Sunday, November 28, 2004

Drezner: Ukraine Update

Drezner: Ukraine Update

Daniel Drezner has a good update on developments in Ukraine's troubled election.

Don't miss Mr. Drezner and Henry Farrell's blog-related article appearing in this month's Foreign Policy magazine: Web of Influence

Laura Rozen updates an important story

Laura Rozen updates an important story

Laura Rozen has an important update regarding a story on which she's been keeping steady watch. It's a follow-up to a Washington Monthly article by Laura, Josh Marshall, and Paul Glastris titled "Iran-Contra II? Fresh scrutiny on a rogue Pentagon operation".
Excerpt from original article:

"On Friday evening, CBS News reported that the FBI is investigating a suspected mole in the Department of Defense who allegedly passed to Israel, via a pro-Israeli lobbying organization, classified American intelligence about Iran. The focus of the investigation, according to U.S. government officials, is Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Intelligence Agency Iran analyst now working in the office of the Pentagon's number three civilian official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith's office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up...."

Pay this one close attention. We have three of our most gifted journalists working on a story that may reach the pages of mainstream media before long.

TomDispatch: Chalmers Johnson on CIA

"With the reelection of President Bush and the appointment of Porter Goss to bring the CIA under White House control, it becomes increasingly hard to see how the republic will survive."

-Chalmers Johnson

TomDispatch: Chalmers Johnson on CIA

Tom Engelhart provides us with Chalmers Johnson's view on Creating a Worthless Intelligence Agency.

Leon Panetta's decidely "sunny" view of the new Bush cabinet appointments is pretty creepy. In Tom Engelhart's words:
"Imagine our uncurious George and his Vice President as feudal lords who have called their retainers to their side. Their men are now filling the moat and pulling up the drawbridge. (No more embarrassing kiss-and-tell memoirs like those from term one!) In essence, what's now being created inside the Beltway is the equivalent of what was created for the President on the campaign trail -- those adoring rallies, that moving campaign bubble, lacking the slightest challenge from reality. In a sense, what's now being put in place is a full-scale fantasy regime, armed to the teeth. Inside the castle (or the bubble, if you prefer) reality will be -- for a while at least -- what the President and Vice President decide it is."

On the inconsonancy of faith

On the inconsonancy of faith

David explains why he feels good about being agnostic. Belief, to him, is like mercury. He uses one of my favorite Richard Feynman quotes.
"You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here...

I don't have to know an answer.
I don't feel frightened by not knowing things,
by being lost in a mysterious universe
without any purpose,
which is the way it really is
as far as I can tell.
It doesn't frighten me."

Richard Feynman, 1981
Question: Is making a pact with oneself not to subscribe to a particular belief not a belief, in and of itself? Can we ever escape faith, even in its most naked form? Are we inevitable prisoners of faith unto death?

Happy Birthday to Upyernoz

Happy Birthday to Upyernoz!

Da big 35!

Meanwhile, in Fallujah....

"Flies swarm upon some ruins as gray monstrous shadows. The stench is awful..."

Meanwhile, in Fallujah....

Helena Cobban provides us with testimonies from Fallujah.

Having a teenage boy myself, my heart breaks upon reading this:
-- "After interrogations, the Americans give the usual detainees to our traitors ... — he calls the new Iraqi army by this word — and those [in Iraq's new army] shoot them. This boy was executed together with three other men. Bastards...

The surgeon comes out after an hour. The teenager has died. The crying mother is led away by the old Iraqi. He is her brother. The surgeon sits down on the sofa and closes his eyes.

-- Aneh teben! — I am so tired! ..."

Helena's final line, "Stalingrad... Grozny... Fallujah", should give us grievous pause.

Haunted by the thought of swarming flies attracted by the stench of death, I am reminded of a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, who wrote about another war - Vietnam. Is Iraq any different? What the hell have we done?

"He danced with tall grass
for a moment, like he was swaying
with a woman. Our gun barrels
glowed white-hot.
When I got to him,
a blue halo
of flies had already claimed him.
I pulled the crumbed photograph
from his fingers

Poem: We Never Know
by Yusef Komunyakaa

See full poem here.
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Happy 4th Blogiversary to Josh Marshall

Happy 4th Blogiversary to Josh Marshall

Talking Points Memo had a blogiversary this month.
Congrats go out to Josh, a macroblogger among bloggers.