Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Cornucopia of Sunday Links

Image: CCTV/Agence France-Presse
David Bromwich on "Euphemism and American Violence" in the NY Review of Books.
This complacency suggests a new innocence—the correlative in moral psychology of euphemism in the realm of language. And if you take stock of how little general discussion there has been of the advisability of pursuing the global war on terrorism, you realize that this country has scarcely begun to take stock of the United States as an ambiguous actor on the world stage. Those who said, in the weeks just after the September 11 attacks, that the motives of the terrorists might be traced back to some US policies in the Middle East were understandably felt to have spoken unseasonably. The surprising thing is that six and a half years later, when a politic reticence is no longer the sole order of the day, discussion of such matters is still confined to academic studies like Chalmers Johnson's Blowback and Robert A. Pape's Dying to Win,[3] and has barely begun to register in The New York Times, in The Washington Post, or on CNN or MSNBC. Ask an American what the United States may have to do with much of the world's hostility toward us and you will find educated people saying things like "They hate the West and resent modernity," or "They hate the fact that we're so free," or "They hate us because this is a country where a man and a woman can look at each other across a table with eyes of love." Indeed, the single greatest propaganda victory of the Bush administration may be the belief shared by most Americans that the rise of radical Islam—so-called Islamofascism— has nothing to do with any previous actions by the United States.
In the LA Times, Philip Jenkins on the possible rise of homegrown terrorism (and for ongoing discussion, see David Neiwert's tireless work at Orcinus).

At Foreign Policy TV, FBI interrogator Jack Cloonan on interrogation methods.

The riots in Tibet against Han Chinese rule are spreading to other provinces. Reporting and images are tightly controlled throughout the country. The Dalai Lama calls for an international investigation into the "cultural genocide" of Tibet.

Via Andrew Sullivan, World Politics notes that the Bush regime just became even more centralized,

In a move that seems to have flown under the radar, President Bush issued an Executive Order on Friday, February 29, that transformed the Clinton-era President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board into the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. The White House maintained that the board maintains its independence under the new order, but as a general rule, it's a safe bet to be skeptical of Executive Orders issued on a Friday.

Most of the changes made to the board's function remove the teeth from the board's oversight capacity, thereby consolidating the White House's control over intelligence oversight.

Shifting gears... Bill Reagan suggests presidential candidates ride the bus in order to get to know the US.
Commuter buses are cluttered with white collars, blue collars, suits, stoners, hippies, teenage parents, college kids and just about every other personality a casting agent could envision, and while it’s one thing to say, “I know there are other people in this city”, it’s quite another to sit thigh-to-thigh with them on a molded plastic seat. In our private lives we all tend to congregate with like-minded friends, which can cause us to forget that there are other types of people in the world, people whose values and manners are vastly different than our own: The bus is crowded with such reminders every day.
Guest writer, Alexandra Huddleston, reports on her Fulbright work in Mali at Whirled View. my last months in Timbuktu, I couldn’t walk half a block without an acquaintance waving, without a friend pausing to pass the time of day, or without the kids yelling “photo!” begging me to take their picture. Indeed, I learned what all citizens of the town knew: which back alleys to take if I was in a hurry, so I’d actually make a meeting on time, without too many cordial delays.
Ffffound image of the day:

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