Total Failure In Lebanon
October 04, 2006
The United Nations never fails to fail. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has failed for decades. (And what do they mean by "interim"? Interim between when and when?) I knew (yes, knew; not suspected; not thought) that Security Council Resolution 1701 would go the way of its predecessor, Security Council Resolution 1559. It's not because I'm a seer. It's because the United Nations is the United Nations, and fights over language are what it does best. But the language is not what failed this time. It was the intentions of the parties.
Nuclear Ambitions Wanted
September 29, 2006
Al Qaeda in Iraq has put out an audio wanted ad on a popular website, which, as an article by David Rising in today's Boston Globe puts it, "beckons nuclear scientists." Datelined Baghdad, the piece details the call for experts in "chemistry, physics, electronics ... especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts" to join the group's holy war against the West.
Who Needs Recognition?
September 29, 2006
According to a Reuters dispatch in Haaretz online today, Hamas massed a huge rally in Gaza earlier today to "denounce the state of Israel and declare that they would never recognise its right to exist." So what else is new? "We ask God to punish the so-called Israel and the allies of Israel ... We vow to God that we will never recognize Israel even if we would be all killed." In the case of the last contingency, of course, no one would care. This is the rhetoric of nutcases, although I know that since their passions emerge from Muslim religious belief I should treat them with respect.
September 28, 2006
Kofi Annan is leaving. Yippee. It's not that he's leaving on his own. His (second) term is up and no one really wants him to stay, except maybe the Arabs, for whom he has done relentless service. In any case, there are seven candidates to succeed him. One of them, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia who lived for half a century in Canada, has not a chance. One reason is that she's not Asian and, according to the rules by which the United Nations plays, this is Asia's turn. Sorry.
Can The Internet Cure What Ails Peer Review?
September 27, 2006
by Eric RauchwayGlitches in the peer review process sprout like dandelions in the groves of academe, and now some scholars appear to believe technology will prevent their seasonal recurrence. But it's hard for me to believe that, of all institutions, the blogosphere is the one to solve the problems of peer review. (Thanks to Metafilter for the pointer.) Peer review, or refereeing, is the mechanism churning away behind every scholarly journal or university press--editors take article or book manuscripts submitted for publication and send them out to experts in the field for evaluation.
Is Islam More Prone To Murder?
September 27, 2006
OK, I am obsessed by the Muslim avalanche against Pope Benedict ... and against what he said. There will now be many scholarly battles about the aptness of the pontiff's citation of a conversation between a late Christian Byzantine emperor and an erudite Muslim, a medieval affair. They will surely seem to some of us more than a bit nit-picky. I have linked to some pretty nit-picky writings myself.
What No One Will Be Saying About The Nie
September 26, 2006
by Daniel Drezner The declassified portion of the much-discussed NIE is now available online. Bloggers and analysts will spend the next 24 hours parsing and re-parsing the document to see exactly what was said about the relationship between the war in Iraq and the global war on terror (like, for example, here). In the interest of being contrarian, therefore, I think it's worth highlighting a surprising assertion made in the NIE that has nothing to do with Iraq:Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies.
Forgetting American History
September 22, 2006
by Darrin McMahon In his post several days ago, Casey Blake alludes to a disturbing trend in European intellectual circles--the tendency to "read back from the present moment to a sweeping condemnation of American history as a whole." European attitudes toward America are of course varied and complex--it is something I have been thinking a lot about of late as a collaborator for a forthcoming PBS documentary on the subject (see a clip here at the website of the Center for New American Media).
Show Of Force
September 22, 2006
DEBKAfile, an intelligence Internet site put together daily by ex-Mossad staffers and other former Israeli security personnel, has often been on target and prematurely so. Sometimes it has been wrong. I don't know whether what seems to me to be the quite plausible report on a military alliance cemented at the 14th conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana earlier this month is reliable or not. The coalition--uniting Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela--seems to be taking shape at the initiative of Hugo Chávez, but with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad providing the show weapons.
The Shrewd Little Gentleman
September 21, 2006
by Richard Stern What did we think, that the world's presidents and prime ministers (many democratically elected) would conform to our notions of how they should perform? Thank God the United Nations gives these supposed mountebanks and arch villains space for their dramatic expressions of themselves and their place in the great world. Our president speaks to the world "as if he owns it," in Chávez's milder words.