Matt Steinglass joins the chorus of liberals telling me that no one will care if American public officials are arrested for official actions.

This strikes me as--farfetched. American public opinion was pretty solidly against Singapore's caning of Michael Fay, who got four strokes with a rattan cane for acts of local vandalism he'd confessed to. There was, to be sure, a vocal minority that favored it, and I myself was not overly sympathetic to the obviously troubled teen. But if you can get a majority against corporal punishment of a teenage criminal at a time when lots of schools in the south still had corporal punishment . . . well, what will you see when another country decides that their laws get to judge our policy?

I quite agree that in Manhattan, where both Matt and I were raised, there would be quite a bit of support for the action. My assessment of my relatives living outside of dense city cores, however, suggests a vehement antipathetic reaction. And there are still a lot more of them than there are of us.

As I told another reader who wrote with similar objections, maybe the thing to do is measure our relative confidence levels. I have $1,000 I'm willing to put down at Longbets that if a US official is arrested by a foreign power for acts committed in his official capacity, the majority reaction will be a vicious backlash against said foreign power, not "ho-hum". Now, of course, I could simply be overconfident, or biased by the fact that I indeed have relatives who boycotted the French. On the other hand, those relatives hate Bush and usually vote for Democrats.

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