Thursday, December 21, 2006

Political Readings

Lenin on "decent internationalism":
Of course, one cares - passionately cares - about politics in other places. One is angrily supportive of "Iranian democrats" and "Venezuelan democrats" and "Palestinian secularists". One supports "Iraqi trade unionists" whenever they say the right things. One is animated to frenzied disgust by the depredations of "Islamofascists" and their "apologists". One is perhaps even uneasy about certain excesses of the nevertheless necessary 'war on terror'. One dislikes racism, misogyny and homophobia. The sum of this care is that one will fire off polemics all year round and even attend a rally to defend free speech from dem Muslims innit. That's how much one cares. One is of the left, but decent. One is avowedly not an apologist for bad things and bad people. One is an internationalist.
Gabriel Kolko on "Rumsfeld and the American Way of War":
Rumsfeld's farewell speech on December 15th is [...] remarkable because it attempts to revive older notions, long discredited and seriously at odds with facts that he himself accepted only weeks earlier. It represents a type of recidivism that is all-too-common when disaster approaches and it reveals the kind of intellectual schizophrenia that afflicts those who rise the top. It is a symptom of the complete failure of the crew that has led the U. S. for the past six years, and their total inability to confront reality.


His mélange includes a theory of credibility, a notion that got America into the Vietnam debacle. Credibility is certainly now a factor in the Iraq-Afghan wars, one shared by many administration leaders. Rumsfeld does not confront why persisting until utter defeat will make the U.S. look not credible but dangerously irrational. His speech is historically and factually wholly inaccurate. It ignores entirely that the existence of modern weapons in Saddam Hussein's hands was used as an excuse for the Iraq war but not found there. Many of the unstable dictators, rogue regimes, Islamic fundamentalists, and what have you were useful allies in the American confrontation with the USSR and Communism, and America gave them both weapons and training. This policy was bipartisan, pursued by Democrats as enthusiastically as by Republicans, and reflects the consensus which the Bush Administration shares with its predecessors, a fact that explains why the Democrats refuse to break with the President's wars.
Jonathan Cook on "The Recognition Trap":
My argument is that this need to maintain Israel's Jewish character at all costs is actually the engine of its conflict with the Palestinians. No solution is possible as long as Israel insists on privileging citizenship for Jews above other groups, and on distorting the region's territorial and demographic realities to ensure that the numbers continue to weigh in the Jews' favour.

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