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Double think

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved using doublethink. (Orwell)

From the novel that summarises most of the 20th century practical political ideology, 1984 (read it online).

Now have a look at this:
Cheney said that progress toward peace and stability in the Middle East would depend on responsible conduct by countries in the region, including respect for neighbors' sovereignty and compliance with international agreements.

"If you apply all these measures it becomes immediately clear that the government Iran falls far short and is a growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East," Cheney told the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Reuters)


Israel recently bombed facilities in Syria, assisted by America (here) - sounds like a certain lack of "respect for neighbors' sovereignty" to me; not to mention the attack on Lebanon last year, and the list off American interferences can go on and on (Chile, Nicaragua, Granada, Afghanistan, ...). America's invasion of Iraq was illegal according to the then Secretary-General of the UN (here); Israel has repeatedly refused to stop illegal settlements and return the occupied territories to the Palestinians (e.g. here) - which "international agreements" does Cheney consider relevant?

528 page CV

I like reading autobiographies for two main reasons: you get to learn more about life from the point of view of a significant person – a sort of vicarious living out of the lives of the rich and famous; and you also learn how that person wants to be seen, what their version of history is.

Reading Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, Living History does certainly illuminate one on the second point. Frankly, it’s kind of boring and reads something like a very long CV; which is appropriate, given that it is really one long application letter for the job of President of America.

I’m on chapter 27 (out of 38), and she has yet to admit to any failing or mistakes – apart from over-reaching on her health reforms, which would be difficult to present in any other way given that it was a complete debacle.

It is interesting to some degree, but really it is so carefully written that most of the ‘authenticity’ of an autobiography is missing. The closest she gets is when talking about her daughter, whom she was careful to allow to live as normal a life as possible: in one incident she allowed her to ride with her friends to school, with the security behind (rather than driving her themselves); and in another she recounts how Chelsea wanted to go camping – they picked a spot and the Secret Service staked it out with night-vision toting agents. Chelsea made fun of their idea of sleeping rough, in a tent with floorboards.

Generally, it’s a list of whatever public engagements and issues she got involved in, with carefully crafted explanations that convey her political stance. Even her early life is a political genealogy, highlighting her staunchly Republican father, and her early days as a ‘Goldwater girl’ (a theme that has come up in her current campaign apparently). The importance of prayer and religion is asserted early on too.

Overall she does seem to be quite impressive: and I would probably vote for her if I was American. Not that there’s much of a choice…

The Economist have an informative article on her, pointing out amongst other things that she has been remarkably effective as a senator in terms of building alliances and influence. They also highlight how, if she gets in (a lot can happen, let’s not forget that the whole circus has more than year to go still), “members of the Bush and Clinton families will have been president for 24 years on the trot”, with a possible four extra years after. This is not good:
it divides America into “players”, who control political life, and “observers”, who simply comment on it. The dynastification of American politics is happening at a time when economic inequalities are growing, and the “haves” are proving increasingly successful at transmitting their privileges to their children.

and it also means that the whole point of democracy, that new people come into power with new ideas, is somewhat overlooked.

… and just for fun, some ‘proof’ that Hillary is a lesbian, one of the ‘Illumati’ (evil secret society that rules the world), AND an “Illuminist Witch”, aka a “powerful, Black Magic [witch], just as Antichrist will be when he arises” (Life Enterprises Unlimited). :-)

Plus ça change…

Just a quick one to provide a link to a transcription of Bin Laden’s full speech . Worth reading, to understand his argument – ‘know thy enemy’ and all that.

He develops an argument which really owes a lot to Lenin’s analysis of global imperialism and the World War I (for example, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism) – basically saying that foreign policy in America is driven by multinational corporations. Specifically, blaming Kennedy’s assassination on “the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its [the Vietnam War] continuation”; asking why the Democratic Party did not force withdrawal from Iraq after the last elections, he says “they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war. Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital.”

Then he develops some more modern themes: global warming, poverty in Africa, globalisation – these are also blamed on “The capitalist system [which] seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy.” This message seems somewhat more directed at your average younger person, of the anti-globalisation type.

Then, interestingly, he whacks in a message to the middle-classes too: “the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages”; later, he promises taxes (zakat) of only 2.5% under Islamic rule.


Continue reading "Plus ça change…"

Tunnel vision

"There isn't a doubt, I think, that Iran constitutes the single most important, single-country challenge to... US interests in the Middle East and to the kind of Middle East that we want to see." US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice

Well that says it all, really. The USA continues on its unilateral path, and wonders why people still don’t like them…

What about the kind of Middle East those who live there want to see? And frankly, why should we give a s**t about US interests? All the reckless pursuit of their interests have led us to so far is continuing mayhem in Iraq, continuing recruitment of murderous jihadists, and – in fact – the increase of Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

They say you can tell a person by their friends, and so why not a government by its allies: who are they selling arms to (thus contributing to a heightening of tensions and playing right into the hands of bin Laden et al.)?

Israel: a country that has illegally occupied the Palestinian lands since 1967, already has nuclear weapons, and is responsible for a whole number of other reprehensible acts – for example papering over the killing of a 13-year old girl.

Saudi Arabia: recently accused by the US Ambassador to the United States of “pursuing destabilising policies” with regards to Iraq, and of course no stranger to torture, discrimination against women, etc. (Amnesty International Report).
Continue reading "Tunnel vision"