Thursday, April 29, 2004

Courtesy of: Max
Last month, the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners. But the details of what happened have been kept secret, until now.
War Crimes Part II

And from The Guardian

"It's insanity," said Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, who has examined the case, and is concerned about the private contractors' free-ranging role. "These are rank amateurs and there is no legally binding law on these guys as far as I could tell. Why did they let them in the prison?"

Ask me again why I'm supposed to give a shit when Mercs get fucking capped.
"I'm just a white boy called the Deputy CC "
The Rapping Policeman.
From Cacoa, in her new home.
Remembering Falluja
During the first two weeks of this month, the American army committed war crimes in Falluja on a scale unprecedented for this war. According to the relatively few media reports of what took place there, some 600 Iraqis were killed during these two weeks, among them some 450 elderly people, women and children.
The sight of decapitated children, the rows of dead women and the shocking pictures of the soccer stadium that was turned into a temporary grave for hundreds of the slain - all were broadcast to the world only by the Al Jazeera network. During the operation in Falluja, according to the organization Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Marines even occupied the hospitals and prevented hundreds of the wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fired from the rooftops at anyone who tried to approach.

Orit Shohat in Haaretz

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Through Crooked Timber I found out a few days ago that the woman who was The Invisble Adjunct has thrown in the towel, both as a teacher and a blogger. I thought about mentioning this before but didn't get around to it -decided not to do so- for various reasons, mostly having to do with this post, which as luck would have it turned up in my incoming links today.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

There is a conflict, for those who care to think, between this post by Brad DeLong, and this one commenting on Atrios and his critics.
A religious argument for moral behavior -in the context of democracy- if it is to mean anything must operate on the assumption of a need for positive actions or decisions above and beyond those required by law. Delong's liberal/realist argument is based on something else entirely: an assumption of the inevitability and moral, intellectual and economic value of honest greed.
Terry Eagleton on Edward Said, this week in The Nation (print only):
If Said can sometimes sound like a liberal humanist, he can at times sound rather more discomfortingly like a radical humanist; but he never sounds much like a socialist, in the style of Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson. Like both these thinkers, however, he never really takes issue with the suspiciously sanguine aspects of humanism. Is there something in a generous faith in human capacities that is also callow and repressive? Does humanism thrive on a certain well-groomed blindness to our apparently inexhaustible ability to be morally obscene?

I didn't know until reccently that Eagleton came out of the Catholic left.
I'm not much on religion but I'm also not much of a liberal. And there's something to be said for the critique of- directed at- freedom by religious thought. But the religious thought I'm refering to of course is conservative or leftist, not liberal.
Liberal religious thought- as both religion and thought- is mostly crap.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

If Bush goes into Fallujah, what are the odds Sharon goes after Arafat, trapping the US in a war with Islam?
Bush is an idiot.
Juan Cole
Listening to Outkast and Radiohead. Fascinating how American optimism can still produce real humor and art. The relation of the dream of Time Warner to the self fashioning of Andre 3000. I can slide into Kid A with no effort, though most of the time it's little more than an enervating but gently soothing cheap thrill. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below on the other hand, is hard work and red meat. The Love Below reminds me how important Prince is to the last 25 years of American music.
In a sense the difference between the two is the difference between the intellectual understanding of the marketplace, described by market theory and economics, and the way the market is lived. It's the difference between an art by intellectuals and the art that intellectuals in the future will look back on and enjoy. It's why Outkast is better than Radiohead and why Belle is more perceptive than anyone at Crooked Timber.
Spread is the funniest sexiest dance/fuck song I've heard in a long time;
and I'm pretty damn sure it's the first dance/fuck song to include a reference to Shirley Chisholm.

Go spend your money.

Intellectuals discuss the vulgarity and corruption of politics and politicians as if they themselves were immune. That's why I have a hard time taking liberals like Josh Marshall any more seriously than I do Chomsky: the rationalist who doesn't understand that he is worshipped more than emulated. Follow Marshall's logic here as he overintellectualizes his way into, and then out of, a corner. And Brian Leiter spends as much time on the subject of professional bedhopping as he does on law and politics. How appropriately perverse for an expert on Nietzsche.
Escape hatches - a brief consideration (two from a rather long list.):
North America. Pros: charming accent might attract general goodwill, free drinks. Cons: am frightened by the concept of Texas.
Israel. umm, no. Just... no.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

I made a comment on this post about Vanunu at Crooked Timber, but it's been passed by in the continuing discussion of the specifics of the case.

Q: What is immoral in principle about treason?
If you use relativism as a guide, then the USA and the USSR, or Nazi Germany, are equivalent. If you don't, then 'treason' as such is irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Reality television
"Al-Jazeera has a track record of accurate reporting - which is why its journalists have been criminalised and its offices bombed " The Guardian

Kerry fails to gain from Iraq crisis "George Bush emerged relatively unscathed from one of the worst months of his presidency yesterday, holding steady in opinion polls as Iraq experienced a wave of ambushes, kidnappings and bombs."
Oh, and by the way: If they institute a draft lets make damn sure they do it with no college deferment..
Media and Falloojeh...
There has been a lot of criticism about the way Al-Arabia and Al-Jazeera were covering the riots and fighting in Falloojeh and the south this last week. Some American spokesman for the military was ranting about the "spread of anti-Americanism" through networks like the abovementioned.

Actually, both networks did a phenomenal job of covering the attacks on Falloojeh and the southern provinces. Al-Jazeera had their reporter literally embedded in the middle of the chaos- and I don't mean the lame embedded western journalists type of thing they had going at the beginning of the war (you know- embedded in the Green Zone and embedded in Kuwait, etc.). Ahmed Mansur, I believe his name was, was actually standing there, in the middle of the bombing, shouting to be heard over the F-16s and helicopters blasting away at houses and buildings. It brought back the days of 'shock and awe'...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I have been too busy and too caught up in other things.
Early this week maybe.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Baghdad Burning

Juan Cole
Sometimes I rewrite things until they become too artificial, other times I rewrite them and do the reverse. At least the post below is a bit clearer.
So the US is going to 'capture or kill' Muqtada al-Sadr, and conclude the transformation of a marginal figure into a popular martyr.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Fuck the war.
Twice in the past week I've been told that I need to get off my ass if I'm ever going to get anything done—get whatever it is I'm supposed to want, or grow old safely—both times by someone with an admitted willingness to get on their ass for the same reason.

I have respect for the casual cynicism of women. I grew up around it, but I know it too well for my own good. I have a long memory.
At the Armory show last month, I passed by the booth of a Parisian dealer who recognized me as the man who had made a fool of himself in her presence in Madrid the year before. I'd refused to use the introduction I had to her, gone in cold and left annoyed by her indifferent response, only as I left spitting out that I knew collectors of hers, who had bought two large pieces of mine in NY. Why I behaved this way, I don't know. But now she looked at me from a distance with the mixture of condescension and pity that a teenage girl will reserve for a boy who's missed his chance. The woman's in her 50's and that she would strike that pose with the casual manner of a 16-year-old and pull it off is some sort of a testament to the rightful victory of tradition over pure reason. I was an idiot.

Killing time: Reviews.

I went to a dance performance Friday night. Never having seen anything by the Living Theater, I'd never imagined a work of choreography could succeed in making male bisexuality seem entirely unattractive. After all, they were dancers, right? Get me Paul Taylor.

Andrea Modica at Edwynn Houk. The narcissism of the pedophile. Worse than Sally Mann, who doesn't really bother me. And worse than Diane Arbus, who does.

Review of art reviewers: Every once in a while I have a fantasy that Vince Aletti, the photography critic of the village Voice, was killed by the same truck that bumped off Roland Barthes. Nostalgia and a momentary aphasia are the two most basic responses to any photograph. The only choice worth making is to go in the opposite direction, as much as possible (which let's face it, for photography, ain't much.) "He is dead, but he will never die." I spent 3 minutes with Camera Lucida before reading those words in the caption to a 19th C. photograph of a man about to be executed. I threw the book away in disgust.

Jeff Wall at Marian Goodman (opens next week.) His work has taught me things I would never have known without it, and there's not much else by anyone alive I can say that about. If you can understand why someone would hate Peter Greenaway and everything he stands for, intellectually, aesthetically, therefore politically, you'll get the point.

Monday, April 05, 2004

In fact that is the size of his formal militia. Muqtada's movement is like the layers of an onion. You have 10,000 militiamen. But then you have tens of thousands of cadres able to mobilize neighborhoods. Then you have hundreds of thousands of Sadrists, followers of Muqtada and other heirs of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. Then you have maybe 5 million Shiite theocrats who sympathize with Muqtada's goals and rhetoric, about a third of the Shiite community. The Sadrists will now try to shift everything so that the 5 million become followers, the hundreds of thousands become cadres, and the tens of thousands become militiamen. Juan Cole

Better yet, read the whole page
Blowing it all to Hell
The Bush administration was last night facing a nightmare scenario in Iraq, fighting on two fronts against Sunni and Shia militants less than three months before it is due to hand over power to an Iraqi government. The Guardian.

And arresting Moqtada al-Sadr is just stupid!
What am I supposed to say about this crap? That this country deserves this president? It's not his job to understand the implications of his actions, that responsibility belongs to everyone. And the fact that he lost the popular vote by an insignificant amount is just that: insignificant. It's called a republic for a reason. The people have the power, and the responsibility. The idiot's approval rating is dropping, but not fast enough.

The political culture of this country is gone to shit. No sense on the left that the people can be at fault. No sense that the situation as such affects all sides: that the Bushie's programmatic idiocy and Chomskian programmatic dreaming are, if not equally at fault, then equally absurd. No sense among mainstream liberals that programmatic logic is itself the problem. The reliance on programs alone is a sign only of this: of a refusal to take responsibility for your actions.

Find me a culture that acknowledges the flawed nature of humanity without demanding the coronation of a king; it's not this one. The choice between Noam Chomsky and George Will is no choice at all. And the people are fools.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

I'll neaten up the last post later.
I have to admit I've been losing interest in this thing, if only because I've been losing interest in the commonplace opinions on the web. The intellectual activity here is pretty limited.
Anyway Brian Leiter doesn't understand the logic behind Brad Delong's attack on Chomsky. Well, there is no logic as such. He's simply responding reflexively, and as a realist, to Chomsky's romantic idealism; an idealism that although it seems coolly intellectual to Chomsky is more often associated with the earnest romanticism of his shaggy followers. Delong, however, is not willing [able?] to admit that what disgusts him is simply the idealism itself, so he has to torture logic to attack perfectly logical arguments.

It's not Chomsky's critical observations that offend DeLong; what pisses him off is the argument implicit in Chomsky's writing, and made explicit by his acolytes, that evil can and may yet be eliminated from this world. But for Delong to admit this as the reason behind his anger would be for him to admit the illiberalism behind his liberal philosophy.
Not being a liberal myself I have no such problems.

Friday, April 02, 2004

The note, which acknowledged Gunn suffered post-traumatic stress, said: "After discussion of his case it was determined ... this may be in his best interest mentally to overcome his fear by facing it. Therefore, he has been cleared for redeployment."

Gunn is not the only broken soldier being sent to battle. The Guardian has uncovered more than a dozen instances in which ill or injured soldiers were sent to war by a US military whose resources have been stretched near to breaking point by the simultaneous fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In its investigation, the Guardian learned of soldiers who were deployed with almost wilful disregard to their medical histories, and with the most cursory physical examinations.

The Guardian
And the Clinton papers thing is interesting.

Crooked Timber
The interesting thing about Gehry at his best is the sense of a narrative experience that is constructed without idealism or cynicism. The work describes a sort of curiosity with no goal beyond itself: an anti-foundationalist rhetoric that is nonetheless formally profound. Of course every architect is a cynic, it's part of the job; but every building has a philosophy behind it and some are more interesting than others, as some buildings are more beautiful than others.
Gehry's successful works are beautiful, and I've described one aspect of that beauty.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'm paying attention, but not more. I've got to try to get more work done.

On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.
The Guardian
...Bush's radical undermining of the long-established arrangements of Washington, including the demotion of the press's own role by breaking the off-the-record rule in order to have a weapon to use against (Richard) Clarke.
And I don't like mercs.