Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I remain terrified of the capacity of the media...

British Novelist John le Carré on the Iraq War, Corporate Power, the Exploitation of Africa and His New Novel, "Our Kind of Traitor"

I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin doctors, here and abroad, particularly the United States media, to perpetuate false lies, perpetuate lies. Mussolini, I think, defined fascism as the moment when you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between political and corporate power. He assumed, when he offered that definition, that media power was already his. But I worry terribly that the absence of serious critical argument is going to produce a new kind of fanaticism, the new simplicities that are as dangerous as the ones which caused us to march against Iraq and as misunderstood.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


These two articles appears on Yahoo's front page today:

French minister: Saudis warn of new terror and
American visits Iran blast site under freedom deal

It is interesting to note that the third paragraph of the article on Iran says:

It can easily score political points at home for the ruling clerics at a time when international sanctions are hurting Iran's economy.

But there is no mention in the article on Al Queda's French threat that this may be nothing more that the French government, facing crippling strikes (e.g story), trying to "score political points" by appealing to French fear and patriotism.

If you connect the dots in story about France then you are labeled as a "conspiracy theorist", but if you do that in story about Iran, you are journalist! Different strokes for different folks :)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan War: "The President Lacks the Guts to Get Out"

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a piece called "The End of Military History?" comparing the United States, Israel and the failure of the Western way of war, paralleling the failures of Israel and US military involvement in the last two decades.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the point of the piece, I think, is to argue that Western nations, democratic nations, generally, took from the whole experience of the twentieth century. They concluded that war really doesn’t work very well. War is something to be avoided if at all possible. Israel and the United States, I think, took a different conclusion from the twentieth century. And the conclusion that both Israel and the United States drew was that war can work, victory is feasible, and that victory achieved can translate into political advantage. And from, I think, our present perspective, both looking at the dilemmas that Israel faces and the dilemmas that we face, the evidence is pretty clear: victory is almost impossible to achieve in a really meaningful way. And even when you think you’ve achieved a great victory, somehow the political benefits turn out to be very ephemeral.

I mean, in many respects, the Six-Day War of 1967 is viewed as one of the great military triumphs of the contemporary era, when David defeated Goliath. But if we look at the problems that beset Israel today, in many respects I think they grow directly from that ostensibly great victory, because out of victory came the conviction that a greater Israel was a feasible project. Out of greater Israel—that out of that comes the settlement movement. Out of that becomes Israel having shackled itself to the Palestinian people, whose birth rate is so much higher than that of Israeli Jews. So, you know, what exactly did they get out of the 1967 war? What did we get out of a comparably great triumph—was perceived at the time—in Operation Desert Storm back in 1991? All we did was find ourselves more deeply embedded in the greater Middle East.

And on the leaked Pentagon documents....

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, there are competing imperatives here. I mean, in many respects, I think I’m a First Amendment—I don’t know if "radical" is the correct term, but I mean, I—there are—the government lies to us. The government conceals. And anything that can help to reveal information to the public that is of relevance to our understanding of ongoing affairs, that information—people who release it, I think, in some senses, are serving the public interest.

The other issue, though, is we want to have—if we’re going to have a military, we need to have a military in which there is good order and discipline. And we want to have a military in which civilian authorities are the ones who make decisions. In that regard, having a PFC who’s leaking 90,000 classified documents, I do think—

AMY GOODMAN: If, in fact, Manning is the one who did it.

ANDREW BACEVICH: If he’s the one—I do think is a reprehensible action. But it’s also reprehensible when, in the summer of 2009, before President Obama had made his Afghanistan decision, that the McChrystal recommendation was leaked to the Washington Post, which effectively hijacked the debate over what the Obama administration should do about the Afghanistan war. And I don’t remember Admiral Mullen or Secretary Gates or these other people deciding that they were going to go find out who leaked the McChrystal recommendations, because I believe that that is as reprehensible as this leak of the 90,000 documents. That was a direct assault on civilian control of the military. So if you’re going to get upset about one, you ought to get upset about the other, too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Juan Cole had an interesting post on effectiveness of sanction against Iran. I find this comment interesting:

The man said it all: ’sanctions’ are purely cosmetic, designed to make it look as though US politicians had taken some dramatic and effective step. It is odd that the politicians in Washington, who are always loudly proclaiming their belief in the market, think its iron laws can be suspended by a simple vote on their parts.