mm491: Blast from the Past! No. 48 – War with Iran?

September 6, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

Events, continue to conspire, making it unacceptably late to start a fresh project, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[1]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and, unfortunately, still all too timely, originally posted November 6, 2007, and titled “mm186: War with Iran: Inevitable?”

MUDGE’S Musings

The potential catastrophe of Iran just keeps scaling up. William Arkin, the Washington Post‘s excellent commentator on military affairs updated us Nov. 2 in his Early Warning blog:

arkinearlywarning

The presidential campaigns can’t get enough of talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Bush administration’s eagerness to go to war. Thirty U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday, reminding him that “no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action in Iran.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama submitted a Senate resolution, also emphasizing that congress must explicitly authorize military action, and that, in regards to Iran, it hasn’t done that so far.

Let me say now, based on my discussions with Pentagon insiders and observers and more than 30 years following the military: We are not going to war with Iran. At least we are not going to start a war now or any time soon. At least not intentionally [emphasis MUDGE].

Can’t help but land hard on that sentence. How much tragedy has the present administration caused, both intentionally and not, over the past nearly seven years?

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

mm487: A Truman for our times?

September 2, 2008
© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

This one got me.

But, in recognition of Republican week, I don’t have a problem with having the infamous George III smirk atop this post.

I might have a problem with the thesis, but it’s worth exposing, since it represents a point of view that had never occurred to yr (justifiably) humble svt.

prospectuk

A Truman for our times

The received wisdom is that President Bush has been a foreign policy disaster, and that America is threatened by the rise of Asia. Both claims are wrong—Bush has successfully rolled back jihadism, and the US will benefit from Asian growth

August 2008 | 149 » Cover story » A Truman for our times | Edward Luttwak

That George W Bush’s foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.

It has happened before. When President Harry S Truman said in March 1952 that he would not seek re-election, most Americans could agree on one thing: that his foreign policy had been a catastrophic failure. In Korea his indecision had invited aggression, and then his incompetence had cost the lives of some 54,000 Americans and millions of Korean civilians in just two years of fighting—on both counts more than ten times the number of casualties in Iraq. Right-wingers reviled Truman for having lost China to communism and for his dismissal of the great General Douglas MacArthur, who had wanted to win it back, with nukes if necessary. Liberals despised Truman because he was the failed shopkeeper who had usurped the patrician Franklin Roosevelt’s White House—liberals always were the snobs of US politics.

Abroad, Truman was widely hated too. The communist accusation that he had waged “bacteriological warfare” to kill Korean children and destroy Chinese crops was believed by many, and was fully endorsed by a 669-page report issued by a commission chaired by the eminent British biochemist Joseph Needham. Even more people believed that Truman was guilty of having started the cold war by trying to intimidate our brave Soviet ally, or at least that he and Stalin were equally to blame.

How did this same Harry Truman come to be universally viewed as a great president, especially for his foreign policy? It is all a question of time perspectives: the Korean war is half forgotten, while everyone now knows that Truman’s strategy of containment was successful and finally ended with the almost peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire.

For Bush to be recognised as a great president in the Truman mould, the Iraq war too must become half forgotten. The swift removal of the murderous Saddam Hussein was followed by years of expensive violence instead of the instant democracy that had been promised. To confuse the imam-ridden Iraqis with Danes or Norwegians under German occupation, ready to return to democracy as soon as they were liberated, was not a forgivable error: before invading a country, a US president is supposed to know if it is in the middle east or Scandinavia.

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment. For the Bush response to 9/11 was precisely that—a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush.

First thing you have to do when confronting an essay such as this is to consider the source.

Edward Luttwak is one controversial bloke. Even Luttwak’s biography in Wikipedia is controversial.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm438: Post Bush administration destination – jail?

July 13, 2008
dreamstime_3280831
© Enruta | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Those looking for the smoking guns on torture and the mishandled war on terrorism within the Bush administration seem to have found them.

Frank Rich has a must read column in today’s NYTimes, reviewing “The Dark Side” by Jane Mayer, to be published July 15.

thedarksidejanemayer

Seems like the book is going to be a must read, also.

nytimes

The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008

Op-Ed Columnist | By FRANK RICH | Published: July 13, 2008

WE know what a criminal White House looks like from “The Final Days,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s classic account of Richard Nixon’s unraveling. The cauldron of lies, paranoia and illegal surveillance boiled over, until it was finally every man for himself as desperate courtiers scrambled to save their reputations and, in a few patriotic instances, their country.

“The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution….

In the name of defending against terrorism, the Bush administration has systematically violated the law, and the evidence is finally exposed to the light of day.

Nixon parallels take us only so far, however. “The Dark Side” is scarier than “The Final Days” because these final days aren’t over yet and because the stakes are much higher. Watergate was all about a paranoid president’s narcissistic determination to cling to power at any cost. In Ms. Mayer’s portrayal of the Bush White House, the president is a secondary, even passive, figure, and the motives invoked by Mr. Cheney to restore Nixon-style executive powers are theoretically selfless. Possessed by the ticking-bomb scenarios of television’s “24,” all they want to do is protect America from further terrorist strikes.

So what if they cut corners, the administration’s last defenders argue. While prissy lawyers insist on habeas corpus and court-issued wiretap warrants, the rest of us are being kept safe by the Cheney posse.

But are we safe? As Al Qaeda and the Taliban surge this summer, that single question is even more urgent than the moral and legal issues attending torture.

Thus the illustration at the top of this post. In fact, some top administration officials, past or present, have been warned publicly not to travel outside the U.S., due to international war crimes court exposure!

Read the rest of this entry »


mm437: Life’s a bitch, and then you fly

July 12, 2008
dreamstime_2244631
© Kathy Wynn | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Among the most popular posts here in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© are the occasions when we call attention to Patrick Smith, the airline pilot who writes the Ask the Pilot column for Salon.com.

In fact, one such column was especially popular with Salon’s lawyers, as this then newbie was called to account for exceeding the amount of quoted text allowed by their copyright. Oh, well, live and learn.

But that hasn’t stopped me from reading and appreciating Patrick Smith. His was the first writing to explain specifically why the air travel system in the U.S. is the frenetic mess that it is: more people flying in smaller and smaller aircraft. MSM picked up on the story only after his eye-opening analysis.

Since he’s back flying regularly for one of the big airlines (he keeps which one to himself), his weekly columns have become generally biweekly, but they’re always worth waiting for. He writes like a writer who happens to fly airplanes for a living, rather than the other way around.

This week, he tells of his travails dealing with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Yes, even pilots are subject to carry-on luggage search and body scanning.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm286: Nothing less than domestic terrorism

February 15, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

All the adjectives are used up. Horrifying. Ghastly. Tragic. Pointless. Frightful. Sickening.

Another perfectly normal person, on a perfectly normal day, bursts into a college lecture hall and murders five people. And then does what he probably should have done in the first place thereby saving us most of those used up adjectives, and shot himself.

Now the Chicago area has a new St. Valentine’s Day massacre for a new century.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm186: War with Iran: Inevitable?

November 6, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The potential catastrophe of Iran just keeps scaling up. William Arkin, the Washington Post‘s excellent commentator on military affairs updated us Nov. 2 in his Early Warning blog:

arkinearlywarning

The presidential campaigns can’t get enough of talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Bush administration’s eagerness to go to war. Thirty U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday, reminding him that “no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action in Iran.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama submitted a Senate resolution, also emphasizing that congress must explicitly authorize military action, and that, in regards to Iran, it hasn’t done that so far.

Let me say now, based on my discussions with Pentagon insiders and observers and more than 30 years following the military: We are not going to war with Iran. At least we are not going to start a war now or any time soon. At least not intentionally [emphasis MUDGE].

Can’t help but land hard on that sentence. How much tragedy has the present administration caused, both intentionally and not, over the past nearly seven years?

Way too much, and one can’t help believing that for all of the hidden agendas, the sweetheart procurement deals on a $trillion scale, and the subversion of the workings of government to religious extremism (we’re still talking the U.S. here, folks, we haven’t started in on Iran!), much of the ongoing catastrophe has been the result of inattention and a view of the geopolitical world seemingly so narrow as to be detectable only with an electron microscope.

So, Iran. Maker’s of world class mischief in Syria and Lebanon, interfering almost overtly in Iraq, chief exporter of Islamofascism and terrorism to the western world, and working hard to launch a nuke into Tel Aviv.

It’s symmetry: Now we’re talking about subversion of the Iranian government to religious extremism, a process that the U.S. made inevitable during nearly 30 years of lavish support of the corrupt Shah they illegally put in place. The U.S. has many decades of petrodiplomacy to answer for.

Arkin’s take on the election rhetoric is that the candidates’ words and deeds on the subject of Iran are only making Iran more nervous about U.S. intentions, and that can’t help anything.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Keep It Down – Early Warning

Mr. Arkin, everyone is supposed to quiet down so that we don’t provoke Iran into doing sooner what they seem to have every intention of doing eventually?

Everyone is supposed to quiet down so that the cooler military heads (compared to the raving maniacs of the administration) can remain coolly overwhelmed by the two official wars that the administration has tasked them with?

It’s a great idea but I just don’t see the candidates of either party letting such a juicy rhetorical target go by, with 440 days of 24-hour campaigning still to be filled.

It’s a great idea, but I just don’t know that Iran will wait for a new, somewhat more diplomatic and worldly U.S. administration.

And I have to reluctantly venture the fear that I don’t know whether Israel can afford to wait.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm175: "Islamofascism" – Deal with it!

October 22, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

shortattention

“Islamofascism” – Deal with it!

We have stated before in this space that we’ll accept a good idea, regardless of its source, in this case, the diffident and soft-spoken Christopher Hitchens in today’s Slate.

In that spirit, we present: Islamofascism.

It’s a valid term. Here’s why.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, at 11:33 AM ET

The attempt by David Horowitz and his allies to launch “Islamofascism Awareness Week” on American campuses has been met with a variety of responses. One of these is a challenge to the validity of the term itself. It’s quite the done thing, in liberal academic circles, to sneer at any comparison between fascist and jihadist ideology. People like Tony Judt write to me to say, in effect, that it’s ahistorical and simplistic to do so. And in some media circles, another kind of reluctance applies: Alan Colmes thinks that one shouldn’t use the word Islamic even to designate jihad, because to do so is to risk incriminating an entire religion. He and others don’t want to tag Islam even in its most extreme form with a word as hideous as fascism. Finally, I have seen and heard it argued that the term is unfair or prejudiced because it isn’t applied to any other religion….

… The most obvious points of comparison  [between Islam and Fascism] would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Defending the term “Islamofascism.” – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

So, anyone reading this with access to one of the events on a nearby campus this week — go listen.

shortattention

Free my phone!

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and his All Things Digital blog states a cogent case for demonopolization of the cellular telephone industry.

Suppose you own a Dell computer, and you decide to replace it with a Sony. You don’t have to get the permission of your Internet service provider to do so, or even tell the provider about it. You can just pack up the old machine and set up the new one.

Now, suppose your new computer came with a particular Web browser or online music service, but you’d prefer a different one. You can just download and install the new software, and uninstall the old one. You can sign up for a new music service and cancel the old one. And, once again, you don’t need to even notify your Internet provider, let alone seek its permission.

Oh, and the developers of such computers, software and services can offer you their products directly, without going through the Internet provider, without getting the provider’s approval, and without giving the provider a penny. The Internet provider gets paid simply for its contribution to the mix: providing your Internet connection. But, for all practical purposes, it doesn’t control what is connected to the network, or carried over the network.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Print : Free My Phone

Monopolies of all kinds are unpleasant. This writer rails against his monopoly cable television / Internet Service Provider that also (heaven help us!) wants to be our telephone company!

Walt, at least with cell phones, I’ve got choices.

shortattention_thumb[5]_thumb[2]

Innovation Nation: Losing our edge

This Business Week book review is definitely worthy of attention.

Innovation Nation

Innovation Nation: How America Is Losing
Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters,
and What We Can Do to Get It Back

By John Kao; Free Press; 306pp; $26
The Good An insightful, and scary, account of the innovation challenges faced by the U.S.
The Bad A key issue gets little space: the role of global corporations in innovation’s changing geography.
The Bottom Line A very useful book that punctures America’s complacency about innovation.

In a Sept. 7 speech before a World Economic Forum meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced his country was “pursuing an innovation-based model of development.” Why should America care if China puts innovation at the center of its next five-year plan? In fact, why worry about Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Korea, or other countries whose government policies push innovation? After all, Google (GOOG ), Facebook, the iPod (AAPL ), and the Boeing (BA ) 787 Dreamliner all have “Made in America” stamped on them. Right? And we have Silicon Valley. They don’t.

Well, actually they do. In fact, as John Kao, an innovation consultant, points out in his new book, Innovation Nation: How America Is Losing Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do to Get It Back, all the key advantages once enjoyed by the U.S. are going, going, nearly gone. In a scary, insightful, and ultimately very useful book—written to inform the 2008 Presidential primary agenda—Kao punctures America’s smug self-congratulation.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

America’s Fleeting Edge in Innovation

Innovation has been a key theme at BW for some time, and one wants to hope that the message is getting through to business leaders. One wonders, actually, whether any corporation near you ever has hired the likes of Mr. Kao, an innovation consultant.

Can’t happen soon enough, apparently.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE