Wednesday, November 30, 2011

note-taking. posted elsewhere.
"Philosophers" imagine themselves intellectual engineers, as others are called Financial Engineers, the professional title of the "inventors" of credit default swaps (buildings that fell down). The term is an analogy. Philosophical engineering is like economic "science" without the risk of failure. Unlike economists you have no data to ignore.

There's no conflict between careerism and the teaching of philosophy, but careerism and philosophical enquiry are in conflict. Logic is technical, but logic is formalism and formalism is not second order thought. Second order thought concerning formalism is the history of formalism.
Philosophical thought is second order curiosity. It cannot be technical.

Leiter posts a note from Bertram
Many smart philosophers are thinking and writing about migration and borders at the moment, and yet this drivel is what the NYT gives us in their The Stone section. Unbelievable!
The Psychology of Walls and Fences
On a large historical scale, walls must be a blessing. And not only for the remarkable — if unuttered — philosophical and cross-cultural conversation that takes place continuously between those who built walls, on one hand, and those who want to tear them down, on the other. Above all, walls help keep the world alive and history in motion. A wall is always a provocation, and life is possible only as a response to provocations; a world without walls would soon become stale and dry. After all, history itself may be nothing more than an endless grand-scale game where some built walls only for others to tear them down; the better the former become at wall-building the braver the latter get at wall-tearing. The sharpening of these skills must be what we call progress.
The post has a Borgesian formalism. It's not very original, but Bertram is offended. He demands the proper form, as Leiter does, even if it produces nothing of lasting value. They're defending their model of intellectual life and of the academy; a model that includes political science and economics in all the ways they're implicated in neoliberal crap. What "philosopher", using that academic model, has had anything useful to say about what AA hates to call the "Arab Spring"? Bradatan, in the Times, is describing the desire to defend. Bertram and Leiter defend. Zionists defend.

Leiter accuses the author of an article on Habermas, in Spiegel, of "condescension from below."
From last week. Reposted for obvious reasons. Pat Lang
"... An Iran specialist, with whom I spoke recently, posed a challenging question: At what point are the Iranians forced to take action against this clandestine war? There have been bombings, kidnappings and assassinations on the streets of Tehran that have been impossible to conceal from the Iranian population. Is this going to prove to be a war delay/war avoidance strategy, or a provocation that leads Iran to retaliate and provide Israel or others with the pretext for general war? This question is yet to be answered. So far, the Iranians have been restrained, choosing not to even retaliate with a low-level attack on Israeli or American targets outside of the region..."
Iran won't start a war, but that won't stop others from blaming Iran if there is one.
NLR: Dylan Riley on Tony Judt.
It's very good.

From DeLong, whose comments are better read as symptom than analysis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It's worth watching the whole thing.
Egypt's elections @ Arabist

Monday, November 28, 2011

RAND Forecasting the Future of Iran
Political Issues
• President Ahmadinejad will remain influential in Iran and will see only a slight reduction in power prior until his second Presidential term ends naturally in 2013.
• Iran’s next Supreme Leader is likely to be only slightly more moderate than Supreme Leader Khamenei. Ayatollahs Rafsanjani and Shahroudi are currently the stongest candidates, with Shahroudi being favored over Rafsanjani.
• The current system of velayat‐e faqih appears stable, and further conservative shifts in the system as seen in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election are unlikely.

Economic and Civil Society Issues
• There is substantial pressure for economic reform in Iran, which has only been partially met by the reforms introduced in January 2011 (which occurred after data collection for this study ended).
• The IRGC’s influence appears unlikely to grow significantly in the next few years, and may even diminish.
• The influence of Iran’s bonyads will likely hold constant or grow slightly in the coming years.
• Recent setbacks experienced by the women’s movement in Iran are likely to be short‐lived and completely reversed within the next few years.

Foreign Policy and National Security Issues
• US‐Iran relations will continue to remain primarily informal and halting.
• Iran will not submit to full IAEA compliance, but is unlikely to restart its nuclear weapons program unless there are significant changes to Iran’s internal calculus.
• Iran will develop a strategic relationship with Iraq that will not be destabilizing to or compromise the new Iraq government. Domestic and international pressure will prevent the nations from developing the closer alliance sought by Iran’s leaders.
• In Afghanistan, Iran’s relations will be less influential than in Iraq, and will be focused on stability and economic opportunities.
• Iran’s relations towards Israel are unlikely to change. Iran will continue its calculated rhetoric, antagonizing Israel and supporting the Palestinians while avoiding direct confrontation.
Swoop November 28th – December 4th, 2011
Despite the elaborate rhetoric surrounding the “pivot” to the Pacific represented by President Obama’s Asian trip, the ongoing reality of the US engagement in the Middle East continues to intrude. The imposition of new Iran sanctions, rising worries about Egypt and urgent exchanges with allies about Western policy toward Syria indicate that traditional US concerns will not fade. Further, the November 22nd Republican foreign policy debate in which the Administration faced strong criticism for its Iraq and Afghan policies ensure that these non-Asian issues will remain current. Indeed, the renewed turmoil in Egypt has rekindled an age-old debate in Washington regarding the tension between stability and democracy. The State Department’s public position has been to urge to military authorities to press forward as quickly as possible to civilian rule. Behind the scenes, however, there are rising concerns that public order is at risk - which in turn might open the door to extremists. In private messages, the Saudis have urged Washington to play things cautiously. US officials are taking encouragement from what they see as positive developments in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya but nonetheless remain acutely aware that a peaceful transition in Egypt holds the key to regionalstability. Anything short of that risks throwing the region into disarray. At a time when the Administration is seeking to generate regional solidarity on a tougher policy toward Iran this possibility is most unwelcome. In the same region, US relations with Turkey remain of interest. Officials much welcome Turkey’s tough attitude to Syria, but are concerned by what they see as Turkey’s increasingly increasingly strident criticism of Israel. Overall they see Turkey as trying to “rewrite the rules of the Middle East” in ways that are challenging to the US. To return to Asia, there are signs that the tensions between China and the US over green technology support are worsening. Each side has now started an investigation of the other. Overall, trends in US-China relations tend to emphasize scratchy disagreements rather than areas of cooperation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011




Corrupt Congressman or college professor. On the evidence above it's a tough call; and the Congressman has a better grasp of the English language.

ANWAR has enough oil to supply the US for one year, and it won't affect the global price.

Monday, November 21, 2011


The cop warns them that they are about to get "shot". James Fallows wastes a paragraph quoting someone who wonders what that might mean. Meanwhile the kids are telling each other to cover their eyes. They know exactly what it means. Of the number of people screaming about this, what percentage have said anything about Egypt?
More.

FindLaw: Headwaters Forest Defense v. County of Humbolt
The students have a case [they should win it] but I'm not sure I agree with the decision as a matter of law. The protesters' original interest was in saving trees not changing law. What happened to the trees?

The headline for Fallows' piece reads: "The Moral Power of an Image:" This is what ran below it. I outlined the important bit in red.

Politics being sidetracked by law is one thing, Josh Marshall worries about politics getting sidetracked by bigger politics.
Last week I met a person heavily involved with OWS in New York. And I told him that something seemed to have changed in the previous couple weeks — basically that the dominant imagery had become about confrontations with the police rather than the core economic messages which had been more dominant previously. In most cases it didn’t seem to be the fault of the OWS protesters. It was peaceful or mainly peaceful protests getting met by excessive police responses. But still, at the level of imagery and message, the end result can be the same. And in this case, I’m not talking about the ridiculousness and movement-character assassination on Fox News. I’m talking about coverage that lacks that sort of committed bias.

Something similar is at play with this pepper spray incident at UC Davis. Yes, this is horrific. And in my mind at least it puts a spotlight on a more general trend in the country — which is increasingly tech-based and/or militarized policing strategies. But how much do the acts of the campus police at UC Davis have to do with economic inequality and the ownership of the state by the super wealthy? Unless you’re up for a Chomskian analysis of our present moment, pretty little, I think. And a lot of the people I talk to in OWS totally get this.

...A number of longtime readers wrote in over the weekend saying things to the effect of ‘I’d been equivocal on OWS until now but seeing these images have galvanized me, made me think it’s a fundamental moment for the country or that this is an iconic moment, etc.’ ...But again, an iconic moment about what? The issue of police brutality and militarized or quasi-militarized policing is a legitimate and very important issue, entirely unto itself. But the the campus police at Davis or the NYPD for that matter aren’t what’s driving the rising inequality of American society.
I've never before thought of Josh Marshall as stupid.
NYT
American military aid and personal relationships between American and Egyptian commanders give the United States great influence, and the two sides are in daily communication formally and informally, Mr. Sullivan said. But American military officials keep their messages private, as they should, he said.

“We should not make it look like we’re deeply involved in trying to solve this,” he said. “Most Egyptians would not appreciate that.”
One more for Michael Berube

Saturday, November 19, 2011


In the end the police are asked to leave, and they do.
Pat Lang
"... An Iran specialist, with whom I spoke recently, posed a challenging question: At what point are the Iranians forced to take action against this clandestine war? There have been bombings, kidnappings and assassinations on the streets of Tehran that have been impossible to conceal from the Iranian population. Is this going to prove to be a war delay/war avoidance strategy, or a provocation that leads Iran to retaliate and provide Israel or others with the pretext for general war? This question is yet to be answered. So far, the Iranians have been restrained, choosing not to even retaliate with a low-level attack on Israeli or American targets outside of the region..."
link: FLC
Legitimacy of Saudi Regime Challenged, National Press Club Membership Suspended



Sam Husseini
On Monday I went to a news conference at the National Press Club, where I am a member, titled “His Royal Highness Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Sa’ud of Saudi Arabia.” I asked a tough question at the news conference — a question that dealt with the very legitimacy of the Saudi regime. Before the end of the day, I’d received a letter informing me that I was suspended from the National Press Club “due to your conduct at a news conference.” The letter, signed by the executive director of the Club, William McCarren, accused me of violating rules prohibiting “boisterous and unseemly conduct or language.” After several days of efforts, I’ve been able to obtain video of the news conference. The video shows that I did not engage in any “boisterous and unseemly conduct or language.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Onion vs. Alex Rosenberg
Sean Rocha on Peter Schjeldahl
Peter Schjeldahl wanders blind through the Met’s new Islamic wing.

Can Schjeldahl be unaware how profoundly this “Renaissance wedding” was shaped by Islamic life, language, thought and design even as Europe stood apart from Islam as a religion? For reasons of geographic proximity, political competition, and economic trade there is no culture on earth with which Christendom has engaged more deeply, for more centuries, with greater exchange in both directions than with the Islamic world. Indeed, a very great part of what we know about the Greek philosophy we regard as the foundation of Western culture is through Arab translations and exegesis, with figures like Averroes and Avicenna serving as the bridge between us and Aristotle. This is one way among many in which, from Moorish architecture in Spain in the west of Europe through southern Italy to Constantinople/Istanbul in the east, centuries of cohabitation have left what is European inextricable from what is Islamic. Artistically, this transmission can be seen in everything from porcelain, carpets and illuminated manuscripts to mosaics and Mudejar architecture. There are differences, to be sure, just as there are differences between Greek and Roman, but an art critic’s role is to tease out the influences and references within a work — to find those points of exchange — not to retreat into some mythical idea of isolated creation.

Sean’s articles and photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, New York magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, Slate, and The Cairo Times. In addition, he is the correspondent and resident voyageur for Le Monde d’Hermès, wandering the globe to capture in words and images the unique view on the world of the French luxury house Hermès.
I'll take what cosmopolitanism I can, where can I get it.

Link from Issandr El Amrani, Arabist
Rashid Khalidi Note also where it was published.
Dennis Ross has finally left the building. Since the Carter administration, Ross has played a crucial role in crafting Middle East policies that have prolonged and exacerbated the more than six-decade conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. His efforts contributed significantly to the growth in the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories from well under 200,000 in the 1980s to nearly 600,000 today. It is in no small measure due to him that the two-state solution is all but dead.
Greenwald Why the Washington Post won’t fire Jennifer Rubin
That’s all fine as far as it goes, but what about the question posed by the reader: wouldn’t Rubin have been fired for promoting this hate-mongering had it been directed at Jews and Israelis rather than Palestinians? Pexton’s email response, published by the reader who emailed him, was this:
Off the record, I think it’s quite possible. But the ombudsman does not hire or fire people here. I only comment.
...What’s particularly remarkable is that Pexton is admitting (albeit wanting it kept secret) what any honest observer knows to be true: that there is a very high likelihood — I’d say absolute certainty — that Rubin would have been fired had she promoted a post like this about Jews and Israelis rather than Arabs and Palestinians.

But this is the insidious, pervasive bias that has long been obvious in a profession that relentlessly touts its own “objectivity.”
As always: there is no objectivity. There can never be a science that frees us from perception; we live by perceiving/perception necessitates politics. Any science of experience can only undermine experience as function and therefore is anti-political, but scientists are people and people are political. There can be no freestanding philosophy that does not respond to this conflict.

Democracy, or representative and divided government, freedom of speech and the press, adversarialism: all are founded on a realistic and general assessment of the requirements of a thriving political life; they are not the result nor are they chosen to fit the requirements of a mythological "value free" science. Science as a tool of scientists is political, but there can be no political science.

The dream of a science of history died a long time ago; political science and academic philosophy are the last of the academic and modernist ideologies of synchrony. Israel is the last modernist utopia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adam Lindeman

The 1% of the 1%
Let’s start with the Monopoly money art. What is it? It’s the art that sells for prices that no one can imagine or understand, like two large abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter, one that made $21 million at Sotheby’s last Wednesday and another that capped out at the same sale at $18 million. Only a year ago a similar and perhaps better one fetched $10 million at auction, a price that seemed awfully high at the time, so how can it be that a 79-year-old artist’s work has doubled in a year of financial crisis? What makes these results even more strange is the rumor that these pictures had been on the market for a while, with no buyers anywhere near these levels. But let’s not forget the early and important black and white photorealist Richter painting that didn’t find any takers in the sale at Christie’s last Tuesday night. The photorealist paintings are the more significant and historic works from Mr. Richter’s oeuvre, and yet the historically “important” art found no buyer while the pretty, colorful abstractions sold for double their presale estimates.
Cattelan at the Guggenheim
In late 2008, not long after the fall of Lehman Brothers, Mr. Cattelan celebrated the financial crash by floating a face-down, dead Pinnochio in the reflecting pool at the bottom of the Guggenheim museum. This apparent suicide of the fabled character (not coincidentally a lying Italian with a long nose) was a clear metaphor for the death of art, the marionette come to life being the classic metaphor for art, while the artist is symbolized by Geppetto, his “father,” the woodcarver. (The piece is called Daddy Daddy.) What better symbol could there be for a moment when the financial crisis threatened to trigger an art-market crash? I didn’t bother to regret all my missed opportunities, because that was then and this was now. Even with my entire Bloomberg screen flashing blood red for days, I broke down and bought Daddy Daddy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Independent
Six Palestinians seeking to emulate the "freedom rides" in the segregated southern United States of the 1960s by travelling in a West Bank-to-Jerusalem bus alongside Jewish settlers were arrested by Israeli police yesterday.
Jadaliyya
Turkish Politics, Kurdish Rights, and the KCK Operations: An Interview with Asli Bali
I think the AKP has shown itself to be truly in the model of its own former opponents on the Kemalist or secular side of Turkey, organizing precisely around the same ultra-nationalist positions as those parties did; whether in terms of its orientation towards Abdullah Öcalan, who remains in detention in Turkey and was convicted and is serving his prison sentence, or whether in terms of the general attitudes towards peaceful political organizing, or in terms of their tolerance for elected political officials, or in terms of the reach of their operations against academics, progressive publishers, basically every potential part of civil society that supports Kurdish autonomous political organizing. So the AKP has shown itself to not be a source of hope on this question.
AFP
The United States has deployed Predator drones to Turkey from Iraq for surveillance flights in support of Ankara's fight against Kurdish rebels, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
Richard Silverstein
The Guardian’s Julian Borger quotes a former Iranian government official as conceding that the explosion at an Iranian missile base was the work of the Mossad, news I was the first to report here based on a confidential authoritative Israeli source
AT
TEHRAN - Deadly explosions at a military base about 60 kilometers southwest of Tehran, coinciding with the suspicious death of the son of a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have triggered speculation in Iran on whether or not these are connected to recent United States threats to resort to extrajudicial executions of IRGC leaders.
Craig Murray
"... Since I became a notorious whistleblower, several of my ex-friends and contacts have used me to get out information they wanted to leak, via my blog. A good recent example was a senior friend at the UN who tipped me off in advance on the deal by which the US agreed to the Saudi attack on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, in return for Arab League support for the NATO attack on Libya. But this was rather different, not least in the apparent implication that our Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, was engaged in something with Werritty which went beyond official FCO policy.

...My source says that co-ordinating with Israel and the US on diplomatic preparation for an attack on Iran was the subject of all these meetings. That absolutely fits with the jobs Gould held at the relevant times. The FCO refuses to say what was discussed. My source says that, most crucially, Iran was discussed at the Tel Aviv dinner, and the others present represented Mossad. The FCO again refuses to say who was present or what was discussed...
Links from FLC, AA, and elsewhere.

AA: "Is there a doubt that Western and Arab attitude toward the Syrian regime has nothing to do with its repression and killing?"

Repeat. Crooke: The Great Game in Syria

Sunday, November 13, 2011

T.J. Clark on Gerhard Richter.  Clark's well known dislike of Duchamp. No discussion of Warhol.
Clark and Richter look downwards; Warhol's gaze more horizontal (or more ambiguous). He's less educated and more observant than either of them. Questions regarding sympathy are more complex.

  
Gerhard Richter, Confrontation 2, and 3, both 1988
Warhol, Electric Chair, 1967-68
Warhol, Double Elvis, 1964


Friday, November 11, 2011

Not much to add.
British business urges the Chancellor to invest in infrastructure, cut taxes and simplify regulations
Encouraging business and investment

SIR – In the run-up to the Chancellor’s autumn statement we are writing to express our concern about the impact of continuing global uncertainty on the British economy, shown by recent growth figures.
We do not believe there are any simple solutions to stimulating growth, but this letter sets out a few changes of emphasis which we believe would have a disproportionately positive impact.
We should begin by stating our general support for steps to reduce the British deficit. The economic strategy that the Government announced last year, which has deficit reduction as a central objective, is a necessary prerequisite for long-term economic stability and growth.
Our three recommendations are: a commitment now to increasing investment in infrastructure before the end of the Parliament; an adjustment to personal taxes to increase demand and encourage wealth creators; and standing firm on simplifying regulatory processes and resisting burdensome additional regulation from Brussels.
Turning to these in order: the current turmoil in southern Europe will have implications for several years. In these circumstances Britain needs to shore up its economy by re-invigorating its investment in economically productive infrastructure. The announcement of a long-term, planned, acceleration of investment will provide an immediate and important confidence boost together with a sustainable increase in economic activity and jobs in the medium term.
Britain’s infrastructure needs are substantial; Infrastructure UK estimates we need to invest some £200 billion, from both public and private sectors, over the next five years in vital networks.
The Comprehensive Spending Review set out the Government’s commitment to a series of crucial infrastructure projects, including Crossrail and the Tube upgrades, yet public net investment is nonetheless set to fall by around 15 per cent a year (a cut of nearly 50 per cent by 2014/15, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies).
We urge the Government to restore investment to pre-recession levels by the end of this Parliament. The strategic framework set out by Infrastructure UK, informed by the new local economic partnerships’ views on local, economically productive projects, provides a sound basis for prioritisation.
Given the state of public finances, an increase in public investment should seek to maximise leverage of private sector balance sheets. Projects with income associated, such as tolled roads and bridges should be particularly encouraged and we would welcome the Treasury developing new public-private finance models to replace and improve on the PFI. As part of this work, we would encourage the Government to consider stimulating projects which are at the margin of commercial returns by accepting a greater risk where the project is in the public interest.
Secondly, we would encourage an acceleration of the Government’s commitments on two areas of tax policy: increasing the personal allowance and restoring 40 per cent as the top rate of income tax.
Raising the personal allowance will boost the disposable income of those households who spend a high proportion of their discretionary income and thus boost aggregate demand.
The Treasury has estimated the cost of raising the personal allowance by £630 to £8,105 in April 2012 to be £1 billion. We would like to see an increase of at least a further £1,000 in April 2012.
An early removal of the temporary 50 per cent tax rate would attract wealth generators to the United Kingdom and support the entrepreneurs we need to help us grow the economy and provide jobs. We await the conclusions of the HMRC evaluation of the sums raised by the 50 per cent rate; however, we are confident that the cost to the Treasury, if any, in the short term will not be material and that the advantages over the life of this Parliament in terms of generally increased economic activity will more than outweigh any direct costs.
These changes to tax policy are equitable and would boost demand and confidence at a modest short-term cost to the Exchequer.
Finally, turning to regulation, we welcome the overall thrust of government policy and appreciate that simplification is easier said than done.
We would, in particular, urge the Chancellor to continue with the Government’s “one-in, one-out” approach to regulation; to ensure that European employment directives are implemented so as to preserve the maximum flexibility for employers; and to implement the National Planning Policy Framework and the wider Plan for Growth.
Taken together, we believe these immediate actions would boost confidence, stimulate demand and set the United Kingdom on the right course to grow in the longer term.

Baroness Valentine
Chief Executive Officer, London First
Anton Valk
Chief Executive Officer, Abellio
Roger Madelin
Joint Chief Executive, Argent Group
David Tonkin
Regional Managing Director, UK Atkins
Alan Pepper
Chief Executive, Avanta
Sir Nigel Rudd
Chairman, BAA Airports
Tony Pidgley
Chairman, Berkeley Group
Harold Paisner
Senior Partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner
Bob Rothenberg
Senior Partner, Blick Rothenberg
Chris Grigg
Chief Executive, British Land
Hugh Seaborn
Chief Executive, Cadogan Estates
John Burns
Chief Executive, Derwent London
Michael Marx
Chief Executive, Development Securities
Anthony Arter
London Senior Partner, Eversheds
Beverley Aspinall
Managing Director, Fortnum & Mason
George Kessler
Group Deputy Chairman, Kesslers International
Francis Salway
Chief Executive, Land Securities
Dan Labbad
Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Lend Lease Development
Robert Elliott
Senior Partner, Linklaters
Sir David Rowlands
Chairman, London Gatwick Airport
Patrick Seely
Managing Director, Mooreland Partners
Simon Johnston
Senior Partner, Nabarro
Annette King
Chief Executive Officer, OgilvyOne UK
Ian Powell
Chairman and Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Harvey McGrath
Chairman, Prudential
Adrian Wyatt
Chief Executive Officer, Quintain Estates and Development
Jasminder Singh
Chairman & CEO, Radisson Edwardian Hotels
Andy Raynor
Chief Executive, RSM Tenon
Ian McAlpine
Senior Partner, Sir Robert McAlpine
Mike Putnam
President & CEO, Skanska
Gareth Pearce
Chairman, Smith & Williamson
John Treharne
Chief Executive Officer, The Gym Group
Mike Nichols
Chairman and Chief Executive, The Nichols Group
Vincent Clancy
Chief Executive Officer, Turner & Townsend
Professor Malcolm Grant
President and Provost, UCL
Basil Scarsella
Chief Executive Officer, UK Power Networks
David Joyce
Chief Operating Officer, Vinci
Steve Purdham
Chief Executive Officer, We7
Maspero



IPA: Military Trials “Crushing Egyptian Revolution”
---
Michael Berube: "Has anything big happened in Egypt or Tunisia lately?"
See Nov. 7th
Gareth Porter
The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published by a Washington think-tank on Tuesday repeated the sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.
Porter credits Bernard at MoA
A rundown of links on Iran at Arabist

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Only Nixon could go to China

Technocrats against technocracy; experts "discover" the importance of non-experts. Two posts by Henry Farrell:
The Rise of the Technocrats. The title itself is absurd.
Nudge and Democracy, linking to a piece by HF and Cosma Shalizi in New Scientist: 'Nudge' Policies are Another Name for Coercion

Two days earlier, HF posted a defense of utopian literature, the technocrat's light entertainment of choice.

I won't begin to run down the list of authoritarian or anti-democratic arguments published at CT, but I will note the most recent, from Nov. 1st: ‘We have faith in our citizens’ – why? I'll admit that I think Niamh, their most recent addition, is a bit behind the curve.

I wish I could say that a scientist's understanding of democracy could be enough, but it's not. The knowledge of feminism, the feminism of men, is not enough. Democracy and curiosity, like pedantry and bigotry, begin in experience and practice not it theory; but the first links above are another example of leftward drift, or a drift towards the social, that as I've said is beginning to separate proud neoliberals from those who never wanted to admit that's what they were.
---
"Another nudge", from July.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

From Leiter: Occupy the Airwaves-Episode 6: Political Philosopher John Rawls and Occupy Wall Street: A Discussion with Stanford Professor Joshua Cohen. I posted a comment, quoting Robert Paul Wolff. I posted the same quote on this page in May of last year.
On September 17, 1969 I sent a letter to eleven senior members of the philosophy profession, asking them to serve as co-signers with me on a motion to be presented to the annual meeting of the Eastern Division of the APA, calling for the establishment of a Standing Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. Alice Ambrose and Morris Lazerowitz [who were husband and wife] came on board, as did Justus Buchler [whose wife taught philosophy], and Sue Larson and Mary Mothersill, both of Barnard. Maurice Mandelbaum, who along with Lewis White Beck had read my Kant manuscript for Harvard, was sympathetic, but pointed out that as the incoming APA president, if he signed he would be in the position of petitioning himself. A good point. The great Classicist Gregory Vlastos also said yes, as did Ruth Marcus, whom I knew from my Chicago days, when she was at Northwestern. Morty White was supportive, but declined to sign for fear that if the motion passed, he would be expected to serve on the committee, something he said he could not do because of writing obligations. That left Jack Rawls, who declined to sign. In retrospect, this does not surprise me. Although Jack was on his way to becoming the world’s leading expert on justice, he never seemed to be there when action was needed.
More:
Joshua Cohen "...is also editor of Boston Review, a bi-monthly magazine of political, cultural, and literary ideas, and a member of the Apple University faculty." [Apple University: "...Apple and Steve Jobs planned a training program in which company executives will be taught to think like him, in 'a forum to impart that DNA to future generations.' Key to this effort is Joel Podolny, former Yale Business School dean."]

Under "links" the page includes a link to a post on the Opinionator blog at the NYT: Rawls on Wall Street. The author, Steven Mazie, is the author also of Israel's Higher Law: Religion and Liberal Democracy in the Jewish State

The mediocre politics isn't the issue.

Victoria Nuland is married to Robert Kagan
First paragraphs and last: Kitler and the Sirens
In 2004, after I gave an artist’s talk in a gallery in Berlin, a group of people strode up to speak to me. They were, they told me, followers of the media theorist Friedrich Kittler, members of his entourage – or, to give it its semi-official name, the Kittlerjugend. They used this last term not without irony; but it was the type of irony that masks seriousness, in the way that Hamlet’s pretending to be mad acts as a cover for him actually being mad. The shoulders of the lead delegate, a charismatic Russian émigrée named Joulia Strauss, were wrapped in a hand-woven silk shawl bearing a large reproduction of al-Jazeera’s test pattern. My art project, they informed me (it involved a narrative of radio transmission and network infiltration), met with their approval – that is, with the approval of the man himself, or at least (and perhaps equally importantly) of his aura.

Great, I said. I’d heard all about Kittler: ‘Derrida of the digital age’ whose vision combined the circuitry of Lacan’s models for the psyche, and Foucault’s archaeological conception of all knowledge and its systems, with the material hardware of technological transcription and recording: typewriters, tape recorders, film projectors and their non-analogue offspring. We all went to a bar. The next day, the Jugenddelegation whisked me off to a screening, in another gallery, of Debord’s In Girum Imus Nocte. The gallery was operated by a media-activist group called Pirate Cinema; its whole programme was composed of illegally downloaded films. They’d been hit with a punitive fine for this some months earlier, which the German Bundeskulturstiftung had paid for them. I asked if Pirate Cinema were part of the Kittlerjugend. No, Strauss said; but they have good relations with them – they’re also his former students. And so, she added, are half the members of the Bundeskulturstiftung’s grants committee.

...Afterwards, he told me he’d been testing out the Sirens episode in the Odyssey. He took the three most prominent sopranos from the German National Opera and placed them on the very rocks on which Homer locates them (these can be identified with total accuracy, he assured me) and, instructing them to sing, had himself conveyed past them in a yacht, to see if they could actually be heard. The rocks, he explained, don’t drop directly down into the sea but slope in with a shallow incline that makes it impossible for boats to pass close by. The singers were inaudible. Maybe there’s more other noise now, I suggested: aeroplanes, motorboats, general modern static. Not at all, he insisted: the spot is extremely isolated; there’s no noise pollution there at all. ‘Which means,’ he concluded, ‘that Homer was deliberately setting a false trail: what he’s telling us between the lines is that Odysseus disembarked, swam to the rocks and fucked the sirens.’ Maybe he’d been a porn actor after all. I asked who’d funded the project. The Bundeskulturstiftung, he said. Can you imagine the Arts Council, with its craven adherence to government criteria of ‘productiveness’ and ‘outcomes’, footing the bill for such a venture?
Not long afterwards, Strauss sent a hand-woven shawl to my newborn daughter. Lines from Hölderlin’s Bread and Wine were embroidered on it:
wozu Dichter in dürftiger Zeit?
Aber sie sind, sagst du, wie des Weingotts heilige Priester,
Welche von Lande zu Land zogen in heiliger Nacht.

what use are poets in desolate times?
But they are, you say, like the high priests of the Wine God,
Who wandered from country to country in the sacred night.
When I thanked her by email, she replied with three words: ‘Deutschland wird Griechisch!’ (‘Germany becomes Greek!’) We corresponded again last month, after Kittler’s death. ‘The arrival of the gods,’ she said, ‘took place after the four machines that kept him alive were turned off.’ He’d given the command himself: his last words were ‘Alle Apparate auschalten’ – switch off all apparatuses.
Obituary in the Guardian
But doubtless Kittler attended Bayreuth for opera rather than celebrity worship. Indeed, his lifelong obsession with music was such that the most important event of his undergraduate years was attending a lecture by György Ligeti. Later, he wrote several essays for Bayreuth festival productions of Wagner. By the time of his death, one volume of a projected monumental tetralogy on music and mathematics had been published.

Arguably, Pink Floyd meant more to him than Foucault. In his 1993 book Dracula's Legacy, he meticulously analysed the band's song Brain Damage from the 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon, arguing that its three verses move from mono to stereo to "maddening" surround sound – the hi-tech version of Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk. According to admirers, he would have liked to have played in the band.
Like brilliant drag queens, some avatars of absurd self-indulgence evade criticism simply by virtue of commitment.
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
It is clear from the IAEA’s report that these activities took place under a highly structured nuclear program. Iran’s major nuclear effort, identified as the AMAD plan,was stopped “rather abruptly” by Tehran in late 2003, but some staff may have “remained in place to record and document the achievements of their respective projects.”

Unfortunately, more recent activities receive a far lower level of clarity from the IAEA. According to the report, there are, “indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing,” but “the Agency’s ability to construct an equally good understanding of activities in Iran after the end of 2003 is reduced, due to the more limited information available to the Agency.”

While the Agency continues to express concern with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, the level of activity associated with that program post-2003 remains unclear. While Iran’s nuclear program continues to make progress, an Iranian nuclear weapon is not imminent and the U.S. intelligence community continues to believe that Iran has yet to make the political decision to build and test a nuclear weapon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Amano reminded Ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77, which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Berube is an idiot.
My comment on the page.

I added another, linking to FLC including instructions to click on the headline (the link/source is to the National Review) and adding that Asad Abu'Khalil had predicted this, but DeLong didn't accept it.

All stupid.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

note taking. posted elsewhere.  DeLong allowed my comment and then deleted it a few weeks later, or whenever he closed the thread.  He's done that consistently.
Where to begin? The question is not the one of the Left on Libya, because Libya and the war do not exist in a vacuum.
Links below on Libya and on the wider context

Alistair Crooke: The Great Game in Syria
On the US support for the Saudis, the leaders of the Arab counter-revolution, and the tensions between Sunni and Shia, Saudi and Iran. The US supported Mubarak and Ben Ali as in the past it supported the Shah and Saddam Hussein. The Saudis are now our closest ally now beyond Israel. Should I have to explain what the Saudis represent?

Reuters: "Israel shocked by Obama's 'betrayal' of Mubarak"

Ted Koppel in the WSJ: "Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat."

Note that Koppel refers to the Shia "minority in Bahrain. They are in fact the majority. The Saudis have tried to crush the revolt. More on Bahrain from Jadaliyya

"Bahrain's 14 Feb Coalition Press Release: Winning the Psychological War against a Defeated Regime"
One post among many.

The US is selling arms to Bahrain: "He echoed comments by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said on Friday: "This sale is designed to support the Bahraini military in its defence function, specifically in hardening the country against opposition groups and potential attack or nefarious activity by countries like Iran."

HRC on Crown Prince Sultan:
The crown prince was a strong leader and a good friend to the United States over many years as well as a tireless champion for his country. He will be missed," Clinton said from Tajikistan on a Central Asia tour. "Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong and enduring and we will look forward to working with the leadership for many years to come.
Arabist on post war Libya
One post among many.

Salon:
"The Murder Brigades of Misrata-Gadhafi's demise was just a part of a vast revenge killing spree"

On the legality of the Libya war: Berube leads with lefty loon Dennis Kucinich. I raise him with Jack Balkin: "George W. Obama and the OLC"

Berube once again proves himself more provincial than those he attacks, and even in that acting as if American opinions regarding American actions were the only ones that mattered.