September 27, 2006 § Leave a comment
starting out, a longish
A review of The Twilight on the Nation State: Globalisation, Chaos and War.
Left to capitalist devices and sans human intervention, we’ll head for chaos, argues Prem Shankar Jha.
Technology, the information revolution in particular, does indeed have the power to transform the world for the better and, as Jeffrey Sachs has so eloquently argued, to end poverty in our lifetimes. But this will not happen automatically, under the spur of market forces. It will only happen if there is deliberate human intervention to slow down the pace of economic transformation…to give the social, political and international institutions upon which civilisation depends time to adapt.
Without such intervention, and particularly if the pace of change is allowed to accelerate continuously…it will overwhelm the institutions human beings have built within, and between, nations to moderate conflict between the gainers and losers from change. The danger signal, that this has begun to happen, is hoisted when the social system starts to lose its capacity to generate self-equilibrating responses to new shocks. If the existing institutions are not given time to adapt to the new challenges, and if new institutions are not given time to develop, this process will end by destroying the world we know, without putting anything in its place.
The potential for conflict, and therefore the need for conscious human intervention, arises from a profound asymmetry at the very core of capitalism: while markets tend to restore economic equilibrium after each external shock, they are blind to the distributive effects of their own working.
Left to themselves, they tend to widen income differences as profits accumulate in some hands while labour-saving technology keeps incomes at the bottom of the pyramid from rising in equal measure. Competition also creates redundancy as technology and tastes change.
In The Age of Extremes, Eric Hobsbawm described the last three decades of the 20th century as “crisis decades” that saw the re-emergence of disorder in human society and concluded with the observation that he felt “less reason to feel hopeful about the future than in the middle ’80s”. My book attempts to explore the causes of his instinctive pessimism. It suggests that the root cause of the growing disorder is that in these decades capitalism burst the confines of the nation state, and began, inexorably, to convert a large part (although as yet not the whole) of the globe into its new ‘container’.
The concept of a ‘container’ for capitalism was coined by Fernand Braudel. It refers to the social, economic and political unit that is large enough to organise and contain all the interrelated functions of capitalism—finance, production and marketing. While the linkages that define this unit are primarily economic, the need for a secure environment within which to operate turns it into a political and military unit as well. Technology is the engine behind the relentless growth of capitalism’s container over the past seven centuries, for each new development in it enlarges the minimum economic scale of production. This means that the minimum size of an efficient self-sustaining network of economic relations, that is of an efficient ‘economy’, has also grown in each cycle of capitalism’s expansion till it has, in the past quarter of a century, outgrown the political confines of even a very large nation state like the US.
This is not the first time capitalism has burst its ‘container’. Since its birth in the north Italian city states in the 13th century, capitalism has done this at least three times.
In the first cycle, Venice, Florence and Milan saw the rise of industrial capitalism, Genoa of finance capitalism. But the scale of capitalist production in the first three was small enough to be contained within the container of the city state
The city state remained the container of capitalism during its second cycle of expansion when Holland and, more specifically, Amsterdam, became its hub. But by the time capitalism made its next leap, it was too large to be contained within even a hybrid, nation-backed city state like Amsterdam, and needed to mould economic, technical and political relations in an entire nation state to turn it into its container. That ‘container’ proved to be England. But by the end of the 19th century capitalism was outgrowing even the small nation state, which is what England really was, and required a large nation state as its container. The United States of America fulfilled that need. Today, capitalism has outgrown the nation state altogether and is turning a large part of the globe into its container. That is the process that the world refers to as globalisation….
Capitalism’s tendency to burst its container has also given rise to cycles of conflict between states and a remoulding of the international order at the end of each cycle. In every case, finance capital has been on the side of the ‘revisionists’ who have been bent upon changing power relations within the state system. This is because whenever capitalism has burst one container, it has looked immediately for the security of another. It is the search for security that has both shaped the container and given capitalism its innate aggressiveness.
The conflict between global and national capitalism is the root cause of the disorder that Hobsbawm has dubbed the ‘crisis decades’. The regular recurrence of such conflict in all earlier cycles of capitalism’s expansion has made Giovanni Arrighi give it a special name—systemic chaos. Systemic chaos arises when a political or economic system suddenly loses the capacity to generate equilibrating responses. This happens when “conflict escalates beyond the threshold within which society is able to generate ‘powerful countervailing tendencies’, or adapt by developing new norms of behaviour and sets of rules without displacing the old. On each occasion, its arrival has been accompanied by a sudden loss of function of established institutions and relationships, confusion, anger, and eventually prolonged periods of violence”. In each successive cycle, the contradiction between the old and the new, between what was fashioned before and what has to be fashioned now, has become more pronounced and the conflict more intense. For, as the size of the capitalist container has grown, it has enmeshed a larger and larger number of people, living in an ever-expanding portion of the globe, in tightening webs of interdependence.
This has raised their vulnerability to developments they frequently do not understand, and…cannot control. Violence is both a symptom and a product of that loss of control.
Today, as capitalism embarks upon its fifth cycle of expansion, it is breaking the mould of the nation state altogether. In doing so, it is beginning to generate enormous pressures for shattering the international state system that served a world of nation states. As a result, every human institution, from the welfare state to the nation state, is under assault because these institutions, which were till recently regarded as the crowning achievements of civil society, have become obstacles to the development of global capitalism.
The 20th century was exceptionally violent because disorder erupted not once but twice. The first time was when American hegemony replaced British in the final expansion of capitalism within the framework of the nation state. The second was during the ‘crisis decades’, when capitalism burst the confines of the nation state. In contrast to the 19th century, therefore, conflict has been endemic in the 20th century. Looking back, it is apparent that for the greater part of the 20th century, mankind was not in control of its destiny. In only 40 of its years, roughly 1900 to 1913 and 1946 to 1973, did the world know peace, stability and a measure of tranquility. But even the tranquility of the first period was exceedingly fragile, for the peace upon which it depended was already unravelling. The remaining 60 years were years of crisis and disorder in which human beings led fearful lives; in which they concentrated upon the present because the past was too terrible to remember, and the future too uncertain to contemplate.
Viewed against this dark background, the optimism that makes us instinctively believe that the next century can only be better is more a fervent hope than an expectation. For deep within us, we know that the current, fifth, cycle of capitalism’s expansion has only just begun. It is still predominantly tearing down the institutions that served us so well in the past, not building the institutions we will need in the future. That challenge still lies ahead of us, and no one can be sure that humanity has the sagacity to meet it. W.H. Auden wrote in the ’30s, “We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.” That sums up the plight of humanity today
Dc: seems like a wise man, and more at home in clear logic in English than most of us.
Pasted from <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/>
DC hard to beeive the weakness of his words.
Jack Balkin (Yale) and Sanford Levinson (Texas): The Processes of Constitutional Change: From Partisan Entrenchment to the National Surveillance State.
This essay develops and refines our theory of constitutional change and constitutional revolutions, and applies it to the constitutional events of the last five years. We argue that constitutional change and constitutional revolutions occur through a process called partisan entrenchment, in which Presidents appoint judges and Justices to the federal judiciary who are thought to share the broad political agenda of the political party led by the President. When presidents are able to appoint enough such judges and Justices, constitutional doctrines start to change. The pace of change is faster if many appointments are made in a comparatively brief period of time.
Courts’ development of constitutional doctrine occurs within the broader framework of changes in constitutional regimes, which include changes in institutions, legislation, and administrative regulation. These changes are driven by the forces of democratic politics, and the major actors are the political branches. Although courts may initially resist these changes, in the long run they cooperate with them, define their contours, and legitimate them.
The second half of this essay describes an emerging regime of institutions and practices that we call the ‘National Surveillance State’. The National Surveillance State features increased government investments in technology and expanded government bureaucracies devoted to promoting domestic security and gathering intelligence and surveillance using all of the devices that the digital revolution allows. The National Surveillance State responds to the particular needs of warfare, foreign policy, and domestic law enforcement in the twenty-first century.
Courts will set the constitutional contours and limits of the National Surveillance State, but Congress and military and civilian bureaucracies within the Executive branch will actually develop most of its governing apparatus. Although the Republican Party has had the first crack at shaping the institutions and practices of the National Security State, both parties will eventually play a role, they will simply advocate somewhat different versions. How the National Surveillance State develops will depend on the contingencies of politics and the results of future elections, which, of course, will produce new judicial appointments. The courts will bless and legitimate these developments, much as they legitimated the rise of the administrative and regulatory state and the National Security State in the middle of the twentieth century.
Pasted from <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/>
DC that is a natural and might be a way of getting many young people involved, making it interestng to them. Might be amajor shift.
Rutenberg says “dunno to (1 the NIE) and (2 Clinton- Wallace), but isn’t it all intriguing??!! And you would be smarter to focus on Question (3), which is how the Bush-Cheney Campaign will take (1) and (2) and put them in a stew with everything else and make this a Daddy Party election no matter what.”
It is a must read. LINK
Pasted from <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=156238>
dc: Each day we are all thinking more about Iran. What I think I know is that the questions are something like
1. If the US pulls out of Iraq, does it create a vacuum filled instantly by Iran?
2. How do China, India and Russia react?
3. We have created a great mess and I think Bush’s actions have strengthened the repressive fundamentalist side of Iranian society (a very complex much middle class secular society). Can we recover?
4. It looks like one dialectic is between the US “winning” in Iraq, or losing.
5. the other dialectic is between Polarization, as in US vs. Iran/Russia/China vs. renewing all the complexities of the fabric of vital multilateral relationships among nations.
6. Yet a third is “clash of civilizations” which is another part of polarization, vs glbalization (with its problems of wealth concntration).
Is the US smart enough to play this “chess” game (whose history is entwined with Persia), while Bush plays checkers or solitaire.
The US is in a real jam in Iraq and by extension the whole Middle East, and by further extension, the emerging world centers of power. Can a weak administration without skills or relationships, faced with losing, do anything but bet the whole on a war?
Here are a few articles that just stunned me for their knowledge of things I knew nothing about, that I’ve discussed so far this week.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HI23Ak01.html review of book by Vali Nasr
http://www.policyreview.org/000/corn2.html modern strategy
http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=5653 Ratzinger book excerpt
A review of War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror by John Yoo.
Yet Yoo implies that the torture scandal may be largely a liberal media concoction. After citing The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, Yoo says, “Articles have appeared claiming abuses at Guantanamo such as long-term isolation, stress positions, and exposure to extreme heat or cold or noise. At this writing we cannot know if such reports are false, or isolated examples. They are currently unverified and the subject of continuing investigations.”
Unverified—except for a deluge of
e-mails from FBI agents who visited Gitmo and were horrified by what they saw. An FBI agent reported on Dec. 5, 2003 that the “torture techniques” used at Gitmo have “produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature.” One FBI agent complained about a female U.S. military interrogator who yanked back a shackled prisoner’s thumbs and grabbed his genitals. Another FBI agent e-mailed bureau headquarters on Aug. 2, 2004 after seeing detainees “chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more.” FBI agents also observed that detainees were being abused with extreme temperatures and loud rap music. An agent detailed to Iraq complained to FBI headquarters in June 2004 after seeing U.S. forces involved in “numerous serious physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees … strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees’ ear openings.” (The FBI memos were disclosed as a result of an ACLU lawsuit.)
Pasted from <http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_10_09/review.html>
James Bovard is the author, most recently, of Attention Deficit Democracy and The Bush Betrayal.
Pasted from <http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_10_09/review.html>
From Mexico, the distinction between the demand for a fair vote count and the need to redress deeply felt social wrongs has been subsumed into a general movement for fundamental reforms.
It would be a mistake to write off Mexico’s post-electoral conflict as a battle between legality and sore losers. Mexico’s current political crisis developed out of the lack of public confidence in an exceedingly tight and contested presidential election. The Electoral Tribunal’s declaration of Calderón as the official winner on Sept. 5 failed to restore credibility in representative government for three fundamental reasons: a bad count, a lack of transparency, and the belief of poor Mexicans that the new government will not represent their interests.
The problem with the count is straightforward — no one can say with certainty who won the Mexican presidential elections. The official system of preliminary results showed such obvious flaws in functioning — including the original exclusion of three million votes — that the matter passed to a full review of tally sheets amid growing suspicions of foul play. Later, the judicial electoral tribunal rejected the demand for a full recount of ballots despite ample indications of irregularities.
In this context, the tribunal’s decision to legally proclaim Calderón the victor by a half-percent margin over Obrador was more a matter of expediency than a measure of justice. The tribunal acknowledged arithmetic errors and electoral law violations but concluded, somewhat speciously, that they did not change the outcome.
Pasted from <http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/2501.cfm>
Part of the problem is Mexico’s major obstacle to democratic transition — the power of the presidency. Once elected, Vicente Fox, like his predecessors in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (P.R.I.), used presidential powers to force unpopular measures through the back door in the form of executive decrees. Instead of limiting this power, Fox used it to consolidate neoliberal reforms.
Instead of examining the negative impact of NAFTA, the U.S. government has insisted on more of the same. It refused to renegotiate the agricultural chapter of NAFTA that calls for complete liberalization of corn and beans in 2008. Calderón supports the liberalization, despite studies that predict a profound negative impact on approximately three million small-scale farmers.
Even if Calderón were miraculously able to consolidate power over the coming months — a scenario that looks increasingly unlikely — a broad movement calling for major institutional reforms will be on the political scene for a long time to come. Whether as a parallel government, a grassroots social movement, a partisan opposition, or some combination, the movement will weaken the new presidency and strengthen hopes for a real and inclusive democratic transition.
DC: this pattern is world wide, including in the US, but submerged and out of sight but the dynamics are the same. There are those for whom “democracy” means democracy only whne pro market procapital repressentatives win. If they don’t the results are not to be respected.
Pasted from <http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/2501.cfm>
An essay on Tony Blair, child of the Hippie Generation.
(Swans – September 25, 2006) The aims of the cultural and social revolution in the early years of the sixties in London (when Tony Blair was a young boy) were awesome and far-reaching: not just to ban the bomb, but to reallocate military money to improve community life, to rid the world of oppressive and exploitive governments, and bring democracy to the poor and under-developed countries by sharing our resources. Only in this context you can understand Blair’s belief that it was possible to rid the world of oppressors like Saddam and create a climate for democracy.
Once in power, it wasn’t Wilson, but the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins who proved to be in tune with youthful aspirations. Instead of continuing that office’s usual narrow-minded conservatism, he promoted a level of freedom never known before in Europe. More than anyone else, he was responsible for the liberal, open atmosphere that made Britain so creative. Jenkins fought for his beliefs and instigated the social democratization that began in the sixties and has continued ever since.
By the late sixties the undercurrent within the counterculture began to value being over doing, expressing over accomplishing. Yet the hippie movement did have an enormous influence and was instrumental in bringing about the slow onset of social democratization in England. Much of the amalgam of reforms that we now take for granted — civil rights, and women rights, general reforms of local and central government — were in part or wholly accepted into daily life. Nevertheless, the sixties proved to be poor training ground for future politicians. Few of the members of government echoed the liberal spirit of the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins and no immediate successor with his far-sighted vision followed in his footsteps. Blair is the child of the hippie generation and many of us hoped he would be the new Jenkins. In many ways he has been good for England and is far superior to the pathetic group of politicians in the rest of Europe. It is unfortunate that he has been embroiled in Bush’s mad war even though he has at times been a moderating force on Bush.
Pasted from <http://www.swans.com/library/art12/moller04.html>
Meet Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel, one of the big reasons the Democrats have a shot to retake the house.
Banter with a U.S. President is nothing new to Emanuel; he was at Bill Clinton’s side as a political advisor inside the White House for six years and still talks strategy with him at least once a month. Now chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-the operations center for House candidates (Washington nickname: “D-Triple C”)-Emanuel is applying rugged business discipline to the Democratic Party’s historic effort to wrest control of the U.S. House from the Republicans. Last year he recruited dozens of candidates to challenge GOP incumbents. This year he is holding feet to the fire to raise record amounts for the Democrats’ effort.
Along the way Emanuel has widened his core of admirers-and made powerful enemies. Nervous about being swamped by Republican money this fall, he spent the summer locked in a bitter dispute with Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean over the allocation of election resources-the political equivalent of Microsoft executives arguing over how many Xboxes to ship where for the Christmas season.
If Emanuel does succeed in returning House Democrats to power for the first time in 12 years, it’s a safe bet that this one-time investment banker will vault up the House leadership ranks and eventually be in a position to bid for the Speaker’s title that Chicagoans once hoped would be held by their legendary Dan Rostenkowski.
He also symbolizes the party’s painful internal divisions. He is praised by Democratic strategists who think the party needs to resist moving left (nearly twice as many American voters call themselves conservative as call themselves liberal) and distrusted by some in the party’s liberal wing. He considers Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman a good friend, even though Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war inflamed leftist sentiment and cost him his party’s nomination.
His father, Benjamin, was born in Jerusalem, the son of pharmacists who had escaped the Russian pogroms. In the 1940s Benjamin Emanuel interrupted his medical school training in Switzerland to take part in an unsuccessful scheme to smuggle guns from Czechoslovakia to the Israeli underground. He later served as a medic in the 1948 Israeli war of independence. (Rahm would echo his father’s dedication during the Gulf war: With Iraqi Scuds falling on his father’s home country, he volunteered for military-vehicle-maintenance duty near the Lebanese border.)
A year after Clinton took office, Emanuel was demoted. “He was very upset,” recalls Zeke. “He thought he was going to get kicked out of the White House.” He didn’t, and neither did he quit. Instead, Emanuel regrouped, helping lead the charge on key Clinton initiatives, including the crime bill, the assault weapons ban, and NAFTA. “He was constantly on the offense,” says Begala. Emanuel planned to leave after the 1996 election, but Clinton promoted him to take George Stephanopoulos’s spot as senior advisor for policy and strategy.
DC: good to be reminded of white house priorities at that time. Need to compare this to 80% and I’ve ordered the book, The Plan.
Media Matters reviews Bill O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior.
And says its terrible, and it seems to be.
Democratising globalisation: Joseph Stiglitz interviewed
25 – 9 – 2006
It’s time to move from critique to reform of globalisation –and politics is key, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz tells Justin Vogler
“I’ve really gone back to some of the areas I’ve worked on over the last thirty-five years”, Stiglitz explains. “I’d done work on intellectual property, the environment, debt, trade and natural resources. It was time to revisit these issues from the perspective of globalisation.” As well as an appraisal of global affairs, the book outlines practical ways in which the functioning of the international political economy could be improved.
“One of my critiques of globalisation is that it is undemocratic”, says the professor. “If you take that critique seriously then you have to try and bring more people into the debate. I created an NGO, the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, with that objective. This book is part of the same project.”
His argument for democracy is not that it is good for development; it is that it is good for people.
But look at South Korea; it developed very fast with almost no foreign investors. This notion that the panacea comes from outside is, I think, flawed.” National capital, he concludes, is probably much more important than foreign investment.
He argues that patents hold knowledge hostage and therefore obstruct market forces. His preferred solution would be a prize system for innovators. This would encourage research and development and at the same time let knowledge flow freely. This in turn, would lead to more innovation and the generation of more knowledge. A further vital side-effect of such a system would be to enable poorer countries to produce and sell generic medicines, particularly HIV drugs, at cost.
Stiglitz goes on to underline the importance of the state. “In early courses, instead of focusing on business, which seems to be what everyone wants to teach, we should be focusing on public policy and what governments should be doing. Markets are good for some things, but other things need to be left to the state.” Students also need to absorb two additional important points: the concept of trade-offs, identifying where economic analysis ends and political analysis begins, and the inevitability of disagreement over values.
“Globalisation will change”, he concludes. “The current system cannot continue. It will either change as a result of crisis or it will change because we approach problems in a systematic rational way. The hope that underpins my book is that we will opt for the second option.”
Mickey Z on 10 reasons cars suck.
During the twentieth century, 250 million Americans were maimed or injured in automobile accidents. Every single day in the U.S., an average of 121 people are killed in car accidents. The leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 in New York City is pedestrian automobile accidents
Automobiles emit one-quarter of U.S. greenhouse gases.
The earth could be rescued from global warming by an unlikely saviour: A cooler Sun.
Studies have shown that when solar output is high, the climate tends to be hot. For example, over the past 30 to 40 years scientists believe the Sun has been particularly active, adding to Earth’s already considerable heating problems. However, things may change in the near future.
This point was backed by Cambridge solar physicist Nigel Weiss. ‘Periods of high solar activity do not last long, perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash,’ he told New Scientist. ‘It is a boom-bust system and I would expect a crash soon.’
The Sun is a sphere of super-hot gas, 870,000 miles in diameter. Its volume is great enough to hold more than one million Earths.
The surface temperature is 5,500 degrees Centigrade: it is 15 million degrees C at its core.
The average distance from Earth to Sun is 93 million miles. At a steady 70mph, it would take 152 years to drive there.
Even with a speed of 186,000 miles per second, it takes light eight-and-a-half minutes to travel from the Sun’s surface to the Earth.
At 4.5 billion years old, the Sun is halfway through its lifespan.
George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun was written in Eric Clapton’s garden in 1969. Members of the georgeharrison.com forum voted it their favourite track.
Research finds positive, informative strategies for health and environmental goals are far more effective than negatives strategies which employ messages of fear, guilt or regret.
Paul Craig Roberts on why Bush will nuke Iran.
University of California Professor Jorge Hirsch, an authority on nuclear doctrine, believes that an American nuclear attack on Iran will destroy the Nonproliferation Treaty and send countries in pell-mell pursuit of nuclear weapons. We will see powerful nuclear alliances, such as Russia/China, form against us. Japan could be so traumatized by an American nuclear attack on Iran that it would mean the end of Japan’s sycophantic relationship to the U.S.
Hirsch believes that the U.S. military’s opposition to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran has been overcome by the civilian neocon authorities in the Bush administration. Desperate to retrieve their drive toward hegemony from defeat in Iraq, the neocons are betting on the immense attraction to the American public of force plus success. It is possible that Bush will be blocked by Europe, Russia, and China, but there is no visible American opposition to Bush legitimizing the use of nuclear weapons at the behest of U.S. hegemony
Pasted from <http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts176.html>
Dc: interesting fellow
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is Chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
Pasted from <http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts176.html>
George Lakoff on 12 traps that keep progressives from winning.
Richard Wirthlin, chief strategist for former president Ronald Reagan, made a discovery in 1980 that profoundly changed American politics. As a pollster, he was taught that people vote for candidates on the basis of the candidates’ positions on issues. But his initial polls for Reagan revealed something fascinating: Voters who didn’t agree with Reagan on the issues still wanted to vote for him.
1. The Issue Trap
We hear it said all the time: Progressives won’t unite behind any set of ideas. We all have different ideas and care about different issues. The truth is that progressives do agree at the level of values and that there is a real basis for progressive unity. Progressive values cut across issues. So do principles and forms of argument. Conservatives argue conservatism, no matter what the issue. Progressives should argue progressivism. We need to get out of issue silos that isolate arguments and keep us from the values and principles that define an overall progressive vision.
2. The Poll Trap
Many progressives slavishly follow polls. The job of leaders is to lead, not follow. Besides, contrary to popular belief, polls in themselves do not present accurate empirical evidence. Polls are only as accurate as the framing of their questions, which is often inadequate. Real leaders don’t use polls to find out what positions to take; they lead people to new positions.
3. The Laundry List Trap
Progressives tend to believe that people vote on the basis of lists of programs and policies. In fact, people vote based on values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity.
4. The Rationalism Trap
There is a commonplace — and false — theory that reason is completely conscious, literal (applies directly to the objective world), logical, universal and unemotional. Cognitive science has shown that every one of these assumptions is false. These assumptions lead progressives into other traps: assuming that hard facts will persuade voters and that voters are “rational” and will vote in their self-interest and on the issues, and that negating a frame is an effective way to argue against it.
5. The No-Framing-Necessary Trap
Progressives often argue that “truth doesn’t need to be framed” and that the “facts speak for themselves.” People use frames — deep-seated mental structures about how the world works — to understand facts. Frames are in our brains and define our common sense. It is impossible to think or communicate without activating frames, and so which frame is activated is of crucial importance. Truths need to be framed appropriately to be seen as truths. Facts need a context.
6. The Policies-Are-Values Trap
Progressives regularly mistake policies with values, which are ethical ideas like empathy, responsibility, fairness, freedom, justice and so on. Policies are not themselves values, though they are, or should be, based on values. Thus, Social Security and universal health insurance are not values; they are policies meant to reflect and codify the values of human dignity, the common good, fairness and equality.
7. The Centrist Trap
There is a common belief that there is an ideological “center” — large group of voters either with a consistent ideology of their own or lined up left to right on the issues or forming a “mainstream,” all with the same positions on issues. In fact, the so-called center is actually made up of biconceptuals, people who are conservative in some aspects of life and progressive in others. Voters who self-identify as “conservative” often have significant progressive values in important areas of life. We should address these “partial progressive” biconceptuals through their progressive identities, which are often systematic and extensive.
A common mistaken ideology has convinced many progressives that they must “move to the right” to get more votes. In reality, this is counterproductive. By moving to the right, progressives actually help activate the right’s values and give up on their own. In the process, they also alienate their base.
8. The “Misunderestimating” Trap
Too many progressives think that people who vote conservative are just stupid, especially those who vote against their economic self-interest. Progressives believe that we only have to tell them the real economic facts, and they will change the way they vote. The reality is that those who vote conservative have their reasons and we had better understand them. Conservative populism is cultural — not economic — in nature. Conservative populists see themselves as oppressed by elitist liberals who look down their noses at them, when they are just ordinary, moral, right-thinking folks. They see liberals as trying to impose an immoral “political correctness” on them, and they are angry about it.
Progressives also paint conservative leaders as incompetent and not very smart, based on a misunderstanding of the conservative agenda. This results from looking at conservative goals through progressive values. Looking at conservative goals through conservative values yields insight and shows just how effective conservatives really are.
9. The Reactive Trap
For the most part, we have been letting conservatives frame the debate. Conservatives are taking the initiative on policy making and getting their ideas out to the public. When progressives react, we echo the conservative frames and values, so our message is not heard or, even worse, reinforces their ideas. Progressives need a collection of proactive policies and communication techniques to get our own values out on our own terms. “War rooms” and “truth squads” must change frames, not reinforce conservative frames. But even then, they are not nearly enough. Progressive leaders, outside of any party, must come together in an ongoing, long-term, organized national campaign that honestly conveys progressive values to the public — day after day, week after week, year after year, no matter what the specific issues of the day are.
10. The Spin Trap
Some progressives believe that winning elections or getting public support is a matter of clever spin and catchy slogans — what we call “surface framing.” Surface framing is meaningless without deep framing — our deepest moral convictions and political principles. Framing, used honestly at both the deep and surface levels, is needed to make the truth visible and our values clear. Spin, on the other hand, is the dishonest use of surface linguistic frames to hide the truth. And progressive values and principles — the deep frames — must be in place before slogans can have an effect; slogans alone accomplish nothing. Conservative slogans work because they have been communicating their deep frames for decades.
11. The Policyspeak Trap
Progressives consistently use legislative jargon and bureaucratic solutions, like “Medicare prescription drug benefits,” to speak to the public about their positions. Instead, progressives should speak in terms of the common concerns of voters — for instance, how a policy will let you send your daughter to college, or how it will let you launch your own business.
12. The Blame Game Trap
It is convenient to blame our problems on the media and on conservative lies. Yes, conservative leaders have regularly lied and used Orwellian language to distort the truth, and yes, the media have been lax, repeating the conservatives’ frames. But we have little control over that. We can control only how we communicate. Simply correcting a lie with the truth is not enough. We must reframe from our moral perspective so that the truth can be understood. This reframing is needed to get our deep frames into public discourse. If enough people around the country honestly, effectively and regularly express a progressive vision, the media will be much more likely to adopt our frames.
This is an excerpt from Lakoff’s forthcoming book, Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision, A Progressive’s Handbook.
Pasted from <http://www.alternet.org/story/42146/>
An article on the intellectual journey of the National Center for Policy Analysis,
There were two theories at the time. Nobel Laureate James Buchanan and his colleague Gordon Tullock, among others, showed that democratic voting in theory could lead to unpleasant outcomes. At the same time, Nobel Laureate George Stigler developed a theory in which special interests “captured” the agencies that regulated them. Although these theories were developed by economists, they lacked the principle of “marginalism,” an idea advanced by the British economist Alfred Marshall near the turn of the previous century and which marked the transition of economics from “classical” to “neoclassical.”
Theory of the State. Goodman set out to do for political science what Marshall had done for economics. To emphasize the point, he titled his Columbia University dissertation “The Market for Coercion: A Neoclassical Theory of the State.” The theory begins with the observation that every public spending decision pits those who want more spending against those who want less; every regulatory decision puts those who want more against those who want less, etc. People can influence these decisions by voting, making campaign contributions, giving speeches, etc. The amount of effort they make divided by the benefit they hope to receive can be thought of as the “price” they are willing to pay to obtain a dollar’s worth of benefit from the political system.
What should be the goal of tax policy? In a number of NCPA studies since the early 1990s, economist and NCPA Senior Fellow Gerald Scully of the University of Texas at Dallas has argued that the aim of tax policy should be to maximize the rate of economic growth. Building upon the insight behind the famous Laffer curve (that lower tax rates can yield higher revenues), Scully showed that lowering taxes can also raise the rate of economic growth. According to his calculations, the U.S. tax burden has exceeded the optimum since 1949. As a result the economy has grown more slowly, Americans are less wealthy and government has fewer resources. The situation is even worse in developed countries with higher tax rates.
So in the public sphere, health care is on a course to crowd out every other government program – from education and roads and bridges to Social Security and national defense. And for the economy as a whole, health care is on a course to crowd out every other form of consumption, including food, clothing, housing, etc.
The implications of these forecasts are ominous in more ways than one. No matter what area of public policy is of most interest to you – capital gains taxes, education, defense, environment, etc. – health care spending is emerging as the single most important obstacle to government doing whatever else you want it to do.
Pasted from <http://www.ncpa.org/pub/special/20060921-sp.html>
Dc: what these fail to address are, that the state is an instrument of capital control, and whom is rapid growth to benefit?
Pasted from <http://www.ncpa.org/pub/special/20060921-sp.html>
Who is Noam Chomsky? Someone who should have stuck to syntax, Roger Scruton says.
Prof. Chomsky is an intelligent man. Not everything he says by way of criticizing his country is wrong. However, he is not valued for his truths but for his rage, which stokes the rage of his admirers. He feeds the self-righteousness of America’s enemies, who feed the self-righteousness of Prof. Chomsky. And in the ensuing blaze everything is sacrificed, including the constructive criticism that America so much needs, and that America–unlike its enemies, Prof. Chomsky included–is prepared to listen to.
Pasted from <http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008997>
Dc: not insightful. He fails to deal with Chomsky’s incredibly detailed work, even if it lacks a positive sense of why the critique is worth making.
When it comes to antidepressants, nobody really knows anything, anyway, so why not go with ketamine, a mild hallucinogen known to club freaks as Special K?
Sep 27] From Social Anarchism, an essay on Anarchism and the Question of Human Nature;
This article is, in part, a response to the recent best-seller The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002), by Steven Pinker of MIT. Pinker is that rare individual, a compassionate conservative (such creatures do exist, despite the oxymoronic nature of the phrase). He is neither racist nor sexist, and appears to believe sincerely in human equality and freedom, though he does not think we need to abandon capitalism or authoritarianism to achieve those goals. Much of the book is aimed at demonstrating the sources and ongoing project of what he calls the “blank-slate” hypothesis. Classical anarchism, with its origins in the work of Godwin and Proudhon, in the tumults of the French Revolutionary era, and — indirectly — in socialism of various hues, has always assumed that human nature is almost infinitely malleable. It is an idea shared by most philosophies of the Left, and was developed into scientific respectability by such left-leaning anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists as Boas, Durkheim, Mead, Kroeber, Jung, Reich and Goodman. Pinker traces it back to Locke and Mill, at least in its modern form (the idea actually goes back to classical Greece). It is still the dominant view of human nature in academia, and has usually been accepted unquestioningly by anarchists. Unfortunately (and I do mean ‘unfortunately’), it is wrong.
Dc: a long excellent article nworth reading.
And, from Juan Cole
But that al-Qaeda had these grievances does not mean that Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq cannot now generate more terrorism. If a few thousand Muslims were upset about the al-Qaeda grievances of 1996 through 2001, many millions of Muslims are upset about US actions in Iraq.
But the other thing to say is that the US was in fact “in Iraq” in the 1990s in some ways. The US had the presence in Saudi Arabia in part to fly surveillance and sometimes bombing raids on Iraq. And the US had gotten the UN to impose a n economic boycott on Iraq that excluded many medicines from the country. For a while they could not get chlorine for water purification. It is estimated that the US/UN sanctions killed 500,000 Iraqi children. This was something that radical Muslim terrorists of the late 1990s were definitely exercised about. They have revealed this in their interrogations.
So it isn’t true that the US wasn’t in Iraq during the earlier terror attacks nor is the implication true, that it doesn’t matter what the US does, the same number of terrorists will always be out their trying to cause the US harm. In fact, the number of those who want to do us harm fluctuates over time. If Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq, the number would have shrunk drastically after 2001. Instead, Bush has arranged for the number to expand considerably.
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
PERMANENT BASES….This was buried on page A16 of the LA Times today:
House Passes Ban on Permanent Iraq Bases
Congress is on the verge of barring the construction of permanent bases for U.S. forces in Iraq, a move aimed at quelling concerns in the Arab world that American forces will remain in the war-torn country indefinitely.
….On Monday, House and Senate leaders agreed to insert a ban pushed by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware….”I have no illusions that this provision will somehow dramatically change the dynamic of events on the ground in Iraq,” Biden said Tuesday in a statement. “But…this is a message that needs to be proclaimed loudly and regularly and with the stamp of the Congress.”
Pasted from <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>
September 26, 2006 § Leave a comment
Starting with Juan Cole
Shaikh Khalaf al-`Ulyan, a member of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, emphasized that “The American presence in the country is dependent on the security situation. A timetable for withdrawal has become an urgent need at the present moment, even if some of the political blocs do not support an immediate withdrawal.” He added, “The request by the president of the republic for a long-term American presence contravenes the prerogatives of the president of the state, which are guaranteed by the text of the Iraqi constitution, since the question of whether the US troops stay or go must be debated in parliament.” He insisted that the Iraqi Accord Front “will never permit the establishment of permanent bases on Iraqi soil on the pretext of protecting it.” He accused unnamed political forces of deliberately provoking a security crisis in Iraq in order to keep the American presence.
Dc: there has been increasing talk that the US has not wanted a solution in Iraq. His needs careful thought.
Qusay Abdul Wahhab of the Sadr Movement said that Talabani’s statements contradict the express desires of the parliamentary blocs that are demanding the departure of the Occupation forces from the country. He pointed to the joint coordination among these blocs to arrive at a specific instrumentality for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in the shortest time possible. He added that the plan was being worked on, and that “the parliamentary blocs will not permit the government to make [unilateral] decisions on this matter, especially since the al-Malik government promised to study the document signed by 140 MPs asking for a timetable for withdrawal and for no futher extenstion of the American military presence in the country.”
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
And, from an email without attribution,
…Islamic world are doing in common is trying to get the eyes of the world
> to focus on what they feel are neglected injustices, to destroy silence
> and hypocrisy. If someone accuses the Pope of defaming Islam, it’s
> blatantly ironic not to point out that Muslims who attack innocent
> people by association are defaming Islam too.
> Perhaps it is through these parades of symbolism and outrage that we
> synchronize ourselves out of duplicity and hypocrisy. A lot of people
> will condemn pedophile priests with no mention of suicide bombers.
> Others will condemn Israeli and American attacks while ignoring attacks
> by Muslims against Muslims in Iraq, or genocide in Sudan. Everyone has
> one eye open and one eye shut, and it may be through media displays of
> rage and apology that we learn to open both eyes at the same time and
> condemn all violence against innocent people simultaneously and with
> enough momentum to produce lasting change.
> Still, how many people will condemn the Pope but gloss over the
> deliberate use of rage and attacks on non-combatants by Islamic
> extremist groups? How many Christians will condemn Muslims as religious
> ideologues who want to destroy Christianity, while promoting the belief
> that Islam is a Satanic religion that God will destroy after it tries to
> destroy Israel? Many groups have been living in separate worlds, each
> with its own view of the other’s sins and belief in its own superiority.
> A collision of worlds is inevitable, although it may not necessarily
> require as much suffering as people like to believe. When people living
> in different worlds voluntarily cross lines and expose themselves to the
> Other, the toxic silence that leads to objectification, demonization and
> atrocity is dissolved, with less pain. The question for us is, have we
> made the Islamic and Arab worlds real to ourselves, and have we made
> ourselves real to them? When the real is denied, what fills the vacuum?
From TNR, a look at why
By CARLA BARANAUCKAS
September 24, 2006
NEW GERMANY, Minn.
Top Dog Country Club is emblematic of one of the most sweeping changes in the boarding kennel industry in decades, said James Krack, founder and executive director of the American Boarding Kennels Association, in Colorado Springs.
“Twenty years ago, the dog run was where the dog lived when he was in the kennel,” said Mr. Krack, who started the association 30 years ago and ran a kennel for 16 years. “Today a dog run is where he rests between activities.”
ON a sunny day in August, a half-dozen large dogs — mostly Labrador retrievers — bounded in and out of the swimming pool here at Top Dog Country Club. Others lounged on the artificial-turf lawn, or looked on with envy and vocal protests from “time out” pens on the edge of the play yard.
DC: since children are so expensive, thi is cheap.
And, Rice, this can get interesting.
What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years,” Rice said Monday during a meeting with editors and reporters at the New York Post.
- And, a book review
- Hidden Iran
Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
A groundbreaking book that reveals how the underappreciated domestic political rivalries within Iran serve to explain the country’s behavior on the world stage. A leading expert explains why we fail to understand Iran and offers a new strategy for redefining this crucial relationship.
Pasted from <http://www.cfr.org/issue/>
From National Review, a review of The Jewish Divide over Israel:
Dc: this above is a typical I they are against Israel they are against jewss article, this time about jews who question Israel. What about
Accusers and Defenders. From Forward, a review of David Mamet’s The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-hatred and the Jews;
And then David Mamet steps in with a whip and a sneer, to line up those recalcitrant Jews and shove them into synagogue. Mamet’s new book, “The Wicked Son,” consists of 37 brief essays on three major themes: the ineradicability of antisemitism; the rich appeal of Jewish peoplehood for those able to get with the program, and the sickness of assimilated, cosmopolitan, “self-hating” Jews. All that really holds the book together, however, are Mamet’s teeth, sinking again and again into the psychic flesh of that “wicked son” —
Who is this… freethinker, newly convinced Episcopalian, detractor of Israel, and whose approval is he courting? Does he think that his brave assertion of his racial taint, coupled with a repudiation of his people’s history, traditions, and religion, is going to win him friends anywhere?
Dc: neither seem to be going anywhere.
” Yale establishes the Yale Initiative for Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, the first center of its kind in North America.
A look indicates consideration of cultural Judaism but not political. The two have been held together to justify the later. Toady Israel is a nationalist holdover from another epoch. Judaism as a culture suffers through the connection.
And, quoted at gerat length for its importance.
From Policy Review, Tony Corn (USFSI): Clausewitz in Wonderland.
Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.” In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a “transformation” of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about — anthropology.
The first major flaw of U.S. military culture is of course “technologism” — this uniquely American contribution to the phenomenon known to anthropologists as “animism.” Infatuation with technology has led in the recent past to rhetorical self-intoxication about Network-Centric Warfare and the concomitant neglect of Culture-Centric Warfare. The second structural flaw is a Huntingtonian doctrine of civil-military relations ideally suited for the Cold War but which, given its outdated conception of “professionalism,” has outlived its usefulness and is today a major impediment to the necessary constant dialogue between the military and civilians.2
Besides the fallacy of equating jihadists with Al Qaeda alone, this static conception of the global jihad in terms of finite “stock” ignores the dynamic created by media, i.e., the cyber-mobilization as the new Levee en Masse. On what planet does the good professor live? From the Balkans to Londonistan, Europe has been, for at least a decade now, the closest thing to a “frontline” in the global jihad. In Colin Gray’s Britain today, 6 percent of the Muslim population (i.e., 100,000 individuals) think that the 7/7 London bombings were “fully justified;” 32 percent of British Muslims (half a million people) believe that “Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end;” and 40 percent want to see sharia law adopted in the uk.4
would be better inspired to meditate the truly “remarkable trinity” engineered by Arab governments for more than thirty years: natalist policies, anti-Western mass indoctrination, and mass emigration to the West. Isn’t time at least to add a chapter to On War on “demographic warfare?”5
DC: like so much, I don’t quote it because I agree, but because it is worth understanding. And comparing to other perspectives and arguments.
Since the end of the Cold War, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (which can apparently walk and chew gum at the same time) has been rethinking both conventional and irregular warfare. For the former, the pla turned to the American Mahan, not the Prussian Clausewitz; for the latter, the pla went back not only to Sun-Tzu, but also to Lawrence, Beaufre, Arquilla, Lind, etc. — anything that can be of use in the conceptual toolbox of “unrestricted warfare” (urw). In America, meanwhile, — and despite a guerilla war engineered by “Netwar” and “Fourth Generation Warfare” insurgents — the military educational establishment has continued to peddle Clausewitz or, to be more precise, an increasingly Jominized version of Clausewitz.
DC: so much to learn – and they are.
For those who naively thought that the current Iraqi predicament could safely be blamed on three dozen “neocon chickenhawks,” Thomas Ricks’s recent book will be a revelation: Failure was not the least preordained, and the military, as much as the civilians, has its share of responsibility. Talking about a military fiasco would be excessive, because it is not the U.S. military that made the two most fateful decisions (disbanding the Iraqi army in 2003; taking four months to form a government in 2006). But the fact remains, “well into 2005, the American military … didn’t imagine or prepare for the possibility that former regime members had their own ‘day-after’ plans to fight on even if they lost the conventional battle. It didn’t imagine that Iraq would become a magnet for international jihadists, so it failed to seal the borders. It didn’t imagine the Sunni tribal militias would react with such violence to the American presence, so it failed to take the pre-emptive economic and political steps to address their grievances. And it failed to understand that there were elements within the Shiite community that would use force to try to establish a theocratic system.”9
Since the proverbial military-industrial complex can always be counted on to push for a technocentric approach to war, isn’t it the duty of the military-educational complex to make sure soldiers never lose sight of the anthropocentric approach?
If, as Gray rightly points out, “strategy is — or should be, the bridge that connects military power with policy,” what kind of a bridge is On War, which devotes 600 pages to military power and next to nothing to policy? Between the “strategy for strategy’s sake” of the Clausewitzians, and the “tacticisation of strategy” of Network-Centric Warriors, genuine strategic thinking seems to be forever elusive — missing in action as much as in reflection.
Dc: these reflections also pertain to much of business and much of academic research. Valuable for 80%. I am going to continue long quotess because it is such a good education.
Why such an irrational “resistance” (in the Freudian sense) on the part of military educators? After all, it does not take an Einstein to realize that, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, the greatest generals for 20 centuries had one thing in common: They have never read Clausewitz. And conversely, in the bloodiest century known to man, the greatest admirers of Clausewitz also have had one thing in common: They may have won a battle here and there, but they have all invariably lost all their wars. One suspects that the Prussian Party is in fact not so much interested in meditating Clausewitz (their endless exegeses of Clausewitz in the past 30 years has yielded no new insight beyond the interpretations of a Raymond Aron and a Carl Schmitt) as such, as in maintaining a “Prussian folklore” in the U.S. military. One can understand their hostilite de principe to the idea of teaching irregular warfare: from Marshall Bugeaud to General Beaufre, from Marshall Gallieni to Marshall Lyautey, from Colonel Trinquier to Lieutenant Galula, the majority of the leading theoreticians on the subject happen to be, not Prussian but — horresco referens — French. And as is well-known by anyone who gets his military history from Hollywood rather than Harvard, the French, since 1918 at least, have proven utterly incapable of fighting.14
as Raymond Aron observed long ago, it should not come as a surprise that Clausewitz could only conceive of guerrilla warfare in the form of the traditional (defensive) “guerre populaire” and not the twenty-century (offensive) “guerre revolutionnaire.”
the conceptualization of irregular warfare will take a new turn, through the combined effects of the anthropologization of military theory (Calwell, Lawrence) and the militarization of revolutionary ideology (Lenin, Trotsky).16 Meanwhile, in the field of the conventional warfare, the traditional Clausewitzian emphasis on “annihilation” and “decisive battle” will find itself challenged by Delbruck and Corbett, while Liddell Hart will bring the debate on an altogether different plane: that of Grand Strategy.
If there is a real “Revolution in Guerrilla Affairs,” then, it is not to be found in Mao’s Long March, but in the French-Algerian War (1954-1962). By 1962, the Algerian fln forces are reduced to 10,000 men, while the French regular forces include more than 100,000 Algerian volunteers. But through the clever use of media (in particular Nasser’s “Voice of the Arabs,” the al-Jazeera of the time) and high-visibility fora provided by nascent international organizations (the un, the Arab League, etc.), the Algerian fln, while thoroughly defeated militarily, will be able to level the playing field and — the asymmetry of political wills being what it is17 — to prevail politically, in a way totally unanticipated by Mao.
For another, as the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review puts it, the Long War will have to be waged across the proverbial dime spectrum, now renamed dimefil (diplomacy, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, law enforcement).
Just as On War has little policy relevance for Muslim civil-military relations and interstate competition, so it sheds no light on another increasingly salient question: the “deep coalition” between Muslim state and nonstate actors. Though the Shiites represent only 15 percent of the Muslim world, the emerging Shiite Crescent has a formidable potential for nuisance in the region (due to both the sheer number of countries with Shiite minorities, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and the fact that Shiite territories tend to be where the oilfields are). What is the nature of the relation between the Shiite center (Iran) and the periphery (from Iraq to Pakistan)? What is the relative weight of religious (Shiite) vs. ethnic (Persian) factors in the “deep coalition” between the Iranian State and nonstate actors (Hamas, Hezbollah)? Under what conditions could Shiites and Sunnis overcome their differences and come up with a joint grand strategy against the West? These are difficult questions, but one thing is sure: not only On War won’t give you the right answers, it won’t even lead you to ask the right questions.
some Western observers describe the China/Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco) over Central Asia as an emerging “nato of the East.”
China’s growing global activism, from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia, is bringing anything but stability in its wake, and China’s recent development of second-strike capabilities, along with the construction of giant bunkers accommodating 200,000 people, cast doubt on the “softness” of its balancing act.
In domestic politics, since the advent of the so-called “Permanent Campaign” in the late 1970s, political communication has become a job where there is “no place for amateurs.” The “ballot-box warriors” are by now fully aware of the importance of narratives. But there is today, in terms of sheer sophistication, a 30-year time lag between political communication at home and strategic communication abroad.
DC: permananet campaign? I think so, yet never thought it.
In the ongoing battle for hearts and minds, public diplomacy and information operations will continue to go nowhere fast so long as they stay on “message” instead of moving on to “narrative.” From John Arquilla to Lawrence Freedman, the best strategists have — unsuccessfully so far — tried to draw attention to this fundamental rule of strategic communication: “Opinions are shaped not so much by the information received but the constructs through which that information is interpreted and understood” (Freedman).
In the ongoing battle for hearts and minds, public diplomacy and information operations will continue to go nowhere fast so long as they stay on “message” instead of moving on to “narrative.” From John Arquilla to Lawrence Freedman, the best strategists have — unsuccessfully so far — tried to draw attention to this fundamental rule of strategic communication: “Opinions are shaped not so much by the information received but the constructs through which that information is interpreted and understood” (Freedman).
At the micro-level. As two defense intellectuals recently pointed out, “a grand counterterrorism strategy would benefit from a comprehensive consideration of the stories terrorists tell: understanding the narratives which influence the genesis, growth, maturation and transformation of terrorist organizations will enable us to better fashion a strategy for undermining the efficacy of those narratives so as to deter, disrupt and defeat terrorist groups.”27
At the meso-level. It is time to bring genuine scholarship back in the meta-narrative of twentieth-century Middle East history. Since the Arab Revolt of 1916, the history of the region has been first and foremost the history of three successive rivalries. A first rivalry between the reactionary Saudis and the progressive Hashemites (1916-1925) for the control of the Holy Sites (and of the Oily Land, as it turned out later). A second rivalry between pan-Arabist Egypt and pan-Islamist Saudi Arabia (1945-1979) for leadership in the Arab world. A third rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran (1979-today) for the leadership of the re-Islamization of the global umma.
In short, from the point of view of Muslim history, the twentieth century has been as much a “Saudi Century” as Western history has been an “American Century.” Will the twenty-first century be an “Iranian Century”? If it gave up its nuclear fantasies, it certainly could. At any rate, analysts would do well to focus on the impact of the renewed Saudi-Iranian rivalry on the region, and once and for all see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for what it once was (a sideshow but a useful alibi to maintain a “state of emergency”) and what it is fast becoming today (a probing ground to test the determination of the West).
At the macro level. The most effective retrospective meta-narratives rise to the national (or even global) level and acquire the status of “collective memories” — which, more often than not, have little to do with scholarly history. If there is one grand narrative that needs to be thoroughly deconstructed, it is that of “Western imperialism vs. Muslim victimization.” For nearly a thousand years, 711 until 1683, it was Islam which was on the offensive, and the West on the defensive, with a few sporadic counteroffensives (aka the Crusades). And it is thanks to the continuous pressure of Russia on the Ottoman empire from 1699 on that Western Europe became free to safely turn its back on the Muslim question and develop an Atlantic Civilization (Russia is the unacknowledged enabler in the Plato-to-nato narrative).28 So much for Western Imperialism, then.
DC: just smart and informed.
Need, Greed, and Creed: this “remarkable trinity” owes nothing to Clausewitz, yet has always governed the political economy of warfare in most of the world most of the time. War seems to have been the continuation of economics (as much as of politics) by other means for the better part of the past 2,000 years. At the other end of the spectrum, a traditional neglect of the economic dimension also leads Clausewitzians to forget that U.S. hegemony today rests as much on its monetary “command of the common currency” as on its military “command of the commons.”30
At a very slow pace, the train has in fact already left the station. Since the introduction of the euro in 1999, various countries have quietly begun to shift their reserve currencies and, at regular intervals, Russia, China, and various opec countries (the latter, for instance, in retaliation for the cancelled Dubai Ports deal) have threatened to continue to do so.
Like Clausewitz, Carl Schmitt is a dangerous mind — only more so. Paradoxical as it may sound, the one-time jurist of the Third Reich is today an icon among the Western leftover left and its jihadist allies, who know that they will find in Schmitt, rather than Marx, the precision-guided weapons they need against liberalism. At his best, Schmitt remains to this day the most cogent critique of liberalism as a “political theology.” And while the leftover left may hold it against him that he provided the best philosophical basis for a distinction between authoritarianism and totalitarianism, they are forever grateful to Schmitt for having put forward a proto-theory of Lawfare.
Nothing is more urgent today than a confrontation between Schmitt and Clausewitz, if only because Schmitt’s two “remarkable trinities” (Law/Politics/War and State/Movement/People) are more policy relevant than Clausewitz’s. It is Schmitt, rather than Clausewitz, who will help you understand the current subversion, through international lawfare, of the un system by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (oic) under the guise of “dialogue of civilization,” “tolerance,” “global governance,” and other niceties. For military lawyers who want to become genuine “warrior-lawyers”34, Schmitt remains the best point of departure for the elaboration of counter-Lawfare.
Last but not least: in an age when there is much psychobabble in the West about “identity politics,” Schmitt also offers the most coherent articulation between identity and enmity. In that respect, it is to be hoped that, in the spirit of “jointness,” the National War College and the Middle East Studies Association will sponsor a comprehensive, multi-volume study on: “The Social Construction of Enmity/Identity: The Representation of ‘Jews and Crusaders’ in the State-sponsored Schools, Mosques and Media of the 57 Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.” That way, we will know once and for all if the global jihad is primarily the unfortunate symptom of a Sartrian, existential mal de vivre in the face of globalization, or if it is primarily a concerted, state-sponsored first phase for an assault on Western Civilization.
As for Fourth-Generation Warfare, chances are it will continue to offer precious insights. If it wants to avoid a “tacticisation of strategy,” though, it will have to bring the state back in and distinguish between premodern, modern, and postmodern states while looking at sovereignty for what it is: an “organized hypocrisy.”38 Rather than retire the concept of 4gw altogether, though, it should be given a fuller meaning, one that goes beyond the operational conduct of war and identify the epochal causes of the conflict in the perspective of the historical longue duree. To put it simply: 4gw theoreticians will have take into account that, if the global jihad can be called Fourth-Generation Warfare, it is first and foremost because it is the fourth wave of an age-old human comedy known as the “Revolution of the Saints”: Puritans, Jacobins, Bolsheviks, jihadists.39
A theo-political Revolution of the Saints, against the backdrop of an energetic Great Game, in the context of an informational Global Village. It is going to be a “long, hard slog” indeed …
DC: then come the footnotes, an education in themselves. Tough world? Are there alternatives? Can garden world survive in this world? Or does the long slog have to happen first?
Pasted from <http://www.policyreview.org/000/corn2.html>
September 25, 2006 § Leave a comment
- People make choices about politics, consumer goods, and religion with their hearts, not their heads.
- Successful leaders touch people at a gut level by projecting basic American values that seem lacking in modern institutions and missing from day-to-day life experiences.
- The most important Gut Values today are community and authenticity. People are desperate to connect with one another and be part of a cause greater than themselves. They’re tired of spin and sloganeering from political, business, and religious institutions that constantly fail them.
- A person’s lifestyle choices can be used to predict how he or she will vote, shop, and practice their religion. The authors reveal exclusive new details about the best “LifeTargeting” strategies.
- In this age of skepticism and media diversification, people are abandoning traditional opinion leaders for “Navigators.” These otherwise average Americans help their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers negotiate the swift currents of change in twenty-first-century America.
- Winning leaders ignore conventional wisdom and its many myths, including these false assumptions: Voters only act in their self interests; Republicans rule exurbia; and technology drives people apart. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
Once you squander a Gut Values Connection, you may never get it back. Bush learned that hard lesson within a year of winning reelection.
Values are what Americans want to see in a candidate, corporation, or church before they’re even willing to consider their policies and products. The choices people make about politics, consumer goods, and religion are driven by emotions rather than by intellect. That’s why we call President Bush’s tenacity, President Clinton’s empathy, and the sense of community and purpose of Hill and Warren Gut Values . Hill wasn’t just selling burgers. The presidents weren’t just peddling policies. Warren wasn’t just pitching the word of God. They were making Gut Values Connections .
With rare exceptions, Gut Values Connections don’t just happen. They are built. Chapters 1 to 3 (starting with politics, then turning to businesses and megachurches) explore the common routes taken by Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Hill and Warren, to establish Gut Values Connections and the new tools and technologies they have used to communicate them. First, they adapted to a changing public in ways that existing political, corporate, and religious institutions had not. Second, they found and targeted their audiences through strategies that predict voting/buying/church habits based on people’s lifestyle choices. Who are their friends? Where do they get their information? Who do they turn to for advice? What are their hobbies? What magazines do they read? Where do they live? What car do they drive? Where and how do they shop? What do they do for vacation? What angers them? What makes them happy? What do they do for a living? These and thousands of other lifestyle questions form a vast constellation of data points that Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Hill and Warren, used to make and maintain Gut Values Connections. Each man had his own name for what Bush’s team called “microtargeting.” We give this critical tool a new name — LifeTargeting — because the strategy tracks people based on their lifestyles. We also reveal new details about how Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Hill and Warren used the targeting strategy. Third, they said the right things to the right people in the right ways. Great Connectors use every available communications channel and new technology to push out their messages. We’ll share their marketing strategies, including one that is as old as mankind and more powerful than ever.
Consider what we’ve seen in just one generation:
- Women flooding the workforce, reshaping the American family
- Vast immigration, migration, and exurban sprawl
- The rise of a global economy
- The dawning of the infotechnology era
- The worldwide war against terrorism
In chapter 4, we’ll explain how this crush of events has changed Americans. Tired of chasing careers and cash, many Americans entered the twenty-first century determined to rebalance their priorities and find a higher meaning in their existences. The September 11, 2001, attacks intensified these feelings. People spent more time with family and friends, took longer vacations, and sought jobs with flexible hours. They spent more time praying and volunteering.
The meaning of life changed in America, or at least the meanings of money and success changed. The first years of the twenty-first century saw a rise in the number of people who said cash could do more than bring them pleasure; it could help them contribute to society, leave something to their heirs, or otherwise help their children. A growing number of Americans told pollsters that being a good parent or spouse defined success for them. GfK, a leading market research and consulting firm that has tracked public attitudes for decades in its Roper Reports consumer trends research, called this era of transformation a “recentering” of the American public. “Whatever” became “whatever matters.” And “getting by” wasn’t good enough when “getting a life” was possible. The “Me Generation” has given way to the era of “us.”
Yet life continues to grow more complicated. Global competition is forcing jobs overseas and cutting salaries, pensions, and other benefits that had defined the twentieth-century middle class, producing the first generation of Americans who fear their children will fair worse than they did. The dot-com bust wiped out the savings of middle-class Americans who had finally thought they were getting ahead. No longer are Americans’ perception of the health of the economy and their consumer confidence driven by macro factors like the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, and Gross Domestic Product growth. They have become untethered to those factors as they change jobs multiple times and worry about pensions and health care. The coarsening of popular culture has fueled the belief of many people, particularly parents, that their values are out of sync with the elite. New technologies both improve and complicate the way Americans live.
“Life is changing too damn fast,” Cindy Moran told us one day at an Applebee’s restaurant in Howell, Michigan. A single mother of two, Moran was one of the dozens of people we interviewed for this book to gauge the mood of the country. “It’s not easy being the kind of mother I want to be,” she said, carving a high-calorie path through a bowl of spinach dip while her daughter begged for more, “not with life stuck on fast-forward.”
Buffeted by change, people like Moran crave the comfort of community. They want to know their neighbors and meet people like themselves no matter where they live. They want to help improve their neighborhoods and their country. They want to belong. Chapter 5 explores how Americans are redefining the meaning of community and finding new ways to connect in an Internet-fueled expansion of civic engagement that political, business, and religious leaders are just learning to exploit. Building communities on the Internet is a potent new trend.
People continue to lose faith in politicians, corporate executives, religious leaders, and the media, all of whom used to be society’s public opinion leaders. In this age of skepticism and media diversification, Americans are turning to people they know for advice and direction. We call these new opinion leaders Navigators : they’re otherwise average Americans who help their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers navigate the swift currents of change.
Twentieth-century technologies gave rise to the television era, and for five decades mass media had an outsized influence on the American public. New technologies are breeding niche media — cable TV, podcasting, wireless messaging, etc. — and returning us to a pre-TV environment in which word-of-mouth communication is the most credible and efficient way to transmit a message. With their large social networks, Navigators rule the word-of-mouth world. In chapter 6 we tell you who the Navigators are and why they’re so important to political, business, and church marketers.
Americans are not just changing how they live. Many are changing where they live, and the implications are enormous for would-be Great Connectors. Chapter 7 explores the impact of an increasingly self-polarizing society. The mobility, technology, and relative affluence we enjoy allow us to pick up stakes and move to communities of like-minded people. And so we see middle-class minorities and immigrants moving from cities to inner-ring suburbs; suburban white families to new exurbs; and young singles and empty nesters circling back to cities, where they’re gentrifying decayed neighborhoods. Ironically, as the nation is becoming increasingly multiracial, the American people seem to be seeking more homogeneity in their lifestyle choices. It’s as if life were a pickup basketball game and Americans are choosing teams. Actually, they’re bigger than teams; they’re tribes.
In the final chapter, we sum up and look to the future. How will the country change in the next few years? How will the next generation of Great Connectors be created? Chapter 8 profiles “Generation 9/11,” led by the young men and women who were in high school or college when terrorists struck New York and Washington. They are generally more civic-minded, politically active, and optimistic about the nation’s future than Americans in general. Indeed, they put their baby-boomer parents to shame and remind us in more ways than one of the so-called Greatest Generation, men and women who came of age during World War II. A college student today has more in common with his or her grandparents than parents. These future leaders are off to a promising start. Their attitudes about diversity, social mobility, women in leadership, technology, institutions, and spirituality portend big change for the next wave of Great Connectors.
Any leader hoping to draw lessons from this book should start first by jettisoning any preconceived notions about how to connect with voters, consumers, and churchgoers, ignoring conventional wisdom and the false assumptions of pundits. This book debunks their many myths. Our findings include:
Myth 1: A company’s product, a candidate’s policies, or a pastor’s sermons are the main appeal for most people.
Reality: People are looking first for a Gut Values Connection.
Myth 2: September 11, 2001, changed Americans.
Reality: The attacks did hasten change, but Americans had been transforming their values and lifestyles since the mid-1990s.
Myth 3: Technology has created a more disconnected nation.
Reality: Americans are using new technologies to build new forms of community and civic engagement.
Myth 4: The glut of information has made people more independent and less reliant on one another.
Reality: The Information Age and fragmented media have caused people to turn more often to peers for advice, giving rise to Navigators.
Myth 5: A vast majority of megachurch worshipers are antigay, antiabortion conservative Republicans.
Reality: Few megachurches are politically active because they don’t want to turn off a single potential customer. A surprisingly large portion of megachurch worshipers are Democrats and independents.
Myth 6: The electorate is divided into Republican “red states” and Democratic “blue states.”
Reality: Americans are highly mobile and self-polarizing, so it makes more sense to categorize them by their lifestyle choices rather than arbitrary geographic boundaries. We call them Red Tribes, Blue Tribes , and Tipping Tribes .
Myth 7: Republicans have a lock on exurban America, as shown by the fact that because Bush won 96 out of 100 of the fast-growing counties in 2004.
Reality: Democrats can win exurbia because voters in these new, fast-growing areas are driven by their lifestyle choices and values, not partisanship.
Myth 8: Americans slavishly vote their self-interest.
Reality: Their idea of self-interest is more selfless than most politicians realize. Voters will turn to a candidate who reflects their Gut Values over one who sides with them on policies.
Myth 9: The best indicator of how a person will vote is his voting history or views on abortion, taxes, and other issues.
Reality: The key to predicting how a person will vote (or shop and worship, for that matter) is his or her lifestyle choices. To borrow and bastardize a phrase from President Clinton’s 1992 campaign — It’s the Lifestyles, Stupid.
Is all this change good or bad for America? The truth is, we don’t know. But we do know it’s inevitable. It is no time to ignore the lessons of success from Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Hill and Warren — four imperfect men who nonetheless understood the value of community, connections, and purpose in this new social order. Great eras of change seem to occur about every seven or eight decades (a long life span) and follow a war or crises. In this post-9/11 world, the nation’s leaders should pay heed to the words of Abraham Lincoln, who called on his generation to have the courage and foresight to change. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present,” Lincoln said. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”
This book will help twenty-first-century American leaders think anew about the people they serve. We hope the people they serve will find comfort in knowing that there are new ways to connect, create community, and navigate change.
Advance Praise for Applebee’s America
Named to Harvard Business Review’s 2006 Reading List
“’Timely’ might be the most overused adjective in book endorsements, but it is hard to recall anything else written in recent times more deserving of the description than Applebee’s America. Two eminent political strategists and one of the best political reporters in the country have combined their considerable expertise and intelligence to explain how Americans are responding to broad and unsettling changes in our society with a renewed appreciation for the virtues of home and community, and how foresighted religious, business and political leaders have identified with the public’s desire for meaning beyond materialism.In a lucid and engaging narrative, the authors offer an insightful account of modern America that should interest Americans of all political, religious and social affiliations, and prove invaluable to those who presume to lead them.”
—Senator John McCain
“I believe that success is not an entitlement, and that we need to earn our customers’ trust every day. At Starbucks, we earn that trust in part by creating a Third Place environment between home and work—in essence, a new type of community. Applebee’s America captures the ever-evolving sense of community in America, and offers incredibly valuable insights into the way leaders can connect with the American public.”
—Howard Schultz, Chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company
“For anyone interested in how Americans make connections and build community in the 21 st century, this book is a must read.Whether your interest is in the political world or the business world, Applebee’s America explains how community and shared values can determine how we vote, where we worship, and even where we dine. Whether you manage a restaurant or a political organization, there are certain consistencies that matter to people: community, communication, and authenticity.This book examines current trends and provides fresh thinking and new ideas and strategies for anyone interested in influencing large groups of people.”
—Senator Hillary Clinton
“Applebee’s America is a goldmine of insight into the forces shaping and energizing today’s American culture.”
—Dr. Robert Lewis, Pastor, Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, Board of Directors, Leadership Network
“Dowd, Sosnik and Fournier deliver an insightful look at the essential humanity shaping Americans today in our increasingly complicated and fragmented world … especially the growing desire to lead more genuine, purposeful, values-based lives. The implications this author-trio underscores, and the ideas they propose in response, offer valuable lessons for leaders everywhere in all walks of life. The reality is, in a dynamic era when so many people are determined to contribute and be part of something larger and more meaningful than their individual self, Applebee’s America deserves close attention by leaders and followers alike.”
— Steve Reinemund, Chairman, PepsiCo
“The megachurches that have grown 57% in the last five years were the last major organization discovered by management expert, Peter Drucker.The three super-savvy political analysts who have written Applebee’s America provide what may be the most compelling and accurate description of this powerful new source of community, purpose, and authenticity—what Drucker felt was the most important social event of the late twentieth century and one still little understood.A must read from cover to cover.”
—Bob Buford, Founding Chairman, Leadership Network, Author, Halftime and Finishing Well
“An insiders’ view on the ultimate question in marketing today: how to create ‘gut-level connections’ with those influential consumers who will carry your message to others. That this book is from experts who have done just that on the most high-profile stage around—two U.S. presidential campaigns—makes its insights all the more important and relevant.”
—Ed Keller and Jon Berry, authors of The Influentials
“A lively introduction to the new world of marketing ‘connections’ and ‘Gut Values’ to an America in search of community and meaning, this book should win a wide audience.”
—Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone
“Applebee’s America is aspecial bookco-authored by threefascinating individuals who havecombined their talent, insight and experience tohelp us understand boththe science andart of “connecting.” Itis a wonderful, relevantresourceforthosewho aspire to be successfulleaders.This book isa riveting, behind the sceneslook at how real-worldleaders haveeffectively reachedand persuaded the ever-changing consumer to successfully achieve their goals.”
— David Brandon, Chairman & CEO, Domino’s Pizza
“ Applebee’s America is likely to become the playbook for every candidate for public office, every CEO, every marketer, and every person who wants to have their finger on the pulse of community and nation. It also can help us to connect to one another — citizen to citizen, community to community — at a time when our country needs those connections most. After a 30 year decline in our social connectedness and civic health, we are seeing some important signs of civic recovery. Applebee’s America may be the ready-made-meal to help restore our civic vibrancy.”
— John Bridgeland , Former Assistant to the President of the United States & Director, White House Domestic Policy Council & USA Freedom Corps
Critical Praise for Applebee’s America
From Publishers Weekly
Anyone wondering what that “values” buzz after the 2004 election was about, and what it means for business, religion and politics, will find solid answers in this analysis by a former Clinton aide, one of the masterminds behind the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and a senior Associated Press political correspondent. In a unified, third-person voice, the three declare their intention to “help twenty-first-century American leaders think anew about the people they serve—a people that, despite an increasingly multiracial society, “seem to be seeking more homogeneity in their lifestyle choices.” Since the 1990s, they argue, the key to winning the hearts, dollars and votes of the American public and its leaders is appealing to “the three C’s, connections, community, and civic engagement.” Drawing on interviews with the middle class “exurb” residents who eat at Applebee’s restaurants, as well as their own inside knowledge, the authors declare that the pattern holds across the greater part of the American spectrum. Though their narrow interview sample is a weakness, they draw conclusions about the political arena, where lifelong Democrats voted for Bush in 2004 on “gut instinct”; the business world, where customers at the more than 1,700 Applebee’s restaurants deem it “a second home”; and in megachurches, which fulfill Americans “need for belonging and purpose in a new century.” Illus. (Sept.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pasted from <http://www.applebeesamerica.com/reviews.html>
And another, The Way to win by Mark Halprin and John Harris.
Kansas City Star: “By the time the nation’s 44th president is inaugurated in January 2009, American politics will have been dominated for two decades by two families. Dispensing with invective or polemics, and focusing instead on analysis, the co-authors explain why the Bushes, then the Clintons, then the Bushes (and possibly the Clintons again) have been so successful in holding power. Halperin, creator of “The Note” on abcnews.com, and Harris, national political editor at the Washington Post, have written the most sensible political book of the 2000s.”
Pasted from <http://www.thewaytowin2008.com/>
In The Way to Win, two of the country’s most accomplished political reporters explain what separates the victors from the victims in the unforgiving environment of modern presidential campaigns.
Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News, and John F. Harris, the national politics editor of the Washington Post, tell the story of how two families-the Bushes and the Clintons-have held the White House for nearly a generation and examine Hillary Clinton’s prospects for extending this record in 2008. Based on years of research, including private campaign memos and White House communications, The Way to Win reveals the surprising details of how the Bushes and Clintons have closely studied each the other’s successes and failures and used these lessons to shape their own strategies for winning elections and wielding power.
In the case of George W. Bush, the strategic genius is Karl C. Rove, arguably the most influential White House aide in history. For the first time, Halperin and Harris cut through the myths and controversies surrounding Rove to illuminate in brilliant, behind-the-scenes detail what he actually does-his Trade Secrets for winning elections.
In the case of the Clintons, the chief strategist is Bill Clinton himself.
Drawing on their fifteen years reporting on and interviewing him, Halperin and Harris deconstruct and decipher the Clinton style, identifying the methods that all candidates can use in their pursuit of the White House.
The Way to Win takes a lively and irreverent approach, but Halperin and Harris also show the disturbing ways that American politics has become a Freak Show-their name for a political culture that provides incentives for candidates, activists, interest groups, and the news media to emphasize ideological extremism and personal attack. For the first time, Halperin and Harris describe how Freak Show campaigns orchestrated by the likes of Internet pioneer Matt Drudge forced Al Gore and John Kerry to lose control of their public images (with considerable help from the candidates’ own ineptitude) and lose the White House.
On the brink of what will be one of the most intense, most exciting presidential elections in American history, The Way to Win is the book that armchair political junkies have been waiting for. Filled with peerless analysis and eye-opening revelations from the trenches, it is a must read for everyone who follows American politics.
What Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove Know About the Way to Win the White House in 2008
- Long before the campaign gets underway, hire someone who is tough, fearless, assertive discreet, and of unquestioned competence to do opposition research—on yourself.
- It’s never too early to have your allies say negative things about the people who might someday run against you; strangle challengers in the crib.
- In polarized America, base voters care greatly about general election electability, so from the beginning of your nomination campaign, find ways to convey that you can win 270 electoral votes.
- If you have a relative who has been president, determine how to leverage the upside and limit the downside.
- Co-opt your opponent’s strengths. For example, if your rival has a positive image as a reformer, you should cast yourself as a “reformer with results.”
- Run on the same message in the nomination fight that you plan to run on in the general election.
- Relentlessly sell long-term and short-term narratives about your life that reflect your personal biography and political agenda.
- Figure out what the press and public like about you (Note: the press won’t like much of anything about you, unless your last name is “McCain”) and emphasize the events and statements that exhibit those positive traits.
- Figure out what the press and public don’t like about you and minimize the number of events and statements that exhibit those negative traits.
- When you are attacked, respond to the accusations that are false and over-reaching, so you don’t have to address the true ones.
- Be ready to answer the incessant and inevitable media questions about controversial topics with an immaculate version of the exact same rehearsed response, every time.
- But don’t seem too rehearsed.
- Reporters are not your friends; steel yourself to illusions to the contrary.
- You can’t know too many rich people.
- You can’t have too much staff loyalty.
- Senior staff friction within your campaign will happen; keep it in the family, and out of the press.
- Compile a mental enemies list of people who have crossed you. Never write it down. Make sure people are afraid to be put on the list, and even more afraid when they are on it.
- Never lose control of your public image.
Pasted from <http://www.thewaytowin2008.com/excerpt.html>
A review of Jacob Hacker’s The Great Risk Shift.
Does today’s free market create too much insecurity?
BY BRINK LINDSEY
Out of the stagflation and malaise of the 1970s emerged a new and improved American economic system–less regulated and unionized, more globalized and entrepreneurial than the old triumvirate of Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor that preceded it. And ever since, a considerable portion of the political left’s intellectual energy has been spent in poor-mouthing the ensuing prosperity.
DC: we certainly have bigger government more remte, bigger corporations with narrower ownership, and abor is in migrants and thirdworld coutries. Meanwhile…
Next, look at the two main indicators of middle-class status: a home of one’s own and a college degree. Between 1970 and 2004, the homeownership rate climbed to 69% from 63%, even as the physical size of the median new home grew by nearly 60%. Back in 1970, 11% of Americans 25 years of age or older had a college or higher degree. By 2004, the figure had risen to 28%.
As to consumer possessions, the following comparison should suffice to make the point. In 1971, 45% of American households had clothes dryers, 19% had dishwashers, 83% had refrigerators, 32% had air conditioning, and 43% had color televisions. By the mid-1990s all of these ownership rates were exceeded even by Americans below the poverty line.
Dc: the slight of hand is making much of the rabbt in the foxx’s jaws. Thw writing of intentionaly tendentious articles is a curious challenge.
Pasted from <http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008971>
From Salon, you have no right to vote: The Constitution doesn’t guarantee it, the Republicans know it, and real democratic values in our country are under assault.
a review of
Expression and Self-Knowledge
by Dorit Bar-On
Oxford University Press, 2005
The main thought in the book is that we speak our minds — when we avow that things are such and such with us, we express ourselves, we give voice to our inner workings. This is a kind of expressivism, somewhat inspired by Wittgenstein, but the author takes great care to avoid the usual difficulties with an expressivist view of avowals (mainly variations of the Geach-Frege point about assertions). Ordinary expressivism will not have Semantic Continuity for avowals, but Bar-On’s theory will, so the term neo-expressivism is no misnomer. I express myself by avowing that things are thus-and-so with me.
Dc: got it?
Bar-On closes the book with the following words:
Speaking my mind is something I am in a unique position to do. Only I can express, or give voice to, my own present states of mind. And it is only states of my mind that I can express, or give voice to. Bodily conditions such as having high blood pressure, a raised arm, or a weak heart are not conditions one can speak from. I can speak my mind, but I cannot speak my body.
DC: Why is it important? I am not sure if this book is, but the underlying issue for me is the size of the interior mind, and my experience today of talking with a frend with Alzheimer’s who can think clearly he says, but talk muddled. I tried some anticipations of his speech and he knew as quick as possible if it fit his inner thought or not.
Pasted from <http://mentalhelp.net/books/books.php?type=de&id=3310>
The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy
by Matt Lawrence
As a general introduction to the standard themes in philosophy for a non-philosopher, Like a Splinter in Your Mind is a reasonable if not profound read. The basics are covered: Cartesian dualism, materialism, compatibilism and the varieties of free will, knowledge versus experience, subjectively versus objectively defined morality: who decides what’s morally “right”? For persons interested in mental health issues, it presents the standard philosophical arguments over the nature of reality that go to the heart of how we define sanity as participation in a socially shared reality. For fans of the Matrix films, it attempts a consistent explanation of all the pop philosophy in the films, in a manner reminiscent of discussions among truly committed fans of any cult film or TV series who are determined to have an explanation for everything even when it goes far beyond what the writers could possibly have had in mind.
That said, if thought-provoking is what you’re after, there are much better books out there: Philosophers Explore the Matrix, featuring essays by some of the best-known names in philosophy, comes to mind.
DC: I’ll trust him on it.
Materialism (generally equated with physicalism, though philosophers mean slightly different thing by each) is, of course, the metaphysical position that matter — physical “stuff” — is the only kind of “stuff” that really exists. Cartesian dualism (named after Rene Descartes of cogito ergo sum fame) holds, in contrast, that “mental stuff” and “physical stuff” are fundamentally different and irreconcilable things. So for the dualist, mind and brain are different things, and each could exist, in principle, without the other; whereas for the committed materialist, mind simply is brain.
DC: The pattern on the chess board. Its status?
(Interesting footnote: Cornell West, the prominent Princeton philosopher on issues of race, appears in the films as Zion’s Councilor West.)
Pasted from <http://mentalhelp.net/books/books.php?type=de&id=3308>
immigrant children perform as well or better than their same-race, American-born counterparts.
FSU Sociology Professor Kathryn Harker Tillman found that first- and second- generation children are no more likely than their third-generation peers to have to repeat a grade despite the many social and economic disadvantages they face. The finding is true for immigrant youth of all racial and ethnic backgrounds or countries of origin. The study, co-authored by colleagues Guang Guo and Kathleen Mullan Harris from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was published in the journal Social Science Research.
“Immigrant children are more successful navigating the educational system than would be expected,” Tillman said. “Against the odds, these children are performing as well as or better than their same-race, third-generation peers.”
The researchers theorized that immigrant children may benefit from factors such as higher than average levels of ambition and motivation, high parental expectations, strong beliefs in the importance of education, and/or high levels of family and community support for educational achievement.
Although other researchers have found that immigrant children generally do as well as non-immigrants in school, this is the first nationally representative study to show that it is not achieved at the cost of additional years of schooling because of grade failure or policies that hold back students who are adjusting to a new language and culture, she said. Instead, immigrant students succeed while keeping pace with their American-born peers.
About one-fifth of the children in this country are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. This group is expected to account for more than 50 percent of the growth in the school-aged population between 1990 and 2010.
Clever red-necks: it’s not just the economy that is booming in Alberta; schools are too.
Many educators acknowledge that over the past 30 years Alberta has quietly built the finest public education system in Canada. The curriculum has been revised, stressing core subjects (English, science, mathematics), school facilities and the training of teachers have been improved, clear achievement goals have been set and a rigorous province-wide testing programme for grades three (aged 7-8), six (10-11), nine (13-14) and twelve (16-17) has been established to ensure they are met.
Another litmus test is the extent to which Edmonton’s ideas are being studied by educators from elsewhere (mostly the United States, but some also from Ontario and British Columbia) and are now being emulated. Pilot projects on the Edmonton model have already been launched by school boards in Colorado Springs, Oakland and New York City.
All this is not to say that they have all the answers in Alberta. Their rigorous measurement scheme has revealed that schools still need to do a lot better teaching aboriginal and immigrant children and ensuring that more students finish high school. At present, about 30% of students drop out early, compared with 25% for the country as a whole. That, Alberta’s educators admit, is an embarrassing statistic. But in the province’s red-hot economy, a 17-year-old with a driver’s licence can drop out and easily make C$60,000 ($53,300) a year driving a lorry serving an oil-drilling camp. That’s tough competition.
An article on learning how to read slowly again.
In “Reading Like a Writer” the novelist Francine Prose shows how to do it. She forces the act of slow reading by singling out excerpts from her favorite writers and zeroing in on single words, then sentences, then paragraphs, teasing out the specifics that transmute raw language into style and an artistically meaningful form. She has a notion, quite correct in my experience, that all readers start out slow, savoring individual syllables and words. Gradually, under pressure, they speed up, consuming more but enjoying and absorbing less.
HOW TO READ A NOVEL: A USER’S GUIDE, by John Sutherland; St. Martin’s Press; 260 pages. $21.95. Available in November.
READING LIKE A WRITER: A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BOOKS AND FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO WRITE THEM, by Francine Prose; HarperCollins, 273 pages. $23.95.
THE THINGS THAT MATTER: WHAT SEVEN CLASSIC NOVELS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE STAGES OF LIFE, by Edward Mendelson; Pantheon, 260 pages. $23.
Pasted from <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/books/22read.html>
From Slate, Stephen Metcalf to: Ron Rosenbaum debate The Shakespeare Wars.
I have the impression that the impulse to write a Shakespeare book was surprisingly similar to your impulse to write a Hitler book. The same question haunts both men: Are they on a continuum with other men, or are Hitler, for his capacity for evil, and Shakespeare, for his genius, sui generis? You quote Peter Brook as saying,
I think [Shakespeare] is a unique case and I think his uniqueness inheres in his generosity. I think there’s no one else who manages to insert himself so totally in such a wide range of human beings. To be such a highly developed, highly acute servant of other people’s truths is unique.
Pasted from <http://www.slate.com/id/2150012/entry/2150017/>
And A review of Philosophy of New Music by Theodor Adorno. Important to me because of Fromm’s participation in the Frankfrt school.
But what it boils down to is this: Theodor Adorno took a long, critical look at society and culture in the mid-20th century and concluded that it was a giant, vacuous hole of despair and hopelessness. A member of what has become known as the Frankfurt School, Adorno was among a handful of German social philosophers who evacuated Germany during the rise of fascism in the 1930s and came to the United States as exiles. The language of Marxism had already come to dominate European philosophy, but by the ‘30s the academic elite had seen alienation lead not to benevolent revolution, but Stalinism in the East and fascism in the West. It was, understandably, a time of profound disillusionment and, for Adorno particularly, deep-rooted pessimism. Thusly influenced, Adorno and his fellows developed a system that broadly came to be known as Critical Theory—the most famous discourses of which are Walter Benjamin’s critique of mass production, and Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s joint critique of the Enlightenment, which later crystallized in Adorno’s doctrine of negative dialectics.
For Adorno, the opiate of the masses in late capitalism was not religion, but culture, and mass-produced culture was little more than a drug that served no other capacity than the reification and perpetuation of the dominance of capital—culture as product that could only produce more product as culture. Only art, in a pure, non-commercialized form, is of any value as a means of intellectual resistance.
What is often overlooked in the general analysis of Adorno’s body of work is that he was also a great student of art, in particular music. Like Benjamin, himself a literary critic and student of history, Adorno’s philosophy was mediated as much by his analysis of the arts as it was the social processes unfolding around him.
While today we would deem Adorno’s interests as scholarship in “classical” music, for Adorno it was the only music. An aesthete of incredibly shrewd analysis, Adorno’s tendency to elevate the finite possible good and savagely condemn the pervasively bad was not tempered by music, but was rather incensed by it. Among his more well-known critiques of the culture industry was the vociferous disgust he felt towards “jazz”, though here again history obscures the context—while a canonical genre today, the term “jazz” was a catch-all for all pop music in Adorno’s time, and he is reacting in particular to the popular swing music of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the precursors to today’s pop, and not necessarily the revered instrumental and compositional form that we know as “jazz” today. Having said this, Adorno did not recant his opinion or use of the term in the face of the musical developments of Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins, having seemingly as little use for these pioneers as he did for Cole Porter or Bennie Goodman—all music outside of the Western symphonic composer tradition that developed from Beethoven towards modernity was de facto a banal perversion.
Adorno makes this point plainly himself in the introduction to Philosophy of New Music:
Not only are people’s ears so inundated with light music that other music reaches them only the congealed opposite of the former, as “classical” music, and not only is the capacity to listen so blunted by the omnipresent hit tune that the concentration for serious listening is unattainable and infused with stupid refrains, but also the sacrosanct traditional music has itself been assimilated to commercial mass production in the character of its performance and as its function in the life of the listener.
For Adorno, only dedicated listening that struggles with the nuance of music in both its historical context and its formal content is listening at all. But what Adorno sees instead is that mass production and consumption of music has relegated even Beethoven (a composer that Adorno values perhaps more than any other) to “objects of consumption for home decoration.”
From Der Spiegel, the world’s largest seed collection is under the permafrost on the Arctic Sea island of Spitzbergen. The tens of thousands of varieties of wheat, corn and beans stored there could even survive a nuclear war.
In a project funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this inhospitable place is gradually becoming a repository for the seeds of the world’s most important food crop plants. When finished, the site — located on the Arctic Sea island of Spitzbergen — will contain up to three million samples from tens of thousands of different varieties from around the world. Whether wheat, sorghum, peas or feed corn, the project’s sponsors hope that the seeds being stored in this tunnel 400 meters below the surface in Spitzbergen’s permafrost will remain preserved for centuries to come — possibly even surviving mankind itself.
The situation in Iraq is even worse. The country’s seed bank used to be located in Abu Ghraib, a Baghdad suburb that gained notoriety through the American prisoner torture scandal. “It was particularly important, because agriculture was first developed in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) more than 10,000 years ago,” says Fowler. When looters raided the Abu Ghraib facility after the American invasion in 2003, they made off with the items they considered valuable: the glass containers. “They just poured the seeds onto the ground,” says Fowler.
Once valuable genetic material is destroyed, it can never be reconstructed. “It’s as if one were to burn down a library filled with books that no one has read yet,” says Fowler.
By Fiona Harvey
Published: September 22 2006 12:43 | Last updated: September 22 2006 12:43
It is a story worthy of Greek drama. Humanity discovers the secret elixir that will bring us prosperity on an unimagined scale, enabling the construction of fabulous cities, travel faster than the speed of sound, communications at the speed of light and the means to bring forth bounty from barren land. But just as we raise ourselves to these god-like levels, we discover that the potion is poisoned. By drinking it, we are upsetting the natural workings of the world in a way that will soon destroy the very basis of our civilisation.
The premise is simple. In the two decades or so since climate change began to be taken seriously, it has been regarded as something that would happen slowly and gradually. A steady rise in temperatures would end up melting the poles and raising sea levels in 60 to 100 years or so. Wrong, says Pearce. The earth’s complex systems of climate, ocean circulation, weather systems and chemical reactions are not so lightly defied. They are extremely sensitive to even slight changes.
The complacent like to quote the 0.6øC rise in temperatures that has taken place since the Industrial Revolution, taking it as proof that we can cope with more warming. Pearce argues that even minor meddling with the climate will have dire results, which will bear down upon us as soon as the next decade or so rather than comfortably ambling up in a century’s time. The Last Generation of the title is us, we who are adults today.
Climate changes have never happened gradually in the past, Pearce says, but in wild swings and lurches from ice age to warmth. There is no reason to suppose human-wrought climate change will be any different, so prepare for a bumpy ride. Pearce quotes one expert who compares the earth to a drunk – stable while sleeping but if woken given to random violence. We are now poking the drunk with a stick, he warns. Pearce piles theories and evidence to show that we are in danger of pushing the world through various tipping points of temperature and greenhouse-gas concentration. These make runaway climate change with devastating consequences all but inevitable, he says, from inundation to desertification, including the failure of the Asian monsoon and the transformation of the Amazon to a desert – even if we stopped burning fossil fuels immediately, we may already have passed the point of no return.
The business reader may have more luck with Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston’s Green to Gold (Yale University Press, $25), a manual on how to turn your company into an eco-success, catching the current wave of consumer and government interest in saving the world from environmental catastrophe.
And father of American environmentalism John Muir had God, and other man-eaters, on his mind
On this December day, it is a comfortable sixty-five degrees in the shade and there are alligators to think about. How, exactly, do such man-eating creatures fit into the divine scheme of things according to God? Muir has seen only one alligator, but has heard numerous stories of the thick-skinned beasts rising from the water to steal away a pet or escape with an appendage. Muir could not accept the explanations of his Calvinist father or most of the men of his time: that these fiendish animals resided on man’s green earth because a certain woman took a bite of a certain fruit and doomed humanity to a life outside of the Garden. Muir saw the Garden all around him. It was everywhere, alive and well and within it were creatures that not only offered no practical purpose for humans, but were actually capable of committing much harm to them. He thought this was very fine.
So what was the reasoning behind the Creator’s creation of “those man-eating animals — lions, tigers, alligators — which smack their lips over raw man?” What about the insects that feed on man’s rich blood, the waters of the earth that drown him, the poisonous plants and minerals? “Why,” Muir asked, “is the lord of creation subjected to the same laws of life as his subjects?”
The botanizer’s answer, so foreign to his time, was this: “Nature’s object in making animals and plants might possibly be first of all the happiness of each one of them, not the creation of all for the happiness of one. Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?” Without using the words inherent worth or intrinsic value, Muir writes in the journal at his side, “Though alligators, snakes, etc. naturally repel us, they are not mysterious evils. They dwell happily in these flowery wilds, are part of God’s family, unfallen, undepraved, and cared for with the same species of tenderness and love as is bestowed on angels in heaven or saints on earth.”
More than a hundred years later, Arne Ness, Norwegian philosopher and mountain climber, would build upon Muir’s concept and label it Deep Ecology. It was a synthesis of a century of naturalist thought: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and later Aldo Leopold, although unlike Muir, Emerson refused to sleep under the stars and Thoreau eschewed conservation politics. Ness developed eight tenets of Deep Ecology; the first echoed Muir’s 1867 journal musings, though lacks the poetic prose: “The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves. These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.” Copernicuses and Galileos of a post-modern era, they believed that it was time to admit that the world did not revolve around the precocious bipeds with opposable thumbs.
Muir’s answer to his own question, infused with humility and wonder both, was that “the universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge.”
Pasted from <http://www.killingthebuddha.com/dogma/johnmuir.htm>
From Mongolia, the second country to embrace Communism in the 20th century is having a hard time shaking it off in the 21st.
Robert Kaplan on how the furor over Kim Jong Il’s missile tests and nuclear brinksmanship obscures the real threat: the prospect of North Korea’s catastrophic collapse.
The abbreviation for North Korea used by American military officers says it all: KFR, the Kim Family Regime. It is a regime whose demonization by the American media and policy makers has obscured some vital facts. North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, was not merely a dreary Stalinist tyrant. As defectors from his country will tell you, he was also a popular anti-Japanese guerrilla leader in the mold of Enver Hoxha, the Stalinist tyrant of Albania who led his countrymen in a successful insurgency against the Nazis. Nor is his son Kim Jong Il anything like the childish psychopath parodied in the film Team America: World Police. It’s true that Kim Jong Il was once a playboy. But he has evolved into a canny operator. Andrei Lankov, a professor of history at South Korea’s Kookmin University, in Seoul, says that under different circumstances Kim might have actually become the successful Hollywood film producer that regime propaganda claims he already is.
Dc: nothing is as we are told. We are told fairy stories rather than mature drama.
Yet for all Kim’s canniness, there is evidence that he may be losing his edge. And that may be reason to worry: totalitarian regimes close to demise are apt to get panicky and do rash things. The weaker North Korea gets, the more dangerous it becomes. The question that should be of greatest concern to the U.S. military in the Pacific—and the question that will likely determine the global balance of power in Asia for generations—is, What happens when North Korea collapses?
The Seven Stages of Collapse
Kim Jong Il’s compulsion to demonstrate his missile prowess is a sign of his weakness. Contrary to popular perception in the United States, Kim doesn’t stay up at night worrying about what the Americans might do to him; it’s not North Korea’s weakness relative to the United States that preoccupies him. Rather, if he does stay up late worrying, it’s about China. He knows the Chinese have always had a greater interest in North Korea’s geography—with its additional outlets to the sea close to Russia—than they have in the long-term survival of his regime. (Like us, even as they want the regime to survive, the Chinese have plans for the northern half of the Korean peninsula that do not include the “Dear Leader.”) One of Kim’s main goals in so aggressively displaying North Korea’s missile capacity is to compel the United States to deal directly with him, thereby making his otherwise weakening state seem stronger. And the stronger Pyongyang appears to be, the better off it is in its crucial dealings with Beijing, which are what really matter to Kim.
should concentrate the minds of American strategists is not Kim’s missiles per se but rather what his decision to launch them says about the stability of his regime. Middle- and upper-middle-level U.S. officers based in South Korea and Japan are planning for a meltdown of North Korea that, within days or even hours of its occurrence, could present the world—meaning, really, the American military—with the greatest stabilization operation since the end of World War II. “It could be the mother of all humanitarian relief operations,” Army Special Forces Colonel David Maxwell told me. On one day, a semi-starving population of 23 million people would be Kim Jong Il’s responsibility; on the next, it would be the U.S. military’s, which would have to work out an arrangement with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (among others) about how to manage the crisis.
Fortunately, the demise of North Korea is more likely to be drawn out. Robert Collins, a retired Army master sergeant and now a civilian area expert for the American military in South Korea, outlined for me seven phases of collapse in the North:
Phase One: resource depletion;
Phase Two: the failure to maintain infrastructure around the country because of resource depletion;
Phase Three: the rise of independent fiefs informally controlled by local party apparatchiks or warlords, along with widespread corruption to circumvent a failing central government;
Phase Four: the attempted suppression of these fiefs by the KFR once it feels that they have become powerful enough;
Phase Five: active resistance against the central government;
Phase Six: the fracture of the regime; and
Phase Seven: the formation of new national leadership.
Dc: the seen stages parallel my view that local mafia’s would be the result of breakdown in, say the United States.
In order to prevent a debacle of the sort that occurred in Iraq—but with potentially deadlier consequences, because of the free-floating WMD—a successful relief operation would require making contacts with KFR generals and various factions of the former North Korean military, who would be vying for control in different regions. If the generals were not absorbed into the operational command structure of the occupying force, Maxwell says, they might form the basis of an insurgency. The Chinese, who have connections inside the North Korean military, would be best positioned to make these contacts—but the role of U.S. Army Special Forces in this effort might be substantial. Green Berets and the CIA would be among the first in, much like in Afghanistan in 2001.
Whereas Japan’s strategic position would be dramatically weakened by a collapsed North Korean state, China would eventually benefit. A post-KFR Korean peninsula could be more or less under Seoul’s control—and China is now South Korea’s biggest trading partner. Driving along the coast, all I saw at South Korean ports were Chinese ships.
Other factors also work in Beijing’s favor. China harbors thousands of North Korean defectors that it would send back after a collapse, in order to build a favorable political base for China’s gradual economic takeover of the Tumen River region—the northeast Asian river valley where China, Russia, and North Korea intersect, with good port facilities on the Pacific. De facto control of a future Tumen Prosperity Sphere would bolster China’s fiscal strength, helping it to do economic battle with the United States and Japan. If China’s troops could carve out a buffer zone in the part of North Korea near Manchuria—where China is now developing massive infrastructure projects, such as roads and ports—Beijing might then sanction the installation of an international coalition elsewhere in the North.
Dc: this continues with lots of detail worth reading. More. Must read.
Why a rising China can’t dominate Asia
By Robert Sutter
“The United States has nothing to fear from China’s emergence as a global economic power … We want you to succeed … The tasks faced by Beijing are so daunting that the biggest risk we face is not that China will overtake the US, but that China won’t move ahead with the reforms necessary to sustain its growth and to address the very serious problems facing the nation.”
– US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who is due in Beijing for two days of talks with Chinese officials next week.
“China can’t dominate Asia; there are too many governments in Asia.” This comment by a senior Chinese official during a recent
interview in Beijing reflects realities of power that make Chinese leadership in Asia unlikely under foreseeable circumstances.
The findings of private interviews and discussions with 75 officials in China and seven other Asian governments about China’s rise, the balance of influence in Asia, and Asian regional dynamics contradict much public discourse that depicts a powerful China coming to the leading position in Asia at a time of US decline.
Although prevailing commentaries focus on Chinese strengths and US weaknesses, government officials in Asia privately show an equal awareness of Chinese weaknesses and US strengths
Chinese economic competitiveness means that Asian manufacturers often cannot compete directly with China. In response, Asian entrepreneurs increasingly invest in and integrate their businesses with China, but Asian workers cannot move to China and often suffer. Investment in Asian economies declines and Chinese investment and foreign assistance in Asia remain very small and do not offset these negative implications.
Dc: part of my view that elites run globalization for their own benefit. Which limits the benfis of “globalization.”
China’s “win-win diplomacy” focuses on common ground, which receives great positive publicity but does little to resolve differences or deal with issues. With few exceptions, China does not do hard things; it carefully avoids major international commitments or risks.
Dc: seems smart.
US weaknesses dominate public discourse on the United States in most of Asia. They center on the decline in the US image amid widespread criticism of the US war in Iraq, the US position on North Korea, unilateral US actions on significant international issues, and perceived inattentive US policies regarding the economic development and other concerns in Asia.
Nevertheless, Asian government officials were almost uniform in emphasizing the importance of the US role as Asia’s security guarantor and vital economic partner. The main exceptions were a Communist Party of India (Marxist) official and, to a degree, some Chinese officials, who criticized the US security role in Asia.
He nonetheless went on to advise that China’s influence in the region would grow as China’s “weight” would become increasing important to the governments in the region and China would have increasing success in reassuring Asian governments of Chinese intentions.
Robert Sutter (firstname.lastname@example.org) is professor of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.
Pasted from <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/HI15Ad02.html>
and a review of Democracy in Iran.
The state versus society in Iran
Democracy in Iran by Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr
Reviewed by Sreeram Chaulia
Iran is unique in the Middle East for possessing social ingredients that portend evolution of genuine democracy. The 1979 revolution’s zeal for an idealized Islamic order made Iran an improbable candidate for the flowering of democracy, but over the past three decades, Iranians participated in elections, believed in
the efficacy of their votes to affect politics, and grew to understand the fundamental logic of democracy. Yet with sovereignty vested in God and the supreme leader remaining unelected, Iran is not quite a democratic state.
Iran’s vulnerability to foreign intervention since the 19th century motivated the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties as well as the ayatollahs to justify sacrificing civil liberties and democratic rights to deal with external enemies. The goals of national integration and development were pursued by successive regimes by means of dictating to society.
The other roadblock to opening up the political system was ideology – leftist and Islamic fundamentalist – of which Iranians have progressively become wary. The realization since 1997 that “Islam is part of the problem and not the solution” (p 9) yielded slogans for simple democracy in place of “Islamic democracy”. More Iranians today want a plain republic instead of an Islamic republic
Arbitrary rule and political decay, coinciding with British and Russian designs to dominate Iran’s economy, led to the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and the country’s first parliamentary system. The ideals of that revolution were enunciated by intellectuals in secret societies, but acquired broad support among ordinary people through the medium of the ulama (clerics) who were troubled with threats to the Shi’ite realm.
Outbreaks of tribal insurgencies and weakness to forestall foreign penetration reflected the plight of the constitutional order from 1911-21. Disintegrative challenges and chaos shifted attention from democracy to state consolidation. The 1921 coup by Brigadier Reza Khan (later Shah Pahlavi) stepped into the political vacuum and sought to shift the balance of power within the constitution from the legislature to the executive. A broad segment of Iran’s population accepted the sequence of “first order and progress, then democracy” (p 38)
The Pahlavi state subsumed the desire for democracy under the drive for national development. Kemalism – state control over economy, politics and culture – rather than constitutional monarchy was the new model of government. Reza Pahlavi conceived himself as an agent of modernization and concentrated on “developmentalism” by fostering a bureaucratic state and industrial economy in lieu of the rule of law. “Reza Shah served only the demand for stability and progress, ignoring justice and democracy” (p 43). Iran warded off decay, but unbridled empowerment of the executive culminated in authoritarianism that inevitably reintroduced the ideal of democracy into circulation.
After Reza Shah’s British-imposed abdication in 1941 in favor of his son, political forces suppressed by the erstwhile king – merchants, liberals, religious activists and communists – returned to center stage along with the parliament. During the democratic interlude (1941-53), the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party mobilized Iranians in the name of justice, but its “totalitarian addiction” helped to later restore monarchical autocracy.
Mohammed Mosaddeq’s National Front came to symbolize democratic ideals in the face of state power, though he did not advocate individual rights as understood in today’s parlance. Militant ulama, particularly ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Fedayeen-e-Islam, put forward ideological resistance to Pahlavi rule by inciting disruptions and tensions, forcing the monarchy “to rely on foreign support for its consolidation of power” (p 50).
Concerted action by an alliance among the monarchy, the Iranian military, the United States and Britain toppled Mosaddeq’s government in 1953 on the pretext of an imminent communist takeover. Shah Mohammed Pahlavi and his allies resented Mosaddeq’s insistence that parliament was supreme and that the monarch was bound by constitutional restrictions.
From 1954, democracy was reduced to a dead letter. Relying on US aid, the shah banned political parties, weakened civil society and curtailed the parliament. As a reprise, “democracy and development came to be viewed as mutually exclusive, and the former would have to be kept at bay as state-building proceeded” (p 55).
The White Revolution reforms of 1963 expanded the size of the Iranian middle class, who ironically showed little support for the monarchy. The religious establishment gravitated en masse to an anti-Pahlavi stance as modernization went on, thanks to Khomeini’s rulings that enfranchisement of women and land reforms were “un-Islamic”. Radicalization of the opposition and state use of violence in suppressing it increased the power of the security apparatuses in the late 1960s.
The oil boom of the 1970s converted Iran into a rentier state, relieving government of accountability to society and further eroding the shah’s legitimacy. The regime compelled Iranians to join the new one-party system, but urban dissidents used the networks created by this opening to escalate opposition. Khomeini skillfully avoided discussion of his theory of an Islamic state and trained the attention of the disparate anti-state elements on the Pahlavi monarchy. The tilt toward religion in the revolutionary coalition did not bode well for the prospects of democracy after the 1979 overthrow of the shah.
The revolution ultimately shored up state power and expanded its reach into society. The “Islamic Leviathan” of Iran fit the model of post-revolutionary authoritarianism in Russia and China by empowering militant actors and downgrading liberal democratic values. The new constitution provided for elections “because the more sizable lower and lower middle classes favored the fundamentalists” (p 92).
The modern middle classes, who were the social base of the pro-democracy forces, were silenced or crushed with a heavy hand. Khomeini used the US Embassy hostage crisis and the war with Iraq to portray pro-democracy forces as stooges of Western imperialism stoking internal disunity in Iran.
Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani’s two presidential terms (1989-97) were periods of significant “developmentalist” state-building with parallels to the Pahlavi era. When faced with conservative pressure from the revolutionary old guard, Rafsanjani compromised and even undertook policies counter to the demands of development. Clerics resistant to full-fledged privatization of the economy attacked the government on ideological grounds and constrained Rafsanjani’s streamlining efforts. Mercantile capitalism staged a comeback in these years and the middle class again expanded in number, engendering a renewed interest in democracy.
The government strengthened higher education to meet the need for skilled personnel, but the leap in size of university student communities laid the ground for an important vehicle of democracy debates. Abdol-Karim Soroush and his intellectual followers formulated a critique of theocracy and the prominence of the ulama in state affairs.
Devolution of power to provincial and municipal authorities changed the balance in relations between the center and the periphery and encouraged greater pluralism. Greater reliance on tax income compelled the state to negotiate with society over representation and political participation. Private-sector growth shaped a new urban political culture that rebelled against repressive Islamic moral codes. The values of the secular social stratum moved to the forefront of political dissent.
Mohammed Khatami’s election as president in 1997 inaugurated a pro-democracy movement with official sanction for the first time in Iranian history and raised the tantalizing possibility of power being shared with civil society. Relaxations on freedom of press, speech and expression reshaped the style and content of Iranian politics.
Conservative backlash via the supreme leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei, quickly put paid to hopes of a long Prague Spring. Between 1997 and January 2004, the Guardian Council vetoed 111 of Khatami’s 297 bills. Persecution of reformists and intellectuals went into full gear, and Khatami was forced to concede that “Islam cannot be separated from Iranian politics” (p 139).
By 2004, a “New Conservatism” emerged on the platforms of strong government to improve the condition of the economy. It wove relationships of patronage with the private sector and entrenched itself in decision-making circles. Positing Reza Shah and East Asian guided democracies as prototypes, “the demand for democracy was resisted with emphasis on good governance and development” (p 143).
The 2005 presidential election brought to power the hardline conservative populist Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who rode on socio-economic grievances of the lower classes and disadvantaged provinces. Reformist candidates ignored the poor and targeted the urban middle classes with the carrots of cultural freedoms, civil-society activism and improvement of women’s status. Ahmadinejad’s promises of wealth distribution, maintenance of state subsidies, militant Islamic socialism and a “Third Worldist foreign policy” won the day.
The verdict of the 2005 election was, for the umpteenth time, to strengthen the state at the expense of society. However, authors Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr point that since votes from small towns and poorer provinces determined the electoral outcome, it underscored increasing decentralization of Iranian politics. The challenge before the pro-democracy forces in the future is to relate the social pressures for socio-economic deliverance with the traditional liberal agenda of individual rights, or “in other words, to build bridges between the middle and lower classes” (p 158).
The authors of this dense work of political analysis do not prescribe any specific policy line for the international community toward promoting Iran’s home-bred democratic movement. One cannot help concluding from a panoramic distillation of history that the more threats and coercive tactics Iran faces on account of the current nuclear standoff, the stronger will be the weight of state superiority over society. Keeping hands off Iran may be the best bet for the US administration’s professed aim of “democratizing” the Middle East.
Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty by Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr. Oxford University Press, New York, 2006. ISBN: 0-19-518967-1. Price: US$29.95; 214 pages.
Pasted from <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HI23Ak01.html>
Dc: I quoted most of the review, it is such a good historical perspective. Reform was weakened by Bush giving the conservatives an edge, a leverage, in state control.
Pasted from <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HI23Ak01.html>
And, since saddham was the tito of Iraq…
A review of Tito.
As Yugoslavia’s Communist-era leader, Josip Broz Tito was known for two innovations.
At home he introduced workers’ self-management as a socialist Yugoslav alternative to Stalinist central planning. And abroad, he co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement as an alternative to the Cold War divide between East and West.
For most of Yugoslavia’s work force, self-management didn’t really bring the promised emancipation, but instead produced multiple layers of bureaucracy that tied the hands of managers seeking to modernize the country’s economy. Likewise, the Non-Aligned Movement, a grouping of mostly former colonies in the Third World, did little to boost Yugoslavia’s international standing. Despite Tito’s bold independent pose, Yugoslavia remained dependent on the West for vital loans, on the Western European labor market to soak up its unemployed, and on trade with the uncompetitive Soviet-run Comecon.
But perhaps the ultimate contradiction in Tito’s career – and certainly the one most relevant today – is the fact that someone so powerful in his lifetime was unable to produce a durable system of governance that would prolong the lifespan of his greatest success: holding together the ethnically diverse federal state of Yugoslavia.
By the time Tito died in May 1980, just three days before his 88th birthday, there was nobody left in the Yugoslav elite with either the authority or charisma to take over.
After 35 years in power, Tito had outlived his closest collaborators and most obvious heirs apparent, most importantly Edvard Kardelj. Other potential successors, like Milovan Djilas or Aleksandar Rankovic, had long been purged from the elite over policy disagreements.
Moreover, due to Tito’s commitment to the communist movement and the centralized one-party rule that it required, a genuine democratic opening was impossible in his lifetime. He also feared, correctly as it turned out, that given a democratic choice, Yugoslavia’s voters would choose candidates advocating independence for the federation’s ethnic republics, thus unleashing a violent conflict and the end of Yugoslavia.
Gabriel Partos is the Southeast Europe analyst for the BBC World Service.
From New Statesman, Anthony Giddens assesses the best ideas on offer in Europe;
It is time to move on, to look more towards Europe, instead of the US, where there is much hostility to “big government” and where large inequalities are tolerated.
like Thatcher and Blair before him, David Cameron is emerging as the politician most in tune with his time. Can Gordon Brown catch him?
New Labour has been deficient in two ideological areas: it has failed to develop a robust definition of the public sphere and of the essential importance of citizenship. Labour has not found a persuasive enough vocabulary to express the difference between citizen and consumer. Consequently, it has been too vulnerable to the charge that it is only a slightly more human version of Thatcherism, fond of markets and privatisation.
DC: we haven’t even tried this discussion in the US.
The most successful countries in Europe are the Nordic ones – Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. What distinguishes them is a willingness to reform and modernise. They have learned how to become competitive in the global market place. Finland, for instance, has several times been ranked as the world’s top country in which to do business. The Finns have reformed their labour markets, introducing greater flexibility; decentralised their education and health systems; and introduced greater choice into core public services. But they have shown how such an orientation can coincide with a strong idea of the public realm and social justice. High taxes, as such, do not have much to do with these successes. They come mainly from social policy, and from acceptance of the role of active government.
Cameron is tapping into a growing unease about the state of our communities and the still-tattered state of our social fabric. He is making all the right noises about work/life balance, well-being, corporate power and the environment. People do not generally feel that their problem is poverty, or lack of individual freedom. Their problem is that, despite all our advances and advantages, neither market-driven growth nor state-funded public services seem to be delivering better communities and better lives.
Best of Dave
It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money, and it’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB – general well-being.
Speech to the Google Zeitgeist Europe, 22 May 2006
The fact that there is so much to celebrate in the new South Africa is not in spite of Mandela and the ANC, it is because of them – and we Conservatives should say so clearly today.
Comment piece in the Observer, 27 August 2006
There’s been a danger that the Conservative Party has been seen too much as just standing for whatever big business wants. I didn’t go into politics to be the mouthpiece for big business.
Observer interview, 18 December 2005
What we need now is green growth. That means harnessing existing and developing technologies in energy and transport; it means putting a price on carbon emissions and ensuring that the polluter pays.
Pasted from <http://www.newstatesman.com/200609250016>
From The Globalist, an excerpt from Joseph Ratzinger’s Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam;
Following the global controversy over the Pope’s recent remarks on Islam, we present Benedict XVI’s “Without Roots,” today’s Globalist Bookshelf selection. In it, the Pope argues that the West should let religion play a greater role in public life — and become as fervent about Christianity as the Middle East is about Islam.
Pasted from <http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=5653>
At the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems hollow, as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system that is endangering its life, subjecting it to transplants that erase its identity.
At the same time as its sustaining spiritual forces have collapsed, a growing decline in its ethnicity is also taking place.
Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as if they were taking something away from our lives.
In its final days, Rome still functioned as a great historical framework, but in practice it was already subsisting on models that were destined to fail. Its vital energy had been depleted.
Toynbee emphasized the difference between technological-material progress and true progress, which he defined as spiritualization.
He recognized that the Western world was indeed undergoing a crisis, which he attributed to the abandonment of religion for the cult of technology, nationalism and militarism. For him this crisis had a name — secularism.
To put it more simply, what can still promise, today and tomorrow,
to offer human dignity to life?
The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on — the crumbling of man’s original uncertain ties about God, himself and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today.
Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger — above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler.
DC It might be a correct, butnhlpful, as the spiritual has moved from the authoritarian god outside t the spiritual god (s) within.
And an excerpt from The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations by Paul Kennedy. I trust him, from previous writing.
How do we handle our collective human impact on the environment — with its rising sea levels, collapsing glaciers and massive weather turbulences — without multinational work?
An international challenge
How do we manage global fiscal and trading dislocations without strengthening present UN instruments or creating new ones?
How do we push for the advancement of human rights and the displacement of awful dictatorships except through the summoning of world opinion, pressure and Security Council sanctions?
Don’t give up
So the only answer, as far as I see it, is by trying — by repairing weaknesses, coaxing reluctant governments to accept change, understanding what works best and where international organization has problems — or even should not be involved at all — and not giving up.
Adapted from the book “The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations” by Paul Kennedy, copyright © 2006.
Pasted from <http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=5525>
And looking at news, Billmon writes, sadly, he being the best,(can’t sb write him a check?)
As I have occasionally noted before, I have a life — complete with family responsibilities and a rather large mortgage, both funded by my soulless, meaningless corporate day job.
However, the last few months have been somewhat less than fully productive at the office, thanks to this blog and the potentially insignificant distractions discussed herein.
Now it’s time to catch up (and also get ready for the big move up to the Arctic Circle). Which means posts are likely to be few and far between — or just plain absent — for the indefinite future.
So, if you’re one of those people who’ve e-mailed to tell me that you check every day to see if I’ve posted something new, you should stop now. You’ll only be disappointed.
Pasted from <http://www.billmon.org/> You coud do wrse than spend an evening re-reading much of the last year at his site.
Research by Erica Groshen and Simon Potter, of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, suggests that whereas temporary lay-offs explained much of the jumps in unemployment during the recessions of the 1970s and early 1980s, nowadays structural job losses dominate. People who are unemployed because their job has gone permanently need to find new lines of work. It takes them longer to find a job and, when they do, they are often paid considerably less than before.
Jeffrey Kling, an economist at the Brookings Institution, argues that the unemployment-benefit system ought to distinguish those who are temporarily out of a job but may find similar, or higher-paid work, and those who face permanently lower income. In a paper for the Hamilton Project, a research programme at Brookings that seeks new policies for America’s centre-left, Mr Kling suggests that the dole should become less like a handout from the government and more like an insurance policy that individual workers finance themselves.
The idea is to give every worker an account, unsnappily called a “temporary earnings replacement account” or TERA. While in work, people could set aside money in these accounts. Those who lose their jobs could take cash out. The level and duration of withdrawals would be set by the government and would be the same as under today’s unemployment system.
Dc: as presented, terrible. You chose to pay into insurance, the weakest workers? Center-left, you’e got to be kidding. Part of the move of political language is to call the old left outrageous, the center the left left, the middle right the center, and.. Well, read the rest.
From juan cole
Bush’s own church, the United Methodists, has urged an immediate withdrawal of US troops.
Patrick Cockburn does a highly courageous and clear-eyed report on the situation of Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. He quotes the head of the provincial council as saying that 100 Iraqis are killed every week in Diyala. That is 14 or so a day. We don’t see those statistics in the deaths reported daily by the wire services. At most a handful of people from Diyala are reported dead several times a week.
The more I look into it, the more I think this sort of thing may be the underlying reason for which Cheney launched the Iraq War:
‘Iraq is planning to tap the small Ahdab oil field, in central southern Iraq, with development work starting soon, reported TradeArabia. Initial output would be about 30,000 bpd, rising to 90,000 bpd within two years. The field had previously been awarded to the China National Petroleum Corporation and the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco by Saddam Hussein but an Iraqi official said the contract could be renegotiated. ‘
The question during the next 50 years is who would get the good propriety oil and gas contracts in the Persian Gulf region. If it China and India and to a lesser extent Russia, then the 21st century looks one way. If it is the US, it looks another.
See also his analysis of the Clinton Interview and Wallace’sord with the other principles.
Pasted from <http://www.juancole
And, Army Warns Rumsfeld It’s Billions Short
An extraordinary action by the chief of staff sends a message: The Pentagon must increase the budget or reduce commitments in Iraq and elsewhere.
By Peter Spiegel
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 25, 2006
Schwarzenegger foe wants National Guard out of Iraq:
In a pair of speeches on Tuesday, Democrat Phil Angelides plans to say that on his first day as governor he would call for all California National Guardsmen to return to the Golden State.
If implemented, the Angelides proposal would almost certainly provoke a legal challenge.
Angelides maintains, however, that under Perpich v. Department of Defense, a 1990 Supreme Court case, a governor retains the right to refuse to deploy his or her state’s National Guard if deploying the troops “were to interfere with the State Guard’s capacity to respond to local emergencies.”
The Sacramento Bee reported on Sunday that not only would Angelides push to return California’s National Guardsmen from Iraq, he would also: “work to mobilize other governors so that the National Guard can be used once again for its intended purposes, not to prop up the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld failed war policy.” LINK
In the Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) penned an op-ed arguing that “pocketbook conservatives” who “face the very real economic challenges of earning a living, paying the mortgage and raising their children to be productive members of society” are being neglected by both parties. LINK
WASHINGTON The Army’s top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.
The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.
“This is unusual, but hell, we’re in unusual times,” said a senior Pentagon official involved in the budget discussions.
Schoomaker failed to submit the budget plan by an Aug. 15 deadline. The protest followed a series of cuts in the service’s funding requests by both the White House and Congress over the last four months.
And, Book review
I’ll quote a lt of this because f its relevance to 80%..
A VERY LONG EMERGENCY….The LA Times reports today that the Army is engaged in a sort of sit-down strike, refusing to submit a budget until it gets more money:
The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.
….According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army’s budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker’s request a 41% increase over current levels.
“It’s incredibly huge,” said the Army official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when commenting on internal deliberations. “These are just incredible numbers.”
Pasted from <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>
Charles Kaiser writes in the Los Angeles Times about why 43 retired generals and admirals publicly stated their opposition to Bush’s interrogation policies. For instance:
“Retired Brig. Gen. James P. Cullen was chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. ‘I grew up in an Army where the rules were very clear and where serviceman and women had no question about what their obligations and responsibilities were under both the Geneva Convention and our domestic law,’ he said. ‘When you have a winking-and-nodding policy [as was the case at Abu Ghraib], that just brings about the consequences that we came to view at [the prison].’
Bush got the report in April. Here he is in August : “You know, I’ve heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of ‘we’re going to stir up the hornet’s nest’ theory. It just doesn’t hold water, as far as I’m concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.”
A new Gallup Poll finds that an astonishing 42 percent of Americans believe that the Bush administration has deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall’s elections.
But whether this has happened or not should not be a matter of idle speculation. As a determinable fact, it should be the object of some reporting.
How ’bout it, colleagues?
September 24, 2006 § Leave a comment
That’s the headline in the NY Times, and the concept is as straightforward as it comes.
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,” it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
Pasted from <http://www.dailykos.com/>
An interview with Elizabeth Edwards Spalding, author of The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, And the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism.
Elizabeth Edwards Spalding: FDR thought he could keep the Soviet Union satisfied through spheres of influence and his personal style of diplomacy. So FDR was willing to legitimate the Kremlin in a way that Truman never allowed. Even before he became president, Truman understood that the combination of the Soviet communist regime and its totalitarian practices was a global threat. Pasted from <http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWUyODAzMzk3NWZjZGZjYjI1MjU1M2VmMjA4MGY3ZDk=>
Dc: but that should be a question. Was it? Was FDR sort of right?
And Juan Cole
Here is the BBC World Monitoring translation of Hasan Nasrullah’s speech on Friday to an enormous crowd in bombed-out South Beirut.
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
Praise be to God, who fulfilled His promise to us and who granted us, Lebanon, and the people of Lebanon victory over the enemy of Lebanon. Praise be to God who made us proud, enabled us to hold fast, and gave us security. Praise be to God, on whom we relied and to whom we turned repentantly. As He promised, He has always been the best protector. Praise be to God for His victory, assistance, and support.
Brothers and sisters, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On 22 September, you once again surprised the world and truly proved that you are a great, proud, loyal, and courageous people. [Applause]
We are neither a disorganized and sophistic resistance, nor a resistance pulled to the ground that sees before it nothing but soil, nor a resistance of chaos. The pious, God-reliant, loving, and knowledgeable resistance is also the conscious, wise, trained, and equipped resistance that has plans. This is the secret of the victory we are today celebrating, brothers and sisters.
Brothers and sisters, we should today stress that this war was an American war in terms of decision, weapons, planning, and desire, and by giving several deadlines for the Zionists; one, two, three, and four weeks. What stopped the war is the failure of the Zionists. If you recall the last days, the largest number of tanks was destroyed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; the largest number of the occupation soldiers was killed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; the helicopters crashed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Therefore, the Zionists realized that if they had continued [the war], it would have been a disaster. The Americans intervened and even accepted the drafts [of resolutions] for the war to stop. They stopped the war not for the sake of Lebanon, not for the sake of the children of Lebanon, not for the sake of the blood of women in Lebanon, and not for the sake of beautiful Lebanon. They stopped the war only for the sake of Israel. They came to peddle it to us in Lebanon; namely, that our American friends stopped the war
Dc: the whole is worth reading and deeply saddening.
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
An embryonic model for easing the human costs of free markets
Michael J. Piore and Andrew Schrank
Latin American economic and social policy is at a turning point: the emblem of that turn is the growing list of successful presidential candidates who have run against neo-liberalism—Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Tabare Vázquez in Uruguay, Néstor Carlos Kirchner in Argentina, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, and Evo Morales in Bolivia—and the near misses of populist candidates in Peru and Mexico.
The new regimes are riding a wave of discontent directed against the market, but are they simply reverting to the past practices against which the Washington Consensus was a reaction? Or are they creating something new that might temper or replace market mechanisms? And if they are innovating, what are the new institutions and how are they likely to evolve?
It is hard not to be reminded here of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation. Polanyi described the economic policies of industrial society as the product of a “double movement.” The first movement is toward a free market, particularly in labor and land, and also in international trade. But free markets generate enormous pressures for the continual redeployment of resources, especially human resources. So Polanyi’s second movement is a response, an attempt to protect society from these pressures. While the movement toward the market is guided and directed by a coherent theory and the ideology of political and economic liberalism (the Washington Consensus is but its most recent expression), the second movement is visceral, an instinctive effort to rescue society from the ravages of unfettered economic competition and the constant redeployment of resources that destroys the context in which people understand themselves and create meaning and purpose in their lives.
Our age is distinctive in offering no alternative vision of institutions or terms that might ease tensions between economic and social needs. In the past, there have been a number of visions, perhaps too many. Polanyi himself saw the makings of alternatives in Robert Owen’s factory organization in the early 19th century and in the International Labour Organization in the early 20th. Another, much more articulated vision was, of course, Marxism. When Polanyi was writing, in the 1930s, fascism also constituted an influential alternative. By the time his book was actually published, in 1944, Keynesian economics had captured the public imagination and seemed not only to complete his argument but to provide a framework for the reconciliation of social and economic forces that avoided the twin pitfalls of Marxism and fascism. But each of these philosophies has since been discredited
In this unprecedented intellectual vacuum, one way to begin creating a coherent alternative would be to try to construct such a vision inductively, working from the changes that are actually happening on the ground. In studying what people are already doing locally in response to the conflict between market and social forces and identifying the particular institutions that are emerging in that process, we might find a way of working those institutions into the broader structure of the economy, using them as the starting point for an alternative model of social and economic organization.
This last step crosses the threshold from a conception of labor inspection narrowly focused upon work standards to a notion of labor inspection as a much broader approach to social and economic policy. The agency then becomes a bridge between economic and social forces, at least one piece of an alternative to the Washington Consensus, or rather to the vacuum in which the reaction to the Washington Consensus is emerging.
These examples, it is to be emphasized, are of interest not because of their quantitative significance. Indeed, their number is actually quite limited. But they point to the ways in which the Latin model of labor inspection might constitute the vehicle for a much broader approach to economic development—one that brings firms up to the standards imposed by their regulatory obligations rather than bringing regulatory obligations down to the productivity levels characteristic of firms.
To realize this potential would require a concerted and organized effort beyond national boundaries to articulate the broader implications of existing practice and to disseminate both the practices and the underlying model of regulation. What is called for is leadership that can play a role in developing and disseminating the new model analogous to the role played by the World Bank and the IMF in the diffusion of the Washington Consensus. The obvious agency to play this role is the International Labour Organization.
Pasted from <http://bostonreview.net/BR31.5/pioreschrank.html>
And, another review of Fukuyama but lets see if the dialog is developing.
From TLS, a review of Francis Fukuyama’s America at the Crossroads.
During the early Bush years, as liberal and conservative thought in America became increasingly polarized, Fukuyama and other conservative thinkers continued to set the tone of the administration. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, as we now know, intellectuals with a very different idea were also at work. They too had a global political vision; but theirs was a dream, not of the end of history, but of a rebirth, a resumption of the long march of Islam, stalled by centuries of Western expansion but reinvigorated by contemporary global demography.
OK, go read it. But to my mind, it is a messy story.
Accordingly, most of “The Greatest Story” is a straight, well-researched, clearly written narrative of Bush and his cohorts’ lies, deceptions and misdeeds, and of the cowardly and lazy press and “opposition party” that let him get away with them.
As it lied its way to war in Iraq, the Bush administration had powerful allies at the New York Times. Judith Miller, whose stenographic reporting on Saddam’s WMD helped the administration make the case for war, was the most notorious. And the intellectual support of Thomas Friedman, widely considered to be the most influential foreign-policy columnist in the world, was also key.
One was an economics professor named Paul Krugman, who from his perch on the Op-Ed page ventured far beyond the confines of the dismal science to savage the administration. The other was the paper’s former drama critic, Frank Rich, who used his feature-length column in the Arts & Leisure section (it was later moved to the Week in Review) to expose the way the Bush team manipulated the facts, staged events, intimidated critics, and generally created a convincing but utterly fake narrative about itself and its disastrous war.
Rich situates this sad story in a larger cultural frame, which he alludes to in his subtitle: “The Decline and Fall of Truth.” In a brilliantly incisive and damning epilogue — these 20 pages alone are worth the price of the book — he writes, “the very idea of truth is an afterthought and an irrelevancy in a culture where the best story wins.” That culture, he notes, took off in the mid 1990s, when “the American electronic news media jumped the shark. That’s when CNN was joined by even more boisterous rival 24/7 cable networks, when the Internet became a mass medium, and when television news operations, by far the main source of news for most Americans, were gobbled up by entertainment giants such as Disney, Viacom, and Time Warner. While there had always been a strong entertainment component to TV news, that packaging was now omnipresent … In this new mediathon environment, drama counted more than judicious journalism.” The Bush administration did not create this culture, he notes, but it “was brilliant at exploiting it to serve its own selfish reality-remaking ends.” To his credit, Rich does not claim that America’s infotainment culture was the decisive factor that allowed Bush to wage a war whose likely consequences, as he points out, could cause Bush to be judged the worst president in American history. But he is indisputably correct that it played an important role.
Perhaps this is because Americans, in their innocence, cannot accept that any president would deliberately launch a major war simply to win the midterm elections. Yet Rich makes a powerful argument that that is the case.
Playing the key role, not surprisingly, is Karl Rove. “To track down Rove’s role, it’s necessary to flash back to January 2002,” Rich writes. The Afghanistan war had been a success. “In a triumphalist speech to the Republican National Committee, Rove for the first time openly advanced the idea that the war on terror was the path to victory for that November’s midterm elections.” Rove decided Bush needed to be a “war president.” The problem, however, was that Afghanistan was fading from American minds, Osama bin Laden had escaped, and the secret, unglamorous — and actually effective — approach America was taking to fighting terror wasn’t a political winner. “How do you run as a vainglorious ‘war president’ if the war looks as if it’s winding down and the number one evildoer has escaped?”
Now ideology comes in, along with the peculiar alliance of neocons and Cold War hawks that had been waiting for their chance. “Enter Scooter Libby, stage right.” As Rich explains, Libby, Cheney and Wolfowitz had wanted to attack Iraq for a long time, not to stop terrorism but for the familiar neocon reasons of remaking the Middle East and the familiar Cold War hawk reasons of trumpeting America’s might. “Here, ready and waiting on the shelf in-house, were the grounds for a grand new battle that would be showy, not secret, in its success — just the political Viagra that Rove needed for an election year.”
Dc: will he discuss Israel?
It is now widely accepted that the Iraq war is one of the greatest foreign policy blunders, if not the greatest, in U.S. history. Some have gone further: The respected Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld argues that it is “the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C. sent his legions into Germany and lost them.” Not a few regard Iraq as spelling the beginning of the end of American dominance in the world.
Pasted from <http://www.politicaltheory.info/>
September 23, 2006 § Leave a comment
- Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
- America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy by Francis Fukuyama
- China The Balance Sheet: What the World Needs to Know Now About the Emerging Superpower by C. Fred Bergsten
- The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
- Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael R. Gordon
And, from Juan Cole
Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said that Hizballah should have no missiles. He did not say anything about the hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs that Israel dropped on Lebanon, many of them as the war was ending. Cluster bombs often don’t explode immediately, and therefore South Lebanon is littered now with deadly bomblets attractic to children and deadly to farmers. Several people have already been killed by them. This Israeli action was a war crime on a vast scale and rather damages Israeli credibility in condemning Hizbullah’s rockets.
Pakistani opposition politicians are taking advantage of it to attack Gen. Musharraf for having folded in the face of US threats. In fact, Musharraf met with all the major political figures at the time and they appear largely to have concurred with him that they had to turn on the Taliban. Musharraf’s big worry was that if Pakistan did not accede to Bush’s demands, the US would make an alliance with India against Pakistan. That might well have finished the country off, and most in the Pakistani elite at the time understood that. Aside from the fundamentalist Jama’at-i Islami, almost no one even complained.
I am here reprinting one of my widely circulated emails on this issue, sent by email on September 17,2001 to an academic and journalistic discussion list. The posting and the newspaper article appended to it show that the US threat to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age if it did not turn on the Taliban was known to the Pakistani press at that time.
‘ Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 07:19:48 -0400 (EDT)
To: gulf2000 list
From: Juan Cole
The United States demanded last week that Pakistan close the borders with Pakistan, cut off fuel to the Taliban, open its air space to the US for an attack on Afghanistan, and indicate a willingness to have US and allied troops stationed on its soil.
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
TERROR REPORT CARD….America’s spy agencies have released a report that acknowledges the obvious:
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
….The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
The point of an anti-terror policy is not to look tough. The point of an anti-terror policy is to reduce terror. Republicans pretty clearly don’t get this.
Pasted from <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>
DEMOCRATIC NAVEL GAZING WATCH….Earlier today, Arianna Huffington got a bunch of people riled up by linking to a Roll Call article that said Democrats are planning — yet again! — to pretend that national security isn’t a major issue and will instead try to make the economy the central subject of this year’s campaign. “Oh. My. God.” said Arianna. “Oh, Christ,” said Matt Yglesias.
“Not so fast,” said Ezra Klein. The Roll Call article was brief and thinly sourced, and the Democratic aides he talked to told him that although certain local campaigns may be focusing on the economy, “the national messaging from the Democratic leadership has been almost all national-security focused.”
So which is it? Obviously different Dems have different approaches, but one very prominent Democrat had a very prominent platform in print today, and it suggests Arianna may have been right after all. I hate to do this to you, but I’m going to turn the mike over to conservative Tom Bevan to describe Howard Dean’s op-ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:
He begins with this: “We need a Democratic Congress to fight the war on terror — and to end the war on America’s families.” But if you were looking for an explanation in the 1,056 words that followed as to why we need a Democratic Congress to fight the war on terror, you came away disappointed — because Dean never really offered one.
Instead, he launched into a litany of detailed complaints against the Bush economy (falling incomes, stagnant wages, rising heathcare costs, and falling retirement coverage) led off by a muted but obvious piece of populist class warfare right out of Bob Shrum’s faded playbook: “An economy that favors the top 1% at the expense of everyone else might be good for President Bush’s politics, but a shrinking middle class is bad for capitalism, democracy and America.”
Snark aside, this is sadly accurate. Dean’s piece is here, and it contains only one short, fuzzy paragraph about national security at the very end. Essentially, he just ignored the whole issue. That’s very, very dumb.
And while we’re at it, I have one other message for Dean: Dude. You were writing in the fucking Wall Street Journal. Do you really think that’s the place for a thousand words of pitchfork-waving, tax-cut-hating, populist agit-prop? Even if you couldn’t bring yourself to write about national security, don’t you think you could have picked a slightly better approach to win the hearts and minds of the conservative business titans who read the Journal?
Know your audience. This is Persuasion 101. Can’t anybody play this game anymore?
Pasted from <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>
And, from David Brooks.
The larger lesson, as we think about future efforts to reform the Middle East and combat extremism, is that the Chinese model probably works best. That is, it’s best to champion economic reform before political reform.
We know from a wealth of historical experience that when people see their standard of living rise, they reject the reactionary survival mentality and they become more open to others and to change. If people already see their lives improving materially, they will be more likely to keep their cool as their political institutions are reinvented.
DC: but the problem is “people see their standard of living rise” as in China and India does not include 8% of “the people.” Brooks is opaque on such questions.
Rising weapons price tags cause sticker shock, but it’s escalating personnel costs that are going to cripple the U.S. military.
In 2004, pay and benefits cost the Defense Department $112,000 a year per uniformed service member, according to a study by MIT researcher Cindy Williams. And it’s more than that now.
Personnel costs in 2007 defense spending bills passed by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are about $110 billion.
Spending on weapons, by contrast, is about $85 billion.
Defense Department statistics show that health care expenses have doubled in the past five years, from $18 billion to about $36 billion a year. What’s more worrisome is that they are expected to top $50 billion by 2010.
Dc: the problem of the collapse of complex societies. Looms, from ov spending on infrastructure, not one, but summed across all the system costs.
The uses of scare-talk: The Republicans think talking about terrorism can save them from defeat in November. A new poll suggests they may be on to something.
The common theme is no coincidence. Republican strategists think the best way to minimise their losses on November 7th is to talk non-stop about terrorism. If the latest Gallup/USA Today poll is to be believed, the plan is working. Mr Bush’s approval rating has lifted to 44%, up from a trough of 31% in May. More important, likely voters were evenly divided (48%-48%) between those who favoured Republican candidates for Congress and those who favoured Democrats.
If accurate—a big if—this is awful news for the Democrats. Conventional wisdom in Washington says they will win control of the House of Representatives, where all seats are up for election. The Senate, where only a third of the seats are to be contested, will be tougher, but some Democrats think they have a chance. Their problem is that although they enjoy a comfortable lead among registered voters (51%-42% in the Gallup poll, for example), they do far less well among those who say they will probably vote. And only the votes of those who actually vote are counted.
And, with long quoes, since this is do good. Digested conservative, with a sense of where the intergrity lies.
The future of the United States demands a new foreign-policy model: ethical realism. To get there requires a civil war on the American right – and a defeat of the neo-conservatives who have so damaged the country.
says John C Hulsman.
Politically, Jefferson seemed to stand for what I as a Republican in the Dwight Eisenhower tradition believed in: a limited role for a small but accountable and effective government, the primacy of individual liberty over the nanny state, balanced budgets, local control of as much as possible (what Europeans call “subsidiarity”), and the promise that an educated people would safeguard the republic, forcing an inherently overly-secret institution to divulge what it was doing, so that free men could vote knowing what their government was up to.
now is the time to end the utopian neo-conservative experiment, with American conservatives leading the way. For we simply have to be better than this.
For, as Thomas E Ricks has made clear in his excellent book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, if we honestly think that this is the work of three or four very confused corporals, then we are sadly mistaken. If we are going to declare to the world that we are going to continue to stand for the things that Jefferson embodied, it is not that we need to reach that almost unattainable goal.
When the party became a national joke following the murder of Robert Kennedy and the rise of the laughably unelectable (he won one state in the electoral college) George McGovern, the neocons left the Democrats, even though they shared a certain Rousseau-like utopian view of the planet. What the neo-conservatives could not stomach was cultural hippy elements in the party. Their patent lack of seriousness terrified neocons – meaning that, in their view, at least the Republicans were serious about the most important issue, fighting communism, even if they were wrong to restrict the role of the state. Republicans were grown-ups, which beat working with a bunch of hippies who had alienated most of moderate America.
For the neocon Gaullist agenda – big government (President Bush has spent more money per capita than Lyndon B Johnson, with Iraq and Afghanistan costing $400-$500 billion, and the meter still running), a big presidency, and a corresponding decrease in civil liberties, all in the service of running an empire – is in ideological terms deeply troubling to many in the Republican base.
But in terms of political analysis, the above conversation of some years ago cannot be bettered. These two competing narratives will be played out through the Republican presidential primaries, which (regardless of the final electoral outcome) will be the most important since Eisenhower bested Senator Robert Taft, ensuring that Harry Truman’s view of containment would be adopted by the majority of both parties.
A victory by a neocon candidate in the Republican primaries would force the realist right to either accept its minority status in the party, join with the Democrats as the lesser of evils (much as the neocons once bolted the Democratic Party), or try to organise – with like-minded Democrats in terms of foreign policy – a viable third party challenge. The stakes simply could not be higher.
One reason for writing the book I’ve just finished with my friend and colleague Anatol Lieven – Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World – was to provide a coherent intellectual alternative to neo-conservatism. Anatol and I went back to the bipartisan days of the Truman-Eisenhower presidencies, when the left under former vice-president Henry Wallace (who wished to appease Stalin) was seen off, just as the right under General Douglas MacArthur (who wished to use nuclear weapons in Manchuria during the Korean war) was similarly discredited, politically and intellectually.
It is this moderate, Burkean, bi-partisan grouping, which lasted until the dying days of the cold war, that is so lacking today. Instead, as Anatol and I note, a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland version of this earlier high point in American foreign-policy history has wretchedly played itself out. It has five disabling flaws, which we dissect.
First, many Democrats echo my neocon friend’s line, saying President Bush is to blame, rather than the state building – at the barrel of a gun – an agenda that he has propounded. In other words, many Democrats fault Republicans for not going to as good colleges as they did, while not questioning the overall philosophical thrust of the neo-conservative democracy-promotion agenda. We look at what happened in the late 1940s and early 1950s for both political and ideological inspiration, as a toolkit for resurrecting a sensible bi-partisan foreign policy.
Second, Anatol and I try to stop the neo-conservatives from rewriting history. Along with such liberal hawks as Peter Beinart, they have tried to say that they are the true heirs of Truman. This is simply not the case. The key point here concerns preventive war, the Bush administration’s tool of choice in Iraq. For, contrary to the obfuscations of the administration (and it is shameful that the press have not held them accountable on this point), the Bush administration has not indulged in pre-emption, but rather advocated preventive war in Iraq, in line with failed intellectuals like James Burnham and failed politicians like General MacArthur and Senator Taft.
Given how the Truman-Eisenhower team was proven largely right about the cold war, and the MacArthurs of this world were proven wrong, it is easy to see why the Bush administration and Democratic hawks would not want us to see this intellectual sleight of hand. But see it we do.
For no one is questioning that pre-emption is part of a state’s right to self-defence, enshrined in the United Nations charter. In 1967, Israel, on the eve of an imminent attack by the Egyptian air force the next day, struck first. So far, so good. But no one has said that Saddam Hussein, in his weakened state, was about to strike anyone. Rather, the logic went: “Saddam is a bad, bad guy. The sanctions regime (thanks to the Europeans) is falling apart. He has threatened us in the past. We should take him out when he is weak, rather than waiting for him to become strong once again.”
Third, we lay out what the alternate philosophy of ethical realism would look like, concentrating on the thinking of Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau, and George Kennan, as well as the teachings of Edmund Burke, Thomas Aquinas, and Max Weber. Five core principles – humility, prudence, study, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”, and patriotism – are at the core of the ethical realist creed. Following such a different philosophical course leads, inevitably, to very different foreign-policy outputs.
Fourth, if the Truman-Eisenhower era provides us with a recent political example of what to do, the British empire in the 19th century, and the “great capitalist peace” that underlay its success, provides a historical precedent. Britain then, like the US today, was first among equals in the world, but it certainly was not alone. Other great powers – Germany, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Japan – at different points came to nip at London’s heels. And yet for a century, from the dusk settling on the fields of Waterloo in 1815 until the “great war” of 1914 (the Crimean war excepted), there was no general European conflict.
The result is far too close to call, but if the Democrats take over the House they will control the power of investigation of the executive branch, and be able to compel the president’s staff to testify before them. In other words, they would make life hell for Donald Rumsfeld. But beyond this reality, the Bush administration would enter a Jacques Chirac-like coma for the next two years, with the 2008 presidential campaign beginning almost immediately.
The corrective powers of the American republic have proved marvellous over the decades, and are in many ways the envy of the world. But the world today is simply too serious and too dangerous a place for us not to put our heads above the parapet any longer. If we are going to preach about moral courage, now is the time to show some.
There is another, slightly more far-fetched but not implausible reason that it is time for the right to rise up against the neo-conservatives. Part of being a Burkean is gloomily relishing worst-case scenarios. There is one here. I must stress I do not think it likely, but that is not to say it is impossible to imagine. A mortally wounded Bush administration – having lost the House, with the war in Iraq grinding on in a sort of Lebanon of the 1980s stage, with no elections left to worry about – may go for broke: in particular, to turn up the pressure on Iran, hoping that a miscalculation by Tehran will once again rally world (and American) opinion to its side for the tough military action some neo-conservatives such as the fantasist Michael Ledeen have been wanting to indulge in for many years.
But the second is just as important, and is ten times harder to do. In the tradition of the founders of this country, a tradition that still gives me succor, we must risk all that we have for the ideas we believe in. It is past time talking, now is the time to act politically. It is time for the right in America to rise up.
September 22, 2006 § Leave a comment
Most impotant today as often, Billmon
The Hard Core
It’s important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held at Guantanamo. These aren’t common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield — we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo.
George W. Bush
September 6, 2006
It’s hard to picture Haji Nasrat Khan as an international terrorist. For a start, the grey-bearded Afghan can barely walk, shuffling along on a three-wheeled walking frame. His sight is terrible — he squints through milky eyes that sometimes roll towards the heavens — while his helpers have to shout to make themselves heard. And as for his age — nobody knows for sure, not even Nasrat himself. “I think I am 78, or maybe 79,” he ventures uncertainly, pausing over a cup of green tea.
Yet for three and a half years the US government deemed this elderly, infirm man an “enemy combatant”, so dangerous to America’s security that he was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay.
September 22, 2006
Pasted from <http://www.billmon.org/>
Now, the hard logic.
One of my core assumptions about a U.S. sneak attack on Iran has been that the war would quickly spread — to Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, and to the rest of the world via terrorist attacks. This would give the neocons that third or fourth world war they’ve been looking for, although probably under conditions that would make it impossible for the United States to win.
But I’ve been having serious second thoughts about that assumption, in part because the Iranians simply aren’t acting as if they expect all-out war, or even a climactic showdown over their nuclear program.
At first I thought this was due to miscalculation — that the strategists in Tehran had concluded the Cheney Administration was in way too much trouble in Iraq to even think about launching another war of choice, especially one in which the costs would vastly outweigh the benefits.
Pasted from <http://www.billmon.org/>
You must read the rest.
From Foreign Policy, an interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the multifaith Cordoba Initiative, on the Cross and the Crescent.
An article on why the pope’s speech in Germany really was outrageous,
The schism between Islam and the West seemed to grow deeper this month, as the pope’s comments about Islam incited worldwide riots. FP spoke with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the multifaith Cordoba Initiative, about the pope’s controversial remarks, the future of dialogue among religions, and the U.S. role in bridging the divide with the Muslim world.
FAR: I have been actively engaged with some representatives of the Vatican, like [retired] Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and Archbishop Migliore, who is the representative of the Vatican to the U.N. I invited [the archbishop] to a closed-door meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Badawi of Malaysia and with the head of the [Organization of Islamic Conferences, an association of 57 majority Muslim countries] to discuss how we can control the damage. The prime minister of Malaysia also arranged a meeting with [former U.S.] President Clinton. [Former U.S. Secretary of State] Albright was also present. She has written a book recently, The Mighty and the Almighty, where she recognizes the need to be smart about factoring the role of religion into foreign affairs.
The perception in the Muslim world is that the West wants to impose a secularism upon it, which to them is equivalent to the erasure of religion in society. As an American, I know that is not the intent of the United States at all. But that’s the perception. The perception in America is that when people say they want an Islamic state, they want something like the Taliban. And that is not true at all.
Dc: this seems to me very important. It isn’t Christianity, but western denial of the legitimacy of religious thinking. He rub is that science too is a religion It is a system of belief that “ties the world”, re-legione. And the underlying assumptions are not subject to test. There is an equivalency here that is amazing, and should lead to pragmatism.
FAR: Imposing sanctions on Iraq had no impact on Saddam Hussein. It strengthened his authoritarian will on his own people. And it resulted in the people themselves suffering. When you employ sanctions, you’re creating an artificial economic depression. If there are sanctions against Iran, it will strengthen [the Iranians’] resolve.
Dc: simple logical and reasonable. Is there a counter argument?
People basically want a few simple things in life: a decent meal, the ability to clothe themselves, and a roof over their heads. And they want their pride. To do that, you have to engage with people on an equal basis. A year ago, I was involved in discussions between Americans and Iranians. I asked one high-level Iranian official, who I won’t name, what the price would be for Iranians to give up nuclear development. He said three things: 1) A nuclear-free zone in the region. 2) No talk or action about regime change. 3) To help develop the economy. This gentleman sounded very rational.
do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. If that can be the criterion of our foreign policy, I guarantee you that our foreign policy will be successful and wildly popular.
Feisal Abdul Rauf is imam of the New York City mosque Masjid Al-Farah, the founder and chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, a multifaith organization dedicated to building bridges between Islam and the West, and the founder of the ASMA Society (American Sufi Muslim Association). He is author of What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America (New York: HarperCollins, 2005).
Pasted from <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3586>
on why science was the real target.
Pope Benedict XVI: science is the real target
19 – 9 – 2006
A deeper reading of Pope Benedict’s Regensburg speech suggests a message that Catholics and Muslims can share, says Ehsan Masood: that modern science must make room for theology.
on The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall. The first chapter from The Next Great Globalization: How Disadvantaged Nations Can Harness Their Financial Systems to Get Rich.
DC: I expect nothing but hype, let’s see.
This first wave of globalization was accompanied by unprecedented prosperity. Economic growth was high: from 1870 to 1914, world GDP per person grew at an annual rate of 1.3%, while from 1820 to 1870 it grew at the much smaller rate of 0.53%.9
But did this greater economic growth translate into a better deal for the poor of the world? If economic growth during this Age of Globalization had been associated with growing income inequality, then the poor might not have benefited. However, this is not what happened for countries involved in the globalization process. The income gap narrowed between wealthy and poor nations that actively participated in global markets (although there was little effect on income distribution within these countries).10
However, not all countries engaged in that process. Globalizers did well, but, as critics of globalization point out, some countries were unable to take advantage of globalization. For example, countries like India and China actually deindustrialized during this period,with China’s income per person falling from 24% of the United Kingdom’s in 1870 to 13% in 1914.12
Dc: learning from Amory Lovins, all numbers are interesting, and potentially useful.
The first Age of Globalization came to an end with the advent of World War I. The war caused a disruption of capital flows and trade between nations that continued even after the conflict ended.
Dc: but the war was caused by the dynamics of that globaliztion.
The collapse of this first Age of Globalization, which has been given the name the “Great Reversal” by Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales,15 provides two important lessons: (1) Globalization is not an immutable economic force; it can be reversed. (2) The economic and political nightmares of the interwar period should warn us that a backlash against globalization can be disastrous.
Dc: to call it backlash, as thugh the problems are those who oppose globalization. In fact the wars were created by those seeking advantage. Not the critics.
Have the participants in this new Age of Globalization experienced the good economic outcomes and the reduction of poverty associated with the previous Age of Globalization? Data suggest that they have. World economic growth from 1960 to today has been at the highest pace in the history of the world: world income per person has been rising at a 2% annual rate.18 Critics of globalization point out that income inequality across countries has grown and argue that for this reason globalization has not been good for the poor. But they have not looked carefully enough at the data. Income inequality across countries has risen only because, as in the period before World War I, those countries that have been active in global markets have grown very rapidly. Meanwhile those who have not (such as most countries in sub-Saharan Africa) have not only seen their position relative to globalizers fall but also experienced absolute drops in income per person.
Dc: But the advanced coutries that have participated countries , such as the US, have shown increased inequality. Why does he force the point? 2% annual rate for whom within the countries? He now addresses that, in ways that increase the complications.
What we have seen in this new Age of Globalization is a convergence of income per person among countries that have been able to take advantage of globalization by becoming export oriented. For this set of countries, income inequality has decreased; for the non-globalizers, it hasn’t.20 Furthermore, there is little evidence that globalization has increased income inequality within developing countries.21 (There has, however, been an increase in income inequality within rich countries in recent years that might be related to globalization.)22 Thus we are led to the same conclusion that we reached for the pre–World War I era: this new Age of Globalization has seen a reduction of poverty in developing countries that have been willing and able to globalize.
These success stories are not meant to minimize the terrible plight of certain parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty has increased and life expectancy has actually fallen to disastrously low levels in recent years because of the AIDS epidemic. (Those in poverty, defined as having income of less than $2 per day, rose from 73% of the population to over 76% today, while life expectancy has dropped from fifty years in 1990 to less than forty-six years currently.)25 The plight of these countries, however, is due not to globalization but rather to the failure to globalize. This observation has been cogently expressed by economists Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson: “As far as we can tell, there are no anti-global victories to report for the postwar Third World.”26
DC: He fails to deal with the gold, oil, diamonds, economics and the relation to corporations and empire.
The amount of private capital flowing to emerging market countries increased dramatically in the 1990s, and its annual rate is now over $300 billion. That may sound like a lot, but it is only one-fifth of total international capital flows from private sources.31 When governments are added into the picture, recent developments are even more surprising. Emerging market countries have actually been sending capital back to rich countries.
Even with all these powerful benefits, financial globalization is not necessarily always a force for good: it can go very wrong.38 As we will see in Chapters 4–7, opening up the financial system to foreign capital flows can lead, and has led, to disastrous financial crises, which have resulted in great pain, suffering, and even violence. (There was widespread ethnic violence in Indonesia after its crisis in 1997, and in the wake of Albania’s financial crisis in 1996–97 there were some 2500 casualties.)39 This is why financial globalization is so controversial. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, is critical of globalization in his book Globalization and Its Discontents; he believes that the opening of financial markets in emerging market economies to foreign capital leads to economic collapse.40 Even Jagdish Bhagwati, one of the most prominent economists defending globalization (his book is titled In Defense of Globalization)41 is highly skeptical of financial globalization: “the claims of enormous benefits from free capital mobility are not persuasive.”42 George Soros, one of the world’s most prominent financiers, opens his book On Globalization with an introductory chapter entitled “The Deficiencies of Global Capitalism.”43
Only one Latin American country, Chile, has completely embraced globalization. Since 1990 Chile has opened up its economy completely, to both international trade and capital flows, and it has experienced rapid growth. From 1990 to 2003 it has had an average growth rate of 5.6% per year, by far the highest in Latin America. Indeed, Chile has been given the nickname the “Latin Tiger” to compare it to successful Asian countries dubbed the “Asian Tigers.”
Dc: but he doesn’t deal with the fact that much of the agricultural population has been left out of this “progress”. He question always is, to disaggregate the averages and see who really benefits.
How Can Poor Countries Get Rich?
Most people think that the way for poor countries to get rich is to make sure their citizens get a good education and are healthy, and it is not surprising that so much charitable aid goes into improving health care and education. Public health and education are important to economic growth, but increasing public spending in these areas does not always produce higher growth.51 Throughout this book, I argue that the only way for poor countries to get rich is for them to provide incentives for capital (including capital devoted to health care and education) to be supplied to its most productive uses.
If allocating capital to productive uses is necessary to promote economic growth and development, how do you get it to happen? The short answer is, “Develop good institutions that allocate capital efficiently.”52 But what are these institutions?
The most basic set of growth-promoting institutions are those that promote property rights (such as the rule of law, constraints on government expropriation, and the absence of corruption, all of which are discussed in the next chapter). If you live in a country where it is easy for others to take your property away, either at gunpoint or through a corrupt government, you would be crazy to make investments there. Without these investments, workers in your country will be unable to earn high wages because there won’t be sufficient capital to provide the machines, buildings, and computers to make them highly productive. Poverty will be severe.
DC: He fails to deal with the fact that in countries like the US the wealth inequality if increasing.That is,m even with “good institutions” , we can’t solve this problem.
Yet globalization, particularly of the financial kind, does not always produce good outcomes. Just as rich elites block needed institutional development to increase their profits, they often pervert the financial globalization process for the same reason, which is why financial globalization often does not work. There are those (including prominent economists Joseph Stiglitz and Jagdish Bhagwati) who put the primary blame for the failures of financial globalization in emerging market countries on outsiders, specifically on the IMF or the Wall Street–Treasury Department complex.56 The evidence discussed throughout this book has brought me to the conclusion that they are just plain wrong. To be sure, institutions like the IMF or the U.S. Treasury Department are not blameless; public and private financial institutions active in the international capital markets have often aided and abetted poorly designed financial globalization, although this was not necessarily their intention. (More on this in Chapters 5–7 and 11.)
Those in rich countries who protest against free trade in the name of helping poor people also misunderstand what it takes to promote economic development. As I have already argued and will argue later in the book, opening up rich-country markets to goods and services from less-developed countries is far more important than financial aid in alleviating world poverty, and such openness also promotes financial stability in emerging market countries. Those who are against opening up our markets—although they often don’t realize it—are also against reducing poverty abroad and even at home. True, closing off our markets in rich countries may help some workers in the short run (although in the long run it will make the average worker worse off because it will lower productivity growth). But this help comes at the expense of the far poorer worker in the less-developed world. Protesting in advanced countries against free trade is the result of ignorance or narrowly defined self-interest.
This book is meant to challenge those who oppose globalization to rethink their objections. As Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has put it, “The main losers in today’s very unequal world are not those who are too much exposed to globalization. They are those who have been left out.”60 Rather than opposing or limiting globalization, we in the rich countries and those in the less-developed countries must, as a moral imperative, work together to make globalization work for the general good of people all over the world.
DC: sorry for the long quotes, but the argument is at the core of current world tensions. Thus, important to reflect on, and develop counter or supporting arguments, as the logic leads.
Pasted from <http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/s8244.html>
September 20, 2006 § Leave a comment
The economic globalization of the 1990s did not go uncontested, either politically or intellectually. Public protests against the WTO at the Seattle Ministerial Conference in 1999, and later in Genoa, Cancun, and elsewhere, were accompanied by critical examinations of globalization by academics and activists alike. Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents and Dani Rodrik’s Has Globalization Gone Too Far? joined protest tracts like Naomi Klein’s No Logo to highlight the problems and shortcomings of neoliberal globalization. It was inevitable that these criticisms would attract counterfire from its defenders and boosters. Two of the most creditable responses in the spate of pro-globalization literature that followed are Why Globalization Works, by the financial journalist Martin Wolf, and In Defense of Globalization, by the economist Jagdish Bhagwati. This article is a review of these two books.
“millennium collectivists,’’ as he calls them— are in league with ‘‘religious fanatics, obscurantists, extreme environmentalists, fascists, [and] Marxists’’and are liable to produce something worse even than ‘‘the monstrosities of Soviet and Maoist communism.’’Bhagwati blames these ‘‘anti-capitalist’’ protests on Lenin, Derrida, Foucault, Che Guevara, and George Bernard Shaw, among others, and claims that undergraduate departments of “English, comparative literature and sociology are fertile breeding grounds’’ for such foment. Finally, both authors defend neoliberal globalization for related, if not identical, reasons: Bhagwati because of an argument that trade leads to growth and growth reduces poverty, and Wolf because ‘‘the market is the most powerful institution for raising living standards ever invented.’’
For both Wolf and Bhagwati, in short, globalization is understood as the promotion and deepening of market relations across borders; it is desirable because markets are the best way of getting more people, including poor people, more of what they want; and its critics are mistaken
in one way or another about its negative impacts. Globalization does not undermine democracy, human rights, or the environment; it does not exacerbate poverty or contribute to inequality. Rather, it is the best hope we have to forge a better world.
DC: so again, the fact that the reich are ever richer and the rest poorer doesn’t fit, and is not considered.
Bhagwati’s book is more interesting than Wolf’s, for while Wolf hews to the standard line on globalization, Bhagwati quarrels over the particulars in order to take up thoughtful positions on immigration, finance, and cultural subsidies that are in tension with the current framework. Thus, In Defense of Globalization is a contribution, in a way that Why Globalization Works is not, to the mature debate that we should be having about globalization: not only about whether we want more or less of it but about what kind of globalization we want.
Wolf does not argue over the uneven or biased nature of contemporary globalization (except to attack agricultural subsidies), and he does not exercise any institutional imagination in pursuit of a more consistently or differently globalized world. This modesty has both unfortunate and fortunate consequences for the reader. It means that
Wolf leaves much unaccounted for, but also that he presents a concise apologia for neoliberal globalization as it is currently institutionalized. This is of no small value:the critical position has no similarly coherent and contained statement.
DC: small graces are welcome.
The current form of globalization is, as the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has pointed out, deeply biased in its liberalization, for while capital is free to roam the globe in search of higher returns, labor remains trapped within nation-states, resulting in enormous differences in pay for similar work.
See Dani Rodrik, ‘‘Comments at the Conference on ‘Immigration Policy and the Welfare State,’’’ Trieste, June 23, 2001; available at ksghome.harvard.edu/~drodrik/papers.html.
And from startfor
Given the symbolism of his position, the pontiff — whoever that individual might be at a given time — was already in the jihadist crosshairs, but the recent speech likely has moved Benedict to the forefront of jihadist consciousness and up a notch or two on the target lists of al Qaeda, its sympathizers and grassroots jihadists. We anticipate that attempts will be made on Benedict’s life and — should plots actually reach the execution phase — they will, given the nature of the pope’s public activities, be quite bloody.
THE HEALTHCARE BOOM REVISITED….Michael Mandel, who wrote the Business Week cover story I blogged about yesterday, has a blog of his own. That’s sort of cool, no?
As you may recall, the takeaway from his story was that the American economy is being kept afloat by jobs in the healthcare industry. If you take those jobs away, private sector job growth elsewhere in the economy has been zero for the past five years. I objected that this was “statistical trickery” that could be done during any economic cycle, since if you remove the highest-growth industry you can make any economy look bad. Mandel emails to say that’s not right:
This is a very unusual period where employment gains are so highly concentrated. Let’s look at the previous business cycle, for example. Employment peaked in June 1990. Five years later, private sector employment had grown by 6.5 million.
The single biggest contributor to that growth was health services…but it only accounted for 25% of the private employment gains from 1990 to 1995.
….To put it a different way, private employment grew at a 1.4% annual rate from June 1990 to June 1995. Take out health services, and the annual growth rate of the rest of the private sector fell a bit, to 1.1%. Not that big a difference
Point taken. In the previous cycle, measured five years from the employment peak, the biggest industry (which was healthcare back then too) had contributed a lot of jobs, but not all the jobs. The non-healthcare economy really does look unusually anemic this time around.
On the other hand, it’s also worth looking at a chart Mandel posted elsewhere on his blog. As you can see, it shows very healthy non-healthcare job growth for the past three years. There’s no question that on an apples-to-apples basis (measuring from the employment peak for both the 1990 cycle and the 2001 cycle), overall job growth has been exceptionally weak this time around; and there’s equally no question that healthcare has been the principal standout. On the other hand, since 2003 non-healthcare industries have accounted for about 80% of all new private sector jobs. I’m not sure this really makes the case that healthcare is the main industry keeping our economy afloat.
Pasted from <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>
Gore’s seepch on the environment.
Mr Gore said in an hour-long speech at the New York University school of law.
Gore proposed a Carbon Neutral Mortgage Association devoted to helping home owners retrofit and build energy-efficient homes.
And he urged the creation of an “electranet”, which would let home owners and business owners buy and sell surplus electricity.
the prospect that humanactivities, if unchecked in the next decade, could destroy one of the earth’s principle mechanisms for cooling itself
This no-man’s land or no politician zone falling between the farthest reaches of political feasibility and the first beginnings of truly effective change is the area that I would like to explore in my speech today.
T. S. Eliot once wrote:
Between the idea and the reality,
Between the motion and the act
Falls the Shadow.
Between the conception and the creation,
Between the emotion and the response
Falls the Shadow.
My purpose is not to present a comprehensive and detailed blueprint for that is a task for our democracy as a whole, but rather to try to shine some light on a pathway through this terra incognita that lies between where we are and where we need to go.
Because, if we acknowledge candidly that what we need to do is beyond the limits of our current political capacities, that really is just another way of saying that we have to urgently expand the limits of what is politically possible.
Many Americans are now seeing a bright light shining from the far side of this no-man’s land that illuminates not sacrifice and danger, but instead a vision of a bright future that is better for our country in every way — a future with better jobs, a cleaner environment, a more secure nation, and a safer world.
After all, many Americans are tired of borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the Persian Gulf to make huge amounts of pollution that destroys the planet’s climate. Increasingly, Americans believe that we have to change every part of that pattern.
When I visit port cities like Seattle, New Orleans, or Baltimore, I find massive ships, running low in the water, heavily burdened with foreign cargo or foreign oil arriving by the thousands. These same cargo ships and tankers depart riding high with only ballast water to keep them from rolling over.
One-way trade is destructive to our economic future. We send money electronically, in the opposite direction. But, we can change this by inventing and manufacturing new solutions to stop global warming right here in America. I still believe in good old-fashioned American ingenuity. We need to fill those ships with new products and technologies that we create to turn down the global thermostat. Working together, we can create jobs and stop global warming. But we must begin by winning the first key battle against inertia and the fear of change.
When we make big mistakes in America, it is usually because the people have not been given an honest accounting of the choices before us. It also is often because too many members of both parties who knew better did not have the courage to do better.
An immediate freeze (CO2) has the virtue of being clear, simple, and easy to understand. It can attract support across partisan lines as a logical starting point for the more difficult work that lies ahead. I remember a quarter century ago when I was the author of a complex nuclear arms control plan to deal with the then rampant arms race between our country and the former Soviet Union. At the time, I was strongly opposed to the nuclear freeze movement, which I saw as simplistic and naive. But, 3/4 of the American people supported it — and as I look back on those years I see more clearly now that the outpouring of public support for that very simple and clear mandate changed the political landscape allowing more sophisticated proposals to eventually be adopted..
Third, a responsible approach to solutions would avoid the mistake of trying to find a single magic “silver bullet” and recognize that the answer will involve what Bill McKibben has called “silver-buckshot” — numerous important solutions, all of which are hard, but no one of which is by itself the full answer for our problem.
One of the most productive approaches to the “multiple solutions” needed is a road-map designed by two Princeton professors, Rob Socolow and Steven Pacala, which breaks down the overall problem into more manageable parts.
Socolow and Pacala have identified 15 or 20 building blocks (or “wedges”) that can be used to solve our problem effectively — even if we only use 7 or 8 of them. I am among the many who have found this approach useful as a way to structure a discussion of the choices before us.
But I am also certain that some of the most powerful solutions will lie beyond our current categories of building blocks and “wedges.” Our secret strength in America has always been our capacity for vision. “Make no little plans,” one of our most famous architects said over a century ago, “they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
Today, our nation faces threats very different from those we countered during the Cold War. We worry today that terrorists might try to inflict great damage on America¹s energy infrastructure by attacking a single vulnerable part of the oil distribution or electricity distribution network.
So, taking a page from the early pioneers of ARPANET, we should develop a distributed electricity and liquid fuels distribution network that is less dependent on large coal-fired generating plants and vulnerable oil ports andrefineries.
Small windmills and photovoltaic solar cells distributed widely throughout the electricity grid would sharply reduce CO2 emissions and at the same time increase our energy security. Likewise, widely dispersed ethanol and biodiesel production facilities would shift our transportation fuel stocks to renewable forms of energy while making us less dependent on and vulnerable to disruptions in the supply of expensive crude oil from the Persian Gulf, Venezuela and Nigeria, all of which are extremely unreliable sources upon which to base our future economic vitality. It would also make us less vulnerable to the impact of a category 5 hurricane hitting coastal refineries or to a terrorist attack on ports or key parts of our current energy infrastructure.
Just as a robust information economy was triggered by the introduction of the Internet, a dynamic new renewable energy economy can be stimulated by the development of an “electranet,” or smart grid, that allows individual homeowners and business-owners anywhere in America to use their own renewable sources of energy to sell electricity into the grid when they have a surplus and purchase it from the grid when they don’t. The same electranet could give homeowners and business-owners accurate and powerful tools with which to precisely measure how much energy they are using where and when, and identify opportunities for eliminating unnecessary costs and wasteful usage patterns.
.As pointed out by the “25 by 25” movement (aimed at securing 25% of America’s power and transportation fuels from agricultural sources by the year 2025) we can revitalize the farm economy by shifting its mission from a focus on food, feed and fiber to a focus on food, feed, fiber, fuel, and ecosystem services. We can restore the health of depleted soils by encouraging and rewarding the growing of fuel source crops like switchgrass and saw-grass, using no till cultivation, and scientific crop rotation. We should also reward farmers for planting more trees and sequestering more carbon, and recognize the economic value of their stewardship of resources that are important to the health of our ecosystems.
Similarly, we should take bold steps to stop deforestation and extend the harvest cycle on timber to optimize the carbon sequestration that is most powerful and most efficient with older trees. On a worldwide basis, 2 and 1/2 trillion tons of the 10 trillion tons of CO2 emitted each year come from burning forests. So, better management of forests is one of the single most important strategies for solving the climate crisis.
Buildings, both commercial and residential, represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars and trucks. But new architecture and design techniques are creating dramatic new opportunities for huge savings in energy use and global warming pollution. As an example of their potential, the American Institute of Architecture and the National Conference of Mayors have endorsed the “2030 Challenge,” asking the global architecture and building community to immediately transform building design to require that all new buildings and developments be designed to use one half the fossil fuel energy they would typically consume for each building type, and that all new buildings be carbon neutral by 2030, using zero fossil fuels to operate. A newly constructed building at Oberlin College is producing 30 percent [more] energy than it consumes. Some other countries have actually required a standard calling for zero carbon based energy inputs for new buildings.
The rapid urbanization of the world’s population is leading to the prospective development of more new urban buildings in the next 35 years than have been constructed in all previous human history. This startling trend represents a tremendous opportunity for sharp reductions in global warming pollution through the use of intelligent architecture and design and stringent standards.
Juan Cole , how come Iraq only has one armored division, and how come its army only has 78 old Hungarian tanks? How can you control Iraq with lightly armed and poorly trained infantry? Saddam had 8,000 tanks at his height.
While Bush and Ahmadinejad were wrangling, Egypt’s Jamal Mubarak unexpectedly entered the arena. He is the son and likely successor of President Hosni Mubarak.
Bush did not mention Egypt in his speech, but it is a soft military dictatorship in which the liveliest challenger to the government is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has authoritarian Islamist tendencies. Egypt is a close US military ally and receives $2 bn a year in US aid.
Jamal Mubarak announced that Egypt is trying to fill its energy gap with nuclear power plants. It was the first public admission that Egypt has a civilian nuclear powere research program. He said that the question of energy is pivotal to his country’s economic development. (Egypt has had a small and desultory nuclear energy research program for many years, and has been criticized by the IAEA for trying to hide it.)
Pasted from <http://www.juancole.com/>
And, clinton’s meeting,
Other headliners at the CGI today include: Thomas Friedman, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Pervez Musharraf, Javier Solana, and Alvaro Uribe Velez. (And that’s just one panel!) The opening reception takes place tonight at 7:30 pm ET at the Museum of Modern Art. Get all your schedule info here: LINK
Pasted from <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=156238>
The Way to Win:
The Way to Win, the Random House book by Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post, out October 3rd, explores how presidential candidates such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have won the White House. One big factor: they learned to keep control of their public images and to define their opponents. Today, on the book’s website, thewaytowin2008.com, you can attend the world premiere of two videos which demonstrate this theme.
Click here to see how the Bush political operation turned John Kerry into an effete Frenchman and to watch the before-to-after transformation of Hillary Clinton from beleaguered FLOTUS to commanding Senator. LINK Go to the “videos” page.
Pasted from <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=156238>
Dc: re Iraq/Iran and others. if you’ve got a great basketball player, you don’t send him out without the other four players. If you’ve got a great quarterback, you don’t send him out without the front line. If you have a great country you don’t try to stand alone, but to create as many good alliances as possible. And if you are a great country you work to prevent war in the first place.
Review by MATTHEW SCULLY
An Appeal to Save Life on Earth.
By Edward O. Wilson.
Five percent of the Earth¹s land surface is burned every year² to make way for cattle and crops, helping to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases ³sufficient to destabilize the climates of the entire planet.² Throw in the effects of industrial pollution, merciless hunting and commercial fishing practices, invasive species showing up everywhere, and the unyielding demands of human development, and we are ³the first species in the history of life to become a geophysical force.² In case you missed the hint, ³we are the giant meteorite of our time,² doing grave injury to the biosphere upon which we and all life depend. As other creatures are brushed aside or driven off, humanity could soon enter ³what poets and scientists alike may choose to call the Eremozoic Era ‹ the Age of Loneliness.²
In his own defense, however, the pastor might reasonably wonder just how Wilson managed to wring all of these praiseworthy moral sentiments from evolutionary biology. The ³universal values,² sense of ³honor² and ³inborn sense of decency² to which Wilson appeals are of no traceable origin in the blindly amoral operations of natural selection. And grandiose attempts to explain conscience and reason in purely biological and material terms still leave us with little in the way of moral guidance ‹ without a firm obligation to care for the earth and for our fellow creatures. It may be, the good pastor could reply, that Judeo-Christian thought itself is a kind of moral biosphere from which this and all good causes continue to draw, with or without acknowledgment, and that more deference is due from scientists on that account alone.
From Great Britain, Jack Straw argues that The Future of Socialism has vital lessons for Blair, Brown and the government’s warring factions;
“When the things wrong were so manifest,” writes Cros land – the glaring evils being squalor and injustice – “we all knew what to do, and where the enemy was and what was the order of battle.” Labour governments, he went on, have often found the responsibilities of power somewhat harsher than they expected, while the full employment of the 1950s, coupled with the bedding in of the welfare state, had “destroyed the rationale of much of the old emotional enthusiasm” felt by party activists used to fighting grotesque inequalities.
By equality, Crosland did not mean some unattainable equality of outcome. He meant a very enhanced idea of how opportunities should be rebalanced at every stage through life. I believe that he would have been extremely proud of this Labour administration’s achievements in this regard: for example, lifting 800,000 children out of poverty, reducing unemployment, raising pensioner living standards and transforming the education and health services. He would have admired our programme to equalise political power, from devolution for Scotland and Wales, or the Human Rights Act, to the Race Relations Acts and civil partnerships. And, in all this, we have indeed been more successful than any previous Labour government.
In contrast, it is one of this government’s historic achievements to have developed and applied a successful economic policy of low inflation and low unemployment for ten years, and to have broken the spell over Labour by which it had previously been associated with economic failure.
But yes, my friend, there is a future for democratic socialism. And the reason for that is because we as socialists understand, as Crosland did, that if we do not surrender the values that lie at the heart of our politics, we will have the power to address the challenges of a changed world. Crosland’s magisterial work remains relevant today for the very reason that our values are enduring. They are as crucial to the way we address the challenges of globalisation as they are to the way we address community cohesion.
Jack Straw is Leader of the Commons and MP for Blackburn
Pasted from <http://www.newstatesman.com/200609180016>
Ralf Dahrendorf on 9/11 and the New Authoritarianism;
But was it really a war that started on September 11, 2001? Not all are happy about this American notion. During the heyday of Irish terrorism in the UK, successive British governments went out of their way not to concede to the IRA the notion that a war was being waged. “War” would have meant acceptance of the terrorists as legitimate enemies, in a sense as equals in a bloody contest for which there are accepted rules of engagement.
Thus, 9/11 has meant, directly or indirectly, a great shock, both psychologically and to our political systems. While terrorism is fought in the name of democracy, the fight has in fact led to a distinct weakening of democracy, owing to official legislation and popular angst. One of the worrying features of the 9/11 attacks is that it is hard to see their purpose beyond the perpetrators’ resentment of the West and its ways. But the West’s key features, democracy and the rule of law, have taken a far more severe battering at the hands of their defenders than by their attackers.
Two steps, above all, are needed to restore confidence in liberty within the democracies affected by the legacy of 9/11. First, we must make certain that the relevant legislation to meet the challenge of terrorism is strictly temporary. Some of today’s restrictions on habeas corpus and civil liberties have sunset clauses restricting their validity; all such rules should be re-examined by parliaments regularly.
Second, and more importantly, our leaders must seek to calm, rather than exploit, public anxiety. The terrorists with whom we are currently at “war” cannot win, because their dark vision will never gain broad popular legitimacy. That is all the more reason for democrats to stand tall in defending our values – first and foremost by acting in accordance with them.
Pasted from <http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dahrendorf54>
Ernesto Zedillo on giving globalization a hand;
Here’s a fact worth reiterating: despite the severe shocks and imbalances that have hit it off and on during the early years of this century, the world economy continues to grow, with low inflation. Of course, performance varies across countries and continents, but there are two generalizations you can make: The already rich countries keep enjoying expanding economies, and in the rest of the world millions of people overcome poverty every year, thanks to economic growth. Is there a force underlying this benign evolution that transcends national borders? Yes. That force is international economic integration – or globalization, if you wish. The market economy’s capacity to fulfill human needs is being enhanced to an unprecedented extent by international trade and investment.
Dc: this to me is ideology. “Benign?” In some ways yes, but the concentration of wealth/income, no longer in dispute, comes along with globalization. The yale lead-in to the article is a set up
Ongoing economic growth, as well as international trade and investment, continues to lift millions from poverty and make national economies more interdependent. Globalization not only provides economic opportunities, but increases global resilience against all manner of crises. Yet, despite globalization’s many benefits, political forces could curtail or even reverse the phenomenon.
Globalization is providing the world with not only greater economic opportunities but also a remarkable resilience to events that in the past would have proven highly disruptive. If you consider recent regional wars, terrorism, the skyrocketing prices of oil and other commodities, and the laxity in the fiscal and monetary policies of some of the major economies, you may conclude that it’s only through the globalization of the market economy that we’ve been able to sail through such stormy waters.
DC: but the increasing instabiity is due to the same forces. How can smeone write from only one side? Is ter social ircle so limited, the need to be on the tem so strong, outright lying?
Dc: to which I replied,
Zedillo’s “Give globalization a hand”, makes the positive case, but without reference to the concentration of wealth/income, no longer in doubt, seems ingenuous. Or is his social circle so narrow? We have a localizing economy that knows how to create wealth, but not distribute it.
Also the current world tension points seem caused by globalization, contrary to what he suggests.
Pasted from <https://forums.yaleglobal.yale.edu/spell.jsp>
and Richard Falk, one of the best, on the UN after Lebanon.
In a strange turn of events, it was Israel and the United States that turned to the UN to bail them out of their horrific failure in Lebanon. It was in the UN Security Council that the language and arrangements for a cease-fire were finally worked out. And it was the UN that was entrusted with composing and managing the peacekeeping force that is supposed to protect the Israeli border from Hezbollah violence. Also, it was Kofi Annan’s diplomacy that finally induced Israel to lift its blockade of Lebanon. From these perspectives the UN seems like an indispensable part of the frayed fabric of world order in the early part of the twenty-first century.
Israel’s response, which included demolishing villages and large residential sections of Beirut, amounts to a repudiation of the core restraint on the use of force in the UN Charter. For the United States to encourage this was a further blow to UN authority.
The success of deterrence can be attributed largely to this partial learning experience–this realization that a third world war would end in mutual catastrophe.
But in the post-9/11 world a new kind of “unlearning” has been taking place. This shift preceded 9/11 and the Bush presidency but has been accentuated by the new realities. The 9/11 events posed challenges that US leaders believed could not be met either by a traditional war against a state or by robust law enforcement against perpetrators of terrorist crimes.
Applying this logic to Afghanistan, but especially to Iraq and Lebanon, makes it more and more clear that this approach fails to achieve its goals and relies on collective punishment, the result of which has been to magnify the problem rather than overcome it and to bring devastation to those societies.
Taking stock of the UN after the Lebanon war leads to two observations. First, it is important to lower our expectations about what the UN can do to uphold the promise of the charter to protect victims of war. But it is equally important to recognize the significant role the UN plays in moderating the edges of warfare and facilitating the transition from war to peace. Second, although it is unrealistic to expect the UN to live up to its charter, this effort to curtail war as an instrument of statecraft is vitally necessary. But real progress will depend on civil society activism.
Dc: the sanity of modest positions, not A Nott Z, but in between…
Pasted from <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061002/falk>
UN-Diplomatic: Bush goes to Turtle Bay—and says nothing. Fred Kaplan…
President Bush had nothing to say at the United Nations today. This was the clearest message of his 25-minute speech before the General Assembly—that he has no plans to change course, no desire to talk with his enemies, no proposals to put on the table, no initiatives of any sort, except to name an envoy to Sudan.
The sad fact is that, even among Middle Eastern countries governed by aspiring or actual democrats, the United States is less and less a moral model. Our beacon has dimmed not because of who we are but because of what we’ve done. And President Bush made clear today that he’s not going to do anything differently.
Pasted from <http://www.slate.com/id/2149995/>
The US military has created a global network of overseas prisons with 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.
Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were “mistakes,” U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross.
In Iraq, Army jailers are a step ahead. Last month they opened a $60-million, state-of-the-art detention center at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad’s airport. The Army oversees about 13,000 prisoners in Iraq at Cropper, Camp Bucca in the southern desert, and Fort Suse in the Kurdish north.
Guantanamo received its first prisoners from Afghanistan — chained, wearing blacked-out goggles — in January 2002. A total of 770 detainees were sent there. Its population today of Afghans, Arabs and others, stands at 455.
Described as the most dangerous of America’s “war on terror” prisoners, only 10 of the Guantanamo inmates have been charged with crimes. Charges are expected against 14 other al-Qaida suspects flown in to Guantanamo from secret prisons on Sept. 4
The exposure of sadistic abuse, torture and death at Abu Ghraib two years ago touched off a flood of courts-martial of mostly lower-ranking U.S. soldiers. Overall, about 800 investigations of alleged detainee mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to action against more than 250 service personnel, including 89 convicted at courts-martial, U.S. diplomats told the United Nations in May
In only 14 of 34 cases has anyone been punished for the confirmed or suspected killings of detainees, the New York-based Human Rights First reports. The stiffest sentence in a torture-related death has been five months in jail. The group reported last February that in almost half of 98 detainee deaths, the cause was either never announced or reported as undetermined.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Associated Press staff in Baghdad and AP writers Andrew Selsky in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Matthew Pennington in Kabul, Afghanistan; Anne Plummer Flaherty in Washington, and Charles J. Hanley in New York contributed to this report.
From New York, an article on The New York Review of Books after Barbara Epstein;
As the old generation—Theodore Draper, Isaiah Berlin, Noel Annan—dies off, a new generation of critical thinkers has emerged to take its place. Mark Danner, Tim Judah, and Timothy Garton Ash, three of the Review’s veteran political commentators, are only in their forties or early fifties, as are Tim Parks and Daniel Mendelsohn, two of its most able critics.
Pasted from <http://newyorkmetro.com/news/media/21344/index6.html>
Exiled Royalties is a literary/biographical study of the course of Melville’s career from his experience in Polynesia through his retirement from the New York Custom House and his composition of three late volumes of poetry and Billy Budd, Sailor. Conceived separately but narratively and
thematically intertwined, the ten essays in the book are rooted in a belief that “Melville’s work,” as Charles Olson said, “must be left in his own ‘life,'” which for Milder means primarily his spiritual, psychological, and vocational life. Four of the ten essays deal with Melville’s life and work
after his novelistic career ended with the The Confidence-Man in 1857. The range of issues addressed in the essays includes Melville’s attitudes toward society, history, and politics, from broad ideas about democracy and the course of Western civilization to responses to particular events like the
Astor Place Riots and the Civil War; his feeling about sexuality and, throughout the book, about religion; his relationship to past and present writers, especially to the phases of Euro-American Romanticism, post-Romanticism, and nascent Modernism; his relationship to his wife, Lizzie, to Hawthorne,
and to his father, all of whom figured in the crisis that made for Pierre. The title essay, “Exiled Royalties,” takes its origin from Ishmael’s account of “the larger, darker, deeper part of Ahab”–Melville’s mythic projection of a “larger, darker, deeper part” of himself. How to live nobly in
spiritual exile–to be godlike in the perceptible absence of God–was a lifelong preoccupation for Melville, who, in lieu of positive belief, transposed the drama of his spiritual life to literature. The ways in which this impulse expressed itself through Melville’s forty-five year career,
interweaving itself with his personal life and the life of the nation and shaping both the matter and manner of his work, is the unifying subject of Exiled Royalties.
And The New York Times appoints Michael Rogers as “Futurist in Residence”
NEW YORK From the newspaper that brought you the first-ever perfume critic comes what appears to be another first — “futurist-in-residence.” The New York Times, apparently seeking to boost its image as a forward-looking paper, announced Tuesday the appointment of Michael Rogers, a former Washington Post Company executive and Newsweek.com general manager to the newly-created title.
“He will be meeting with different units and bringing his ideas to advise the [R&D] group.” Roger’s appointment is the latest expansion of the company’s research and development unit, which was created last year to develop new strategies for online and other innovations among the company’s products, Green said.
“Michael has unique insights into the confluence of digital technology, consumer behavior and journalism,” Michael Zimbalist, vice president of the research and development operations, said in a statement. “As futurist-in-residence he will help us to continuously deliver the innovative information products and services our readers expect from the Times Company.”
Dc: note that the impact is on the business, not the framig of news. Too bad. Still a good move.
Sep 20] Where the Truthiness Lies: A review of The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina by Frank Rich.
The right-hand column on each page presents “the story that was sold by the Bush administration” or otherwise reported by the media at any given time, while the column on the left presents “what the administration was learning behind the scenes about intelligence and other war-related matters — and not telling the public.”
It is designed, in other words, to answer two closely related questions: What did the administration know? And when did it lie about it? The main body of Rich’s book is devoted to the mechanisms of deception — or rather, the carefully cultivated routines of evasion that have put the very notion of “truth” out of play. “The same conservatives who once deplored postmodernism and moral relativism,” he writes, “were now eagerly promoting a brave new world in which it was a given that there could be no empirical reality in news, only the reality you wanted to hear (or that they wanted you to hear).”
Pasted from <http://www.mclemee.com/id184.html>
An interview with Jim Geraghty, author of Voting to Kill: How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership.
The case that really stood out to me was the Iranian hostage crisis, and the sheer overwhelming impotence of the Carter White House, and by extension, the entire country at that time. Throughout the crisis, the attitude of President Carter was, “how can I negotiate a settlement that will get the hostages freed?”; it was never, “how can we inflict such devastating consequences on the hostage-takers that everyone around the world knows that they should never take an American embassy hostage?”
I think the fact that the hostage crisis is seen by many Democrats as an unavoidable tragedy, instead of a serious policy and leadership failure to protect Americans, marked a turning point in the thinking of the party.
Pasted from <http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=17107>
DC: Important to read conservative right wing books.
Yglesias with good summary of ME.
They understand that Israel, our regional best friend, was a creation of the British empire’s control over historical Palestine. That our other major strategic ally in the area, Turkey, was the pre-Anglo-French colonizer of the Arabs. That the overwhelming majority of friendly Arab regimes — the monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain along with the Christian political establishment in Lebanon– are literal creations of the retreating colonial powers. That the regimes with which we have hostile relations — the Islamic Republic of Iran and Baathist Syria — were forged in revolutions against post-colonial monarchies. That Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had the same story. And, last, that our relationship with Egypt switched from friendly to hostile when the post-colonial monarchy was overthrown in a coup, and then to friendly again when the anti-colonial regime agreed to make peace with Israel.
Under the circumstances, we simply lack the requisite ability to boss countries around and be viewed as credibly operating on behalf of the local populations rather than our own nefarious designs. Indeed, at this point it hardly matters whether our designs are, in fact, nefarious. Consider the recent history. The long legacy of nefarious designs and support for unpopular regimes was bad enough. Then came George W. Bush, who loudly proclaimed his determination to repudiate that legacy and proved it by … overthrowing one of the remaining anti-colonialist governments and occupying its territory for an indefinite period of time. Then he said Israel didn’t need to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because it wasn’t democratic. The Palestinians then had an election — and now he says Israel doesn’t need to negotiate with the victor because Palestinians voted for the wrong candidate.
Our credibility, in other words, is in the toilet. And simply putting a new president in office won’t suffice to fish it out. If we want to work effectively for reforms that would benefit the populations of Middle Eastern countries, we’ll need to do it through international institutions. And we’ll want to spend more time bolstering those institutions’ legitimacy rather than denigrating them.
Realistically, a determination to work through legitimate international institutions and legal methods is going to put constraints on how much we can accomplish. This is, however, less of a drawback than one might think. Simply put, operating with constraints on our ability to achieve what we’d like is better than casting the restraints off only to put ourselves in a position where everything we do backfires horribly.
From Salon, a slew of new books on Karl Rove make us question whether the president’s deputy chief of staff is truly the Machiavellian genius so many in Washington claim.
Victorious presidential campaigns rival Renaissance Florence as a repository of genius.
Thirty years ago, political reporters hailed strategist Hamilton Jordan and pollster Pat Caddell as the creative visionaries responsible for the dizzying ascent of Jimmy Carter. After Ronald Reagan supplanted Carter in 1980, news magazines rhapsodized about campaign manager Jim Baker’s sagacity and image-maker Mike Deaver’s mastery of the metaphors of TV visuals. Lee Atwater, the architect of George Bush’s 1988 victory, inspired a generation of Republican operatives with his amoral fixation on racially tinged hot-button issues. Bill Clinton employed a different Svengali in each campaign, embracing James Carville’s quick-response war-room partisanship in 1992 and four years later Dick Morris’ split-the-difference triangulation.
“There is no more compelling subject in contemporary American politics and perhaps in our country’s electoral history than Karl Christian Rove … Rove is unique in both intellect and ambition and that his accomplishments have been transcendent for the American democracy.”
Dc: hype, but the name!
It is a much larger question: As Bush’s deputy chief of staff with a high-level security clearance and membership in the shadowy White House Iraq Group, did Rove help shape war-on-terror policy or was he only involved in the political marketing of it?
Bush’s brain has, for the most part, been in hibernation since the 2004 election. Fixated on the notion of creating a new investor class of money-conscious conservative voters, Rove allowed Bush to fritter away his second-term mandate on the politically impossible quest for Social Security privatization.
From TAP, why are businesses registering more than 2 million workers to vote? Mark Schmitt on the challenge within the answer;
But recently, big business has quietly become a political actor in a new way, organizing employees and getting them to vote in what they see as the interests of their employers. For 2006, the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) has a goal of registering 2.1 million new “pro-business voters” in 15 targeted states. In 2004, the BIPAC program registered 16,000 voters in Iowa, a state George W. Bush won by 13,000 votes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “VoteforBusiness.com” program in 2004 set up 400 Web sites for companies and local chambers with information on candidates’ positions on issues that matter to employees, like tort reform, energy policy, and of course, “the death tax.” This year, they’ll set up approximately 1,000 sites.
In their new book, One Party Country, Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times describe this phenomenon and the underlying change in attitude that made it possible: “Workers understood that manufacturing jobs were evaporating,” they write. “They no longer dared dismiss out of hand arguments that what was good for their employers was also good for them.”
This is an unnerving challenge to the idea that working people vote Republican because they put social values above their economic interest. In many cases, they see their economic interest as bound up in their employers’ interests. Many coal miners in West Virginia in 2000 defied their union and helped George W. Bush win the state — and the presidency — because of his support from their bosses.
The tragedy of this new business involvement in politics is not in its complete merger with the Republican Party, but that the shortsighted agenda it supports is as bad for business as it is for workers. The issues that these Web sites put before employees — repealing the “death tax,” expanded oil drilling, tort reform — may serve the short-term benefit of investors, but the consequent fiscal debacle, radical income inequality, health-care mess, energy insecurity, and overall level of risk is a great danger to future economic prosperity.
DC: and then comes the very accurate, I think,
Perhaps the best hope is to challenge or divide businesses and offer an alternative that supports the interests of workers in restored security and opportunity as well as the interests of business in sustained prosperity. Such a new social contract would include a robust universal health-care program that would lift those costs off the employer, and the repair of broken systems like unemployment insurance. It would include investment in new sustainable energy technologies and education to generate real economic growth. And Democrats should find a way to challenge businesses to explain to their workers why the GOP agenda is in anyone’s interest. All this is easier said than done, but the urgency of it should be clear: They’re out there registering 2.1 million new voters.
and two great liberal preoccupations, our celebration of cultural difference and the fight against inequality, go hand in hand, right? Wrong.
An interview with Walter Benn Michaels, author of The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality.
Indeed, in the United States, the commitment to appreciating diversity emerged out of the struggle against racism, and the word diversity itself began to have the importance it does for us today in 1978 when, in Bakke v. Board of Regents, the Supreme Court ruled that taking into consideration the race of an applicant to the University of California (the medical school at UC Davis, in this case) was acceptable if it served “the interest of diversity.”
What’s important about The Great Gatsby, then, is that it takes one kind of difference (the difference between the rich and the poor) and redescribes it as another kind of difference (the difference between the white and the not-so-white). To put the point more generally, books like The Great Gatsby (and there have been a great many of them) give us a vision of our society divided into races rather than into economic classes.
Dc: I thinnk it is a fascinating very complex story. In my view it has more to do with how poverty, or losing, is distributed in the US. And he seems to agree.
And what makes it a good thing is that it’s not class. We love race — we love identity — because we don’t love class. We love thinking that the differences that divide us are not the differences between those of us who have money and those who don’t but are instead the differences between those of us who are black and those who are white or Asian or Latino or whatever. A world where some of us don’t have enough money is a world where the differences between us present a problem: the need to get rid of inequality or to justify it. A world where some of us are black and some of us are white — or bi-racial or Native American or transgendered — is a world where the differences between us present a solution: appreciating our diversity. So we like to talk about the differences we can appreciate, and we don’t like to talk about the ones we can’t. Indeed,
So for 30 years, while the gap between the rich and the poor has grown larger, we’ve been urged to respect people’s identities — as if the problem of poverty would be solved if we just appreciated the poor. From the economic standpoint, however, what poor people want is not to contribute to diversity but to minimize their contribution to it — they want to stop being poor. Celebrating the diversity of American life has become the American left’s way of accepting their poverty, of accepting inequality.
Dc: much to think about here. My view, race is a marker when economics is not working well. People wna t to know who is in or out. Read the whole.
At the same time, however, the understanding of these issues has proven to be more a symptom of the problem than a diagnosis. In the Class Matters series in The New York Times, for example, the differences that mattered most turned out to be the ones between the rich and the really rich and between the old rich and the new rich.
Our identity is the least important thing about us. And yet, it is the thing we have become most committed to talking about. From the standpoint of a left politics, this is a profound mistake since what it means is that the political left — increasingly invested in the celebration of diversity and the redress of historical grievance — has converted itself into the accomplice rather than the opponent of the right.
Walter Benn Michaels is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This essay is adapted from the introduction to his new book, The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality, being published in early October by Metropolitan Books.
And, a good review of globalization, recalling the seatte and the impact on demonstrators of 9/11. They were really stopped by the fear. Makes one wonder.
a review of Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf and In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bhagwati;