Monday, March 31, 2003
# Posted 10:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
NBC was angered because Arnett gave the interview Sunday without permission and presented opinion as fact. The network initially backed him, but reversed field after watching a tape of his remarks.You know, the whole point of freedom of speech is that you have it regardless of what you say. It sounds like NBC endorsed Arnett's freedom of speech right up until it found out what he had to say. There's a word for behavior like that: hypocrisy.
Even worse, it sounds like NBC fired Arnett because it didn't have the guts to stand up to its viewers. That doesn't say a lot for the network's integrity. Now, what NBC did is probably legal. But the media cannot continue to function as a guardian of free speech if its own behavior compromises that role.
According to Glenn Reynolds, Arnett had it coming for a lot of reasons. Regardless, I'm glad he decided to give the interview. Journalists are political figures. They should have to defend their views rather than hiding behind a curtain of objectivity.
What Arnett did was pull back that curtain. No surprise he was fired.
(For more on Arnett, click here and here.) (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
It's one thing to have chemical weapons, but it's another to have people who know how to properly handle and deploy them. If I'm a military intel guy, one of the first questions I want answered is how many Republican Guardsmen are chem warfare specialists and where they are located. My top priority would be to locate them and aim our next volley of ordnance at them ASAP.If only Hans Blix had known...
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# Posted 5:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think I can live with that. As long as the seeds are not from Quebec.
Btw, since JMH is a captain in the Canadian army, I sense that his report may have a subtle sarcastic subtext. C'est la vie!
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# Posted 3:30 PM by Patrick Belton
Haydn's most recognizable melody is, of course, the music of the Deutschlandlied. Now made embarassing by the tyrant of Braunau-am-Inn and since then never performed in its first verse, Germany's national anthem initially had a very different set of associations, serving as a rallying cry of the republican nationalists of 1848, and inspired by the solemn beauty of God Save the King. More important from the perspective of musical history, though, is a second context: the melody we recognize as Deutschland Uber Alles is the second movement of Haydn's 1797 Emperor Quartet (in C Major, the third of six quartets published as Haydn's Opus 76). And the string quartet is the musical form which Haydn did more than anyone else to bring from its early beginnings as a melody with tripartite accompaniment to the balanced development of four equal voices using sonata form which is reflected in the Emperor and companion pieces, incidentally, Haydn's final quartets.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Papa Haydn! Hoch soll er leben! (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:00 PM by Patrick Belton
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Sunday, March 30, 2003
# Posted 9:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As both a blogger and an actual bricks-and-mortar person, I found it to be extremely thoughtful. If you blog, read it. If you don't, it may help you understand us strange folks who do. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As for me, I think this sort of outrage is all talk. You can always find Arabs who hate America. The question is, what are they doing about it? Not much, as far as I can tell.
The problem with the media -- including top-notch papers such as the WaPo -- is that journalists have fixed expectations of what the news will be, and they won't abandon those expectations unless something truly dramatic happens. (And even then, they sometimes forget what they have learned.)
This isn't a simple matter of liberal or conservative bias, but of journalists -- especially those who cover foreign affairs -- having simplistic expectations of how non-Americans react to world events. On the bright side, at least the journalists' expectations are more realistic than the professors'...
UPDATE: The WaPo has not just one, but three separate articles on the backlash theme. The other two are here and here.
The first of the two illustrates my point perfectly. It is about a Saudi couple named Leila and Mohammed. She is a physician who wears tights sweaters and stiletto heels. He is a businessman who does import-export. They are enraged by the invasion. Leila goes to anger management classes and tells the WaPo correspondent she may just have to become a suicide bomber.
This is what the media calls a backlash. Upper-middle class Saudis who make empty threats to abandon their pampered lives. Did I mention that Leila and Mohammed are also very, very angry about what Israel does to the Palestinians?
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# Posted 2:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As I see it, the public's memory of Vietnam is just as strong as that of the media. The public, however, has drawn different lessons from it. Whereas the media is committed to a constant search for evidence of a quagmire, the public recognizes that war is hell and that things often go wrong. But you can't back out at the first sign of danger. If the cause is just, the public will stand behind the government.
There are those who do not support the war, however. Among there American public, there are significant divides along the lines of race, party, gender and class. The black-white divide is most striking. Whereas as white support the war 78-20, blacks oppose it 69-28.
78 percent of men favor the war compared to 66 percent of women. There was a similar gap during the first gulf war. 93 percent of Republicans support the war, compared to 66 percent for independents and 54 for Democrats. Finally, only 58 percent of Americans with a household income of less than $30,000 support the war, compared to 78% for all others.
The obvious question, of course, is to what degree such categories overlap. Does lower support among Democrats and those with incomes below $30,000 simply reflect the anti-war sentiment of poor black Democrats? Or are there significant numbers of poor white Democrats, poor white Republicans, rich black Democrats and rich Black republicans who oppose the war as well? Without answering that question, one cannot know whether race, class or party is responsible for the divide.
Unfortunately, Gallup doesn't provide a break down of the numbers. It does, however, provide the results of a multivariate analysis designed to answer the same question. This analysis shows that race is the most significant factor, but that party and class matter as well. Gender is irrelevant despite the 12 point divide mentioned above.
More interestingly, it turns out that -- far and away -- the single best predictor of support for the war is whether or not one approves of Bush's leadership as President. According to Gallup,
The single greatest predictor of views on the war is one's rating of President Bush, suggesting that to a significant degree this has become "Bush's war."Phrasing it that way sounds rather snide, sort of like saying that Vietnam was Lyndon Johnson's war. But Gallup does offer a less partisan explanation as well:
The stronger influence of presidential approval can be probably explained by the reality that most Democrats and independents who support the war also approve of Bush, while most Democrats and independents who oppose the war also disapprove of Bush's job performance.There are a number of ways of interpreting that statement. First, that if one trusts the President on Iraq, then party affilitaion doesn't matter. Alternately, pre-existing resentment of the President has made it impossible to persuade certain Democrats and independents to support the war.
I sense there is some truth in both arguments. However, it would be interesting to know if the pro/anti-war divide reflects different views of how America should interact with the world, not simply attitudes toward the President. Are anti-war Americans the strongest supporters of multilateralism and of the United Nations? Are they willing to support the use of force only in the event of an attack on the American homeland? If so, they have good reason to disapprove of Bush, whose position on these is issues is diametrically opposed to their own.
As you may have noticed in my earlier comments on opinion polls, I have a fair amount of confidence in the reasonableness of the American people. Their (our) opinions are derived from coherent conceptual frameworks, not emotions and propaganda. While trust and resentment have a powerful influence on politics, beliefs usually matter more.
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# Posted 9:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
They shouldn't have had to die. They deserve better. It is almost impossible to keep anything in perspective when looking at their photos. I kept thinking to myself: "Why don't we just stop it now? Let's pull out and go home. Let these kids live the lives they deserve."
Chemical weapons and international law seem like nothing more than abstractions when you are looking at those photos. You forget the thousands of Iraqi soldiers who have died. The thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by their government. The men and women who died on September 11th.
Somehow, looking at those pictures, my mind was only able to focus on the most immediate cause of their death. "Killed in action near Nasiriya on March 23, 2003." "Killed in a U.S. CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crash on March 21, 2003." Killed. Period.
UPDATE: MW responds:
Your emotional response to the CNN posting is understandable - just what CNN wants - that they have not posted pictures of those killed in Israel by suicide bombers, the Iraqis murdered by Saddam, those starved by Mugabe or by the regime in North Korea.Sad but true. Still, I think that posting memorials to fallen soldiers is appropriate in war time and not simply manipulative. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, March 29, 2003
# Posted 9:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tommy Franks is a traditionalist. Like all American theater commanders before him, he has aimed at seizing a series of logistics bases on which to develop his campaign. The purpose of 3rd ID's charge to Baghdad was to pin down the IRG by positioning itself only 60 miles form the capital. Behind that screen, Franks could scoop up all logistics bases he wanted safely. H3, H2, Talil, Basur and Umm Qasar. The IRG can't go north to level the 173rd from Bashur because it is now rooted to Baghdad by the 3rd ID.
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# Posted 9:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:39 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now, before responding to Kieran's argument, I'd like to congratulate him on his recent marriage as well as thank him for constantly linking to OxBlog.
Now let's get down to business.
Kieran fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of the Oxford Democracy Forum. According to Professor K,
OxDem should be clear about whether it is giving us a description of what the U.S. is doing, or whether it is advising the U.S. about what it ought to be doing...the principles they endorse may be betrayed by the Administration they support. They will then be left having to explain why the post-war strategy which they felt helped justify the invasion was not pursued by the Administration. That’s an uncomfortable position.First of all, OxDem has been very clear about its purpose. According to the first sentence in our statement of principles, "The Forum's mission is to promote democracy worldwide. It will do so through public education and activism." We are not interested in describing. We are interested in persuading.
Second of all, OxDem does not support this administration or any administration. It is non-partisan. We believe the fundamental strength of our agenda is that one can embrace it regardless of whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, a Tory or a Labourite.
Moreover, this non-partisanship is not simply a facade for either a pro-Republican or a pro-war agenda. I myself have a perfect Democratic voting record, as do many of our other strongest supporters.
Nonetheless, our critics tend to assume -- or simply want to believe -- that we are reflexive supporters of a belligerent approach to international relations. As far as I can tell, this assumption is a reflection of the insecurity that OxDem provokes on the Left by virtue of the fact that it is more committed to liberal principles than its liberal critics are. Thus, such critics comfort themselves by insisting that OxDem's commitment to such principles is nothing more than a front for an unthinking conservative agenda.
I don't know if this criticism applies specifically to Kieran. In fact, one cannot prove that it applies to any given individual, since it is an inference about his or her innermost thoughts. However, liberal critics' belief that OxDem is nothing more than a GOP front simply recurs too often for me to believe that it is an innocent mistake rather than a politically motivated attack.
Now, let's go back to my comment that OxDem "is more committed to liberal principles than its liberal critics are." Many of our critics -- and Kieran specifically -- constantly voice their profound skepticism about the prospects for promoting democracy in the Middle East. They warn that the Bush administration will do nothing to prevent the emergence of semi-authoritarian regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, provided that such governments are pro-American.
Presuming that neither Kieran nor our other critics favor the installation of semi-authoritarian regimes, exactly what kind of government do they believe the United States should set up? Unfortunately, they don't say. The closest Kieran comes to showing his hand is when he asks
What if we are skeptical that the Bush Administration can or will do what it ought to do, on OxDem’s terms? Max Sawicky is currently exploring this line. He argues that the U.S. “can destroy bad regimes; it cannot bestow self-government on people.” I think there’s a lot to be said for this view.Even if one agrees with Max, that does not constitute an answer to the question of what kind of government the United States should set up in Iraq. Even if we "cannot bestow self-government", we also cannot let Iraq descend into utter chaos.
Perhaps the more interesting question to be asked is why Kieran and other OxDem critics won't say what principles should guide the American occupation of Iraq. Here's what I think:
In the process of canvassing support for OxDem, Josh and I have come to recognize that there are many individuals who will not publicly support the establishment a democratic government in Baghdad, since doing so implies approval of the war that would precede such an event. In private, however, such individuals accept that the United States has an obligation to establish a democratic government at the end of the current war.
It seems to me that Kieran has taken this logic one step further and simply avoided making any statements about what the United States should do at the end of the war in Iraq, lest even his private support for democracy in Iraq lend some sort of a moral cover to the President's foreign policy.
However, that sort of position is logically untenable and morally indefensible. Assuming that the United States will occupy Iraq as planned, it will have to set up some sort of government in Baghdad. If one is serous about one's liberal principles, then that government must be a democratic one.
What, then, of the legitimate objection that it will not be easy to establish such a government? As Kieran observes,
Democratic institutions aren’t like lizards. They don’t hide under rocks waiting to emerge. They don’t exist in Iraq and will have to be built. Anyone who thinks they can be put together in relatively short order after an invasion doesn’t know what they are talking about. [Boldface in original.]That much goes without saying. In fact, that is exactly why Josh and I wrote that
We must commit to rebuilding Iraq as a free state, which means committing to the provision of significant amounts of time, money and expertise...If the administration ever turns away from postwar Iraq...OxDem will be there to remind it that its job has only just begun.As this statement makes clear, OxDem supports democracy promotion in spite of the hardships involved. We are willing to face such hardships precisely because a principled commitment to democracy commitment entails an obligation to face hardship.
Instead of recognzining this obligation, Kieran and others seem to be more interested in washing their hands of responsibility for the fate of Iraq (and Afghanistan). This is the only possible way of reconciling their passivity with their insistence that the Bush administration is insincere in its commitment to promoting democracy in Iraq.
In contrast, OxDem rejects the ethics of Pontius Pilate. We are willing to invest our time and integrity in the struggle to persuade both the Bush administration and the American public that democracy promotion is both consistent with American principles and in the United States' best interests. Kieran is right that
OxDem may fall into the gap between the rhetoric of the Administration and its actions.But taking that risk is the least that we as individuals can do to help ensure that people in Iraq and throughout the Middle East have a chance to share the freedoms that no American would live without. We hope that once this war has come to an end, our critics will work with us to make that vision a reality.
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# Posted 8:40 AM by Dan
Friday, March 28, 2003
# Posted 11:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Matt is also trying to figure out just who is telling the truth about what it will be like to fight in the streets of Baghdad. (4) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I grew up in a military family. My father (who is quite old now and very very 'old school') is a retired Rear Admiral USNR. He has served on a number of promotion boards and has had considerable and broad legal experience in Military Law. He has come across the 'gays in the military' issue quite often and on many levels. I have never heard him question a gay person's commitment to US interests as a reason for keeping him or her out of the service. 'Unit cohesion' or something like that has been his mantra on this issue for as long as I can remember--and still is.Glad to hear it. As I said before, hopefully every officer worried about unit cohesion will be honest enough to recognize that this war has put such concerns to rest once and for all.
It's not the military that makes the policy - it's the government. If the powers that be truly wanted the discrimation to end they could do it in one fell swoop. Think Truman and integration. Bill Clinton didn't want to fight for it and 'don't ask' was the result. The military follows orders, but they don't initiate policy.But who didn't Bill Clinton want to fight against? If the military were behind equal opportunity for homosexuals, I think it would've gone through without a fight.
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# Posted 10:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"America has killed thousands of Iraqi children," said Hassan, 34, in this small town an hour's drive north of Cairo, the Egyptian capital. "They want to destroy Islam as a religion."I'm sure all these folks believe what they are saying and that their statements are fairly representative of local opinion. But all they do is talk. No protests. No sending humanitarian aid to Iraq. No violence.
I'm beginning to think that Arab opposition to the invasion of Iraq is like Arab support for the Palestinians: something everyone can agree on but that no one wants to do anything about. That's why there's no backlash against the war and why Arab governments never do much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And still the experts call for appeasing the Arab street...
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
One thing I can't figure out: Are Iraqis still required to have a government 'minder' present when speaking to foreign journalists? I can't see why this rule would've changed, but there is no mention of it in the WaPo article on the explosion. I want to find out, though, since there is no way of telling whether the victims' anguished accusations of American cruelty are a sincere reaction, or just something staged for the benefit of Saddam's thought police. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Link via Best of the Web. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Briefly, RL points out that Jim Moran is originally from Boston, and not a native Southerner.
ET from Colorado writes that
I haven't actually lived in the South and am in no position to comment on the day to day incidence of anti-Semitism there. Still, I happen to know that synagogues, JCCs and Jewish philanthropy are highly developed in the South and I think there are a couple of ways to interpret this phenomenon in terms of how it relates to anti-Semitism.A good question. I wish I had the answer. Moving on, TN writes in that
I too grew up in South Carolina, in a small town called Edgefield (pop. 3000) in the western piedmont area. I live in Atlanta now.If memory serves, Frank was accused of murdering Mary Phagan. I only know that because one of the networks ran a made-for-television movie on the subject when I was in grade school. Naturally, this is one of the only films I know of that says much about Southern Jewish life. The others are all about civil rights and the murders of Schwerner, Goodman and Cheney. So perhaps what we're beginning to see is that Hollywood (and my own ignorance) are responsible for Northern Jews' perceptions of Southern anti-semitism.
But what about anti-Semitism elsewhere in the US? MR writes that
I've lived all over the U.S. (courtesy of the U.S. Army) and have found some of the worst anti-semitism in the Pacific Northwest, especially the Seattle area. It was so bad there I told my husband if he ever got orders for that place again he could go alone. Never had any problems in the South, but haven't lived in the deep south, although I feel North Carolina was south enough. It seems like a lot of anti-semitism comes out of the North East these days, does Al Sharpton ring a bell? Now I am happily living in San Antonio, Texas, one of the nicest places in the country (and I ought to know!).I'm a fan of San Antonio as well, having visited briefly while I worked in Texas. SA is now, of course, a major landmark in the blogosphere thanks to Sean-Paul Kelley. And yes, Al Sharpton does ring a bell, but I think I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that this is a discussion of white anti-Semitism. If we start crossing color-lines, my inbox will surely overflow. Maybe once things calm down in the Middle East we can have an open thread about the Reverend Al.
On a lighter note, MR writes in with the following anecdote:
The first person on my mother's side of the family to immigrate to America was a man named Moses Sauer, a German Jew. For reasons lost to history he went straight to Shreveport, LA where he was promptly conscripted into the Confederate Army. He served and eventually got an honorable discharge (the papers still exist). Anyway, after his discharge he went back to Shreveport. His eventual family split up, with some staying in LA and others moving to NYC (my ancestors).MR, y'all so meshugge!!!
Last but not least, SG, a close friend of mine from Tennessee, asks
Anti-semitism in the South? Didn't we talk about this a million times? I find it interesting that in Berkeley, I'm getting attacked daily for being Jewish because that's apparently why we're at war. Yep, that's right Berkeley, California, liberal bastion. Meanwhile, no one is hassling my parents or friends in Tennessee at all about this. And yes, there are plenty of folks against the war there. Or how about recent events at Yale? I can handle residual ignorance (like the story about the hitchhiker who was asked to see his horns), that can be corrected. What is terrrifying to me is the educated masses deciding to buy the myth of Jewish puppeteering.Sad but true. Thankfully, Berkeley is a world unto itself. And when anti-Semitism raises its head at Yale, I think we can rest assured that it will be beaten down swifly.
For those of you who want to know even more about Southern Jewish life, both TG and BL recommend Alfred Uhry's play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. When it comes to London, I'm there.
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# Posted 10:26 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:23 AM by Patrick Belton
How does it start? Frustratingly, it can't really until we take Baghdad - even though in the meantime the way we fight and the rhetoric we use will play an important supportive role. Unfortunately, it's been a trope of conquerors to pass themselves off as liberators as well ever since Alexander wept over there being no further worlds to conquer. We only convince the world if today's successors to the Seljuk and Mongol cavalries arrive in ancient Baghdad with Jefferson and the Federalist in our back pockets, and the cash and political commitment to the Iraqi people to back it up. The U.S.'s historical record is fortunately promising on our ability to deliver: but there's no avoiding it, our moral credibility as an idealistic nation depends on our giving a great deal of thought now to making New Iraq a durable democracy. So, herewith, a promissory note: I'll be using this space in the coming weeks to collate and analyze what's being said - in government, think tanks, universities, and the blogosphere - about constructing democratic institutions for the people of Iraq. Feel free to e-mail me your forwards and thoughts. And then let's show the world American conquerors really are liberators too. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:48 AM by Patrick Belton
Gulp. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:29 AM by Dan
# Posted 12:15 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Thursday, March 27, 2003
# Posted 11:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
[So why was I reading Kristof if I've already said he's unreadable? Because once you say somethig like that, you don't want to have people jumping all over you if you turn out to be wrong. How ironic.]
Anyway, here's what Kristof said:
We doves simply have to let go of the dispute about getting into this war. It's now a historical question, and the relevant issue, for hawks and doves alike, is how we get out of this war (and how we avoid the next pre-emptive war). Americans should be able to find common ground, for all sides dream of an Iraq that is democratic and an America that is again admired around the world. Creating a postwar Iraq that is free and flourishing is also the one way to recoup the damage this war has already done to America's image and interests.The key words there are "all sides". When Josh and I founded OxDem, we wanted it to rise above partisan distinctions and bring Americans together behind the shared ideal of democracy.
What we've found in practice is that many Democrats who tentatively support the war are unwilling to sign on to our statement of principles because they are afraid of being part of an organization that casual observers so often assume is pro-war and pro-Bush.
Now, we've said time and again that the purpose of OxDem is to stand up for democracy in Iraq and around the world regardless of which party controls the White House or the Capitol. But I do understand that when one is in a hostile environment (yes, Oxford), it's hard to sign on to a controversial position. But we are hoping that one the question of war and peace is over and done with, students' commitment to the shared ideal of democracy will make them reconsider their decision to keep their distance from OxDem.
That is why Kristof's words are so encouraging. If even he can bury the hatchet, then promoting democracy may really become a popular cause. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
You know, I really would like to be able to trust the President. He just makes it so damn hard. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But no one makes the critical point that by sidelining Iraqi militias, the US avoids taking on political debts that will have to be paid off with postwar concessions. Avoiding such concessions is not just a matter of self-interest, but a way of ensuring that opposition groups cannot translate their fighting strength into special privileges in what should be a democratic Iraq.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
...the strapping 19-year-old from Birmingham has a combat tale to tell. Now, beaming a perfect white smile, Maskers guards a cargo warehouse ready to accept humanitarian supplies. His grin is not just evidence that British dental services have improved...(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
PS Yes, I know the title of Remarque's novel is supposed to be ironic and that I've used it here in a literal sense. So sue me. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Here's a list of the questions asked:
"First, you, Mr. Prime Minister. Briefly, Secretary Powell said yesterday that the U.N. should have a role in post-war Iraq, but that the United States should have a significant dominating control of post-Saddam Iraq. How will that kind of talk play in Europe?2.
"For both leaders, if I may? We've, all of us, noted quite a shift in emphasis over the last few days from a hope that this could be over very, very quickly to the military in both countries briefing about months.3.
Mr. President, you've raised the possibility of holding Iraqis accountable for war crimes. I'm wondering if now if you could describe what war crimes you think they've committed to date?4.
...could I ask you both, you both ranged over history, the justness of the cause that you believe that this war is. Why is it, then, that if you go back to that history, if you go back over the last century, or indeed recent conflicts of your political careers, you have not got the support of people who've been firm allies, like the French, like the Germans, like the Turkish? Why haven't you got their support?If one were to sum up the nature of such questions, one could do it in two words: confrontational and predictable. In principle, confrontation is good. Challenges from the press force elected officials to justify controversial decisions and account for notable failures. While somewhat of a turn-off, the snide and condescending tone of most of the question asked demonstrates that even in times of war, Americans' support for the First Amendment is so strong that journalists have the right to grill the President as if he were the defendent in a murder trial.
Unfortunately, the predictable nature of today's questions render their confrontational stance worthless. These are questions that Bush and Blair have answered dozens of times before. This sort of repetition demonstrates a disturbing lack of creativity on the journalists' part.
If the press wants to extract concessions from the President, it has to challenge him on the evidence. Otherwise, press conferences become nothing more than a charade in which journalists pretend to be challenging presidential authority while the President himself gets to say vague but patriotic things such as "This isn't a matter of timetable, it's a matter of victory."
I guess this press conferences sums up how I've been feeling about the media over the past few days. When nothing happens at the front, the press spins it as a lack of progress. While challenge and confrontation are good in principle, this sort of desperate attempt to find bad news only exhausts the press' credibility and makes it harder for it to challenge the government when it really should.
Ultimately, media bias hurts both the press itself and the democratic process. It would simply be better for American democracy if both conservatives and liberals could get behind the press as an institution, thus giving it the prestige necessary to demand greater honesty on the part of elected officials. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:15 PM by Patrick Belton
Daniel Patrick Moynihan reaffirmed our ideas of the worth of a life in politics and the academy, and showed it was possible not to fall prey to the short-sightedness endemic in either. Instead - scholarly, gutsy, opinionated, eloquent, and an idealist - he bettered everything he touched, and in all his numerous incarnations - and here one can't help thinking of Vishnu and the other country he so loved - he touched pretty much everything. Whether the subject was international affairs, urban development, public architecture, or civil rights, he brought to it trademark intellectual creativity, a determined and stubborn willingness to follow his own best lights, and a sense of national loyalty surpassing the narrow dictates of the logic of party or ideology. I heard him speak several times on the floor of the Senate. I remember thinking that, as a politician, he showed us the Senate could be a place for dignified, erudite debate worthy of the parliamentary tradition of Tulius Cicero, Burke, and his own chamber's Daniel Webster - a place where equally public-spirited men and women could argue different sides of issues, without impugning their interlocutors' virtue or motives, with eloquent speeches and searching intellects, and with loyalty to a Republic rather than to a faction. Personally, I also thought then that as a coethnic, he gave a dignified public face to an ethnicity too often associated on these shores with the philistinisms of green beer and mediocre midwestern colleges' football teams. When Moynihan spoke, though, it was Parnell and O'Connell who came to mind, and sometimes even Joyce and Muldoon.
He used the eloquence of the Senate well: every day of Terry Anderson's captivity at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, he went to the Senate floor to remind his fellow senators, in a quiet sentence, just how many days it had been. He was a patriot: explaining to his aghast friends and wife why he, a Democrat, had accepted a position in the Nixon administration as assistant to the president for urban affairs, he explained when the president of the United States asks, a good citizen agrees to help. Yet he had no truck with the culture of government secrecy, which he saw as antithetical to a vibrant democracy. When he saw, at the close of his life, barriers and metal detectors proliferating around what for him had to be an open city, he dedicated his last op-ed for the Post to decrying it.
Particularly comforting, for those of us writing theses, is the anecdote the NYT lifted from a 1979 biography, where two college friends caught a dissertation-writing Pat in his room in 1952: "Impressed at first with his elaborate file cabinet full of index cards, they found that most of the cards were recipes for drinks rather than notes on the International Labor Organization." It was indeed often over a lifted glass that the prolific author Moynihan poured out his best stories. His eloquence, though, could also be spontaneous and respond perfectly to the needs of a moment. The NYT caught a quote by Moynihan from the television coverage of President Kennedy's assassination: "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I guess we thought we had a little more time." He added softly, "So did he."
The Washington Post's editorial page calls Daniel Patrick Moynihan "a man of large ideas in a city of tacticians." In a time in which they are in alarmingly short supply in both politics and the academy, this decent, good man brooks no hesitation in standing up for us as that rare quantity, a role model. Godspeed ye, Senator.
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# Posted 11:32 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:11 AM by Dan
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
# Posted 10:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Iraqi sources claimed earlier that the bomb was Allied ordance. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Her name was Rachel Corrie. She died after being run over by an Israeli bulldozer. But was it murder, negligence, or an accident provoked by Corrie's own recklessness? The more newspapers you read, the more confused you get.
In a relatively balanced account, the WaPo quotes both Corrie's fellow human shields as well as Israeli military officials responsible for investigating her death. Each one says exactly what one would expect him or her to say. (There's a similar article in the LA Times.)
While in Israel, I didn't have a chance to read the Post, but instead relied on the Herald Tribune, which my hotel distributed to guests every morning. It's account, borrowed from the NYT, suggests that Corrie's resistance was much more passive than other articles made it out to be. According to its first sentence,
An Israeli Army bulldozer crushed to death an American woman Sunday who had knelt in the dirt to discourage the armored vehicle from destroying a Palestinian home in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and hospital officials said. [Sorry, no permalink.]The key word, of course, is 'knelt', which suggests that Corrie had deliberately placed herself in the bulldozer's path and then stopped moving. The word 'knelt' also has religious connotations, which bring to mind the passive resistance of Mahatma Gandhi.
The WaPo's opening sentence describes Corrie as 'crouching', but also quotes a protester who describes her as 'kneeling'. In contrast, the LA Times quotes witnesses who say that Corrie was standing.
The accounts I read in Israel, from the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, were entirely different however. According to the J-Post,
Richard Summers, 31, from England, told The Jerusalem Post that Corrie confronted the D-9 as it slowly rumbled toward the Masri home. Trying to stop the machine, she scaled a steep pile of earth that the bulldozer had plowed up with its blade.According to Ha'aretz,
Rachel Corey [sic], 23, from Olympia, Washington, was killed when she ran in front of the bulldozer to try to prevent it from destroying a house, doctors in Gaza said...Three different protesters, three different accounts. Strange how only one of them -- the most damaging one -- made it into the American papers.
I really have no idea what happened to Rachel Corrie. The most plausible speculation I've read is from No Cameras, a blog run out of Corrie's hometown, Olympia, Wa. NC observes that
Having spent a fair amount of time around armoured vehicles, however, I'm not convinced [Corrie's megaphone] would have made much difference. IDF bulldozers--in this case a Caterpillar D9--are large, noisy and heavily armoured, and the driver is probably wearing hearing protection against the engine noise; you'd probably need Nigel Tufnel's custom amps to make yourself heard inside the cab from outside. Moreover, the view from the cab is severely restricted...The most plausible scenario, to my mind, is that the driver advanced slowly, expecting Ms. Corrie to chicken out in time; she lost her footing and in doing so was lost to the driver's view. Assuming she'd gotten out of the way, he continued moving forward, with fatal results.Regardless of the uncertaintly surroudning Corrie's death, what we do know for sure is that the Western media have given it a distinct anti-Israel spin. For example, the Christian Science Monitor has described Corrie as a "peace activist" even though she has a habit of burning American flags while participating in rallies in the Gaza strip. (See Tal G. for more links.)
Of course, one can burn American flags and still be a peace activist. But when one marches with Hamas and PA supporters in the Gaza Strip while burning an American flag, that's a little different.
Far worse than descriptions of Corrie as a peace activist, however, is the misuse and mislabeling of photographs in a way that suggests her death was the product of Israeli intentions. For details, click here and here.
But why am I getting so worked up about all of this? After all, anti-Israel bias in the media (not to mention outright anti-Semitism on the left) is hardly news. But it happened while I was there. And people have asked me what I know about it, or what Israelis thought about it. When I respond to such questions, I don't want to profess ignorance. I want to say something that makes a difference.
UPDATE: Hmm. Even Atrios thinks Corrie was no victim. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 6:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Also, Josh points out that front page images of yesterday's British papers are available here. [Warning: Only scroll up and not down after accessing the front page images.] (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Meanwhile, MB writes that he's
not privy to what generals think about such things, but as a former Marine officer who has argued in support of "don't ask, don't tell" I can assure you that my own concern has never been anything but unit cohesion. And I don't recall ever hearing my peers express the idea that gays are somehow less patriotic or loyal Americans, on average, than straights. (But I must admit that this isn't an issue that was ever a particularly hot topic of discussion among my peers, that I can recall--even when Clinton first took office.) Perhaps they were concealing their true beliefs about the issue, but I'm not sure why they would have bothered to do so when talking with peers who agreed with their conclusions.I hope MB is right. If he is, the military should be ready to let open gays serve once this war is over. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:40 PM by Patrick Belton
The argument is fine as far as it goes: in the post-WWII period, international institutions have served U.S. interests more cheaply, with greater legitimacy, and probably with a much higher track record of success than the U.S. could arguably have achieved if it had had to further its interests and values supported only by ad-hoc coalitions and its own and its allies' power. However, Garton Ash's argument fails to deal with what happens in the scenario in which comparatively minor world powers, such as France, motivated by dislike of the U.S. precisely because of the latter's superiority in state strength, then use their outsized power in international institutions (relative to their actual economic or military power) either to blackmail or to veto the U.S.'s attempts to act in the international community's interests and provide global security, a public good. Garton Ash's answer seems simply to be that Blair should have tried harder to court continental support, rather than jumping so quickly into an alliance with the U.S. - an argument which sounds specious. (Given the current governments in Paris and Berlin, a coyer Blair could have prolonged the process of diplomacy - itself a continental victory - but it is unlikely that he would have been able to gather their support for a war on Iraq.)
So what does happen in that scenario? Is it just barely possible that, within the constraints of a situation like that, the U.S. might have taken precisely the smartest course open to it- that is, creating a credible threat that it would indeed in the future go outside those international institutions, and therefore completely deprive minor countries from their power over the U.S. that derives strictly from those institutions (and the U.S.'s continued participation within them) rather than from their own national power? The U.S. would then have created strong incentives for minor countries not to use their vetoes in New York or Brussels for blackmail to secure side payments or as a means to keep their disliked, stronger neighbor Gulliver from ever using its military at all, save when directed from Paris. Were they to do so, those countries would succeed only in pushing the United States out of those institutions, and theeby robbing themselves of the outsized global influence that precisely those institutions confer on them. For a country which is roundly derided for its lack of tactical skill in diplomacy, this would have been quite an intelligent and long-sighted gambit indeed.
(P.S.: Entirely incidentally, if in the first sentence you noticed that there's been a high frequency of significant-other-directed nods in my recent posts - a phenomenon also noticeable in the posts of fellow DC-resident Andrew Sullivan ("Sullivinian," for Garton Ash?) - then one might perhaps draw the conclusion that perhaps the Federal City is still conducive to amorousness, even with the Clinton administration no longer in town any more.) (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:22 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:20 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: Reader EG makes a good point:
The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is wrong but it does not reflect the assumption that gay soldiers are less patriotic or fight less hard. It is premised on the assumption that the presence of gay soldiers undermines unit cohesion. The more telling point you could have made was that the military seems to tolerate the presence of gay soldiers when their units are under fire, i.e., when unit cohesion is most critical.I mostly agree, but I still think that the unit cohesion argument is often a cover for unjustified suspicions that gay soldiers are less committed to American interests than their heterosexual counterparts are.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:03 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The French and German ambassadors to the UN also seem pretty adamant about this point. So much for all those critics who said that the US has to get French and German support for an invasion so that their governments are willing to take responsibility for reconstruction. Au contraire; the absence of a second resolution has made the French and Germans even more concerned about being locked out again. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:56 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:53 AM by Patrick Belton
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
# Posted 9:22 PM by Dan
I didn't feel any outright hostility toward me based on my American citizenship (I think most of the hostility was based on my obnoxious personality), but two anecdotes stick out: at a bar, a girl came and sat down at our table, and we smiled and asked her where she was from. She replied, "Baghdad." The next day, we went to an outdoor shopping district and a salesman came up to us and said, "You are American? I am Iraqi!" That was about it. Most of the Russians I spoke to about the war felt that America was violating international law and its power, if unchecked, was "dangerous". The idea of America as the world's lone superpower came up often--one Russian friend of a friend told me that Russians feel threatened because they were a "fake superpower" and seeing a real superpower exercise its strength was unsettling.
Many of the Russians with whom i interacted are at best "hostile to darker skinned minorities" and at worst downright racist. The adjectives they used to describe Chechens are eerily similar to those early white Americans used to describe (American) Indians: "uncivilized", "untrustworthy", "violent", "barbaric", "unreformable" and so on. The friend with whom I stayed told me to expect this, but it was still shocking to hear it. I even got a "some of my best friends are Chechen--but these ones are not like the others" comment from one Russian woman. When i asked her if Russians were anti-Chechen, she said, "How could we be--they own all the hotels and have power in this city." We took a day trip from Moscow, and we told our tour guide that we were studying near London. She said, "London is nice, but of course you have that problem with the blacks. But they are not as bad as the negroes in America--they are Indian....the blacks, they go to restaurants and leave a mess everywhere, it's horrible." During lunch she told us that she liked America--she thought it was a very well run country, but that "there is the problem with the negroes. What a disaster." All of this was quite disconcerting.
Traveling with a Marine and Army officer while our country is at war has provided me with an entirely new perspective on it. They help me with the technical aspects of the war: "Dan, generals are ranked brigadier (one star), major (two stars), lieutenant (three stars), and general (four stars)." Little things like this help immeasurably when watching a press briefing. I could also see their own ambivalence and feelings of helplessness while watching everything on CNN. They are on scholarships in England until July. Until they return to America for training, they have to watch and read about their classmates and friends' experiences in a war in which both of them would likely have served.
It was a wonderful trip, save for the sub-freezing temperature throughout most of it....I never thought I would be looking forward to the weather back in England.
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# Posted 8:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Definitely read the section about Sean-Paul, which also mentions the Command Post. Let me just say that long before the NYT described Sean-Paul as a "mastermind", OxBlog wrote that
"The Agonist" is the nom de blog of a fellow student of International Relations who has traveled the world in search of truth, enlightenment, and investment capital. Sean-Paul has even taught English in South Korea, which perhaps explains why his posts [on the subject] are so much more intelligent than those of the elder Democratic statesmen who polemicize in the NY Times.We knew quality when we saw it. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Steve Sturm thinks the Allies are just being too nice, period. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In addition to majorities among Tory and Labor voters, a plurality of Lib Dems (45%-41%) now support the war. As in the United States, men are much more supportive of the war than women.
There are pluralities or majorities supporting the war in all age brackets except for the youngest, those aged 18-24. That fact actually surprised me quite a bit, since I tend to assume that anti-war sentiment reflects vivid memories of the devisive and destructive conflicts of the Vietnam era.
But perhaps those Britons old enough to remember Vietnam know that this war is very different. Only those of us who had the privilege of growing up in the aftermath of the Cold War are susceptible to the belief that the enemies of the West can be brought down without the threat of violence.
If you download the full results of the poll, you can find even more interesting information. For example, Guardian readers are against the war, 66-25. But what's really surprising is that readers of the Financial Times are against the war 58-34. (Only 2% of respondents read the FT, however, in contrast to 8% who read The Guardian.)
Anyway, hats off to The Guardian for putting all this 'bad' news on its front page.
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# Posted 6:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But wait, you say, isn't that a pretty accurate comparison? Sure it is...unless it is meant as praise for Saddam.
But wait, you say, how could a comparison with Stalin ever be considered praise? Don't worry, it can. After all, Stalin did hold out against the Wehrmacht for more than two years at a time when military experts predicted the fall of Moscow within six weeks.
To be fair, Saddam has imitated the opening moves of the Soviet defensive campaign of 1941, i.e. lose every battle and retreat to your capital. Now all he has to do is hold out against the world's most powerful military for another one year and three hundred fifty-nine days... (4) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If you have a copy of the Independent's print edition, you'll notice that above this headline, there are three smaller headlines, the first of which reads "British Soldier Killed in Action". Given that only one soldier was killed, shouldn't the main headline read "Undaunted by Loss, Allies Push on Towards Baghdad"?
Then again, I'm probably wrong on technical grounds. It is almost certain that some other soldier lost his life within the same 24-hour period as the first British combat fatality. But the juxtaposition of the two headlines is still absurd.
While Americans are used to thinking of The Guardian as the ancestral home of liberal media bias, that paper has been rather moderate since the war started while the Independent has become the Al-Jazeera of the West. Again, let us savor the moment. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I guess the old adage is true; war brings a nation together. God knows the next time these two papers will have identical headlines. I'm curious whether this sort of thing has ever happened before, but I have no idea how to figure it out. For the moment, let's just enjoy this unity while it lasts. (3) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:44 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:34 PM by Patrick Belton
But that's all to come. For now, I'm very happy to be over here with you guys! (Especially since I get to do it from drier, warmer, Washington, D.C.....) (3) opinions -- Add your opinion