It is the suggestion, or the suspicion, that these men have grown close because they are not serious, were never quite serious, that grates.
Very serious is Iran the Model: Iran moves, we don’t, which looks at the Iranian Cabinet:
The seemingly inescapable fact is that Iran is waging war on us, we are well aware of it, and we are not responding, even though most Iranians are dreaming of the day that the United States supports them against the mullahs. Hardly a day goes by without anti-regime demonstrations in one Iranian city or another, involving students, workers, intellectuals, and even some very important clergymen. The number of Iranian dissidents on hunger strike is growing. Akbar Ganji hovers between life and death in a hospital in Tehran. Yet, aside from occasional statements of compassion, there is no hint of action from the Bush administration.
This inaction has recently been buttressed by two fanciful “estimates” from the intelligence community. The first reassuringly forecast that Iran is a good ten years away from nuclear weapons; the second insisted that no revolution is in the Iranian works.
American Digest contemplates The Sacrifice and the Reckoning: Sleepwalking.
there are many Irish in the Kingdom; indeed if they ever left, the major dairy in the Riyadh area, Almarai, would grind to a halt, and all the cows would burst.
The Economist says that some forecasters are now predicting that Germany, which has for so many years disappointed on the downside, could be about to surprise on the upside IF Merkel wins, corporate and income taxes are cut, the VAT is not increased, and “the politicians do not foul it up after next month’s election”. Can’t say they left anything out.
Another article in The Economist, For jihadist, read anarchist, says “terrorism seldom achieves the ends desired of it” . . . “But terrorism is unlikely to be expunged.” No surprises there. A much better article, The fall of the Workers’ Party [PT] of Brazil, explains the curruption scandal toppled José Dirceu, president Lula’s chief adviser, along with the PT’s entire leadership. Dirceu
a former communist who trained as a guerrilla in Cuba, never lost his authoritarian habits. In the state of São Paulo, the PT’s base, Mr Dirceu’s disciples “profiled the members in every municipality,” assessing their loyalties and “intimidating those who were not in his circle,” says Rudá Ricci, a PT activist turned sociologist.
Others criticise Mr Dirceu’s pragmatism. The drive to “win the election at all costs” and ally with parties of the right “dismantled the ethical and political patrimony of the PT,” claims Ivan Valente, one of 15 left-wing congressmen who this month formed a “free PT” faction, which rejects the party leadership. The party’s former treasurer, Delúbio Soares, became known as the “suitcase man”, says Mr Ricci. Mr Dirceu denies knowing of illicit financing and insists that he democratised the party, but by most accounts he wielded near-absolute power over it.
The article concludes that “Brazil” (like most of Latin America) “will have to wait for a Workers’ Party that is both pragmatic and clean”.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, Krugman thinks (is that an oxymoron?) that Gore won the 2000 election (it is! it is an oxymoron!), while Brain-Terminal (via Samizdata) points to a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago study that showed
that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president.
Mr. Krugman’s employer, the NYT, was the first sponsor of the study. Maybe their fact-checker’s at the shore this week.
Update I forgot to list Indifferent to Democracy: Why the Arab world roots for American failure in Iraq
How the U.S. adventure in Iraq ends is anybody’s guess. However, its repercussions will be felt, first, by the Arabs themselves. By refusing to profit from the prospective democratic upheaval that Saddam’s removal ushered in; by never looking beyond the American messenger in Iraq to the message itself; by lamenting external hegemony while doing nothing to render it pointless, Arabs merely affirmed their impotence. The self-pitying Arab reaction to the Iraq war showed the terrible sway of the status quo in the Middle East. An inability to marshal change for one’s benefit is the stuff of captive minds.
It reminded me of this study
The barrier to better Arab performance is not a lack of resources, concludes the report, but the lamentable shortage of three essentials: freedom, knowledge and womanpower. Not having enough of these amounts to what the authors call the region’s three “deficits”. It is these deficits, they argue, that hold the frustrated Arabs back from reaching their potential—and allow the rest of the world both to despise and to fear a deadly combination of wealth and backwardness.
. . .
…in the 1,000 years since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun, say the authors, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in one year.
Captive minds, for a long time.