Friday, March 31, 2006

# Posted 7:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AN IRAQ VETERAN LOOKS AT MORALE: Marine Lt. Nathaniel Fick, author and activist, has some interesting observations about the recent poll that John Murtha is using to claim that the troops are against the war.
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# Posted 7:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS McCAIN COURTING THE INSIDERS? Drew McKissick of Conservative Outpost describes recent efforts by the Senate Maverick (TM) to bring administration insiders into his presidential campaign. Drew describes this as a victory for McCain, although Ryan Lizza recently argued in TNR that McCain's efforts to court the GOP establishment represent something of a sell out.
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# Posted 7:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A BLOG WITH A CAUSE: "Tacitean", the nom de plume of a New Hampshire journalist who blogs at The Optimates, describes the especially tragic plight of Christians in Burma.

As the result of a very unusual interpretation of the Patriot Act by the Department of Homeland Security, Burmese refugees who may have supported the struggle to overthrow their homeland's tyrannical dictatorship are at risk of being labelled 'terrorists' and denied asylum in the US.

If you want to show your opposition to this unfortunate practice, you can sign this petition sponsored by the website Burma Underground.
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# Posted 6:46 PM by Patrick Belton  

THE KARACHI WORLD SOCIAL FORUM - A PORTRAIT OF ENFEEBLED CIVIL SOCIETY IN PAKISTAN: There's not been a civil society event on this scale in Pakistan since 1970, its many organisational failings providing a window into how much further Pakistan's civil society has to develop before it can provide a basis for a democratic politics here. An organiser who I befriended on the opening night told me they were three days behind in their preparations; many events started an hour off schedule or not at all; the loos in the campgrounds in succession lacked water, flooded and ceased to work. Rhetoric of speakers often consisted of one person shouting in a tent over a microphone pitched too loud, amid other tents with other speakers doing the same; it was not the articulate political rhetoric of the Indians who visited and spoke, nor were its numbers of 30,000 more than a fifth those of the 2004 World Social Forum in Bombay. But this is a country whose political participatory traditions have stifled under a legacy of military rule for half its existence since Lord Montbatten handed its sovereignty to the Quaid-e-Azam. And if the WSF's failings proved a barometer into the weaknesses of the civil society sector, which like a middle class, Pakistan lacks and, if it is to be a democracy, needs, then it may just prove an important moment in helping it to get there. It was a place for protests, some silly, some substantive, but more importantly it was a place for ngos to exchange cards and begin coalescing into a civil society. It was, besides, a place for subcontinental discussion at civil society level, with Bangladeshi and Indian delegations present despite the Pakistani government's granting them visas only hours before the last flights to Karachi. All of these are comparative rarities, except the last.

Democracy in Mexico can be traced in part to an earthquake, in Mexico City, the lack of response from a paralysed state causing neighbours to help one another out of the wreckage and to eat. The last seismic shocks were to the state, forming habits new to that titanic city of talking to the people who live across and on the other side of its high walls. Democracy in Pakistan has already had its earthquake and pauce government response to provoke it; when it comes, democracy here will rather bounce from the new taut fabric of institutions capable of treating across institutional or sectoral lines, to form one viable body in this country separate its army. Inshallah, this is a beginning from small things, with its plugged loos and abysmal scheduling, amid its crossing of telephone numbers from the staff of its ngos in their hundreds.
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# Posted 6:46 PM by Patrick Belton  

KARACHI NOTEBOOK: Karachi has an odd charm, and a terrible hospitality; I think I'll be coming back here. (If for no better reason than that my flight departs from Jinnah.)

Sailor Street, Old Sunset Boulevard- the names are aped either from Los Angeles or from the military establishment of which in its officer class, in a militarised society, were the origins of its poshest of neighbourhoods. In the subsequent generations of sale, these houses passed from the military to the feudal and commercial elite. In the centre, a block away from the army and navy offices, an arms dealer sits next to an English sports store hawking cricket bats.

Heavily decorated autorickshaws (safer: you can jump out, a Parsi friend tells me) jostle for space with the lorries rendered illuminated manuscripts by their drivers, their headlamps as raised initials. Women in burqa tap on your window asking for charity - Islamic customs are more assiduously observed among the poor, scantily among the elite who will offer you bootlegged claret at their tables, and whose sons and daughters are not universally virgins. The feudals, industrialists, civil servants of rank live in bubbles in an insecure city, their houses in Defence Society or Clifton neighbourhoods guarded by and ranks of servants, some of whom might wield a contraption of kalashnikov the vodka maker. Inside, they keep dogs, which Pakistanis of different, more religious backgrounds fear.

On the street the white shirts and khakis of the military intersect with the white shalwar kameezes and kurtas of the merchants, diners at chai stands, hawkers of goods on the pavement. The brooms wielded here are bundles of straw.

In the secular worlds locked inside their houses the children of the elite, educated in their art and music schools, listen to Louis Armstrong; outside on the dusty sidewalks, calls to prayer echo with the stark desert message of one God, one book, one final Prophet. (They cut the music nonetheless when the call to prayer sounds, out of devotion or pragmatism.)
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# Posted 6:45 PM by Patrick Belton  

Patrick of Arabia-and-Sindh: I'm reading the Friday Times you bought me. This in a polite attempt to get to know your puzzling country better.
Pakistani: Does that mean to be equally polite I'm going to have to start binge drinking, get fake tans, acquire a pet dog, read the Daily Mail and watch Trisha?
P of A-and-S: Drinking: you're most welcome to become scrupulously Islamic and outsource. Daily Mail: only if they hire me on. Dog: preferable to ferret but as you wish. Tan: kindly note that you are brown. Any further immigration related concerns?
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# Posted 6:44 PM by Patrick Belton  

LEADING INDIAN CLASSICAL SINGER IN HUMANITARIAN VISIT TO PAKISTAN: Shuba Mudgal, actually a fairly well known Indian classical singer, visited Pakistan this week to hold a charity concert for earthquake-stricken Pakistani administered portions of Kashmir. I had lunch with Ms Mudgal and her husband, and spoke to the head of the ngo for which her concert was a benefit. Ms Mudgal, her husband Aneesh Pradhan and Dr Ghazala Aziz of the Accident and Emergency Foundation each make a strong impression as serious, intelligent and humble. The human interest aspect of Ms Mudgal's trip across the subcontinental divide provides a hook into the current state of the earthquake areas, which has humanitarian and interesting political angles. The political aspects involve jostling between US and Islamic charities such as Jamat-ud-Dawa and Al-Rasheed Trust, which competed though there was tacit cooperation also. I had luncheon at the Pakistan press club with a correspondent who spoke of seeing USAID-labelled cartoons being loaded onto trucks in camps run by Jamat-ud-Dawa. The quantity of US aid made approval of America double briefly from its customary 22 per cent, though the recent US missile attack upon a target in Bajaur territory (reputed to be permitted the US by an undisclosed agreement in situations of immediate pursuit; missing Zawahiri but killing thirteen villagers) has returned poll numbers to their prior lower watermark. There's more to be said on this topic.
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# Posted 6:44 PM by Patrick Belton  

REFLECTIONS ON THE PAKISTANI PRESS: While in Karachi I have had the opportunity to befriend many journalists; in a country where parties and parliaments are weak, its press is surprisingly strong, its employees independent and cognisant of the sanctity of their profession. The Agence France Press's man in Karachi has not tried to have me killed at all, but rather has bought me food. The lovely Samina Perozani, whose nuptials I shall with the grace of God return to attend, took me to the presses where pots of ink become words, and round every office of that great newspaper, the Dawn. Poignantly, I have received from afar the kind advice and an admonition to stay safe of Asra Nomani, a generous woman whose work from these lands and after I have long admired.

In addition to retaining an independence remarkable for a press situated amidst such political tumult and a polity not yet free, it is also a press capable of self-criticism. Go to their more reflective members and call the Dawn a world-class newspaper, as I did - sincerely, as I had read it since coming up to Oxford. They will tell you that to their mind, their staff perform too much statemental journalism, taking the press releases of government and opposition but not moving past the telephones to conduct the investigative work which informs the dreams every westerner who has ever watched films or read of Woodward and Bernstein. The bribery scandal, of Australian magnates seeking preferences for their wheat exports, dropped still born from an incurious press even once acknowledged by the government of Pakistan. While this government boasts of having built new schools and clinics in their four thousands, these same facilities are empty, unstaffed, with chronic absenteeism from doctors, nurses and teachers who cannot be bothered to commute to slums or rural areas yet continue to draw the wages of their contract. But you will not read of this in the news; though I would like to return to a fishing community near Karachi to write a story on the subject with the lovely filmmaker Rakshanda Khan.

Here, it is television and radio newscasting which is referred to as 'new' media, and 'electronic'. And they are new; television stations such as Geo broadcasting full fares of reportage have arisen only within the past several years, and provided a new space for political argument and expression. This has quickened the news cycle, and made both government and opposition generate their statements at least a bit quicker. I've been asked more than once to stay and be a newsreader; looks here one gathers not being so important, or perhaps in a way it pains me to think of.

I should note in postscript that I make these observations from a perspective now somewhat inside. After touring the Dawn offices, their editorial staff kindly asked me if I would like to contribute occasionally to the pages of their literary section. I accepted with gratitude. And am now a Pakistani journalist.
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# Posted 6:41 PM by Patrick Belton  

TALKING TO VERY NICE SPEAKERS OF NORTHERN IRELAND'S NUMBER TWO LANGUAGE: I met a few lovely people from the other Asia. They told me about their excitement for brogging the Orympics.
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Thursday, March 30, 2006

# Posted 11:49 PM by Patrick Belton  

THE MUSLIM CHAPLAIN AT THE UNIVERSITY of Cambridge is meant to be a lovely bloke whose name is John Butt, and whom I am rather hoping will help me visit some madrassahs in the NWFP as he's frequently based out of Peshawar. I couldn't quite recall his first name; which is all really by roundabout way of explaining why I'd just googled 'Muslim Butt Cambridge.'
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# Posted 11:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

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# Posted 11:28 PM by Patrick Belton  

BEASTLY LOW POSTING BUT NOTEBOOKS ARE FULL; access to internet a bit spotty. But my last BBC interview is here - if anyone would like to save it as an audio file for me, they can have a fetching shalwar kameez too.
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# Posted 11:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

GREAT PODCAST FROM BUSINESS WEEK: Every seven days, Business Week takes you behind its cover story by interviewing the author and talking about how the story developed. Not only is the content quite interesting, but the candor with which Business Week describes the writing process is very impressive.

And, after deciding to put up this post, I discovered that Business Week has a whole range of podcasts to offer. Happy downloading!
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# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG FINALLY GETS INVITED TO A CONFERENCE CALL: It seems like the cool thing for bloggers to do these days. If you haven't been invited to do a conference call with a senator or a party chairman, then in the blogosphere, you're nobody.

So, special thanks go out to the folks at Foreign Affairs who decided that OxBlog deserved a chance to participate. The occasion for the call was the release of a new study about Americans' confidence in their government's foreign policy.

The study was done by Public Agenda, an organization founded by celebrity pollster Daniel Yankelovich. Yankelovich gives an overview of the study's results in this essay from the May/June issue of FA.

The call lasted for around 45 minutes and began with some short remarks, first by Yankelovich and then by FA editor Gideon Rose. Then came the Q&A. There were seven or eight journalists on the call, most of them from wire services. I'm pretty sure the list included the AP, UPI and Reuters.

I was the only blogger, although there was one journalist on the call named Gary Farber, who is apparently not that Gary Farber, because when I said "Hi, Gary!" he didn't respond.

So, the real question running through my mind during the opening remarks was how much deference I should show to my journalistic colleagues. Should I let each of them ask at least one question before I have a go at it? Or if I think I have something important to ask, should I just go for it?

I was also curious whether the questions from the pros would conform to the expectations I've built up about the media already having a fixed narrative in my mind about foreign affairs. Actually, I thought the pros' questions were fairly insightful and challenged Yankelovich on those aspects of his essay that fed right into the Iraq-as-quagmire narrative, specifically his major finding that Americans have little interest in active democracy promotion.

What did surprise me were how few questions the pros had. After the second one, there was a long enough silence for me to feel comfortable jumping in without seeming pushy. Then there was a really long pause after question five or six, so I asked another question. And then the call was over.

Personally, I could've gone on for a while. How often do you get to talk to pollsters with as much experience as Yankelovich or thinkers as influential as Gideon Rose?

But I guess there wasn't really much news, and what reporters want is news. In fact, you could've figured out from the get go that there wasn't much news because none of the first-tier papers sent anyone to cover the call. (Or do they get to have private calls that we don't know about?)

So there you have it folks. OxBlog has been initiated into the cult of the conference call. I look forward to many more. Maybe next time I'll even talk about the substance of the discussion instead of rambling on about myself...
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# Posted 11:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I FEEL LIKE I'M IN A BAD MOVIE: I never thought I'd be the kind of person who makes excuses for things by saying he has an "early meeting tomorrow". But actually, I do. Lord knows I didn't want to have it at 8AM, but it wasn't my call.
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# Posted 10:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE KRAUTHAMMER STRIKES BACK: I didn't know before writing yesterday's post that Charlie K. had just published a scathing response to Fukuyama. Money graf:
After public opinion had turned against the war, Fukuyama then courageously came out against it. He has every right to change his mind at his convenience. He has no right to change what I said.
In very blog-like fashion, Krauthammer's column includes a link to the lecture he gave in 2004 which resulted in Fukuyama's departure from the movement. Unfortunately, I got home very late tonight and have an early meeting tomorrow, so I haven't had time to read the lecture just yet. But feel free to go ahead and post your thoughts below about whether Krauthammer said what he said he said.

Also, you may want to take a look at Fukuyama's article from the Summer 2004 edition of the National Interest in which he debuted his critique of Krauthammer and neo-conservatism.

Happy hunting!
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# Posted 2:14 PM by Patrick Porter  

MINISTER FOR DIVERSITY: In the job market, being endlessly asked about my gender, ethnicity and physical capabilities is rather tiresome. And sometimes just slightly creeply. I just received this email, with its rather Orwellian sounding references:

Because [this institution] is an equal opportunity/affirmative actionemployer, we offer our applicants the opportunity to identify themselves by gender and/or ethnicity to the university's Dean for Institutional Diversity.
Those who fail to take this opportunity will be found out eventually. Our investigative system is perfect. All correspondence can be addressed to Room 101.
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# Posted 1:31 PM by Patrick Porter  

GREETINGS FROM OZ: with bleary jet-lagged eyes peering at the screen.
I strongly recommend Cobra II, an inside account of the war in Iraq based on interviews with military and government personnel. As if we need to hammer the point home any more, here is a tiny insight into the administration's unsatisfactory attention to postwar planning. Steve Hawkins, a brigadier general assigned to work on postwar planning issues, even faced challenges getting stationary:

Eager to get going on his task despite his mounting problems, Hawkins headed down to a trade fair at the base to scrounge up office supplies. He went from booth to booth, appropriating pads, pens and staplers - not an auspicious start for an organisation charged with smoothing the path to a new Iraq.
When it came to logistics, the problems that come with paranoid dictatorship dogged Saddam's prewar preparations:

Division commanders could not make any decisions without approval from the Republican Guard chief of staff in Baghdad, a trusted Saddam loyalist. In fact, the strictures against contacting let alone coordinating with, neighbouring units were so severe that the commander of the I Republican Guard Corps developed a new use for his reconnaissance units: scouting the location and strength of nearby Iraqi divisions.
You know you are dealing with a self-paralysing system of personal rule when military commanders need covertly-gathered intelligence about their own side's units.

At this point I would be happy to make the case that the war seems not to have been a distraction from the wider war on terror, given the growing evidence of a Hitler/Stalin pact between Saddam and radical Islam. But supporting the war is now, like, so five minutes ago. But I would rather read their thoughtful doubts about the war than the haughty, sanctimonious certainty of the New Yorker, whose opinion pieces have been ruining my breakfasts.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

# Posted 11:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ONE OUT OF FOUR AIN'T BAD: Canucklehead Michael Stickings points out that Scott McClellan seems rather unsure of who, exactly, is Prime Minister of Canada. Three times, McClellan referred to the PM as "Martin" and once as "Harper". I wouldn't read too much into it, but it is funny.
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# Posted 9:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FUKUYAMA: Does it matter when a celebrity pundit changes his political stripes? I think so. Such events are rare enough inside the Beltway that they merit examination (ecen a full month after the fact).

The essence of Fukuyama's dissent from neo-conservatism can be found in his mid-February essay for the NYT Magazine [now securely behind a firewall].

Although firmly critical of neo-conservatism, the essay's tone is fairly moderate. The same is apparently true of the book, since liberal reviewer Paul Berman allocated most of his word count in Sunday's NYT to insisting Fukuyama wasn't nasty enough.

Nonetheless, Fukuyama has embraced enough of the center-left's conventional wisdom about the Bush administration to provoke a serious outbreak of schadenfreude among the war's critics. Here's a sample from the New Yorker's Louis Menand:
It would certainly be nice to see the independent intellectuals who should have known better when they loudly supported the Bush-Cheney war on terror explain publicly, as Fukuyama has done, where they went wrong. Who did they think was going to run that war, the Committee on Social Thought?
Since we on OxBlog fancy ourselves to be independent intellectuals, I guess it is incumbent upon us to consider Fukuyama's argument. Naturally, OxBlog endorses some of the basic points made by Fukuyama, such as his insistence that planning for postwar Iraq was woefully inadequate.

But the key question is, to what degree are neo-conservatives and neo-conservatism responsible for the current state of the occupation? To an extent, Fukuyama pardons neo-conservatism, since he lists one of its fundamental principles as a profound skepticism with regard to social engineering. But Fukuyama slams his fellow neo-conservatives, on the grounds that they lost touch with this one of their own fundamental principles.

In my opinion, Fukuyama's attack on neo-conservatives suffers from two analytical flaws that have impaired almost all liberal attacks on neo-conservatism. The first is that the Bush administration as a whole can be thought of as neo-conservative. The second is that democracy promotion was the essential motive for the invasion of Iraq.

On the first point, consider two names that simply don't appear in Fukuyama's 4500-word essay in the NYT Magazine: Cheney and Rumsfeld. Within the cabinet, they were the driving force behind the invasion. Yet neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld has ever shown much enthusiasm for America's democratic mission in the Middle East.

Now consider two names that appear in Fukuyama's essay over and over again: (Robert) Kagan and (William) Kristol. Fukuyama correctly asserts that there is a powerful strain of democratic idealism in Kagan & Kristol's writings during the Clinton era. Yet Fukuyama seems to forget that Bush ran for president in 2000 as a precisely the sort of realist whom Kagan & Kristol endlessly condemn.

Nor does Fukuyama pay much attention to the fact that Kagan & Kristol have relentlessly criticized Rumsfeld for his insufficient commitment to democracy in Iraq. Clearly, Bob & Bill don't consider the SecDef to be one of their own.

But what about the President? He hasn't come in for that sort of criticism, precisely because he has championed the democratic cause with extraordinary consistency for almost three years now.

Although most neo-conservatives, at least for tactical reasons, try not to remind Bush that he was once a realist, a dissident like Fukuyama should be well aware of that fact. However, such a fact might distrub his narrative of the Iraq war representing the pinnacle of neo-conservative arrogance and militarism.

Although chapter and verse elude me at the moment, my sense is that numerous liberal critics of neo-conservatism have sought, in hindsight, to present the invasion of Iraq as the ultimate emodiment of the neo-conservative ethos.

At the same time, liberals (think Kevin Drum and Suzanne Nossel) have often insisted quite loudly that everything Bush says about democracy promotion is just hollow rhetoric and that he will bring the troops home as soon it becomes a political necessity.

So which is it? Bush the crusader of Bush the cynic? If the former, how to explain Bush's initial realism? If the latter, how can one define the invasion of Iraq as the essence of neo-conservatism?

My answer, of course, is neither crusader nor cynic. Although I argued even before the war that Bush was quite serious about promoting democracy in postwar Iraq, I have never said that that was his rationale for going to war. At least in his essay, Fukuyama never addresses this distinction.

So where does this leave us? It's hard to say. This is Bush's war. Whether it is also the neo-cons' war is debate that won't have much resonance outside Washington policy circles. Either way, it would be a good idea to keep in mind something very valuable Fukuyama did write in his essay:
The worst legacy that could come from the Iraq war would be an anti-neoconservative backlash that coupled a sharp turn toward isolation with a cynical realist policy aligning the United States with friendly authoritarians.
More probable is a general disinterest in democracy promotion and a lackluster desire to reform friendly dictatorships, rather than an open-armed embrace. I hope that when those come to pass, Fukuyama will take advantage of his celebrity to denounce them as well.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

# Posted 3:47 AM by Patrick Belton  

SMALL PRAISE, &C. WATCH: Says an Italian delegate to the World Social Forum in this morning's issue of the Pakistan newspaper Dawn: 'I have been to Baghdad and Kabul and comparing those cities with Karachi and found it much better place.'
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# Posted 2:00 AM by Patrick Belton  

TALKING WITH AUNTIE FROM PAKISTAN: Rhod and Chris from BBC Radio Five's Up All Night programme were kind enough to telephone yesterday to talk about Karachi, the World Social Forum and trends in Pakistan's civil society and its pockets of religious militancy, as well as some of my own thoughts on heading toward the border. The segment should be up once those good lads have had a lie-in after their all-nighter. I'll also post up a bit of what I talked about here, once I've chased down a few more friendly Dawn and BBC Urdu reporters.
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# Posted 12:19 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

UPDATE FROM BELARUS: Publius Pundit reports from Minsk. Lukashenko may have won a battle, but freedom will win the war.
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# Posted 12:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

YALE AND THE TALIBAN: I haven't kept up with my alma mater's strange decision to admit an apologist for religious fascism, but OxFriend Jamie Kirchick (Yale '06) has written about it. John Fund has also rallied to the cause at the Wall St. Journal.

I guess Harvard will now have to one-up its rival by admitting one of Kim Jong Il's kids.
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Monday, March 27, 2006

# Posted 11:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS THE NY TIMES TAKING BLOOD MONEY? I try very hard to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to levelling accusations at the NY Times. But it seems that the folks at SaveDarfur.org are way ahead of me on this one.

They point out that the Times recently accepted $1 million from the government of Sudan as payment for a special eight-page advertising section that spoke glowingly of Sudan's "peaceful, prosperous and democratic future."

Strangely enough, the Times ran an editorial condemning the genocide on the same day it ran the $1 million ad. Was it a show of editorial independence or just an ironic comment on the paper's ignorance?

Anyhow, I found all this out from an e-mail sent out by SaveDarfur.org asking its supporters to send letters of condemnation to the Times, along with a request that they donate the proceeds from the add to relief efforts in Darfur. Sounds reasonable to me. According to a follow-up e-mail, the Times got 2600 letters about its decision to take the money. Why not make that 2601?
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# Posted 7:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY TALK SHOW ROUND-UP: Condi laid down the law on NBC. Ted Kennedy and Stephen Hadley faced the nation. Tom Tancredo and Arlen Specter were on ABC. Here are the grades:
Condi: A-. Perfect composure. Eminently reasonable. Russert couldn't touch her. Yet as diplomat-in-chief, she has no choice but to be vague.

Ted Kennedy: B+. Who was that reasonable man? Not the Ted Kennedy I know.

Stephen Hadley: A-. Eloquent and moderate. He's no Dick Cheney.

Tom Tancredo: A-. Intelligent, firm, rational. Not the small-minded xenophobe I was led to expect.

Arlen Specter: B. Reasonable as always, but paled next to Tancredo.
And the hosts:
Tim Russert: B-. He didn't put Rice on the defensive for even a single moment.

Bob Schieffer: On vacation. Gloria Barger filled in for him.

George Stephanopoulos: B+. Made sure the right got a fair hearing on the immigration issue.
It's been three months now since I started doing the round-up. The grades I give out come more from the gut than from any precise metric for assessing performance. So what would happen if I went back over my grade book to see who my favorites are? Here are some results:
Senate Dems: 11 senators made 18 appearances and received 3 x A-, 1 x B+/A-, 7 x B+, 2 x B, 2 x B-, 2 x C+ and 1 x C. The low grade went to Pat Leahy, the highs to Joe Biden (twice) and Ted Kennedy. Interestingly, the very junior Barack Obama led with three appearances, followed by Schumer, Kennedy, Leahy and Lieberman with two.

GOP Senators: 13 senators made 20 appearances and received 4 x A-, 1 x B+, 10 x B, 4 x B-, 1 x C+. The low grade went to Bill Frist, the highs to McCain, Specter, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner. Specter led with four appearances, followed by Frist with three.

House Dems: Only two representatives made it onto television -- Jane Harman, the ranking member of the intelligence committee, and (drum roll please) John Murtha. I was impressed by Harman. You know what I think of Murtha.

House GOP: Six House Republicans got airtime, but three of them were playing the role of dissident. Peter King and Duncan Hunter led the fight against the Dubai port deal and Tom Tancredo is attacking Bush on immigration.

Administration officials: There were five of them, plus three four-star generals. Bush got a B, Cheney got a C. Condi, Hadley and Chertoff did much better.

Other: A mix of party officials, fomer legislators, sitting governors and handful of pundits. The low grade, a C-, (in fact the lowest of the year to date) went to GOP Chair Ken Mehlman. In contrast, Howard Dean got an A-.

The hosts: All three average just better than a B, with Schieffer slightly lower than Russert, who is slightly lower than Stephanopoulos.
So, have I revealed anything about my preferences or principles through this grading exercise? The best analysis that I can come up with is that I was surprisingly nice to Democrats in order to my compensate for my dislike of what they were saying. But the few Dems who pissed me off got punished for it with 5 grades in the C-range, compared to 3 for the GOP.

Moving away from this vainglorious focus on myself, I think that the Sunday morning talk shows' choice of guests says something important about Capitol Hill: that most Senators are invisible on the national stage and that individual members of the House barely exist.

This result is almost exactly the same as the one arrived at 15 years ago by Brookings scholar Stephen Hess in his wonderful little book Live From Capitol Hill. Hess estimated that the 30 or so of the most important Senators get an overwhelming amount of attention from the media. (Yet even combined, these 30 get much less than the president.)

In my three-month sample, 24 senators were interviewed. Almost all of them were big names in Washington, except perhaps Jeff Sessions and Susan Collins. By my count, there were four additional senators who one would have expected to be on the talk shows but weren't: Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Rick Santorum. Some might add Dole, Rockefeller and Lott to that list.

If the talk shows simply invited senators at random, then perhaps we would've heard more from folks like Bob Bennett (R-UT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Gordon Smith (R-OR), and Craig Thomas (R-WY). Frankly, if you put those names on a list, didn't say they were senators and asked me who they were, I would have no idea. That being the case, maybe Messrs. Bennett, Burr, Smith and Thomas should only get half a vote. Or would that be giving the media more influence than it deserved?
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# Posted 1:59 AM by Patrick Belton  


OxBlog: Yes, Broadcasting House, could I have the number of the bureau in Pakistan please? I've just spoken with the local fellow with the AFP, who will probably try to get me shot.

BBC Switchboard Operator: Oh, dear.
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Sunday, March 26, 2006

# Posted 9:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PAUL STREITZ FOR US SENATE! On the one hand, you have to give a longshot candidate credit for reaching out to bloggers just before announcing his run. On the other hand, maybe Streitz is long-shot because OxBlog is the last blog one should target with a xenophobic, protectionist message.

So, is it really appropriate to throw around a word like 'xenophobic'? Well, take a look at the graphic up above, taken from the front page of the Streitz for Senate website, and tell me what you think. The man is actually serious when he says that Mexicans are trying to take back the land they lost in the 1840s.

So now you may be asking whether Paul Steitz is a real candidate or whether he is just a virtual satire, in the spirit of the Landover Baptist Church. Sadly, Steitz is real. His candidacy is being covered by both the Stamford Advocate and the Journal-Inquirer.

You can also find a sympathetic interview with Steitz over at Connectictut Conservative. I sure hope the interviewer was just being polite, since Steitz is an embarrassment to everything conservative and everything American.

Not surprisingly, one poster at the cleverly-tited My Left Nutmeg just says "This guy is a wingnut." (FYI Connecticut is the Nutmeg State.)

But in spite of all of this, maybe I should endorse Steitz. After all, there is no better way to ensure that Joe Lieberman gets re-elected.
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# Posted 12:03 PM by Patrick Porter  

A CLOUD OF DUST ON THE HORIZON: Is what I'll be for a day or two. I'm giving a seminar in the UK then enjoying my belated honeymoon and sister's wedding in Oz. By the time I land in Oz, I will have read substantial amounts of Cobra II, which analyses the US-led campaign in Iraq and the aftermath, using intelligence documents and classified material. I will post some thoughts on it from downunder. One of its central themes is the missed opportunity to forestall a prolonged insurgency in Iraq, and that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld retained their skepticism about prolonged nation-building until very late. Stay tuned.
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# Posted 10:40 AM by Patrick Belton  

SHE'S UNDOUBTEDLY A DELIGHTFUL WOMAN, and in fact dines frequently in college. But if you had your entire national press out as a running bit of humour looking to capture you in compromising postures and situations, mightn't you not start wearing a burqa?

Perhaps this is just the living in Islamic societies getting to me.

Cherie got into the party spirit (BBC)

The put Cherie Blair in a burqa campaign

before...&emsp &emsp &emsp &emsp ... and after

Are you thinking what we're thinking?
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# Posted 7:37 AM by Patrick Belton  

FROM KARACHI, OXBLOG'S ORWELL AWARD goes to Andrew Sullivan for a Times commentary on the new cartoon-blasphemy scandal, this one South Park's: 'Orwell once remarked that one reason fascism never took off in Britain was because the sight of a goose-stepping soldier would prompt your average Englishman to giggle. Someone is now silencing the giggles. And our world is a lot creepier because of it.'
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

# Posted 12:30 PM by Patrick Belton  

FREELANCING DOES NOT LACK FOR PLEASURES, and I don't even refer to ones which revolve around clandestine wearing of a burqa. Don't say you've never. (By reports, Osama's done it! America's favourite crossdresser - but remember gentlemen, via BBC he's a hugger, not a kisser.) So a month ago I was rolling into Ramallah without knowing anyone, and soon finding myself drinking tea at the mayor's house and coffee at the headquarters of Hamas (a politically salient difference in beverage preferences which has not in the political science literature been adequately explored!) Yesterday, I rolled into Karachi without knowing anyone and by way of a fetching young filmmaker with whom I started speaking at the World Social Forum, and after that via her Parsi painter friend, who in turn had a former art teacher, who was herself possessed of confusing ranks of cousinage, now in a triumph of which Flashy himself would nod approval exit stage left the ranks of South Asia's homeless (and one admirably persistent taxi driver) to sleep tonight in a stately house in Karachi's well-heeled Defence neighbourhood as guest of benevolent feudal landowners whose aristocratic code of hospitality required they kindly open their house with twelve servants to a dubious yet charmingly roguish foreign affairs journalist, and also me. Yes, I slept my way to the top. And what of it? Good thing no one in this country reads blogs.

My new hosts, taken by my fetching shalwar kameez and resulting instant Pakistani credibility, have quite kindly opened their rolodex to me, with result I shall now scurry off and speak with a large number of military men and journalists. I now somehow know people in Pakistan. I do rather love my life.

Given that, one occasionally hopes my entire spotty journalistic career doesn't take the form of an extended suicide note. After all, there's far too much fun to be had in these places.
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# Posted 11:19 AM by Patrick Porter  

DEFINING THE INSURGENCY: There are several competing definitions of what is happening in Iraq. At the more polemical end lurks the shadow of Vietnam, where commentators argue that the conflict is centered around two poles reminiscent of a Maoist-style insurgency against American occupation.

In this camp, one version popular amongst segments of the antiwar left who are sympathetic with the 'right to resist' (especially activists like Tariq Ali), maintain that it is a nationalist uprising against US-led occupation. Others, like Christopher Hitchens and Victor Hanson, also stress the bipolar nature of the conflict, but present it as a microcosm and site of the global struggle between democracy and civil society against extremist Islamist radicals, assisted by the Baath party trying to make a comeback. This side allows for elements of ethnic conflict, but emphasise that it is being incited deliberately by the jihadists. Ethnic conflict is, in this perspective, symptomatic of the fundamental clash of ideas.

I am still pondering this one.There is little doubt that jihadists are one element of the insurgency. And I have no sympathy for the campaign of deliberate sabotage and murder being carried out by insurgents against Iraqi civilians and vital utilities like pipelines. But neither of the scenarios above seem to explain the situation satisfactorily.

Were it only a struggle of ideology and ideas, you would expect there to be more cooperation and coalition between Iraqis of different ethnicities who shared the same political/religious goals. Instead, the pattern of the conflict repeatedly divides Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. If the foreign jihadists had successfully persuaded the feuding groups that this should be a pan-Islamic holy war against American imperialism, one would expect the different tribes to form alliances. In this regard, Stephen Biddle's recent essay is compelling. Putting it simply, the centre of the conflict is distrust between Iraqis, an actual or potential civil war. This is in contrast to Robb, who stresses cohesion and cooperation between different parts of the insurgency, which he argues is dangerous precisely because it operates without a clear centre of gravity but in a loose network of 'open source' warfare which outpaces efforts to neutralise it, and mutates and adapts like a virus. His prescription is to delegate more power to Shiite and Kurdish forces, using their local knowledge as a rival sophisticated network.

But the difficulty here again is the pattern of who is fighting and killing who. Empirically, it seems, American presence is not uniting insurgents to the extent that they are only targeting Americans. As a British soldier remarked to me, the main challenge is not whether Iraqis trust us, but whether they trust other Iraqis. And there is also the chaos element. As well as seeing the post-Saddam instability as a product of an internal power struggle, there is crime. Mayhem in Iraq is being leveraged by a global criminal market that is strengthening as we speak.

This all reminds me of just how crucial it is to define the problem accurately, and as it changes, in order to devise a sound counter-strategy. But to all the wonks, pundits and participants out there, how do we devise a strategy that deals with the ethnicised dimension of the conflict, as well as the underworld which feeds it? Or, despite the recent escalation in sectarian violence, is the current strategy working outside the areas of concentrated conflict?
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# Posted 5:26 AM by Patrick Belton  

BABY'S FIRST PASHTUNS: Or Pathans, as they and everyone else call themselves, but, as with Mumbai in that rather larger nation on this subcontinent, you're meant to sound endearingly post-colonial and call them Pashtuns. That sorted,

I spoke yesterday with between two and five Pathans, if you count the dodgy quiet ones. They had warm words for Musharaff - a good man, they agreed, with the country's interests at heart. With religiously-related violence, they were sympathetic to it in Iraq (the Americans had taken over the country, which was all-round considered to be rather unsporting), but not outside it as, their words, they were civilians. They didn't think highly of the Taliban or Al-Qa'ida, people who said they were Muslim but, their words again, did bad things. The MMA were rather better sorts - less strict, more Pakistani.

Pieces I would like to write from here: relations between the centre and the tribal regions, which the nation/army (they're rather the same thing here, you know) entered in 2003 on a semi-permanent basis for the first time since the raj, amid some amount of public works and school construction (I'm told DFID is particularly active there); relations between the centre and the MMA-controlled NWFP, given the army's famously love-hate relationship with the mullahs; a piece if it can be done on what it's actually like in Waziristan, rumours aside; spending a day at a Madrassah, or rather two perhaps, one a 'model' Musharaff madrassah and one of the ones with famous alumni. I'd like to interview political leaders in NWFP like Senator Asfandayar Wali, head of the ANP (the Pashtun regionalist party decimated by the MMA in the last elections). I'd like to lose this taxi driver.

I'd say comment, but it's not like I can read my own blog from here.
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# Posted 4:39 AM by Patrick Belton  

IN PAKISTAN I HAVE SO FAR: acquired a taxi cab driver stalker, and a dog (the last, at least, temporarily), picked up two starchy, chic designer shalwar kameezes which have people now speaking to me in an Urdu I understand curiously little of, been invited to a wedding tonight which in my last impression is not to be mine, and most lately, been cast as a copilot in a Pakistani telly advert for which I am told I shall receive 4,000 rupees, this last sounding a sufficiently princely sum of money I never need work again. As a retired freelancer, then:

Here are my notes on the World Social Forum, Karachi - an event I am sure our readership has been in anguish to follow. I spoke with its organisers and attended its plenary; I will be returning this afternoon by way of interviewing a filmmaker and an artist, both of whom rather more fetching than Osama Bin Laden whom we'll be getting to next week. There is a certain incoherence at times to the event - one banner read 'Stop Violations Against' (full stop). Well, yes, I suppose so. The Karachi municipality, seizing on the moment, with eagerness is publicising itself as a 'Gateway to the Gulf, Central Asia, and Afghanistan' in a set of signage cleverly directed to the attraction of American tourists.

The introductory speech as with most of those which followed was, as an intuitive step really in an event dubbed the World Social Forum, in Urdu. Organisers claimed an attendance of 35,000; my best estimate and those of those around me, including a Deutsche Welle correspondent with great originality named Gunther, was one tenth that number. Even the event's host-country organisers, whom I must note were quite sweet, privately commented that the turnout, compared with Bombay's 2004 WSF of roundabouts 250,000, demonstrated the different traditions of democratic participation in India and here in Pakistan. What it was, in the end, was a massive party for the working classes and the villagers, who in a country without dancing have few opportunities to sing and to feel joy. There were Sufi dervishes, and the KMC Sports Complex stadium echoed smething like a tuned bell with the playing of the popular Pakistani folk song named something remotely like Tamedam Askadan, everyone in attendance on their feet. It was a moment not without its poignance. The dialogue, when the music stopped, was that of dual hegemonies, American and global-financial, spiced in its blandness with occasional disconnected mentions of women (for), and Palestinians (for). To go more detailed than that is to fracture this bizarre coalition which encompasses tribal activists, Kashmiri nationalists, Tibetans, antiglobalizationists, anti-warists, women's rights organisers, and some fairly sensible sounding human rights groups thrown in for good measure. It's like most Internationals, then; to render it actually programmatic is to splinter the fold. And so the thing limbers on, amidst tried-and-true generalities interspersed with cheer lines (women! Palestinians! And this from someone whose positive sentiments toward both have been rather commented upon). It is indicative, perhaps, that human rights lawyer Asma Jahagir's keynote was, basically, Arundathi Roy's from the first of these things. But with all that, these, or some of them, are Pakistan's liberals; so kid gloves, please, in going after them. This is a country that has Taliban.

As eager as I am to get up to the tribal areas, Karachi gets its tentacles into you. With the reported migration of militants to this city and its underbelly of criminality, it's got its own worlds for prodding and probing. I shall be here several days more, I think.
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Friday, March 24, 2006

# Posted 1:05 PM by Patrick Porter  

THE INSULARITY OF UNIVERSITIES: One of the advantages of Oxford university, I thought, was that it was federal, or decentralised. It is a loose, often inefficient, confederation of colleges. While this creates great adminisrative confusion and overlap at times, I think its intellectually very healthy. Because its multipolar, its harder for an aggressive faction of a discipline to 'capture' a department.

A good history department will be a cacophany of conservatives, Marxists, postmodernists, liberal humanists, postcolonialists, British empire nostalgia buffs, believers in high politics and vast impersonal forces, big picture polemicists and meticulous pedantic hair-splitters.

But to have true 'diversity', that is, intellectual diversity as well as ethnic, sexual or gender diversity, an institution needs to be beyond monopolisation. If it becomes a place where the control of a few powerful committees rewards a group with a monopoly over a department, several things happen.

Firstly, a conformist intellectual environment can set in. Dissent or disagreement is met with hostility. Secondly, you get the misuse of public funds, which is compounded when various powerful academic warriors form coalitions, spawning gigantic conflicts of interest. They might sit on panels and give themselves copious money for research. So, for example, in Australia one member of the panel that awards research grants nationwide was awarded $880,000 to study the idea of the body in modern Japan.

While the idea of the body in modern Japan sounds intriguing, imagine what else could be done with that kind of money. A lot of postdoctoral scholarships. A lot of new jobs in an underfunded academy. Or maybe put it towards new combat vehicles for our armed forces. I suspect that one woudn't fly.
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# Posted 12:34 AM by Patrick Belton  



I'm not the first person to have stepped from Broad Street, Oxford to Sindh in search of adventuring. There was, you see, Flashman. In my case I have been led here in my latest effort to live by my wits and by my pen, both of them slow. By way of mighty minareted Istanbul, in its shadows lurking Byzantium and the Porte, over the forbidden vastness of Iran, dragged by a lonely impulse of delight leading to this tumult in the clouds, now Karachi.

One might with naivete think that, with 350 years of convoluted political commerce between the subcontinent and Britain, in time we would have worked out how to use a Lloyds TSB card at a Karachi cash point. Such grand idealism in matters political ends often in heartache; no.

Penniless, rupeeless rather, at 3 am I befriend two water merchants returning from the Gulf, and have myself taken to a hotel where I manage to convince the manager it would be amusing if not strictly speaking fiscally advantageous to allow me to drink his coffee and read up on my brief between the hours of three and six in the morning. 'Be careful, this is Karachi,' I have been warned more than once. The received pronunciation that is my travelling accent produces smiles; they've seen the likes of me here before.

I arrive in Karachi quite by chance on the premier day of the World Social Forum, and a Kennedy School classmate of this blog's dear friend Sreemati urges me to tarry, and head to the North-West Frontier Province after a day or two of Sindhi hospitality. Desmond Tutu also arrived at Jinnah International Airport today, so I may well linger to hear him speak, and file a quick radio piece before embarking on the train to Peshawar.

In closing, I might note that I can post this to you, but I cannot read it. OxBlog, you see, is blocked from Pakistani ISPs.
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Thursday, March 23, 2006

# Posted 11:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TONY BLAIR -- NOT A WORD ABOUT IRAN OR IRAQ: On the way home this evening, I listened to yesterday's edition of Prime Minister's Questions. Not one of Mr. Blair's fellow MP's asked him a question about Iran, about Iraq, or about any aspect of British foreign policy.

Well, one MP did ask the Prime Minister,
Will my right hon[orable] Friend join me in congratulating the sportsmen and women who are doing so well over in Melbourne [at the Commonwealth Games]?
I can't help but think that if a White House press conference went by without a single question about foreign policy, Europeans would take it as disturbing evidence of our self-centeredness and latent isolationism.

Nor is it unusual for Blair almost no questions about foreign policy, although he usually gets at least one. You'd think that with 10,000 British troops in Iraq, a crisis brewing in Iran and a genocide ongoing in Darfur, there would be a little more interest in the subject.

On the other hand, there is strong interest in Parliament in tackling some of the most intractable problems that face Britain today. As the member from Torbay wanted to know:
When will the Prime Minister get a grip on the NHS dental crisis in this country?
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# Posted 11:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BUSH SAYS READ MORE BLOGS! When asked how to find the positive news that the MSM won't cover, Bush told a supporter:
There's word of mouth, there's blogs, there's Internet, there's all kinds of ways to communicate which is literally changing the way people are getting their information.
It's also nice to know that the White House is more appreciative of us bloggers than the SecDef. Or is the issue here just that Bush reads Instapundit while Rumsfeld reads the Daily Kos? Yeah, that's the ticket.
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# Posted 10:00 PM by Patrick Porter  

QUIET TIME: My posting rate has dipped over last 48 hours. I have been preparing a presentation, for an interview, for what would be the dream job. Will be more of an opinionated chatterbox tomorrow.
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# Posted 12:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"WHILE A COLORED REVOLUTION MIGHT NOT HAPPEN this time around, it is the beginning of the end for Lukashenko." Publius Pundit's report from Minsk is very much worth reading.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

# Posted 11:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NO PROFOUND THOUGHTS TONIGHT: Instead, desperate thoughts. As in Desperate Housewives. As I think I've mentioned before, I don't do television. I do Netflix. So recently, I ordered the first four episodes of Desperate Housewives, Season 1.

I was hooked within minutes. I love black humor, and this show had it in spades. I also thought that the characters had a lot more psychological depth than you get on your average network television show.

So here I am, around a month later, having watched all six discs and twenty-three episodes that comprise Season 1. I must admit the show is ambitious. It wants to be a comedy of manners, a social commentary and a murder mystery all rolled into one. Amazingly, this strange formula almost always worked.

Although I didn't pay much attention at the time, I remember some fuss when the show debuted about whether it was sexist trash or a blow for women's equality. I believe the NYT said the former, USA Today the latter. A little bit of both, I'd say.

One crystal clear message the show has is that, more often than not, being a housewife really, really sucks. Poor Lynette (Felicity Huffman) was a hotshot executive before she had four kids. Now she watches with envy and anger as her husband goes off to work, oblivious to how much menial labor is involved in raising his four children.

The pampered Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) discovers that staying home with no children and many possessions does not bring happiness, but boredom. Followed by an affair with her teenage gardener that is constantly on the brink of destroying her marriage.

For WASP extraordinaire Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross, above), an obsessive-compulsive commitment to the Martha Stewart lifestyle stands in for any real emotional connection to her husband or children.

Finally, there is Susan (Teri Hatcher), who works from home as an illustrator. Her only problem is the boorish ex-husband who ran off with her secretray, crippling Susan's self-confidence.

Now let's talk about sex. One thing that the four housewives have in common is how impossibly thin they are. And in the case of Susan and Bree, remarkably buxom as well. (Seinfeld fans may recall that it was Hatcher's breasts that inspired the immortal phrase "They're real and they're fabulous.")

So if you're a body-image feminist, you pretty much have to give Housewives a big thumbs down. But wait. What about the fact that three of the four Housewives is over 40? Aren't we making progress if thin, big-breasted older women can be sex symbols?

Related to sex is the subject of men. This show certainly doesn't have all that much nice to say about them. Lynette's husband is self-centered. Gabrielle's is an outright sexist pig. Bree's husband is the exception, a real nice guy with a bit of thing for hookers and S&M. Susan's ex is also a sexist pig, although her new crush Mike is a real prince charming.

If you're willing to read a little into, Susan's obsession with Mike is a pretty retrograde demonstration of how women are ditzy little things who never progress beyond their fantasies of being rescued by a knight in shining armor.

The counterpoint to Susan is Edie Britt, the town slut who, unlike the Housewives, has a successful career outside the home and isn't dependent on any man (for more than a few hours). Yet Edie is also a friendless and selfish bitch.

Perhaps in the end, Housewives isn't such a bad reflection of where women are today. There are pockets of progress, pockets of reaction and no simple answers about where happiness comes from.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

# Posted 11:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS A MALE SEAMSTRESS A SEAMSTER? I'm not just curious. This question has practical applications. I just sewed my first button and am quite proud of it.

To be more precise, I'm not proud of my sewing, which is terrible. The thread is the wrong color and the stitches are uneven and all over the place. I'll probably cut the button off my suit and try again this weekend.

But I am proud that I bothered to learn (courtesy of eHow.com). The bottom line is I don't like paying other people to do things I should easily be able to do for myself. I can afford it, but I don't like it.

By the way, the comments section below is reserved for anyone who wants to remark on the privileged upbringing I must've had if I consider myself domestically accomplished for having sewn a button.
(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

# Posted 9:38 PM by Patrick Porter  

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL ATONEMENT: British Minister John Profumo resigned his ministry and seat in the British Parliament in 1963. It had emerged that he had been having sex with a woman who was also having sex with the Soviet naval attache. Apparently, he never passed on information to the woman that might have compromised national security. And a few days later, at least according to the Weekly Standard, he began charitable work without any public self-aggrandisement:
Profumo turned up a few days later at Toynbee Hall, a charitable institution serving the poor and disadvantaged in London's East End, asking to help clean up. For the next four decades he deployed his considerable skills to raise funds and dramatically expand Toynbee Hall's social services while remaining resolutely silent about the events which had ended his promising political career.

No self-pitying memoir, no public recrimination, no ex post facto justification, no testing the electoral waters, not even a slot on a TV reality show. Just the quiet, and immensely dignified, determination to redeem himself for conduct that, to contemporary eyes, must look comparatively benign.
True charity is not puffed up. He also fought Nazis in North Africa, was mentioned in dispatches, then fought in Normandy and then against Italian fascists in Italy, for which he was awarded an OBE. A tragedy that a man who did us all some service had his reputation tainted by a few weeks of silly sex. He didn't even think to write a tedious, 1000 page autobiography.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion

# Posted 8:33 PM by Patrick Porter  

LARRIKIN POLITICS - BEFORE THE FALL: Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating facing a baying opposition in Question Time, circa 1992-3:

JOHN HEWSON (leader of the opposition): If you are so confident…why won’t you call an early election?

PAUL KEATING: The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There’s gotta be a bit of sport in this for all of us.

And he did. And charting his sad decline since. I'm glad that some of his legacy has been reversed. I’m glad the current government has reversed Keating’s foreign policy, realigning us back towards our traditional Australian-American alliance while remaining economically oriented towards Asia. And I'm glad trade unionism is no longer compulsory, and that we finally and belatedly recognised East Timor's independence after decades of appeasement towards Indonesia. But I still miss him.

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# Posted 12:07 PM by Patrick Belton  

APPROACHING LAST POST: I was summoning up the appropriate djinn to write something vaguely sardonic about CNN's story on the falling cat - cat falls from tree, survives. (Kevin may not want to read this post.) It was to have featured witty, incisive, clever analysis from the likes of Paxo or Frances Harrison, contrasted with a falling cat (survives). Then before I could, the BBC went and gave us a falling cat as well. Sigh.

But, staying ahead of the curve, CNN has now brought forth a falling dog (survives).
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# Posted 6:18 AM by Patrick Belton  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BECKETT: While OxBlog packs its bags to head toward the NWFP, the Economist takes a look at Vladimir and Estragon doffing theirs to head to the Barbican for the centurion birthday of 'an unmistakable voice - lonely, Irish, painfully funny'.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

# Posted 10:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

EYEWITNESS IN BELARUS: Publius Pundit is reporting from Minsk. The protesters are brave, but success is elusive.

The WaPo suggests that the democracy movement simply doesn't have enough popular support to win, since "even opposition figures say [Lukashenko] could win a fair vote." I wouldn't know.

At least the White House has stated clearly that it will not honor Lukashenko's official fraud.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

# Posted 9:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BUSH DEFENDS HIS OPTIMISM: You know what I've said about Cheney and Rumsfeld's analysis. So what about the Commander-in-Chief? Much, much better. In Cleveland, the President said that:
In the face of continued reports about killings and reprisals, I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken. Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens, and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don't. So today I'd like to share a concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers and on their television screens. I'm going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq.
And the president went on to tell that story, very persuasively. He did not speak about the insurgents' "desperation" or invoke unhelpful analogies between Iraq and Nazi Germany. Instead, he made the case for how Americans and Iraqis working together can beat the insurgents.

The President also made a concerted effort to acknowledge his mistakes, a sort of mea culpa journalists have long been waiting for:
Unfortunately, in 2004 the local security forces there in Tal Afar weren't able to maintain order, and so the terrorists and the insurgents eventually moved back into the town [after the first Coalition offensive]...By November 2004, two months after our operation to clear the city, the terrorists had returned to continue their brutal campaign of intimidation...

The ability of al Qaeda and its associates to retake Tal Afar was an example of something we saw elsewhere in Iraq. We recognized the problem, and we changed our strategy. Instead of coming in and removing the terrorists, and then moving on, the Iraqi government and the coalition adopted a new approach called clear, hold, and build.
I agree that the new strategy represents a significant improvement. But it is also interesting to note the President's assertion that the old strategy was still in place -- and failing -- in November 2004. The same month Bush was re-elected.

I don't recall from that time much talk of a failed strategy. Interestingly, public approval of the President's strategy was much greater back in November 2004.

The impact of the new strategy on Tal Afar has been clear:
The recent elections show us how Iraqis respond when they know they're safe. Tal Afar is the largest city in Western Nineveh Province. In the elections held in January 2005, of about 190,000 registered voters, only 32,000 people went to the polls. Only Fallujah had a lower participation rate. By the time of the October referendum on the constitution and the December elections, Iraqi and coalition forces had secured Tal Afar and surrounding areas. The number of registered voters rose to about 204,000 -- and more than 175,000 turned out to vote in each election, more than 85 percent of the eligible voters in Western Nineva Province. These citizens turned out because they were determined to have a say in their nation's future, and they cast their ballots at polling stations that were guarded and secured by fellow Iraqis.
On the front page of this morning's paper, the WaPo ran a story entitled An Iraq Success Story's Sad New Chapter. I don't think I need to tell you how that story spins the situation in Tal Afar.

True, the President didn't go out of his way, as the Post did, to find what may still be going wrong in Tal Afar. But the Post ignored the impressive evidence the President marshalled to demonstrate Tal Afar's success, e.g. the voting statistics cited above. And remember, this was not an "analysis" or an opinion column. This was a straight news article that barely told the administration's side of the story.

Bush, of course, insisted that the media has ignored success stories such as Tal Afar. I must admit I'm curious. What has been written about Tal Afar? I often read reports from regional cities such as Kirkuk, Mosul or Tal Afar. But they all blend together in my memory. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if some of OxBlog's intrepid readers have been following such issues more carefully and will be able to provide some enlightment in the comments section.

The President did admit that all of Iraq is not Tal Afar. He stated that:
I wish I could tell you that the progress made in Tal Afar is the same in every single part of Iraq. It's not.
No, no it isn't.
Freedom will prevail in Iraq; freedom will prevail in the Middle East; and as the hope of freedom spreads to nations that have not known it, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.
Sometimes I wonder if me and W. are the only ones who actually believe that. It won't come soon and it won't come easily, but it will.

After the speech, Bush took a fair number of questions from the audience. A lot of softballs and a few challenges. His tone and his message were consistent with his prepared remarks.

Today, Bush took another round of questions at a White House press conference. Once again he was careful and never strayed into untenable assertions of triumph and progress.

Bush said there would be no "complete withdrawal" while he is President. No declaring victory and then going home. And then on January 20, 2009?
(6) opinions -- Add your opinion

# Posted 6:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A MILLION VOICES FOR DARFUR: The Save Darfur Coaltion wants one million American to send electronic postcards to the President calling for stronger action to stop the genocide in Darfur. A worthy cause, to be sure.

The postcard has a standard paragraph followed by a space for (optional) personal comments. I wrote that:
I was inspired by the words of your Second Inaugural Address. The time to put our shared ideals ideals into practice is now. And the place is Darfur.
And don't forget to mark your calendars; there will be a rally for Darfur in Washington DC on April 30.
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# Posted 12:00 PM by Patrick Porter  

SAGE ADVICE for historians, political scientists, governments or soldiers keen to interpret lessons from past or present wars:

The student, as Jonathan Shimshoni asserts, should use their record warily, to suggest problems, opportunities, potential avenues to solutions, and routes to advantage - an arrow towards consistently rejuvenated theories of victory...military history is a record of the past, to be used as a fund of the experiental and the interrogatory...

We must read with a keen awareness of the individual biases and institutional 'blinders' with which all history is produced; we must always realise the tentative nature of our conclusions; and we must remember that the past is gone forever, and that in trying to capture the essence of that past, we always run the risk of losing focus, of concentrating so hard on a paradigm or on a level of conflict that we limit our ability 'to adapt...to the utterly unpredictable, the entirely unknown,' which is so often a part of modern war.

(from Gary P. Cox, 'Of Aphorisms, Lessons and Paradigms: Comparing the British and German Official Histories of the Russo-Japanese War', Journal of Military History, 56 (July 1992), pp.389-402)

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# Posted 5:27 AM by Patrick Belton  

THE BLOGGING OF THE ENGLISH JUDICIARY: I've been really enjoying over my coffee this morning The Magistrate's Blog, the diary and thoughts of an English magistrate working 'somewhere west of Ealing Broadway' (Devon's my guess). My personal loudest chuckle was provoked over this reading and glossalia from the liber applicatio visae yanci
Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State? Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?

There is a story about a famous person (and it is attributed to a number of people, so probably apocryphal) who wrote "Sole purpose of visit" in answer to that question.
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# Posted 12:27 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TOWARDS A MEA CULPA: Greg Djerejian reflects on his support for the war. Insightful as always.
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Monday, March 20, 2006

# Posted 11:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CHENEY FACES THE NATION: I thought some explain might be in order for the grade I gave Cheney for his performance on CBS. Let's go to the transcript:

SCHIEFFER: Ayad Allawi...says that we can no longer mince words. Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. Do you agree with that?

CHENEY: I don't, Bob...Clearly there is an attempt under way by the terrorists, by Zarqawi and others, to foment civil war. That's been their strategy all along, but my view would be they've reached a stage of desperation from their standpoint.
Desperation? Rumsfeld actually began his op-ed in Sunday's Post by making a similar point. Reminiscent of "last throes".

But I must confess, I have made the same mistake myself. Four months into the occupation, I insisted that the insurgents' brutal tactics were a sign of their desperation. Surely, I reasoned, the insurgents understand that insurgencies are won by winning hearts and minds. The mindless slaughter of Shi'ite civilians accomplished exactly the opposite.

Instead, the insurgents have chosen a strange course that has inflicted great damage on the United States but also destroyed any hopes the insurgents might have of returning to power in Iraq. Perhaps they will drive us out. They are winning the war of public opinion in the United States. But if the GIs come home, the insurgents will only have a Shi'ite army and Shi'ite death squads to contend with.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, all along the government has been very optimistic. You remain optimistic. But I remember when you were saying we'd be greeted as liberators, you played down the insurgency 10 months ago. You said it was in its last throes. Do you believe that these optimistic statements may be one of the reasons that people seem to be more skeptical in this country about whether we ought to be in Iraq?

CHENEY: No. I think it has less to do with the statements we've made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality, than it does with the fact that there's a constant sort of perception, if you will, that's created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad. It's not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making progress towards rebuilding Iraq.
I still support this war firmly. I am also more positive than most about our prospects for victory. And I even tend to resent one-sided media coverage as much as the VP himself.

But the bottom line is that young Americans are dying. And the American public doesn't know how to tell if we're winning or not. The value of a free election is much harder to measure than the distance to Berlin from Normandy.

There was nothing "basically accurate" about "last throes".
SCHIEFFER: Isn't it also a reality that the violence continues? They keep finding these people that have been executed. And isn't it also reality that they can't seem to put a government together? They can't seem to find a way, a compromise, to get this government together.

CHENEY: Bob, it took us a lot longer to put an effective government together when we tried to do it 200 years ago than it's taken the Iraqis.
I don't even know where to begin with that one. Maybe some of you history buffs in the audience can post some comments about the birth of the American political system.

SCHEIFFER: "Dangerously incompetent" is what [Ted Kennedy] is saying. I want to give you a chance to respond.

CHENEY: Well, I would not look to Ted Kennedy for guidance and leadership on how we ought to manage national security, Bob.

I think what Senator Kennedy reflects is sort of the pre-9/11 mentality about how we ought to deal with the world and that part of the world...

[Our] kind of aggressive, forward-leaning strategy is one of the main reasons we haven't been struck again since 9/11 because we've taken the fight to them.

Senator Kennedy's approach would be pack your bags and go home, retreat behind your oceans and assume you can be safe.
I really, really don't like to say anything nice about Ted Kennedy, but the VP has given me no choice. Cheney's caricature of TK as an isolationist was just an underhanded way of avoiding tough questions about Iraq.

And talk about tempting fate. After a second successful terrorist attack on our home, that "aggressive, forward-leaning strategy" won't look so smart. During the 2004 campaign, the President carefully avoided suggesting that his policies were what prevented a second attack. I think that was a wise course of action.

So here we are, three years into the war. Public opinion is now beyond the control of the politicians. What happens on the ground is what matters.
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# Posted 11:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANYONE KNOW WHERE MURTHA GOT THAT STATISTIC? Here's what the man said on Meet the Press. Twice:
I talk to the military commanders all the time. I know what’s going on in the military. And, and most of the military in Iraq, 70 percent of our troops say we want out of there, and 42 percent say they don’t know what their mission is for heaven’s sake...

So our troops are caught in a civil war. Forty-two percent of them don’t even know what their mission is, and 70 percent want out of there.
My sense of Murtha is that he doesn't make things up. But his worldview is so contorted that he doesn't seem to a very good job of analyzing his evidence. So I'd be curious to know which poll he's referring to and what it really said.
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# Posted 11:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP: There was a malfunction with the ABC podcast this week, so this edition of the round-up will only cover two networks. Gen. George Casey and Rep. John Murtha were on NBC, while Dick Cheney was on CBS.
Gen. Casey: Incomplete. Four star generals are in an impossible position. They're supposed to be strategists, not public affairs officers. Let's leave it at that.

Murtha: C. A broken record. Not a part of the reality-based community.

Cheney: C. He seems so persuasive and reasonable until he doesn't.
And now for the hosts:
Russert: B-. Again, just above a C+. Clearly put Casey on the defensive. Then practically lay down for Murtha. Sure, Russert asked Murtha to respond to quotes from Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Ken Mehlman and others. But those are softballs. What Democrat wouldn't disagree with GOP partisan rhetoric?

Instead, how about confrontingMurtha with statements from liberal Democrats -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama -- who refuse to endorse his position on the war? Or statments from intelligent writers like those on the WaPo editorial board?

Russert actually did cite the same David Ignatius column that OxBlog did earlier this week, but Murtha dodged the question and there was no follow up.
Murtha dodged left and right and Russert made no effort to rein him in.

The fact that Russert did get tough on Gen. Casey -- repeatedly -- makes this all the more inexcusable. The only thing to be said in Russert's defense is that the entire talk show circuit has gone soft on John Murtha. Somehow they think that because he's an old veteran, they shouldn't challenge the nonsense he spouts.

Now, if I were Tim Russert, I might say that OxBlog is being unfair because I asked Murtha some tough questions like:
If we got out quickly and left behind a blood bath, what would we do? Just watch the slaughter?
But no follow up. No effort to make Murtha actually answer the questions that might expose the superficiality of his thinking.

Bob Schieffer: A-. There was some fire in Schieffer's belly this week. He actually gave Cheney a run for his money.
See ya in seven.
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# Posted 8:33 PM by Patrick Porter  

OCCUPYING IRAQ - BAD IDEA OR BAD MANAGEMENT?: Fred Kaplan blames bad management.
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# Posted 7:31 PM by Patrick Porter  

SECULAR SADDAM? Judging from the comments below, there is apparently still debate about whether Saddam was a secularist in the way he governed Iraq during his final years. Some excerpts from a speech in 2002, which mark the 14th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war:
We have never, and will never, face any aggression with the power of our weapons or the strength of our muscles, but with the strength of our faith and our belief that God always makes the faithful victorious through right against wrong..

The faithful shall remain steadfast. Darkness shall be defeated. Clouds carrying no useful rain shall clear. And the sun shall shine ushering in an endless spring, blessed by God.

And then in March 2003:
He ordered Iraqis to "cut the throats" of the invading troops and said: "Iraqis will strike their necks as God has commanded. Strike them, and strike evil so that evil will be defeated."
Earlier on, in a speech in 1996, I count Saddam referring to God eleven times. In 13 paragraphs.

I know not all Islamic fundamentalists always agreed that Saddam was a man of faith. And who knows the real inner workings of his mind. And I don't know whether its the translation. But for a guy who is supposed to have been an avowedly secular ruler, he does enthusiastically mention God rather a lot. If he was really a secularist towards the end of his rule, it must have been very secret.

From Newsweek's Christopher Dickey, who reports that in 1993

Islamic radicals from all over the Middle East, Africa and Asia converged on Baghdad to show their solidarity with Iraq in the face of American aggression." One speaker praised "the mujahed Saddam Hussein, who is leading this nation against the nonbelievers." Another speaker said, "Everyone has a task to do, which is to go against the American state...

Every time I hear diplomats and politicians, whether in Washington or the capitals of Europe, declare that Saddam Hussein is a 'secular Baathist ideologue' who has nothing do with Islamists or with terrorist calls to jihad, I think of that afternoon and I wonder what they're talking about.
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# Posted 4:33 PM by Patrick Belton  

START SPREADING THE NEWS! Our foreign policy society's New York chapter is meeting at 7:30 pm on Tuesday at, supremely appropriately, Nathan Hale's Bar and Grill, at 22 Warren Street, between Church and Broadway in TriBeCa. (Map and nearest subway stops here.) Topic here.

This is where his lordship holds his balls and dances.
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# Posted 4:24 PM by Patrick Belton  

I DON'T HAVE A MASTERCARD, SO PLEASE GIVE ME VISA: OxBlog heads to Pakistan Wednesday, inshallah.

Jinnah story of the day: As the only Muslim barrister called to practise before the bar of Bombay, in 1901 Jinnah was repeatedly interrupted from the bench by a colonial magistrate who on each occasion said 'rubbish, rubbish.' After a bit of this, Jinnah turned to the bench and said 'your honour, nothing but rubbish has passed your mouth all morning.'
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# Posted 2:18 PM by Patrick Porter  

CONSISTENCY AD ABSURDUM: Three years after the war in Iraq began, there are post-mortems about who said what. Debating the Iraq war, there were consistent and well thought-out arguments to be found on either side. And there were people who changed their minds before and after the conflict, after much doubting and questioning.

And then there was George Clooney in early 2003. On January 20 of that year, it was reported that

Denouncing President Bush for planning to kill ‘innocent people’ in Iraq, actor George Clooney insisted on Monday's Charlie Rose show on PBS that pursuing war with Iraq while not doing so with North Korea illustrates how ‘we’re picking on people we can beat.’

So it’s immoral to wage war against weaker countries who can be defeated without fighting stronger opponents too. For the sake of consistency, America must wage Armageddon against a nuclear power, which would potentially result in catastrophic attacks on South Korea. If we're truly serious about doctrinal purity, I guess that would oblige America to wage war against Iran. But presumably only after they acquire nuclear weapons so that its a fair game. And then we can all go inside and cut the birthday cake.

This is the universe of the more unreflective elements of the antiwar movement: only absolute peace or total war will do.

Clooney’s opposition to any war against a weaker opponent would also rule out peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, most of which are not conducted in the territory of powerful nations. Under Clooney’s vision of world order, heaven help targeted minorities in Third World countries.

And then on 23 February 2003,

‘I believe he thinks this is a war that can be won, but there is no such thing anymore,’ said Clooney, who starred in a film about the 1991 Gulf War "Three Kings" that took a dark look at the war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. ‘We can't beat anyone anymore,’ added Clooney.

So we shouldn’t wage wars because it is impossible to win? I thought Saddam’s regime represented ‘people we can beat.’

Where can I make a donation?

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RUMSFELD ATTACKS BLOGGERS, REFLECTS ON WAR: One might think that the SecDef would a little more grateful. Conservative bloggers have done more than anyone except the President himself to raise public awareness of things that are going right in Iraq. Still, the SecDef writes in today's WaPo that:
The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case.

Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack.
"Blogs on Web sites?" As opposed to blogs not on websites?

Anyhow, since today's op-ed is supposed to represent Rumsfeld's thoughts on the first three years of the war in Iraq, one ought to consider some of his other points in greater detail:
In each of [Iraq's] elections, the number of voters participating has increased significantly -- from 8.5 million in the January 2005 election to nearly 12 million in the December election -- in defiance of terrorists' threats and attacks.
That's certainly a point the critics often avoid, but the elections still haven't produced a government.
Despite the [terrorists'] acts of violence and provocation, the vast majority of Iraqis have shown that they want their country to remain whole and free of ethnic conflict.
I'm not so sure. Strangely enough, it is the Sunnis who seem most committed to Iraq remaining whole. As for "free of ethnic conflict", just imagine if American forces left Iraq tomorrow.
Iraqi security forces have a greater ability than coalition troops to detect a foreign terrorist's accent, identify local suspects and use force without increasing a feeling of occupation.
Things are going right in some units, but Iraq is a long way from having non-sectarian armed forces. For Sunnis, an army of Shi'ites may well be an army of occupation.
Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.
No comment.
What we need to understand is that the vast majority of the Iraqi people want the coalition to succeed.
Success is often a matter of definition. The Shi'ites and Kurds certainly want us to crush the insurgency, but it's an open question as to how much of our vision of a true, multi-ethnic democracy they share.

So, all in all, how should one evaluate this essay? Well, in the military, there is a category of activity known as "information operations", or IO. Its purpose is to defuse an adversary's propaganda and shape public opinion.

By itself, this essay might be persuasive. Yet on the very same op-ed page, there is an essay entitled Bleakness in Baghdad by George Will.

The success of information operations depends on context. Very rarely does any target population rely on the Pentagon for its facts and opinions. Instead, target populations turn to those who have greater credibility as independent arbiters of political debate.

The success of IOs also depends on credibility. No matter how right you are, it may very hard for your arguments to get heard before an audience trusts you.
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# Posted 6:30 PM by Patrick Belton  


If you're in Washington, we'd be very grateful if you joined our Foreign Policy Society on Sunday, March 26th in discussing “The Role of Anti-Americanism in International Relations” with Alan McPherson, outstanding scholar, friend of this blog and author of acclaimed, award-winning Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations.

Some suggested background reading (including an excerpt of the book) is made available at www.foreignpolicysociety.blogspot.com. If you would like to join our chic, fashionable Washington list, please send a blank email to this address.

The event is set to take place on March 26th, at 7:30pm at Teaism, located on the corner of 8th and D streets (visible from the Archives/Navy Memorial metro stop). Our events are free but please plan to join us at 7:00 for dinner to support our venue provider and have a chance to be assimilated into our cult meet other exciting, fun new members.

Furthermore, for the month of April, we are pleased to announce two distinguished guest speakers, Tom Clemmons of IFES and our own David Adesnik who will discuss U.S. efforts in the promotion of democracy abroad. The details on these events will follow soon.

Now if you're in New York, our event there will be taking place this Tuesday at 7:30 pm, and will be a double-decker roundtable discussion on the topic of humanitarian intervention with some room left to discuss Iran as well. If you live or work in New York, we'd be awfully grateful if you could join us. This event is being kindly cosponsored by the Oxford Alumni Association, and organised by Juliya Salkovskaya. There are several readings suggested on the website of the alumni association, and perhaps without getting into too much trouble I can advertise the presence of our friend blogger Taylor Owen as a special invited guest. Juliya will be announcing the location shortly, and she can be reached by email at ys2264 at columbia.edu. You can also subscribe to receive notices from our New York chapter by sending a blank email to this address.

Events of current interest, in Washington:

1 -- Washington DC Harper Lecture “America's Global Challenges” with Professor Charles Lipson April 26, 2006
2 -- 2006 Annual Symposium to the study of the state of education in the contemporary Arab/Muslim world, Thursday-Friday March 23-24, 2006
3 -- Women In Progress event on Saturday, April 8th at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC.
4 -- Can the West Save the Rest? William Easterly, Professor of Economics, New York University Author of “The White Man’s Burden: Why The West’s Efforts To Aid The Rest Have Done So Much Ill And So Little Good” Thursday, March 23, 2006 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Peter G. Peterson Conference Center, Institute for International Economics (IIE).

If you have information on events that you would like to share with our members, please send it to sdobardzic at gmail.com, and we can append it to our notices of Foreign Policy Society events.

In final dispatch, I really must extend deep personal thanks here to Saliha Dobardzic, as well as to Amanda Butler, Soren Dayton, John Ciorciari and David, for their heartfelt generosity and help in getting our Washington chapter up and running again, and likewise to Juliya Salkovskaya for doing the same in New York. I'm terribly grateful to them all.
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