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Showing posts from December 31, 2006

Cursing our rebel in chief

LI read the NYT article about the planned surge, and we have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we want the troops out now. On the other hand, deepening the military failure in Iraq and crippling American power for the next decade, which is what the Bush plan will result in, does have some advantages over the long term. To use a phrase right wing commentators apply to Arabic governments, D.C. only really understands humiliation. On the one hand, the increase in American troops is really an increase in targets and shooters, and will lead to pointless violence in the service of an impossible end. There is no pro-American force left in Iraq – save quasi-independent North Iraq. That North Iraq is pro-American and hosts no American troops is not a coincidence – if American troops are deployed there, soon enough the cracks in the Kurdish system, papered over after the 96 civil war, will reappear. The Bush plan calls, ultimately, for 20,000 more troops . News reports indicate that there are

occupations - the Sorrow and the Pity

A few years ago, there was a deal of noise around the reissue of the Battle of Algiers – Pentagon honchos had a special showing, policy wonks and pundits got to review the film (showing why they shouldn’t review the film) and, in fact, there were things in the Battle of Algiers that have happened in Iraq – although there is nothing quite like the Battle of Baghdad that we are seeing now, with ethnic cleansing going on inside the city while outside, the Sunni insurgency is turning the screws inch by inch to turn off the city’s services. The more valid comparison might be to the Paris Commune. However, a film that is just as relevant to the occupation in Iraq is the Sorrow and the Pity. I know that now, because I watched the Sorrow and the Pity for the first time two days ago. The German occupation of France was spread out over 3 years – much like the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The first occupation was covered by a collaborationist government – much like the second. The first occupation in

the actor and the hangman

We have been wrestling with a fact we stumbled over a few days ago. We were researching Tom Paine’s years in revolutionary Paris, and his friendships with the group known as the Gironde. And we came across the famous day, in the National Assembly, when the motion was made to grant Jews full civil rights. This moment has been treated as an important symbol, and it is an important symbol. It marked the end of Christendom, for instance – the rotten structure finally collapsing completely. It marked the beginning of modernity – with an appropriate ironic chaser, since the legislation came on the heels of a pogram in Alsace. But we had not realized that the legislation came as a sort of afterthought that day. The topic of extending civil status was brought up by Clermont Tonnerre, but the original objects of that extension were: the hangman and the actor. Gaston Maugras’ Les comediens hors la lois has the full story: “ At the opening of the session, Clermont-Tonnerre climbed to the podium
As faithful readers of LI know, we are stout conspiracy theorists. No, we don’t think the CIA took down the World Trade Center by implanting JFK’s assassin shattered brain in a comatose Mohammed Atta. Our theory, much simpler, has been that in December, 2006, somewhere in the U.S. government, the decision was made to allow Osama bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora. We referenced Army Times reporter Sean Naylor’s account of the battle in this post. Recycling ourself (oh, the egotism!): Anyway, the American force that approached Tora Bora at the end of November, 2001 was extremely small, and depended on Afghan allies that were busy feuding with each other. According to Naylor, as the siege proceeded, the Air Force flew over the twenty mile passage between Tora Bora and Pakistan and recorded “hot spots” on their heat sensing equipment. Now, CENTCOM, unbelievably, had never considered the possibility that Al Qaeda’s forces could escape from Tora Bora – thus, there were no guards on the bor

how I know I am a poet

Sometimes, LI is sure he is a poet. Today, for instance. Today, we were walking down a street in downtown Austin, looking for the office of a friend. We went in and out of buildings on Brazos street, and finally found the office. Soit. So, we are walking down sixth street and we pass by two men who are talking to each other, each having the same height, each sporting a white Ho Chi Minh beard. White guys. And just ahead of us, crossing the street, is another white guy, same height, also sporting a white Ho Chi Minh beard. Now, things like this happen a lot. We are a strange attractor, or rather, an attractor of the strange. Our predecessors in this field are Baudelaire and Rilke. In fact, if we were going to name these moments – moments of the configuration of some eerie and pointless coincidence – we’d call it the seven old men effect, from Baudelaire’s poem about seeing an bent, rather disgusting old man stumbling along like he was crunching the bones of corpses, and then seeing emer

in other news: John Keegan goes bonkers

It isn’t just a surge – it is a lebensraum policy! John Keegan gets very excited and almost jumps out of his moustache thinking of the Einsatzgruppe, er, American military, clearing the Judische scum from Warsaw, er, I mean the Sadr militia from Baghdad, in this very very exciting version of shooting wogs in a barrel : The object of the surge deployment should be to overwhelm the insurgents with a sudden concentration, both of numbers, armoured vehicles and firepower with the intention to inflict severe losses and heavy shock. The Mahdi Army in Sadr City should prove vulnerable to such tactics, which would of course be supported by helicopters and fixed-wing aviation. Hitherto most military activity by coalition forces has been reactive rather than unilateral. Typically, units have become involved in fire fights while on patrol or on convoy protection duties. During the surge, the additional troops would take the fight to the enemy with the intention of doing him harm, destabilising hi

take away George Bush's joystick? Never!

By May 2006, uneasy officials at the State Department and the National Security Council argued for a review of Iraq strategy. A meeting was convened at Camp David to consider those approaches, according to participants in the session, but Mr. Bush left early for a secret visit to Baghdad, where he reviewed the war plans with General Casey and Mr. Maliki, and met with the American pilot whose plane’s missiles killed Iraq’s Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He returned to Washington in a buoyant mood. The visit meant that the reconsideration of strategy was not as thorough as some officials hoped. “… and met with the American pilot whose plane’s missiles killed Iraq’s Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” By this point, our cup overflows with the evidence that President Bush is an incurable juvenile, a composite portrait of the video war game generation, a man who has mistaken the joy stick for his dick, and his dick for the golden key to “victory”. John Burns story in the NYT is

demo letdown

Oh, bitterness. I get to the bridge where the demonstration is scheduled at around 6. It is a relatively frosty evening for Austin. I’d supplied myself with two candles and a box of matches. Somehow, I had the delusion that – though it was a day off – though the evening was nippy – though the demonstration itself was the result of a floating announcement – that somehow others would be as shocked by the symbolism of three thousand soldiers dead as I was. As spurred on. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. Rather, crammed up on the ramp leading to the pedestrian bridge over lake Austin was a handful of people – at most, 150. And coming up to them, I received, once again, that familiar progressive demonstration feeling. Small demonstrations for good causes generate an air much like an after church service get together. Except not after, say, a Southern Baptist Church service. Baptist get togethers are full of meaty, red faced men in florescent blue suits bouncing around with the juice

While Chalabi lounges in London, the 3,000th American soldier is killed

First things first: to find the location of a vigil near you for the 3000th American soldier killed in Iraq, go to the American Friends site. Now, to get out the knives. Anne Applebaum’s typically braindead obit for Hussein – a little like Hitler, a little like Stalin, throw on olive oil and bake in the pundit oven for three minutes, blah blah blah – was enlivened by the inevitable nod to Kanan Makiya, Republic of Fear. The mention of Makiya started another train of thought, however, in LI’s mind. While Hussein was the bloody dictator Applebaum describes, one thing he didn’t do – he didn’t flee Iraq. He had the means to. He could have surely gone, as his family did, to Jordan. He could have found a way to get to Libya. But he stayed in Iraq, and was captured, and was hung. Kanan Makiya, on the other hand, helped to generate the American invasion. He was one of those who suggested the disastrous extreme de-Baathification program, the dissolution of the army, etc. He was at all the con

tomorrow - protest the 3,000th american soldier murdered by this administration

STANDING CALL when 3,000th US Troops Have Died The Austin Center for Peace and Justice is calling for a vigil on the day following the death of the 3,000 U.S. soldier in Iraq,* on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge at 6:30pm. Bring candles and paper plates or cups to catch wax (bring extra to share!). LI is not a demo groupie, but this time, we are going to get some candles and be there. ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

asini mysteria

Nuccio Ordino, in Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass, riffs as follows about asses: “Indeed, Silenus, Marsyas and Midas – three asinine spirits whose adventures are associated with water-purification rites – join the ass in the cycle of Dionysian myths. The ass of Hindu myth, apart from being a great seducer, is the guardian of the waters and of riches. The ass’s relation to fecundity is legitimated also by fables and myths that associate it with feminine deities; it is sacred to Vesta, mother and nurse; to the Phrygian goddess Cybele; and to the powerful Isis. In this regard, apart from asses having sexual relations with women, there is no shortage of references to cosmetic and pharmacological uses for certain of the ass’s organs as aids to many of the functions involved in childbirth and breastfeeding. The reverse of the coin also reveals man examples in which the ass appears linked to death and the demonic. In his tale of Psyche’s descent into Hades, Apuleius only mentions