Sunday, November 30, 2003
# Posted 2:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anyhow, before going down, I decided to get in touch with my friend Max from Oxford, who spent last year as a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy (WINEP).
Max is a good guy, and he often sends me interesting stuff about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, some of which I've put up on OxBlog. I always sort of figured he led the same work-a-day sort of research life that I did. But then I go to the WINEP website to get his e-mail address, and here's what I find in his profile [no permalink, just click on "Staff" and scroll down to "Associates"]:
Mr. Abrahms has published numerous articles in Ha'aretz (English), Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Middle East Quarterly, and National Review Online, and has appeared as a commentator on ABC, al-Arabiyya, al-Jazeera, BBC1, BBC 24, CBS, CNN, CNN Financial, CTV (Canada Television), FOX, NPR, PBS, Radio Free Europe, SKY News, and Voice of America.Holy Schnikes! And Max didn't say a word about it. Talk about humility. A lot of people in Washington could learn from this guy.
And let me tell you, the humility is real. Max was always one of the most down-to-earth people in an Oxford IR program filled with loudmouths and hotshots (I'm mostly thinking of myself, but Urman wasn't much better.) So here's to Max: someone we should all remember when we get too high on ourselves. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
But you know what? I laughed. Sure, Kevin is right that no serious broadsheet should run a headline like that. But from where I stand, it's nice to see that the Independent can admit that it's foreign affairs coverage is a joke.
Now, for some real commentary on Bush's visit, head over to Dan Drezner's website.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Presumably, Richards' rubber-like body would have enabled him to stretch his tongue out to Simmons-esque proportions, had he wished to do so. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:42 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think it's fair to say that Howard Dean, and many other liberals-but-not-pacifists, who opposed the war allowed their detestation for the Bush administration to blind them to the merits of the arguments in favor of the war. At the same time, those of us who were more open to military action appear to have allowed our appreciation for the merits of the pro-war arguments to blind us to the utterly despicable nature of the Bush administration.Call me stubborn, but I'm not about to spend my time going through Matt archives looking for posts in which he gave the benefit of the doubt to the Bush Administrations.
Interestingly, Kevin Drum has also engaged in a subtle bit of personal revisionism. Today, Kevin writes that he briefly supported the war but then became convinced that Bush & Co. weren't serious about rebuilding Iraq.
Note, however, a subtle difference in the meaning of the word "serious". Today's post equates revision with competence. Yet Kevin's original post from March argues that Bush isn't even committed to rebuilding Iraq, competence aside.
Why does this sort of trifling semantic difference matter? After all, you can't expect bloggers to consult the Oxford English Dictionary before publishing every post. However, these small differences matter because they say something about the mindset of their authors.
Kevin misses how his cynicism regarding Bush's motives has been transformed into a resentment of Bush's incompetence. In a President, both flaws are dangerous. But on a moral plane, sinister motives are far worse.
Matt wants to believe that he only could've supported the war (however briefly) by blinding himself to the Bush administration's "utterly despicable nature". Yet Matt goes on to say that what's wrong with the Bush Administration is not that it's evil, but that it's incompetent. (UPDATE: In this post, Matt says the administration is still evil because it's lying about it's commitment to democracy in Iraq.)
In the end, both Matt and Kevin are left pondering the same question: How could the Bush administration ever have believed that the reconstruction of Iraq would go smoothly despite a total absence of planning?
In isolation, that question makes a lot of sense. But it is important to put that question in context. Planning for the occupation was going on at the same time that the Bush Administration had to face down critics who thought that it was evil because of its decision to invade Iraq. The White House was consumed with responding to criticism of its motives, not its abilities.
Does this excuse its negligent planning for the occupation? Hell no. I've blasted the administration's negligence on the planning front since long before the invasion. But OxBlog did recognize after Bush's February speech on democracy promotion that the President had invested his reputation in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Before the February speech, however, OxBlog joined both liberal and conservative advocates of democracy promotion in questioning the President's commitment to that objective.
The bottom line here is that liberals like Matt and Kevin did not (briefly) support the war because of momentary ignorance. They supported it because it was the right thing to do. And they stopped supporting it because they underestimated the President's idealism. That matters, because the President's idealism is the only thing that may compensate for his incompetence.
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# Posted 1:30 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:24 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Brooks thinks that this will make the Republicans as unbeatable as the Democrats once were in the House and Senate. But Brooks forgets something: When the Democrats created the welfare state, they were being true to their ideals.
If the Republicans persist in behaving like Democrats, they will either have to abandon their small government philosophy or face a barrage of unanswerable criticism. And then things will get really interesting. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
It is also a fact that traffic safety in the US had improved more than 40% since 1985 -- 70% since 1970 -- in terms of accidents per mile driven. However, the gains in other industrialized nations have been even more dramatic, often because they started off with a higher accident rate.
Now, you might ask, is the US far behind it's competitors? In the US, there are 1.52 deaths per 100 million miles driven. World leader Britain has a score of 1.21, #2 Norway, 1.33. Germany comes in at #10 with a score of 1.81.
To be sure, each hundredth of a point represents 278 American lives lost on the road. I hope we can do better. The answer? Wear seatbelts. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:40 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Fortunately, if current trends persist, there will be fewer sacrifices made in the name of freedom. The US military reports that
attacks on American soldiers across Iraq had dropped by almost a third in the last two weeks. [Gen. Sanchez] said those attacks, which as recently as two weeks ago were averaging 35 a day, had dropped to a daily average of about 22.Perhaps this is only the calm before the storm. Perhaps not. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, November 29, 2003
# Posted 7:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there is a glaring omission in all these stories about the Shi'ite vote. We hear again and again that Ayatollah Sistani wants the new Iraqi state to have "a clear role for Islam" and that he wants to translate the Shi'ites demographic dominance into political power.
But what does Sistani believe about democracy as a political system? Will he endorse democracy as a way of life rather than a transitional process?
Another problem with these articles is their constant repetition of the American argument that elections are impossible before a census is taken. Is that just a stalling point designed throw off Sistani, or do Bremer and the White House really believe what they're saying?
Frankly, I'm suspicious. El Salvador climbed out of its own civil war by holding its first free elections before a census could be taken. The Reagan administration backed that effort enthusiastically and the result was validated by impartial monitors. There were some charges of corruption, but they were directed at the officials responsible for tabulating the votes by computer, not at the problem of having unidentified voters.
At the moment, it seems rather hypocritical for the US to be resisting Shi'ite demands for real elections -- provided that they are sincere. Memo to Bill Keller: Get your correspondents to find out what Sistani believes, instead of assuming that they know. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
During the first intifada, hundreds of collaborators were murdered in the streets. Of course, the press focused on those Palestinains who were killed by Israelis, even though such killings were often a matter of self-defense, rather than cold-blooded murder.
Interestingly, the European Union complained about the PA's executions of Palestinian collaborators (on what charge? obstruction of injustice?) and, in response, Arafat stopped them. Instead, Arafat had Al Aksa take care of the killings, shall we say, extra-judicially.
Frankly I'm quite curious about this Palestinian human rights group. Who allows it to operate? Are its casualty estimates low? What do Amnesty and Human Rights Watch say about it? More to come... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, November 28, 2003
# Posted 11:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Nitin Gopal Jutka, a leading contributor to Hawken Blog recently posted about the way that his family has been victimized by ruthless malpractice lawyers.
Nitin's mother is a doctor, and when she was accused unjustly of malpractice she decided to fight rather than settle out of court. Yet thanks to the unpredictability of juries and rhetoric of malpractice lawyers, the plaintiff was awarded a $5.2 million settlement.
Nitin's mother may never practive medicine again. This is a personal and professional blow to her and her entire family. It is an injustice that I hope is soon corrected. Yet victory always comes at a price, both emotional and financial. So at a time when I have much to be thankful for, I want to remember that many others must struggle for what is rightly theirs. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, November 27, 2003
# Posted 7:46 AM by Patrick Belton
Ramadan is a time of hard striving and purification, enjoining good, forbidding evil, and heightening the consciousness of Allah's presence, or Taqwa. Taqwa is a protection both against the schemes of evil and the suffering of the world: "Whoever keeps his duty to Allah [has taqwa], He ordains a way out for him and gives him sustenance from where he imagines not." (Qur'an, 65:2) Our thoughts are with all of those who strive hard this 'Eid to purify one of the world's great humanistic religions against that determined minority who would reduce it to an ideological apology for terror and hatred, and who strive to restore it to its proper great stature as a great faith of tolerance, brotherhood, and peace. 'Eid mubarak to you all. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
# Posted 8:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
All that would be missing is the support of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
PS: For a solid round-up of the latest batch of campaign commercials, click here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Does this matter? Optimists might see it as evidence that Dean isn't so dovish. Pessimists will see it as evidence that Dean has neither the backbone nor the integrity to take on the Bush war machine. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:33 PM by Patrick Belton
How do you like them apples? Sadly, however, unless Wesley Clark manages to stop Dean in the primaries, Yale's reign of terror in the White House is guaranteed to continue. If only Gore had run again. Schumer '08?Hmm, but I thought the Democrats had already pencilled in Hillary (YLS '72) for '08? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:04 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:59 AM by Patrick Belton
From Paris to Pakistan, Americans have grown used to television footage of American flags going up in flames or being trampled under foot by angry crowds.More, please. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:44 AM by Patrick Belton
The full text of the Queen's Speech is here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:54 AM by Patrick Belton
"Senator Kit Bond does Rumsfeld one better, wishing the fight to commence in Baghdad, 'rather than Boston or Boise or Baldwin, Missouri, or (emphasis added) Belton, Missouri.'" (Via Weekly Standard)(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide."I don't know what the opposite of spiritual suicide is, but for the last twelve months I have most certainly been committing it. Still, I have some questions about Brooks' claim. First of all, do you have to go all the way with several partners, or is third base enough? How about third base with one partner and all the way with another? Or second base with four partners?
Furthermore, which definition of "several" does Brooks rely on? Merriam-Webster lists it as meaning both "more than one" and "more than two but fewer than many". If Brooks meant "more than one" why didn't he just say that? Does he have something to hide?
Also, when Brooks refers to several partners in a year, is he referring to a single year or a lifetime average? Do my many years of chastity mean that I can get with multiple honeys this year without endangering my spiritual well-being? If I get with too many honeys this year (an unlikely event), can I make up for it by being chaste later on? Or is spiritual suicide irreversible?
Next up, what about someone who gets divorced and married in the same twelve month period? Wouldn't it be OK for him or her to have more than one sexual partner?
And what about cultural diveristy? Can Muslims have sex with a new partner after 354 days because their years are shorter? Do Jews have to wait 13 months during lunar leap years?
Finally, what will happen when human beings begin to live on other planets? Can residents of Mercury have sex with someone new every 88 days? Do residents of Jupiter have to wait for 11.86 years? (I don't even want to think about Uranus.)
Anyhow, go read Brooks column. It offers a compelling conservative defense of gay marriage. My criticism of it is entirely tangential.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:47 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Sadly, however, Phil will not be sharing his thoughts on Michael Jackson (the pop star, not the British general). (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: Here's a striking example of US Army humanitarianism -- from 1945. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Rather than respond myself to Gelb's argument, I thought I'd post some excerpts from a response drafted by a friend of mine who is a correspondent in Iraq. With any luck, the Times will run my friend's article in the next couple of days. For now, here are some of the highlights:
Iraq is unique in the Muslim world as a country where Sunnis and Shias, both secular and religious leaders, have often collaborated against internal oppression and external aggression, and have not engaged in the vicious sectarian bloodshed seen in Pakistan, or the Wahabbi view of Shias as heretics and polytheists. Shia Ayatollahs supported Sunni opposition movements, and a radical Shia movement like the Da’wa party had a Sunni membership of ten percent...So those are the good parts. If the Times decided to run the whole article, you'll get to see the not-so-good parts as well...and I will fisk them.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2003
# Posted 9:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
shows Mr. Bush, during the last State of the Union address, warning of continued threats to the nation: "Our war against terror is a contest of will, in which perseverance is power," he says after the screen flashes the words, "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."That is low, misleading and flat-out wrong. Unsurprisingly, the White House has tried to distance itself from the commerical and say that the RNC was in charge. But how credible a defense is that?
If this is what we can expect from the Bush campaign, count me out. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
That's why I'm putting up this link to Dan's post. We can't pretend that foreign policy and the war on terror are separate from domestic issues. If Medicare and Social Security and tax policy keep us in the red, we won't be able to devote the necessary resources to fighting terror. It's not a choice of butter vs. guns. It's a challenge to be reponsible and efficient in our consumption of both so that choices don't have to be made.
Anyhow, when reading Dan's post, do you know which link was the only one I followed? This one. So much for practicing what I preach... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As far as the bad blood goes, I think it should be water under the bridge. Salam, Lileks and Dan have contributed so much to the blogosphere that no one should hold it against them if they lose it once in a while.
However, I would like to respond to what Salam said, since I think it deserves a serious response. At the core of SP's open letter to George Bush is his sarcastic frustration with the US-led reconstruction effort:
To tell you the truth, I am glad that someone is doing the cleaning up, and thank you for getting rid of that scary guy with the hideous moustache that we had for president. But I have to say that the advertisements you were dropping from your B52s before the bombs fell promised a much more efficient and speedy service. We are a bit disappointed. So would you please, pretty please, with sugar on top, get your act together and stop telling people you have Iraq all figured out when you are giving us the trial-and-error approach?Given that Salam lost numerous friends and relatives to Saddam's brutality, it is surprising to see him triviliaze the value of liberation. Moreover, as Lileks suggests, it would be nice to see some recognition on Salam's part that American soldiers are giving their lives day in, day out, to prevent a Ba'athist resurgence and facilitate the reconstruction.
But leaving all that aside, let's look at what Salam is really asking for: a more credible guarantee that the United States will not cut and run, but rather stay in Iraq as long as is necessary to ensure prosperity and freedom. The hesitant and sarcastic way in which Salam gets this message across reminds of something that Tom Friedman said a while back [no permalink]. Friedman reminded us how dependent and helpless it must feel for the people of Iraq have the United States army liberate them and supervise their recovery from three decades of dictatorship.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Salam puts up an aggressive and critical facade to mask his desire for cooperation. Moreover, the United States has a compelling interest in learning to distinguish between constructive critics and corrupt subversives. We have to be 'big' enough to get our emotional satisfaction elsewhere while rebuilding Iraq.
If we do our job right, than twenty or thirty years down the line, Iraqis will think of the occupation the way the Germans and Japanese think of theirs. It won't become an excuse for wholesale submission to everything the US wants, but it will establish an unbreakable bond that lets citizens of both nations know that they are on the same side regardless of how fiercely they disagree. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:51 PM by Patrick Belton
Online Islamist sources indicate that Al-Ahdal was among the first Mujahideen to enter Bosnia, fighting in the Battle of Tishin (August 1992) against the Serb army and losing one leg and use of an arm in that battle. After making Hajj in 1998, he was arrested by the Saudi government in Makkah on suspicion of plotting against the government, and was interrogated by the Saudis in the Ar-Ruwais Concentration Camp, Jeddah. On support for Al Qaeda in the Yemeni hinterlands, see BBC and EurasiaNet. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:21 PM by Patrick Belton
The American work ethic shifted, so that the average American now works 350 hours a year — 9 or 10 weeks — longer than the average European. ...Economically, the comparisons are trickier, but here too there is divergence. The gap between American and European G.D.P. per capita has widened over the past two decades, and at the moment American productivity rates are surging roughly 5 percent a year.While I'm not sure my French friends would let me live down giving thanks this week for a longer workweek, Brooks then goes on to some trends that we can all feel some measure of gratitude for:
In fact, we may look back on the period beginning in the middle of the 1980's as the Great Rejuvenation. American life has improved in almost every measurable way, and far from regressing toward the mean, the U.S. has become a more exceptional nation.Even more heartening, Brooks attributes much of this to new, ambitious, talented young blood from the rest of the world:
The biggest difference is that over the past two decades the United States has absorbed roughly 20 million immigrants. This influx of people has led, in the short term, to widening inequality and higher welfare costs as the immigrants are absorbed, but it also means that the U.S. will be, through our lifetimes, young, ambitious and energetic.Amen, brother. Pass the cranberries. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:02 PM by Patrick Belton
An American woman has been left with a British accent after having a stroke. This is despite the fact that Tiffany Roberts, 61, has never been to Britain. Her accent is a mixture of English cockney and West Country. (via BBC)(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:56 PM by Patrick Belton
(Okay, a healthy one). (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:49 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:27 AM by Patrick Belton
Monday, November 24, 2003
# Posted 10:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
My response: Huh? There is an almost endless supply of 800-word columns out there that contain both new information and original ideas. Granted, most of those columns are in the WaPo. But that just goes to show that format isn't what's holding the NYT back.
Moreover, I think Kevin & Matt would grant that what's wrong with Bill Safire or David Brooks is their ideas, not their format. By the same token, you won't find me complaining about the format of Dowd & Krugman's columns (or Safire's for that matter).
Now, Kevin does raise an interesting point about the NYT constantly hiring columnists who have no experience in the genre. Why not, he suggests, recruit the best columnists from leading regional papers? I agree. But I think the problem with unproven columnists is not that they have trouble adjusting to the format, but rather that they don't have a demonstrated ability to bring new ideas into play on a biweekly basis. As a former bimonthly columnist myself, I'd say that the challenge of op-ed writing is finding something worthwhile to say, not figuring out how to say it in 800 words.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:34 PM by Patrick Belton
IANAL. KWIM? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:50 AM by Patrick Belton
In many poor countries, markets concentrate wealth in the hands of prosperous ethnic minorities. In these places, democracy can be an engine of vengeance.I find Chua's writing to be some of the best-written prose, if nothing else, coming out of the academy at the moment. If the Bulldogs lost the Yale-Harvard matchup on the football field last Saturday, then we certainly won with regard to luring Chua away from Cambridge. I'll look forward to reading much more from her in the future. And her final note is more optimistic with regard to ways in which market-dominant minorities may be ultimately reconciled with their broader societies - i.e., by being seen to be "significant and visible" contributors to those societies:
The University of Nairobi, for example, owes its existence to wealthy Indians in Kenya. The Madhvani family, owners of the largest industrial group in east Africa, provide education, healthcare and housing for their African employees, and also employ Africans in top management. In Russia, there is the unusual case of the Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich, whose philanthropy won him election as governor of the poverty-stricken Chukotka region in the Russian far east. More typically, however, building ethnic goodwill requires collective action through ethnic chambers of commerce, clan associations, and so on.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:36 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:26 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:23 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: WaPo has more. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:26 AM by Patrick Belton
There can no longer be any doubt that whatever Republican "realist" inclinations the president may have inherited from his father and his father's advisers when he took office, he has now abandoned that failed and narrow view and raised the torch previously held high by Ronald Reagan--and before that by John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman.If the President would like to earn a place in the ranks of TR, JFK, Truman and Reagan by promoting a principled policy of national strength in the service of democracy, this Scoop Jackson Democrat, for one, will not be minding in the least. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, November 23, 2003
# Posted 7:11 PM by Patrick Belton
Saturday, November 22, 2003
# Posted 1:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Friday, November 21, 2003
# Posted 1:34 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
And while you're at it, take a look at Greg's extended fisking of some of the letters from prominent intellectuals that the Guardian published in honor of George Bush's visit.
Finally, if you enjoy nothing more than mocking misguided demonstrators, than head over to this Instapost and scroll down for plenty more. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:03 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
For example, I randomly decided to put up a post on this list of America's 10 most dangerous intersections. It turns out to be a pretty flawed list. In my original post, I wrote that "It's hard to believe that none of [the 10 interesections] are in Boston or New York." Yet as MG points out, State Farm's "national" list only includes information on those states where it sells insurance. Had I paid closer I attention, I would've noticed that neither New York nor Massachusetts is one of those states.
Next up, DB points out that State Farm's "danger index" only takes into account the number of accidents at an intersection, not the amount of traffic that goes through it. Furthermore, DB went looking for aerial photos of the intersections on the list and discovered that that most of them are really, really big. In other words, the frequency of accidents at those intersections may not be exceptionally high, but sheer size catapults them to the top of the list. (For a photo of the number one intersection, click here.)
All in all, I'd say that this is a pretty good demonstration of how the blogosphere forces all of us to think more seriously about everything we say. Without hundreds of writers and thousands of readers, the system wouldn't work. The end result? My apologies to the South & Midwest for naively accepting groundless assertions that their drivers are worse than our own up here in the North. I guess OxBlog won't be getting the votes of anyone with a Confederate flag on the back of their truck...
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Thursday, November 20, 2003
# Posted 8:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:39 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: The press is now reporting that HM Consul General in Istanbul, Roger Short, was assassinated in the day's attack. A lifelong diplomat since his graduation from our university, Short was remembered by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a 'kind and caring' diplomat. (His obituary) Fluent in the nation's language, Turkey was his the site of his first and last posting. He is survived by a wife and three children; Basiniz sag olsun. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:11 AM by Patrick Belton
The wall game is played on only one ground in the world, at Eton College, a few miles west of London; and even there, only by a select few of the school's 70 “collegers”, or scholarship-holders, plus a small number of “oppidans”, the fee-payers who comprise most of the school's roughly 1,300 pupils. Add a few former (or unsuspecting) players invited to make up the occasional visiting side, and you have the wall game community of the planet.Eton helpfully provides the rules of the game (the inspiration of rugby as well as Harry Potter's Quidditch), as well as a brief explanation of something which, to many O.E.s as well as bystanders, seems perennially to defy explanation.
The Collegers v Oppidans match takes place this Saturday at the Wall, at 11.10. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
While Josh did link to Steve's post about the Crimson last week, I thought that my reliance on Steve to find out what's in the Crimson substantiates what Steve has said more recently about the Internet having the potential to unite those divided by long distances and divide those united by short ones. On an even more fascinating note, Steve cites the work of legendary historian Marc Bloch, who observed that information flows in medieval Europe had the same tendency to unite the distant and divide the promixate.
Anyhow, in case you haven't read Steve's post on the reinstatement of the draft, it turns out that the whole thing was cooked up by a far-left hack who got the Guardian and others to play along. Exposing this fact promptly resulted in Steve being denounced as a shill for the Bush administration.
Bottom line: The Crimson editorial got played big time. So much for Harvard having the smartest undergraduates. And come Saturday, it should become painfully clear that their football team sucks, too. Go Bulldogs! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
# Posted 11:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Reading the article, what struck as most interesting is that TCS seems to devote a lot more coverage to issues that affect its corporate sponsors. Then again, TCS founder James Glassman tells Confessiore that "We're an advocacy group. There's no doubt about that. I don't think we ever had pretenses of being an academic think tank." Not exactly stonewalling, is he?
UDPATE: Matt Yglesias also notes that he was never told what to write for TCS. The difference between Matt's post and the ones put up by Glenn and Dan is that Matt's post is an actual effort to apologize for his association with TCS, which he seems to be sort of embarrassed about. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
According to the State Department, Arabic is a "super-hard" language to learn, a classification shared by Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Even so attrition rates in Arabic programs have been lower than expected.
Here at Harvard, the department is struggling to find enough teachers and assistants to staff the Arabic courses. Personally, I have had the great good fortune to be taught by the illustrious Mostafa Atamnia. My aspiration is to have OxBlog become the official blog of Al-Jazeera.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
While I can accept Kagan's basic premise that Dean is no McGovern (granting for the moment that McGovern was a McGovern), there still seems to be good reason to belive that Dean's foreign policy would be both excessively multilateralist and insufficiently committed to democracy promotion. Of course, you could probably say the same about Kerry, Clark and Edwards.
Personally, I still can't get over Dean's statement that the fall of Saddam Hussein might have been a good thing. It's very hard for me to dismiss that as just a gaffe. From where I stand, it is an indication of Dean's instincts.
On the other hand, I'm probably going to find myself apalled at the cheapshots that the GOP will take at Dean's dovishness if he gets elected. They'll try to blur the line between being against the war in Iraq and being against the war on terror. And so it will come down to the lesser of two evils. Sigh.
UPDATE: There go those instincts again. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:47 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
# Posted 9:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Alternately, the French could let the Turks into the EU and ask them to share some of their remarkable tolerance for Judaism with their French counterparts. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Monday, November 17, 2003
# Posted 11:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I would not be so sanguine, however. If you listen to The Score or The Carnival, you might figure out why Howard Dean thinks all Southerners have the Stars & Bars in their pickups.
One of Wyclef's big messages is that the black man must wear a mask of respectability until he is powerful enough to overthrow the white order. Needless to say, I appreciate Wyclef for his talents as a musician and storyteller, not his advice on social policy.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
When Clark finally decided to show some foresight by saying that it's time to lift the embargo on Cuba, he quickly backed off the statement and hypocritically added that candidates shouldn't make "foreign policy announcements" in the middle of a campaign (except on such important subjects as the giving the UN control of Iraq.)
On the bright side, it turns out that Clark may not be as arrogant as we all once thought. Then again, walking around with one's foot in one's mouth is conducive to humility.
Clark also seems to get in shape rhetorically when facing off against the right. Yet even Clark supporter Kevin Drum, who proudly asserts that Clark knows more about foreign policy than both Glenn Reynolds and Kevin's cat, admits that the General has a habit of saying some very stupid things about foreign and domestic affairs. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:12 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
As a result of this new policy, Kevin has decided to declare the NYT more blog-friendly than either the WaPo or LAT, since both of them move their content behind a firewall after a fixed period of time. However, I think the WaPo deserves a lot more credit than Kevin is giving it. If you go to the WaPo webpage for any given topic or country, you can usually access 100 recent stories about it, sometimes going back more than a year. That's a tremendous amount of information that you can't get out of the NYT. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
What I don't about like the article is the way it argues by implication that Iraqi Shi'ites just want power and don't understand and/or care about democracy as a system of government. For example, WaPo correspondent Anthony Shadid describes some pro-Iranian graffiti outside the office of Sistani's spokesman before letting us hear the spokesman's endorsement of constitutional government.
Is this supposed to be a tip off that Iraqi Shi'ites want an Islamic state? If so, why not just ask Sistani's spokesman about Iran? Why not ask him whether he sees democracy as a permanent system or just a transitional process? And ask those same questions to all the other man-in-the-street types whose opinions fill out the second half of all these articles.
We've known since day one that the Shi'ites have a lot of incentives to support democracy just long enough for them to take control of postwar Iraq. Now it is time for the media to stop repeating that fact endlessly and figure out whether the Shi'ite leadership means what it says about democracy or whether it just talks about democracy to advance its own interests.
By the same token, the American occupation authorities should be hammering away at a similar point when talking to the Shi'ite leadership: The more of a commitment that you show to democracy as an institution, the faster we can transfer power to an elected government in which your representatives will have a majority. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, November 16, 2003
# Posted 5:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:35 PM by Patrick Belton
Tuesday 2 December - Oberlin, OHApart from London, I'm not sure where they're performing in each city, but their publicists'll know. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:53 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Saturday, November 15, 2003
# Posted 5:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:30 PM by Patrick Belton
Turkey's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Haleva said he had warned Turkish police before that car traffic posed a threat to the two synagogues (News 24, South Africa). Mossad had also passed warnings about threats to the two synagogues onto Turkish intelligence on two occasions in the preceding months. (AP) One blast, in Neve Shalom synagogue, took place during a Bar Mitzvah (Guardian). Reuters includes a history of the Sephardic community in Istanbul.
Eli malei rachamim sho-khein bam'romim, hammtzei m'nukhah n'khonah al kanfei hash'khinah. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Of course, our thougths also go out to the families of the non-Jews killed and injured in the attack. Initial reports suggest that there were 14 passesrby and 6 synagogue-goers killed. In Istanbul, those passersbys were most probably Muslism. And so the irony of September 11th recurs: in an effort to slaughter the Zionists and their American allies, innocent Muslims lives are taken. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Something just seems wrong. Why has the information turned up now? Why would the White House sit on information that would vindicate its decision to invade Iraq? The Standard article says the information was compiled in response to a request by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why the heck would the administration wait until the Senate showed an interest before doing some serious research on the Saddam-Osama connection? I thought that was the kind of research that they'd been doing all along.
Another set of concerns are raised by Matt Yglesias. The information in question is contained in a memo from Doug Feith's office at the Pentagon. Given Feith's connection to the controversial Office of Special Plans (OSP), one has to wonder. Even if you don't accept Matt's premise that the OSP is an operations center for partisan hacks intent on distorting the intelligence process, it is fair to ask why this memo didn't come from a source with greater public credibility.
In short, I think we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. My guess is that someone in the government feels very strongly about this report, and is trying to get the White House to stand behind it by indirectly going public. But if the case can't be made on its own merits within the government, then something may be very wrong. We'll find out exactly what that is when the Washington press corps gets a hold of the story and starts telling us far more than the Weekly Standard's source wants us to know.
PS: How convenient is it that this information is coming out now, at a moment when Howard Dean is threatening to wrap up the Democratic nomination? A proven Saddam-Al Qaeda link would blow his campaign out of the water. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:04 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:18 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:03 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Friday, November 14, 2003
# Posted 11:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While endorsing the standard multilateralist critique that Daalder and Lindsay advocate, Marshall takes them to task for underestimating the neo-con influence on Bush's foreign policy. As Marshall writes,
The "neocons," they say -- referring to them as "democratic imperialists" -- may be powerful at magazines such as The Weekly Standard and think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, but key movement figures such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle actually missed out on the top appointments. Those plums went to people such as Cheney, Rice, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who the authors claim are more properly classified as "assertive nationalists."I think "assertive nationalists" is a pretty good way to describe them, with the exception of Rice, who is a dyed-in-the-wool realist. While Marshall shares that assessment of Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., he counters that
The defining characteristic of the Bush administration's foreign policy, in fact, has been the way the neocons in and out of office have been able to win so many of the key battles -- if not on the first go-round, then on the second or the third...And what is it that differentiates a neo-conservative policy from an assertive nationalist one? Marshall's answer is that,
Although it is the sworn enemy of realism, neoconservatism has never been and is not now limited to one particular foreign policy school. It is a protean construct centering on a belief in the righteousness of American power, the wonder-working qualities of bold gestures, and an unwillingness to muddle through.Righteous power? Bold gestures? That sounds like....assertive nationalism. According to the conventional wisdom on both sides of the aisle, what separates neo-conservatism from assertive nationalism is its hopeful vision of a global democratic revolution. Yet Marshall dismisses this distinction on the grounds that too many neo-conservatives showed too much sympathy for too many right-wing Third World dictators back in the 1980s.
That point is a fair one. Yet it completely ignores the transformation -- better, purification -- of neo-conservatism that began during Reagan's second term and accelerated during the aftermath of the Cold War. Moreover, it prevents Marshall from emphasizing the best evidence for his theory of neo-con dominance, i.e. the ideologically-charged occupation of Iraq.
Strangely, Marshall insists on
the essential continuity of the administration's policy before and after September 11, 2001. The attacks on that day allowed President Bush to refashion American foreign policy in a far bolder and more audacious fashion than otherwise would have been possible, the authors argue, but in fact the administration's essential goals, premises, and assumptions changed very little.But what about the pronounced aversion to nation-building that defined Bush's foreign policy on the campaign trail? Surely the simplest explanation for his about face on this issue is the influence of the neo-conservatives.
Ultimately, Marshall's hands are tied by his unwillingness to acknowledge that intellectually dishonest neo-conservatives could be the driving force behind a morally progressive international agenda such as global democracy promotion. While there is no direct evidence of this in Marshall's review of America Unbound, it is a point that will be familiar to those who have read "Practive to Deceive" Marshall's anti-neo-con polemic in the Washington Monthly or to those who visit his website on a regular basis.
When it comes down it, Marshall is right that the neo-cons credibility is on the line in Iraq and that its success or failure will have a tremendous impact on their reputation. Yet that suggestion only makes sense if one gives the neo-cons credit for giving the occupation of Iraq its moral foundation, regardless of whether the implementation of their vision was competent enough to ensure its fruition. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Apparently, the headline writers think Sachs has to be reined in, since they took her 99% positive story and titled it "Joy, and Jeers, as New Police Patrol Baghdad." The jeer referred to in the title comes from one citizen who asks the new Baghdad cops, "What took you so long?" Of course, that is just about the last question anyone would ask when Saddam's uniformed thugs came knocking at the door. But why should OxBlog point that out when Sachs does it herself?! As she writes,
Such a happy scene would have been unimaginable a year ago. The Iraqi police force was as tainted as the rest of Saddam Hussein's security forces, feared for its casual brutality and powers to spy, residents said.It can't be long before she's working for Fox. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
isn't just a fabulous seagoing spectacle. It's one for the ages. Not only does Peter Weir's film give you an atmospheric feel for the agony and ecstasy of early 19th-century sea warfare, it's a rollicking good story.On the other hand, Stephen Hunter says the film
feels weirdly overstuffed, as stories keep stumbling into and over one another or are buried beneath the arrival of other stories. The worst example is the film's narrative framework...While film reviews are obviously a matter of taste, it's a little strange to hear two-highly paid professionals disagree about virtually every aspect of a film (except the opening battle sequence, which they both think is great.)
Sadly, I must admit that my impulse is to distrust the positive review. In other words, I'm an optimist when it comes to Iraq, but not when it comes to Hollywood. There is something of the beret-clad art-house critic in me, so I tend to believe that there really is such a thing as taste in film and that most of what comes out of Hollywood is recycled trash.
On the other hand, I love Jet Li and Jackie Chan and all sorts of far-out action flicks that don't pretend to offer you anything but a good time. So while I tend to trust bad movie reviews, I was also taught at a young age how the permanent presence of a stick in most film critics' hindquarters (especially at the NYT, my adolescent paper of choice) means that they will poo-poo any film which offer its viewers a good time rather than a sobering intellectual odyssey.
Speaking of which, what does the NYT have to say about Master & Commander? According to A.O. Scott,
This stupendously entertaining movie, directed by Peter Weir and adapted from two of the novels in Patrick O'Brian's 20-volume series on Aubrey's naval exploits, celebrates an idea of England that might have seemed a bit corny even in 1805, when the action takes place.Hmmm, so you start out thinking it's a compliment but then it turns out to be somewhat backhanded. Later on, Scott tells us that
The Napoleonic wars that followed the French Revolution gave birth, among other things, to British conservatism, and "Master and Commander," making no concessions to modern, egalitarian sensibilities, is among the most thoroughly and proudly conservative movies ever made. It imagines the Surprise as a coherent society in which stability is underwritten by custom and every man knows his duty and his place. I would not have been surprised to see Edmund Burke's name in the credits.So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Burke: Intellectual and European. But also conservative. Cleverly, Scott also points out that the date of the action in the film has been moved back a few years from 1812 to avoid the unpleasant fact that at the time, the Anglo-American special relationship was not all that special. At least they don't let Krugman do movie reviews... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:28 AM by Patrick Belton
Central Asia Analyst has an interesting analysis of Uzbekistan's repression of its outlawed opposition parties (which the analyst argues has grown milder since the U.S. presence began; the opposition parties enjoy widespread domestic support). The site also analyzes Kyrgyzstan's antiterrorist units and their commander's strategy of seeking security assistance from any neighbor who would offer it. Georgian parliamentary elections drew stunning participation, and represented a strong rebuke for the governing party. In the Moscow Times, India is setting up bases in Tajikistan.
In the Americas, Columbia's AUC is beginning to disarm, unrest brews in the Dominican Republic, and Mexico is complaining of a relationship of "convenience and subordination" with its northern neighbor on the eve of the cabinet-level Binational Commission's meeting. (And incidentally, joining us later in the afternoon in the OxBlog studios will be our ex-girlfriends, to speak further on this theme of relationships of convenience and brutal subordination.)
In East Asia, reporting has centered on China's sexual revolution (the most shocking finding: "half of the urban males in their thirties say they have had more than one sexual partner." ed: oooooooh. half of urban males in graduate school haven't had more than one sexual partner), and the party is making limited gains in attempting to coopt Chinese entrepreneurs. China is also indicating it will shortly take up a more hawkish policy toward Taiwan. (And in OxBlog's consular affairs department, check your credit card receipts next time you're in Hong Kong.) (2) opinions -- Add your opinion