The Friend of My Enemy Is…

Briefing Depicted Saudis as Enemies:

A briefing given last month to a top Pentagon advisory board described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States, and recommended that U.S. officials give it an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States.

“The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader,” stated the explosive briefing. It was presented on July 10 to the Defense Policy Board, a group of prominent intellectuals and former senior officials that advises the Pentagon on defense policy.

“Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies,” said the briefing prepared by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corp. analyst. A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent” in the Middle East. Washington Post

The conclusions about Saudi Arabia’s role are not surprising. What is astounding, however, is that this view “… has growing currency within the Bush administration — especially on the staff of Vice President Cheney and in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership — and among neoconservative writers and thinkers closely allied with administration policymakers.” Apparently, the feeling in these circles is that toppling Saddam Hussein is more urgent because a friendly successor regime in oil-rich Iraq will reduce US dependence on Saudi oil and permit the US to confront the Saudis for their support of terrorism. Hard to see how this perspective will take hold — Administration comments are derisive — since the implication is that, as long as Bush’s handlers don’t have the oil supply problem licked yet, we’re shown for the moral relativists we are in the WoT®.

A mistake and a crime

The bombing of Hiroshima was a great crime. That the United States of America has yet to confront it as such not only leaves the past with unfinished business, but undercuts the possibility of present moral clarity about the exercise of American power and leaves the earth’s future tied to a fuse that we set burning 57 years ago today.” — James Carroll, Boston Globe op-ed Carroll’s argument is essentially that the debate about the strategic necessity of the atomic bombings to the war effort is far from settled; many consider Japan’s back to have been broken already and the argument about how many American lives were saved by unleashing the Holy Fire to be fatuous and self-serving. Although of course such momentous decisions are not based on a single factor, positioning the US in the postwar struggle with the Soviet Union may have been the more important reason to incinerate two Japanese cities. Having unleashed such a quantum leap in the potential for mass destruction on the world — and relying on terror every day since to prop up our superpower status — what moral standing do we have to make war on Iraq on the basis of its similar attempts to use WMD to jockey for geopolitical power? Unless you deny that there is a thread of moral continuity to US responsibility extending back as far as WWII (which continuity those claiming US moral superiority as the saviors of the free world, the “greatest generation” etc., rely upon), it is a compelling argument…

"Internet Philosophy and Psychology"

Alan Sondheim:

INTERNET TEXT is a meditation on the philosophy, psychology, political economy,

and psychoanalytics of Internet (computer) communication. It focuses on virtual subjectivity,

sexuality, community, and all aspects of computer interfacing…

The text consists of hundreds of sections written over a period of ten years,

a continuous meditation on cyberspace, emphasizing issues of interiority, subjectivity,

body, and language. The extended range of topics includes Net applications, as well as occasional

reference to the underlying architecture and protocols of telecommunications; this is the

materialist “gristle” that can’t be discarded in analysis.

The subject matter is in the form of “short-waves, long-waves.” The former are

the individual sections, written in a variety of styles. These texts are completely interrelated; on occasion

“characters” appear – these are _actants_ possessing philosophical or psychological

import. They also create and problematize narrative sub-structures within the work as

a whole…

The long-waves are fuzzy topoi on such issues as death, love, virtual embodiment,

the granularity of the real, and physical reality, which criss-cross the texts.

The resulting fragments and coagulations emerge from code and codework, surface and substrate.

The writing encompasses, past and present, but wagers the future as well;

the emphasis is on extended virtuality.

Read in any order, any direction. The text is resonant.

Teamsters reportedly prepared to endorse TIPS informant plan

A reporting source sent this to Declan McCullagh’s Politech mailing list. TIPS, you will recall, is the administration plan to have us become informants on one another’s suspicious activities to assist the WoT®, Eastern-European style:

Teamsters President James Hoffa, Jr. is preparing to endorse the Bush administration’s TIPS plan, according to Washington sources close to the labor union. Teamsters is the largest union in the U.S. and its members include United Parcel Service (UPS) workers. The decision of the Teamsters to back TIPS is solely Hoffa’s, and no union vote was taken, or is planned, the source said. Many Teamsters are more left-of-center and are unhappy with Hoffa’s close relationship with Republicans and the Bush White House and view his pending endorsement of TIPS as an attempt to win favor with Bush, the source said.

Related: The Societal Costs of Surveillance


So the recent brainstorm by the Justice Department to enlist couriers, meter readers, cable installers and telephone repairmen to snoop on people’s private lives for anything “suspicious” dredged a cold and until now forgotten feeling from the pit of my stomach. Many have objected that such a program would violate civil liberties and basic American principles. But stoking people’s fear to set neighbor upon neighbor, service worker upon client, those who belong against those who don’t, does something more: it erodes the soul of the watcher and the watched, replacing healthy national pride with mute suspicion, breeding insular individuals more concerned with self-preservation than with society at large. Ultimately it creates a climate that is inherently antithetical to security. NY Times