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Showing posts from May 9, 2004
Bollettino (fifth in the series) I don’t know a lot about Iraq. I can’t name one single Iraqi singer or song. I don’t know the name of one Iraqi tv show, actor, or novelist. I share space in this cloud of unknowing with 99.9% of the American public. However, I have read a few library books. I have read a few magazine and newspaper articles. I have a fair memory. I have Google. And, mostly, I have a pretty good nose for sophistries, the lacuna in stories, and special pleading. Now, in the current occupation of Iraq, there is one general and significant difference between the Iraqis and the Americans: the Americans can withdraw. When the Americans go, the Iraqis will have to live with whatever situation (in the creation of which they have mostly acted as junior partners) is left behind. Since the point of this series is to envision withdrawal, I thought it best to knock hard against three myths, as I see them, about Iraq. 1. The ungrateful/abused Iraqi When Fred B
Bollettino A wise and a good man may indeed be sometimes induced to comply with a number whose opinion he generally approves, though it be perhaps against his own. But this liberty should be made use of upon very few occasions, and those of small importance, and then only with a view of bringing over his own side another time to something of greater and more public moment. But to sacrifice the innocency of a friend, the good of our country, or our own conscience to the humour, or passion, or interest of a party, plainly shews that either our heads or our hearts are not as they should be. – Jonathan Swift. (Read previous three posts. Fourth in a series) In order to envision the exit from Iraq, as we said, it is important to have a clear view of why we invaded in the first place. It is also important to have a clear view of why the occupation went so badly awry. When America invaded Iraq, we think there were two basic principles, enshrined in the Rumsfeld strategy, that
Bollettino Why are we in Iraq? (See previous two posts before reading this one, dear reader) To understand the war in Iraq, we need to understand the reason that we invaded Iraq. The average American can be forgiven for being confused on this point, since, on numerous occasions, Bush himself seems sincerely and visibly confused about why he is occupying this Middle Eastern country. There are three general reasons mentioned, usually, for justifying the invasion of Iraq: 1. Saddam Hussein’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction; 2. The tie between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein; 3. and finally, the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein. I think it is easy to show that, even if one concedes that there were WMD, that there were ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and that Hussein’s regime was massively inhumane, these could not be the reason we invaded Iraq. Or rather, these reasons alone would not pick out Iraq as the one unique nation we would invade in 2003.
Bollettino The Glass Student – or The Man of Glass, in Samuel Putnam’s translation – has a plot that goes like this: One day two students, traveling to the University at Salamanca, come upon a peasant boy sleeping under a bush by the side of the road. The boy refuses to give his real name, but does express a desire to learn. So the students employ him as a servant. He reads much in Salamanca, then parts from his masters and falls in with a recruiting agent, goes with him as an independent soldier to Italy, tours a sort of grand tour of Europe (which was the equivalent, at the time, of making a grand tour of Hapsburg battlefields0, then returns to Salamanca. There, a woman of easy virtue falls in love with him. Tomas does not return her affection, so she makes him a drink into which she has mixed a love potion. Far from arousing his desire, the potion poisons him to the point where he almost loses his life. After a prolonged illness, he recovers, physically. However, he is now und
"Larvatus prodeo." – Descartes' motto. “I advance, masked.” In 1641, Descartes published his Meditations . The book contains a reference to a man who “imagines” he is made of glass. The reference is embedded in the first of the meditations, the one dedicated to doubt: And how could I deny that these hands and this body belong to me? If only, perhaps, by comparing myself to those insane people whose brains are so troubled and obscured by the black vapors of bile that they are constantly assuring people that they are kings, when they are actually poor; or that they are arrayed in gold and purple, when they are nude; or who imagine themselves to be pitchers, or to have bodies of glass?” (“Et comment est-ce que je pourrais nier que ces mains et ce corps-ci soient à moi? si ce n'est peut-être que je me compare à ces insensés de qui le cerveau est tellement troublé et offusqué par les noires vapeurs de la bile qu'ils assurent constamment qu'ils sont d