Priorities. They Can Has.

by matttbastard

Noted w/o comment:

Time Magazine covers – December 5, 2011

h/t

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Iran: Dreams Underfoot

by matttbastard

(Image: sterno74, used under a Creative Commons licence)

Following the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, Tom Regan’s Terrorism and Security Briefing for the Christian Science Monitor became a must-read for anyone who wanted a daily general analysis of counterterrorism/counterinsurgency developments around the world. Unfortunately, Regan no longer compiles the briefing. But, late last week, he quietly emerged from an undisclosed location to pen this must-read take on the ongoing post-election turmoil in Iran.

Regan notes that the West may be projecting its own collective desire for transformative political reform in the region onto a murky, still-fluid situation that is not quite the widespread democratic uprising that the mainstream media and Western political establishment would have us believe:

…I strongly believe that what are seeing in Iran is something like a reality based TV show. It’s based on a real incident, but it’s still being shaped by the show’s writers and director (ie, the western media) to be the most interesting to a Western audience. We’re only seeing the bits of tape that conform to what the western media ([which] represent us) want the story to be. It’s real but it’s not reality.

First, this is most definitely NOT a national revolution. This is a protest largely based, as I said, in northern Tehran, the more affluent and prosperous area of the city where most of the universities are located as are (surprised) the hotels where most western journalists stay. As Time’s Joe Klein (who just got back from Tehran) noted in an interview on CNN yesterday, there is no protest at all in southern Tehran, the largest part of the city where the poor and less-educated live. This is Ahmadinejad ’s base. And there is almost no protest at all in rural areas. The regime is firmly in command in most of the country, and the more repressive elements like the Revolutionary Guard have yet to really make their presence felt.

You know, this beginning to sound like Beijing 20 years ago.

Now, there is always the chance that a revolt driven by a relatively small number of the country’s population will succeed in overthrowing the country’s regime. Especially in Iran, where one revolution has already done that. But that was a revolt approved by the large majority of the people against a hated despot. This is not the same situation. If there is hatred of Ahmedinejad it comes no where near close to the hatred felt for the Shah. It’s just not going to happen.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

h/t Karoli via Twitter

Related: Patrick Martin provides a history lesson on Mir-Houssein Mousavi, a most unlikely champion for Western-style liberal democracy, while John Palfrey, Bruce Etling and Robert Faris of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society share an informative survey of the overall Iranian web presence (which–surprise–may not conform with what we’ve been voyeuristically observing via Twitter). Elsewhere, Dana Goldstein gives us these two mustread posts on the role Iranian feminists have played in the uprising (h/t Ann Friedman). Also see the one and only Antonia Zerbisias (taking a welcome respite from blogging about her thighs and pention [sic]) for more on how–and why–the women of Iran have taken the lead in demonstrations.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Party of Batshit (We Report, You Decide)

by matttbastard

Via MMfA:

This montage illustrates exactly what Charles Johnson was talking about when he recently said that the guano loco-ization of Fox News “will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.” Yeah.  Angry kids at Columbine throwing (deadly) tantrums with AR-15s (get ’em before Obama repeals the 2nd amendment!)

Make sure to also check out Glenn Beck’s unhinged object lesson on how Obama wants to (rhetorically!) immolate “average Americans” via immigration policy (talk about inflammatory rhetoric).

Remember when we were all bemoaning the fact that an ‘extremist’ like Rush had the GOP establishment by the short and curlies? Compared to these characters, Limbaugh is looking positively rational.  And the Republican governor of Texas is “proud” to be associated with those eagerly giving a platform to the Birchers and the end-timers.

“[F]urther marginalization of the GOP,” indeed.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: The Power of Illusions

by matttbastard

 

There is one thing about Henry Kissinger, the ultimate cynical Realpolitiker, that strikes the eye of all observers: How utterly wrong most of his predictions were. To take only one example, when news reached the West about the 1991 anti-Gorbachev military coup, he immediately accepted the new regime (which ignominiously collapsed three days later) as a fact. In short, when socialist regimes were already a living dead, Kissinger was counting on a long-term pact with them.

The position of the cynic is that he alone holds some piece of terrible, unvarnished wisdom. The paradigmatic cynic tells you privately, in a confidential low-key voice: “But don’t you get it that it is all really about (money/power/sex), that all high principles and values are just empty phrases which count for nothing?” What the cynics don’t see is their own naivety, the naivety of their cynical wisdom that ignores the power of illusions.

The reason Obama’s victory generated such enthusiasm is not only the fact that, against all odds, it really happened, but that the possibility of such a thing to happen was demonstrated. The same goes for all great historical ruptures. Recall the fall of the Berlin Wall: Although we all knew about the rotten inefficiency of the Communist regimes, we somehow did not “really believe” that they will disintegrate. Like Kissinger, we were all too much victims of cynical pragmatism.

[…]

The true battle begins now, after the victory: The battle for what this victory will effectively mean, especially within the context of two other much more ominous signs of history: 9/11 and the financial meltdown. Nothing was decided by Obama’s victory, but his victory widens our freedom and thereby the scope of our decisions. But regardless of whether we succeed or fail, Obama’s victory will remain a sign of hope in our otherwise dark times, a sign that the last word does not belong to “realist” cynics, be they from the Left or the Right.

– Slavoj Žižek, Why Cynics Are Wrong: The sublime shock of Obama’s victory

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: Half Mast Victories

by matttbastard

The truth about feminism is that we cannot imagine the road to change if it comes back in exclusive dividends. It is meant for the freedom of others who are not here, who have died in vain, in violence, in secrecy, in the dark, and in fear. Feminism, until it thwarts itself from the clutches of materialistic greed, will never liberate anyone. It will succeed in a half-mast victory for a few handfuls of women who’ll erroneously assume the battle was well-fought and won.

– Sudy, LIVE Blogging from WAM: The Truth Out About Feminism (h/t purtek)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers