“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, April 18, 2003


It's Mornin' in Baghdad

Two papers confirm the claims of Baghdad's new mayor. The NYT reports that the INC in Mosul is receiving American military help, and refers to Baghdad's new mayor as a done deal. The London Times article ledes with an (unconsciously?) ironic statement:

"BAGHDAD was given its first lesson in democracy yesterday when self-appointed leaders emerged from nowhere to fill the power vacuum left by Saddam Hussein�s regime.
Amid the confusion caused by the absence of any authority � other than the US military � Iraqi citizens discovered that they had a governor, a mayor and even a religious leader to look after affairs. Mohammad Mohsen Zubaidi, an exiled political leader, announced that he was now running Bahgdad as the city�s governor, elected by a mysterious council of �religious and community leaders."

What reader in democracy is the London Times using? Machiavelli's The Prince? What seems to be happening is that the Pentagon is boosting the legitimacy of the INC paramilitaries where it can. In Iraq's open moment, the performative is up for grabs. You remember the performative, boys and girls, don't ya? JL Austin, the Oxford philosopher, created the term to designate those speech acts for which the truth condition is their own pronunciation in the appropriate context. For instance, saying I do at a wedding ceremony, or christening a ship, means that it is true that the speaker is married, and it is true that the ship has a certain name.

The contexts in Iraq have been blown to hell or looted, or are floating around the relics market, along with cuneiform tablets and golden figurines from Ur. We'll see if Mohammad Mohnsen Zubaidi has picked up on the one context left standing -- American military might.

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