See this wonderful think piece from Ralph Peters over at the NYPost.
The love just does not stop, or does it …?
Blessings, Herr Ralph …
See this wonderful think piece from Ralph Peters over at the NYPost.
The love just does not stop, or does it …?
Blessings, Herr Ralph …
More delightful news from the WaPost on US propaganda efforts in Iraq and across the globe:
U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq.
The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a program to provide “public relations products” that would improve coverage of the military command’s performance …
Its goal is to “develop communication strategies and tactics, identify opportunities, and execute events . . . to effectively communicate Iraqi government and coalition’s goals, and build support among our strategic audiences in achieving these goals …”
Ironically, and perhaps indicating what might save all from such “information campaigns,” at least the government-sponsored ones:
An attempt yesterday to reach the contracting officer for this project was not successful.
Devil, thy name is the Rendon Group …
“Any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.”
So said SecDef Donald Rumsfeld yesterday. Read it again to appreciate the full scope of its insanity. Seriously, if these guys keep it up, they are going to make Orwell look both amateurish and naive …
Depressing? Kind of … But also an opportunity to be clear: Let all readers of this blog know that its authors stand for moral and intellectual confusion. It is, I think, all that we are, and the least we can do …
Well here is something that will add to the general unease of the Syrian regime …
LINKS ARE NOT ACTIVE AND I AM A LAZY BOY SO COPY AND PLASTER LINKS …
FROM THE PHILISTINES:
Peace! FOUR updates for all our peeps—
FREE THE P available NATIONWIDE
N.O.M.A.D.S. vs PHILISTINES (www.thephilistines.com) available ONLINE
‘HALA’ MUSIC VIDEO online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAx1b-i_nxw – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-592992310326451367
SIX new SHOWS!!!
1 – FREE THE P, a compilation of hip-hop and spoken word for Palestine, is now available in stores nationwide via Raptivism Records! The CD benefits the upcoming documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop. Can’t find the CD in your corner store? ASK ‘EM TO ORDER A COPY! www.freethep.com
2 – the PHILISTINES and their comrades-in-arms the N.O.M.A.D.S. have united to produce N.O.M.A.D.S. vs PHILISTINES, a bangin’ mixtape with all-new tracks from your favorite Arab emcees! Including the blazin’ hot single HALA (produced by Excentrik)!!! Available at www.freethep.com/purchase.htm
3 – and while you’re at it, check out the HALA MUSIC VIDEO! Featuring the PHILISTINES, the NOMADS, and beats by EXCENTRIK!!! Directed by JCON of BFAM Productions. Please forward this link widely – support your homies!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAx1b-i_nxw
4 – SHOWS: check out the following if you or someone you love lives in LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK,SAN FRANCISCO, or SAN DIEGO!!
AUGUST 31, 2006
WHAT: Excentrik performing oud while DJ Lady Sha spins some of the illest grooves!
WHERE: ATLANTIS @ Aqua – 424 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills
COST: FREE entry all night if you RSVP Come early or it’ll fill up! Dress code is ‘class fly’ whatever that means.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2006
WHAT: At Festival of Philippines Arts and Culture – San Pedro!
WHERE: Pt. Fermin Park
COST: 5$ DONATION
For more info see www.filamarts.org
SEPTEMBER 13, 2006
WHAT: Omar Offendum & Ragtop live in NYC @ the NY Jewish Music and Heritage Festival (www.hiphopsulha.com)
WHERE: SOBs – 200 Varick Street Basement, New York, NY 10014
COST: $20 advance ($25 at door)
All proceeds go to organizations that foster Israeli/Palestinian coexistence through the arts and sciences.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2006
WHAT: 12th Annual Arab Cultural Festival
WHERE: San Francisco County Fair Bldg, Golden Gate Park (corner of Lincoln and 9th)
Omar Offendum & Ragtop live in San Fran with Excentrik!
SEPTEMBER 23, 2006
WHAT: THE PHILISTINES, OMAR OFFENDUM & EXCENTRIK with live band THE LEGITIMATES and indie rockers NEW WEST! Plus DJ COLE MINOR on the 1s and 2s – YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!
WHERE: 5257 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016 (near LaBrea and the 10 fwy)
WHEN: doors and DJ at 9, show at 10 sharp!
COST: $15 at the door, $12 presale (www.levantinecenter.org or 310.559.5544
SEPTEMBER 28, 2006
WHAT: Ragtop and Omar Offendum in San Diego with Myson King!
WHERE: TBA – we know it’s in San Diego…
WHEN: Um, party time?
COST: Damn – don’t know that either…
Go, Nizarene (aka Nizar, aka Rag Top) …
I heard that ex-prime minister (and telecommunication magnate) Najib Mikati could be the main funder behind the intellectually powerful new Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. If this is true, then good luck to mini-Hariri. I always thought that there is a race in the political arena to snatch the highest intellectual caliber. Controlling the creation of concepts and discourse is controlling perception of reality. In this race, Hariri Inc. has obviously failed in the fact that although they control most of the media in Lebanon, their dialectical standards are miserable compared to what their foes present. In the process, will this lift the intellectual caliber of the rest of the Lebanese that are lobotomized in front of LBC, Orient le Jour and Al Nahar, Al Mustaqbal etc? I seriously doubt it. So it will only be a race to the throne that will use some eminent intellectuals in the process without really initiating a meaningful pedagogical endeavor. The intellectuals should know better.
Here is the english link for the CDR chief’s resignation.
An article for all those skeptics who thinks Israel has no interest in Lebanon. It’s in Arabic, I’ll try to translate later on. But basically it address questions related to strategic need for water, plans to weaken Lebanese infrastructure, etc.
Also, this article on how Detlev Mehlis was called by a Southern Lebanese family (who have German nationalities) to plead for them against Israeli murders in their village. The article shows how the office refused at first and then how Mehlis proposed to do it and split the gains of the indemnities. It seems the guy is how many portrayed him: the most corrupt individual in the international legal sphere. No wonder how Hariri inc. could buy him easily.
Check this link that says Israel and Hezbollah started negotiating for the prisoners (of course through a third party, namely germans), according to Egyptian daily Al Ahram. Israel went up and down destroyed a country and killed thousands, and now is back to accept what Hezbollah moderately asked at first.
The injection of dollars by Hezbollah on ht eLebanese economy is something interesting to study. This article gives you a first glance. More should be done.
First let me say that it took me two tries to get through the UK-based Chatham House’s new study on Iran. My difficulties stemmed from the fact that the mind kept telling me the report was so bad I would not gain anything from actually reading on until the end. I would not recommend the report to anyone with a passing acquaintance with Iran and I would sum up its chief findings in this way: Iran is a country.
If you did not know that, well, then by all means, dive in and enjoy the waters. Lest I become too glib, it might be worth noting at this point that Iran’s statehood will likely be coming under diplomatic siege and then military attack within the next two years, so we can expect many “scholars” and “journalists” and “advocates” in the United States to begin a fairly unsophisticated media campaign to disguise that most basic of facts with Manichean fantasies of the end of times. If you do not believe me, please look back at any analysis of Iraq during the two years prior to the US invasion. To be sure, there are those who would not like their respective political constituencies to know about Iran’s statehood, so perhaps in that sense, the report has some value. And indeed the authors note this frigthening banality:
Many in the West have failed to appreciate the complexities of Iran, its deep ties with its neighbors and its long-practiced ability to influence its neighborhood.
That this might be so, however, only reveals how deep the rot in those countries whose leaders will soon be deciding whether Iranians live or die. But enough of that, and on to my reading of the report.
When leafing through works of fiction, I most often go straight for the first sentence of the book, as well as the last, figuring that the author’s competence will never be on greater display than at those two points in time and space. Policies papers are, of course, different animals and should be treated as such. Many wonks begin their papers with platitudes they assume are beyond contention and in a casual tone that suggests both a wink and a nod so the reader knows “where” we are beginning. That’s okay, I guess, as I will admit that some of our idees recues do in fact possess some gravitational pull. That said, it was disheartening in the extreme to read the first line of this report:
There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the Middle East.
And right there, just one period into the 5o-some-odd page report, I am faced with a haunting sense that something terribly wrong has already happened and something worse in the offing. To be sure, there have been many beneficiaries of the war on terror and I am quite sure it will take some time before those interested are able with some confidence to identify exactly who has benefitted the most from this war and create a sliding scale of the lesser beneficiaries. I would think logic would require such an analysis to begin with those who wage the war on terror, just as experience would require that it not end there. But that is not really the point, is it? No, instead, the point is how we, in the West, should attack (construed broadly) Iran as the next the stage in the “war on terror.” That we should, of course, is the implicit goal of describing Iran as the “chief beneficiary” of this multidimensional war without end.
For those unawares, reading the report creates the impression that Iran is the very epicenter of the all the crises in the region, an image so intolerably inaccurate as to strain the limits of reason or at least that vastly malleable container called history. To dismiss this fact as nonsense, however, risks losing the opportunity to see just what constitutes “independent” policy research in the capitals of the major powers. Sadly, it is not the business of these “think tanks” — an impossibly wonderful expression for the historical time we live in — to question the merits of empire, but rather to call for the empire to advance smoothly and without difficulty.
To be continued, edited and updated …
So if the US State Department thinks of the Lebanese government as “the crying game,” does that mean Lebanon can consider the government of the United States to be “the lying game.”
Sounds fair enough, right?
With the war on Lebanon having failed to slake his thirst for the blood of thousands of civilians, my favorite physician, Dr. Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, has apparently given up on Israel’s war machine and decided to place his hope with the destructive power of the U.S. military …
Next stop: Tehran …
PS: For my two-and-half readers, I have still received no word from the American Medical Association on my petition for the revocation of the doctor’s medical license on humanitarian grounds …
The president of the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) has resigned from his post yesterday due to political differences with PM office Fouad Siniora view on how reconstruction should proceed, according to the head article of Al-Akhbar today. The article argued, among other things, that the president (Al Fadl Shalak) tried to use the money sent for aid in reconstruction in a way that made the PM office want to block it as the latter thought to link it to a political trade-off with those who supported the resistance and the resistance itself.
Two things emerge from this article:
1- Al Mustaqbal party is divided (CDR was rehabilitated by Hariri father right after the civil war, and since then was controlled by him, Shalak being part of the same group). Shalak himself signed a tract “friends of martyr hariri” that called for resisting the Israeli occupier. the division I would guess is between the son and the top echelons of the party from one side and those who worked for Hariri father but weren’t heavily engaged in political quiblings. Meaning that the division is actually between those who take directly orders from outside and those who just take orders from the ones that take orders from outside. I’m trying to simplify here folks.
2- There is a huge war raging in Lebanon, and that does not spare the neutrality of even the best newspapers. Whereas the majority of the newspapers ty to find stuff to discredit the Muqawama, Al-Akhbar is relentlessly looking for stuff to unveil the wrongdoings of the 14th of March. the big loser is us as we don’t know how much sources are credible neither here nor there. We can at best guess.
Good luck for reconstruction… Sometimes I come to thank the gods that Hezbollah is at least a state within a wanna-be-state…
This story from CounterPunch (David Price) is too much:
Mardin Amin, an Iraqi arrested at O’Hare airport now faces serious felony charges of disorderly conduct. He could get three years in prison. A female security guard claims Amin uttered the word “bomb” when she was examining a small black squeezable object she’d taken from his bag.
For his part, Amin, on his way to Turkey with his mother and his children, claims he was whispering to his mother that it was a “pump” in fact a penis pump.
The judge believed the security guard and now Amin faces the felony charges.
CounterPuncher and Arabic-speaker David Price clarifies the affair. “As ananthropologist and Arabic speaker,” Price tells CounterPunch,” let me call attention to a vital aspect of this story. Simply put, Arabic has no ‘Ps’ and all native Arabic speakers voice their bilabials as ‘Bs’, thus it is pretty obvious that any native Arabic speaker with an accent would say the word ‘pump’ as the word ‘bumb’ –which the poorly-trained and overly paranoid airport security worker mis-heard as ‘bomb.’ “As has happened here, with newspapers such as the Chicago Sun Times, news pieces with the words ‘penis pump’ will generate guffaws from sea to shinning sea, but by not stating what the obvious context of this misunderstanding is, the Sun Times is adding to a dangerous climate of American anti-Arab sentiment.”
Professor Price urges the chortling scriveners and newsreaders of Chicago’s entertrainment industry to do what they can to reduce climate of hysteria by shedding some public light on what actually happened in this case. After Wednesday’s hearing, Amin said airport security officials never gave him an opportunity to explain the misunderstanding. And he said he would never utter the word “bomb” while going through security. “Come on — what do you think?” said Amin, who lives in Skokie and works for a janitorial service.
Amin does not consider the pump unusual. “It’s normal,” he said. “Half of America they use it.”
Lighten up, professor, that shit is funny … And any man that says penis pump to his mother deserves some jail time …
Some 124 years after Arab medical students and faculty at the Syrian Protestant College* struck in support of a professor who had drawn the ire of the school’s American Board of Trustees for endorsing the theory of evolution, evolutionary biology has been removed from the list of possible fields of study for recipients of a U.S. federal education grant for low-income college students.
*The College was renamed the American University of Beirut in 1920.
Thanks, Don Vino, ’04
And just like that, Pluto, the ninth rock from the sun, was a planet no more … Oh my, how dangerous “democracy” can be for “others” … I just hope that martian scientists aren’t assembling as I type these words to discuss the merits of our little speck of dust …
I adore this photo, especially the frumpy little man on the right, passing judgment on the cosmos in an ill-fitting, dime store suit … Did I mention the tie with little planets on it … ? C’est sublime … L’image, pas de cravatte …
Cursed photogs and their infinite powers! I could type 1 million words about the seen and unseen and not begin to capture but a fraction of all that is gained in this single shutter …
Photo: Michael Gizek, AFP, see this article.
I am going to make some confessionally-oriented arguments here. The schizophrenic nature of Christian thought has not changed since the appearance of the first internal frictions during the independence of Lebanon. I think that Gen. Michel Aoun represents (partly) the Christian thinking that only through a genuine attachment to the 10452 slogan can Lebanon achieve long-lasting political stability through which the Christians can play an important role and can keep their prerogatives (if not all, then some).
What’s the essence of the 10452 slogan? It was first voiced by LF militia leader Bashir Gemayel, who as he was closing in on the presidency indicated that he was committed to a unitary vision of the country — a position that contradictied his prior calls for federalism. Now whether Gemayel really believed in such a vision or merely adopted it as he saw the throne approaching for opportunistic reasons is difficult to know. One thing is sure: the people surrounding him thought that it was the way to go, especially when they had to deal with Americans, Israelis and Syrians during the previous years and knew what to expect from them.
Aoun was one of those surrounding Gemayel. And today he warns Christians of thinking the reverse way saying that only through the former way can Christians preserve their influence.
The split in the LF movement between those allied with Geagea and those with Hobeika and the later difficulties encountered in the Lebanese context doomed the appeal to this project. Geagea stayed close to Israel, Hobeika to Syria, and guys like Aoun detached himself from these derivations. The federalist way of thinking stayed pretty much anchored in Christian thought along with the idea that outside interference to tame the “other” Lebanese was necessary even if it could come at the cost of spliting the country in half.
Did Gemayel understand that taking orders from ambassadors was not especially good for his country? Maybe, but one thing is sure: Aoun has understood that since 1982. Has Gemayel lived, would we have seen a push for cohesion and a rejection of foreign dictats? It is only the internally weak political players who show no maturity in terms of reading history, preferring to accept partition if push comes to shove. When Gemayel was weak, this was the case. You put any person in the position of strength (of course I am generalizing here) and you present him with the possibility of combining unity with political victory and he will do it. Thus, Aoun is the intellectual extension of Gemayel from the presidency years on.
Now you know why Hezbollah (especially under Nasrallah) is not likely to work for partition. You understand also that the partition/union political trend is at the heart of Lebanese existential questions and will stay this way until the confessional system is for one reason or another (because i really don’t know how) abolished.
This is also why the descendants of Gemayel today (Solange and the rest) are petty federalists with no political power except that provided by foreign intervention or opportunistic domestic coalitions. See them celebrate Gemayel’s presidency anniversary yesterday though through the slogans of Gemayel, the militia man. Bear in mind that for me, Gemayel, the stateman, is just a hypothesis, or more accurately an idea for the sake of this discussion.
The main thought of this post is that the abolishment of the confessional system has to be preceded by the empowerment (at the State level) of a popular, strong confessional political player.
Abu Aardvark has an interesting post on a summer poll of Iraqis.
The bottom line: 91.7% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition troops in the country, up from 74.4% in 2004. 84.5% are “strongly opposed”. Among Sunnis, opposition to the US presence went from 94.5% to 97.9% (97.2% “strongly opposed”). Among Shia, opposition to the US presence went from 81.2% to 94.6%, with “strongly opposed” going from 63.5% to 89.7%. Even among the Kurds, opposition went from 19.6% to 63.3%. In other words, it isn’t just that Iraqis oppose the American presence – it’s that their feelings are intense: only 7.2% “somewhat oppose” and 4.7% “somewhat support.”
Compare this data with this op-ed from Iraq’s ambassador to Washington, Samir Sumaida’ie, who writes:
As for the argument that the very presence of the foreign forces is a source of tension and that their departure would remove a prime source of violence: It may appear plausible at first glance, but it is in fact without merit. We need to understand precisely who is ready to fight to drive foreign forces out; it is only the Saddamists and the religious extremists (al-Qaeda and the like). If U.S. forces are in fact withdrawn, these people will consider it a victory and go on fighting even harder to achieve control over the country.
Other Iraqis range from those who, while irritated by the foreign forces, would not go so far as to actually fight them to those people who know that there would be big problems for them and the country if those forces were withdrawn prematurely. This majority includes Sunnis as well as Shiites and Kurds.
So who do you think the current Iraqi government represents and who do you think wrote this op-ed piece?
Amid questions over the military necessity of acquiring additional submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons, Israeli government officials revealed that Israeli intelligence had determined that Iran was supplying Hizbullah fishermen with anti-fish weapons.
“We cannot allow this khizbullah to continue to terrorize innocent Israeli fish,” said one Israeli government official, who refused to speak on the record. “And again, we see the barbarism of our enemies who everyday lob low-grade dynamite into civilian fish areas.”
An Israeli naval intelligence officer, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel had been suprised by the technological sophistication of Hizbullah’s fishing operations. “This is not a simple bait-and-tackle operation like we see among Islamic Jihad anglers in the territories. Iran has supplied these khizbullah terrorists with sophisticated, Russian-made anti-fish weaponry and the terrorists themselves will fish until death, or nightfall, whichever comes first.”
During a press conference at the White House, President Bush addressed concerns that the United States was not doing enough to prevent a military escalation at sea. “Poseidon continues to speak through me,” Bush said “and the United States remains committed to assist freedom-loving fish everywhere in their battle against these fascist fishermen.”
Contacted at sea, the fish had no comment …
In a related development and adding to rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, a Hizbullah official has called on Lebanese Christians to launch a human wave of pleasure cruisers from the port of Jounieh to overwhelm Israel’s naval blockade of Lebanon. “We call on the sons of pierre to join hands with the Islamic resistance and defeat the Zionist entity’s crimes in our national waters …”
President Emile Lahoud said he supported the fleet launch and pledged to personally monitor developments from his deck chair at ATCL.
Photo: Jeroen Kramer, Sydney Morning Herald.
Amid reports that Israel will soon receive two German submarines, the Lebanese Navy responded by inflating and deploying three dinghies, two inner tubes and one old tire …
Professor Michael Schwartz has a great “guide” to developments in Iraq over at the Asia Times, which is fast becoming my favorite English language news source for world affairs …
The piece is remarkably well-considered and reveals exactly how those who refuse to consider the legitimacy and consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq will never produce a satisfactory analysis of what is going on there … As I have said before, if they don’t want to be honest about what happened then and what is happening now, why should anyone care what they think should happen “next”?
Administratively, the Iraqi government has no existence outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone – and little presence within it. Whatever local apparatus exists elsewhere in the country is run by local leaders, usually with little or no loyalty to the central government and not dependent on it for resources it doesn’t, in any case, possess …
As for resources, with 85% of the country’s revenues deriving from oil, all you really need to know is that oil-rich Iraq is also suffering from an “acute fuel shortage” (including soaring prices, all-night lines at fueling stations, and a deal to get help from neighboring Syria, which itself has minimal refining capacity). The almost helpless Iraqi government has had little choice but to accept the dictates of American advisers and of the International Monetary Fund about exactly how and what energy resources will be used. Paying off Saddam Hussein-era debt, reparations to Kuwait from the Gulf War of 1990, and the needs of the US-controlled national army have had first claim …
Neither the Iraqi government nor the US-led occupation has a significant presence in most parts of Iraq …
The real violence often only arrives when the occupation military makes its periodic sweeps aimed at recapturing cities where it has lost all authority and even presence …
One might say that the war has converted one of Bush’s biggest lies into an unimaginably horrible truth: Iraq is now the epicenter of worldwide terrorism … With this terror triumvirate at the center of Iraqi society, we now enter the horrible era of ethnic cleansing, the logical extension of multidimensional terror …
See this artice from the Asia Times:
“…the Israeli military thought that by destroying thousands of Lebanese lives and buildings it could take out Hezbollah, and in so doing create a new and more favorable regional balance of power. What it didn’t count on was that Hezbollah was using the same principle of violence as the instigator of social and political change, only in reverse: each bombed-out building and lifeless baby created another opportunity for Hezbollah to show its patriotism, charity and efficiency …
“What can the US and Israel learn from the past five weeks? Well, they’ve been pretty creative about destroying things, as a tour of Iraq, Lebanon or Gaza makes clear, and in the process unleashing waves of chaos that they assumed could be managed to their advantage. But Nasrallah’s strategy has shown him to be a true master of both sides of the creative-destruction equation. That is, he understands that creative destruction must create a viable system that gives people a stake in their future if the process is to be completed …”
This faddish nonsense about “creative destruction” is, of course, just another way to say that war is politics by other means … But for those unfamiliar with the term, I offer the following from Michael Leeden, a man Mussolini himself might have deemed a bit too enthusiastic.
“Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. … They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”
SO the problem the world faces today is “Islamic fascism” … yeah, right … Along those lines, I think it is probably disingenuous and inaccurate to charge America’s current War Party with “neoconservativism …” More accurately, that voodoo that they do is plain old, non-denominational warmongering …
AngryArab has been having fun with exactly how the IDF determined that some number of dead in Lebanon were in fact members of Iran’s revolutionary guard:
“This just in. Israeli TV just announced that invading Israeli troops found bodies of Iranian fighters among dead Hizbullah’s fighters. But you, like me, may wonder how the Israelis knew that the bodies were for Iranians. Well, apparently the dead bodies were speaking Persian. Otherwise, the Israeli troops would not have known that they were Iranians.PS Israeli army brought Israeli Orientalists. They indeed verified that there were Iranian bodies among Hizbullah fighters. They said that the men had beards, and according to their knowledge of the Middle East, only Iranian men have beards. Oh, and Israeli military sources added that they also found documents identifying them with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Oh, yes. The Iranian government snuck them into South Lebanon, made sure to give them documents signed by Ayatullah Khamanei to identify them beyond a doubt, and also asked them to wear the Iranian flag shirts, just to make sure.”
Faithfully engaging and supporting the Israeli government’s propaganda war against Iran and despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the Israeli press picked up the story, saying intially that incriminating documents were found upon the “dead persians.”
But in a twist on the original story, Haaretz reports:
“IDF forces uncovered the bodies of a number of fighters who appear to belong to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. No identifying documents were discovered on the bodies but tattoos suggest they belong to the Iranian force.”
So in sum, Persian tattoos are good for quelling Zionism, but bad for quelling that other immovable force in the Middle East: teenage ardor …
It seems many are taking a crack at my President for letting slip that he recently read Camus’ The Stranger. I think Maureen Dowd may have done some needle work here, but I refuse to pay for the NYTimes Select, on account of my unwillingness to allow for a single penny of mine to end up in the hands of Tom Friedman, that less-than-great dissembler. For those on my side of that economic boycott, see this funny take on my President’s reading list and ruminations …
Here are the highlights:
My anger at The New York Times subsides somewhat as I skim Foucault and Sartre. Surveillance serves its disciplinary function only if the populace is conscious of it. And if Americans aren’t wrenched from being-pour-soi to being-en-soi (at least in relation to an observer who is Other) by the objectifying gaze of the state — well, then the terrorists have won …
Dick and Condi and Don and Karl all sat me down yesterday. An intervention, I guess you could call it. Karl did a quick focus group, seems “hell is other people” doesn’t poll well. Same for most of what I’ve been thinking about these last couple weeks, frankly. And the beret was starting to make people talk. Perhaps it’s as just as well.
Israel has released those (militants-then junior militants-then gunmen-and now obviously civilians) it captured during a raid in Baalbek at the beginning of the month. See here for how the Israeli propaganda machine spun the “daring commando raid” and see here for a grim look at the human cost of what actually happened …
I am literally speechless … In this bizarro world, what could possibly be acceptable … ? Live feeds from Likud party headquarters … ? Good grief … Sometimes it is just too much …
Despite the gruesome humanitarian costs, the Israeli government convinced the United States to halt aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas swept elections in the Occupied Territories earlier this year.
Apparently, however, the Israeli government’s foolishness extends only to the Palestinian refugees, and not Palestinian refuse … See this article from the Israeli press on Israel’s call for the US to support sewage treatment in Gaza, lest Israeli waters be sullied …
I guess it would be naive to presume that such a move might presage a rethink of policies that amount to collective punishment of the Palestinians and their impact on Israel’s short and long-term interests …
Cuba has a literatcy rate, adult mortality rate, and infact morality rate that match or better the United States, whose economy is nearly 400 times larger (GDP) than that of Cuba. US GDP/capita is roughly $40K, Cuba’s roughly $3K.
See here for some old statistics, and I would note that many doubt the the accuracy and/or reliability of the statistics from Cuba and that Cuba has a much lower participation rate in higher eduction.
Politics aside, that is amazing, especially considering the state of other Carribean countries, notably Haiti.
See this from Fred Halliday of the London School of Economics (from whose halls a few great Lebanese minds have escaped intact and inviolate) …
The challenge today is to move beyond such regressive or disempowering approaches and articulate the connections at the level of the current, dynamic reality of states, inter-state relations, non-state actors, and the array of political and social forces across greater west Asia …
It is not just the sixth Arab-Israeli war, a revival of the Lebanese civil war, an internationalisation of the second Palestinian intifada, or the latest outbreak of the “war on terror”; it is more than all of these – part of another, broader and more protracted conflict with multiple centres and involving a rapidly shifting coalition of regional states with political and social movements …
Anyone in need or want of a ready-made lesson on the psychosis that grips US policy toward the Middle East should check out this article in the Washington Post by Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack.
The article’s ominous beginning (“debate is over”) should alert the sensate that something is very wrong here … The authors contend that Iraq is now in a state of civil war and I would agree and think that no person would seriously debate that fact. In listing the causes and consequences of such a civil war, the authors attempt to patch together a forward direction for US policy in Iraq.
Unlisted, unexamined, unquestioned, however, is the role of the US occupation in contributing to civil war in Iraq. It is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla that is ignored by policy wonks in the US because such an analysis crosses political red lines. (I would add that such an analysis would also require Mr. Pollack to re-examine his defense of the invasion).
In the end, the piece will serve as the Democratic prescription for Iraq in the coming electoral battles, but ultimately it is first and foremost a defense and apology for the continued occupation of Iraq.
Quite tellingly, the authors write: “How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008); what matters today is how to move forward and prepare for the tremendous risks an Iraqi civil war poses for this critical region.”
How Iraq got to this point? I guarantee you that these authors either don’t know or don’t want their readers to know … How pathetic …
“The first reaction, of course, of Hezbollah and its supporters is, declare victory. I guess I would have done the same thing if I were them. But sometimes it takes people a while to come to the sober realization of what forces create stability and which don’t.”
When my President talks, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry …
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC has published a working draft entitled “Preliminary Lessons of Israeli-Hezbollah War.” The report is not terribly interesting, but remarks:
One key point that should be mentioned more in passing than as a lesson, although it may be a warning about conspiracy theories, is that no serving Israeli official, intelligence officer, or other military officer felt that the Hezbollah acted under the direction of Iran or Syria …