Friday, September 11, 2009

Kenneth Pollack on Iraq

A nice conversation with Pollack on where Iraq is now, and where it is headed.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Link-o-Mania

John Hannah at the Weekly Standard writes about the need for Obama and the US to support the Iranian opposition.
The Obama administration desperately needs to find its voice and rally the international community in an effort to deter the regime from taking this step. The courage that Mousavi and Karroubi have demonstrated in continuing to speak out forcefully--not only against the government's falsifying election results, but about the brutality of its subsequent crackdown--has been extraordinary. The fact is that the vast majority of Western observers expected these formerly loyal servants of the Revolution to fold up their tents long ago after being commanded to do so by Iran's supreme ruler, Ali Khamenei. That they did not whither, and on the contrary have only ratcheted up their attacks on the government's lack of legitimacy, has been absolutely essential to the opposition's ability to sustain itself for nearly three months--and to pose, without question, the most potent threat ever to the Islamic Republic's survival.”
Tim Shorrock at Mother Jones has a piece on the extent that private military contractors have involved themselves in our current wars, and what we should do about it.
According to one of the nation's top authorities on the civil service, New York University professor Paul C. Light, there are more than four times as many private federal contractors (about 7.6 million) than there are civil servants (about 1.8 million). Contractors perform tasks as mundane as operating lathes at US military arsenals and as sensitive as verifying the identities of immigrants seeking green cards. They teach Coast Guard personnel how to board suspect ships and they run background checks for the flight schools where some of the 9/11 hijackers were trained. In 2007, two-thirds of the 11,184 federal discrimination cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were investigated by private contractors. Overseas, contractors conduct "stability operations" in Iraq and operate Predator drones over Pakistan. Back home, they run large swaths of the US air traffic control system and even handle the job of managing and auditing other contractors on behalf of the feds. In a nutshell, contractors, in many cases, are the feds: "This is the new face of government," acknowledges Stan Soloway, who heads the most prominent trade group for federal contractors.”
Martin challenged those of us still sympathetic to anarchist ideals and principles to explain why we retain those loyalties.
I write as somebody who has never, in the many twists and turns of his political journey (from Tribunite Labourism via Gramscian Eurocommunism to anti-totalitarian liberal-democratic socialism), been drawn to anarchism, and knows precious little about it. I'm intrigued that people whose opinions I respect are still influenced by this political tradition, and wonder why they think it still has relevance.

Moreover, I question (genuinely - this is not meant to be provocative) whether their fascination with the Spanish anarchists of the Thirties is anything more than misty-eyed nostalgia for the only movement of the revolutionary left that didn't 'go bad'. (Or did it? Were the anarchist murders of priests and nuns during the Civil War any less barbarous than the Falangists' slaughter of anyone with a copy of Rousseau on their shelves?)”
Many responded, including myself. The New Centrist had a great deal to say on the subject, and is worth a read, as his background in the radical left seems to mirror mine to a large degree.

Michael Totten continues to be one of the best independent journalists out there, and his recent piece on Walid Jumblatt and Lebanese politics is a must read.
Those who've followed his political trajectory since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri know that many have labeled him a Lebanese "neocon." He does, or at least did, fit the mold in some ways. He's not only the leader of Lebanon's Druze, but also the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, which is no longer progressive or socialist. During Lebanon's civil war, he accepted backing from the Soviet Union. His house in the mountains is still decorated with posters and knickknacks from Communist Russia. Much later, in 2005, he was one of the leaders of the Cedar Revolution that ousted the occupying Syrian military from Lebanon. He supported the Bush Administration's war to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and he even jokingly asked the White House some years ago to send car bombs to Damascus.

Earlier this year, Christopher Hitchens, Jonathan Foreman, and I were attacked in Beirut by thugs from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. The next day, Hitchens lauded Jumblatt at the American University as one of the "real revolutionaries" of the Middle East. The audience laughed. I'm not sure if he understands why, but I do, at least partly. Jumblatt is the type of quasi-feudal warlord that real communists used to put on trial and execute. His opposition to the Syrian regime was no doubt authentic – the Syrians murdered his father in 1977 – but he cooperated with that very same regime for more than a decade. He didn't fight his way into power by overthrowing a system; he inherited it from his father.”
Terry Glavin has more on Afghanistan and liberal appeasers and apologists.

Jams reminds us that Futurama really is like a looking glass into the future.

Bob on the lessons of the Lucozade plot, and some inconvenient facts about extremists.

Poumista does a proper set of links to all things POUM.

Stark reviews Inglorious Bastards, a film I enjoyed.

The Contentious Centrist does a nice take down of the Hitchen’s Watch group and their line of reasoning.

My name isn’t on it, but a number of folks I agree with often are (such as Joshua Muravchik and Max Boot) and some that I rarely agree with (Sarah Palin), have signed a foreign policy recommendation that reads “The situation in Afghanistan is grave and deteriorating…Since the announcement of your administration’s new strategy, we have been troubled by calls for a drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan and a growing sense of defeatism about the war. With General McChrystal expected to request additional troops later this month, we urge you to continue on the path you have taken thus far and give our commanders on the ground the forces they need to implement a successful counterinsurgency strategy. There is no middle course. Incrementally committing fewer troops than than required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.” required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.”

Meet the New Leader, Sadly Like the Old Leader

Based on the propaganda coming out of North Korea, we can only assume that Kim Jong Il’s son (Kim Jong Un) has been placed firmly in the leadership position. The Mainichi reports:
According to several internal documents of the North Korean authorities that the Mainichi has obtained, Pyongyang is hastily preparing the way for Kim Jong Un to take over. The documents also state that Kim Jong Un played an important role in what the North described as a satellite launch in April.

"Anyone who meets him (Kim Jong Un) is fascinated by him," the text says, as well as praising him as "a military talent who has genius wisdom and policy" and that he "resembles our great general (Kim Jong Il) so much in appearance."

The documents also state that Kim Jong Un commanded the air force as a "vengeful commander" when there were mounting calls in Japan and the United States for intercepting the North Korean missile in April, and that Kim Jong Il once joked that an enemy country would suffer if Kim Jong Un chose to counterattack
.”
Wonderful. He even looks like that fat piece of dung that is his father.

(HT FP Passport.)

Sunday, September 06, 2009