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Showing posts from May 2, 2004
Bollettino LI recently wrote a review of Niall Ferguson’s latest book, Colossus, for the National Post. In the review, I gingerly tiptoed around one of the obvious flaws in the book – Ferguson knows little and cares less about American history. This is fine with me. Let each do the work he loves. Ferguson has never made any bones about the fact that he wants to be the AJP Taylor of the Right. Unfortunately, he seems headed for being the Toynbee of the Right -- hot, donnish air spread over big and vacuous ideas. He is exploiting his serious status as a historian (a man who knows things) to build a shaky and unworthy career for himself as a pundit (a man who quotes men who know things). He should really try to refrain from drawing conclusions from American history until he has an undergraduate level familiarity with it. But there he is, again, in Slate, blithely going on about, of all things he doesn’t know about, John Quincy Adams. Here, astonishingly, is what he says about
Bollettino Josh Marshall, of Talking Points Memo , pointed us to this very illuminating Salon article on Ahmed Chalabi by an enterprising journalist named John Dizard. It is worth seeing the ad (for the one day’s free membership!) to read the article, which provides an x ray of the motives of Bush’s Pentagon pump house gang. Our idea about the obsession with Iraq on the part of the Wolfowitzies was that, in part, Wolfowitz wanted to impose a coherent policy on the Middle East that would make it easier to accommodate our policy towards both Israel and Saudi Arabia. If Dizard is to be believed, however, the motives were much shabbier and stupider – basically, the idea was to find a way around forcing Israel to cede the West Bank to the Palestinians. Dizard gets some great quotes. Here’s one from Douglas Feith’s former law partner, who happens to have been Chalabi’s nephew’s partner, too, L. Marc Zell: “Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war
Bollettino LI wasn’t planning on writing about the Abu Ghraib tortures, but it is too good an opportunity to ask about U.S. prisons to pass up. After all, the outcry has been confined mainly to the Iraq context, and whether the U.S. contractors and reservists exercizing their talents for cornpone sadism are the equivalent of Saddam H.’s vast torture machine. But while Saddam was constructing his prisons, the U.S. was very busily constructing theirs. And while we know very little about whether Iraqis regularly joked about prisoners in Saddam’s system getting their arms threshed into bloody pulps and their genitals electrocuted, we do know that it has been a huge joke, in the U.S., that prisoners routinely get raped in U.S. jails. That a former prison guard from one of our private prisons in Virginia has spread the practice to Abu Ghraib shouldn’t surprise anyone. In U.S. prisons, discipline, aka torture, is affected not by the guards so much. Being a more self-organizing society