....LMB: "Iraq Iraq Iraq"....

September 24, 2002

Yeah, not even 24 hours have passed since I said that I was going to cut back on Iraq-related entries, and I'm already posting another Iraq entry.

Heard an interesting argument yesterday on KPFK's Daily Review radio show. The host of the show rotates, and yesterday's was Ian Masters, who I think is great, very knowledgable, very insightful. Masters was interviewing journalist Eli Lake about his recent New Republic article about a conflict between the CIA and the Pentagon over who gets to advise the president about Iraq. But the discussion shifted to a broader debate about US power, democracy and human rights.

First of all, Lake claims that the Bush administration is working on an assumption that Muslim dictatorships and Muslim terrorism are inextricably linked. And since finding and destroying terrorist cells is difficult, the administration will instead destroy these governments and replace them with democracies. So in a sense, the region-wide instabilities (instabilities that could potentially overturn dictatorships and replace them with democracy-like regimes) that a war against Iraq could cause are not an unwanted side-effect for the White House, but the actual policy goal.

Lake then goes on to pose this question: why does the Left, which is opposed to tyranny and oppression, oppose the use of the U.S. military to democratize Iraq and possibly the rest of the Middle East? He suggested his own answer about knee-jerk anti-war sentiment and a distrust of American government that he implied was misplaced. Not a bad argument, although I disagree with many of the assumptions upon which it's based.

First of all, let's bolster Lake's initial theory about the White House's goal of fighting terrorism by fighting Middle Eastern tyranny with this article, The Real Foe Is Middle Eastern Tyranny. It's written by a member of the influential conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute. The facts that the AEI is taking this position, and that it frequently contributes to American policy, supports Lake's argument that the White House does indeed hold this view.

First of all, I disagree with this viewpoint, that somehow Middle Eastern dictatorships are responsible for what we call terrorism (once upon a time, the term "terrorism" meant "brutal governmental oppression, " in which case these dictatorships would be very responsible for terrorism). These terrorist organizations seem to function fine without governmental sponsors. I get the impression that they are frequently funded by wealthy elites within some of these repressive countries, but not necessarily by governments.

So let's take on Lake's question to Lefties. And if the U.S. military was truly setting out to do what he claims they are out to do, that would be a very good debate. Is it morally acceptable to use force to remove dictators? Do other nations have the right to interfere in another country's affairs that way? Will the eventual regime change justify the inevitable death count?

But I think that those questions become moot in this case here. I don't think that the U.S.' goal is to replace the Middle Eastern tyrannies with democracies. I think that'd be just another cover story. I think that the goal would be to replace the Middle Eastern tyrannies with America-friendly regimes, democratic or not. The U.S. has a long history of supporting governments, no matter how democratic or despotic, that are amenable to U.S. interests. For PR reasons, I imagine that the U.S. would want these new Middle Eastern regimes to look like democracies, because that helps justify the intervention.

But there's still some valid questions in there for anti-war folks. Would even a sham democracy be better for the people of Iraq than life under Saddam Hussein? Would the destruction of war justify this regime change?

But an important question that I don't think anyone is asking is "what do the people of Iraq want?" As far as I know, no one's asking them. If you did ask, I imagine the first thing they'd say is "end the sanctions," the ones that are depriving them of much-needed food and medicine. But apart from that, I don't know what they would want. Frankly, it's a possibility that they support Saddam Hussein. Much the way that Americans rallied around George W. Bush in a time of crisis, maybe the Iraqi people have done the same.

So here's the Jake Sexton Might-Help-But-Certainly-Won't-Solve-the-Problem Iraq Policy:

End the sanctions against Iraq
Begin an international weapons embargo to the entire Middle East
Find out what the people of Iraq would want us to do, and see if we can help

Posted by Jake at 10:12 AM
Comments

Think of another way of life, of living.A peaceful way with no authoritys, no police, because they were not needed because nobody was horrible,everyone trusted each other,everyone was open minded.It is hard to imagine such a place,mankind is so used to living in this way,it is very hard to think of any different ways (especially with the media and governments fucking everyones heads up).
p.s.my e-mail is broken so there's no point in emailin...

Posted by: ed at October 3, 2002 02:50 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:

Failure.

What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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