A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










July 30th
9:57 PM
Frontline’s Losing Iraq splays out the fateful scene of America’s catastrophic botch of nation building. As absurd and costly as the invasion of Iraq was, the depth of failure here adds more than insult to injury. 
Republicans had for years prior derided President Clinton over the subject of nation building. In Iraq we see what is either their attempt to prove their own sneering point or their naivete in thinking stable governments simply appear magically. The “design” of Iraq’s post-Saddam government and the choice of Nouri al-Maliki as its head ultimately borked the promise Petraeus made in his gambit with the “Sons of Iraq”, the faction that made the “surge” work at all, on account of the Prime Minister’s weak minded trajectory towards ever increasing sectarian impulses. 
Obama may be guilty of letting Iraq rot. Although, short of violently removing the government and instituting things anew (and how would that work?), it’s unclear that any engagement would have amounted to much, as al-Maliki (perhaps like Karzai in Kabul) likely never had enough substantive potential to justify the labor.
Iraq comes up full bore in any serious analysis of America’s current standing and fate in the Middle East. And it’s not just the drift into oblivion that conditioned the invasion, but also the careless and incompetent circus, punctuated by spectacular risks, that bloomed once the deed was done.
Once late in 2003, a retired Colonel Ralph Peters appeared on PBS to argue that the attack on a UN complex was preferable to terror attacks on our own soil. Here in Iraq, he argued, we would draw the vermin like moths to a flame - adding with an eerie confidence, “when that happens the flame wins.” With ISIS and the inevitability of more horror, when any view to pragmatism gets spiked with ironic Iranian complications, it’s long past the time when we should have cringed over a hubris so inflamed. 
………….Watch “Losing Iraq” via PBS video

Frontline’s Losing Iraq splays out the fateful scene of America’s catastrophic botch of nation building. As absurd and costly as the invasion of Iraq was, the depth of failure here adds more than insult to injury. 

Republicans had for years prior derided President Clinton over the subject of nation building. In Iraq we see what is either their attempt to prove their own sneering point or their naivete in thinking stable governments simply appear magically. The “design” of Iraq’s post-Saddam government and the choice of Nouri al-Maliki as its head ultimately borked the promise Petraeus made in his gambit with the “Sons of Iraq”, the faction that made the “surge” work at all, on account of the Prime Minister’s weak minded trajectory towards ever increasing sectarian impulses. 

Obama may be guilty of letting Iraq rot. Although, short of violently removing the government and instituting things anew (and how would that work?), it’s unclear that any engagement would have amounted to much, as al-Maliki (perhaps like Karzai in Kabul) likely never had enough substantive potential to justify the labor.

Iraq comes up full bore in any serious analysis of America’s current standing and fate in the Middle East. And it’s not just the drift into oblivion that conditioned the invasion, but also the careless and incompetent circus, punctuated by spectacular risks, that bloomed once the deed was done.

Once late in 2003, a retired Colonel Ralph Peters appeared on PBS to argue that the attack on a UN complex was preferable to terror attacks on our own soil. Here in Iraq, he argued, we would draw the vermin like moths to a flame - adding with an eerie confidence, “when that happens the flame wins.” With ISIS and the inevitability of more horror, when any view to pragmatism gets spiked with ironic Iranian complications, it’s long past the time when we should have cringed over a hubris so inflamed. 

………….Watch “Losing Iraq” via PBS video

July 6th
3:13 PM
"It’s a little bit as though the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan declared himself the Holy Roman Emperor"
—  Juan Cole, discussing ISIS
June 15th
2:03 PM
"And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off"
May 25th
3:26 PM
"The official line for the Ukrainian story has been already scripted: Ukrainian desire to embrace Western and democratic ways is blocked by spy-master Putin who utilizes his guile and aggression in order to restore the Soviet Empire…. the wheels of the press keep on turning in the same rut… Why on earth does the western press want to emulate this universally ridiculed feature of the Soviets?"
April 15th
2:22 PM
"No one knows what the United States wants in this region, beyond the unacceptable ambition it has displayed since Communism’s collapse - and which now has exploded in its face - of shoving NATO membership and Western ostensibly-defensive /opportunistically-offensive missile installations right up to the Russian borders. This can only be understood in Moscow as a hostile policy."
—  William Pfaff, The Worst Mess since the 1930’s
March 6th
8:57 AM
Via
mapsontheweb:

Territorial evolution of Ukraine

"On February 27, 1954 Pravda published a short announcement on its front page that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR had decreed on February 19 the transfer of the Crimean oblast from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic…
But why was this done? Was it, as was described at the time and for decades thereafter, a “gift” to Ukraine? If so, what motivated such generosity? After all, Crimea, the rugged peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, had not become territorially contiguous with Ukraine all of a sudden. Moreover, its cultural links with Ukraine were not nearly as strong as with Russia. According to the 1959 census, there were 268,000 Ukrainians but 858,000 ethnic Russians living in Crimea. As for economic “commonalities,” the main industry of Crimea was recreation and tourism which drew its clientele from throughout the USSR.
Before the Great Patriotic War, Crimea was home to over 300,000 Tatars, descendants of the Great Horde that moved across Anatolia and settled in the peninsula beginning in the thirteenth century. Because of the collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi occupiers during 1941-43, the entire community was deported in May 1944. The following year, the Crimean Autonomous Republic was abolished and replaced by the Crimean oblast. It was this entity that was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 and remains, at least for the time being, a part of post-Soviet Ukraine. A gift that was at the time essentially meaningless has acquired great historical importance.”  >source<
Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in a gesture that mystified some people
Crimean peninsula had a very tricky 20th century 
Khrushchev’s gift

mapsontheweb:

Territorial evolution of Ukraine

"On February 27, 1954 Pravda published a short announcement on its front page that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR had decreed on February 19 the transfer of the Crimean oblast from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic…

But why was this done? Was it, as was described at the time and for decades thereafter, a “gift” to Ukraine? If so, what motivated such generosity? After all, Crimea, the rugged peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, had not become territorially contiguous with Ukraine all of a sudden. Moreover, its cultural links with Ukraine were not nearly as strong as with Russia. According to the 1959 census, there were 268,000 Ukrainians but 858,000 ethnic Russians living in Crimea. As for economic “commonalities,” the main industry of Crimea was recreation and tourism which drew its clientele from throughout the USSR.

Before the Great Patriotic War, Crimea was home to over 300,000 Tatars, descendants of the Great Horde that moved across Anatolia and settled in the peninsula beginning in the thirteenth century. Because of the collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi occupiers during 1941-43, the entire community was deported in May 1944. The following year, the Crimean Autonomous Republic was abolished and replaced by the Crimean oblast. It was this entity that was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 and remains, at least for the time being, a part of post-Soviet Ukraine. A gift that was at the time essentially meaningless has acquired great historical importance.”  >source<

Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in a gesture that mystified some people

Crimean peninsula had a very tricky 20th century 

Khrushchev’s gift

February 27th
4:10 PM
January 31st
4:54 PM
Bernhard Zand  |  Der Spiegel&#160;&#187;

In no other theater of World War I are the results of that epochal conflict still as current as they are in the Middle East. Nowhere else does the early 20th century orgy of violence still determine political conditions to the same degree. The so-called European Civil War, a term used to describe the period of bloody violence that racked Europe from 1914 onwards, came to an end in 1945. The Cold War ceased in 1990. But the tensions unleashed on the Arab world by World War I remain as acute as ever. Essentially, the Middle East finds itself in the same situation now as Europe did following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles: standing before a map that disregards the region&#8217;s ethnic and confessional realities.
&#8230;the unresolved conflicts left behind by World War I, combined with the spill-over effects from the catastrophic World War II in Europe &#8212; the founding of Israel, the Cold War and the race for Persian Gulf resources &#8212; added up to a historical burden for the Middle East. And they have resulted in an unending conflict &#8212; a conflict that has yet to come to an end even today, almost 100 years after that fateful summer in 1914&#8230; &gt;continue&lt;

Bernhard Zand  |  Der Spiegel »

In no other theater of World War I are the results of that epochal conflict still as current as they are in the Middle East. Nowhere else does the early 20th century orgy of violence still determine political conditions to the same degree. The so-called European Civil War, a term used to describe the period of bloody violence that racked Europe from 1914 onwards, came to an end in 1945. The Cold War ceased in 1990. But the tensions unleashed on the Arab world by World War I remain as acute as ever. Essentially, the Middle East finds itself in the same situation now as Europe did following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles: standing before a map that disregards the region’s ethnic and confessional realities.

the unresolved conflicts left behind by World War I, combined with the spill-over effects from the catastrophic World War II in Europe — the founding of Israel, the Cold War and the race for Persian Gulf resources — added up to a historical burden for the Middle East. And they have resulted in an unending conflict — a conflict that has yet to come to an end even today, almost 100 years after that fateful summer in 1914… >continue<

January 16th
8:40 AM
"The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing."
August 18th
4:30 PM
Michael Cohen  |  Guardian&#160;&#187;

Don&#8217;t believe me? Check out what Michael Morell, the No2 man at theCIA, had to say about the threats facing America in this recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. If anyone knows about foreign threats, it&#8217;s gotta be this guy, right? He&#8217;s a big muckety-muck at the Central Intelligence Agency. He gets to see everything; even that stuff Snowden leaked.
&#8230;What is most striking about Morell&#8217;s warnings is, in fact, the stunning hollowness of the threats he describes. If Syria, North Korea and Iran are truly what threaten us, then truly, we have little to fear from the world outside our borders&#8230;
That this grab-bag of minor threats is used to justify a defense budget in the range of $600bn, an active and reserve force of 1 million troops and a far-flung empire of military bases and partners – not to mention, a rather effective navy and air force, and thousands of nuclear weapons – is astounding. If this is best the CIA can do, they really need to pick up their game.  &gt;continue&lt;

Michael Cohen  |  Guardian »

Don’t believe me? Check out what Michael Morell, the No2 man at theCIA, had to say about the threats facing America in this recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. If anyone knows about foreign threats, it’s gotta be this guy, right? He’s a big muckety-muck at the Central Intelligence Agency. He gets to see everything; even that stuff Snowden leaked.

What is most striking about Morell’s warnings is, in fact, the stunning hollowness of the threats he describes. If Syria, North Korea and Iran are truly what threaten us, then truly, we have little to fear from the world outside our borders…

That this grab-bag of minor threats is used to justify a defense budget in the range of $600bn, an active and reserve force of 1 million troops and a far-flung empire of military bases and partners – not to mention, a rather effective navy and air force, and thousands of nuclear weapons – is astounding. If this is best the CIA can do, they really need to pick up their game.  >continue<

August 4th
9:14 PM
Juan Cole&#160;&#187;

I will never again have to hear some uninformed pundit or politician drone on about how Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map, which he did not.  &gt;continue&lt;

Juan Cole »

I will never again have to hear some uninformed pundit or politician drone on about how Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map, which he did not.  >continue<

July 19th
12:49 PM
'Explosive' NSA Spying Reports Are Imminent
Der Spiegel&#160;&#187;

Glenn Greenwald says new reports from the trove of NSA data supplied by whistleblower Edward Snowden can be expected in the next few days. Speaking on a German talkshow, he said they would be even &#8220;more explosive in Germany&#8221; than previous reporting&#8230;
&#8230;He told host Reinhold Beckmann that he and journalist Laura Poitras had obtained full sets of the documents during a trip to Hong Kong, with around 9,000 to 10,000 top secret documents in total. Greenwald said they had been in possession of the data for around seven weeks and had not had a chance to analyze all the material, noting that some of the documents were extremely complicated. &#8220;We&#8217;re working on it,&#8221; he said.  &gt;continue&lt;

'Explosive' NSA Spying Reports Are Imminent

Der Spiegel »

Glenn Greenwald says new reports from the trove of NSA data supplied by whistleblower Edward Snowden can be expected in the next few days. Speaking on a German talkshow, he said they would be even “more explosive in Germany” than previous reporting…

…He told host Reinhold Beckmann that he and journalist Laura Poitras had obtained full sets of the documents during a trip to Hong Kong, with around 9,000 to 10,000 top secret documents in total. Greenwald said they had been in possession of the data for around seven weeks and had not had a chance to analyze all the material, noting that some of the documents were extremely complicated. “We’re working on it,” he said.  >continue<

July 7th
1:59 PM

Valentino’s Ghost: media portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in the matrix of Western foreign policy

Philip Giraldi  |  Review of the film to appear on PBS  »

Control of the preferred narrative is essential in today’s instant-news political culture. This has been particularly true since 9/11, as the United States government and the cooperative media have worked together to make sure that a series of enemies are identified and then attacked as a response to what has been shaped as a global terrorist threat. Narrative-shifting also protects against failure, by making it more difficult to advance any actual inquiry…

If I have a problem with “Valentino’s Ghost” it is that it tries to do too much. It takes on many issues too superficially given the film’s technical constraints and time limitations. I have been informed that over the objections of the producer the original 95-minute version has been edited down considerably for the version that will be released to PBS affiliates. PBS indicated that it would not use the film without considerable changes. Much of the excising relates to segments critical of Israel and its policies, as well as its U.S. lobby, AIPAC. The affiliates themselves can choose whether or not to air the film, so there will probably be pressure coming from donors and local programming boards not to show it. This would be a shame, as “Valentino’s Ghost” exposes widespread bigotry and the deliberate shaping of a narrative against Arabs while also providing considerable insights into why American foreign policy continues to fail in an important part of the world. One has to wonder what the reaction would be if the film were to be viewed in the White House.  >continue<

Interrogation of modern portrayals and trends in the complexion of Islam may also benefit from going further back into the 19th Century. A BBC documentary, Clash of the Worlds, digs into the terrain of emerging resistance to the British penetration of India. Though aspects are the subject of some historical disagreement, it appears to establish a larger point that forms of Islamic militancy are conditioned by imperialism - both in their attitudes toward the West and towards prior manifestations of Islamic political order.