A perpetual declaration of war

by John Quiggin on August 21, 2007

In the course of a controversy with Glenn Greenwald, Dan Drezner offers the following rewording of Greenwald’s critical summary of the orthodoxy of the US “Foreign Policy Community”

The number one rule of the bi-partisan foreign policy community is that America can invade and attack other countries when vital American interests are threatened. Paying homage to that orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining good standing within the foreign policy community.

and states:

I suspect that anyone who accepts the concept of a “national interest” in the first place would accept that phrasing. As a paid-up member of the Foreign Policy Community (FPC), I certainly would.

Unless “vital national interest” is construed so narrowly as to be equivalent to “self-defence”, this is a direct repudiation of the central founding principle of international law, prohibiting aggressive war as a crime against peace, indeed, the supreme international crime. It’s more extreme than the avowed position of any recent US Administration – even the invasion of Iraq was purportedly justified on the basis of UN resolutions, rather than US self-interest. Yet, reading this and other debates, it seems pretty clear that Drezner’s position is not only generally held in the Foreign Policy Community but is regarded, as he says, as a precondition for serious participation in foreign policy debates in the US.

[click to continue…]

Arthur Miller’s Son

by John Holbo on August 21, 2007

In Vanity Fair. Some excerpts:

No photograph of him has ever been published, but those who know Daniel Miller say that he resembles his father. Some say it’s the nose, others the mischievous glimmer in the eyes when he smiles, but the most telling feature, the one that clearly identifies him as Arthur Miller’s son, is his high forehead and identically receding hairline. He is almost 41 now, but it’s impossible to say whether his father’s friends would notice the resemblance, because the few who have ever seen Daniel have not laid eyes on him since he was a week old …

“Arthur was terribly shaken—he used the term ‘mongoloid,'” Whitehead recalled. He said, “‘I’m going to have to put the baby away.'” A friend of Inge’s recalls visiting her at home, in Roxbury, about a week later. “I was sitting at the bottom of the bed, and Inge was propped up, and my memory is that she was holding the baby and she was very, very unhappy,” she says. “Inge wanted to keep the baby, but Arthur wasn’t going to let her keep him.” Inge, this friend recalls, “said that Arthur felt it would be very hard for Rebecca, and for the household,” to raise Daniel at home. Another friend remembers that “it was a decision that had Rebecca at the center.”

Within days, the child was gone, placed in a home for infants in New York City. When he was about two or three, one friend recalls, Inge tried to bring him home, but Arthur would not have it. Daniel was about four when he was placed at the Southbury Training School. Then one of two Connecticut institutions for the mentally retarded, Southbury was just a 10-minute drive from Roxbury, along shaded country roads. “Inge told me that she went to see him almost every Sunday, and that [Arthur] never wanted to see him,” recalls the writer Francine du Plessix Gray. Once he was placed in Southbury, many friends heard nothing more about Daniel. “After a certain period,” one friend says, “he was not mentioned at all.” …

Marcie Roth remembers seeing Daniel for the first time when he was about “eight or nine.” Now the director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Roth worked at Southbury during the 1970s. “Danny was a neat, neat kid,” she says, “a very friendly, happy guy.” Although there were close to 300 children at Southbury at the time, everyone, she says, knew Danny Miller. This was partly because they knew who his father was and partly because Daniel “was among the more able of the young children with Down syndrome,” Roth says. But mainly it was because of Daniel’s personality. “He had a great spirit about him,” she says. This was no small achievement, because, according to Roth, “Southbury Training School was not a place you would want your dog to live.” …

Bowen recalls the first time she met Daniel: “He was just a delight, eager, happy, outgoing—in those days even more so than now, because of his isolation.” He showed her his room, which he shared with 20 other people, and his dresser, which was nearly empty, because everyone wore communal clothing. “I remember very clearly trying to respond with happiness, but it was very hard, because there was nothing there,” she says. “He really had nothing. His sole possession was this little tiny transistor radio with earplugs. It was something you’d pick up at a five-and-dime. And he was so proud to have it. You couldn’t help but think, This is Arthur Miller’s son? How could this be?”