…but it’s the first time I saw this video. Racist? There’s certainly some racial stereotyping, like the buck teeth, but whether this crosses the line from poor taste to racism I’ll leave up to you. (I’m less ambivalent about the comments, which are among the most racist and juvenile I’ve ever seen on YouTube.)
August 12, 2007
August 10, 2007
Does anyone remember, in the wake of our seemingly glowing victory in Iraq way back in 2003, teh president’s sweeping rhetoric about liberty, about how we were going to bring freedom to millions by paving the way to democratic elections? How we were going to reshape the Middle East by making Iraq a beacon of democracy, and as neighbors watched democracy work its magic they too would succumb to its charm? The underlying message was clear: the newly liberated masses would elect moderates who would ensure an end to tyranny and terror, the region would stabilize and the Middle East would blossom. Instead of being our blood enemy, it would be America’s friend. Unfortunately, this forecast wasn’t totally accurate.
“It’s the kiss of death,” said Turki al-Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched last Sunday’s elections closely. “The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win.”
The paradox of American policy in the Middle East – promoting democracy on the assumption it will bring countries closer to the West – is that almost everywhere there are free elections, the American-backed side tends to lose.
Lebanon’s voters in the Metn district, in other words, appeared to have joined the Palestinians, who voted for Hamas; the Iraqis, who voted for a government sympathetic to Iran; and the Egyptians, who have voted in growing numbers in recent elections for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. “No politician can afford to identify with the West because poll after poll shows people don’t believe in the U.S. agenda,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, until recently the director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. Mr. Hamarneh is running for a seat in Jordan’s Parliament in November, but he says he has made a point of keeping his campaign focused locally, and on bread-and-butter issues. “If somebody goes after you as pro-American he can hurt you,” he said.
Oh, well. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I know some of our friends on the right will say, “But these people always hated America.” True, but they never hated us like this. Not the masses.
Iraq. The most catastrophic clusterfuck in America’s history. But not to worry. I hear the surge will turn it all around.
August 6, 2007
Richard did not write this post, and he doesn’t agree with it.
This is another post I’m sure will go against a lot of people’s “accepted wisdom”, but I found the article interesting.
Despite everything the world knows about how badly the war in Iraq is going, how hopeless the military outlook remains and how urgently everyone should pack up and go home, the debate in America unexpectedly shifted to a radically different perspective: are things actually going better than we think ?
When Bill Kristol, the prominent neoconservative, suggested last month that President George W Bush might yet triumph in Iraq, he was greeted with abuse. Arianna Huffington, the former socialite turned antiwar blogger, called Kristolâ€™s Washington Post article â€œthe single most deceptive piece of the entire warâ€. Others derided Kristol as a â€œpartisan foolâ€ and a â€œBush sycophantâ€. The message from the liberal establishment was clear: a US defeat in Iraq is inevitable and woe betide anyone who stands in the way of an urgent troop withdrawal.
Yet uncomfortable developments last week have forced a modest reassessment of Bushâ€™s supposed disaster-in-progress.
I certainly don’t profess to know what will happen in Iraq, and I think anyone who rather arrogantly predicts it going either way is still only guessing. What I do think is that Bush’s surge has not been a failure yet and has a chance of giving Iraq (and the US military) breathing space so that a more orderly solution can be found, rather than a sudden pull-out due to panic, which would assuredly be catastrophic.
The New York Times poll showed that 42% now believe the war is justified, up from 35% in May. The paper was so surprised by the results that it repeated the poll to be sure there had not been a mistake. There was also mildly encouraging news in a record capture of insurgent weapons, a significant decrease in Shiâ€™ite death squad activity and what General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, described as â€œa reasonable degree of tactical momentum on the groundâ€.
The most controversial development was another newspaper article with the headline â€œA war we just might winâ€. Its academic authors, Michael Oâ€™Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, are still recovering from the onslaught their optimism provoked. Both resident scholars at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Oâ€™Hanlon and Pollack returned from an eight-day visit to Iraq to complain that the Bush administrationâ€™s critics â€œseem unaware of the significant changes taking placeâ€.
The two men listed a series of encouraging security developments, from the increasing competence of Iraqi units to the Sunni sheikhs who have turned against Al-Qaeda and the success of the provincial reconstruction teams.
â€œWe are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms,â€ they concluded. â€œAs two analysts who have harshly criticised the Bush administrationâ€™s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily â€˜victoryâ€™, but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.â€
Uproar ensued as Pollack and Oâ€™Hanlon were accused by liberal bloggers of â€œselling outâ€ to the neocons. As internet forums seethed with scorn and ridicule, a crucial question went largely ignored. Has the conventional wisdom that Iraq is a disaster become so deeply ingrained that America might start pulling out just when it most needs to stay?…….
â€œWhat explains the fact that some critics of the war are unwilling to hear good news of any sort â€“ and get visibly agitated and disdainful when we see signs of progress ?â€ asked Peter Wehner, a senior security aide to Bush.
I do wonder if some Americans have become so jaded about Iraq that they won’t see anything good come from the surge. I believe that as America and its allies created the current mess, the current security operation in and around Baghdad should be given its chance. At the very least people should wait until Congress receives its report – predictions of failure before even the legislators have seen it is rather premature in my view.
If America puts its tail between its legs and runs for the hills having seen clearer signs of military success in Iraq, it would be an act of pure stupidy as well as cowardice.
August 2, 2007
US presidential candidate Barack Obama has said he would order military action against al-Qaeda in Pakistan without the consent of Pakistan’s government. Mr Obama made the comments in a speech outlining his foreign policy positions. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said any threat to act against al-Qaeda from within its territory should not be used for political point scoring.
Earlier this month, Mr Obama’s chief rival, Hillary Clinton, described him as “naive” on foreign policy. The attack from Mrs Clinton came after a televised debate between Democrat presidential hopefuls. During the debate Mr Obama said he would be willing to meet leaders of states such as Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions.
In his speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, Mr Obama said General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, must do more to end terrorist operations in his country. If not, Pakistan would risk a troop invasion and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid during an Obama presidency, the candidate said.
“It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005,” he said, referring to reports that the US had decided not to launch a strike for fear of harming ties with Pakistan. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Mr Obama said.
The BBC’s Jonathan Beale, in Washington, says such comments are clearly designed to bolster his credentials among a domestic audience. But a spokeswoman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Tasnim Aslam, told the AFP news agency that talk of military action was a serious matter and political candidates and commentators should “show responsibility”.
I wonder if he isn’t trying too hard to look “tough”. Certainly my opinion of him has dropped after this statement, though it was already low given some of his past comments. I hope that Hillary Clinton gets the nomination – Obama does not inspire confidence over foreign policy. At a time when US foreign policy is extremely important to the whole world, this is a critical point.