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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Give (some peace a chance in Libya

With so many wars underway it is understandable that its opposite has been forgotten. Take Libya, one of the topics at the meeting of the G8 'the fancy countries.' Libya presents a clear case for peacemaking. Neither Tripoli nor Benghazi can win. So settle up, make nice, and everybody wins. Not pretty and 'no mission accomplished' banners. No doubt there would be grumbling. But postmodern politics are those of the in-between of the liminal. The era of total war is over when entire populations were recruited into the fight. The choices now are not victory versus defeat nor war versus peace nor even life versus death. They are more or less war versus more or less peace. Right now Libya is in the midst of the former. The interesting future would be to see some half-assed peace come out of this. Same in Yemen: today impure war...tomorrow impure peace.      

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On debt ratings companies...

Were it not for a craven press that simply repeats their 'assessments' would anyone listen to the likes of Fitch or S&P who go around pronouncing that Greece and even the USA is a bad credit risk? An old conspriacy movie, Enemy of the state, had a great line: who's monitoring the monitors? Well today let us be the first...we are. And we say, after their oversights in 2008-2009, that they are full of it.

The world ended; we're dead; we're zombies

According to some rapturian, the world ended yesterday. Now most people are laughing at him and his followers. But suppose we agree that it did end. Today then we are zombies or somnambulists sleepwalking through life. Agreed, most zombie movies show beings thoughtlessly lusting for blood and admittedly that is not the case today. But Hollywood moviemakers have it wrong. The dead are a fairly peaceful bunch and so we may be in such a low energy state ourselves. Alternatively the dead do not just rest in peace but instead assume the forms of ghosts and phantoms.For example, so-called primitive cultures see their ancestors as always with them, needing reassurance and appeasement. If so, they and we have also become wispy beings who can only repeat themselves and haunt others with their issues. Hardly seems like rapture. What is worrisome is if our politics are just as dead and ghostly and lacking in new solutions.   

Monday, May 16, 2011

USA credit maxed out?

$14 Tr. or so in debt is the official or legal credit limit. But that is not the end of the story. What happens when you max out your credit? You can pay it off, bargain it down, go bankrupt, renegotiate terms for more time to pay it back etc.

In a prior post I dismissed the reality of the debt/deficit (not just for the US but for EU too).

Smart politicians will never let the debt become a real problem, i.e. where living standards of plummet as a result. Look at Greece! In Greece the games of politics and economics can hardly be played anymore. Politicians and journalists there can't scare citizens to vote for them against their opponents. They're not listening; just non-stop rioting against the starvation and privation. And economists can't convince anyone that suffering is in the national economic interest (whether it truly is or not is another question).

Point: US politicians won't let the debt reach the crisis point. Yes they will scare citizens to help them in the next election (the media will happily oblige). But to have it actually hurt! No. Put it off. Plenty of ways to do that (see above).

Some bright spots: Tunisia and Egypt

There is already talk among pundits that what is called the Arab Spring is turning wintry. But in Egypt and Tunisia there are some good signs.

Egypt is evidently prosecuting Mubarak and his wife as corrupt. Perhaps they will also prosecute them criminally for their long term threat to the freedom of the people. Yes it is an old fashioned, modern, political concept to mention in 2011. Still criminal charges beyond corruption would start the ball rolling towards grounding a free society. Add some new museums emphasizing the Tahrir square fight, some new school textbooks for the kids and it could be developed, no doubt uneasily alongside other cultural values in the country.

Tunisia is electing a national assembly to write a new constitution (the US never did that!). But here one must be more careful in prediction. Laws can be circumvented by clever and/or powerful people. So a new pretty constitution may not be enough. Identifying anti-freedom is more palpable for people. Unfortunately Ben Ali and his Marie Antoinette wife got away. Trials in effigy then?   

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bin laden 'killing'

Odd term in the media and elsewhere for what happened to bin Laden. Not an assassination but a killing. Sometimes in the passive voice: his death.

But a 'killing.' Not something you hear too much outside of business. 

The killing term in this context is no holds barred, in your face you might say. 

Which suggests no shame in the act. A justified 'kill' is the implication.

What else is to be made of the national ebullience over this action in Pakistan? 

Interpretation: It feels good to be good. The action was right so nothing to be ashamed of. I am no philosopher but that is a different sort of goodness from the idea of being good because one does good, e.g. charity or volunteerism. Is this the Nietzschean mode of goodness from the early section of his Genealogy? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden dead already

No the point is not that he died from renal failure years ago to be buried secretly by his supporters. Rather he had already become a pure image, for some of evil for others not. The actual or physical bin Laden became of much less importance than the image of him.

The recent US raid then, in which bin Laden was killed plays (or prays) upon Osama as image. One kills the image with a even more perfected, over-the-top image. Commandos rappelling onto a suburban mansion, a spirited firefight, even a feminine touch with the report of a human shield. Then the body hoisted away and eventually dumped with religious dignity into the sea.

What really happened is wholly irrelevant.

The image of bin Laden and now the new image or model of his death is what matters for politicians, reporters, and for the celebrants in Lafayette park.

Some years ago the USA contracted with Hollywood screenwriters to come up with the most twisted scenarios they could imagine  The recent killing has the same hallmarks. Imagine this: a new call from the US to screenwriters to imagine how bin Laden would be found. In a cave. No, too boring. How about a suburban mansion. Living an almost idyllic family life. Then a sudden raid by professionals. A touch of romance when the wife throws herself between them or was used as a human shield (either image brings in the necessary element). A body snatched. Then a CSI exam followed by burial at sea (expect those images any minute now).

Like a Hitchcock horror movie that is not too graphic, our imaginations fill in any gaps in this scenario (and gaps there are for the story is already changing; Osama was armed now it is said he was not0.   

What's next? I would not be surprised to see a counter-image arise soon. If not bin Laden himself then a lookalike will soon release a new threatening video or photo with audio message. Stay tuned. This is over and out