Saturday, 4 October 2008

British Ambassador to Afghanistan suggests Dictatorship

From the NYT:
""Within 5 to 10 years, the only “realistic” way to unite Afghanistan would be for it to be “governed by an acceptable dictator,” the cable said, adding, “We should think of preparing our public opinion” for such an outcome."

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Cameron in Afghanistan / Pakistan

David Cameron choses Islamabad to make a major Conservative foreign policy speech.
"Liberal Conservatism" speech here.
Press coverage here.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Should the American Left Support Obama?

I don't know, but here is an interesting debate on it:
"Holding Obama’s feet to the fire"

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Charlie Wilson's Chair

The University of Texas at Austin has announced that they are about to establish a faculty chair in Pakistan Studies named after Charlie Wilson.
I kid you not!
But wait, there's more. Some academics have complained. Wilson does not deserve a chair named after him because (wait for it)...of his "central involvement in the cold war". They sense this may not be reason enough so they've thrown in some pseudo-history for support:
"The mujahideen, while advocating a narrow and extreme version of Islam, were also brutal killers who preyed upon the Afghan people and trafficked heroin to finance their activities."

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Historical Lessons on Global Hegemony

"The Roman model suggests that it is possible for the United States to maintain its military advantage for centuries if it remains capable of transforming its forces before an opponent can develop counter-capabilities."
Yet America's strengths are also its greatest weaknesses: "For the United State, strategic institutions (e.g., its democratic institutions, personal liberties, and market and financial institutions) represent both the source of its military advantage and its largest vulnerability."

These are the stunning conclusions of a recently released 2002 Pentagon commissioned report on how the United States could learn from the the experiences of four previous empires ("pivotal hegemonic powers in history").
The Report, titled "Military Advantage in History" is available for download here. Informative comment available here.

A.C. Grayling and the Overthrow of Democracy

"...even one mile in the direction of any of their various paradises-on-earth would be a hell for all but those running the journey."

Philosopher A.C. Graying recently supported the recent right-wing nationalist attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey through a legal challenge. Not surprising I suppose, he is a liberal defender of "moral values" and author of a 400 page book which asks "Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?"

Guantanamo Bay Trials

"It would be as if the Nuremberg Trials opened with the prosecution of Hitler's driver, someone who by the way was never charged, and who died of old age in his own bed."

Some time ago the Pentagon agreed to human rights group sending their observers to the Guantanamo Bay trials. Here is an informative account by one of them, Ben Wizner.

Hearteningly, the vast majority of commentators to the New York Times article covering this sorry affair are appalled by it.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Sen versus Ferguson

Amartya Sen has recently given us his judgment on British rule in India. Its a rather miserable piece, for a reasonable critique see this.
Niall Ferguson has responded to Sen's article here, and Sen has responded to Ferguson's response here.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Frozen Grand Central Station

Great performance art:

Thursday, 31 January 2008

George Habash (1926-2008)

For many people, Al-Hakeem embodied the Palestinian struggle. If you’d like to know more:
As'ad AbuKhalil provides the best informed and rather personal remembrance.
Lamis Andoni on and David Hirst for the Guardian provide reasonable ‘standard’ English language obituaries.
It is also worth looking at this article in Le Monde.

"La lutte palestinienne a besoin, pour triompher, d'un Hanoï arabe"