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December 21, 2006

Things To Read

1. Dennis Perrin has something he'd like to say to nice Democrats:

I hope that my liblogging buddies are finally waking up to this dreadful reality [of Iraq], but just in case they're still dreaming sweet dreams about all the wonderful things the Dems are going to deliver in '07, and especially in '08, allow me to raise my voice for a moment.


Sorry about that. Generally, I'm an easy going guy. But with a ten-year-old son, soon to turn 11, to think about, and watching these criminals plan for more chaos and agony, expecting my boy to sign on, I tend to come unhinged. And I trust this will become worse as the years drag on.

The rest.

2. The Nation has published a fantastic article by Mohamed Bazzi about the usually-overlooked ways the civil conflict in Lebanon is based in class (via Sam):

Ever since Hezbollah and its allies began an open-ended protest against the US-backed government on December 1, Beirut's gilded downtown--built for wealthy Lebanese and foreign tourists--has become more authentically Lebanese. Where Persian Gulf sheiks once ate sushi, families now sit in abandoned parking lots, having impromptu picnics, the smell of kebabs cooked over coals wafting through the air. Young men lounge on plastic chairs, smoking apple-scented water pipes, and occasionally break out into debke, the Lebanese national dance.

3. I've mentioned previously the whistleblowing WMD testimony of Carne Ross, former First Secretary in Britain's Mission to the UN. But also fascinating is a piece he wrote last year for the Financial Times; it's one of the most sensitive and intelligent accounts I've ever seen of how governments deceive themselves and others.

Posted at December 21, 2006 08:58 AM | TrackBack

I'm confused by Dennis Perrin.

Posted by: Ed Possing at December 21, 2006 10:55 AM

What are you confused by?

Posted by: Dennis Perrin at December 21, 2006 12:59 PM

While I'd happily agree that there are class-based factors in the civil conflict in Lebanon, I am inherently suspicious of arguments based on authenticity. I can certainly imagine someone writing a similar story about the USA if a bunch of the militant red-necks I grew up with in the rural west managed to scare most Manhattanites into staying inside. Are my theoretical rural folks more authentically American then New Yorkers? One of the thing that always creeps me out about framings of authenticity is that the word is so strongly positively judgmental. And perhaps the authentic Lebanon is more multicultural then the writer acknowledges. Another way to frame it is could the writer ever see eating sushi as authentically Lebanese, or would it always be gilded and decadent?

Posted by: David at December 21, 2006 03:28 PM

occasionally break out into debke, the Lebanese national dance

On first glance I read "debate" for "debke", and assumed this was an excellent joke. Ah well.

Posted by: RobW at December 21, 2006 03:47 PM

I'm not going to bother to damn the Democrats until after the new congressional season has started. Sure, it's possible that they'll cheerfully continue to fly the united states into the mountainside, but maybe the horse will learn to sing. And until they've got their grubby little hands in control of congress, wailing about how horrible they will be is just a waste of time.

Posted by: David Parsons at December 21, 2006 03:59 PM

Actually, I've been bitchin and moaning about the lack of class analysis in any discussion about Iraq over at my little site. Usually, the natural ally of the U.S. in a third world country is the upper class. As part of Bush's unique screw up even as a traditional imperial oppressor, the U.S., in the first two months of the occupation, totally alienated that natural ally by promoting a purist "death to the Ba'athists" program. That program made sense from Chalabi's point of view, and perhaps a few other exiles, but it of course scared the shit out of the Iraqi upper class. At the same time, the U.S. came prepared to institute the whole Pinochet program to the economy - which of course made instant enemies of the poor and working class. This ability to narrow the appeal of the occupation to a sliver of about 10 percent was pretty fantastic - even the Nazis got more support when they occupied France. But it is that special Bush touch - he just can't help tracking shit in the house. Always did, always will.

Posted by: roger at December 21, 2006 10:21 PM

I think Carne Ross is understating the level of deliberate deception in the leadup to the Iraq War, though he's probably right about the way things generally work. People notice the facts that confirm their opinions and you have to work very hard to notice the stuff that doesn't.

But I also think he underestimates the level of maleovolence that is often involved even when people are self-deceived. I've got friends who seem determined to view the world in a particular way, with good guys and bad guys clearly labelled (you're a little unfair to Tolkien, btw, in the post above this one--he's not quite as black and white as he first appears). I'm like this myself--I think the world is divided into two camps. There are the people who divide the world into two camps (good vs. evil) and those who don't. Of course, I'm one of those who don't. Those who do are evil. There are some self-contradictory kinks in my theory, but I'm working on that.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at December 22, 2006 01:40 AM

Are my theoretical rural folks more authentically American then New Yorkers?


Posted by: Ted Pan at December 22, 2006 09:41 AM

Oops. No longer confused by Dennis Perrin. I misread the original post. Keep it up.

Posted by: Ed Possing at December 26, 2006 12:54 PM