Archive for October, 2007

Seriously, what chain of command?

October 31, 2007

chain of command cover

While Sy Hersh takes a more objective view of things than Suskind, the view from his pen doesn’t get any better. In fact, it gets more and more depressing for me. Preemption, the Cheney Doctrine and Transformational Diplomacy, meet Islamo-Facism. You’re long lost cousins just that you don’t know it. Yet. Or maybe you’re so deep in denial you can’t bring yourself to see what you really look like in the mirror. Hersh writes about more than innocence lost; he charges the Bush Administration with wilful deceit, misuse and squander of every political, military, intelligence and relational asset the US had prior to 9/11. Reading this, one wonders if it’s only a matter of when, not if, charges will be brought on key members of the Administration when all the shit dies down. If it dies down.

Suskind’s whistle-blower account of the Bush administration’s conduct of the GWOT will rile you

October 29, 2007

one percent doctrine 

Just finished Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, part of a series of books on US foreign policy and its conduct of the GWOT that I’m planning to digest.  Suskind’s explanation of the Cheney-devised doctrine that a 1% probability of a suspected action against the US warrants enough cause for action – evidence, analysis and due process be damned – left me feeling a little disgusted, and puts in clearer light the events depicted in Gavin Hood’s movie Rendition, which I caught yesterday.  Then again, that Suskind is a Tenet fan is very obvious in the last parts of the book, painting what is arguably an over-sympathetic portrait of a DCI whose own peculiar brand of loyalty to Potus George is in many ways his undoing. 

Looking for a GWOT reading list? Try Hoffman’s insightful ‘Inside Terrorism’

October 23, 2007

inside terrorism 2nd edition cover

Just finished the library’s copy of Bruce Hoffman’s revised and expanded edition of Inside Terrorism, which JL recommended I take a look. And she wasn’t kidding. Just by looking at how Hoffman devotes one entire chapter of his time dissecting and discussing the various eytmological evolutions of the word ‘terrorism’, you get the sense that this is one well-researched and authoritative tome. And indeed it is. Hoffman’s analysis is lucid, comprehensive and penned in a prose that’s easy on the eye and brain and yet without the hyperbolic sabre-rattling that many of his contemporaries are wont to do. I found his analysis of the evolution of the role of the media in transmitting the symbolic messages of terrorism to be particularly enlightening. Too bad he does not delve into detail on the counterterrorism policy prescriptives he lists to combat this new and particularly violent form of political theatre.

you know you’ve not done too badly when….

October 18, 2007

one of your charges actually waits patiently for you to finish with someone else because she just wants to – get this – thank you for doing your job.  It really made my day.

got 102 minutes?: I walk these streets, but I’m dreaming of another universe

October 18, 2007

 “The modern world is a confusion.  It’s a world turned upside down.  It’s brutal, it’s schizophrenic, it’s totally chaotic. All the time we’re told to take, to possess, to own, to fill up our lives with material things, yet in our hearts, we know these things are useless. We despise men who measure themselves by the car they drive, the house they live in, their money.  I walk these streets, but I’m dreaming of another universe.  Modern life gives me nothing but false promises.  It wants to corrupt me; it wants to devour me; it wants to take the sky and the wind from me. It wants to take God from me.”                                                                            

– Mohamed Atta (Kamel), in the Channel 4 docudrama The Hamburg Cell

hamburg cell dvd cover

Such are the chilling words that haunt this depiction of the motivations and lives of the 9/11 hijackers a few years before the Day of the “Holy Operation”, and what’s disturbing about its examination of what led seemingly ordinary men to unleash their primal, primeval anger at the four symbols of modernity and power is the lure of brotherhood in the face of alienation and disenfranchisement.  At some point in our lives, we all feel we are alone, bereft of anyone who understands just how we feel, yet, in the face of an unyielding ideal that apparently can help us focus unrelentingly on the purpose of our lives, who is powerful enough to resist? The Hamburg Cell explores the insidiousness of how group-think and group ideology can, at its most extreme, lead to catastrophic consequences arising, ironically, from a failure to connect with other faiths and beliefs.  But Atta’s words, in the final analysis, attest to the ultimate failure of secularism to pacify the soul or nourish the spirit, even as it clothes the body so lavishly, and demands our slavish belief in its inevitability.

weekend roadie

October 14, 2007

so my sis leaves her car with me this weekend, and zipping along with it these 2 days was a really enlightening experience. For one thing, if you stay too long in the driver’s seat, you really gotta be able to hold it in and then quickly find a place to piss. For another, learning how to read a street directory is absolutely essential. Everything mostly went ok – including parking in enclosed spaces which really is about knowing how to orientate the vehicle right at the beginning and visualising, with the help of the mirrors, its position before entering the lot – the biggest screw-up being a mistake turning off AMK Avenue 1 (when we should have kept on going straight) and then finding ourselves on the SLE heading north. But then it was at night, and things really look different from behind the wheel at night. All in all, it’s true what they say about the best way to persuade someone to buy a car – let him have use of one during the weekend. One taste of personal transportation, and you’re hooked.

Goodbye 104

October 10, 2007

it’s done.  Finally.  Now I don’t have to spew crimson anymore.  Not on a sustained basis anyway.  Now awaiting my own charges’ scripts to get back to me, so that I can check through and see who needs extra tissue on Scripts Giveaway Day (to wipe away the weeping).  I sincerely hope no one needs it though.

Halfway point

October 3, 2007

40+ down, 60+ to go. Progress?  You be the judge.

Attended the latest birthday soiree with PT, Mrs PT, HS, ML, AW, YT, AF, Mrs AF, NH, YH and LQ  at Dian Xiao Er @ Vivo.  The newest editions to these gatherings: little Master PT and CL.  LT and Mrs LT could not make it on account of sick little Ms LT.  Boy is the group getting bigger and bigger. Their biggest table couldn’t really fit us all; we had to squeeze really hard.  If the numbers keep increasing, sooner or later we’ll have to book the entire restaurant. Or end up potlucking something to someone’s house.  Either way, there wouldn’t be a dearth of conversation.  Though I must say tonight was more subdued than most outings.  I guess it’s the end-of-term-lots-of-exam-marking fatigue.  I’m so looking forward to the term’s end and then we can really PARTY.

Ok, back to the grind.  Have some stuff to say about 9/11 but will save it for another post, another day.