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The Lure of Death

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.03

I don't have much patience for talk of "death cults" when describing Palestinians; it's illegitimate to provoke a behavior and claim that the behavior retroactively justifies the provocation, but something like this really is strange, even from my (I believe) sympathetic perspective. I can't see how one could say the US has provoked this depth of feeling in ordinary Iraqis. I'm open to suggestions about possible explanations, but one can't rule out cultural factors and some very effective propaganda may also be involved. Does anyone know of studies contrasting the reactions of people in countries in South and Central America to US interference in their governments to the reactions of people elsewhere?


 

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Still about China?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.04.03

Before September 11, China was America's major foreign policy concern (remember the hostages?), and rightly so. But could the war in Iraq also be about China? It's been noted here that while the US doesn't get much of its oil from the Persian Gulf region, ensuring the reliable flow of oil is essential to the health of the global economy and a good reason to keep aggressive regimes from power in the region. The weakness in this argument is that it's almost always in the oil-producers' interest to keep oil flowing, which apparently undermines the justification for intervention. On this view, aggressive regimes are tolerable but potentially self-destructive ones are not; thus the arguments about Saddam's "deterrability." But, putting together some of the parts of this National Intelligence Council report (via Robert Dreyfuss at Mother Jones) brings another consideration to the fore. In the coming decades, China will likely be the major consumer of Persian Gulf oil. Couple that with this observation

Two conditions, in the view of many specialists, would lead to a major security challenge for the United States and its allies in the region: a weak, disintegrating China, or an assertive China willing to use its growing economic wealth and military capabilities to pursue its strategic advantage in the region.

Persian Gulf oil is essential to China's economy and, by extension, US security. If the US doesn't ensure the reliable flow of oil from the region, it's quite likely that China will. Chinese influence over that oil would not only reduce the power of the US, it would make either of the "danger scenarios" considerably more threatening.


 

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What am I, French?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.04.03

I've already established myself as a language scold, so here's another tick that peeves: "Heh." This passes for comment? Yes, I know it's shorthand for "Nyah-nyah, there's your comeuppance, I was so right...etc." but surely we can do better.


 

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Because I Say So

Posted by Ogged
on 04.02.03

I have friends who are accomplished, and self-doubt is their religion. Not so with the world's elite male models, apparently. (via Off the Subject)

If he doesn't enter the corporate world one day, John says he may follow in his father's footsteps and become a minister. Look for him in ads for Armani and Abercrombie & Fitch.

 

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Pens into Swords

Posted by Ogged
on 04.02.03

Jeffrey Goldberg, whose article a year ago was really the first piece (Ken Pollack's book being the second) to turn doves into hawks, has another piece with some choice quotes in this week's New Yorker.

Sherko Bekas, who was described to me as Kurdistan's unofficial poet laureate, was particularly upset by the well-publicized efforts of American poets to stop the war. "Saddam is the god of war," Bekas said, when I saw him in his office at a publishing firm in Sulaimaniya. "He is the killer of poetry." He went on, "I say to these poets that if they lived for two weeks under Saddam's rule they would write verse in reverse. They would write poems asking Bush to attack Saddam sooner."

and

An Ansar defector I met, a twenty-one-year-old half-Arab, half-Kurd named Nizar Ahmed Muhammad...said he also opposed the suicide ethos of the group. "I was told by my commander to blow myself up, but I told him, ‘Why don't you go blow yourself up?'" he said. "He got very angry."

 

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Those are Pearls...

Posted by Ogged
on 04.02.03

More indispensible Tony Judt, with this concise summary of one view of the current situation (not necessarily Judt's own).

US strategists should be working to strengthen the sorts of transnational restraints and institutions that will serve America best when it has to live once again in a world it cannot dominate.

Or, to put it another way

Gentile or Jew

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,

Consider Phlebus, who was once as handsome and tall as you


 

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Fissiparous

Posted by Ogged
on 04.02.03

Ever seen "fissiparous?" Neither had I. Now I have (via aldaily). So have you, it would seem.


 

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POW Tales

Posted by Ogged
on 04.01.03

There's an interesting article in Slate about PsOW (can't resist--it would really suck to have been a POWs) and the fascination they hold for the public. Googling around a bit after reading that led me to this selection of stories from POWs from Gulf War I.


 

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Between You, Your God, and Assistant D.A. Murphy

Posted by Ogged
on 04.01.03

Why not just wiretap confession? Then people will line up to confess their crimes.


 

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Euphemising Euphemisms

Posted by Ogged
on 04.01.03
It is critical for our company as we exit bankruptcy to right size the level of our support group to make sure it's the right size of our store base," said Julian Day, Kmart's chief executive officer, at a press conference Monday.

Ogged points: "look, there slinks mendacity." Employees are no longer individuals, having been subsumed into a group; a "support group" no less, existing only insofar as the entity they support exists (Kmart as Godhead). Further evidence that Mr. Day may be Satan: ungrammatical "sizing" of a "level." The simple ignorance typically associated with the rapacious? Not likely. "Level" conjures no humans, as "group" might. And "right-size" as verb? A clever diversion, no doubt, to make us chortle at an apparent mendacity so as to pass over the real one(s).


 

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Rumsfeld's Rules

Posted by Ogged
on 03.31.03

A must-read.


 

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Wo/men troubles

Posted by Unf
on 03.31.03

I saw the following in today's NYTBR:

My own intuition is that is that if someone has largely had good experiences with the other sex, and only a few disastrous affairs of the kind that tear your heart out and whomp it to the ground, he or she is inclined to be optimistic about the state of the sexes. This is why most people are pessimistic.

 

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