1) If you feel as if you'll drink the hemlock if you have to hear another discussion about the short-knives tactics of the campaign -- which negative McCain themes are working, whether Obama needs to get more negative fast -- I highly recommend instead listening to this 40-minute Fresh Air interview, originally aired two days ago. In it, Terry Gross draws out Andrew Bacevich, of Boston University
College [brain-freeze typo, sorry] on his views about America's strategic situation. Bacevich, whom I have praised many times here before, is no pinko or softie. West Point grad; career Army guy; self-proclaimed conservative; and, a delicate point, the father of a son who was killed in combat in Iraq.
Listen to the interview, reflect, and moan about the way these issues generally get discussed when we choose our next crop of leaders. I will also mention, because it's relevant to Bacevich's outlook, this cover story, by me, in the Atlantic two years ago. Update: This interview with Bacevich, on Bill Moyers Journal last month, is also worth watching.
2) On the same strategic level I recommend a dispatch, after the jump, by Chuck Spinney. Spinney, who is now on an extended stay outside the country, was for decades a leading "defense reform" advocate inside the Pentagon and close collaborator with the legendary John Boyd. One of Boyd's great insights was that the moral element of conflict -- between nations, companies, or even political candidates -- had tremendous importance in the end. Spinney applies that logic to the McCain-Obama race.