This column by Roger Cohen appears to be rather mainstream tolerant. But the comments …

October 4, 2007 § Leave a comment

Not hard to qualify as a neocon these days. See my column: Neoconitis

This column appears to be rather mainstrream tolerant.  But the comments pull it apart and show it to be the problem with the mainstream media approach, not a reinforcement of it.  The thinking of so many people shows the depth of understanding that much of the population is moving toward.  The lack of support for Rogers thesis is extraordinary.  I think it is part of what pull crude men meant last week, ” the Iraq is over. ” reading the column and the commons is profound

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Asia Times Online :: The tortured world of US intelligence

June 23, 2007 § Leave a comment

 A few excerpts. I am not knowledgeable abot the details, but the general tone of cutting through the fog and the human realities of “enemies” feels right. Worth a reading, this first of a five part article.

With President George W Bush’s choice of ex-Central Intelligence Agency director Robert Gates to take over the Pentagon, this most uninformed of presidents unwittingly gave us back vital pages of our recent history. If Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the neo-conservative claque in the second echelon of the administration are all complicit in today’s misrule, Gates personifies older, equally serious, if less recognized, less remembered abuses. His laden resume offers needed evidence that Washington’s tortuous, torturing foreign policies did not begin with the Bush administration – and will not end with it.

In the late summer of 1918, US troops landed in north Russia and in Siberia, part of a joint military intervention with the French, British and Japanese to aid the monarchists and turn the tide against the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war; meanwhile, across America, an accompanying Great Red Scare loosed mass arrests, persecutions and deportations of foreign radicals of every stripe. It was “a moment of political repression”, wrote noted historian Howard Zinn, “unparalleled in United States history”. In a sweeping onslaught of reaction, all-American Wichita would, by 1919, imprison and try hundreds of its citizens, assumed seditious, if not terrorist, simply for having joined, or worked for, a union.

And what about Goldberg’s contention that charter schools also perform better? Well, Bush’s Education Department found that charter schools nationwide under-perform, with test scores showing “charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.” (The Bush administration responded to the report by announcing it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.)

What America’s analysts and policymakers lost in their stunted worldview was the sheer complexity, contradiction and paradox of the Soviet Union, all relevant to informed policy. Missing between myopia and phobia was the authentic alternative to the Baltic syndrome’s policy by caricature: an intellectual openness and seriousness, honesty and sensibility, that might have led to genuine insight, to actual “intelligence” that could have saved lives and fortunes, even moderated the Kremlin tyranny and hastened its end.

The postwar Soviet leaders were creatures of their preconceptions and preoccupations, and of their odious politics, as much as any ruling class in history. Yet to relegate them to caricature, to ignore the touchstones of their lives, was ultimate folly. What American specialists saw were not fearful, compromised “human beings like ourselves”, but monstrous, implacable, mythically evil enemies in ill-fitting suits, to be opposed at all costs, with the end – the “defeat” of Russia one way or another – justifying the means.

Asia Times Online :: Middle East News – The tortured world of US intelligence

Why people act badly when they do.

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

In Iraq sectarian violence has a stronger pull than democratic coherence. Why? It is simple, when people’s security is threatened, they turn to existing power for security. That power is usually religious, even in the US (see my ‘rememergence of religion paper). Basically it says, don’t put people in a bad situation, or they will behave badly. Nazi Germany is an example we have failed to elarn from. The country was put, by the Versailles peace treaty, in a terrible economic position, with much suffering. In desperation the people supported a government of renewall and revenge (Hitler) because the rest of Europe and the US gave them very little room for alternatives.

Don’t put eople in a bad situation.

Which leds to a further question. If ewe can’t get to a good solution A (which might eb a decent world for almost all), are we willing to fight for a second soltuon B, which implies the clash of civilizations? nother way of putting it is, if we an’t create a compassionate world of shared realistic hopes, are we wiling to take onthe conequences of failure?

Plan A in my mind is not Fukuyama’s hegemony of democracy and markets: that model is too loaded in favor of the american empire and its benefitting class. Plan A for me is a realistic use of tech and business, with tough environemntal regulations and government aid to education and healh.

Can we do it?

Iran

May 4, 2006 § Leave a comment

The major problem of many of us is we cannot support a Bush initiative that makes him looks good and gets him off the hook on Iraq. In some forum, like the truth and reconcilliation commissions, we need a major apology, from the the president to the country and from the country to the world.

Scott Ritter on Iraq and Iran

April 20, 2006 § Leave a comment

This extensive interview is worth reading

Well, I think it’s clear that the CIA acknowledges that there were no weapons—therefore, what fruit did you want the inspections to garner? They weren’t going to find anything, other than that there were no weapons, which they had already ascertained. The findings were never going to be recognized by the United States because we now know the Bush administration had no intention of abiding—you see leaked document after leaked document showing that Bush could care less about disarmament, less about the inspections, that this was just a diplomatic smokescreen to buy time until the military forces could be brought to bear to launch the invasion. So, inspections never had a chance because the United States was never predisposed to embrace and act on the truth; we had a foregone conclusion that we were going to invade Iraq.

overview of globalization

April 10, 2006 § Leave a comment

there are large issues, such as inclusion, environment, nature ofthe state. this review is a very good summary of issues.

The Global Delusion
By John GrayGlobalization and Its Enemies
by Daniel Cohen, translated by Jessica B. Baker

Re reading Snow Two cultures

March 25, 2006 § Leave a comment

I was rereading this, after I found I had a first edition of the Two Culturespamphlet.

From C.P. snow’s THE TWO CULTURES AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

 “I believe the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups. When I say the  intellectual life I mean to include also a large part of our practical life…”*

“Two polar groups: at one pole we have the literary intellectuals, who incidentally while no one was looking took to referring to themselves as ‘intellectuals’ as though there were no others. Literary intellectuals at one pole—at the other  scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists.”

He makes the following comparison.. Note that the literary types are discussing a fairly arcane piece of knowledge. Rutherford however is not matched with a piece of science, but a statement more historical and literary. Throughout  the essay the pressure is on the humanists to learn to be reasonably literate about the second law, but there is not so much pressure the other way.

“They hear Mr T. S. Eliot, who just for these illustrations we can take as an archetypal figure, saying about his attempts to revive verse-drama, that we can hope for very little, but that he would feel content if he and his co-workers could prepare the ground for a new Kyd or a new Greene. That is the tone, restricted and constrained, with which literary intellectuals are at home: it is the subdued voice of their culture. Then they hear a much louder voice, that of another archetypal figure, Rutherford, trumpeting: ‘This is the heroic age of science! This is the Elizabethan age!’ Many of us heard that, and a good many other statements beside which that was mild; and we weren’t left in any doubt whom Rutherford was casting for the role of Shakespeare. What is hard for the literary intellectuals to understand, imaginatively or intellectually, is that he was absolutely right.”

Here are a few more quotes

“It is bizarre how very little of twentieth-century science has been assimilated into twentieth-century art. ” What strikes me is the degree to which Picasso, Joyce, and the rest of the modernists were in synch or anticipated… The art has also not been digested by the general culture either.

“Talk to schoolmasters, and they say that our intense specialization, like nothing else on earth, is dictated by the Oxford and Cambridge scholarship examinations. If that is so, one would have thought it not utterly impracticable to change the Oxford and Cambridge scholarship examinations. Yet one would underestimate the national capacity for the intricate defensive. ”

It seems to me that the education we have is more attuned to the sorting process than to the educational needs. The idea of a broader cross disciplinary education is a real threat to the instrumentalities of college and graduate school admissions. Real depth and breadth would screw the system’s technical ability to sort.

“Since the gap between the rich countries and the poor can be removed, it will be. If we are short- sighted, inept, incapable either of good-will or enlightened self-interest, then it may be removed to the accompaniment of war and starvation: but removed it will be. The questions are, how, and by whom.”

“Closing the gap between our cultures is a necessity in the most abstract intelactical sense. As well as he most practical. When have grown apart, then no society is going to be able to think with wisdom. “

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