Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Opinionator: A blog at the New York Times by Tobin Harshaw & Chris Suellenthorp

  • From Thomas Malthus to Al Gore, one of the subtexts of most gloomy assessments of humanity’s future has been that the planet is overpopulated. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, however, has crunched the numbers, and comes to a very different conclusion:

    In a physical sense, the natural resources of the planet
    are clearly finite and therefore limited. But the planet is now experiencing a monumental expansion of a
    different type of resource: human resources. Unlike
    natural resources, human resources are in practice
    always renewable and in theory entirely inexhaustible –
    indeed, it is not at all self-evident that there are any
    “natural” limits to the build-up of such potentially
    productive human-based capabilities.
    It is in ignoring these very human resources that so
    many contemporary surveyors of the global prospect
    have so signally misjudged the demographic and
    environmental constraints upon development today –
    and equally misjudged the possibilities for tomorrow.

  • What will happen in Iraq if American troops are pulled out? Austin Bay, who has spent a bit of time in combat zones, envisions seven potential scenarios. No. 5 seems, um, not so good: “The region becomes a cauldron. Iraq shatters into ethnic enclaves, a few ‘new Mesopotamian city states’ managing to control oil fields. Iran and Turkey exert ‘regional influence’ over eastern Iraq and northern Iraq, respectively, but concerned about confrontation between themselves or provoking sanctions from Europe and the U.S., neither send their military forces in large numbers beyond current borders . Terror attacks and intermittent fighting afflict neighborhoods throughout Iraq. Local warlords rule by fear and make money either smuggling oil, drugs, or arms. This tribal hell is a perfect disaster—the kind of disaster that allows Al Qaeda to build training facilities and base camps for operations throughout the Middle East and Europe.”

  • In reference to the criticism non-candidate (wink, wink!) Fred Thompson has received for his past lobbying and lawyering activities, the gang at Powerline has posted a reader’s commentary on the inherent problems faced by members of the bar when they run for office. “Every person, unpopular or not, is entitled to representation,” the writer insists. “The views of attorney Abe Lincoln would have been a little hard to discern from looking at the positions he took as a lawyer. He represented the big railroad companies and on other occasions represented farmers and small land owners against the railroads.”

    Why is this of note? The name of the guest commentator: Fred Thompson.