“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

Monday, November 03, 2003

Bollettino

Who are these people? That�s a good question to pose when newspapers quote out of the blue experts, often described with stunning vagueness. This morning, the Washington Post, in a typical D.C. analysis of the helicopter downing � an analysis that sees the deaths of these guys as having no meaning in itself, empty burned ciphers hardly worth a human interest story, but very exciting in terms of polls � maundered on in its brainless way for a while about what the Bushies would do. It wrung its little article hands like this:

�Indeed, the helicopter downing came as two worrisome trends face the Bush administration. In Iraq, there are signs that the anti-U.S. opposition is escalating its attacks both in numbers and sophistication. Even while the U.S. intelligence haul in Iraq is improving, commanders there said, the fighters attacking them also are becoming more effective.

Meanwhile, the American public's support for President Bush's handling of the war is declining, which makes the situation even more volatile.�

The link between being anti-Bush and anti-U.S. isn�t even subtle there, is it? But that is D.C., where the Republican establishment line has long become the default for Post-speak. That the American people would become anti-U.S. has, after all, happened before, when they refused to impeach Clinton. The Post scourged those slackers then, and intends to scourge them now, if they lack resolve. So the article bleets, and slowly loses its air. But not before it rallies around a quote from �retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson, a consultant to the Pentagon on Iraqi security issues.� Now if you guess that Anderson said this will test American resolve, but that we are winning, you win a penny. Although since it is boring simply to repeat the same robot line, he was quoted to the more specific effect of opining �it is clear that the only "exit strategy" available is to develop Iraqi security forces to fight the remnants of Saddam Hussein's government. And he predicted that that approach will succeed.�
The deal is � who the hell is retired Col. Gary Anderson? It turns out that Anderson � as one discovers from Google � was not just walking in a military way down the street, when the Pentagon decided to consult with him. No, Anderson is working for Science Applications International, one of the largest privately held defense contracting firms in the country, with huge stakes in Iraq � for instance, they �hired� the Iraqi exiles that have since been appointed to the Council. Now, would the Post quote an Enron executive about power with the description that he �consulted� for the Energy department? We doubt it. But when it comes to foreign policy � especially a war that the Post editorial board pumped and plumped for � any retired colonel with hawkish views is worth quoting. It�s a wonderful life, in D.C.

In another piece of news � we were alerted to the International Studies in Higher Education Act (H.R. 3077) by the National Review, which is solidly in favor of the little monster. Ping, went the radar. Ping ping. We went to the website of another supporter, Martin Kramer, for details. Kramer, defines the bill in terms of the opposition it has engendered: �The higher education lobby, led by the American Council on Education (ACE), remains determined to gut the bill. Never mind that the board will be advisory, not supervisory. Never mind that the bill doesn't allow the board "to mandate, direct, or control an institution of higher education's specific instructional content, curriculum, or program of instruction.� Why, if it doesn�t do those things, have a monitoring body at all? Cutting to the chase, Kramer quotes with approval one of the bill�s supporters, Howard Berman:

�I am encouraged that the creation of this Advisory Board will help redress a problem which is a great concern of mine, namely, the lack of balance, and indeed the anti-American bias that pervades Title VI-funded Middle East studies programs in particular. To the extent that it advances the national interest to commit taxpayer funds to institutions of higher education for the purpose of fostering expertise with regard to key regions of the world�and I would emphatically affirm that it does�then surely it is troubling when evidence suggests that many of the Middle East regional studies grantees are committed to a narrow point of view at odds with our national interest, a point of view that questions the validity of advancing American ideals of democracy and the rule of law around the world, and in the Middle East in particular.�

The contradiction between descriptions of the bill smells like Ashcroft. How will the Advisory Board �redress� the �problem� here if it is prevented absolutely from impinging on a specific content, curriculum or program of instruction? If it quacks like a cop and wears a uniform like a cop and takes you down to the police station and gives you the fifth degree � it is a cop. I especially like the idea that a professor that questions the validity of advancing American ideals of democracy in the Middle East would run into trouble from the Advisory committee � who are no doubt simply making observations, instead of impinging on content. It is of course an objective fact that all American involvement in the Middle East is nothing more than democracy in action. As for the other side of the coin -- say, the Advisory committee discovering that students at some shoddy rightwing junior college in Marietta, Georgia, are only getting old film clips of Newt Gingrich lectures in their middle eastern studies course � do you think this is something the Advisory committee is going to stamp its foot at? I don't think so. The law simply and purely mandates rightwing activism as an official policy of the U.S. government. No wonder the Kramers of the world love it. This is a laughable extension of the de-fund the left � and fund the right with government money � type of stuff that goes on in D.C. when the Repubs are in power.

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