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Showing posts from July, 2018
I’m listening to Christopher Hitchens’ fine collection of essays, “arguably.” I’d read many of these years ago, but had forgotten how good of a writer he was. Listening to him take down JFK is pure poetry. However his post 9/11 theme, that fundamentalist Islam is the threat most comparable to 20th century fascism for the enlightenment influenced democracies, stands on even shakier ground today. His realpolitik version of Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” had our enlightenment influenced democracy with Puritan characteristics as some sort of revolutionary regime spreading the best we can do to some despotic areas. It’s quite a twist that Iraq ended up being a boon to Iran, which caused the gulf monarchies to freak out. Of course Trump and his goons are now trying to make amends by demonizing Iran to an absurd degree. I wonder if America allying itself with al-Qaeda in Syria would be enough to cause Hitchens to rethink some things? Maybe his weird hatred for the Baathists extended to the…
The threat to liberal values (liberal in the philosophical sense) coming from right-wing populism is pretty unconvincing considering that the self-appointed gatekeepers of those values, from EU technocrats to Thomas Friedman to Emmanuel Macron, have pretty well opposed all secularism and republicanism in the Middle East for decades while simultaneously championing the Gulf monarchies. If you compare human rights abuses between places like Iran and Syria (pre civil war) on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other, it’s a wash. Sure Iran is a theocracy, but it’s a republican theocracy, meaning they’ve fundamentally adopted western thought into their state. Doesn’t that count for anything Mr. Friedman? Nothing the monarchs do seems to matter, but the world is close to over because Hungary, Poland, and Italy embrace some mild illiberalism. Trump can be a mixed bag. Those liberal thought leaders love him when he passes tax cuts, bombs Syria and threatens Iran, but we also have…

Spinning Boris

During the 1996 Russian Presidential election the Clinton administration sent advisers to secure electoral victory for Boris Yeltsin. The election was fraudulent, by all credible accounts, as the deeply unpopular Yeltsin had already effectively sold off the country to the highest bidders causing millions of people to lose their pensions and plunging tens of thousands into life threatening poverty. The general chaos of the Yeltsin years provided the framework for Putin’s rise as the one to bring back order. 
This collusion between the Yeltsin and Clinton governments was such a non-issue there was even a goofy Jeff Goldblum movie made about it. (Google “Spinning Boris.”) 
This basic context, and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the US inserting itself into Russian affairs after the fall of the Soviet Union, is almost never given when the media reports on Russia. This is likely because it makes “Russian agents” exposing the DNC’s bias against Bernie Sanders and placing…