Friday, November 30, 2007

Barzun at 100 is Jacques Barzun's 100th birthday. The TIME cover is from 1956, and the inset photo(courtesy is from 1997. Incidentally Barzun settled in my home town, San Antonio, when he retired in 1996. I used to know a guy whom I like to call Lothar Scruggs, who served as a research assistant for him not so long ago. (Barzun has continued(continues?) to crank out books well into his 90s, even though he retired from publishing and teaching.)

If you are reading this Lothar, you should look ole Barzun up and get him a cake or something, and maybe some Sprite. I mean, if you haven't already. I'll bet he'd like to hear from you.

Barzun was fully "alert to the irony of aging," commenting from experience that: "Old age is like learning a new profession. And not one of your own choosing."

Age of Reason by Arthur Krystal in The New Yorker, October 22, 2007, p. 103

via Wikipedia's Barzun entry.
and a Jacques Barzun interview on Charlie Rose, here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Le Cru et le très cuit

CLS a broad n a buncha books

today is Claude Lévi-Strauss's 99th birthday, as I mentioned last week. So, happy birthday.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


arthur silber is fundraising, as he appears to be in pretty dire financial straits.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

v. primitive

this is the second version of my first video. I tried to make some of the transitions less abrupt, and added a couple of items, and the length went from 2:37 to 3:00. Constructive comments are welcome, even if you don't care for it. It's mainly an editing exercise, as I noted before, but I tried to impart a narrative as well.

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Friday, November 23, 2007


I have finished my 1st movie. (No, this isn't it(above), but for some reason it came up as related content(?)* on youtube.) I uploaded it to Youtube, but I may fiddle with the editing some more. I sent the url off in an email to some persons I know who I hope might give me a sense of whether the edits are too fast or too slow.

(I have a very poor sense of this, as I tend to favor faster edits than what most people are accustomed to, at least for my generation. By contrast, young people these days, who knows-- they might think my edits are too slow.)

Anyway, I liked this video, even though I don't think it's really similar to mine. If you really want to see mine, it's here: "v. primitive".

*I have since replaced the "flying cats" video since I figured out that it just came up, not as related content, but as something they were promoting. So here's an interview with Claude Lévi Strauss(pt 1) Here's pt 2 and pt 3.

Incidentally, Lévi-Strauss will be 99 on Wednesday the 28th(!)(I guess I shouldn't refer to "young people these days" as I'm just a pup compared to him...)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chomsky on The Real News regarding Iran

I've discussed IWT news before-- they've since changed their name to "The Real News" and they now have a Youtube channel.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"greetings from Kabul"(and an Iraqdoc update)

photo courtesy

No, I'm not in Kabul, but presumably our friend Mr. Karzai is. I've included the above image because I'm using it in a short film I'm working on, which I mean to post on youtube in a few days, mainly to refresh and maybe improve my fallow and primitive video editing skills.(I removed the caption for a wee bit of suspense.)

I'm not soliciting funds for the Iraqdoc project right now, because if you sent me money presently I'd use it to pay for niceties like food and dsl. Fortunately I've got rent and electricity covered, so I'd say others have it far more dire than I do, and I expect to actually make some money in the 3-dimensional world in December.

Anyway: at present I plan to go to Syria in March 2008, for 6 to 10 days, to cover the Iraqi diaspora. Then if I can raise funds when I come back I would go back in May for 2-3 weeks, going to Jordan and Lebanon, or to Iraq if it appears funds and conditions allow it. Or maybe in the opposite order, as far as the 1st three countries go: to Lebanon and Jordan in March, then to Syria and maybe Iraq in May.

I've come to the conclusion that one of the things I need to do in order to realize these projects is to post some short films on the internet, so that I can demonstrate my editing skills, video and audio mixing, plus my ability to weave together a coherent and compelling narrative.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dennis Kucinich and

Rob Payne has a really smashing post directly below,"One Party Rule," which I point out because if you're the sort to just read the latest post I hope you won't ignore it. Rob mentions Dennis Kucinich, and somewhat coincidentally I wanted to note that I just got a bulletin from Kucinich's myspace page administrator regarding a new website for the Kucinich campaign,, with which he hopes to replicate some of the financial windfall and buzz that Ron Paul generated last month with his co-ordinated "money-bomb" in which scores of people donated to Paul's campaign all on a single day and made him the leading GOP fundraiser in the presidential race for the quarter.

from the bulletin:

Kucinich really wins the lottery!
"Supporters of Dennis Kucinich have begun another "money bomb!" The website is - and updates the pledges of donors on a graph updated hourly. The website has been up for only a few days, but has already garnered 170 pledges of a minimum $100 each."

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A One Party Rule


Why have things gone so awfully wrong with America? I believe there are two main problems which all the rest might be considered as sub problems to. The first problem is the Democratic Party and the second is the people who support the Democratic Party. Well what about the Republicans, aren’t they part of the problem? Yes they are part of the problem but they would not be if the Democrats had been acting as an opposition party. We know that the Republicans represent the wealthy, the CEOs, the owners of major corporations, but we have known this for a long, long time and there is nothing new there.

In 1994 Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law. The results of the North American Free Trade Agreement have been a disaster in many ways for Mexico, America and Canada. Ranged against NAFTA were labor, religious, consumer as well as environmental groups. Proponents for NAFTA were some of the largest corporations in the world along with Bill Clinton and Al Gore Mr. Global Warming himself.

According to Robert E. Scott:

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1993, the rise in the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico through 2002 has caused the displacement of production that supported 879,280 U.S. jobs. Most of those lost jobs were high-wage positions in manufacturing industries. The loss of these jobs is just the most visible tip of NAFTA's impact on the U.S. economy. In fact, NAFTA has also contributed to rising income inequality, suppressed real wages for production workers, weakened workers' collective bargaining powers and ability to organize unions, and reduced fringe benefits.

NAFTA is a free trade and investment agreement that provided investors with a unique set of guarantees designed to stimulate foreign direct investment and the movement of factories within the hemisphere, especially from the United States to Canada and Mexico. Furthermore, no protections were contained in the core of the agreement to maintain labor or environmental standards. As a result, NAFTA tilted the economic playing field in favor of investors, and against workers and the environment, resulting in a hemispheric "race to the bottom" in wages and environmental quality.

Traditionally the labor Unions were affiliated with the Democratic Party but when Bill Clinton came to town with his free trade he and the large corporations had the labor Unions in their cross hairs they then pulled the trigger and down went the Unions. By shipping jobs to other countries and in effect destroying manufacturing in America NAFTA destroyed the Unions as well along with their influence for progressive government. Prior to Bill Clinton Reaganomics had set the stage for disaster by increasing defense spending by a record 40 percent. The dangers of this increase in defense spending had already been predicted by another Republican – President Eisenhower -- who in a famous speech warned about the threat of a growing industrial-military complex.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

With the reduction of labor Unions and their backing of the Democratic Party something else needed to fill the void left by the Unions for the Democrats. Enter the giant corporations who include energy companies and the weapon manufacturers already bloated to Frankenstein proportions from the Reagan years and who have now executed a takeover of the government.

The One Party System

Today we have an abrasive and obnoxious president and vice president who have trashed the constitution with the destruction of habeas corpus which is central to protecting the rights and freedom of individuals from arbitrary state actions. The assault on habeas corpus began with Bill Clinton who signed into law the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the nails in the coffin were provided by our present Murderer in Chief President Bush Jr. with the Presidential Military Order of 2001 which gave our chief chimp the power to detain a non-citizen suspected of being a terrorist without charges being filed, without a court hearing, and without access to a legal consultant. In 2006 habeas corpus was pronounced dead on arrival and buried without a service when the House and Senate approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which gave the president the power to declare anyone as an unlawful enemy combatant and as such anyone, you, me, anyone, could be put into prison without charges and held indefinitely with no access to legal counsel. So much for home of the brave and land of the free. Except for a few voices in the wilderness this destruction of our basic rights and freedoms happened with surprisingly little fanfare from the U.S. citizenry, no banging of drums, no trembling of mountains, just an inaudible sigh and whimper.

Along the way president Bush was aided by very compliant Democrats in congress. You can read the whole history in an essay by Robert Parry entitled Democrat’s Year of Living Dangerously where Parry traces the beginnings of our one party system to the Reagan years.

This Democratic tendency to de-value information – and a timidity toward real oversight – can be traced back to the 1980s when accommodating Democrats, such as Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, sought to finesse, rather than confront, abuses of power by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during the Iran-Contra Affair and related scandals.

The pattern deepened in 1993 when Bill Clinton won the presidency and the Democrats still controlled Congress. At that point, they shelved investigations of Reagan-Bush crimes, including clandestine military support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, drug-trafficking by the Nicaraguan contra rebels, and still-secret dealings with Iran.

Despite the claims by Democrats to be against the Iraq War they have done everything in their power to ensure that it would continue on track. Despite their claims of fighting Bush they have continued with every piece of legislation to fully fund and back the Iraq War. The reason for this is quite simple they are now exactly like their Republican brethren in almost every respect accept style. The Democrats are much more polite about the murders they commit than Bush. They are in league with the military industrial complex. They have aided Bush in his power grabs because they wish to avail themselves of the inordinate powers wielded by Bush indeed they are salivating at the very prospect of it like so many feral dogs closing in for the big kill and all the vast sums of money they intend to rip from the dead and decaying corpse of our defunct democracy. We truly are now living with a one party system which has been decades in the making and now brought to fruition by a lying indescribably evil and foul federal government.

The Second Problem

This brings us to the second problem or other half of the same problem if you will. That problem is us. What have we done? Other than a few whines and whimpers we have done nothing indeed many Americans don’t even understand the full depth of what has occurred. It is not just an illegal war in Iraq which is now being fanned to spread into Iran it is the destruction of everything we hold to be dear. And what is our answer to this destruction of our country? Why vote for the Democrats of course. It is such a logical thing to do. All we need do is bury our heads in the sand pray to the tooth fairy rub a rabbit’s foot read a fantasy novel and everything will go away just like that. Makes sense does it not?

Let me clarify something. For me the real tragedy is the over one million Iraqi deaths even more than the death of our freedom for we have willingly and cowardly tossed that into the garbage can like yesterday’s newspaper but the people of Iraq had done nothing against us. They were not in league with terrorists. They didn’t make 9/11 happen yet very few Americans seem to care about that. After all it is our honor that is at stake and we need to punish someone so it might as well be Iraq. Let’s keep this in perspective. The only reason the majority of Americans are upset about the Iraq War is because it is a failure for if it were not you can bet your bottom dollar they would be reveling in the bloody murder of so many innocent people.

Living in a very conservative section of this great asinine nation I see flags waving everywhere, military worship is the fad of the day, dime store patriots are a dime a dozen as they paste yellow ribbons, flags and bald eagles on their cars. I see their gargoyle faces frozen in grimaces of fear and hate, mouths open with bile and spew pouring out like a river of incoherent monkey screams. What an ugly and repulsive nation we have become. It sickens me to the core. I feel a great sadness for the sane segment of the population, those few who rail against tyranny and injustice. For those Americans who have an awareness of the true nature of reality it is a living hell though nothing compared to what we have put the nation of Iraq through.

At this point we are left with few options in the face of the powerful forces arrayed against all thinking and caring Americans. What can we do? I would suggest that sometimes not doing is an effective tactic. For example stop supporting the Democrats. Vote in the primary, vote for one of the decent candidates like Dennis Kucinich but when he fails to win the nomination and Hillary Clinton or Obama or whichever “serious” candidate wins the nomination don’t vote. That’s right don’t vote. Why should you vote for a false prophet, one that will continue us down the road we have entered upon? If we all desert the Democrat Party as it exists today what a powerful message that would be. If a large enough portion of the Democrat base refused to vote for these war monger lying thieving criminals who have their eyes on the prize you can bet that they would notice that. They would have to change their tune. They would be forced to actually to stand up to the Bush regime and end the wars as well as the destruction of our constitution and all the other criminal pastimes they have been involved in for though our democracy is a joke by becoming a one party system the Democrats still need our votes to stay in power. So at least consider it, I’m not asking you to go out of your way indeed all you have to do is not do.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Naomi Wolf(2)

here's the video link eRobin refers to in the previous comments.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Naomi n' Naomi

Naomi Klein n Naomi Wolf
If you are a good liberal-- and naturally I hope you are-- then you probably (1) care about being able to tell Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf apart, and (2) occasionally have some difficulty doing so.

So as a public service and an excuse to post a picture of a couple of Naomis, I am offering this simple primer to help you tell these Naomis apart:

1.Naomi Klein(on the left), born in Montreal, is Canadian. Naomi Wolf, born in California, is American.

2.Naomi Klein is probably best known for No Logo, published in 2000. Naomi Wolf is probably best known for The Beauty Myth(1990).

2b.Unfortunately, Naomi Wolf is also known for a bit of righty/MSM misinformation: for supposedly having advised Al Gore to "wear more earth tones" when she was an advisor to him during the 2000 campaign. Although she was in fact an advisor to Gore, there is no actual evidence that she said this, and it was just another example of the idiotic big media narrative about how Gore was less authentic and out of touch when compared to the "authentic" George Bush, Jr. [...]

3. Naomi Klein is married, whereas Naomi Wolf is divorced.(Yes, I noticed the lack of a wedding ring in Naomi Klein's photo, above. But I wouldn't read too much into it-- she probably just doesn't want her new book to be jealous, since they probably spent a lot of time together.)

4. Speaking of new books, they each put out a new book in September of 2007, possibly out of a desire to confuse people. Klein's is The Shock Doctrine, and Naomi Wolf's is The End of America:a letter of warning to a young patriot.(This past summer Ms. Wolf had an article in the Guardian discussing the premise of her then-forthcoming book-- here: Fascist America in Ten Steps.

5. They're both very talented and smart and pretty and should send me free copies of their books to review. Don't you think so?

see also

Critical Thinkers: "Naomi Wolf resources"

Naomi Klein article in Harpers:Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia

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Monday, November 12, 2007


via mighty skimble, who also digs this.

(Zuboly describe themselves thusly: "the band is called zuboly, they are Hungarian. they are using authentic instruments(?), and the they are desrcibing themselves as an "broken-ethno" band...." )

Something tells me that their name is missing some obscure diacritical mark which I've never heard of, but they strike me as the sorts who wouldn't mind too much. I gather the song is about homeopathy(?).

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Norman Mailer

As you may already know, Norman Mailer died yesterday. So I suppose if there's an afterlife he may well meet Marilyn(the Time cover is from '73. I think you can barely make it out if you're an abnormally good squinter.). Incidentally he came out with a novel earlier in 2007, his 1st in about 10 years, The Castle in the Forest. The stubby Wikipedia entry describes it as

"the story of Adolf Hitler's childhood as seen through the eyes of Dieter, a demon sent to put him on his destructive path. The novel explores the idea that Hitler had no Jewish heritage but was the product of incest."

You can decide for yourself whether or not that sounds promising. (Just based on the description, it sounds to me like psychic displacement masquerading as literature, designed to reassure readers that People are Basically Good and Hitler was a mere aberration. But hey, what do I know. If you've read it, feel free to comment below.)

I take a certain amount of perhaps morbid comfort from the fact that he somehow made it to 84, and lucidly, in spite of not seeming to have taken terribly good care of his health, although I suppose his reputation in that area may be exaggerated. There's an NPR interview with him (from January 2007), here: approx 11 minutes.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pike's Peak

putting the zooom in Hugo Zoom. The Pike's Peak hillclimb used to be held on the 4th of July, but now it's held later in the summer. I know it's unrealistic, but I'd like to imagine that if Peugeot sold cars like this to the general public they never would've left the US market.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Monaco 1936-37

Thursday, November 08, 2007

this n' that

stylin' in Montevideo. photo:

via groovy Avedon:
Piracy not raiding CD sales" The enforcement arm of the Australian music industry has dismissed damaging overseas research that found illegal music sharing actually increased CD sales. The study, conducted by two researchers at the University of London for the Canadian Government, found people downloaded songs illegally because they wanted to hear them before buying or because they were not available in stores."

and, 3/7ths of a Paul Goyette post:

2. Some interesting analysis of a couple of the presidential candidates' speech patterns by Mark Liberman.

4. A style guide for citing blogs, from the National Library of Medicine.

7. And I wanted to mention, before we get too far along into the month, that it's National Novel Writing Month again. If you have that great idea, you should get started now...

(you still have 21 days and 4 minutes;PG mentioned this on the 2nd, unlike slothful me. If you don't read locussolus regularly, how is that my fault? Anyway, get to work!)

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bruegel's triumph of death

Bruegel's triumph of death
The Triumph of Death, c. 1562, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Don DeLillo once suggested that J. Edgar Hoover was fascinated with "The Triumph of death,"above. Today's news(via MTH) that the democrats defeated their own attempt to impeach Cheney made me think of this painting too. I also found myself wondering what Cheney and Rumsfeld might think of it(Somehow I don't see Dubya as an art-liking sort).

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday evening

photo:Copyright Brendan I. Koerner

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

1942 DeSoto

photo via ned

from "learn to say ain't"(2005)

(via mike gerber)

John Rogers:
let's talk image. When I first started out on the road, I was a skinny guy with a big nose, a Boston accent and a Physics degree telling jokes in bars out West. I was hitting a wall of resistance in a lot of rooms. One night in Rawlins, Wyoming, the headliner -- a sweet road comic named "Boats" Johnson -- took me aside.

"You're a good joke writer. I mean, damn, there's some smart stuff in there."
"Thanks. But, uh..."
"They don't like you much." Boats handed me a beer. "Second show. Longneck. Always a longneck. Bring it on stage. Sip from it every now and then."
"I don't really drink on stage --"
"Fine. Fill it with water. Don't bring attention to it, just sip from it."
I shrugged. "Anything else?"
"Yeah. Learn to say 'ain't'. Don't change the jokes. Just learn to say 'ain't' every now and then."

The shows went, much, much better after that. I told the same gun control jokes, the same pro-gay marriage bits, the same making-fun of the culture wars jokes. But now I was killing.

There are two lessons to be taken from "Learn to say 'ain't'." First, the fundamental dynamic in all crowd interaction is us vs. them. Period. It's sad. Oh well. Get over it and win.

Now, the fine line here is that, the audience also always knows when you're being dishonest. That's worth hitting again. When you are on stage, the audience's collective mind can tell when you're not being yourself. And even more importantly, they can tell when you're lying to be one of "us". (Like Kerry hunting, or Dukakis in the tank). Changing yourself to fit the audience would be the wrong lesson to take from "Learn to say 'ain't.'" No, the lesson Boats was teaching me was that there's no problem with relaxing a bit and showing that you're not one of "them." He was teaching me that connection is a half-way game -- just extend out a little, and the audience will come the rest of the way. They will extend the boundary of "us" if you advance toward it.
Kerry was so, so far outside of "us" that, frankly it was a testimony to how badly Bush has screwed up that he even got THAT close.

there's a lot more and you should go read all of it.

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Friday, November 02, 2007


Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Iraq war

Recently both Arthur Silber [here, and here]and Chris Floyd have discussed our shared if diffuse responsibility for the possibly impending war with Iran. Unnecessary war number 2 or 3 under George Bush, jr, depending on your point of view I suppose. Of course, I also suppose there still are people who believe all our post 9-11 wars have been wars of necessity, just as there must be people who believe we were attacked because "they hate us for our freedoms."

Also, Dennis Perrin has recently discussed his view of the Iraq war and how it has changed in the past few years[pt 1]. [and part 2 and part 3] I've resisted navel-gazing related to my view of the war for some time, partly because of a certain self-consciousness, but also out of a desire to leave myself out of political posts as much as possible, to offer objective arguments unrelated to my personal history, etc. But now I feel I should also offer an accounting of how I've viewed the Iraq war, then and now, and how I think my Arab-Americanness plays a role in my views.

My last posts discussing it at any length were here, "Saddam's Last Night"(December 2006) and "Leaving Iraq, pt 1"(March 2006). I first discussed my view of the (then pending) Iraq war in early April of 2002 in a BBC forum, which I was surprised to see was still available, here:

Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK Should there be military action against Iraq?

Neither Bush nor the Democrats have the resolve to attack Iraq and see through the consequences of an ouster of Saddam Hussein. Most Americans who may be in favour of Saddam's ouster are unwilling to concede the responsibility to help a post-war Iraq rebuild itself. My impression is that most Americans favour a viscerally rewarding and superficial solution and I fear that we will just bomb the hell out of Iraq's infrastructure and leave her people desolate, with only token, guilt-salving efforts at reconstruction. If we do this we will have made our problems in this region much, much worse. We already seem to be headed in this direction in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Versen, Dallas area, Texas, US

Then in February of 2003 I wrote:

Sunday, February 23, 2003

I would very much like to believe that Bush is serious about liberating the people of Iraq, but I cannot trust him. I don't believe George W. Bush means to liberate the Iraqi people. I believe he means to remove Saddam but keep the Baath party and its apparatus in place, including the secret police. He will betray the Iraqi people just as his father did, while taking credit for their supposed liberation. Why else would Turkey's consent be so important? They can't wait to invade the north and suppress the Kurds. And how can we take Bush seriously as a liberator when he publicly speaks of using nuclear weapons against Iraq?

I am a democrat, not a republican, but if Bob Dole were president and said he wanted to liberate Iraq , I would be willing to believe him. In my eyes George W Bush is unprincipled and untrustworthy-- he only wants to go to war to distract people from our sour economy and our failure to capture Bin Laden.


flash-forward to November 2007: today I wince at much of what I wrote in the early days of my blogging(Feb 2003 was my 2nd month blogging at HZ). And although I think I would be more skeptical about the hypothetical of a Bob Dole in his 2nd term dealing with Saddam, I do think the proposition, tentatively glimpsed, that George Bush the 2nd represented a different kind of Washington oligarch was accurate, one who was blithely unconcerned about the long-term consequences of his actions in a way that was markedly unlike more traditional politicians-- like his father. The somewhat overpraised Iraq study group report from last year reminded us of this difference, as did Junior's disdainful response to it.

But in 2002 and early 2003 the main thing I had to go on was Bush Junior's style(for lack of a better word). I remembered the Chinese spy-plane incident from early 2001 and how you had Colin Powell speaking like a traditional pol, contrasted with GWB shooting his mouth off like a crazy man as if he was trying to escalate the situation(and undermine his secretary of state, sometimes in concert with Cheney). Bush behaved more like a normal president in the fall of 2001 in his initial reaction to 9-11. Whether this was just him in tightly-scripted marionette mode, I suppose we'll never know for sure.

Then 2002 rolled around, and he had to revert to the mean of being George Dubya Bush, and we were treated to the "axis-of-evil" speech. The war in Afghanistan was, what, barely three months old and he was apparently bored with it, and wanted to have another war.

When I wrote my comment in the above-referenced BBC forum, I still hadn't fully grasped just how destructive and different Bush,jr and the neocons were from traditional American oligarchs. I felt certain that whether it was Bush senior's old cronies in the White House dictating the script or just political inertia dictating that things be done the way they'd always been done, that if Saddam was removed from power by Junior, he would've been replaced by a Saddam-clone who was just as brutal to his people but friendlier to Washington. (I imagine a Dole invasion would've been like that too, although I'm also thinking Dole would've been content with the Afghanistan adventure.)

Of course if that happened, all the people who would die in the war, Americans and Iraqis, would've died just so that the US government and Dubya could show the world how tough they were, and life in Iraq would eventually be pretty much the same except for the lifting of sanctions and the no-fly zones.

The figure generally touted for how many deaths were caused by the sanctions regime is approximately 500,000 deaths. (I note we didn't really talk about that in 2002-2003 in the mainstream US press.)

Anyway, going with the 500,000 deaths* figure for 1990-2003: the only argument for war I could see in 2003 was the alleviation of the sanctions, because I believed it was otherwise politically impossible to persuade the American public that the US should just allow the sanctions to be lifted and not worry about Saddam. In other words, the only rational argument I could see for the war was,

"Look: you Americans are profoundly racist or misinformed or naive, or some dank mixture of all three, and there's seemingly no overcoming that. Since you want this disgusting, stupid war and your revenge on the Arabs, at least after you win and destroy Iraq you'll feel guilty and lift the damn sanctions and in terms of lives saved in the conquered postwar, post-sanctions Iraq, eventually, the war will mean fewer net deaths, as opposed to say, the alternate of maintaining the sanctions for another 20 or 30 years(??!) and not having a war. Maybe."

I wanted to write something like that in 2003 but felt ill at ease doing so, even anonymously.** Now, I recognized that using that sort of rhetoric can only serve to antagonize people. Additionally, it's something I would like to believe is not actually true, or at least only true of a disreputable subgroup. Even today I'd like to believe isn't true, although many things that have happened since then makes me feel as if the national debate is coarsening, and various genies are being encouraged to leave their bottles. I will post some additional thoughts about this subject in a couple of days.

*and actually that's per the Lesley Stahl interview with Madeline Albright in 1999, so it's really for 1990-99, come to think of it.

(**I was signing myself just as"Hugo" 1.2003--7.2005)

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