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WHAT DOES SOROS KNOW? November 9, 2007

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And who is listening? Some weeks ago P Costello was warning about the financial tsunami that was going to be generated by the floating of the Yuan, and therefore it was necessary to have the experienced hands on the tiller of the 1.1 Trillion dollar economy – which I think may refer to the gross national product. Last Monday, George Soros gave a speech to New York University in which he said that the US economy is “on the verge of a very serious correction” caused by excessive borrowing and spending on the Iraq War.
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August 10, 2007

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Duckpond has come down with a severe case of food poisoning He hopes to have recovered in the next two r three days, provided the diet of water, water, lemonade and dry biscuits works.

KING GEORGE AND THE SUBPOENAS March 23, 2007

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Or is it the shootout at the OK Corral? As far as I can tell the “liberal-biased media” are calling for Bush aide, Carl Rove and others to appear under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee and they are calling in unison for the resignation of Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales. The president is evoking “executive privilege”, which taken to its conclusion would create a constitutional crisis to be resolved by the Supreme Court. This matter has arisen from the firing of eight US attorneys, lawyers appointed by the president, and has involved an unprecedented link of numerous emails from the Department of Justice.

Just minutes ago, The New York Times reported:

The Senate Judiciary Committee today authorized the issuing of subpoenas that would summon Karl Rove and several other top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill to testify under oath about the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors.

The step, taken on a voice vote of the committee, came a day after a House Judiciary subcommittee passed a similar measure.

Last minute compromise anyone? A “surge” perhaps?

WEDDING PHOTOS February 13, 2007

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Some days ago my nephew decided to marry. I gather as well as coping with Bhasa and Arabic, he became a muslim. Our extended family, I know it is a bit distant from me, now has an Indonesian link.





Since we all live in this part of the world, such connections might prove useful now and in the future.

The word “family” is used in a loose sense. Michael is my sister’s son, which just might make him family. But second cousins, for instance, are in another independent orbit.

PREDICTIONS 2007 December 31, 2006

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I made predictions for the coming year in 2004 and 2005, and I was not too far wrong because I tried to pick well established trends. For the upcoming year I will try again.

The polls are showing the Iemma Labor Government in NSW is holding a decided edge over the opposition. The odds are stacked against the Liberals, but I would expect that they will make significant gains in the March State Elections, at least at the expense of the independents. Their numbers were cut back in the last State election which was held in the fog of war prior to the invasion of Iraq. All things being equal the Liberals should do better. Their situation illustrates the difficulties that opposition leaders face cutting through the government’s spin doctoring. It looks like Labor will be returned in NSW, which is not good news for Labor’s Federal prospects.

Age must eventually catch up with Howard, and I expect that this issue, with the unsettled question of his successor, will be the ghost at the party during the Federal Election, probably in November. Howard will have to go at some time, so why should it not be this year? The fact that the “work choices legislation” is an issue in the letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald would concern me, if I was a liberal strategist. As we all know Howard is not above playing the race card again, and I expect that perceived card will have Muslim written on it, suggesting that developments – or the lack of them – in the Middle East may impact on the Australian election.

The Senate will again be a lottery for final places. This time around the ALP might be more careful as how it directs the flow of votes to the minor parties, given that most people will vote above the line. My understanding the numbers suggest it is a safe bet that the Liberals will remain the majority party in the Senate.

Oppositions do not lose elections, so much as the times move against governments, and people tire of them. They can get around this by setting up phony issues, such as refugees and racism. Generally, it is true, at least in my opinion, if you maintain your principles the times will eventually suit you. For example, I do not know what will happen with interest rates, which are nominally outside their control, could damage the government’s chances. I think that Work Place Legislation will damage, simply because it is contrary to the interests of employees, and if it does not it will demonstrate that the low paid have become marginalized without an effective political voice, which in the long term will be damaging to Australian democracy.

The Australian Government has no control or influence over what happens in the Middle East, more particularly in Iraq. The probability is that the stupidity of the Bush policy will not change leading to greater disaster in Iraq, resignations from the Bush Cabinet, or both. When we hear the Green Zone being attacked in a significant way, then we will know the game is over.

The British are expected to make significant cut backs in the numbers of troops in Iraq toward the middle of the year, when Blair finally, at long last leaves the scene. No doubt to maintain absurdity to the end, he will be endeavouring to make himself relevant to the end. As a consequence Britain will turn to Europe.

The Europeans, and the Russians with the Chinese, will not tolerate an American attack, or Israeli attack on Iran. The defeat in Iraq will have grave consequences for the American empire, not least in the need of Europe to stand up united. By the end of the year recriminations in the United States will begin over “who lost the Middle East”, but rather “who lost America”.

Asia and Africa will continue on their set paths, I expect. China will have to exercise influence over the North Koreans.

As for myself, by sheer luck I somehow survived this year, much in the way that George Bush did, except that he faces a Congress with Democratic majorities, and that must make a difference. Similarly, winging it, may just come unstuck for me, as for him.

Postscript: 01/01/2007

There are, of course, predictions elsewhere. I am trying to predict trends that are likely to continue, but I do not have a quantative basis for them. I suppose my predictions are not remarkable, just guesses.

John Simpson at the BBC has a set of predictions for the Middle East. The regular contributors at Democracy Now have pronostications – via Mark at Larvatus Prodeo.

BEETHOVEN’S BIRTHDAY December 16, 2006

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Kevin Drum notes that the 16 December is Ludwig’s birthday, and the recommendation here is Fifth Piano Concerto in E flat, Opus 73 (“The Emperor”). It is as well I have guidance in these matters.

My musical intelligence is poor, but I often wonder why people write songs whose phrasing creates problems for lesser singers, and not least the writers themselves. Examples of songs, include Bob Dylan’s “Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, and “Always on My Mind”. Some singers manage the phrasing, without yelling, or stumbling over the words, but remain lesser singers.

FIJI COUP December 6, 2006

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Another coup in Fiji, despite its slow and steady gestation, is detrimental and disappointing for all the people of that country. I suspect that this is a coup driven by monomania, not public support.

Mark gets to check out a bunch of references at Larvatus Prodeo.

My suspicion is that this coup represents a failure of the indigenous elites, including the Council of Chiefs and the Military leadership.

CODA:

And talking of elites, or in her case anti-elitism, Pauline Hanson is promising us a return to the national political stage, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, so we can once again avail of her informed opinions and prejudices.

AMERICANA December 6, 2006

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Every so often I spot a quiz that might reveal my less than perfect knowledge, as in these test questions US citizenship, via Modulator.

In the real life situation, the test is oral and there are not multiple choices, adding to its difficulty. With multi-choice there is always the chance the interviewee can take a punt and perhaps get the right answer.

I got question 7 and 12 wrong, and question 8 was a pure guess, so all is not as it seems.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – COMPANY OF TWO December 1, 2006

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The point was well made two weeks ago here when it was suggested, among other considerations, that two dogs provide company for each other. From now on, for days,weeks, or whatever, we will increasing have to leave Sasha and Dexter on their own at home.

Our concern is with what might happen to Dexter if he got out, which I think is realistically less likely now than when we first got him. Sasha has a spirit of adventure, if given a chance, but is less of a concern. Building dog-proof fencing is not my strong suit, and it seems difficult to get professional fencers. Without sound fencing there will always be ground for concern.

I will not speculate on the general lack of criticism of the photo selection, but I can tell you there are no restraints when it comes to in-house criticism. Of course, up to this point, Sasha and Dexter have not directly expressed a view.

Shade and satisfaction. 26 November 2006 Posted by Picasa

Two is company. 26 November 2006 Posted by Picasa

Sharing the moment. 26 November 2006. Posted by Picasa

Rolling the tongue. 26 November 2006 Posted by Picasa

Side by side. 29 November 2006 Posted by Picasa

Happiness realized. 29 November 2006. Posted by Picasa

Four eyes are better than two. 29 November 2006. Posted by Picasa

A glint to the eye. 30 November 2006 Posted by Picasa

Dexter on dog alert. 30 November 2006. Posted by Picasa

Two ways to go. 30 November 2006. Posted by Picasa

Catching the early morning sun. 01 December 2006. Posted by Picasa

Time for moving on. 01 December 2006. Posted by Picasa

To enlarge the photos click on to them.

Modulator is featuring Friday Ark #115 and Mickey’s Musings The Carnival of the Dogs. Sasha and Dexter will be pleased to board and to join as the caravan moves on.

Friday Night Dog Blog is crossposted at the blogger and word press versions of Duckpond.

THE DECIDER DECIDES AND DECIDES November 10, 2006

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“We have peoples reputations at stake . . . I’m the decider and I decide what is best . . .”

And the decider immediately changes his mind following the midterm elections:

“I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer.”

“In other words, he lied to the press for political purposes”, via Truthdig.

In times past,  for voters to cross check whether a politician lied, it was almost always necessary to check the written record, now they can refer to the video record. This idea could catch on.

BILL CLINTON AT GEORGETOWN October 19, 2006

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Here is Bill Clinton addressing Georgetown University in Washington.

See The Raw Story for a full transcript of his speech. Here is a short extract:

The professors that I had then affected me in ways that continue in my life today. And the most important point I can make about that for the purposes of my remarks today is that I really believed more strongly when I left here than when I came that ideas matter, that evidence matters, that thinking and reasoning matter, that ideas have consequences and that in politics that means ideas lead to policies which have positive or negative effects in people’s lives.

I believed that then, I believe that now.

I believed then, based on the experiences I had here, that not everyone who disagreed with me was my enemy, that I might be wrong; that as forcefully as I pursued anything I believed in and any argument that I embraced, I had to always be willing to listen to others; and that in the interplay, the dialectic, between my position and another, the searching for more facts, the searching for better argument and, frankly, just facing the evidence of what did and didn’t work and what the consequences of various courses were, that I would come to a better place as a public official. I believed that then, I believe that now.

Clinton articulates, I think well, the distinction between holding a philosophy and employing an ideology, and what theat means for the practice and outcomes of politics. Elder Statesman now, or otherwise, I would interpret his remarks in the context of the mid term elections. And yet my sense is that the distincion made is useful. He does not acknowledge that philosophies are more difficult to form, enmeshed as they are in the long-running symposium, which began long before we entered the room, whereas ideology provides the read-made solution. Ideology on this basis is more likely on any question than philosophy. Then there are some of us who never seem to have made up our mind, even with the assistance of ideology.

Let me correct for the record, one of Bill’s book references:
one-per-cent-doctrine.jpg

IRAQI DEATHS October 14, 2006

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Statistical results and methods are familiarly attacked by interest groups in regard to the connection between smoking and lung cancer, or carbon emissions and climate changes. What is often forgotten, in these cases, is that the statistics, given that problems have existed, simply confirm and quantify what reliable witnesses can often verify. I am subject to correction on this matter, nevertheless the practical test of observation can usually be applied. Do reliable witnesses confirm the relation? In other words can we relate the numbers with observations. In the case of smoking and lung cancer it is relatively easy, whereas it is more difficult to record deaths in Iraq given that bodies do not all end up in morgues.

The latest estimate in The Lancet, via John Quiggin, concludes:

We estimate that, as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655 000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation, which is equivalent to about 2·5% of the population in the study area. About 601 000 of these excess deaths were due to violent causes. Our estimate of the post-invasion crude mortality rate represents a doubling of the baseline mortality rate, which, by the Sphere standards, constitutes a humanitarian emergency.

Juan Cole explains why these figures have not been confirmed by the Iraqi Department of Health:

The Lancet study asserting that the Iraq conflict has cost the lives of between 420,000 and 780,000 Iraqis continues to generate controversy. But Dan Murphy of the CSM quotes public health officials pointing out that its methodology was sound, contrary to what Presiden Bush asserted. Murphy’s article also puts its finger on the likely source of the discrepancy between the Lancet numbers and those of the Iraqi ministry of health: The ministry employees cannot travel easily to places like Baqubah and Kut and Ramadi to collect death statistics from local officials. I can remember talking recently to a Shiite from Baghdad who said that virtually no one routinely goes to Najaf from the capital any more because the roads are too unsafe. Najaf was only an hour’s drive from Baghdad in the old days.

With any measurement, I remember this, uncertainty is to be expected. So the actual numbers could in fact be greater or less, but if the methodology is valid and reliable, the numbers of dead are large and significant. John Quiggin observes:

In particular, the lower bound estimate is now around 400 000, so that unless the survey is rejected completely, there can be no doubt about catastrophic casualties.

These deaths have followed from the invasion and the occupation and represent people who otherwise would have been expected to live. So these numbers will be significant in regard to any possible future determination as to war crimes and war crime indictments.

PLEASE NOTE:

I have deliberately not linked to John Quiggin since doing so means my post comes up on a comment box, which I would prefer did not happen. You can still connect via my blogroll and search for the post Air war in Iraq. Alternatively you could go to my other blogger duckpond and link directly.

Postscript: 15 October 2006

Brad DeLong takes up the issue of press reporting of the survey results, including by some commentators suggesting that they were released for political purposes prior to the mid term elections. I am interested to note he quotes Daniel Davies who also sees implications for war crime indictments.

Postscript: 17 October 2006

This piece by Gywnne Dyer, originally published in The Japan Times, via Common Dreams, gives a clear summary of the methodology and the results. It makes nonsense of some of the predictable criticism that I have read.

MYTHOS AGAIN October 6, 2006

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Don’t take what I say as gospel, but obviously I think I might be right. According to Wikipedia, mythos is a collection of [stories] in the scholarly sense. I am very much prone to stories, and so am inclined to generalize that propensity to the rest of humankind. (My reference is to the mythos/logos division that Robert Pirsig wrote about.)

Don Arthur sets the case up better, he writes, via Troppo:

Nothing’s easier to understand than a story. It’s as if human beings were hardwired for narrative — stories with beginnings, middles and ends populated by people doing things. According to cognitive scientists Roger Schank and Robert Abelson that’s not far from the truth.

Back in 1995 Schank and Abelson hypothesized that virtually all human knowledge is based on stories constructed around past experiences. Whenever we come across something new we try to fit into the framework provided by an old story. So it’s no surprise to find, as Andrew Norton does, that most of Australia’s top public intellectuals are storytellers and moralists rather than social scientists.

We tell stories inspite of ourselves, regardless that we espouse, and so caught up by the rigors of the real as Nobel Prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988). You might like to listen to his lecture, including Photons Corpuscles of Light, delivered at The University of Auckland in 1976, via originally referred to by Brad DeLong, and then watch him telling his own stories. The “I am irresponsible” story, Robert Feynman actually states he created a myth so as to have time to think about the problems of quantum mechanics.

Postscript: 09 October 2006

I think this may be relevant. Jason Soon draws attention to this recent article at Catallaxy. For what it is worth, I am trying to get my head around the proposition that pre-Settlement Aboriginal societies, for example, had a more integrated cosmology than we do, even as it must be admitted we potentially know far more. For one thing, I am guessing, Aboriginal society did not have numbers of priests, professors and other experts we need. Or you could say, as Robert Feynman does in Ancient Egypt, for examples, the priests were the professors. I recall a quote from Thales to effect, “I spent seven years of my life with the geometers of Egypt.” It is a fair guess the geometers were also priests.

 

WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKING October 5, 2006

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The Guardian lists the top universities in the world:

1. Harvard
2: Cambridge
3: Oxford
4: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5: Yale
6: Stanford
7: California Institute of Technology
8: University of California, Berkeley
9: Imperial College London
10: Princeton

You might notice that these are all English speaking universities mostly from the US with some British institutions, which may be explained by the fact the assessement is by the Times Higher Education Literary Supplement. The article observes:

Beijing University and the Australian National University were the first outside the UK or US to appear on the list, securing the 14th and 16th positions.

Still it seems there are other rankings, but not much argument as to which are the best.

The University of Melbourne has again been ranked among the 100 top universities in the world in the prominent Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s (SJTU) Academic Rankings of World Universities 2006.

The SJTU has ranked Melbourne at a clear No 78 – jumping from No 82 in 2005. Melbourne has been steadily moving up the rankings since it first appeared in the SJTU rankings in 2003 at No 92.

Melbourne and ANU are the only two Australian universities in the top 100. Harvard, Cambridge and Stanford have again taken the top three places. Melbourne was also ranked seventh in the Asia Pacific region with Tokyo University in top spot.

I am not sure how these rankings are worked out, and I wonder why they do not assess particular faculties or departments. So what are the criteria for a good university?

Of course, seen from another perspective, this represents just another example of globalization.

TRAGEDY IN PENNSYLVANIA October 3, 2006

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The BBC report notes that “the Amish shun modern life”. However, modern life does not shun the Amish.

The seemingly inexplicable tragedy, as it seems now, will probably turn out to have some kind of explanation. For me the suffering the parents must be experiencing is too heart-breaking to consider. What quickly will become yesterday’s news for everybody else, will be something they will live with every day. This is also true for the people in Lebanon and Iraq.

No doubt the gun lobby will resist any calls to reduce the availability of guns, which seems to me to be common sense.

It was suggested to me today, that this tragedy was the making of some male pathology. Now the protagonist is dead, any explanation for the behavior will be speculation.

Postscript: 4 October 2006

The Amish don’t lock their doors. They are, I suspect, for good and ill, a close-knit society, which might be described as collectivist. They do not live American values. And then you have this guy, and I don’t know all the relevant details, who drives a milk truck, with a wife and kids,without a history of mental instability, but with a bee in his bonnet about some sexual or other indignity he suffered as a young boy tweny years ago. The only answer he sees is to gather up guns and other objects that can cause death, pain and suffering to young children. Wow! Individualism gone mad?

I think there is a problem of the availability of guns here, but there are other problems as well?

The BBC has a follow-up report. I am not sure the situation is clearer. Somehow god is involved. Not surprisingly, the Amish Community in Lancaster County is distressed, and as one said: What is God telling us?

EXPULSION FROM THE SOLOMONS September 14, 2006

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I am confident that there is more to this story, as reported by the ABC.

And that the full story, whatever it is, will eventually emerge despite the fluster and the bluster going on at the moment.

MOST IMMORAL ARMY IN THE WORLD? September 12, 2006

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Haaretz recounts the use of phosphorus shells and cluster bombs used against civilian areas of South Lebanon. It is horrendous.

Nor is it a sufficient defence to argue that international law somehow allows such inhumane practice. In fact, I am at a loss as to discover what could possibly justify such behavior.

In criticizing the Israelis, I am wondering as to what has led them to cross the boundaries of decency. I simply do not know.

Postscript:

Kathleen Christison suggests the attitude, the presumption is intrinsic to the State of Israel to the extent that it is an expression of Zionism and goes back to the ethnic cleansing of 1948, which means that it goes back before then. What I do not get is that Israel gets away with this behavior very much like Saddam Hussein when he was a loyal leigeman to the Empire, or so it seems.

The international rule of law and international civic values can have no credence, and so the various reigns of terror inflicted on populations cannot be stopped, if they are applied selectively. The importance of rigor with regard to such application cannot, in my judgment, be overstated. Nor would I wish it to be thought that I was judging such issues in a sanctimonoius way to the extent that I would not be acting equally badly, although I would hope I would not, if I were subject to the conditional historical contexts.

Those who speak and act couragiously for common human values who live within those historical circumstances speak for the best in all of us, and deserve our support.

DR BROWN PM September 8, 2006

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No not the one with the medical qualifications, but the putative British PM, Gordon. Andrew Leigh seems to think it is all over bar the shouting – but I dunno.

I have been waiting for more than a year now for Blair to get out, but he stays and stays. Somewhat like the current Australian Prime Minister.

Still, I suppose having the Palestinians telling him not to come to Ramallah makes a decided impression of his standing, and whatever he might say to the Israelis they will not listen.

For all of this he thank his good mate Bush. Yet it is Blair, and he alone, that has poisoned the soup of the British Labour Party. They would be well rid of him.

But will he go? In these cases it is well past time to take a caucas vote. I do not understand it, but for some reason they do not do that in the UK.

Postscript: 10/09/2006

A vote in Caucas is decisive and quick and avoids these problems suggested by The Observer. Blair is plotting to stay on, and that is the reason for going to the Middle East. Blair may be successful, but the Labor Party will not be.

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT FISK September 6, 2006

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I happen to think that Robert Fisk is good value. He is a journalist to the extent that he reports what he sees, and having spent thirty or forty years in the Middle East, so he is in a sense now embedded with has sources ranging across borders, and memory, including the Syrian Governments destruction of the insurgents in Hama.

Democracy Now, via Amy Goodman, is conducting an interview in two parts with Robert Fisk. They covered a sweep of issues and personalities concerning Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, as well as specific issues such as war crimes and cluster bombs.

One comment made by Robert Fisk is worthy of note, and it agrees with what others have said. In reponse to the question that Hizbullah did not expect Lebanon to be attacked, Fisk said:

Well, Hezbollah, I think, is telling us a whopper. Nasrallah said, “Even if we had known one percent, we wouldn’t have captured their soldiers.” Nonsense. I think the Hezbollah knew exactly what the Israelis were going to do, and they needed to flex their muscles and show their bravery, which it was, although, of course, it was a reckless kind, when you also bring upon death to more than 1,000 people, almost all of them civilians.

They had clearly, with massive bunkers, underground storage depots, planned that war. They hit a warship. They hit an Israeli warship and almost sank it. They hit it on midships, killed four sailors and set it on fire for 15 hours. That wasn’t because some guy got up in the morning and ate his morning minutiae with cheese and said, “Oh, let’s hit a warship today.” No, that had been planned weeks, months before. You can’t just set that up, like that. And, of course, now, according to Seymour Hersh, we are led to believe and it’s possible that the Israelis planned their war for months before. It’s possible, as Nasrallah said, that the Israelis were planning a September offensive, which would have led to even more civilian casualties. Well, maybe, but he didn’t tell us that beforehand, didn’t give us a warning of it, did he — if he knew it.

And while Robert Fisk said talk of “divine victory” by Hizbullah makes him physically sick, there is no way that Israel could claim a military victory:

But the point is, in the past, you had a constantly self-delusional Israeli government going off on these crazy military adventures in Lebanon and ending up in a mess. And there was always a Clinton or a Carter to say, “Whoa, boy! Whoa! Ceasefire.” But on this occasion, for the first time ever, we had a U.S. administration, which was just as self-delusional and ideologically minded as the Israelis. And when the Israelis said, “We’re going to root out the evil weed of Hezbollah,” they said, “Oh! They’re going to do it! Great! Good on the Israelis!” thinking they could actually do this, when all the facts on the ground proved long before the war started that that was impossible.

There was no way the Israelis could do that. And when they did come in on the ground and the Hezbollah were told under the air attacks, “Just take the punishment. Keep taking the punishment. You will have to get them when they come in on the ground.” And they went in on the ground, and they lost 40 men in 36 hours. And that’s the biggest defeat for the IDF, I think, probably in those numbers of times, since way back in the ’73 war, I mean in terms of losses. I mean, no one should ever be happy about the loss of any human being, however good they are or bad they are or anything else, but that was extraordinary punishment. That was not the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, of Sama legend we saw. That was a defeated army.

There is more besides. I suppose this is opinion – but there is informed opinion and uninformed opinion.

Postscript: 08/09/2006

Here is the link to the second part of the Robert Fisk interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

THE LIMITS OF SOFT POWER September 5, 2006

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Joseph S Nye is a proponent of what he calls soft power. Soft power, or cultural attraction, is like the scheludes of partial reinforcement or learning in psychology experiments, and are distinct from the carrot and stick approaches, even when embellished by game theory, associated with military and economy power. I presume that Great Powers will use all the methods of influence at their disposal. During the cold war, there was a recognition as a competition between two social models which was reified in greater income equality in the United States than exists now.

For example, Joseph Nye says:

Soft power is the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. It differs from hard power, the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will. Both hard and soft power are important in the war on terrorism, but attraction is much cheaper than coercion, and an asset that needs to be nourished.

Will soft power work against terrorism? Despite the example of Timothy McVeigh, the perception is that terrorism is more likely to be externally, rather than internally generated, and so the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq has be subsequently justified by the need to use overwhelming military power to combat what was perceived to be external terrorism. As a surrogate of the United States, and pursuant to its long standing policies Israel was attempting the same strategy of shock and awe against Hizbullah by punishing Lebanon. The use of overwhelming military power alone is likely to lead to what Robert Pape has dubed as asymmetrical warfare, often involving, as is evident in Iraq, suicide bombing.

The downside of hubris has the habit of following swagger, as the United States and Israel have discovered, or are yet to discover or rediscover. The balance of nuclear terror meant during the Cold War, despite proxy wars for the right to experiment in using competing socio-economic models meant that soft power and economic success determined the outcome. Other results of the Cold War were that while the Soviet Union fell apart, China adapted and remained, and the European Union formed, although its evolution to this point is not final. And in the post-cold war world, the United States has become trapped in the sandpit or oil pit of Iraq, leaving the EU to look to its long term security.

The EU it seems has a good neighbour policy, resonant of a policy with the same name adopted by the United States toward Latin America. As John Quiggin points out the exercise of soft policy has been effective setting standards for inclusion in its common market, and yet memberl countries exercise judgments in relation to military engagements, for example, in the Middle East. It is, he suggests, the EU’s comparitive advantage. But as Joschka Fischer, the former Green Leader and German Foreign Minister suggests soft power is not enough:

The Lebanon war has served as a harsh reminder to the European Union that it has “strategic interests – security interests first and foremost – and that, should it choose to ignore them, the price will be high. Moreover, the division of labor between the US and Europe is not functioning in the time-tested manner of old: The ongoing war in Iraq is gnawing at America’s military capabilities and has resulted in a crisis of moral and political legitimacy of the US across the Arabic/Islamic world.

With the decision of its member states to send several thousand soldiers to Lebanon to implement UN Resolution 1701, the European Union has taken the most significant decision yet within its Neighborhood Policy. Can the EU, in fact, emerge as a stabilizing political force in the most dangerous area of conflict within Europe’s immediate geopolitical neighborhood?