Friday, August 31, 2007

On Mother Theresa again: "Unfaith"

(Hat tip to C4 for the coverage He's got all the links you'd ever need or want...and more possibly).

I'm loathe in a sense to bring this up again because it doesn't matter a whit obviously for Theresa. She is wherever she is. It matters (I guess) only for us, which ought to be remembered in all this commentary (mine included)--how self-centered this whole thing can easily become.

None of it in a sense matters, so therefore I'll just dive in knowing that Theresa, God, whatever is going to be whatever it/they/we are.

That said, it does matter relatively. At least when moronic de-humanizing screeds abound--they have to be combatted.

C4 has the links for the usual cast of characters--Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. But Sam Harris has weighed in too, which is a shame. He's better than those guys. He knows more, has had more intimate experience of meditation and should not so easily dismiss inner turmoil to score a cheap, short-term victory against religion. He doesn't realize his own criticisms undermine his own project for a science of contemplation.

A little known Christian (non)mystic by the name of Hadewijch comes to mind (nondual realizers in my books actually transcend the divide between mystics and "regular" people). H was a 12/13th c. Dutch woman. Not a nun important to note, but a member of the Beguines.

In my previous ramblings on this issue, I discussed more the Christian phenomenological map and noted that Theresa may have suffered unnecessarily because of certain subtle attachments to high mystical realms.

Hadewijch adds a key element in this regard---the notion of "unfaith" (her term in translation). Unfaith was not atheism. This is the first and most important point. When you understand experientially what Hadewijch meant by "unfaith", you will see how flat, pathetic Hitchens and New Atheist Crew are. Atheism is just the flip side of weakly developed theism.

In other words, atheism/theism are both of the relative world. Where all questions eventually get reduced to something like: Is the universe for or against us (or neutral?)?

For Hadewijch that question was inquiry, was to be faced through not every solved (dis-solved). Unfaith was the point at which one faced finally into the awful reality of all relativity but has not yet awakened to the Absolute.

A person has gone through all the previous stages: subtle union with God, the Witness, Causal Darkness. Visions perhaps. Lack of visions. Dark nights. Ecstasy, suffering. Whatever.

At some point the individual realizes that all of this have still left him/her ultimately at the core un-happy, confused, and searching. One must realize that all of these are changes of condition/state. And that (from the Ultimate pov) all such changes/conditions are ultimately unfulfilling. For they come, arise, decay and pass. Including union with God. Which Theresa of Calcultta seemed never to understand/accept. She was going through the natural cycle of decay/death of her soul and its union with God.

Unfaith Hadewijch boldly proclaimed comes next. One simply sits and lets all thoughts/feeling arise and faces the great existential questions and all of one's assumptions/positions through this burning fire. (Usually located in the right-causal heart).

You have to face the bigiges: God and the Devil (let them pass/choose no side). Heaven and hell. Good or evil. Theism and atheism.

Choose no side. See that all are relative.

Unfaith is not the opposite of faith but rather the suspension of the faculty that determines faith or lack of faith.

Alternatively, it could be the realization that all such positions (atheism and theism, life is meaningful vs. life is meaningless) are faith. Unfaith is the natural relative counterbalance to faith.

After awakening, there is neither faith nor unfaith.

Theresa, I would guess, never went into this realm of unfaith. And as one smart commenter noted, this could be attributed in part to the fact of her being in charge of the Missionaries of Charity.

Hadewijch was not a nun. She had no superior. She was not in the public eye. She was able to isolate herself for awhile to experience her "unfaith" time. And also to readjust after her awakening to the Nondual. [What Bernadette Roberts called the God Awful moment, a 2nd Incarnation----entering the marketplace with open hands in the Zen Oxherding Pictures].

Theresa was sadly not afforded those life conditions. Whether God wanted it so or not, is not for me to decide. It is a difficult choice to make, when all the information is not out there. Talking about God's will without any mention of the institutional and theological obstructions/obstacles and ignorance/repression of the truth seems fairly sterile and empty to me.

If Theresa had gone to unfaith she would have had to face the possibility that the entire order was just relative. Was locked into the wheel. This is a tough place to go because it is a knife's edge. Thinner than the razor you are preached upon. I know from experience.

It is hard, for someone raised to love and sacrifice, to face the possibility that I/you/we have never really loved (from the Absolute pov), have never really sacrificed.

In Unfaith there is the deep anxiety that on the far side of Awakening, you will no longer care. I'm sure that partly explains Theresa's existential dilemma. God had fled from her inner life but was seen everywhere in her outer life. But outer/inner are themselves just another version of the same basic duality.

shadow 101

Been thinking of late about the unconscious. About psychology in general I suppose.

Archetypally you have the Freudians and the Reichians. Freud--especially through Neo-Freudianism championed by his daughter Anna--thought the unconscious should be made conscious and then controlled. "Integration" often was a mask for Freud's (admitted) bourgeoise conservative European values. [Btw, Anna Freud was a lesbian who because of such values hated her own sexuality and was essentially frigid her whole life]. Cognitive therapies, script therapies, voice dialogue(?) are in this general vein.

Reich, originally a disciple of Freud, then later a breakaway heretic, argued that the unconscious should be expressed, its native wildness not tamed by Freudianism. Much of the Human Potential Movement stems from Reich.

[The terms of the debate I think are a little wonky given that both Freud and Reich shared the same over-emphasis on the uber-nature of libido/sexuality. Both save civilization (either for good or bad) too much as simply a store of repressed/sublimated sexuality.]

Continue Reading

A third axis, I suppose, is the Jungian one: that the unconscious is symbolic images/stories of the collective unconscious. The mytho-poetic, the hero journey, all these flow from the Jungian premise.

And perhaps a fourth--body, bioenergy, therapies. The concept of the bodyego is one I've been playing with. That the body (bioenergy/prana/lifeforce) has its own as it were center of gravity (body consciousness, not literal physical center, although they may be related). If so, then the bodyego would have a body-unconscious. And this to me seems to be (correctly) the working assumption of body therapies. Somewhat similar to Reichians, but still I think different enough to merit a separate category.

Which just then puts the Freud-Reich question back another layer: is the body-unconscious to be more "integrated"/controlled or expressed? Clear both have a role. Too much Freudianism becomes Anna Freud. Becomes mental control and therapies built around patching people up so they can be sent back to the workforce and be good worker bees. Too much Reichianism--the danger is regression not repression. Many of the expressed elements of the unconscious are immature, self-centered, destructive forces that should be (a la Freud) held in check. Others aren't. And even some of the immature, self-centered stuff should be expressed but in safer environments (my Freudian streaks now showing, so say the Reichians).

Of these (admittedly too general) four major camps, I'm more drawn to the body realm at this point of my life. I still read Jung and find him fascinating, but I'm not in any way looking to heal my archetypes. I bring this up in my continued thread around self-esteem, becoming more process-attentive and creative. I've worked hard in my life on the mental and the spiritual aspects, but not as much in the emotional. I feel like the Freudian/Reichian split is still too cognitive---again express or not express the unconscious but the unconscious depicted in a more cognitive-ish light. Even when describing say libido, still very cognitive. Not wrong, but not really seeming to get at what I'm after at this point (meaning perhaps what those schools do point to in some fashion or another I've touched).

The difficulty, for one, is language/mapping. The body/bioprana stuff recalls a Great Chain (matter, body, mind, soul, spirit). Whereas, in post-metaphysical writings, body/matter is not the lower two rungs (as such) but the exterior correlates (the "without") of all interiors (the "within").

So there is a matter-matter and a body-matter and a mental-matter, soul-matter, and spirit-matter, as it were.

So there would be a hierarchy of body therapies depending on the differing levels of the body/matter. And how all of that relates to the emotional line, which seems to be really somehow intimately linked. Huge room for growth in this area.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Meet the Iraq War

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Russert led a roundtable with Thomas Ricks, Richard Engel (one of the few Western reporters to speak Arabic and live in the Middle East), and Michael Gordon.

Ricks says that, like all Shakespeare's tragedies, there are 5 Acts. And Iraq has not yet reached Act IV.

Act I: Invasion
Act II: Post Saddam (Purple Fingers, CPA, Bremer, Insurgency, Casey-forward base mode)
Act III: Petraeus and Surge
Act IV: Post-surge (Baker-hamilton?)
Act V: Post US effect on the Middle East/region.

Ricks believes that Bush will draw one brigade (5,000 troops) per month from March through October of next year. That will then leave the US force back to its pre-surge levels (circa 130,000). Bush will then keep the troops I believe in surge-lite mode. Will continue the Petraeus strategy of embedding, counter-insurgency, and so-called national reconciliation.

I think only the next US president will start Act IV. Unless the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats agree to legislate Baker-Hamilton as the Law and force a constitutional crisis. But Reid will want timetables and the Republicans I think would ultimately punt on such a situation.

I think therefore we are looking at another 5-10 years in Iraq. This is why commentators were pointing out that the surge was not so much a surge as an escalation and further entrenching of the military in Iraq.

But as Ricks points out, all discussion should start from realization that there are no good options and every option has major dark sides that could be exploited.

Whether Bush, legislated, or the next (Dem?) Prez, if a Baker-Hamilton like position is adopted, Act IV will basically be (in Ricks' words) about 3 NOs: No Genocide; No Regional Conflict; No Safe haven for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

And as Ricks contends that strategy will be as equally unwinnable (another Fiasco) as the current one was. For Ricks, the two most likely outcomes are the breaking up of Iraq and/or control by Sadr. But neither of those will end the violence only opening up a new phase (possibly more violent).

Moving back to bases and training/advising, fighting al-Qaeda will give space for an explosion of the civil wars. More Shia death squads, bodies on the street in the morning. So that policy doesn't work. Even a soft-partition only reduces some kinds of violence. Moving back to bases will lead to massacres/genocides.

Engel points out that Iraq will probably not just break up into three but probably something more like 5 fiefdoms. A major Shia civil war will take place between Sadr and SIIC/Hakim. Engel is also right that Maliki's gov't will fall. Not a question of if but when. And Engel predics (correctly I bet) that a series of gov'ts will rise and fall.

Engel basically calls for a dictator/strongman. He thinks new elections should be called (don't know if that is a good idea). Provincial elections which the Sunnis didn't participate in, giving the Shia disproportionate power at the provincial levels. And the US soldiers will not be happy with the return to the base model.

[Gordon adds nothing really other than the administration/military line. How local reconciliation is happeing, how the Sunni tribesman model could be a model for other groups across the country. How that would work is never explained.]

The hardline right (Hewitts of the world) are already lining up their narrative that if and when the Dems begin Act IV and the violence rises (as it will and must), that this is Vietnam all over again. The "stab in the back" from the Democratic Congress that lost the war which we were just on the verge of winning.

To combat that will require more than saying Bush got us in, Bush screwed up the post-invasion, etc. They will have to attack not the surge but the strategy of a central government. And not just criticizing al-Maliki. Levin and Clinton are too stupid to realize this won't matter and stop the Hewitt line.

Change the rules of the game. Admit that no matter what violence will occur. Admit that there are no good options left, instead of scoring cheap political points on Maliki or Bush.

Comment on Radical Middle

How's this one for postmodern self-referentialism? Mark Satin has excerpted a piece from this blog regarding his article on immigration. So I'm linking (here) something that I've already written on this blog. Scroll down a bit and you'll see it. I'm linking to him linking back to me. Weird world.


In Ohio, visiting my family (and going to the Bengals-Colts preseason game Friday!!!) for the week. Expect blogging to be a little lighter. It's 1 am right now for example.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

9 to 10 years

As John Robb says, kudos to the genius of the PR campaign by Petraeus and crew.

But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus's words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. " 'We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,' " Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: "Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time."

"I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy -- just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place," Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, "acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that's what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we'd have to be there nine or 10 years."

 blog it

"Sanctuary Cities"

Good piece by Ron Brownstein.

Looks like Romney is pushing for this issue to be the Gay Marriage Equivalent of 2004 in 2008.
clipped from
His criticism draws on a legitimate concern: After 9/11, the nation has a greater incentive to identify everyone inside its borders, either legally or illegally. But turning city workers into immigration snoops won't advance that goal.

If a mayor announces that he will check people's papers at police stations, school admission offices and emergency rooms, illegal immigrants are unlikely to line up in those places to be discovered and deported. They are more likely to abandon those services -- with dangerous consequences for all city residents.

Some cities, by condemning federal immigration raids, have carried the "don't ask, don't tell" impulse to excess. But Romney has overreached too with his threats against "sanctuary cities" like New York (and presumably Los Angeles). Romney's aides won't say what New York should have done differently in its policy toward illegal immigrants. Maybe that's because the city, like many others, chose the most practical response available.
 blog it

Breakdown Iraq

National-->Tribal (LL)
Industrial-->Pre-industrial (LR)
clipped from
While security is returning to some areas of Baghdad, modern conveniences aren't necessarily following. The Iraqi capital is no longer the place described in the old guidebooks, a metropolis of casinos, culture and Western-run hotel chains, although vestiges of that city can still be  found. Instead, unceasing violence has thrust Baghdad back to a more primitive era, forcing its people to take up pre-industrial occupations and rediscover almost forgotten technologies. The collapse of municipal water services has revived the profession of well-digging, especially in the Green Zone, where foreign diplomats are reluctant to give up their flush toilets and showers. Donkey and horse carts are increasingly common on the capital's streets; the animals are cheaper than trucks and less likely to be held up in searches for hidden explosives.
 blog it


Tom Segev on ForeignExchange. Segev is one of the better "New" historians of Israel. He gives the shadow side to the Six Day War in 1967. The foil to Segev (the "bright" side) is Michael Oren. Other "New" Israeli historians are too mean green meme and only blame Israel for everything (e.g. Norman Finkelstein).

Segev is not in this camp. He is right that Palestinian suicide bombing never has helped the Palestinians. I like his formulation: Pal. suicide attacks can not threaten the state of Israel but what they do threaten is the ability of Israel to respond rationally.

What really centers on the 67 War, 40 yrs later, is whether Israel should have taken over the West Bank, East Jerusalem. It's hard to decide because each has a point. Oren is right that it did create some better security positions. For Segev, the occupation undercuts the rationale for a Jewish state (by colonizing 3 million non-Jews who are not given rights, voice, opportunity, etc.). I think that is right as well.

Same with security fence. In the short term it does reduce violence (point Oren). In the medium-long term it leaves Israel further and further weakened, isolated, and the Occupation (and it is an Occupation) it is a cancer on the moral soul of Israel.

Segev interestingly though is moving to a third position. He used to a liberal. That is he fit into the basic scheme of "Land for Peace" (Rabin, Barak). I think Land for Peace could still work in certain ways with Syria.

The conservative-Likud position (Netanyahu) is Security Fences, further settlements (illegal) in the occupation, constant warfare, and blame Palestinians for everything.

Segev points out that neither has worked. Sharon's unilateral disengagement failed which was an attempt at any other position. He says the conflict at this point can only be managed. And he is right that it could be managed more rationally than it is right now.

With Segev all have failed and there is no real chance for now. [One positive that is currently somewhat possible: Saudi Arabia recognizing Israel and the West Bank economic development.] But long term that can not work either. Hamas has to be part of the deal at some point.

tags technorati :
tags technorati :
tags technorati :

One Che cont'd.

I've discussed before (via William Easterly) there are "planners" and "searchers".

Planners usually fall into the liberal tradition. Liberal in the more modern sense. From Keynes, FDR, social welfare states, Jeffrey Sachs "End of Poverty", to the communism/socialist state owned system. Top-down.

Searchers typically fall within the conservative tradition (modern Anglo-American conservative tradition). Bottom-up.

The Anglo-American common law tradition is more a searcher tradition. Localized scale, trial and error, organic.

The Latin American world comes from the Roman (Catholic and Spanish/Portuguese colonial) tradition which is top-down planner model.

There is very little budge in that system. Which when there is challenge, tends to push the momentum in the other direction (communism). But the same mindset in reverse: top-down, planner model.

Latifunida-right wing aristocratic agrarian empire versus left-wing communist/state socialist model.

Bacevich on Vietnam-Iraq Analogy

clipped from
Radical Islamists like Osama bin Laden do subscribe to a hateful ideology. But to imagine that Bin Laden and others of his ilk have the capability to control the Middle East, restoring the so-called Caliphate, is absurd, as silly as the vaunted domino theory of the 1950s and 1960s.

Politics, not ideology, will determine the future of the Middle East. That's good news and bad news. Good news because the interests and aspirations of Arabs and non-Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis, modernizers and traditionalists will combine to prevent any one faction from gaining the upper hand. Bad news because those same factors guarantee that the Middle East will remain an unstable mess for the foreseeable future.
 blog it

The Real Real Search for Truths on 9/11

The best piece I've read yet on 9/11 by Robert Fisk in the Independent.

I was thinking just along these lines after watching another 9/11 conspiracy vid (Zeitgeist, suggested by Gary) and then the requisite look back at the debunking the conspiracy points of view (this piece from Skeptic a good one). Then "de-bunking" the de-bunking. (Re-bunking?). Then my head is nearly ready to explode.

Fisk gives voice to something I've been feeling, but couldn't articulate. I'm not really happy with either of the 9/11 Commission Version nor the Conspiracy Model. I don't want conspiracy theories because they are too neatly packaged. Everything makes too much sense. And the official 9/11 Commission Position is unsatisfying in many key ways (as are pieces like the Skeptic one, criticisms of the Consp. Theorists).

Key quote Fisk:
But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11...Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.
It takes some serious courage to admit that one has questions about the official storyline because one will immediately be lumped in with conspiracy theorists. I commend him for willing to give voice to those questions of his.

Fisk goes through a number of question marks he still has---the problematic Mohammad Atta letter. Read his article for all of them.

Continue Reading

It's hard as say a non-specialist in demolitions (but generally educated person) when you see experts, seemingly sincere people (who may be wrong and not paid off by the string-pullers) give conflicting reports. What I am to make of all that?

The South Tower didn't fall straight down as is often shown in the conspiracy models. But as in the Skeptic piece, no rebuttal to the testimony of multiple people to feeling, experiencing, hearing blasts from the basement is given? I've never heard an official counter-response to that for example. Again doesn't mean I assume invidiousness--I think we give government's way too much credit in the way of intelligence (certainly conspiracy theorists do imo). But I would like to hear an explanation for something like that. [If someone knows of a decent one, please provide links].

For myself, I think the 9/11 Commission was a political hackjob that served basically to cover people like Condi Rice's arse. As Bob Baer points out if the various agencies had worked together, the plot should have been uncovered and stopped. Rice goes before the 9/11 Comm. and says there were no reports of impending attacks from bin Laden. We later learned that was false. So either A)she really didn't know about them (in which case she should have been fired for failure to do her job) or B)she did know and lied to cover herself. [Richard Clarke's testimony also lends credence to the view that enough information was out not just 20/20 hindsight monday morning quarter-backing].

It's not a conspiracy theory to say that some things may have been covered up after the attack--without having been part of some uber-false flag operation.

Things that bother me still:

Philip Zelikow, an otherwise good State department official, was head of the Commission. But we know he is/was very close with Rice. I'm not implying anything insidious about him personally, but it was an obvious case of conflict of interests.

Mohammad Atta's passport. How does this survive the crash and fireball and then the collapse of the towers intact on the ground in

--On the larger scale I think the conspiracy theorists remind us phenomenologically that the nation never properly mourned 9/11. It was thrown away and turned into memorials and parades and Republican National Conventions as quickly as Giuliani starting shipping otherwise important physical evidence of the rubble. [That also bothers me. Not just for truth reasons but because dead police, firefighters, and civilians were not given their proper resting place and funerals].

The other point, which Fisk raises, is that the attack was politicized. Plots aside, the shadow (conspiracy theory groups) have an element of this truth: that it should not have been so politicized. That in the rush to war (particularly Iraq) and the Patriot Act and Gitmo and eavesdropping, etc., something of our national identity/innocence was lost.

So while I don't buy into all the detailed plot lines (official or conspiratorial), the conspiracy folks at least, if nothing else, keep the issue alive in American consciousness. I think as a country, 9/11 was never properly absorbed. The neat-package, case-closed, official line of the 9/11 Commission, because it wasn't I think willing to wade into some difficult places, creates the space for its antithesis the conspiracy theorists (like matter and anti-matter).

The truths of such an event I believe are always more disturbing, hopeful, enlightening, confusing that those packaged versions. Some of those truths lie buried. Unfortunately I don't see that kind of discussion taking place anytime soon. The mainline narratives are all black/white (either official or conspiratorial).

tags technorati :
tags technorati :

Friday, August 24, 2007

Das Boot is Bad

Max Boot that is writing in the Wall Street Journal, saying Bush's Iraq: Vietnam analogy is not wrong but does not go far enough. Interesting case of being right in one way and completely screwball wrong in the other.

Boot's point is that there were more bad lessons to be learned from having "abandoned" Vietnam than the President cited. Bush cited the Vietnamese who were killed after having supported the US. The Cambodian Killing Fields.

As historical background, remember the US troops were out of Vietnam. The Democrats cut off funding and air support to the South Vietnamese gov't, the Vietcong reneged on the prior Peace Treaty and invaded.

I don't think it was good for the US Congress to cut off funds for the support to the regime. I also think the US should never have backed up the French in the first place and gotten into the mess, but that's a different story.

The argument that is being made now therefore is not a particularly helpful one. The troops in Vietnam were already withdrawn. The Americans troops aren't. The Democrats (and now Senate Republicans) calling for withdrawal of troops are not in the same position as the 72 Democratic Congress.

Anyway, to Bush's list, Boot adds: Winning the War, Losing the Peace (Bingo: already happened, sorry Max).
--More enemy regimes/rebels than just Vietnam were "emboldened" by the US "defeat". (Mozambique, e.g.)
--Danger of Prematurely Dumping Allied Leaders (True, except Maliki and/or anyone else is useless because the central gov't has no power and Iraq doesn't exist anymore).
--Danger of not Making Plans for Refugees (agree completely. 2 million already left Iraq and the US should be right now processing people who have worked with the regime. Because we are leaving, Boot's uber hawk vision aside.

What Boot leaves out of his "complete" model is of course the following: Vietnam today after the US withdrawal, after the cutting off the funds, after the death and despair (not minimized) is a capitalist country that is helping push the rest of SouthEast Capitalist (those dominoes are now falling).

And the US won against the Soviets. No doubt there were difficulties and tragedies from the US cutting off the funds to South Vietnamese. The US shouldn't have been executing its own puppets in S. Vietnam either, just like we keep engineering the "democratic" process in Iraq.

But the Soviet curtain did fall all that considered.

The analogy might suggest that Iraq (or the countries that will emerge from the former country of Iraq) will one day be another Vietnam. Pain and change included.

That would be a more complete outlook.

There's no doubt that this withdraw from Iraq will be used as propaganda and there will be extra violence. No amount of "surging" will stop that. The US has already lost the politics or knocked down the house of cards that was the hollowed out Saddam police state. Now there are gangs, militias, and local fiefdoms.

These emboldened groups will often experience fights with each other. Or until some sort of figure/group wins out and/or a dictatorship is re-established.

This is what happens when you invade a place without an exit strategy. That's the lesson of Vietnam and Iraq.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nerves, Neural Fiber, and Synaptic Connections

An anatomical analogy.

I think of Wilber-5, AQAL post-metaphysics as skeletal in nature.

The blogosphere, foreign policy writers, the Great Conversation, academia, are for me the muscle, viscera, and bulk.

All muscle/fat and no bones=no solidity.
All bones and no muscle=a skeleton.

What I try to do in this blog is add the nerves and tendons--connecting the two for a full, electrified body.

Che Documentary

Very good documentary about Che Guevara. Based on the recent (and best English) bio of the man--Che: A Revolutionary Biography by John Lee Anderson.

Che is a fascinating (and disturbing) study. On the one hand, Che's heart was moved by the poverty of his native South America. He was a doctor and some part of him sought to heal.

On the other, his rigid ideology and worse his psychotic pathology were evil. The video shows (more than I knew) of how he was essentially Castro's executioner. His ability to murder (see his non-emotional non-reflection on his first murder/execution) is chilling. Part of the doctor, surgical mindset I suppose.

Marx's philosophy and sociology is all built around the premise that consciousness is a social by-product. That social, economic, and technological force is the really real. Therefore, the socialist state, to make the "socialist being" (one of Che's passions) must control all property and economics. Thereby all consciousness will be molded to the socialist dream. Like clockwork. 100% guaranteed.

Marxism failed because there was no proof that the social-economic was the really real. Marx did however add to Western thought that social-economic-class elements are intertwined in every movement of consciousness, philosophy, and religion.

Che, more than Castro and certainly more than Marx himself, stands in the line of Trotsky, of perpetual socialist revolution. What I found most interesting about the film was how the communist guerillas hid out in Cuba during their insurgency against the dictatorship of Batista. There they gained the connection of the people.

His heart towards the poor and constant revolution gives him the "Christic" element (in the face of the Che shirts). A secular Christ-figure. Or rather atheistic communist religious Christ figure. The psychotic killer is forgotten in that image however.

Everywhere else Che went (Bolivia, Congo) he never gained the love/hearts of the populace (as we know from Iraq, an important step in any insurgency/counterinsurgency movement). Without that base, Che went from revolutionary "of the people" (as it were) to revolutionary against the people. Like communists like Mao, Stalin, and others before him.

tags technorati :
tags technorati :
tags technorati :

Wilber on Post-Structuralism

From Excerpt A to Volume 2 Kosmos Trilogy:

Probability Space in the AQAL Matrix

Because "postmodernism" has often meant "post-structuralism," laypeople often misunderstand just what a "structure" is (and is not). Among experts, there is actually a broad and strong agreement as to the meaning of a "structure," which is generally defined--by Sheldrake, Piaget, Habermas, Francisco Varela, Carol Gilligan, Jane Loevinger, etc.--as a "dynamic system of self-organizing processes that maintain themselves as patterns through their dynamic reproduction."8 As dynamic self-maintaining patterns, structures are not fixed and unchanging, but rather are "unstably stable" (or a mixture of "circularity and openness"--i.e., oldness and newness--i.e., karma and creatively--i.e., include and transcend), and thus are capable of flexible adaptation to fluctuations: they evolve through "structural coupling" with enacted environments (we say, "tetra-evolve"). A structure is materially different moment to moment; its pattern or form, however, is unstably stable and endures as a Kosmic habit for as long as that class of holons exists in spacetime (i.e., for as long as it negotiates the selection pressures in the AQAL matrix).

It is common in postmodern forms of "new paradigms" to say that "structure" has been replaced by "process." Actually, of course, structure was always defined as dynamic processes that reproduce themselves. But there are indeed two aspects of structures that researchers keep emphasizing: their capacity for fluid change (e.g., accommodation and adaptation--or adjusting to their communions); and their capacity, if conditions are right, for remaining incredibly stable over long periods of time (e.g., autopoiesis and assimilation--or stable agency).
Deep structures are simply probability waves. Does not cover the great diversity of surface features, expression:

What is required, then, is a way to account for "structure" without falling, shall we say, into structuralism, or a reification of structures as some sort of ontologically existing molds (which is what both the perennial philosophers and the structuralists did, in their own ways, both of which need to be jettisoned in that regard).

We saw that deep features are inherited, not surface features. That is, even though the general patterns (or morphogenetic grooves) of these holons are handed to us by Kosmic karma, all of the actual contents, surface features, and expressions of these habitual patterns are determined by relative, culturally, and personally contingent factors in all four quadrants.

But this is where we start to move beyond any of the typical definitions of "deep structures," "deep features," or "deep patterns": for Integral Post-Metaphysics, a "deep pattern" is not an actually existing form or structure but simply a term that represents the probability of finding a particular type of holon in a particular mode of spacetime.

tags technorati :
tags technorati :

States and Stages on American Civil Religion

Robert Bellah, the great American sociologist, postulated the notion of an American civil religion which combined the Enlightenment notions of optimism, progress, and rationality along with the Biblical notion a chosen group of people who are the bearers of salvation in the world. (Those people in this case being the Americans).

With all religions they begin with a state/revelation. One could point for this religion to George Washington's famous mystical vision. Washington interpreted that vision through his Masonic-Deist leaning frame. Both more so through the civil religion frame. Both elements (Western Enlightenment and Chosen People Motif).

Religions then are meant to translate and help repeat that experience (or similar ones) and cement its theology in a larger scale.

Religions then as the vehicles for the great meaning-events of transcendence have an ambiguous nature. To the degree they help create the conditions for the revelation (assuming it is a good one), they are beneficial. To the degree they don't, they tend towards the metaphysical.

That is they speak about the experience, or more typically, the interpretation of the experience/revelation (the latter slipping away), not towards it or from it.

The American Civil Religion, which is Religion, holds a similar ambiguity. Like all mystical traditions, this one, has yet to take clearly into perspective, the notion of the intersubjective, Heideggerian, post-metaphysical turn.

In the case of Washington's mystical vision, for example, the difference has serious implications. If you take his vision at pure face value, as "the truth", then the descendants of the Europeans are destined and chosen by God, to overrun the indigenous populations.

If we take Washington's vision as a genuine one (which I do) and add the intersubjective, then I need not hold that the interpretation/background factors that influenced the content of the vision, are automatically forever and ever the truth.

Just as I have a pro/con relationship with Christianity (esp. its amber traditional form), so I do with the American civil religion. It is a better religion--particularly after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement--than amber-aristocratic mythic theocracies the world over. (Present and past).

For those who practice the "orange" civil American religion, then they should seek out the more esoteric roots of that tradition, so they can experience its heights for themselves, as true Enlightenment inner scientists.

It also makes clear for those who critique the religion, they receive (very often) ir-rational response mechanisms. As a religion, myth is strong and exerts a powerful hold on its believers. Criticism=heresy.

Better is to understand the symbols/myth (from the state and stage pov) and learn how to tweak the symbols to criticize from within. To subvert the typical pattern/establishment that they are used to often cement.

Both the Enlightenment and Biblical tenets of the American Civil Religion are a two-edged sword.

For the Enlightenment belief: Americans can always be called back to a pragmatism, to the so-called can do spirit, to audacious plans and goals.

On the downside--failure is one's own fault. There is nothing in the world that is not rational by this view (hence problems with religious states and mysticism in general in this religion though sourced in it). Nothing that can not be systematized. No fallow ground. No place for mourning. No great understanding of cultural-historical diversity.

On the Biblical belief. Plus Side. Always call Americans, e.g. Lincoln, to their better angelic side. On the torture question, calling to the American soul and saying this is not us. Volunteerism.

On the negative side--enforcing Americanization. Mythic American faith ("My country right or wrong, but my country") nationalism.

If the religion takes the place of it being the vehicle for the revelation, then idolatry is afoot. If the US is the only nation founded on the belief in God, then the US of all suffers from the danger of idolatry. [I'm not sure that's the right formulation, but it doesn't really matter for the point I'm making].

Reihan on Manzi on Climate Change

Maybe Arnie is finally going to push some Republicans and conservatives to get their heads out of their backsides, so the electorate has a choice between massive economic cuts climate model (Gore) and something other than Tom Coburn and Fred Thompson saying it's all a fabrication.

Essentially, Manzi was articulating a strategy for a Republican candidate: rather than continue to deny that anthropogenic climate change is real, an increasingly untenable position, conservatives ought to (a) accept that it is real, (b) advocate increased funding for research, and (c) advocate low-cost strategies for adaptation and mitigation. 

Substantively speaking, I am drawn to large-scale efforts to sharply reduce carbon emissions, like Al Gore and many other left-of-center environmentalists. But this is simply not a very smart political strategy. Why? The costs of climate change are uncertain, unpredictable, very diffuse, and (mostly) in the future. Someone like me, obsessed with the future and not averse to intervention, is strongly inclined to take action, indeed to take sweeping action. Someone who works in the automobile industry, or someone who is very tax-sensitive, will likely feel otherwise.

 blog it

Mother Theresa's Inner Darkness

A new work is out, from Mother Theresa's proculator (petitioner for her sainthood), that reveals Theresa lived in a state of spiritual dryness, aridity, and separation (of feeling) from God for the last 40 plus years of her life.

Article from Time. The book (Come Be My Light) is a series of letters and personal meditations from Theresa.

From the article:
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'"
Her words are powerful and her suffering immense.

So what is going here? Christopher Hitchens of course (so pathetically ignorant) chimes in that Theresa knew, like the rest of us, religion is a fraud.

There is a more subtle answer, to say the least.

Theresa realized spiritual union in a famous vision of total rapture and conversation with Christ on the Cross prior to her leaving to work with the poor. When she did, Christ vanished from her interior world. He entered into the face of the poor.

She had reached the climax of interior connection to the Divine on the relative plane.

Her dryness was due in part, I would argue, to the fact that she was never taught there was another plane of (non)spiritual realization: The Nondual.

The article mentions St. Paul of the Cross, famous early modern saint, who for 40 years himself was in aridity, only towards the end of his life to have been raised from the Causal (John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila's Mystical Marriage) to the Nondual Indistinct Union (Meister Eckhart's Gottheit).

If Teresa had known this path, the path of inquiry, the aridity might have been less. She was searching in the realm of the soul-God when she had already exhausted everything capable in that realm.

The Soul in Mystical Marriage is fired so that it might burn through life (in love)--as she did so wonderfully. Eventually (a la Bernadette Roberts) meant to burn out completely. On the far side of the annihilation of the Soul, lies the realization of the Witness/Godhead and from there to the dropping of the Witness, to Isness Alone.

On the far side of Isness (Sahaj Samahdi) lies a new Burning, without selfhood--Bhava Samadhi. An evolutionary-Pentecostal burning. God and creation burn together in that place.
Melt, like liquid fire.

Theresa, could have asked, "Who is it that is Aware of this Dryness/Absence of God?" That one is free of the pain/torment of the Absence.

To ask that question is to take the red pill and go down the rabbit hole.

This is why the work of Indistinct Union, bringing back the awareness and the practice--without the fear of heresy labels--is so important for Christianity.

Siddhis who are free to participate (or not participate) in whatever states and reality emerge. From the perception of Isness, Absence and Presence (of God, of anyone, of anything) is equally the manifestation of the Ultimate.

God's Presence and God's Absence are only two sides of the same Godhead-minted coin.

Update I: Vince has a good post on the subject referencing Bernadette Roberts as well. I have a comment in the comment section.

tags technorati :

Iraq in Fragments

Just finished watching the film. Artistically it is a revelation. It redefines the genre of documentary. The "non-fiction" world of "reality" is more fiction, in a way, than consciously scripted fiction.

"All of Iraq is divided into three parts". So should say Gen. Julius Petraeus.

Politically, we know Iraq does not exist anymore.

This film is the requiem for the country that was Iraq. From the Iraqi point of view.

There is no narrator. More like the Witness. Voices arise, have their time, and then recede. The Earth, the soil, the elements are given a voice. Silence. A world of oral literacy and culture.

Individuals broach the issue of politics. The viewer sees violence, frivolity, confusion, pain, and suffering. There is no narrator with his top-down central message. No interviewer, no scripts.
The viewer is left having to decide his/her own opinion, if one is even to be held. It is a work of mourning. What is the point of mourning? We mourn to acknowledge death. To put the pieces back together in whatever way we can.

No US point of view--but always hovering (literally in some occasions). When the Iraqis watch TV the screen is always blurred. Bush talks in one scene through a blurred screen. A fitting image. Not everyone in the film is anti-US. [The Kurds in Pt.III are not].

If there is a "message" politically, it is the perception of being a liberator (Pt III Kurds) versus being an occupier (Pts I and II, Sunni and Sadr Shia).

tags technorati :
tags technorati :

9 90s in 9

Nine debates, ninety minutes each, in the 9 weeks leading up to the election. Newt Gingrich and journalist Marvin Kalb make their pitch here. (in LaTimes).

It's not just the more extensive element I like, but more the cutting out the stifling "rules" that have glommed on recently.

Ignatius on "Pragmatic" Obama Foreign Policy

Add to the list his sharp statements on Cuba (as against Clinton who he can continue to call now Bush-Cheney Lite).
Indeed, you can argue that over the past month, Obama has been shaping the foreign policy debate for the Democrats -- and getting the best of the arguments. By last Sunday's televised debate in Iowa, nobody else seemed eager to challenge Obama's postulate that "strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries." And there was little repetition, either, of the tut-tutting that greeted his statement that he would be prepared to go after al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, with or without President Pervez Musharraf's blessing.
Obama is deftly managing to outflank his Democratic rivals on both the left and right on key foreign policy issues. That may be a piece of political opportunism on his part, but a top Obama adviser gives it a different spin, which may reveal the essence of the man: "He is totally pragmatic. He asks what would work and what wouldn't."
 blog it

Eine Klein

clipped from

To be sure, the success in the Sunni areas is real, but it may have greater long-term significance in the region than it does in Iraq. We've learned an important lesson in Anbar province: the Islamic-extremist message is a loser. Most Muslims do not want to live without music, television and, especially, tobacco. They don't want their daughters forcibly married to jihadis or their sons shrouded in explosive vests. That is certainly good news, but it's not enough. Indeed, the campaign against AQI may be among the last useful missions for the U.S. military in Iraq. We could drive out every last Islamic extremist, and the country would still be in the midst of a civil war that is trending toward chaos. And make no mistake: the U.S. colonialist insistence on dictating the shape of Iraq's future—framing a constitution, training an Iraqi army and the threat of a permanent U.S. military presence—has exacerbated the chaos.
 blog it

Iraq Does Not Exist Anymore

Claims the well-traveled, well-sourced, and best Western journalist on the civilian issues in Iraq and the Middle East---Nir Rosen. On Democracy Now. Listen to the whole thing or read the entire transcript, but the piece is clear: Iraq exists on paper only. It is, as he says, more now like Somalia: a series of fiefdoms run by warlords and militias.

The central government has no power. Criticizing Maliki does nothing because the guy is a useless figurehead. To the degree he has power it is only through militias and Shia-identity (he fled during the Saddam years). His only cred on the street is not to play the Iraqi Nationalist Card, but the Shia group card.

On criticisms of Maliki (Levin, Clinton, Bush):
Well, it’s stupid for several reasons. First of all, the Iraqi government doesn’t matter. It has no power. And it doesn’t matter who you put in there. He’s not going to have any power. Baghdad doesn’t really matter, except for Baghdad. Baghdad used to be the most important city in Iraq, and whoever controlled Baghdad controlled Iraq. These days, you have a collection of city states: Mosul, Basra, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah. Each one is virtually independent, and they have their own warlords and their own militias. And what happens in Baghdad makes no difference. So that’s the first point.

Second of all, who can he put in instead? What does he think he’s going to put in? Allawi or some secular candidate? There was a democratic election, and the majority of Iraqis selected the sectarian Shiite group Dawa, Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, the Sadr Movement. These are movements that are popular among the majority of Shias, who are the majority of Iraq. So it doesn’t matter who you put in there. And people in the Green Zone have never had any power. Americans, whether in the government or journalists, have been focused on the Green Zone from the beginning of the war, and it’s never really mattered. It’s been who has power on the street, the various different militias, depending on where you are -- Sunni, Shia, tribal, religious, criminal. So it just reflects the same misunderstanding of Iraqi politics. The government doesn’t do anything, doesn’t provide any services, whether security, electricity, health or otherwise. Various militias control various ministries, and they use it as their fiefdoms. Ministries attack other ministries.

Here's the main issue politically and for the future of US policy (what really has to change after Bush departs):
Well, there is a general aversion on the part of the US administration towards any Islamist movement or government. This is why they brought down the Islamic Courts in Somalia, this is why they overthrew the Hamas democratically elected government in Palestine, this is why they refuse to deal with Hezbollah, an overwhelmingly popular movement in Lebanon: I think a fear of any successful Islamist model.
His conclusion, grim:
In Iraq? It’s too late for anything good to happen in Iraq, unfortunately. If the Americans stay, we’ll see a continuation of this civil war, of ethnic cleansing, until all of Iraq is sort of ethnically -- or sectarian, homogenous zones, which is basically what’s already happened. If the Americans leave, then you’ll see greater intervention of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, supporting their own militias in Iraq and being drawn into battle.

But no matter what, Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. Baghdad will never be in the hands of Sunnis again. Baghdad will be controlled by Shia militias. They’ve been cleansing all the Sunnis from Baghdad. So Sunnis are basically being pushed out of Iraq, period. They can go to the Anbar Province, which isn’t a very friendly place. I think you’ll see that there won’t be any more elections in Iraq. Maliki is the last prime minister Iraq will have for a long time. There is neither the infrastructure for elections anymore, nor the desire to have them, nor the ability of Iraqi groups to cooperate anymore. So what you’ll see is basically Mogadishu in Iraq: various warlords controlling small neighborhoods. And those who are by major resources, such as oil installations, obviously will be foreign-sponsored warlords who will be able to cut deals with us, the Chinese. But Iraq is destroyed, and I think we’ll see that this will spread throughout the region, and this will destabilize Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, as well.

Why US Criticisms of al-Maliki are pretty well useless

From Sic Semper Tyrannis:

What the clever people in this administration seem to "miss" is that there is no one in Iraq who will do any better at stabilizing the country than Maliki.

We re-made the government on the basis of individual rights and interests but the Iraqis don't function that way. They think of themselves as members of groups, just like the bonzes who burned themselves on the streets of Saigon so long ago.

Maliki knows that his real job is to ensure that the Shia Arabs will be the "overdogs." In his mind he is the defender of Shia rights in Iraq. Someone else would merely be the defender of some other group. There are a few, like Allawi, who think of themselves PRIMARILY as Iraqi, but we saw how well he did at election time. What a disappointment that must have been.

We keep "screwing up" in places like Vietnam and Iraq because we (as a people) do not accept the relevance of history and cultural difference. We insists on believing people are all pretty much the same and that they will behave as we think we would behave. Nonsense. We and another set of peoples have paid the price for that cultural blindness once again.

"Swapping" Maliki for someone else would be pointless. The groups will not share power and wealth amicably. In their minds that is simply arming and equipping one's enemies.
Not to mention that Carl Levin (D-MI) made his comments about the people throwing out Maliki while in Tel Aviv as Juan Cole pointed out. i.e. In the Arab world (American politicians are so f--in dumb) it will be read as the Israeli ("The Jews") are pushing the US to overthrow Maliki.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

RIP Micronesians

Sad story here on the funeral for the three people killed in a Missouri Church recently.

The individuals killed were Micronesians. I spent a year working for the Jesuit Volunteers in Guam (in Micronesia). The victims were Pingelapese (Pingelap Atoll--far right of map). I never made it to that particular island (nor really worked with that sub-Micronesian group, the Ponepeians) but did spend time on other nearby atoll islands with related groups of people.

Sleep with the angels and the ancestors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Packer on Rove

Again not clear how much in terms of tone, particularly on foreign policy (not Rove's bag), belongs to Rove. Tough to separate him from Bush. Or Bush from him some would say.

But Rove or not Rove, the point about politicization of the GWOT is the central flaw of this administration. An unforgivable political sin if there every was one. Sure there is always some politics (there are still elections during wartime, ask Lincoln), but the degree with this administration is unprecedented I believe. Different in kind I would go so far as to say.
clipped from
Karl Rove’s resignation brought to mind a conversation I had a few weeks ago with an Administration official who genuinely wanted to hear my account of why the Iraq war has gone so badly. In a word, I said, “politics.” At every turn, the White House has tried to use the war, and the larger war on terror, to consolidate power, to reward ideological and political loyalists, to win electoral advantage, to push the Democrats into a corner, to divide the country into patriots and defeatists. President Bush insisted on pursuing a highly partisan domestic agenda rather than unite the country around the war in the spirit of F.D.R. (who said that “Doctor New Deal” had been replaced by “Doctor Win the War”). So many disastrous wartime decisions can be traced back to the original sin: policy mattered less than politics. The message in Washington was more real than anything happening in Iraq.
blog it

Juan Cole on "Iran" in Iraq

Ockham's Razor anyone?

--Like the label "plot device."

The only counter-argument (I guess?) is that the Revolutionary Guards are training Sadr now because Sadr wants the US out and SIIC wants us to stay. Meaning Iran would be switching allies. They are probably playing all sides though. No way though that the Iranians are simply cutting ties with a group they basically built over 2 decades who is now in power.
clipped from
The US military hasn't found any Iranian trainers in Iraq or any training camps, but like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, that you can't find them doesn't mean they are not there. What I cannot understand is why the Pentagon needs Iranians in Iraq as a plot device. The Iraqi Badr Corps, tens of thousands strong, was trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and it has been alleged that some Badr corpsmen are still on the Iranian payroll. It is the paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, America's chief ally in Iraq. What would the IRGC know that Badr does not? Why bother to send revolutionary guardsmen when the country is thick with Badr fighters anyway (who have all the same training)? I think the US is just embarrassed because Badr is its major ally in Iraq, and Pentagon spokesmen are over-compensating by imagining Iranian training camps inside Iraq.
 blog it

Truth Telling on Iraq--from Soldiers

This is one of the best op-eds/pieces on Iraq I've read yet. Written by American soldiers. Maybe the best. Certainly coming from soldiers, it carries a greater weight of legitimacy.

They begin (all emphasis mine):
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.
The authors then detail a recent attack on US forces that clearly had some involvement with the Iraqi Army and/or Police. The Army/Police gave their position to the attackers it would appear.

Their conclusion on the matter:
As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.
Followed by the point echoed by others than while arming the so-called Sunni tribesman works against al-Qaeda in Iraq, it is entirely unclear whether they are in any fashion loyal to the central government (seen as an Iranian proxy).

The counterinsurgency model Petraeus employs is based largely on the British in Malaysia and Kenya (Mau Mau Revolt). In both those instances, the British were brutal beyond the current allowed climate---given YouTube and the climate of the American not to mention Western world attitude.

In other words:
While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse —namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Never heard described in pro-surge contexts. Speaking of criticizing propaganda, this nice jab at certain Senators who will remain nameless:
Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.
And an equally nice jab at Democrats (and some Senate Republicans):
Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.
On the Shia and the political situation:
The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment. Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support. Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.
Their conclusion:
In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence....In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal. Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
Wow. See if this gets the play it deserves in the press and blogosphere.

Update I: Joe Klein seconds. And says its puts to shame "all the Kristol, McCain, Lieberman, Pollack and O'Hanlon etc etc cheerleading of the past two months."

Update II: While it will certainly get play on the left for its corrective to the pro-surgers, the article is very clear that the Democratic line of timetables/benchmarks for withdrawal is also failed. The article if anything points to Baker-Hamilton, pull back to Kurdistan, and prevent the civil war and bloodshed from within crossing the borders. Or being stoked by others crossing in.

As Barnett says, we have to get out of the mindset of winning the war (or being a defeatist) that is perpetuated from the right and the how fast can we get out attitude from the left. The peace was lost not the war. That is what these soldiers tell. No surge will restore the peace. That opportunity was a one shot deal--we missed it. It's gone, it's never coming back. Time to move on. This is different than defeat. This is simply accepting reality as opposed to assuming one can simply by military might & rhetoric make reality (that Bush is such a conservative postmodernist---very Foucaultian).

Saturday, August 18, 2007


The middle paragraph is the key one--you have to actually think about the consequences of laws and their meaning before legislating them based on the executive branch playing politics with the terrorism trump card.
clipped from
Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.
The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.
It also offers a case study in how changing a few words in a complex piece of legislation has the potential to fundamentally alter the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a landmark national security law. The new legislation is set to expire in less than six months; two weeks after it was signed into law, there is still heated debate over how much power Congress gave to the president.
 blog it