Too Late, Too Soon: An Eventual Comment on Ahmed Abu Khatalla, the Housing Market, the Terrorism Blip in Yemen and the McCain-Graham Trip to Cairo
Published on: August 7, 2013
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  • Brian

    Dr. Garfinkle, your contempt for this administration really does crack me up sometimes.

    I can’t imagine that the words “Let’s do something” were all that prompted the administration to act. Granted, another embassy attack on the heels of a renewed interest in Benghazi would be a huge embarrassment- and so maybe it’s possible they were on tenterhooks and something small set them off. Still, I doubt it. My intuition tells me there’s some piece of intelligence that they’re just not sharing with us, because after all, what would they gain by sharing it?

    • I would not call it contempt, but criticism, and my criticism is ecumenical: Do you think John McCain would like what I wrote about him in this post? Moreover, I am not an Obama-hater. When the man does the right and honorable thing I say so. Example: When the Snowden leaks began to ooze, Obama did not try to disavow or criticize the NSA 215 or 702 programs that he had embraced on taking office. He has defended them, though maybe not as volubly as he should. That was right and honorable.

      As to your point about the intell, maybe we had more on Yemen. There may have been some humint involved, I now understand. Even so, while the actions taken in Yemen may well have been justified, I still think shutting down all those other embassies was a mistake. It signals the bad guys that we really still don’t know our asses from our elbow, and, worse, that we scare very easily. Not a good optic.

      • K2K

        When the USA shutters any embassy because of a ‘threat’, it means the USA can not depend on the host country to provide adequate security.

        • That is correct; but it begs the question, still, of why shutter the embassy at all.

  • Peter

    Garfinkle, you have some good insights, but good Lord, you’re such a windbag.

    You’re an editor in need of an editor to curb your verbal diarrhea. Hey, it’s for your own good; IMHO, it will make you more effective.

    • Well, you may be right, and doubtless others agree with you. But I don’t write for the patience-challenged, cognitively fragmented, context-oblivious crowd. I could have chopped that post into four smaller parts, and maybe had more readers as a result; but then the larger comparative point about the perception and uses of time could not have been made. If you don’t like the way I write, I humbly invite you not to read it.

      • John Burke

        Ha! Good answer. Anyway, this is a blog, is it not? A place meant for long-form personal commentary. I’m reminded how back in the ancient times that only old guys like me remember, at the once-sainted Village Voice, the deal for guys like Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett was, if it made sense at all, don’t worry about the length because our readers are a little crazy anyway (of course, the old Voice largely disappeared on a wave of gay quasi-porn and call girl ads). Most print publications just never lent themselves to that sort of journalism for the simple reason that paper costs money. Online is a very different animal.

  • I may be the farthest thing from a genius anyone’s likely to find posting comments on these threads. So yes, I’ll admit it took me a while to read (let alone mark and inwardly digest) some of Dr Garfinkle’s paragraphs. Yet I’m not sure if it was because there was so little there – too many words overinflating a simple point (or lack thereof?); or maybe – just maybe – because there was so much. Must say, too, if the rest of his essay for the next magazine edition is ANYTHING like what he’s quoted here, he’s got me hooked.

    I’ll grant you some page-turners may need to be plowed through. That doesn’t mean they’re not riveting – and pleasurable – enough to be worth the plowing. As for how far the above post was over-written I won’t venture to say. But don’t we all sometimes bite off more than we can chew? And where, I’d like to know, would half the world’s inspiration be if we didn’t?

    Then again maybe Dr Garfinkle should just STF up. No doubt what the world really needs is a bunch of not just supersmart, but superconfident, get-to-the-point, get-things-done meritocrats (“Got ’ere all by myself I did”). The kind who don’t just lack, they DISDAIN to have patience with anything resembling shades or complexity or messiness. Or, most disgusting of all, dense layers of meaning and interpretation, and memory. Yeah, don’t make me puke, right? Just cut through it all. I mean, can’t somebody please remind these idiots we’ve got BUSINESSES to run here? (Granted I’m oversimplifying: but if that last question isn’t designer-made to silence all MODERN objections, I don’t what is.)

    The next step, once you’ve all the smart guys and gals in the same room – real or virtual – is to get them all reading the same weekly news periodical. You know, the one whose subscriptions have, like, TAKEN OFF over the past two decades. Funny thing about that is, I could’ve sworn those are more or less the same folks + formula we’ve had running the world for at least these past 20 years.

    To which others will vehemently argue: “NO, we’re not HALF-way there yet. And we won’t be until we’ve followed a certain Mr Norquist’s prescriptions to the last letter (and I do mean STRANGLE the bastard).” And who’s to say they aren’t right? We’ve been living in an age of – the best I can tell – nearly unbridled technophilia. Why not make it an age of equally unbridled economic-policy experiment?

    Meanwhile keep your nose in that Economist. The busiest Present can never overwhelm the guy who’s got his mind set on a (techno-)messianic Future. Besides, who said there’s anything wrong with this world that a good dose of glib, smug, condescendingly patient “Whiggery” can’t set right? Why, last time I looked, events in the Middle East were proving it by the day . . .

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