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Showing posts from November 16, 2003
Bollettino There�s a story in the WSJ on Kazakhstan. It provides an ironic commentary on the supposed Bush agenda of Democracy in the Middle East. The WSJ is bullish on Kazakhstan. �For the U.S. -- and investors such as ChevronTexaco Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and AES Corp. -- Kazakhstan offers stability in a Central Asian region worried by the kind of Islamist fundamentalism that spawned Afghanistan's Taliban and local terrorist groups.� The figures look good:. �The economy has grown 10% a year since 2000, and a Norway-style national fund to save oil income has built up reserves of $3 billion, about 10% of GNP. A rickety banking sector has been tidied up into what the IMF calls "an independent and transparent financial system." Inflation is a steady 6%; reserves have grown to make Kazakhstan a net creditor to the world, with the highest per capita private bank deposits in the former Soviet Union.� But there is the little problem of the man who runs Kazakhstan, Pre
Bollettino In the NYT today , there is a story with the news that � gosh! � a democratic Iraq will probably reflect the fact that the Shi�ites hold a 60% majority in the country. I guess D.C.�s best and brightest got out the encyclopedia. While such coming to grips with reality, while belated, is welcome, the inevitable response of the ideologues in the Pentagon is to weave this into their favorite bed-time story: the one in which Chalabi, friend of Douglas Feith and staunch advocate of making Iraq into a little Chili, is elected, or somewhat elected, prime minister, or something like prime minister, in Iraq. The persistence of this fantasy is one of the wonders of the world, at the moment. In the Daily Telegraph, there is an article by David Frum, who is going to be covering Bush�s visit (one wonders why they didn�t just chose Laura Bush) who regales his readers with a comic litany about the influence of Blair on Bush. Frum has a double purpose: to claim that Blair is no poodle, an
Bollettino I'm extremely dissatisfied, at the moment, with the anti-war movement. It seems as though the movement is frozen in time, and that, if they just protest loud enough, the troops won't go in... This is, well, ignoble. There's real pressure that can be put on Bush at the moment. While the Bush administration says it is for democracy, it is for a democracy without elections. Very convenient. This is a simple point, that can be put on a placard. Iraq--Elections now. How simple is that? As for the troop pullout, that's a great idea, but nobody thinks it is a great idea to do it while the guerrillas present a threat -- not of terrorism, but a threat of retaking power on behalf of an evidently bankrupt system. The problem isn't, as the odious Hitchens insists, that the left is "for" the Ba'athists. The problem is that BushnBlair are clueless in the face of this threat. How clueless/ How about bombing cities you already occupy. I mean, if Sadda
Bollettino Historical analogies cannot take the place of historical analysis � Leon Trotsky Jay Bergman, in an fascinating article on Trotsky published two decades ago in the Journal of the History of Ideas, noted Trotsky�s borrowing of terms and phrases from the French revolution, and the way the neurotic recapitulation of this reference misshaped and ultimately falsified his analysis of Stalin. It is Bergman�s thesis that one of the intellectual causes of Trotsky�s failure on the level of practical politics was his habit of casting the contemporary history in terms of the French Revolution. Marx had already mocked the French revolutionists habit of clothing their every act in the language of Republican Rome, as if they could exchange their button up trousers for togas. Bergman has some fun in showing how the scare-word �Thermidor� was thrown around in the early years of the Russian Revolution. The Mensheviks, in exile, poked at Lenin�s NEP as a pernicious backsliding to capit
Bollettino LI has often enough expressed contempt for the most prominent of the press�s hawks, C. Hitchens. But for another hawk, Nik Cohen, who was, if anything, more vituperative than Hitchens, we have a certain undiminished admiration. Cohen�s fierce hatred of Saddam Hussein was not corrupted by any cozying up to the rightwing powers that be, whether operating under Blair or Bush, Cohen has penned an astonishingly good article in today�s Guardian about a man we have mentioned before: Nadhmi Auchi. Cohen takes a hard look at the sleeze magnetism of the man � both Tory and Labor went out of their way to protect the guy. He bought a lot of politicians, a lot of ex politicians, and established himself like a tick under the skin of the body politic: Perhaps you would, but I forgot to add a final fact about Mr Auchi: he is the thirteenth-richest man in Britain, and he has been able to collect British politicians the way other people collect stamps. After wrecking the economy, N