Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More "Vendetta"

Dr. Strauss provides comments on this celebration of anarchy on Stop The Spirit Of Zossen:
The original's anarchist view (the V and the 1980s “A” for anarchy not accidentally similar) is and was self indulgently childish — especially when the reality Moore railed against is now so much more immediate than his overcooked imaginings just twenty years ago.
Apropos "A" for Anarchy check out the "A" is for Anarchy in the Wall Street Journal. It's an interesting review/history of the anarchist movement by Todd Seavey. What Seavey and others fail to point out is that "V" is not fighting against a middle class liberal democratic regime but against a Fascist dictatorhsip. Would he label the partisans fighting against the Vichy regime in France as "anarchists?"
And it's not surprising that the Tory Anarchist aka Daniel McCarthy gave it "V for … Very Good, Actually:"
Glamourized sadism is an apt description of the Wachowkis’ last few flicks, and that’s what I expected from “V” as well. (Even though they were only adapting the script from Alan Moore’s comic book.) But I was pleasantly surprised. There’s nothing profound about “V,” but the characters have at least half a dimension more than those of the average Hollywood blockbuster. The same can be said, more mutedly, about the film’s social commentary — it’s very heavy-handed in places, but as a middlebrow political thriller it’s better than most.

In a very interesting review of the filmEunomia serves as a witness for the defense of Guy Fawkes, who in 1605 tried to blow up King James I (and "V" succeeds in doing):
What is the difference between the Gunpowder Plot and terrorist attacks that use and target civilians? In other words, why would the Gunpowder Plot, if successful, have been completely different from 9/11, and why is the comparison of the two a ridiculous one? The answer should be rather obvious. Fawkes targeted the heart of the government he was out to topple, and he sought to do it without threatening the lives of civilians. He did not seek to blow up a train, a hotel, a marketplace, a stock exchange, a bustling port, a school or a place of worship, or any other place that would involve the deliberate targeting of civilians. He targeted the seat of a government he believed (and not entirely unreasonably) to be illegitimate. Given the same chance under similar circumstances, I doubt that most of the heroes of Whig history would not have done just as Fawkes and his crew tried, and failed, to do.

And on LewRockwell.com Butler Shaffer writes:
My wife and I attended the opening day of this film and, I am happy to report, it far exceeded my expectations. Not only is this the most powerful anti-state film I have ever seen – one that makes no compromises with the system – but is, purely from a film-making perspective, one of the best movies I have seen in some time. Had the subject matter of this film been anti-vivisectionism, the depletion of the rainforests, or the sorrows of divorcĂ©es, its acting, writing, direction, and other production features would have made watching it an enjoyable experience.
And this:
The openly anarchistic nature of this movie will produce shudders in well-conditioned statists who, in the words of F.A. Hayek, cling to their “fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces.” Such people will trot out historic instances in which self-proclaimed “anarchists” killed a few score of people, as evidence of the need for government. That states managed, in the 20th century alone, to slaughter some 200,000,000 people in wars and genocides has never provided an occasion for defenders of political systems to do a practical cost/benefit analysis of these alternative systems!
While V for Vendetta contains a great deal of violence, “V” reminds us, early on, of the social application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In a political context, it is as childish to posit the violence engaged in by one group as “peacekeeping” and the opposing group as “terrorism,” as it is to regard one side as “good” and the other as “evil.” It is the interdependent violence inherent in all political systems that is made evident in this film.

Just one or two words as a follow-up to my earlier post on the movie. Unlike Shaffer, "Vendetta" wasn't "one of the best movies I have seen in some time." It won't appear on my list of the 100 Great Movies (Btw, my personal list begins with Carol Reed's The Third Man). And I certainly don't but into the entire political message of the film and especially some of its more p.c. elements. But it's a timely warning to all of us about the way the State can become a monster if and when fears encourage us to give more power to government to "protect" us.

My piece on the Dubai controversy in The American Conservative

My article on the Dubai controversy which has been published in The American Conservative is now available online:
March 27, 2006 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative
Six Ports and a Storm
The Dubai debacle shows Americans looking inward.
By Leon Hadar
It’s not every news cycle that the columnists for the anti-interventionist Antiwar.com and for the internationalist op-ed page of the New York Times find themselves echoing the same line-of-the-day spun by the media masters of George W. Bush’s White House. Those lawmakers who have criticized the Bush administration’s decision to allow a company owned by the government of Dubai —which is part of the United Arab Emirates—to purchase a British company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation—which now has the contract to operate six major U.S. ports—were “Kicking Arabs in Their Teeth,” screamed the headline of a column by the Times’ in-house neoconservative David Brooks, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Justin Raimondo, the long-time libertarian editor of Antiwar.com and a persistent opponent of the military adventure in Mesopotamia, accused those opposed to the deal with the Arab-owned company, Dubai Ports World, of “hating Arabs.”
Is “Dubai a hotbed of radical Islamist agitation?” asked Raimondo, who sounding like the “freedom is on the march in the Middle East” neocons noted that “Dubai is the one city in the Middle East that is the most like America in that it is a symbol—the symbol—of the Arab world’s entry into modernity.” Brooks, transforming himself into a born-again Arabist, denied that the Arab city of Dubai was “a bastion of Taliban radicalism,” describing it as “a modernizing, globalizing place.”
It would be an exaggeration to describe this brief political romance between libertarians and neocons as a sign of a major realignment in American politics. That Sen. Hillary Clinton—who would probably go ballistic if the government targeted Arab-Americans for security checks at airports (“racial profiling”)—would rally against permitting an Arab-owned company to run American port terminals because it’s, well, Arab (“national profiling”?) smacks of pure political opportunism. Indeed, there is little doubt that the Democrats are exploiting the controversy to “get to the right of George Bush,” as suggested by Charles Krauthammer, who in the name of national security would permit the U.S. government to listen your phone conversations and torture suspected terrorists but who backs the Dubai deal that could potentially endanger U.S. security by making it easier for terrorists from the Middle East to infiltrate American ports.
What is more intriguing has been the anti-Bush rebellion over the port issue by Republicans on Capitol Hill and around the country.More

Iraq: Civil War? Insurgency? Sectarian Violence?

Civil War

Not A Civil War

The Washington Note is providing us with an overview of the propaganda campaign led by The Cheney-led Civil War-Deniers to try to convince us that indeed what's going on in Iraq is not a civil war but just examples of honest disagreements between a few alpha males taking place in Liberated/Free/Democratic/New Iraq. The most pathetic example of these efforts that don't seem to affect the majority of the American people has been the series of dispatches from Iraq by Ralph Peters that seem to suggest that, well, forget Provence and Tuscany; choose Iraq as your next vacation destination. Well, if it looks like a civil war, and if it sounds like a civil war, it's a Civil War. That at least is the conclusions of two former U.S. intelligence guys. Larry Johnson in Smells Like Civil War? explains and illustrates:
Is there a civil war in Iraq? Let's imagine that the events, which happened on Sunday, March 12, 2006 in and around Baghdad, occur tomorrow in and around New York City. The only thing I've changed are the place names. The events are real. Would we put up for a minute with President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld idly dismissing these events as mere sectarian strife?
03/14/06 AP: A roadside bomb hit a police convoy in White Plains, New York, 35 miles northeast of New York City, killing one patrolman and wounding four others, police said
03/14/06 AP: U.S. forces also clashed with gunmen Sunday afternoon in western New York City, Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.
03/14/06 AP: In Newark, about 20 miles south of New York City, gunmen ambushed and killed a police major as he headed to work, police said.
03/14/06 Eight bodies were found with their hands tied and gun shot wounds to the head in Brooklyn, a suburb in eastern New York City, police said.
03/1406 Reuters: Gunmen ambushed and killed a local football player (Vinny Testaverde) in Elizabeth City 40 km (25 miles) south of New York City, local police said.
03/14/06 Reuters: At least 40 people were killed and 95 wounded in three apparently coordinated car bombs at two markets in the Jewish section of Brooklyn on Sunday, police said.
If it looks like a civil war, sounds like a civil war, and has casualties like a civil war it is probably a civil war. Now, imagine that these kinds of attacks continue to be the daily routine for the next thirty days (as it has in Baghdad for the last month). How would this effect the lifestyle of the average New Yorker? Do you think George Bush would still enjoy 37% favorable rating.
My point is this, until we understand what is happening in Iraq in terms of what those events would mean if they happened in the United States, we are living with the delusion that Iraq's troubles are caused by grumpy reporters who just want to focus on the negative.

And here is Pat Lang trying to explain that Insurgency=Sectarian Violence=Civil War:
There is an attempt being made at present to distinguish between the two terms in the title of this post.

Without clarifying the difference it is simply asserted that Shia-Sunni fighting is one thing one thing and that the "insurgency" is another. This is an assertion of a distinction without a difference.
The "insurgencies" in Iraq are variously:
-international jihadis who are all Sunni Muslims.
-local Iraqi Islamists (all Sunni Arabs)
-Tribals (Sunni Arabs)
-De-mobilized soldiers (overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs)
-Nationalists and Baathists (some Sunni Arabs and some secular Shia)
What are all these groups fighting for? With the exception of the "Nationalists and Baathists" who want to see the restoration of a secular and unitary state, the rest of them want to see the maintenance of the previous (a thousand years) disproportionate political power of Sunni Arab Muslims in Iraq. The international jihadis would express this as a desire for Sunni Muslim control without a focus on the Arab part of the identity.
What is different in the present "sectarian violence?" The Shia have now reciprocated in doing violence to their sectarian enemies.
That is the difference.