Stepping Away From the Dick-Snark

by matttbastard

D-Day:

There’s a top-rated diary on Daily Kos right now entitled Dennis Prager Endorses Marital Rape. Somebody explain to me how the CIA isn’t doing functionally the same thing.

Also make sure to check out Echidne and my CFLF co-blogger Kathy for more on the women whose concerns (which, it should be noted, were not broached even in a cursory manner by the Washington Post) have almost been universally silenced by the disturbingly jovial snickering (in hindsight, yours truly is, unfortunately, not innocent in this regard, either).

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When ‘Soft Power’ Isn’t So Soft

by matttbastard

I hope you’ll excuse me if I refrain from opining at length or in explicit detail about this amusing little nugget currently smoldering in the slow holiday news cycle. Am loath to trigger the unwelcome attention of relentless sp@mbots. Instead, a quote from The Matrix (just make sure to invert the colour scheme so that it makes more sense in context):

You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Now, I know that the US is apparently bound and determined to import the Anbar Model to Afghanistan at any cost, but is this really the *cough* tribal awakening that Gen. Petraeus had in mind–“pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos”?

Gotta second Jesse Walker:

I look forward to the dueling Reichian and Foucauldian interpretations of this approach.

Related: Megan Carpentier and Spencer Ackerman analyze the CIA’s novel chemical inducement strategy from a feminist perspective and whip out the expected cock jokes. What? C’mon, it’s Jezebel. Dick-and-fart feminism is their bread and butter. Although I suppose one could argue that even for a Gawker Media affiliate going below the belt like that is merely plucking *ahem* low hanging fruit to increase page views (see what I did there? Eh? Eh? Ok, I’ve had more than enough broad penis humour for one day.)

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Amil Khan: “The Obama victory will require follow-up if he is to change perceptions [in the Muslim world].”

by matttbastard

guantanamo

Amil Khan on what Barack Obama’s victory could potentially mean for al-Qaida, the Middle East, and America’s image in the Muslim world:

It’s often overlooked that al-Qaida promises a fairer society. If its support is flagging, it’s because ordinary people have looked at its methods and wondered what sort of state it would run. But the calls for an end to corruption, nepotism and restoration of pride, dignity and self-determination still resound just as they have for more than 100 years through other ideologies.

Al-Qaida’s brand has done well in the past seven years because of America’s mistakes rather than the group’s achievements. By just proving its continued existence, it could assume an image on the streets of Cairo, Casablanca and Karachi as the plucky standard-bearer of Muslim pride. The torture in Abu Ghraib and the detainees in Guantanamo were heaven-sent opportunities to say; “Look! Rule of law? Human rights? All lies. None of that means anything to America.”

[…]

When America starts showing that it can deliver social justice at home, it makes public opinion in the Muslim world wonder whether it can do so abroad. However, the election only produces a window of opportunity for America, and Britain, to make a serious dent in al-Qaida’s rhetoric by proving their commitment to the ideas and principles for which they say they fight. The Obama victory will require follow-up if he is to change perceptions. Closing Guantánamo, as the president-elect has pledged, would be a great start.

Related: More on Obama’s ambiguous plans for the post-Guantanamo era from Cernig, Spattackerman, digby, and Mithras, who asks a salient question that threatens to be lost in the shadows of Camp Justice:

Although Gitmo is large and symbolically important, we reportedly have secret prisons all over the world. Is Obama going to include people being held there for long periods of time in this program?

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Quote of the Day: Literalizing a Metaphor

by matttbastard

To me, one of the problems of the paradigm of global war is that it has not signified war in the metaphorical sense, like war on AIDS, war on drugs, and war on poverty. It has signified war in a literal sense that the employment of military power, on a large scale, in pursuit of very large ambitions—like the liberation or dominance or transformation of Iraq—ought to really be the principle instrument in order to achieve our purposes. I think that takes us down the wrong road. I think, and others have argued, that a new version of containment actually provides the basis to begin thinking about how to prevent another 9/11. Not a new war, not a global war, not a protracted war. The answer to the problem is not to invade and occupy countries, which we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, but relying on other instruments of power to try to prevent Islamic radicalism from increasing its reach and its influence in the world.

I’ve reviewed [Robert] Kagan’s new book [The Return of History and the End of Dreams] in the most recent issue [of Foreign Affairs], and I was very critical of the book. I really didn’t like it, but the one thing that really bowled me over, and that I emphatically agree with, is that what the Islamists have on offer cannot win. The plan that they have, the concept for how people should live, is simply not responsive to what ordinary folk want for their lives. I mean, they are fighting against modernity, and as Robert Kagan says, that is a fight that they cannot win.

Almost everything on this struggle is on our side, and therefore we should approach it with the confidence and patience, and shouldn’t run pell-mell into these military adventures that the Bush administration has approached. Our adversaries are contemptible. Our adversaries are criminals. Our adversaries are murderers. We ought not to dignify their cause as if it were the equivalent of Marxism or Leninism or National Socialism or something of the last century, because they don’t deserve that type of status.

– Andrew Bacevich, from a recent interview with Greg Bruno of the Council on Foreign Relations

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