Notes Nov 1, 2007
November 1, 2007 § Leave a comment
I’ve ordered the second vol of the BBC series on the making of music. It shows a line of clear evolution that is a model (maybe not accurate?) of how music has developed.
From Think Progress
Conservatives are avoiding Iraq and increasingly beating the war drums against Iran, believing “that they fare well politically when they play to fear rather than reason.” With casualty rates declining in Iraq, progressives have lapsed into complacency, losing sight of the fact that Bush’s course is further than ever from achieving the strategic goal of national reconciliation. The “strategic drift” that progressives are now unfortunately engaged in is being abetted by leading “foreign policy thinkers” and “progressive candidates“:
The Republicans are taking Iran as the make or break to refocus the future on the Republican administration, the party and its future. Since Bush has the capacity to do this, only sane voices in the background (his Dad?) prevent it.
And Asian Times
Myanmar’s generals are hit where it hurts
The party may soon end abruptly for high flying members of Myanmar’s ruling junta and their friends and families in Singapore following new US “smart sanctions” that target the bank accounts of specific junta-connected individuals and companies. Initial results are an airline already virtually grounded and Singapore banks dragging their feet while processing Myanmar funds. Someone tell the last Myanmar merrymaker leaving the rumpus room to turn out the lights. – Bertil Lintner
Double-crossing in Kurdistan
The United States plan for Iraq all along has been no less than a “soft” partition, including an autonomous Kurdish mini-state and Shi’ite and Sunni regions. Even Turkey had signed on to this, provided the Iraqi Kurds cracked down on Kurdish militants striking into Turkey. With the militants running wild, though, Ankara has to take care of matters itself – and risk throwing the whole grand scheme into jeopardy, including the US’s designs on Iran. – Pepe Escobar
From Juan Cole Informed Comment
More on the need to pressure Congress to close the US embassy in Baghdad (see below). First, here is some correspondence:
‘As a retired foreign service officer . . . at the State Department in Washington, I would like to add to your rationale for closing the US Embassy in Bagdad to save lives. In addition to the extreme danger involved, many of us would not go to Iraq because there is virtually nothing we can accomplish there. We could have no contact with ordinary Iraqis and would put our professional contacts or, for example, potential cultural exchange grantees, in great danger, simply by virtue of being seen with us, working with us, or participating in our programs. Unless some minimum level of security is established, we would be unable to achieve any worthwhile results, while causing great harm to cooperating Iraqis and their families–putting our own lives as risk for activities that would in the end likely prove useless and even shameful . . .’
In response to readers who said, essentially, that the State Department personnel signed a contract and should be sent same as the troops, I beg to differ. While all foreign service officers join knowing there will be risks, none is joining the army and typically embassies in war zones are shut down by the secretary of state and the president for precisely this reason. Foreign Service Officers are civilians. They are not combat personnel and cannot perform combat duties. Indeed, if they had any military aspect it would doom their entire mission and make them useless. They are supposed to be civilians representing the US to a foreign government.
And, from Open Left
The Center for American Progress has released a must-read new memo, entitled Strategic Drift in Iraq, about the dangerous shift in the Iraq debate that has occurred over the past several months. In short, it presents the dangers of the Iraq blurring strategy in terms of American and Iraqi security, rather than in electoral terms.
From Publishers Weekly
Prolific social theorist Harvey explains how a turn towards harshly neo-liberal policies in the 1970s and 80s, specifically in the U.S. (and its involvement in the economies of Chile and Mexico) and the UK, affected “the historical geography of global capitalism,” and produced effects that range from dictatorial China’s embrace of neo-liberalism-which Harvey understands as an effort to restore class power to the top elites-to the successful manipulation of the money supply in Japan and West Germany. But the main paradox of global neo-liberalism, Harvey argues, is that it does not promote real, fairly distributed economic growth. Tracing global development within capitalism, Harvey finds that the stories told about the situation-including the one where “backwards” countries need to “catch up”-are myths, since the system is not set up to support the actual development of most countries and populations, but rather to subjugate them. This is not a new idea, but Harvey provides a good (if dense) description of the current global state of affairs. He presents his own class-based framework for understanding “how the dynamics of political and class struggles power continuous changes in capitalism’s uneven geographical development.”
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I need to read this