Tuesday Night Tidbits: 101.5 Degrees of Separation

Am weak, feverish and not at all in any condition (nor state of mind) to write (not coherently, at least). Instead, I’m happy to present some recent choice selections from other (far more) capable and coherent scribes (all of whom actually get paid to report/opine. Sigh.)

  • In an interview with Der Spiegel, U.S. military historian Gabriel Kolko observes that “[m]any in the US military think Bush and Cheney are out of control” and “are rebelling against Bush and Cheney” over recent hawkish overtures towards Iran. But, as London-based Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer points out, though the U.S. defence establishment may contend that war with Iran at this time would be insane, “insane isn’t the same as improbable” and “American generals aren’t in the habit of resigning when they get stupid orders.”
  • TIME.com senior editor Tony Karon (who also blogs at Rootless Cosmopolitan) analyzes the geopolitical implications of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran, during which Putin offered “qualified support” of “peaceful nuclear activities” on the part of Iran.
  • Michael Hirsch on Iraq, Burma, and the romanticizing of democracy: “Democracy is very, very hard. It can’t be imposed from without. (The two examples the Bush administration loves to cite—postwar Germany and Japan—both featured highly developed countries that had had considerable experience with democracy before the U.S. occupation.) It is evolutionary, not revolutionary. And it is certainly not a panacea. [emph. mine]”
  • In the London Review of Books, Jim Holt speculates that, far from being a ‘quagmire’ or a ‘fiasco’, the current situation in Iraq may be going exactly to plan — and withdrawal is not nor ever has been in the cards. Hint – like Greenspan said, it’s the crude, dude: “The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.” As Holt further notes, “[t]he occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth.”
  • Despite the grandiose hegemonic ambitions outlined in Holt’s (admittedly speculative) LRB essay, Philip S. Golub contends that “[t]he disastrous outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused a crisis in the power elite of the United States deeper than that resulting from defeat in Vietnam 30 years ago.” Related: Golub on “The politics of absolute power

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