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Showing posts from February 9, 2003
Remora Michael Kelly's column on Joschka Fischer , Germany's foreign minister, profiles his new left career, from street protests against Vietnam to street protests against the supposed suicide of Ulrike Meinhof. The tone is set by the use of Stern magazine via an article by Paul Berman for the accusation that Fischer beat a policeman -- because, of course, there is no judicial accusation of this act. The tirade was unleashed by Joschka Fischer's reply to Donald Rumsfeld. Here's the beginning graf: "Excuse me. I am not convinced." -- German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, lecturing to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Munich last week, after Rumsfeld's argument for war against Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld may have convinced the leaders of 18 European nations, but not you, Mr. Fischer. It's personal. This seems to me the right way to look at it. The question of failing to convince must be seen in the context of whom we have failed
Dope A few days ago we mentioned McClellan and Grant as the two poles of the American attitude towards war. The more we've mulled over this point, the more we think there is a tasty essay here. The point is simple. Empires persist because of a willingness of the citizens of the empire to endure a certain constant level of casualties in the course of maintening the empire. If we take the British empire, for instance, its expansion through numerous small wars in the nineteenth century was made possible, at home, because of a willingness to sanction an annual tribute of British lives to the ideal of maintaining and expanding the empire in India, Central Asia, and Africa. From the Sepoy Mutiny to the Boer War, this willingness was often tested, and rarely provoked the kind of backlash that would rein in the imperial ambitions of the British Government. In contrast, the United States did not seek that kind of empire. Briefly, the U.S. embarked on an expansion at the turn of the
Remora Peace, he said tediously, again, and again, and again... This is a heartening story. The antiwar demonstrations are supposed to be huge this weekend. Here's the Guardian forecasting the demo weather : "Many countries will witness the largest demonstrations against war they have ever seen. The majority will be small but 500,000 people are expected in London and Barcelona, and more than 100,000 in Rome, Paris, Berlin and other European capitals. In the US, organisers were yesterday anticipating 200,000 marching in New York if permission is given. A further 100,000 are expected to march in 140 other American cities." We wonder, though, why these vast masses seem to have no healthy effect on their leaders. Tony Blair might be threatened, but Berlusconi and Aznar, among others, seem to be doing just fine. There's a sense in which it seems that opinion, in Europe, is moving in suspended animation, while the leadership, elected by the good burgers to the
Notes The Lion and the Lizard My friend, H., who is traveling about the world, is not yet writing for the Iranian. This is a pity, since the Iranian is one of the most interesting sites on the web, and if H. ever comes across these words, we'd like to know why he hasn't contacted them yet. Why, H.? There's a sad essay by Abbas Milani , a Persian (he insists on Persian) intellectual, who dilates on the varied glories of Persian culture -- glories which are reflected in a mirror we know, the mirror of Western writers. After tracing fragments of the Persian interlocutor in this history -- a figure that I must imagine from footprints and echoes, since I am ignorant of the very rudiments of Persian history -- he ends with this coda: "Furthermore, as the West began to take its leap into modernity, we fell into a dread abyss of tyranny, religious fanaticism and irrationalism. We have yet to altogether free ourselves from these benighted conditions. Khayam could
Remora The NYT does a soft soap job on Jose Maria Aznar , who represents the dwindled ghost of Francisco Franco and is otherwise employed as the Prime Minister of Spain, in today's paper. As part of the comedy of human relations, we are told that the U.S. is shifting its strategic priorities to such as Aznar, and Burlesque-oni in Italy, and whoever in Poland. What this could possibly mean, in military or economic terms, is beyond LI. Are they planning on kicking the Daimler factory out of South Carolina and alluring in its place, uh, the Polish branch of Fiat? Beyond rhetorical support, we know that Aznar is not so incautious as to commit the Spanish army to the invasion of Iraq. Like his model, Franco, who wisely avoided involvement in that unpleasantness known as World War II in spite of his debt to two of the war's big players, Aznar realizes the exchange value of rhetoric, in this case, is way beyond its real value. Pen a letter, get your profile in the Times. The idea
Remora First, let's note that the D.C. crowd that has told us, for months, that France wouldn't go eye to eye with the U.S. over Iraq seem to be wrong. And the LI, of course (our record is as perfect as the Wizard of Oz's) spotted this assumption for what it was: baseless confidence. However, there is trepidation all over Europe about this. Tageszeitung , which is certainly a lefty paper, calls the way the German's casually told the press, first, about the Franco-German initiative Stuemperei -- bungling. "And even the healthy suggestion that Washington with its power dynamic driving it to war should be braked by the massive strengthening of the inspection regime in Irak has been, almost certainly, condemned to fail through the manner in which the whole undertaking was pursued by Berlin." The editorialist for Point could work for the Washington Post , so eager is he for this war, so repelled is he that Chirac would desert the American side for
Dope We've been preparting to review Neill Ferguson's Empire for a certain paper. So we have been drifting through The Cash Nexus , Ferguson's hefty volume about money and power in the world system since 1700. We found the chapter on state deficits quite helpful in getting our bearings about the coming red inkiness that will be the legacy of the Bush era. Ferguson points out that governments in the early modern period were quite cavalier about owing money. The French defaulted on their debts almost every decade, until Louis XVI fatally called a halt to the practice. It was the refusal of France's creditor's to lend more money that prompted the court to call the Estates General into session, and we know that heads literally rolled after that. So never say that a national debt has no effect on our real lives. although that is the current smoke drifting out of D.C. Interesting, too, is the US history of debt. After the Civil War, the debt level was around 50% of