Updated: 5/16/2006; 2:24:10 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Thursday, April 29, 2004


Death to Iraqis who dare to speak out:  "Over the past year, Baghdad's intelligentsia has seen a wave of killings: scientists, professors, and academics, executed in carefully planned assassinations. It's hard to estimate the toll, but US occupation authorities put the number of "intellectuals and professionals" assassinated at up to five a month, not counting another five to 10 monthly attempts. By some counts, as many as 40 of Iraq's leading scientists and university professors have been killed since last April. ..

But regardless of the numbers, there is one sure victim: free speech. On the campuses of Iraq's universities, the killings have created a climate of fear so pervasive that many professors flatly refuse to speak about them.. The killings are having another effect: brain drain...

Dr. Hadi, like several other professors, now refuses to give interviews on Arabic-language television channels. When asked why, he's afraid even to say. "Now we have freedom of speech," he says cautiously, "but no security."

  10:51:02 PM  permalink  

Summary and update of America Unbound:  Address by one of the authors.  "Bush prefers to act unilaterally. .. On occasion he has turned to international institutions .. [when] they can help solve his immediate problems. What Bob Keagan has called instrumental multilateralism.. 

“If we are an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us,” Bush observed about other countries during the presidential debates “If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.” Bush ignored this advice once in office. .. What the poll numbers tell us is that in many parts of the world the United States is seen as the “SUV of nations,” to borrow Mary McGrory’s phrase, “hogging the road and guzzling gas, and occasionally running over something — like another nation — on its way to the Middle East filling station.” ..

Bush’s way is not America’s only choice. In fact, Washington has chosen differently before. America emerged from World War II as the world’s predominant power. It could have imposed an imperium commensurate with its power. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were certainly comfortable wielding America’s military might. But they wisely recognized that American power is more acceptable and thus more effective and lasting if it is folded into alliances and multilateral institutions that serve the interests and purposes of many countries. .. Rather than hobbling American power, these efforts legitimated and sustained it, building up a reservoir of goodwill that made it easier for the United States to act unilaterally, as on occasion it inevitably had to do.

Bush has chosen not to take this course. From the first day he entered office, Bush has pursued a revolution whose motto has been “foreign policy done my way.” For all the feints and seeming tactical changes in policy — yes to a UN resolution one day, no to sharing real power the next — that sentiment will no doubt continue throughout the remainder of his presidency. And so, no doubt, will continued frustration and anger abroad at the arrogance of American power. The final bill, unfortunately, will be America’s to pay."

  8:48:39 AM  permalink  

CPA work culture:  "The progressive leaders that I have met in my travels have all socialized very specific memes about what constitutes success in their organizations: Well done is better than well said; deliver quantifiable, measurable results; give me accomplishments over mere activities; schools and roads rebuilt versus meetings and discussions.  .. In Baghdad, CPA drove metrics around lives saved, hospitals rebuilt, roads paved, electrical towers erected, and so on."  This passage gave me chills, in hindsight.  Getting things done is what matters when there is broad agreement about what's important, like within a company or among competitors in an industry (or a bureaucracy).  But in national development, especially when the political system is underdeveloped, the ends are up for grabs, and the development of social processes with qualitative outcomes is what matters most.  When the Europeans told the US to make a provisional government as the first step, when Sistani's people clamored for any kind of early elections -- the clock was ticking, and it was the unquantifiable unmeasurable preceptions and opinions and conversations that would matter more than the concrete actions.  12:09:38 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 2:24:10 PM.