Bernard Fall, the great French-American writer on the wars in Vietnam, wrote a piece in his Street Without Joy about his early days in Vietnam, during the French war there. One day Fall was in Cambodia doing interviews and research, and afterwards went with a pair of French officers that he’d interviewed to the local club tennis courts, and watched them, in their spotless tennis whites, play a full match of tennis. Early on in their game, a Cambodian NCO came up to the court and attempted to get one of the officers to sign some papers he had. The NCO got a brushoff—the French officers were busy with their game—and so the Cambodian NCO just went off to the sidelines, squatted on his haunches the way Cambodians do, full out in the tropical sun , and waited while the two French officers in their tennis whites batted the ball back and forth. Fall watched, with a feeling of dread coming over him, as the post bugler sounded Last Post, the colors were lowered, the Cambodian standing to attention while the French officers continued playing tennis. Fall wrote: Continue reading →
Story from some actress about marriage and divorce always stuck with me, even if the actress’ name hasn’t. She talked about how if you are in head over heels in love with someone, or if you are pissed off at them and divorcing them, you still see everything about the person, good and bad. Your vision doesn’t change with emotion, she said. The only thing that changes, she said, is which aspects of that person you bring into focus. Everything is out in the open for you to see, and you just choose what you want to focus on. She’s right about that. Not just in love, but in world events, too.
UT’s Big Conference of the year just ended. Title of it was “Intelligence Reform andCounterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?”. UT drug in very high level outside talent—DNI Clapper made one of his rare flyover state appearances; same for the other DC attendees, most all of whom were #2’s at various 3-initial agencies in the intel world. Of late, UT is getting in bed with the intel folks in DC in a big way; exactly why this is happening is something that I’m too far down on the food chain to know, no need to know I guess for any ordinary citizen like me as to why the flagship university of the nation’s second most populous state wants to buddy up with the US intel empire. Nobody in the newsmedia in these parts is observant enough to see this happening or smart enough about the military-industrial complex to be concerned by this happening. Ultimately the reasons behind it have to revolve around money, money and access to power in the real center of power in Washington, DC, which is the Pentagon. That topic is of course one of those not officially discussed you know, so I will. Continue reading →
Front blew in Sunday, a dry norther, and once again I’m allergy sick. Physically debilitated and mentally impaired too. I know better than to operate power equipment on allergy days, and I try to minimize my driving, and mostly I try and do things indoors to stay indoors and breathe the HVAC filtered air with no allergens in it. Most of the real work I need to do is outdoors and power tools and driving and allergies mean that it all gets postponed, which irritates me greatly on top of the allergy pains and aches. Continue reading →
One interesting fact is lost in all the discussion ongoing about the Ukraine/Crimea/Russia/US imbroglio ongoing, and that is the money question. The bible tells us that where your treasures are is where your heart is, and the same has to be true about nations and how they spend their treasures, too. Let’s take a look at how the United States is spending its treasures abroad in its foreign policy adventures.
Recently attended a guest lecture/seminar at UT, put out by Jeremy Suri, the rising star of UT’s History department. Topic was “The US—Empire or Umpire?”, and it was yet another rehashing of the question that mainstream poly-sci still kicks around—“Are We an Empire?”. Jeremy Suri, a most personable sort, brought in another mainstream historian, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, to promoter her latest mainstream history/poli-sci tome which argues that the US is not in fact an empire but instead acts abroad as an umpire throughout the world.
One Morning in Sarajevo: 28 June 1914
by David James Smith, 2008
David James Smith is a British journalist and One Morning is his second book. My copy was printed in the UK and has rave cover blurbs on it from various English publications. I don’t recall the book making any splash this side of the Atlantic. Something wrong with that; the book is very good.
I am delighted that your recent editorial takes to task the nonsense of education, particularly higher education, as a panacea for what ails us here in the US in regards to a better economic future for all of us.
I have never thought that the push for more college spending and putting more people in college was ever an honest social policy prescription. The people behind it had too much of an economic stake in the policy for me to ever take it seriously.
Reading more than I should lately–now that the weather has turned good I ought to be out hustling on getting more work and starting a business and instead I’m reading books about the middle east and our wars therein, both present and future. First book that has taken up time that it shouldn’t have, or more accurately, more time now than it should have is The Oil Kings, by Andrew Scott Cooper. Book is of late 2011 vintage and it seems to have not attracted critical attention, which is wrong, as it is an excellent piece of history of recent times.
No Shit, Sherlock. Or Duh! Or any other of those common expressions we all know so well when something obvious to everyone else is news to you because you were sleeping or in a coma or something equally incapacitating. The information in these two outstanding books–Intel Wars, by Matthew M. Aid, and The Operators, by Michael Hastings–at least the information that really matters is pretty damned obvious and has been for a very long time to me at any rate and that doesn’t change the sad fact that most people don’t know it. Or worse, won’t acknowledge it.
Michael Lewis’ newest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World is a wonderful book, probably his best to date, and is a thoroughly enjoyable read and is full of some of the best descriptive sociology a reporter can do and still it isn’t quite right. Even though it is mostly as right as it can be. I heartily recommend the book and am disappointed by it too. Not the usual reaction to any book, whether it is one you liked or disliked. Which in a way is a recommendation for it, a unique one.
Palgrave Macmillan’s publicity department saw what I wrote here on Dandelion Salad and sent me a free copy of their newly published book, The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight To Lead Afghanistan Into the Future in exchange for a review of it. Got to wonder if the folks actually read what I’ve written about us and our adventures abroad before making me this deal. Shoot I am flattered to actually get some recompense of sorts for the writing I’ve done, but I aint pulling any punches on this turkey. I’m calling it as I see it, now as always.
Generally always I never get my hands on a new book in time to get a review of it out while the book is still in play in circles print and intellectual, but for once I did, with Peter Van Buren’s We Meant Well, and for once via the local library no less. Unfortunately, I have failed in getting this review out in the very narrow time slot the book world allows for reviews to see the light of day in a first tier publication; perhaps I may yet get it somewhere significant on the web. Perhaps still my efforts will get some people to read it, as this book is dreadfully necessary and overdue both. And I am personally obligated, as an American patriot concerned about us and our times, to put my voice and my reputation in Mr. Van Buren’s service with this review, and by whatever other means I have, as his employer, the United States Department of State, is well on its way to firing him for writing this book and telling the truth about the abject failure of our occupation, governance, and reconstruction efforts in Iraq, and more, the failure of US policy in the war in achieving any worthwhile results for the Iraqi people or the United States government from our war efforts.
I mean the United States, not North Korea, of course. The Koreans will get along if not fine, at least no worse than before Kim Jong Il’s recent departure from the scene. No, the United States faces a crisis it is completely unprepared for. We have had entirely too much invested in demonizing Kim and his nation and what with the recent exit of Gadaffi from the scene, and Saddam’s and Osama’s too, all the leading bugbears of the US’ national security (read: permanent war fear and of late permanent war) state are gone, and we must ask ourselves what are we to do now, with them all gone? Who can replace them? How can we replace them in time to keep people from asking embarrassing questions about our gross overexpenditures on our transparently incompetent and incapable military? Continue reading →