Gay Marriage and Civil Society

Dueling and important articles from Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan on the gay marriage/Prop 8 backlash. Dreher:

I wish I believed gay folks felt the same way about us religious believers who sincerely, and not out of animus, hold to an ancient and venerable understanding of marriage, one that wasn’t questioned until practically yesterday. I wish they were as concerned about the meaningful loss of religious liberty at stake for believers as many of us believers are about the legal difficulties same-sex couples struggle with. 


If conservatism is to recover as a force in the modern world, the theocons and Christianists have to understand that their concept of a unified polis with a telos guiding all of us to a theologically-understood social good is a non-starter. Modernity has smashed it into a million little pieces. Women will never return in their consciousness to the child-bearing subservience of the not-so-distant past. Gay people will never again internalize a sense of their own “objective disorder” to acquiesce to a civil regime where they are willingly second-class citizens. Straight men and women are never again going to avoid divorce to the degree our parents did. Nor are they going to have kids because contraception is illicit. The only way to force all these genies back into the bottle would require the kind of oppressive police state Rod would not want to live under.

Dreher is getting beaten up in comments, even though his essay appeared at Culture11, a conservative site. A sample, attributed to reader John Gardner:

Retaliation breeds (hmm … how?) more retaliation: The theatrical director and the cafe owner have got a bunch of gay customers and colleagues who were hurt and offended. This wasn’t an ordinary issue to gay people. They had a civil right removed. I think you can expect a backlash; or, to put it differently, the answer to free speech is more free speech. What this ought to tell you is that Americans react badly to having their civil rights reduced or eliminated. We take our freedom seriously. It is not just some word in a textbook somewhere.

Buy Them Off?

Naval War College faculty member Nikolas K. Gvosdev has an idea for dealing with the pirates:

It is interesting to note that the historical comparison with the Barbary Pirates gives us both models–force and accommodation. President Washington, for instance, did negotiate tribute arrangements to protect American shipping. Even after the “shores of Tripoli” incident, the U.S. would alternate between using the stick and the carrot.

There has been some interesting discussion about the possible applicability of the Petraeus model — an approach to tribal elders in the coastal villages about forming “sons of Somalia” groups that might be paid to act as “coastal security” — whether there might be impetus for such a move remains to be seen.

Whatever works, I say.

Al-Qaeda PR Department

Our old friend Ayman Zawahiri certainly showed himself fit for a KKK grand dragon’s robe with his offensive, race-based characterization of the president-elect. But I’m afraid commentators like Evan Kohlmann who are predicting blowback are a tad optimistic. Zawahiri is an Arab nationalist who cares little for how his words play outside of the Arab world. And if nothing else, the situation in Darfur suggests that Arabs and black Africans are not natural allies.

Pirate Petri Dish

Josh Marshall, no military guru he, is nonetheless onto something as he looks briefly at the piracy situation:

Historically, the rising incidence of piracy has frequently, if not always, been a sign of the receding reach of whatever great power has taken on responsibility for policing the sea lanes. The decline of the Hellenistic monarchies in the Mediterranean before the rise of Rome. Caribbean piracy during Spain’s long slide into decrepitude and before England decided she lost more than she gained from it.

The Barbary pirates are an exception, given that they ran amuck when the Royal Navy was at the zenith of its ascendency in the Med, but, yes. And the fecklessness of the folks running today’s USN doesn’t help.


American Prospect offers a look at the development of counterinsurgency doctrine. Some of the analysis is highly debatable. One particularly interesting tidbit is that defense guru Edward Luttwak favors junking the Afghan war for reasons and in favor of a strategy I agree with:

“What the fuck are we doing there?” he asks. “Much better to abandon it and do occasional punitive expeditions as opposed to counterinsurgency and its enormous costs. I’ve been to Afghanistan. Basically, you’d have to kill every single Afghan and take all the children and put them in boarding school, preferably in England.”