Sunday, December 10, 2023

Speaking of Which

Woke up yesterday thinking of an introduction I might write in lieu of gathering links, a task I really don't have time for this week. But I gathered a few links instead. So I'm barely going to hint at an introduction here. Some of that is time, but there's also an element of "fuck it!" too. As Molly Ivins was known to say, "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas!" The government of Israel is committing genocide in Gaza (and slower but no less surely in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem), and the government in Washington is fully committed to helping and defending them (despite the occasional "tsk, tsk" -- surely I don't need to quote Moshe Dayan again on what Israelis think of American "opinions"?). Meanwhile, Washington is funding a hopeless war in Ukraine just to marginalize and alienate Russia, and, well, too many other things to list here.

And no matter how careful we are at distinguishing between the specific groups of people responsible for all this, we are all going to feel the effects of a generalized backlash, because, well, that's just how people operate. They may not be exacting at ferreting out root causes, but they understand when they've been wronged, and they can find the general direction those wrongs are coming from. And, really, the political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington have no answer, since they're more guilty of such gross generalizations than anyone.

Anyhow, basta per ora! I have some real work to get to. And then, latkes and chopped liver on rye rolls for a midweek Hannukah dinner.

Top story threads:


Related tweets (h/t to Means testing is divisive, wasteful and punitive for many of these):

  • Ryan Grim [refers to image on right]:
    Perfect distillation here: it might seem obvious but actually it's complicated and unclear

  • Joshua Leifer:
    Two months into the war, Israel still has no plan--not now, now for the day afterward. Listening to interviews with former security officials, it's clear the strategy is one of gruesome improvisation: inflict maximum carnage, see what happens next. 1/

    It's the old Israel mindset--it'll work out--but with an unimaginable human toll. From their perspective, any number of scenarios might still occur: Humanitarian catastrophe and refugee crisis that spills into Egypt; loss of Hamas legitimacy that precipitates surrender 2/

    But that means it is unlikely Israeli defense officials will set a clearer goal other than the expressive "take down Hamas." 3/

    The untold civilian casualties, the horrific images of detainees stripped naked--these are intentional decisions by IDF, operating under the logic that through enough force and suffering and dehumanizing, Hamas will give up. 4/

    In some interviews, officials boast about this operational "flexibility," unlike the US operational culture where everything gets a PowerPoint 5/

  • Doo B. Doo:
    Evidence on the ground indicate policies of extermination & forcible transfer. By making Gaza uninhabitable and imposing siege, Israel creates a "fact on the ground" that will put maximum pressure on int'l community to accommodate transfer. There is no shelter for Gazans.

  • Yousef Munayyer [responding to Tony Blinken tweet celebrating "75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"]:
    If I had to sit down and try to formulate a strategy for spreading anti-Americanism around the globe, I don't think I could come up with something more effective than what the Biden administration has been doing for the last two months.

  • Jeff Melnick:
    Probably unnecessary reminder: every college administrator issuing a statement that centers concerns around antisemitism on their campus is actively working to call your attention away from the genocide happening right in front of our eyes.
    Don't believe the hype--it's a sequel.

  • Nathan J Robinson:
    Israel is operating on a quite simple theory. Make Gaza entirely unlivable, and then the choice facing the international community will be to either let Gazans all die or agree to "resettle" them elsewhere. This is said openly among Israeli officials ("second Nakba").

  • Tony Karon:
    Israeli apartheid is rooted in the nationalist ideology of Zionism. Most of the world is appalled by Zionist violence vs Palestinians. To brand anti-Zionism anti-Semitism literally promotes anti-Semitism, because it holds Jews collectively responsible for Israel's outrages

  • Jeff Melnick:
    If you want to understand the cooked-up "campus antisemitism" crisis, it's really simple: the Zionist project simply cannot exist without regular infusions of "antisemitism"--real or imagined. It is literally the lifeblood of this political, cultural, and military formation.

There's also this video of an Israeli soldier happily vandalizing a gift shop "after destroying the area and killing or expelling residents."

Trump, and other Republicans:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

  • Kevin T Dugan: [12-04] Wall Street has decided it's time to get greedy again: Actually, they never decided not, but are hoping you're not paying attention this time.

  • Paul Krugman: [12-07] The progressive case for Bidenomics: "Don't let the perfect get in the way of the coulda been worse." Basically the same line he used to convince me that Obamacare was the best we could do under the circumstances. Maybe this will be the Democratic Party's 2024 slogan: "Aim for imperfect, but settle for 'coulda been worse.'"

Ukraine War:

  • Blaise Malley: [12-08] Diplomacy Watch: New Ukraine aid not likely this year: "Biden tried his hardest to make it a matter of war or peace this week."

  • Benjamin Hart: [12-04] Why Russia could win the Ukraine War next November: Interview with war guru John Nagl. Next November is, of course, when Americans could decide to throw in the towel and return Donald Trump to office, screwing Ukraine. He admits that even if Ukrainians "are killing ten Russians for every one they lose," it's not decisive, or "even particularly important." But he continues to look on the bright side: "at some point, Putin is in fact going to die." After all, he's only ten years younger than Biden.

  • Fred Kaplan: [12-08] Republicans are on the verge of delivering Putin a big Christmas gift.

  • Fredrick Kunkle/Serhii Korolchuk: [12-08] Ukraine cracks down on draft-dodging as it struggles to find troops. I thought that one of the lessons of Vietnam was that you can't fight a modern war with slave labor (uh, drafted troops). Ukrainians fought brilliantly for the first six months of this war: they were highly motivated to defend their people, were relatively unencumbered by problems of logistics and advanced weaponry, and faced an invading army mostly composed of poorly motivated draftees. They even posted some gains in late 2022, but nothing but death and drudgery since then.

  • Anatol Lieven: [11-29] Biden's role in Ukraine peace is clear now: "It's not enough for Washington to urge talks from behind the scenes, while insisting in public that only Kyiv can negotiate."

  • Branko Marcetic: [12-04] Did the West deliberately prolong the Ukraine war?: "Mounting evidence proves that we cannot believe anything our officials say about the futility of negotiations."

  • Washington Post: [12-04] Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S., Ukraine. Looking at the map here, I find myself thinking that ending the war there wouldn't be such a bad idea. They're still using the June 7 frontline because so little has changed since then -- latest I heard was that the much touted Ukrainian counteroffensive has netted minus-four square miles of territory, at which rate the reconquista will take . . . well, much longer than Ukraine, even if American support doesn't fade away, can afford. Most of the territory was ethnically Russian before 2014, and it's more so now. The rest of Ukraine would be free to join Europe, and start to rebuild, with virtually no sympathy for Russia. And Putin would still have to negotiate with the US and Europe over sanctions, so there would be plenty of leverage left.

Around the world (and America's crumbling empire):

Other stories:

David Barnett: [12-10] Groundbreaking graphic novel on Gaza rushed back into print 20 years on: Joe Sacco's Palestine. You might also be interested in Harvey Pekar's Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me (2012).

Rhoda Feng: [12-08] The work of black life: A conversation with Christina Sharpe: Author of the recent book, Ordinary Notes.

David Friedlander: [12-08] Why does no one trust No Labels? "The group says it doesn't want to elect Trump. The problem is everything else it says."

Masha Gessen: [12-09] In the shadow of the Holocaust.

Melvin Goodman: [12-07] The Washington Post gratuitously and wronglyh trashes Jimmy Carter: In favor of Henry Kissinger? There are lots of things I didn't like about Carter's foreign policy, but they were mostly Cold War stances extending from Nixon-Kissinger to Reagan. It is interesting that while Reagan slammed Carter for "giving away" the Panama Canal, he never made the slightest effort to reverse Carter's treaty (nor did Bush, when he actually invaded Panama for other reasons). One thing not mentioned here is how Carter backed Israel down from intervening in Lebanon in 1978. Four years later, Reagan turned Israel loose, starting a war that lasted 18 years (plus later flare-ups), which did more than anything pre-9/11 to turn Arabs against the US.

David C Hendrickson: [12-05] The morality of ending war short of 'total victory': "'Just and Unjust Wars' author Michael Walzer seems to believe there is a humane way to destroy Hamas in Gaza. That's not true." This may be meant to be part of the Israel/Palestine debate, but I thought we should give it a wide berth. Walzer is a philosopher who seeks the high ground on morality but more often than not winds up deeply complicit in mass murder. This is hard to read and parse because at this point I really don't care what Walzer thinks any more. What might help would be to realize, as many Israelis do, that Hamas is inextricable from the Palestinian people; that as long as Israel treats Palestinians as they do, some will be driven to fight back, and they will ally in groups like Hamas. As long as key Americans buy the notion that evil Hamas can be surgically excised from ordinary Palestinians, they compliantly support Israel's indiscriminate campaign, and as such as complicit in Israel's genocide. Which is exactly what so many Israelis wanted all along.

Nathan J Robinson: [11-26] The rise and fall of crypto lunacy: Interview with Zeke Faux, author of Number Go Up: Inside Crypto's Wild Rise and Staggering Fall.

Michael Slager: [12-07] The trouble with evil.

Paul Starr: [12-08] The life-and-death cost of conservative power: "New research shows widening gaps between red and blue states in life expectancy." The chart specifically contrasts Connecticut and Oklahoma.

Jeffrey St Clair: [12-08] Roaming Charges: Leave it to the men in charge.

Peter Taylor: [11-20] Brazil's Tropicália movement was the soundtrack to resistance to the military. I'll just note that my one big disappointment with Mark Kurlansky's 1968: The Year That Rocked the World was the absence of a chapter on Brazil. This is why.

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