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Showing posts from March, 2007

No way out

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While some self-described "realists" continue to fantasize that the Bushies are moving towards dialogue with Iran and are preparing under Condi's leadership to launch peace negotiaitons between Israel and the Palestinians, I remain convinced about the inevitability of a war with Iran.Robert Baer seems to agree in a very interesting column in Time which he concludes with the following anecdote: I called up an Arab Gulf security official and asked him what he thought about it all. He said the view from his side of the Gulf is that if Iran does not soon release the Brits, a war between the U.S. and Iran is in the cards. "I for one am taking all the cash I can out of my ATM," he said before he hanging up. Tony Karon is less certain:Much will depend on the actions of both sides in the coming days. Thus far, the temperature of reaction in the West suggests little appetite for confrontation. Indeed, despite passing a mild increase in sanctions over the nuclear issu…

On the turbulence in the global financial markets

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From the Business Times of Singapore:
Business Times - 27 Mar 2007


Deconstructing the financial markets

Industry players may be making their work sound more exotic and complex than it is

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

DURING the 198Os, post-modernist philosophy was all the rage in social science and humanities departments in Western universities. As a doctoral student at that time, I had the misfortune of having to study the works of such great French philosophers as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Jean Baudrillard, and dig into such esoteric disciplines as phenomenology, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, and my favourite (Not!), deconstruction.

And what can I say? I didn't and still don't get all this post-modernist stuff and I have a strange feeling that most of my fellow-students who were nodding with their heads in class as they tried to, well, deconstruct such statements as 'deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothin…

Waste of 300 minutes...

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Which is about the length of time I ended up spending today on 300 (includes also the time it took me to drive to and from the movie theatre,a lunch and a dinner). There is a good discussion of the movie and its politics here and also on Dr. Strauss' blog. The director Zack Snyder rejects the notion that he had a political agenda in the film. Is that is why we have this long discussion between Queen Gorgo and Theron over the to rationale for going to war against the Persians (Iraq?) and over the need to persuade the Spartan council (U.S. Congress?) to send reinforcements to Leonidas? In fact, Theron insists that he is a "realist" and that Leonidas and the other Sparatns who want to want to fight for "liberty" and "freedom" are "idealists?" The movie is basically Victor Davis Hanson for teens and for grown-ups who don't have enough time to read his books.

On roots and wings: The unmaking of Global Hybrids

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During the height of the globalization age in the late 1990’s, many leading Zeitgeist watchers were celebrating the rise of the “New Cosmopolitans,” a term coined by business reporter G. Pascal Zachary. A new civilization was being born out of the increasing flow of money, products, ideas, and most important, people, across the borders of decaying nation-states. In this post-modern globalized society, the new determinants for business, political and cultural success were national diversity and a “mongrel” sense of self, Zachary proposed in The Global Me: The New Cosmopolitan Edge, in which he challenged the central tenets of Samuel Huntington’s Clash-of-Civilizations paradigm.
In his Global Me, Zachary provided the readers with a tour of the New, New Brave World and introduced us to fascinating characters, ranging from high-tech entrepreneurs to international aid workers, who posses the attractive mix of “roots” and “wings,” that is, hyper-mobile “global hybrids” with “transnational id…

feedbacks

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My futuristic scenario has trigerred an interesting disucssion on blog Jim Henley's blog about the global role of the U.S. and the potential for conflict with China. I also want to draw your attention to Steve Sailer's provocative analysis of Israel-Palestine on Taki's Top Drawer and my related comments. In that context, Jackson Diehl in his column in The Washington Post makes the same point I've been making for quite a while, that all the talk, and hope and expectation with regard to the revival of the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process is just a lot of B-S (check for examples this, and this, and this). Diehl concludes by arguing that:You might think that talking about the parameters of peace can't do any harm. But history shows that it can. President Clinton's push for a peace deal at the end of his presidency raised expectations that, when dashed, helped produce the bloody Israeli-Palestinian warfare that followed. Some Israeli officials fear a repeat:…

Futuristic scenario: reporting from Baghdad in 2027

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From the the March issue of Chronicles magazine:
16 Mar 2007

The War on Terror Ended
. . . And the Winner Was Not the United States
by Leon Hadar

Baghdad, 2027 (Year of the Goat). Special for the Shanghai Post (proud member of the Global Murdoch Group).

Unlike some of my readers, I’m old enough to remember the time, during the American occupation of Baghdad, when this part of the city was known as the Green Zone. It was renamed the Yellow Peace Zone ten years ago, after Iraq joined the China-led Association of South-West Asian Nations (ASWAN). In fact, I’m digital-delivering this report on my Chinese-made RedPeony from Ali Baba’s Pagoda Hotel, which is located near the embassy of Greater China and which was built in 2015 in exactly the same location where, two years earlier, a devastating explosion triggered by fighters allied with the al-Sadr brigades destroyed the gigantic U.S. embassy, forcing thousands of American citizens to flee Baghdad and make their way to the Turkish-controlled nor…

And Now For Something Completely Different...

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Business Times - 15 Mar 2007


Subprime loans crisis offers some lessons

Rising defaults on non-traditional loans cast a pall over the nation's financial sector

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

SOMETIMES you don't need a professional economist to warn you that there might be an economic problem on the horizon. When a friend had told me in 1998 that he was leaving his (quite lucrative) regular job to become a 'day trader' and that he was pulling some of the money out of his pension plan to invest it in a new and promising dot.com company, I had a strange sensation of hearing a balloon burst. I decided that it was time to sell my 'aggressive' technology stocks.

So when a few months ago, one of the nice ladies who cleans my apartment once a week told me that she was about to purchase a home in Washington, DC, I was once again hearing a balloon burst.

The cleaner is a young immigrant from El Salvador, unmarried and with three kids, a member of what sociologists …

Movies and politics: The Host and The Lives of Others

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The Korean-Japanese production The Host tries to be a lot of things: A Sci-fi/horror movie, a screwball comedy, a family melodrama, and a political satire directed against the United States, well, Bush's America. The director Bong Joon-ho argued that "It's a stretch to simplify The Host as an anti-American film, but there is certainly a metaphor and political commentary about the U.S." Let's see if you can figure out the metaphor here: The movie starts in the year 2000 at the U.S. Army base in Seoul, where an American mortician orders a Korean subordinate to dump dusty bottles of "dirty formaldehyde" into the sink and this disgusting toxic stuff ends up in the Han River(this part is based on a real event)and gives birth in 2006 to a Monster (yes, this is also a "monster movie"). Most of the movie revolves around the adventures of the Park family as they fight against the Monster. But the Americans show-up again. They are trying to "libera…

On Paulson's Asia tour

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Read my Paulson’s Stride Through Asia on The National Interest Online. The site also carries an interesting exchange on Condi's new necon, a John Bolton with a smiling face, Elliot Cohen.

Vice President Lieberman?

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I don't know about you, but I'm getting a strange feeling that Cheney is on his way out. It's the news, the body-language, the vibes. And I'm guessing that Lieberman could end up as a V.P. which would be a smart move on the part of Bush -- message of "bi-partisanship," messing up the Democrats on Capitol Hill, helping the Republicans, and getting ready for the war with Iran. Well, I said that would be a "smart move on the part Bush" which in itself doesn't make a lot of sense. So I hope that Abu el Banat doesn't leave. I'll miss him...

On Iraq and politics

Two of my recent commentaries on Iraq and related political issues have been posted online:

In the February issue of Chronicles:

It’s the War, Stupid!
Election 2006 and Beyond
by Leon Hadar

Political analysts, consultants, and “scientists,” envious of the success of economists in turning the study of wealth creation into a scientific discipline and a lucrative profession, are always searching for rules and laws to explain and discover certain regular and logical structures in human efforts involved in winning, preserving, and expanding power. Elections provide a wonderful opportunity for the members of this “profession” or “industry” to win fame, fortune, and, yes, power. Consultants dispense advice to candidates; pollsters “measure” public opinion; academics think-tank about the recent debate between the candidates; journalists cover the horse race; and pundits produce sound bites for 24/7 cable-television news.


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Can't wait for this movie...

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Warner Bros is apparently doing a movie about outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson was kind enough to attend a party marking the publication of my book, Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East a few months ago in Washington. When I signed my book for him, I wrote that "I hope Michael Douglas will play you and Sharon Stone will play your wife in the movie they'll probably make." Could happen. Well, it won't be Basic Instinct, but it will revolve around crimes and will certainly have a Bush and even a Dick.

Good Morning Iraq

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Please check out my latest which explains which tries to compare the Modus Operandi of LBJ and GWB.