Faking Civil Society

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the USA PATRIOT Act, the following exchange took place between former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, now attorney general, and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.): "GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, let me, kind of, reassure the committee and the American people that the department has no interest in rummaging through the … Continue reading “Faking Civil Society”

Drugs, Bases, and Jails: The Afghan Spring

If Iraq has been the disaster zone of Bush foreign policy, Afghanistan is still generally thought of as its success story – to the extent that anyone in our part of the world thinks about that country at all any more. Before the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan experienced a relative flood of American attention. It … Continue reading “Drugs, Bases, and Jails: The Afghan Spring”

If You Build It, They Will Kill

There’s that classic line of career advice to the confused young hero of the 1967 film The Graduate: “I want to say one word to you. Just one word… plastics.” With the perspective of a few extra decades under our belts (or beltways), that word probably should have been “arms.” After all, what a couple … Continue reading “If You Build It, They Will Kill”

Why World War IV Can’t Sell

Earlier this month, having long been bothered by the claims of various neocons that we were in “World War IV” (also known as “the Global War on Terrorism”), I wrote a piece, "Which War Is This Again?," considering the idea. I pointed out among other things that whatever the Cold War might have been, it … Continue reading “Why World War IV Can’t Sell”

Deconstructing Iraq: Year Three Begins

A Little Background Music Shakar Odai, the head of the Internal Affairs Department of the Baghdad police, was recently interviewed by David Enders of Mother Jones magazine, who wrote: “‘More than 98’ percent of the police officers (a force known alike for its use of torture and its widespread corruption) returned to work after the … Continue reading “Deconstructing Iraq: Year Three Begins”

Playing the Democracy Card

Have we really almost rolled around – yet again – to the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, this time amid much Bush administration and neocon self-congratulation, as well as media congratulations (grudging or otherwise) for an Iraqi-election-inspired spread of democracy in the Middle East? And what will we be congratulating ourselves on next year, … Continue reading “Playing the Democracy Card”

Coming to Terms With China

In our media lives, Asia plays a remarkably small and fragmented role, given its growing importance in the world. In our press, coverage of Asia is a strange jumble of alarums, fears, and trends: the North Korean bomb, avian flu and SARS, the tsunami, the Taiwan “war bill,” the growth of the Chinese Navy, anime … Continue reading “Coming to Terms With China”

False Victories in the War on Terror

In the rush of recent news about renditions, extraordinary renditions, the beating to death and systematic abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan, the holding of children as young as 11 in Abu Ghraib prison, the desire of Donald Rumsfeld to transfer large numbers of prisoners in Guantánamo back to their countries of origin, and other tales … Continue reading “False Victories in the War on Terror”