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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

July 16, 2004
Quickly, Now

I'm really not sure what to say about the Philippines pulling out of Iraq. I guess they're doing what they feel they have to do, and I can't say I blame them. They sent around 50 soldiers to Iraq under whatever financial pressure or inducement the USofA applied but the war probably isn't turning out the way they expected.

On the other hand, it's true that you don't win by caving in to pressure from the bad guys. Europe knows that.

Security officials in Germany and other EU nations say there's no reason to further tighten stringent security following Thursday's end of a three-month terrorism truce purportedly offered by Osama bin Laden to Europe.


Most European countries spurned the al Qaeda ultimatum when it first appeared, stressing that they weren't going to deal or bow down to any terrorist group.

That "most" bothers me. I wonder which country or countries didn't spurn the offer and precisely what not spurning it consisted of? Failing to make a public announcement that they were spurning it or tacitly pretending it had nothing to do with them since they didn't have troops in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Of course, it has to be accepted that our behavior in Iraq isn't really designed to inspire the Middle East to confidence. (Nor is that of some other people.)

I'm saddened by the news that 75 or more children burned to death in a school in India.

Schools all over this country are decaying, day by day, while there's no money for maintenance or renovation, you know. We can't afford to maintain schools. We have wars to fight, people to kill, that sort of thing. I just hope we never see a headline like the Indian one about a school here.

Should I lavish praise on the Bush Administration, no matter how cautiously? I don't know, but if this is true, maybe I should. I've made a fair number of bitter remarks about the USofA's habit of turning a blind eye toward atrocities when it suits us. If this is really a step toward abandoning this policy, then I'll be applauding. (Cynicism suggests that there's more to it than simple concern for human rights, a topic of less than primary concern to the Bush Administration.)

In spite of the praise lavished on her recent columns, I haven't been reading Ehrenreich's efforts recently, but I stumbled across this one and immediately regretted my inexplicable avoidance. "All Together Now"

Societies throughout history have recognized the hazards of groupthink and made arrangements to guard against it. The shaman, the wise woman and similar figures all represent institutionalized outlets for alternative points of view. In the European carnival tradition, a "king of fools" was permitted to mock the authorities, at least for a day or two. In some cultures, people resorted to vision quests or hallucinogens anything to get out of the box. Because, while the capacity for groupthink is an endearing part of our legacy as social animals, it's also a common precondition for self-destruction. One thousand coalition soldiers have died because the C.I.A. was so eager to go along with the emperor's delusion that he was actually wearing clothes.

Joel Bleifuss is beating a dead horse. Specifically, Reagan. More specifically, why Bush is a lot worse than Reagan.

A move to stop trafficking in conflict diamonds in the Congo is a good thing.

I don't think Stephen Hawking should be let to change his black hole theory. It was hard enough to understand his theories in the first place, I spent six months reading physics books. The new theory is interesting though. Now I see black holes as a sort of galactic time capsule. Things fall in, but they might fall out again.

And The Guardian is collecting urban myths. The posts are interesting, but I'm looking forward to the promised analysis next week even more.

I clicked on this headline just because it was funny ("Reason's Heathens) and found out it was a book review. Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies, Just what I need, another book to add to my towering "to be read" stack.

Dave Barry shops.

Internet access still wacky today, I'm afraid. I'm getting on for about 30 seconds, then getting booted for a couple of minutes, then getting back on for about 30 seconds, etc. It took me almost an hour and a half to compile this post, for instance. Hardly seems worth it, does it?

Posted by AnneZook at 07:22 AM


Anne: Do yourself a favor and skip Occidentalism. Buruma is a particular non-favorite of mine, for reasons which are a little complex but can be boiled down to: he writes about things that are pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a few minutes and his arguments are often circular (particularly his tendency to talk about cultures as units, though he's quite selective about his sources) but he won't admit it. On the other hand, Ralph Luker just posted a link to a very detailed and interesting review of a book which is much closer to the subject than Bururma: http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/6321.html

Read that, for a start.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at July 18, 2004 04:08 AM

Thanks for the suggestion, Jonathan. I'll be taking your advice.

Posted by: Anne at July 18, 2004 12:20 PM

Sorry, but due to some rearranging of posts, the link I gave you doesn't exist anymore. But check back in a day or two and look for Ralph's post on "Early Modern"

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at July 18, 2004 03:00 PM

I was about to send you a message asking for a corrected link. :)

Since I see Cliopatria every day, I'm sure I'll see the post when it appears.

Posted by: Anne at July 18, 2004 09:03 PM