Showing posts from December, 2007

Iraq in fragments

Michael J. Totten has a powerful essay in Commentary Magazine, a film review of James Longley's documentary Iraq in Fragments : Most recent documentaries filmed in Iraq can be fairly categorized as liberal or conservative. All are about the war, and most are cinematic equivalents of op-eds. James Longley’s lush and intimate Iraq in Fragments is different. While the director appears to be some kind of liberal or leftist, his film is refreshingly none of the above. Iraq in Fragmentsis about the war only insomuch as it was shot in Iraq during the war. This film is a collection of portraits of Iraqis, not Americans or the American military. And unlike almost any other documentary out there, Longley’s includes the Kurds.The director is invisible. We never see him or hear him, and he uses his camera as though he were shooting a fictional film. This is emphatically not the kind of documentary you’re accustomed to seeing. Longley’s camera and editing work are so stylish and deft that the e

the GOP war on muslims

Eteraz provides a nice summary of the muslim problem afflicting the GOP: One of Giuliani’s people complains about “the difficult problem” that is “the rise of the Muslims” and wants “to chase them back to their caves.” [ Link ]. He further refuses to distinguish between good and bad Muslims. After all, “they are all Muslims.” Here is the video of him at the Guardian. Here is Talking Points Memo’s review of it all. The staffer has been fired, but there’s a bigger problem. The GOP’s severe lack of awareness — I was going to use the word “ignorance” but I’m being nice — vis a vis Islam and Muslims is really hurting it. Just the other day Romney said he could not accept a Muslim in the cabinet. This comes on the heels of the 2004 survey by Cornell which I discussed in my piece at Jewcy Magazine where 40% of Republicans wanted American-Muslims to register their whereabouts (why not just implant gps devices in all Muslims?). There was, of course, Tancredo’s asinine bomb Mecca suggesti

Bush blinders, 'Bama, and Bhutto

One of the themes I have sounded regularly is that the mainstream progressive left has a dangerously reflexive anti-Bush filter when it comes to foreign policy. There are many avenues of legitimate critique of the Bush Administration when it comes to foreign policy, and it is impossible to deny that the Iraq War has been a strategic misstep in the context of the broader war on Terror (especially since a pro-Israel, anti-Iranian, secular republic governed by pro-Western democratic technocrats is unlikely to ever emerge in Iraq). But beyond the immediate theater of Iraq, carrying over the Bush baggage only serves to obscure and obstruct any honest attempt at devising a rational policy. Case in point: the assassination yesterday of Benazir Bhutto. The Democratic candidates were quick to integrate the event into their "closing arguments" as the Iowa caucuses loom large (and earning them pointed critiques from Josh Marshall , Paul Krugman , and Atrios ). However, at myDD, Todd Bee

Khatami rising

Scott MacLeod at TIME's middle-east blog reports on how former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami is upping the ante in critique of current president Ahmadinejad, on both fiscal policy as well as democratic freedom: Speaking to students at Tehran University on Student Day in Iran, where protesters recently called Ahmadinejad a "dictator," Khatami delivered backhanded criticism on various international and domestic issues, like presidential provocations that have increased international pressure on Iran and the jailing of Iranian students. Interestingly, Khatami also issued a frontal attack on Ahmadinejad's Robin Hood economic policies, suggesting they were designed to win popularity but in fact were ill-conceived, could wreck the economy and therefore are harmful to the poorer classes Ahmadinejad claims to champion. "It is this kind of 'justice' that which makes the concept null and void of all essence," he said. "It is this 'justice' w

In defense of Condoleeza

How typical of Code Pink. To be honest, I'm pretty disgusted it. For one thing, Code Pink is a typical activist organization that is very big on public displays but offers very little in terms of actual policy (other than "capitulate immediately to our extreme agenda"). For another, Secretary Rice is probably the sole reason that we haven't invaded Iran (at least until the NIE was released). And Rice is maintaining a diplomatic relation with Syria despite recalcitrance from the Boss. I'm not a big fan of Ms. Rice's performance overall - she arguably lied to the 9/11 commission - but at State she is a voice of relative moderation in the Bush Administration and that should be recognized. Granted, Rice has not been very effective - she's the inspiration for the term, lecondel , after all - but she has had her moments, notably recently in Egypt . Imagine how much energy that the Secretary of State normally would expend on diplomacy, that is wasted merely t

good news from Afghanistan

This is a good thing : KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 10 — Afghan and NATO troops retook the town of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan today, forcing the Taliban to withdraw from the only sizable town they hold in the country, Afghan and NATO officials said. There was no clear picture of casualties, but the Taliban and civilians said there had been heavy bombardment overnight. The news came as Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and met with President Hamid Karzai. About 7,000 British troops are deployed in Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan. Retaking the town of Musa Qala, which they abandoned over a year ago, has been one of their main objectives in the province, which has the highest level of Taliban activity as well as illicit opium production. Of course, this doesn't mean that Afghanistan is stable or that Al Qaeda is defeated, but is unabashedly good news. The locus of terrorism remains Afghanistan and the Pakstiani frontier, wherea

Is Edwards a hypocrite?

Back during the Dean campaign, we at the unofficial dean blog launched an effort we called the Dean Defense Forces, in which we tried to respond to smears against Dean as they came out in real time. Even if we had done the same for Kerry, it wouldn't have prevented the Swiftboat attacks on him, which were truly devastating. This season, all the Democratic nominees are getting the same treatment and I want to try and address the prevailing swiftboating against each of the major candidates in turn. Let's start with Edwards. As regular readers of DailyKos know, the infamous $400 haircut included travel airfare for his trusted barber to meet Edwards on the trail. Given that candidates are also television personalities, it's a necessary expense, and there's also the security issue to consider (the barber does, after all, at some point have a blade at your throat.) However, the reason that the haircut meme survives - even among liberal-leaning voters - is because its subtext

Kagan: Time to talk to Iran

Robert Kagan is no tranzi progressive moonbat leftist. Unlike the Podhoretz/Kristol/etc pundit tribe, he's always been an intellectually honest and genuinely thouhgtful policy wonk first and foremost. That he largely stands on the opposite side of the foreign policy debate from my opinions is in my opinion a very good thing. He's been wrong before, but always in a way I can respect. So it's hardly a surprise that Kagan steps up to the plate with respect to Iran and pronounces diplomacy as the only available option remaining to the Bush Administration: Regardless of what one thinks about the National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 -- and there is much to question in the report -- its practical effects are indisputable. The Bush administration cannot take military action against Iran during its remaining time in office, or credibly threaten to do so, unless it is in response to an extremely provocative Iranian act

NIE News Roundup

I suppose it is somewhat old news by now, but the consensus of all our intelligence agencies is that Iran is not actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program . I'm not interested in the domestic political dimension as to what this means for the Bush Administrations rhetoric on Iran. What interests me more is the geopolitical issue of what this means for actual policy regarding Iran. Some of the better analysis on the issue from the VSP follows: Michael Rubin raises some questions about the implications of the NIE. A USA Today editorial points out three good implications of the NIE. Michael Cohen of Democracy Arsenal puts the NIE in perspective . Abu Aardvark points out that Iran is pursuing economic and diplmatic ties with its Sunni Arab neighbors. all in all, though, the position that Iran is a rational actor, and not an imminent existential nuclear threat to Israel let alone the United States, has been thoroughly vindicated by the NIE.