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Showing posts from November 9, 2003
Bollettino Back on September 8, LI took stock of Iraq and came up with five combinations, given the forces in play at the moment, which might come true. Here are the combinations and our analysis. �1. American troops withdraw. We leave behind a stable, American friendly democracy, that pays America back its 200 billion dollars, with interest, in a timely matter. 2. American troops withdraw. The government that is left behind is less friendly to America than Kuwait, but more friendly than Iran. It is, however, stable, and has certain democratic aspects. The 200 billion dollars is not paid back. 3. American troops leave. The American friendly democracy that is left behind tries to repay the American debt, causing a nation wide rebellion. It is overthrown by a government that is hostile to America. 4. American troops leave. Iraq is riven with conflict. The 200 billion dollars is gone. The conflict lasts for a long time, is destabilizing, and no side in it is openly pro-Am
Bollettino A country, X, is run by a corrupt family. The prime minister is notoriously greedy. There is a religious secret police. Another country invades this X, captuiring the family, and rooting out the old government. It proposes a constitution that abolishes the old secret police, creates modern property rights, and asserts the rights of men. The constitution is taken up by a convention composed of some of the leading businessmen in the country. In the meantime, the occupier�s army is met with resistance. The resistance is low level and unorganized at first. The occupier responds with force. The resistance grows. The occupier blames foreigners for the increase in resistance� Sound familiar? This is pretty much the story of Napoleon�s invasion of Spain. There�s a pernicious meme that emerged at the end of the �hostilities� in Iraq . The meme was that occupying Iraq would be much like occupying Germany or Japan at the end of World War II. Now, the elements of the likeness,
Bollettino LI�s prize for the best essay in an academic journal goes, in a unanimous decision, to the Lawrence Lipking�s Chess Minds and Critical Moves in the Winter 2003 New Literary History. Seriously, go to a library, LI reader, and check out this essay. It is astonishing. Lipking, a professor at Northwestern, is a chess master. He�s also a member of the upper echelon of the lit crit establishment. These are two exclusive circles � and usually mutually exclusive ones, too. By way of an extended comparison between chess and literary criticism, Lipking does a lot in the essay: he sets up a memorial to(and carps a bit at) William Wimsatt, who was also a chess fanatic; he makes a distinction between problem setter and player that I have been waiting for all my life; he riffs on an extremely funny chess passage in Beckett�s Murphy; he considers what criticism does, and why it does it the way it does it now, and why it did it the way it did it when he became part of the �game;� he
Bollettino The bankruptcy of the establishment Dems There�s an exchange on Talking Points Memo between Josh Marshall, who runs it, and a buddy, John Judis, one of those ubiquitous liberal honchos who is regularly trotted out to make lame arguments on major league op ed pages, and within his stomping ground, The New Republic. The New Republic has been campaigning against Howard Dean, with comic ineffectuality, since last January (comic, since they keep running that blurb from Howard Kurz, about how the Democratic candidate has to �win the TNR primary.� Right. Judis�s letter is couched in that higher form of brainlessness that passes for political wisdom in the salons of establishment Dems. It lost them one presidential election and the Senate --- but of course, such losses pale, in the minds of such as Judis, with what happened thirty two years ago in 1972. Those who remember parts of their history too well, to paraphrase Santayana, by way of Freud, are doomed to repeat it. H
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Bollettino The rightwing media is so focused on the building of schools in Iraq that they have neglected a triumph of free enterprise: the building of concrete barriers. The NYT story, today, is enough to warm the cockles of Christopher Hitchens� heart. His buds among the occupiers � oops, liberators � are, of course, in intimate touch with the silent majority of Iraqis. But intimate touch doesn�t mean having the nasty things around you all the time, does it? Far better to seal yourself in with, say, a 9,000 pound concrete structure, �12 feet tall, is 9 feet wide, 4 feet thick at the base and 8 inches thick at the top.� Good fences make good neighbors, Frost wrote. In that spirit, the Occupation authority has been following the motto: �good concrete walls make good conquerors.� As things get better and better in Iraq, as we are making good progress, as many a hawk has to pinch himself not to move there, lock stock and barrel, so good are the circs (the affection of the people, the