Quote:what can only be described as a bonkers scot
"Some people do not understand why we should watch these trials. Well, some Scots are considering seceding from the UK; it would be good to consider problems that others have had with that. I am not suggesting that we would encounter anything like Mladic, but there will be unforeseen consequences, and we need to think and research them. There are parallels between the UK and former Jugoslavia"
Quote:It is only human to have faith in the "human intelligence" generated by the agents, operatives, and assets of the CIA. But that's the point: What's human is always only human, and often wrong. America invaded Iraq on the pretext of intelligence that was fallacious if not dishonest. It confidently asserted that the detainees in Guantánamo were the "worst of the worst" and left them to the devices of CIA interrogators before admitting that hundreds were hapless victims of circumstance and letting them go. You, Mr. President, do not have a Guantánamo. But you are making the same characterization of those you target that the Bush administration made of those it detained, based on the same sources. The difference is that all your sentences are final, and you will never let anybody go. To put it as simply as possible: Six hundred men have been released uncharged from Guantánamo since its inception, which amounts to an admission of a terrible mistake. What if they had never even been detained? What if, under the precepts of the Lethal Presidency, they had simply been killed?
For all its respect for the law, the Obama administration has been legally innovative in the cause of killing. It has called for the definition of an "imminent threat" to be broadened and for the definition of "collateral damage" to be narrowed. An imminent threat used to be someone who represented a clear and present danger. Now it is someone who appears dangerous. Collateral damage used to be anyone killed who was not targeted. Now the term "collateral damage" applies only to women and children. "My understanding is that able-bodied males of military age are considered fair game," says the former administration official, "if they're in the proximity of a known militant."
Quote:To paraphrase one of our great living philosopher kings, the Arab monarchies may be forced to choose among three dreams: the Saudi King's, Dr. King's and Rodney King's. The monarchs would like their own people and the outside world to believe that they survive because of their effective and benevolent leadership, their unique political culture, and their distinctive legitimacy which requires no great concessions to meaningful democratic political participation. But that very myth can blind them to the ever more urgent calls by reformists for just such political inclusion, transparency, an end to corruption, and equality of citizenship. The violent repression and angry protests in Manama or Qatif provide stark warning of the danger of believing such comforting mythologies of resilience or legitimacy.
The discussion of Arab monarchy really should be a debate, of course. A lot of smart people do think that monarchy matters, and have developed sophisticated arguments and evidence to support the contention. They may be right. There's an outstanding literature in political science on the nature of various regime types, to which Middle East specialists have contributed significantly. But if Gulf regimes start to suddenly fall, as predicted in this forthcoming book by Christopher Davidson, or the popular mobilization which already exists takes on new forms, then the embrace of the monarchical exception could soon look as foolish as did the passion for Lebanese consociationalism in the 1960s, the admiration for the Shah's developmental state in Iran in the 1970s, or the confidence in the resilience of Arab authoritarian regimes in the 2000s.