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Showing posts from May 23, 2004
Bollettino So somebody chose the new Iraqi P.M. – unless he is unchosen in the next couple of days. NPR’s Marketplace interviewed an American correspondent, just back from Iraq, who was uncharacteristically frank for an American correspondent. He said, briskly, that Allawi is hugely corrupt, and hugely unpopular. LI, thinking about legitimacy, power, and the foundations of democracy, decided to search the new issue of the Journal of Democracy, a neo-con deal, for pointers. The new issue has an astonishing ratio of hot air to footnotes. The first article was a performance that would have earned a charitable C from yours truly, during our T.A.-ing years. It proclaimed that, if we don’t watch it, this might be the century of Anti-Americanism. The piece was almost entirely devoid of references, but these were made up for by that perpetual companion of buncombe, the passive voice. My hand got that red pencil urge, confronted with the ‘some have said”s and “there is now a consensus th
Bollettino Marc Reisner’s 1986 Cadillac Desert occupies a unique space in LI’s mental bookshelf. We first read that book in 1992. This was three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. C.D. caused a wall to fall in our own mind – essentially, C.D. destroyed our faith in the central tenet of what you might call the positive economic aspect of Marxism. That tenet, for one hundred years, had been that rationality in economics was the equivalent of finding a way to minimize the social cost of economic activity, which in turn required government planning. No book that we have ever read has presented a more scathing picture of the largescale effects of government planning. If you read, say, interviews with Hayek, the man whose life work was devoted to attacking central planning, you will find that he retained the 20th century’s touching faith in the government’s ability to engineer the environment. Hayek expressly approved of such government programs as the dam building, largescale irrig
Bollettino Surely those who keep the institutional memory going in the Company are having a rush right now. The controversy around Chalabi is looking increasingly like a controversy that swirled around another Arab figure who briefly convinced an American government to back him, with the help of a story woven by entrenched D.C. honchos. This earlier character was named Nasser. That Nasser met with the CIA and received CIA support for overthrowing pro-British King Farouk is a story that has been told by Miles Copeland, his CIA handler, in The Game of Nations and his autobiography (which LI has only read bits of, on the web. Like here ). Perhaps the operative word isn’t really told – like a donut, a spook story is impossible to separate from its central hole. But Copeland has broadly hinted that the CIA was convinced that the American problem in the Middle East – the perennial tension between supporting Israel and acquiring the necessary amount of petroleum – could be alleviated