Saturday, July 31, 2004

Boston Phoenix Outs "Anonymous"

According to the paper, he's "CIA officer Michael Scheuer."

The Pakistan Connection

From The Washington Post:

"Hours later, in Pakistan, a bomber blew himself up next to a car carrying Pakistan's prime minister-designate, Shaukat Aziz, killing at least six people. The attacks appeared aimed at two governments that have worked with the United States in the war against terrorism. Pakistan's prime minister, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has rounded up hundreds of suspected militants and banned some Islamic groups. The Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, has also taken harsh measures against Islamic militant groups at home. "

Were Uzbek Troops Heading for Iraq?

The Asia Times has a story from right before the bombings, suggesting that Uzbekistan might have been considering sending troops to Iraq in exchange for American aid. Could the recent attacks have been connected to this report?

By the way, in the year 1401 Tamerlane--known in Uzbekistan today as Amir Timur, a national hero along the lines of Alexander the Great--occupied and destroyed Baghdad with his Mongol army, ancestors of today's Uzbeks.

Israel Urges Global Crackdown After Uzbekistan Bombings

From Haaretz :

"Israel urges global crackdown on attackers.

"Israel called for a concerted international drive to root out those behind the series of bombings.

"'The world is confronted with a wave of terrorism,' Pazner said. 'There is an absolute need to unite all efforts to combat this scourge.'

"'An attack has been carried out in Uzbekistan against American and Israeli targets, meaning three different countries are hit today by the same people who hate democracy and freedom. It is obvious there is a need for a concerted effort against them,' Pazner said.

"In a statement released on the United Nations' web site, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the attacks. 'Targeting of civilians and diplomatic missions is a crime that cannot be justified by any cause,' he said.

"In the past 35 years, there have been numerous attacks on Israeli missions around the world, including a 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 28 people, among them four embassy personnel, and wounded some 300 others.

"In 1997, two embassy security personnel were wounded in an attack in Amman, and in 1999 around 100 rioters broke into the Israeli Consulate General in Berlin, brandishing clubs, hammers, and iron bars. Israeli security guards shot dead three of the rioters after they took a woman hostage and also tried to seize weapons."

AFP on Uzbekistan Bombings

The French perspective.

Interestingly, AFP has more on the Israeli angle, explicitly connects the bombings to the trials of Islamist fundamentalists arrested for the March 2004 bombings, and quotes "human rights" activists -- who sound sympathetic to the bombers' cause...

Burt Herman on the Uzbekistan Bombings

Here's Burt Herman's AP story. Herman is actually based in Tashkent. I met him while teaching there, and found him to be knowledgeable.

The New York Times on Uzbekistan Bombings

Here's the NY Times story--from Moscow and Jerusalem --since they don't have a correspondent in Tashkent.

More on Uzbekistan Bombings in The Argus

You can read reports here from Reuters, AFP, and others.

Suicide Bombers Attack US and Israeli Embassies in Uzbekistan

This report from Australia is very sad news.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The David Beckham of Uzbekistan

Reuters has the story.

The Apprentice

It is more than a memoir. It is more than a cookbook. It is more than a philosophical guide. It is Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen.

This celebrity chef's memoir is a fascinating blend of recipes, philosophical musings, and personal anecdotes. Most intriguing to me was Pepin's account of his falling out with the faculty at Columbia University, who many years ago would not permit him do a doctoral dissertation on the role of food in French culture, saying it was not an important enough topic. Pepin dropped out, much to Columbia's loss, I think.

Pepin helped establish a department at Boston University. He was DeGaulle's chef, worked for Howard Johnson's, owned his own restaurant, "Le Potagerie", and finally became the television chef who replaced Julia Child on PBS. His early accounts of cut hands, burnt fingers, and pranks in French kitchens, as well as the link between cooking and culture--he cooked for Jean Paul Sarte, he knew Genet, etc.--make this book of interest even to readers who are not "foodies."

Finally, the book is a form of Franco-American romance, about the love-hate relations between the two cultures, from D-Day to today, and the marvellous synthesis that can take place when the best of one is combined with the best of another. For example, Virginia's Smithfield Ham makes an excellent Prosciutto, served sliced thin...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Rural Greece Under the Democracy

Victor Davis Hanson reviews Nicholas F. Jones's Rural Greece Under the Democracy:

"Throughout his argument Jones touches on some of the key social and economic controversies of the last twenty years of Hellenic rural studies. He rightly reaffirms the view that rural Greeks often resided on their farms, or at least in clusters of small homesteads, rather than commuting from nucleated centers to distant plots. This is an important distinction if one believes in a uniquely rural culture as the basis of the city-state. "

World Chess Champion Returns to Uzbekistan - Chess News:

"Where is Rustam Kasimdzhanov? Normally he lives in Germany, but we could not reach him there. So we contacted our friends in Uzbekistan, who confirmed: Kasim is paying the country of his birth a visit. And receiving a hero's welcome."

Arafat's Empire of Corruption

An exploration of corruption in the Palestinian Authority , from Ha'aretz:

"In the eyes of much of the world, the long spasm of Palestinian violence was fueled solely by fury over occupation. But the bottomless well of rage also tapped years of grass-roots resentment over graft in the Authority, which in the eyes of its constituency had sapped, diverted, misspent and squirreled away fortunes; funds which could have helped meet the humanitarian needs of more than three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"How widespread is corruption in the PA, and how deeply rooted? "

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

More Daniel Pipes on the 9/11 Commission Report

Daniel Pipes has some good things to say about the 9/11 Commission report:
"Finally, an official body of the American government has come out and said what needs to be said: that the enemy is 'Islamist terrorism--not just 'terrorism' some generic evil.' The 9/11 commission in its final report even declares that Islamist terrorism is the 'catastrophic threat' facing America.

"As Thomas Donnelly points out in The New York Sun, the commission has called the enemy 'by its true name, something that politically correct Americans have trouble facing.'

"Why does it matter that the Islamist dimension of terrorism must be specified? Simple. Just as a physician must identify a disease to treat it, so a strategist must name an enemy to defeat it. The great failing in the American war effort since September 2001 has been the reluctance to name the enemy. So long as the anodyne, euphemistic, and inaccurate term 'war on terror' remains the official nomenclature, that war will not be won.

"Better is to call it a 'war on Islamist terrorism.' Better yet would be 'war on Islamism,' looking beyond terror to the totalitarian ideology that lies behind it.

"Significantly, the same day that the 9/11 report was published, July 22, President Bush for the first time used the term 'Islamic militants' in a speech, bringing him closer than ever before to pointing to the Islamist threat."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Democratic Convention

Haven't seen anything of the Democratic Convention here, but from reading accounts on the Web, it looks like they are doing a very good job in presenting a centrist image, "triangulating" in the way that Clinton did.

Andrew Sullivan says that Kerry is running to the right of Bush on the war issue. This was Clinton's strategy confronting Bush I, with regard to Yugoslavia. It worked then, and it may work now...

What Will Happen After Arafat ?

Writing in Middle East Quarterly, Barry Rubin discusses the possibilities:

"In these divisive circumstances, it is likely that the emergence of a new leader will take some years. During the interregnum, the likely outcomes would include deadlock, anarchy, or civil war.
Deadlock would mean the continuation of current policies with no one able to take any major diplomatic or political initiative.
Anarchy implies the lack of central leadership, with power held in different regions by various local authorities. Security agencies, radical opposition groups, independent Fatah militias, and other forces would work at cross-purposes. In some ways, that would not be very different from the existing situation. Gaza and the West Bank could drift apart from each other.
Civil war is the least likely option. This would mean a real battle between would-be rulers and factions for power. Palestinians have a tremendous fear of such an outcome and will do a great deal to avoid it. (Since moderation increases the likelihood of such conflict, it becomes even less attractive.)"

The Winter Queen

There's still time to bring a copy Boris Akunin's The Winter Queento the beach this summer. I really couldn't put the book down. Don't be put off by the title, it is the name of a hotel in London which figures in the plot for about ten seconds. The Russian title, "Azazel," is much better, with the Biblical allusions that give this post-Soviet detective novel an extral level of significance. The orphanages at the center of this conspiracy reminded me of one of the key institutions of the Soviet Union, for good and ill. And the symbolism is potent. So the book is not only a ripping good yarn, it also provides keys to the post-Soviet psychology of Russia today.

Yeltsin biographer Leon Aron has written a marvellous essay about the Fandorin novels. While I might differ with Aron's characterization of Fandorin as a privatized hero--he is, rather, a government employee, a detective with a Gogol-like appreciation of the significance of rank not too dissimilar from Washingtonians concerned with their GS-levels--Aron's larger point about the meaning of post-Soviet literary sensibilities is certainly on target.

For, as Aron notes:

"The process that brought the Akunin books to the top of the Russian literary market may be described in terms of the Hegelian dialectic familiar to college-educated Russians (older than forty) from the compulsory courses in Marxism. First was the thesis: the increasingly stale classic canon on the one hand and propaganda trash on the other, both protected by censorship from competition or innovation. Then came the antithesis, a headlong plunge into a vat of forbidden fruit: the rediscovery of the banned serious writers and essayists (in Russia the list, dating from 1918, was very long) during Gorbachev's glasnost (1988-1990), followed by a quick descent into trash, typical of all fledgling postauthoritarian cultures. The synthesis occurred when the previously discarded national classic tradition had been retrieved, revived, and recast by an infusion of irreverence, experimentation, and occasional subversion..."

You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Uzbekistan in the Kerry Column?

Has the Bush administration's recent aid cutoff to Uzbekistan pushed the Central Asian nation into the Kerry camp?

This item from The Argus would indicate that may be the case, based on a Kerry fund-raiser hosted by American expatriates...

(Thanks to Alisher of the Argus for the tip.)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Anne Applebaum on Vladimir Voinovich

She reviews Monumental Propaganda in the Washington Post today:

"Perhaps it is unfair, but I've long suspected that the work of the Soviet writers who were so adamantly admired and idolized by three generations of Soviet intellectuals would not stand the test of time. With the exception of a few poets with exceptional linguistic gifts, such as Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam, I fear most will be remembered in the same way we now remember, say, Etruscan sculptors. Whether officially recognized social realists, dissidents or emigres, Soviet writers were chroniclers of a peculiar, lost civilization, one whose bizarre morality and strange aesthetics will seem increasingly alien with time, not only to Westerners but also to a younger generation of Russians. Even the greatest Soviet writers -- the satirist Mikhail Bulgakov, for example, and the prophetic Alexander Solzhenitsyn -- may eventually seem obscure to their countrymen, simply because the society they described, with its layers of secrecy, propaganda, absurdity and cruelty, will become impossible to understand.

"Monumental Propaganda, the latest novel by Vladimir Voinovich, one of the best-known and best-loved Soviet emigre writers, differs from other satires of Soviet life in that it takes that irrelevance -- of ideas, of philosophies, of people, of morality -- as its theme... "

The Elian Factor

Remember Elian Gonzalez? His deportation to Cuba was probably the "tipping point" that gave Republicans control of the White House in the 2000 elections, as Cuban-Americans who had previously voted for Clinton switched sides or stayed home. Result: Florida was lost to the Democrats, and George Bush entered the White House. The issue was so emotional, that memories might affect the outcome of this year's Presidential contest.

Now Agustin Blazquez says the American Film Institute is blacklisting his new documentary film Covering Cuba 3: Elian , after a successful showing at the Miami Film Festival. Blazquez produced and directed o the documentaries "Covering Cuba", (which premiered at the American Film Institute cinema in the Kennedy Center); "Cuba: The Pearl of the Antilles"; "Covering Cuba 2: The Next Generation" and "Covering Cuba 3: Elian". You can watch a clip at his website.

It would seem a timely film, and therefore natural for AFI's Washington, DC audience. But no go. AFI won't show it.

Blazquez says the reason is political censorship by the federally subsidized organization, "which is illegal."

Here's the full text of Blazquez's press release charging the AFI with blacklisting, contrasting its refusal to show his film with the AFI's dumping an Orson Welles retrospective for Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11":

Agustin Blazquez, producer and director of documentaries, says of the decision of the American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland to show the newly released controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11:

“It is ironic that they will show this documentary after they rejected mine because they considered it ‘too controversial,’ and they don’t like to show ‘controversial films.’

“The AFI, which in 1995 showed my first documentary of the series COVERING CUBA at a sold-out screening at the Kennedy Center, this time told me after I had been waiting for an answer for eight months, that after viewing about 10 minutes of it, that this documentary [COVERING CUBA 3: Elian] was too controversial and they wouldn’t show it.

“Actually this boils down to what all Cuban American filmmakers and artists in general have experienced in the U.S., which is simply discrimination for political reasons, which is illegal.

“The fact that it is all right to show a highly controversial far-left, anti-American, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, anti-U.S. military and anti-U.S. soldier film reveals clearly where the AFI’s heart is, in addition, of course, to making money off of a controversial film that generates curiosity.

“And, obviously, the offer of the film by Moore’s distributor to AFI was last minute. The Orson Welles films on the AFI’s schedule to be shown during the period Fahrenheit 9/11 is being shown were bumped. Besides the money they will rake in due to all the free publicity the film gets it will put its newly opened Silver Theater on the left-wing map.

“However, my so-called ‘too controversial’ documentary about the tragedy of the 6-year old boy Elian Gonzalez is censored and not allowed to be shown to the AFI’s audience.

“The AFI certainly has a double standard deciding which controversial films fit their political bias. Art and politics dance together at the AFI.”

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Guardian on the 9/11 Report

And The Guardian says the 9/11 report means trouble ahead for Bush...

Michael Ledeen on 9/11 Commission Report

Michael Ledeen doesn't much like the 9/11 Commission report, either:

"The commission has actually come up with an oversight scheme that would almost certainly make things even worse than they have been. They want new oversight committees, with 'bipartisan staff' (presumably selected by the Archangel Michael, because nobody in Washington is capable of such an act), bigger budgets, and unlimited tenure. This is a guarantee of corruption. Elected officials with open-ended terms will invariably end up in the pockets of the intelligence community. The best hope for honest congressional criticism is short tenure and revolving staff.

"Worse still, the report calls for even more money for intelligence, and an entirely new layer of bureaucracy, the effect of which would be far greater centralization of the whole process.

"I think this gets the problem backwards. We need a smaller intelligence community, not a bigger one, because bigger means more homogenized. "

Daniel Pipes on the 9/11 Commission Report

From his recent appearance on MSNBC :

"I think the larger picture remains a more problematic one, problematic one in that for example, the FBI is deeply reluctant to name the enemy. The FBI will only talk about terrorists. The FBI will not note that there is an ideology behind those terrorists, a motive, an identity. The FBI is still not really facing the facts of who the enemy is and how to deal with it. "

Friday, July 23, 2004

The DebkaFile on 9/11 Commission Report

The often interesting although not always reliableDEBKAfile blasts the 9/11 Commission report for blaming nobody and adds:

"The committee's conclusion that America had more reason to go to war against Iran than Iraq is based on a fallacious, possibly political, comparison. Al Qaeda's presence in Saddam Hussein's Iraq from 1996 was quite separate from the Tehran-Riyadh-Damascus-al Qaeda arrangements. It has everything to do with the general terror offensive bin Laden has since launched against the Saudi kingdom and his organization's war against the US presence in Iraq. The thousands of Saudi terrorists who wended their way to and from Afghanistan through Iran are now fighting American troops in Iraq. "

More Good News From Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan beats Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asia Cup for soccer.

Major League Baseball on Stephen Hawking

An account of his Black Hole bet from Major League Baseball News.

Mark Steyn on the Sudan Crisis

Mark Steyn says Sudan is getting away with murder:

"The UN system is broken beyond repair. In May, even as its proxies were getting stuck into their ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan was elected to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission. This isn't an aberration: Zimbabwe is also a member. The very structure of the organisation, under which countries vote in regional blocs, encourages such affronts to decency.
The Sudanese representative, by the way, immediately professed himself concerned by human rights abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib."

Mystery of the Syrian Musicians Solved

Clinton W. Taylor in National Review Online solves the riddle of the Syrian musicians who scared Anne Jacobsen inflight--they were, in fact, musicians:

"Annie Jacobsen's recent piece for WomensWallStreet.Com made waves. Her account of flying with her family while 14 Middle Eastern passengers acted in a threatening and apparently coordinated manner makes for a terrifying read. Her article captures her sickening sense of both uncertainty and inevitability as what might possibly have been the next 9/11 unfolded around her.
Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. "

Thursday, July 22, 2004

An Interview With Azar Nafisi

From The Atlantic:

"At the beginning of the revolution, not only the Islamists but also the radical left were all very set in what they wanted and the way they saw the world. As the revolution progressed, two things happened to the young Islamists. One was that the Islamic Republic failed to live up to any of its claims�apart from oppressing people and changing the laws, lowering the age of marriage from eighteen to nine, it did not accomplish anything economically, socially, politically, or in terms of security. So there was this failure on the one hand. And on the other hand, people like Mr. Forsati, people who were leaders of the Muslim Students' Association, had much more access to Western products than my secular students did. And by and by, they became familiar with the Western world, and they found that this world was much more attractive and had much more to offer than the closed world that their leaders were promising them. They felt betrayed. "

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Azar Nafisi's Dialogue Project

Here's Azar Nafisi's Dialogue Project, inspired no doubt by her interpretation of Jane Austen as a novelist who embodies dialogue as the ne plus ultra of democracy. And she's right. In totalitarian societies, one may not talk back...

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Looked at the hostile reviews in addition to the Post's attack. One question immediately popped into mind, pace Karl Vick.

If things are looking so good in Iran, why exactly is Azar Nafisi's book not available in Tehran bookstores? Is it being censored? Vick doesn't tell us. But I would guess, after reading Nafisi's superb memoir cum manifesto cum confession-- for she was among the crowd chanting "Death to America!" outside the US Embassy in 1979, before the Islamist fundamentalists started mass killings of their communist co-conspirators--that if the book is not officially banned, then publishers in Iran are afraid to translate it. And I can understand why some of the readers are offended (especially the ones who admit they have not read Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James or Austen).

First, because Nafisi basically says Islamist "holy men" are child molesters, making an analogy between Nabokov's Humbert Humbert and Islamic weddings between middle-aged men and nine-year old girls.

Second, she holds out the American dream as an Iranian dream, thus siding with the Great Satan against the Ayatollahs, using Gatsby as a model.

Third, because she points out thei impossibility of escaping from reality through literature. In fact, literature is an intensification of reality, through empathy and individual experience. For this, Henry James is an example. I did not know, for example, that he became a British propagandist during World War I, referring to a "crash of civilizations" between Germany and England. And renouncing his US citizenship to become a British subject, in protest against American neutrality in the early stages of the conflict.

Finally, Nafisi cites Jane Austen as a novelist of democracy--whose commitment to reason overcomes blind passion. To her democracy is a dialog, based on individual sympathy and empathy. Not blindly following custom and convention, but fulfilling individual destiny often against society's expectations. Well, having read Mansfield Park not too long ago (see below), I couldn't agree more with Nafisi's interpretation.

What is so interesting is that there is possibly some sort of anti-Nafisi backlash brewing out there, perhaps among her former Marxist comrades, embarrassed that they quote Iranian revolutionaries agreeing to take the veil to defeat American Imperialism. Or justifying various compromises and hypocrisies. Or, perhaps, that she reveals the Islamist fundamentalists, when pressed, sacrificed true religious faith to the idols of political power, saying that the woman's veil was "just a piece of cloth."

As Americans are being blown up by suicide bombers following the example of Ayatollah Khomeni's martyrs, Nafisi's book is more relevant than ever. It is about why literature is much bigger than politics, and why totalitarians and apologists of all stripes are therefore threatened by any true voice of an individual.

What more can I say? If you haven't read it, read it this summer. Plus, it will give you a whole new perspective on Jane Austen's Emma...

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Washington Post v Azar Nafisi

In a nasty article from Tehran entitledSorry, Wrong Chador , The Washington Post skewers Reading Lolita in Tehran (a book I'm reading now and hope to discuss later) as dated and irrelevant (interestingly, although I'm only halfway through, irrelevancy is a major theme of Nafisi's book, an irony reporter Karl Vick completely misses).

Yet some quotes in the article belie his obvious apologia for the kindler, gentler style of Islamist fundamentalism practied by the current Iranian regime--especially this one from a character in the book, known only as "the bookseller"...

"'My thumb's up for Azar Nafisi, because through this book she managed to get her revenge on the Islamic Republic,' the bookseller said."

Victor Davis Hanson on American Mistakes in WWII

Hanson calls his essay on American snafus and atrocities in the European campaign of 1944History's Verdict:

"We know about the horrific German massacres of American prisoners, but little about instances of Americans' shooting German captives well before the Battle of the Bulge. Such murdering was neither sanctioned by American generals nor routine -- but nevertheless it was not uncommon in the heat of battle and the stress of war. No inquiry cited Generals Hodges, Patton, or Bradley as responsible for rogue soldiers shooting unarmed prisoners. "

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mansfield Park:The Antigua Connection

Just finished reading Jane Austen's classic novel, and found this interesting companion website by Gregson Davis - Jane Austen's Mansfield Park: the Antigua Connection.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Andrew Sullivan on John Edwards v. Dick Cheney

He says the choice is Austin Powers v. Dr. Evil, on

"With Cheney, alas, the opposite has become the case. Over the last few years, he has almost delighted in keeping out of sight, in cultivating a Dr Evil persona..."

Friday, July 16, 2004

Atlanta Primary Results

Our friend Rick Brown has them, here onCITY-DIRECTORY ATLANTA

An Uzbek Blog...

One of my UWED students has started a blog about developmental issues and art. Some of it is in French...

The Edwards Effect

Charlie Cook analyzes Kerry's choice of John Edwards:

"In selecting a running mate, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was faced with a tough choice. Should he place a higher value on a running mate who is ready to be President on Day One and who he feels most personally comfortable with, or go with someone who moves the needle in terms of actually helping the ticket pick up points? In choosing North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Kerry clearly opted for the latter. Edwards was the only potential running mate Kerry considered who can make a difference, according to national and state-by-state polling. "

Are Terrorists Practicing Inflight?

From Little Green Footballs, a link to this scary story about a group of 14 Syrian men who appeared to be assembling bombs in airplane lavatories. Was it a real threat, or was the author just jumpy?

The article is called Terror in the Skies, Again? from WomensWallStreet:

"You are about to read an account of what happened during a domestic flight that one of our writers, Annie Jacobsen, took from Detroit to Los Angeles... "

Royal Shakespeare Company Moves to London's West End

The BBC reports that the Royal Shakespeare Company is moving to the Albery Theatre in Soho. This is good news.

One of the interesting aspects of British cultural life has been a sort of theatrical highbrow/lowbrow apartheid--crowd-pleasing tourist shows like musicals predominate in the West End, while classic and experimental theatre happen on the South Bank or elsewhere. What we tended to find was that the commercial productions were excellent, though the scripts were not always so compelling; while the classic and avant-garde shows, while more thought-provoking, were generally not as well-staged or acted.
Moving Shakespeare cheek-by-jowl with Andrew Lloyd Webber might liven things up a bit, all round.

Will iTunes Save Classical Music?

Maybe, according to this article in The Guardian . But the author finds that most classical downloading sites are still "disappointing."

Mark Steyn on John Kerry

In The Spectator:

"The reality of this race was summed up by the bumper sticker I saw on some smug Vermont granolamobile the other day: 'Someone Else For President'. That's what matters to Democrats -- that Bush ceases to be President and Someone Else takes over the job. And, as long as they think of John Kerry as Someone Else, Dems are buoyant and confident. Unfortunately, every so often, they'll linger by the TV a little too long, Senator Someone Else will start to talk, and his party will remember that he is, indeed, John Kerry, and it's too late to get another Someone Else. "

Another Problem For Joseph Wilson

Tim Graham writes that Joseph Wilson's credibility is in trouble:

"But on Saturday morning, Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt actually showed signs of having read the committee report (do TV news people read reports, or just reports on reports?). She found that Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador to Gabon who declared there was no Iraqi attempt to acquire uranium in Niger, 'was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.'"

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Good News From Uzbekistan

A native of Uzbekistan, Rustam Kasimdzhanov is the new World Chess Champion.

America Cuts Off Aid to Uzbekistan

The Argus has a news roundup.

Happy Bastille Day!

The Guardian has a list of Bastille Day links:

"It should be a great day to celebrate: the moment when the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison, symbolically putting an end to the absolutism of Louis XVI's monarchy."

By the way, one of the keys to the Bastille is located at Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate. It was presented to Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette, who led the asssault on the French prison after returning from service in the American Revolution.


The scene of German Chancellor Willy Brandt on his knees apologizing at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial, found in The Apologist (see below), also occurs in Michael Frayn's play Democracy . We saw the show not long ago at the Wyndham Theatre in London, where it moved from the National. It was impressive that a drama featuring a half dozen middle-aged German politicians, with grey hair and grey suits, could still pack in a crowd. It was a very serious, thought-provoking evening, a meditation on the nature of democracy and its discontents. The plot centers on the spy scandal that brought down Willy Brandt's government. His most trusted personal assistant, a man by the name of Guillaume, was revealed to be working for the Stasi. So ended Brandt's attempts at better relations with East Germany and the Soviet bloc.

The play was a German version of "Yes, Minister," without all the jokes. Brandt's best political "friends," in the end, are happy to see him go, and take plum political jobs for themselves. Especially interesting is the portrayal of Helmut Schmidt, as the Chancellor-to-be.

Perhaps the play will come to America sometime. It might be good to see somewhere like the Kennedy Center, for example.

Also, discussion of Frayn's "Democracy" might provoke some discussion about whether those who claimed there were "Reds under the bed" might not have been paranoid after all, in certain cases at least, just realistic...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Daniel Pipes vs. CAIR

This article by Daniel Pipes draws a line in the sand contra recent public relations efforts by one of America's best-known Islamic organizations:

"In conclusion, 'Not in the Name of Islam' seeks to clean up Islam's image without doing anything of substance. It manages to do two things at once: impress naive Westerners without upsetting anyone in Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Iraqi Islamist organizations, or other violent groups. In this, the petition initiative fits CAIR's well-established pattern of obfuscation and insincerity."

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Apologist

Really enjoyed readingThe Apologist by Jay Rayner. It's got almost everything a middle-aged, middle-class, career-changing curmudgeon facing a mid-life crisis could want. Plus it is about a restaurant reviewer turned international diplomat, which in a more dramatic and much bigger way, paralleled some of the smaller changes in my own life.

And the theme is at once comical and serious, which I ususally enjoy (sort of like David Lodge novels). Not going to spoil the plot, but here's an excerpt, reflecting a high a level of insight about some of the pitfalls international diplomacy:


Max Olson, after describing Willy Brandt apologizing in December 1970 at the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial, on his knees,

"This is our man, Marc, poster boy for the penitential Engagement crew. There"s not been a gesture like it since."

"Not even Clinton in Kigali in 1996?"

He turned and fixed me with an amused, fatherly grin. "You’ve been doing some reading?"

A little, I said. My office had prepared a few briefing papers for me and I had tried to read as much of them as I could. There had been one on Bill Clinton’s trip to Rwanda, while still president, to apologize for the world’s failure to intervene in the Rwandan genocide.

Max sniffed the air, irritably. "Shall I tell you something about Clinton at Kigali, Marc? Shall I?" He wasn’t lookin for an answer, but I nodded all the same. "You know he was only there for two hours?" I nodded again. "And that he never left the airfield?"

"There were security concerns and…"

"The engines on Air Force One were never turned off," he said, enunciating every syllable, so I didn’t miss the point. "All the time Billy Boy is on the tarmac, wearing his bleeding heart on his sleeve and saying his wise words about the one million dead who aren’ t there to hear him, there are four Rolls-Royce engines back there, all powered up and ready to go." He took a final drag on his cigarette, then dropped it and ground it under the toe of his shoe. "If you go round in the car to say sorry to a neighbour, it is always good to turn off the engine. Just for a minute, at least. Don’t you think?"

I nodded wisely again. "No, Marc," he said, pointing up to the image in front of us, "this is your man." He walked over to me, placed a hand on my shoulder and together we studied the gargantuan picture. "I just wanted Willy Brandt and the heir to his legacy to spend a little time together."

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Saddam Hussein's New Novel

According to this CBC News report, the plot of Saddam Hussein's new novel is pretty clear evidence of his link to the 9/11 attacks:

"Abdel Amir told the Associated Press that Get Out, You Damned describes a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs and Muslims, with an Arab leading an army that invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers, an apparent reference to the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. "

His apologists say Hussein was deluded when he wrote it. But what if it is intended as a manifesto, which seems likely?

Globalization in the Caribbean

Last night we attended the opening of "Keys to Memory-Step Back in Time" at The Historical Society of the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. The evening, celebrating a new permanent history exhibit, featured a "moving cultural exhibition." This was a pageant dedicated to the history of the island from the time of the Amerindians. The theme was how over the years people from all over the world have come to Antigua. There was no shrinking from the slave period, which ended in the 1830s, and leaves its legacy today. Yet the overall message was positive, one of progress and a brighter future.

It was a wonderful show, part Christmas pantomime, part carnival (Antigua Carnival is in late July, a legacy of celebrations for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953). People of all ages, from all sorts of different communities appeared in the parade. The evening brought elements from the whole island together; from the tony Mill Reef Club, where Jackie Onassis used to stay while visiting the Mellons to the smallest villages; to the expatriate communities from other CARICOM nations; to immigrants from Arabia, Portugal, and France.

Most striking to an American, was the American section of the pageant. Narrator Keva Margetson recalled the gratitude on the island when the American military bases opened in 1942, offering jobs with good salaries as an alternative to work on the plantations. Antiguans were grateful for the first competitive opportunities for their labor. This seemed to mesh with my recollection of Uzbekistan, how happy the Uzbeks were that there was an American base paying good wages in US dollars. Antiguans likewise appreciated the cash. An American Air Force officer, carrying a US flag, marched in the pageant, along with everyone else.

That element of American life--paying people a living wage--is an important one. American military aid is not only for the projection of force, it also helps lift up the population of countries by providing jobs to local inhabitants, and an alternative to existing social structures that gives individuals just one more choice than they had before.

In Antigua, the establishment of American sub-hunting bases during WWII, followed by satellite tracking stations during the Cold War, helped the island's transformation from an agrarian, underdeveloped economy to something more modern. Jet travel brought tourism. And over some 60 years turned this small island into a hub of high-tech--though not always legal--commerce.

Today, Antigua is a world center for internet gambling as well as money-laundering (there is a government money-laundering agency) and cruise ships dock regularly unloading thousands of visitors, who spend gobs of money on things like swimming with stingrays. There are more banks registered in Antigua than in my hometown of Washington, DC. Antigua just recently won a case before the WTO involving American attempts to shut down its offshore gaming industry.

Clearly modernity has its pluses and minuses, but for Antigua and the Antiguans, as demonstrated in "Key to Memory-Step Back in Time," the benefits have outweighed the costs.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Lileks on Michael Moore

You can read it here.

American Taboo : A Murder in the Peace Corps

After finishing "This Is Not Civilization" (see entry following), I immediately snatched American Taboo : A Murder in the Peace Corps from the pile. Now this is a "true crime" story that rings frighteningly true. I simply could not put it down. It is about the murder of Deb Gardner, a confused 23-year old from Washington state, by a fellow Peace Corps volunteer in 1976. The book was favorably reviewed in the Washington Post Book Review, and that postive account, linked below, was if anything, an understatement. The story is incredible, so incredible, it must be really true.

Not only are the characters realistic, but Weiss ties together people who were trying to run away from their past. Then and now. In the island paradise of Tonga, in the woods of Idaho, in the streets of Brooklyn. The descriptions of Peace Corps life are unlike any that I've read before, but seem pretty accurate to someone who lived through the Ford and Carter years.

Imagine the characters in Rosenberg's novel tracked down by a nosy reporter, in real life. Then imagine the stakes are much, much higher. Life and death. Throw in government conspiracy and cover-up, family melodramas, and scenery from Alaska to Washington, DC to the South Seas. And a fantastic trial in Tonga. An OJ Simpson-style event that has never been forgotten on the island.

It is absolutely gripping, chilling, shocking, funny, sad, tragic, ironic, and you name it. And underneath it all is a subtext, unspoken except for one reference to "rachmones." Weiss is telling the story of a Jewish science whiz from Brooklyn who murdered a pretty girl because she rejected him and got away with it--because he did it in the Peace Corps, an organization more concerned with "the cause" than with justice. So concerned that not only is his record cleared, but he is rewarded with a good government job.

How could Stalin, Hitler, Mao and others murder millions and get away with it? Just the way Dennis could get away with murder Tonga. He was a brilliant psychopath who gamed the system. However, in the end, Weiss seems to argue, Dennis was his own victim as well, for he brought shame upon his family--his mother died an early death, according to Weiss out of heartbreak at her son's crime. His brother tells the reporter, "I have no brother." Etc.

Weiss, himself Jewish, implies in his passionate telling of this awful crime that Dennis shamed not only the Peace Corps, America, his family, and himself, but that he also shamed the Jewish people.

Although no one had directly confronted Dennis about the murder for over twenty years. Weiss decided to do so after he learned that the Tongan tradition is for a criminal to ask forgiveness of his victim's family.

Weiss tracked down and confronted the murderer for himself, documented in the memorable climax of this book.

Set in the 70s, this story in some respects is like a real-life episode of CBS's "Cold Case." But scarier. And the characters are unfortunately very believable.

Wouldn't be surprised if "American Taboo" were to become a film, someday in the not too distant future. It rings true.

This is Not Civilization

Nathan Hamm's comments about Robert Rosenberg's Kyrgyzstan novel piqued my interest. It came from Amazon in 3 days, and I just finished reading it, taking it from my summer reading pile. What can one say? If you have ever worked in, visited, or lived in Central Asia, Istanbul, or an Arizona Indian Reservation, it will strike many chords. The plot was very "realistic," a little hard-hearted, a little too sad for me. No happy ending. No lives intertwined at the end--all the characters go their separate ways.

One of them is paid off. Cash money to go away. Such things happen, but it is not very admirable, let's put it that way. Of course, perhaps that is the message of "This Is Not Civilization." Americans can be jerks.

I missed having a sympathetic American character.

I found the Kyrgyz more sympathetically drawn, which is nice in a way, but again sort of frustrating. I wished, in the end, for a little more complexity, and a little more development in the end. But the story of a doomed romance between a Kyrgyz woman and an American man is compelling, and the plot moves along.

Most of the action really takes place in Istanbul, and since we visited most of the sites in the novel, it brought back a lot of memories.

So, if you are interested in Central Asia, Turkey, or Arizona, add "This Is Not Civilization" to your own summer reading list. If you are only interested on the level of the story of a romance, be prepared to be frustrated at the end.

A good first novel, with the promise of better ones to come.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Hamid Karzai in Philadelphia

Nathan Hamm was present when Hamid Karzai received the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia. He has an excellent account of the event in The Argus:

"As many of you know, I went to see Hamid Karzai receive the Philadelphia Liberty Medal at Independence Hall yesterday.
It was absolutely beautiful in Philadelphia yesterday and far from crowded in the city in the morning. The area around Independence Hall was entirely blocked to traffic and crawling with uniformed and plainclothes police and a healthy dose of Secret Service agents."

Summer Vacation

Dear Readers,

I'm on summer vacation for the month of July, so posts may be somewhat less frequent. Thank you for your understanding...

War, Evil, and the End of History

Recently finished Bernard-Henri Levy's latest book, War, Evil, and the End of History. There's so much in it, on a variety of different levels, it is difficult to capture in a paragraph. Bottom line: The book is a response to a number of philosophical arguments, ranging from Foucault to Fukuyama. Levy takes his personal transformation, comparing himself to, and distinguishing himself from, Benny Levy in the Bangladesh civil war and May 68 events in Paris, as well as personal confessions from BHL travelling to hot spots today, such as Sri Lanka, to make a number of points:

*No single philosophical or political system can cope with the problems of war and evil, they are permanent features of human existence which must be confronted constantly.

*History does not "end." And the smaller and more remote regions are even more affected by it than the central powers.

*Islam is not the only movement that spawns terrorists and suicide bombers. There are fanatics and mass murderers wherever one looks for them, from Burundi, to Sri Lanka, to Rwanda, to Sudan--and his chapter on Sudan, written years ago, is particularly relevant today.

The style is intensely personal and stream of consciousness. But combining journalism with philosophy is pretty interesting reading--BHL's references to Malraux seem appropriate.

War, Evil, and the End of History combines theoretical reflection with striking descriptions of some forgotten messy realities. It is a good reminder that there are lots of loose ends out there, that politics is not the answer to everything, that academic writing removed from the facts of life has some shortcomings. It is also an antidote to the triumphalism of the "End of History" school, that briefly mutated into "Unipolar world" advocacy. This book shows us that facts and actual lived human experience are every bit as important as theoretical paradigms.

Fascinating, and challenging. Put War, Evil, and the End of History on your summer reading list.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Mark Steyn Celebrates American Independence

"But America is also an historical anomaly: the first non-imperial superpower. It has no colonies and no desire for any. For almost 60 years, it's paid for the defence of the west virtually single-handed while creating and supporting structures--the UN, Nato, G8--that exist only to allow its "allies" to pretend they're on an equal footing. For "allies", read dependencies: it's because the US provides generous charity defence guarantees that the European governments have been free to fritter away their revenues on socialised health care and lavish welfare and all the other entitlements the Euro-progressives berate America for not providing for its own citizens. The non-arrogance of Washington is unparalleled in human history: it's American muscle that tames Bosnia but it's the risibly pompous Paddy Ashdown who gets to swank about the joint playing EU viceroy."

From Steyn Online.

More on Melvin Lasky and the CIA

"Mel had ample opportunity to display that courage in 1967 when it was revealed that a large part of the funding for the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and hence for Encounter, came from the CIA. The revelation could not have come at a worse moment. Anti-establishment and anti-American sentiment were boiling over across Europe and America (plus ca change ...). The fact that Encounter, far from being conservative, was an audaciously liberal, albeit anti-totalitarian, organ mattered not a whit. Overnight, readers and authors fled from the magazine. Mel's efforts to salvage and reconstitute Encounter over the next decade or so were indeed courageous. Although the magazine never quite regained its cachet, it did retain its wide-ranging intellectual verve. Encounter had struggled financially for many years. Finally, in 1991, it closed. It was the end of an era. Nothing even remotely approaching Encounter's intellectual seriousness and range has appeared in England to take its place. "

From The New Criterion.

Dinesh D'Souza Confronts Wahabism

In National Review Onlinehe says:

"The arguments on behalf of freedom, and of America, are not only for the benefit of Muslims in the Arab world; they are also for the benefit of people in America and the West. To help counter the anti-Americanism that we see from Europeans and sometimes even from Americans, we can confidently show our allies, our citizens, and our idealistic young people that America is not simply richer, more varied, and more tolerant, it is also morally superior to the fundamentalists' version of Islamic society. It was Edmund Burke a long time ago who wrote, 'To love our country, our country ought to be lovely.' Burke's point is that the highest form of patriotism is not based on the dogmatic assertion, 'My country, right or wrong.' Nor is the highest form of patriotism based on loving your country simply because it is yours. Rather, the highest form of patriotism is based on loving your country because it is good. "

Iyad Allawi v. Saddam Hussen

DEBKAfile (not always reliable, but often interesting) says the new Iraqi leader plays a deadly cat and mouse game with former Ba'athists.

"Intensely aware of the security concerns weighing down on his administration, the Iraqi prime minister understands full well that both his political future and physical survival depend on his skill in managing the twilight zone in which Iraqi Baath insurgents and their allies collide with the 130,000 American soldiers shoring up his regime. From the moment he assumed office, he became a prime target for assassins. His murder would provide a short cut for the Iraqi Baath and al Qaeda seeking to topple the Iraqi administration provisionally installed to assume sovereignty and shepherd Iraq to a democratic election. Allawi realized he needed some urgent life insurance, an ace in the hole for his survival. What he has done therefore is to gain control of Saddam and his top 11 regime officials as hostages to guarantee his life. The insurgents will be given to understand that violence against the prime minister will be met with the fast trial and execution of a member of Saddam's 'dirty dozen.' It will therefore be in Saddam's vital interest to keep his successor in good health."

Is America Losing Influence?

Dr. Michael A. Weinstein says America is making previously rejected concessions to the UN and North Korea, because of problems in Iraq.

"The two American concessions reported on June 24 mark steps along the path to a loosening of American power to successful external pressure to return the United States to a player that must make compromises in international institutions. They are likely to be followed by many other efforts along the same lines. Any new stable configuration of world politics is a long way off, but readjustment of the balance of power is underway. At present, that readjustment is being driven by powers around the world that believe that their interest is to craft policies tailored solely to their own particular aims -- apart from American interest -- and perceive that they have the opportunity to do so. They can be expected to use international institutions when it is to their advantage to do so and to abandon them when it is not.

"The other powers do not have a shared model of world politics to replace American dominance; they have similar and sometimes competing interests in filling the vacuum that has appeared with the erosion of American power. The prospects are high for general global instability."

Link tip from Eurasianet.

40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

Michael Barone says America should celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We agree. You can read his essay in OpinionJournal.

Quote: "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 stands as a shining example of politics changing our culture for the better."

Happy Fouth of July!

Click on the link above for a large database of Fourth of July information...

Howard Stern v. President Bush

A reader emails that President Bush might need to worry about Howard Stern...

"Michael Moore won't change a single vote, in my opinion. The real cultural disaster for George Bush is Howard Stern, who has millions of loyal listeners, who is a true independent voter, and who supported Bush in 2000 and supported the war. But now Stern has fully mobilized himself -- using his daily show and website -- to rally his followers to vote AGAINST Bush, all because of the FCC campaign against him. These are former Bush votes that are turning to Kerry, and to make matter s worse, Bush could have fixed it any number of times after the initial FCC broadside . . . but he chooses not to or doesn't realize what's at stake. No one seems to notice that Stern has just been reinstated by Infinity Broadcasting in stations in FLORIDA, a swing state.

"If Bush loses, it will be because between 2000 and 2004 he lost Howard Stern, his natural supporter, not because Michael Moore hates him."

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Disney v. Lion Song Composer

"A poor South African family is taking US entertainment giant Disney to court for unpaid royalties from the hit song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", originally a Zulu tune composed by their late father, lawyers said on Friday...Linda was a Zulu migrant worker and entertainer who composed the song "Mbube" (lion) in Johannesburg in 1939 and recorded it with a singing group called the Evening Birds. "Mbube" was an instant hit and would later become one of the most famous melodies from Africa.

"Folk singer Pete Seeger came across the song in New York in 1949, and in his autobiography relates how he transcribed it "note for note" and called it "Wimoweh" from the Zulu "uyiMbube" which means "He is a lion". In 1961, the Tokens recorded the song and added the English lyrics starting with "In the jungle, the mighty jungle".

"Since then, the song has been recorded by more than 150 different artists and features in at least 15 movies and stage musicals."

From the South Africa Sunday Times , thanks to Artsjournal.

Quo Vadis William F. Buckley?

He just retired and turned over his stock in National Review, but in this interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, his successor as publisher of National Review says William F. Buckely isn't finished quite yet.

Zeyad on Saddam Hussein's Trial

"Maybe the new government is gauging the reaction of the Iraqi street, but a live public and transparent trial was promised, though I doubt anything is going to convince the enemies of the new Iraq who are now clinging to human rights excuses. They say the court is illegitimate. Where they legitimate under Saddam? If yes, then Saddam is going to be judged by his own Revolutionary Command Council amended laws, according to which he should face the death penalty for desertion and abandoning the battlefield when he was General Commander of Armed Forces last April. "

From Healing Iraq.

Victor Davis Hanson on Michael Moore

In his essay, Fantasyland, he argues that American elites are going mad because of President Bush's failure to explain the war in Iraq:

"Indeed, we have the will, military power, and economic resources to crush our enemies--should we choose to. Rather the rub was always the lack of communication by our leaders who have a responsibility each day to counter popular superstition, half-truths, and misconception--and to do so with unapologetic audacity.

"They do try. But so far it has simply not been enough. And the result of this Dukakis-like paralysis is that a half-educated, vindictive buffoon like Michael Moore and all the ignorance that he stands for have captivated a foolish cultural elite. Let us face it: the Left in this country has gone absolutely crazy. Without worries of rebuke or censure, the dinosaurs of the 1960s really do wish us to give one final gift of their wisdom and humanity--and so does its best to bring us a repeat of American choppers fleeing the embassy roof, circa 1975, with millions left behind awaiting death, reeducation camps, and exile."

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Last night watched again John Ford's 1962 Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). There was so much that I missed when I was younger, especially the fact that Vera Miles was in love with both John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, respectively representing force and law. One moral, perhaps, is that you can't have law without force. Likewise, you can't have force without law. Thought-provoking, especially in view of what is going on in Iraq. A timeless classic worth renting.

Brando's Role in Israel's Birth

According to the Wyman Institue:

"In the summer of 1946, barely a year after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, 22 year-old Brando co-starred in 'A Flag Is Born,' an explosive play authored by Ben Hecht, the famed Hollywood screenwriter and Jewish activist. Set in a cemetery in postwar Europe, 'Flag' focuses on two elderly Holocaust survivors, Tevya (Paul Muni) and Zelda (Celia Adler), who encounter Brando's character, a distraught young Treblinka survivor named David who is on his way to British-ruled Palestine. Through the conversations between Tevya and David, Hecht articulates the Jewish right to the Holy Land and the need for a Jewish state. "

Brando's Nebraska Roots

The late actor was a son of the American Midwest.From the Fremont, Nebraska's Community Newspaper:

"Young Brando was first exposed to theater through his mother. Dorothy Brando founded the Omaha Community Playhouse in 1924 along with Harriet Fonda - the mother of actor Henry Fonda - and Sara Joslyn - whose family also found Omaha's Joslyn Art Museum, said Tim Schmad, executive director of the theater."

Bill Cosby Blasts Bad Language--Again

Maybe Dr. Cosby might have a word with Vice-President Cheney? You can read his latest comments here.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Turkey on the Rise

"Other commentators have also noticed the change. Erdogan is rejecting the fanatic attitude of a part of the Islamic world.

"He is openly condemning the kidnappers in Iraq. He attacks those who kill in the name of Islam. He is saying that Islam can exist but needs to change. He went even further at the NATO summit and described NATO as "us," demonstrating that he now viewed Turkey as part of NATO. All this is happening because of the domestic (increasing votes) and international (signals coming from the international community) support he is receiving. Turkey is changing at a very fast pace. A portion of the nation is insisting on following the same tenets, but the rest is going in a different direction.

"I hope no one misunderstands. The road is not towards anti-secularism, but just the opposite, towards an EU that will strengthen secularism..."

Writes Mehmet Ali Birand in the Turkish Daily News.

Turkish Al Qaeda Leader's Wife Wants A Divorce

From the Pakistan Daily Times :

ISTANBUL: The wife of an alleged ringleader of a Turkish Al Qaeda cell believed to have plotted last year's deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul told a court that her husband was a murderer and she wanted a divorce, newspapers reported on Thursday.

Washington Post Columnist Cool to Farenheit 9/11

Bush-bashing Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is jumping ship on Michael Moore. He concludes:

"It is so juvenile in its approach, so awful in its journalism, such an inside joke for people who already hate Bush, that I found myself feeling a bit sorry for a president who is depicted mostly as a befuddled dope..."

Welcome to the club.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Arabic TV in English

Thanks to a tip from Little Green Footballs, we found this site where one may watch clips from Arabic TV with English subtitles, at MEMRI TV.

The Charges Against Saddam Hussein

From The Guardian:

The seven preliminary charges against Saddam Hussein
Here are the seven preliminary charges the deposed Iraqi leader faces:
� Invading Kuwait, 1990
� Suppressing Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings, 1991
� Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, 1987-88
� Gassing Kurdish villagers in Halabja, 1988
� Killing political activists over 30 years
� Killing religious figures, 1974
� Killing thousands of the Kurdish Barzani clan, 1983

Future of Iraq

What's happening in Iraq? The Future of Iraq Portal has some links that might give a clue...

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

Here's a 2002 Guardian article about an opera based on Amin Malouf's The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Will we see this show at the Kennedy Center or the Met?

British Losers on PBS

Last night, saw the second installment of PBS Rebels and Redcoats: How Britain Lost America on our local PBS station. It was well-crafted and interesting. But very one-sided, biased, and misleading. Not honest history, but special pleading for the British "and their Hessian allies."

Some tipoffs can be found in the narration. When the Americans lose a battle, they "scarper," "retreat," "scatter." When the British lose, they "withdraw" or "find their way to safety." The Americans commit "lynchings," "massacres," "atrocities." The British only "alleged" misdeeds. Etc.

Watching the show made me happy that we still have American troops stationed in Britain, otherwise, they might still want us doffing our caps to them, bowing and scraping, and so forth.

As the PBS website says, "REBELS AND REDCOATS: HOW BRITAIN LOST AMERICA tells the story of the American Revolution from an unusual point of view - that of the British losers."

In a way, the silver lining might be that the broadcast demonstrates what a tolerant and truly liberal country America is; that in the middle of a war, after terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, a government television network airs anti-American propaganda to celebrate Independence Day.