My website, HongPong
.com, got eaten by upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3
. I could just put it together again, but I decided that I need to give the blogging activity a rest for a while.
In its place I put this sweet collage that I made in Photoshop this weekend. Inspired by the solar flare storms and the ghastly violence in Iraq, the picture gives the image of a world on fire.
My favorite part is the casualty chart growing out of Paul Wolfowitz's nose.
As far as my usual ramblings on neo-cons are concerned, unlike the usual Internet armchair theorists, I've attempted to be a real political journalist. I interviewed a Middle East expert, Columbia U.'s Prof. Rashid Khalidi, when he visited my college for an international politics conference in October. Khalidi is a unique thinker, someone who sees the war like very few people. He believes (as I do) that the 1996 Clean Break document is a key insight into neo-con thinking, as he talked about for several minutes during his conference speech. Here are some excerpts from the interview, which is only available here:
- You said in your talk regarding Iraq that "there are much worse days to come." What leads you to this?
...(Alienation has been) exacerbated by the civil war that (Ahmed) Chalabi is trying to foment between the Shia, to whom he's posing as the champion of, and the Sunnis. The United States is on the point actually, I'm afraid, of incurring hostilities of more than just a lot of disgruntled Sunnis, and former Baathists, former soldiers, and so on, a few jihadis and others who are coming in, but maybe also the largest single group in Iraq, which is the Shiites.
- What do you believe are the central principles of neo-conservativism? Do you believe it carries an outer moral ideology for mass consumption, and an elite truth for the few?
Yeah, Seymour Hersh in his articles in the New Yorker about these people has argued that these are people who studied under Leo Strauss or under disciples of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago, people like Wolfowitz himself, (Pentagon policymaker) Abram Shulsky and others, and that they came away with a sort of neo-Platonic view of a higher truth which they themselves had access, as distinguished from whatever it is you tell the masses to get them to go along.
There is a certain element of contempt in their attitude towards people, in the way in which they shamelessly manipulated falsehoods about Iraq, through Chalabi. Chalabi, of course, being part of this group, having studied at the University of Chicago as well, although he was doing his mathematics Ph. D. when they were doing politics degrees.
The other thing I would say is that there is another element in some of them, of a belief in force, which doesn't come just from Strauss and Wohlstetter, who was actually Wolfowitz's dissertation supervisor. It comes from Strauss via Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the head of the Revisionist strand of Zionism, which was an extreme nationalism which very much believed in force. I think that that view is very widely spread among the neo-cons.... They are people for whom reality is probably less important than their ideology, and their moral certitudes.
- Were the neo-cons turning their ideology into intelligence data, and putting that into the government?
I can give you a short answer to that which is yes. Insofar as at least two of the key arguments that they adduced, the one having to do the connection between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda, and the one having to do with unconventional weapons programs in Iraq, it is clear that the links or the things they had claimed to have found were non-existent. The wish was fathered to the reality. What they wanted was what they found...
- Is there a connection to be drawn between Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith and the Israeli settler movement?
Feith is a (law) partner of Zell, and Zell is a leading settler. He lives in a settlement; he is an advocate of expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. He and Feith are ardent committed extremist Likud supporters, that is to say they support a policy of Israel's expansion, they support a policy of crushing the Palestinians, they support the expansion of settlements....