Sunday, December 30. 2007
Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007. The surge? Reduced violence? Political unity? Economic progress? What do American troops have to do with it? Cole's daily reports cut through the propaganda.
Tariq Ali: A tragedy born of military despostism and anarchy. On the Benazir Bhutto assassination: "In the past, military rule was designed to preserve order - and did so for a few years. No longer. Today it creates disorder and promotes lawlessness." This strikes me as an apt general observation, where Pakistan is an especially obvious instance. It derives from the fact that it's getting harder and harder for militaries to control their own civilian populations -- let alone to occupy foreign lands.
One interesting sidebit is that Ali had a personal relationship with Bhutto -- it's hard to imagine any prominent US politicians similarly acquainted with Marxist critics. On Democracy Now, Ali talks further about Bhutto's first term:
One effect of the Bush Administration's constant meddling in Pakistani politics is that it's impossible to say that we had no responsibility for the assassination. But given how superficial our understanding is and how trivial our interests, it's also impossible to assign any deliberate reasoning behind our fateful acts.
Ahmed Rashid: The Void Left Behind. Some quotes:
Stephanie Zacharek: Charlie Wilson's War. We saw the movie this weekend. I'll say something about it when I get around to writing about movies again, but for now I want to capture a quote from Salon's review, with a story from the book that didn't show up in the movie:
I haven't read Crile's book, and distrust its focus on Wilson -- he certainly kicked up the dollar level, but the idea of trapping the Soviet Union in "its own Vietnam" goes back to Zbigniew Brzezinski, who started funding the covert war before the Soviets marched in to help an allied but largely incompetent regime -- indeed, US funding was intended to set the trap. As such, the movie's line that Wilson et al. were inspired by the heartbreaking plight of Afghan refugees runs counter to the extreme cynicism the US actually practiced, and the reckless disregard the US always had for the Afghans. (Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to suffer the same disregard today.) But one thing I do credit the movie for is that they didn't make anyone in the movie look flat-out stupid -- not Wilson, not the CIA, not even Wilson's "jailbait" staff. Obviously, they couldn't have done that had they included the North-Perle story.
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