Monday, April 24, 2006

A Little Bit of Muscle Goes a Long Way

In an effort to restore confidence in the White House, Georgie has been doing a little bit of spring cleaning. It seems, however, that some poeple still aren't satisfied, and are once again calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.

I'd like to get in nice and early with a sugestion for a suitable replacement. Of course it needs to be someone who will project an image of strength and confidence. Someone who can inspire terror in the hearts of enemies, and trust in the bosoms of allies. For the man in charge of the most powerful army in the world, I'd like to offer up for your consideration:

I know I'd sleep better at night knowing he was defending me and mine.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Optimism Drops In for a Fleeting Visit

There's an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune from the Boston Globe about the shared interest Iran and the US have in preventing Iraq from collapsing in on itself. The article suggests that if they're going to have any hope of working together on this issue, both states will have to compromise or offer something meaningful in return for the support and cooperation of the other.

An issue close to my heart is the role of morality in foreign policy. Morality is a slippery concept and one that cannot easily be defined. Hans Morgethau said one of the smartest things regarding this issue:

"There can be no political morality without prudence; that is, without consideration of the political consequences of seemingly moral action."

Publicly the actions of the US have been anything but prudent. One hopes, however, that the need to stabilise Iraq is of such national importance to both the US and Iran that it could promote some degree of prudence in their dealings with each other, despite public hot headedness. And name calling. And the waving of nuclear weapons in each other's face.

I know I'm being slightly naive here. I do have occasional moments of wordly optimism before I beat it back down with a stick called Realism and trundle off to kick another wall.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Worms Than You Can Poke A Stick At

It seems the research paper critiquing the Israel Lobby's influence over American foreign policy, which I briefly mentioned here, is continuing to cause tempers to rise and nostrils to flare. There's an opinion piece in The Australian with some interesting comments on the relationship Australia has with Israel.

Over here is a response to the paper by Michael A. Ledeen, that much needed voice of informed and dispassionate reason (note the words dripping with bitter sarcasm). He helpfully describes the research paper as "really dumb..."

It's a highly entertaining read.

Now I will stop procrastinating and go and mark those damn assignments. Bah!

Walks off slowly dragging feet.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Michael Franti

Recently Michael Franti travelled through Iraq, Israel and Palestine and has made a documnetary called I Know I'm Not Alone that will be screening at Cinema Nova in Melbourne from April 13. Here is the description of the film from the nova website:

Armed with an acoustic guitar and a video camera, world-renowned musician, poet and activist Michael Franti takes us on a musical journey through war and occupation in Iraq, Israel and Palestine. Along the way he shares his music with families, doctors, musicians, soldiers and everyday people who in turn reveal to him the often overlooked human cost of war. Told in their own words, this film provides a rare glimpse into the lives of those who are affected by the war the most. Michael’s story-telling and songs masterfully weave the film into a visual and musical tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. The documentary captures beautiful imagery of humanity and the terrible destruction war brings, incorporation musical montages and a soundtrack written during and after the experience performed by Michael Franti.

Here is the link to the official webiste.

Am curious to see what this is like. Am also immensely jealous. When I casually mentioned to my mother the other day that I'd love to go to Iraq to do research on the democratic transition there she threatened to lock me in the spare bedroom of the family home and never let me out again. Ever.

Friday, April 07, 2006

WARNING: Walk On Water At Own Risk

It seems some pesky scientists have come up with a scientific explanation for how Jesus may have managed to walk on water. Understandably, this has caused some distress among the faithful.

Personally, I've never managed to understand what all the fuss was about. Faith, by its nature, transcends everyday mundane phenomena, so surely it should be able to withstand the prodding and poking of scientists.
Not being an overly faithful person myself, I tend to trust the laws of science and am mindful of Jeff Goldblum's tragic end. With this in mind I like to get around as nature intended. In a canoe. When it comes to aquatic activites one can never be too careful.

(Picture courtesy of the wonderful Munkey)

On the subject of faith I'd like to leave you with some words from the brilliant and highly underrated film, The Favour, the Watch, and the Very Big Fish:

"I mean, I've got my doubts. I'm not totally convinced about God. If He's there, He's there. If He's not, He's not. In fact, if He is there at least I can say I've done more for Him than He's done for me. He's performed no miracles for me, my friend. "Cast thy bread upon the waters and it shall be returned to you a thousand-fold." But what can you do with a thousand loaves of wet bread?"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Can of Worms

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have recently published a working paper titled: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. It makes for some pretty fascinating reading.

Their main conclusion seems to be that the powerful Israel Lobby in America has influenced US foreign policy to such an extent that most policy decisions are centered on unconditional support for Israel, often at the expense, and sometimes in direct opposition, to actual US interests.

This paper has, of course, sparked widespread controversy. One
critic described it as:

"A classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control..."

This accusation, and many others of a similar nature that have been leveled at the authors, are to be expected where any criticism of Israel is involved. The problem is that any reasonable and informed debate about the US/Israel alliance and its implications for US foreign policy has largely been eclipsed by the more emotional and vitriolic response. Surely research that raises such serious questions deserves more than this.

Or we could just continue kicking each other in the shins.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Fine Romance

Jack Straw and Condoleeza Rice are currently in Iraq pressuring Iraqi leaders to form a unity government.

On the flight to Iraq, it seems forien diplomacy was already in full swing when Rice gave up her bed to the English gentleman and slept outside in the corridor.

In the face of growing criticism of the US led war and the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the trip has served as a symbol of the close and intimate relationship between the two Western powers. As two high profile representatives of these two countries, it is reassuring to see that that intimacy is not just public window dressing.

Apparently the two countries policies are so in sync that:

"by the end of trip, [Rice and Straw] would sometimes finish each other's sentences and even had begun to rub off on each other."

See, that's the real secret to successful American foreign policy - rubbing off on other countries.