Wednesday, February 02, 2005

You can count on me...

... to harp on the negative -- or at least offer some cautionary perspectives.

Remember, I danced around my house in my undies (boxer-briefs, if you must know) when I saw Iraqis danding in the streets of "liberated" Baghdad a couple of years ago. Sucker for democracy, indeed. So you will excuse me if I don't swallow the freedom on the march thing whole hog (and, no, I will not be watching tonight -- I always find the State of the Union address to be too much of a royal affair).

So, here are some perspectives and issues you probably haven't seen on the teevee.

Juan Cole, in The Iraq Election: First Impressions, reminds us that Bush opposed this whole election thing initially until Sistani forced his hand.

Jeff Jacoby finally looks at himself in the mirror: Saying nothing is torture in itself. An excerpt:
As regular readers know, I write as a war hawk. I strongly support the mission in Iraq. I voted for President Bush. I believe the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism is the most urgent conflict of our time.

But none of that justifies the administration's apparent willingness to countenance -- under at least some circumstances -- the indecent abuse of prisoners in military custody. Something is very wrong when the Justice Department advises the president's legal adviser that a wartime president is not bound by the international Convention Against Torture or the US laws incorporating it. Or when that legal adviser tells the Senate, as Alberto Gonzales did last week, that ''there is no legal prohibition under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."

If this were happening on a Democratic president's watch, the criticism from Republicans and conservatives would be deafening. Why the near-silence now? Who has better reason to be outraged by this scandal than those of us who support the war? More than anyone, it is the war hawks who should be infuriated by it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so.
Nick Turse continues his series Bringing It All Back Home: The Emergence of the Homeland Security State at Tomdispatch.

Jack Shafer has an amazing column at Slate, Together, Again: Judith Miller and Ahmad Chalabi -- killing democracy in two countries in one fell swoop!

In What I Heard about Iraq -- e.g. "I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war'" -- Eliot Weinberger lists page after page of truth and lies that will make you weep.

And, finally, what would my neighbor Yogi have to say about this?
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

....A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.


Anonymous said...

Too much info on the whole dancing around in underpants bit. I would like to know though how well you think Saddam Hussain would have done if he were on the ballot. This is not for a grade but simply of wonder.

dewar macleod said...

Yes, maybe that is too much information. But I was really just trying to avoid telling you what I was really wearing -- my Spiderman underoos!

Anonymous said...

Professor Macleod,

I retrieved this article from your blog today and I found it to be very interesting, as well as a little frightening. In the wake of 9/11 it is agreeable that there are certain steps that are needed to be taken in securing the American home front. But we should be asking ourselves if these new plans and secret laws are there to protect and serve or rather to search and destroy.
The part of this article that hit home with me was the paragraph about the airport security. The fact that there are laws implemented that we have no way of knowing about and are refused knowledge about is unconstitutional. I don't understand why so many people don't see it this way. I think the problem is the fact that nothing real bad has happened yet. Granted Sept. 11th was a horrific event and the current events that are unfolding in Iraq are just as challenging but at home the reality of what is really going on hasn't hit yet. It is my estimation that we wont see the effects of these new laws and new security surveillance systems until much later down the line. The problem is that by then it will already be to late.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that being negative is necessarily wrong if it is based on facts. We should analyze and critque the governments actions because our lives and our future are at stake.

I also would like to add the treatment of the Iraqi prisoners is absolutely disgusting. I can't believe that ''there is no legal prohibition under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."
I thought this is exactly the opposite of what American represented. What happened to democracy, freedom or humanity?

Mirdita Sadiku

Anonymous said...

The post on Vietnam elections was interesting. Now if the Iraq election would have gone worse and failed would you have posted that article to show that failed elections are good because successful ones didn't work in Vietnam? It would seem that failed elections would break the "parallel" between Iraq and Vietnam so that would have to of been a good thing no? Or would you have simply reinforced your previous comments on the doubts surrounding the election and look at the election as vindication?

I am always amused when historians use "parallels" to compare historical events. I've always felt that forming "parallels" was the weakest form of critique or analyses a historian could use. Writing on "parallels" is similar to someone asking why apples fall from trees and answering them with "Apples fall from trees, just like oranges that's just the way it is". So the person goes on with their life knowing that apples fall from trees because oranges do too but one day they run across a pear tree. Now they have a problem, pears don't look like apples or oranges. Oranges and apples are fairly rounded but the pear doesn't look anything like them. It would impossible to use any "parallel" between the fruits. The fault being that when the person first asked the question, the answer should have been gravity but instead, they were told it happens because that’s what happens to other things like it. No one is any smarter from comparing historical events; you get smarted by understanding them and not making cosmetic "parallels".


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