it begs the question, “More respected by whom?” By nationals that either harbor terrorists or, just as bad, do business with those who do? By a manifestly corrupt U.N.? We as Christians do need to uphold principles of humility and good counsel, as Ron quoted in Proverbs. Yet we need to make sure that, as we demand these from our leaders, we do not make the mistake of wrongly accusing and failing to be charitable, especially to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, of which Pres. Bush is one.

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