The NeoCon Con

Douglas Feith recently spoke here on campus. Chicago, home of Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter, is an important place for Doug Feith to come and defend the assault on Iraq strategy of the administration – and by extension the neocon world view.
Today’s NYT (r.r) has an indepth on the three-member crack team (and yes, crack) of Feith, Maloof and Chalabi who were responsible for coming up with lots of nice powerpoint presentations on Iraq, WMDs, al-Qaeda. There is an earlier WaPo (r.r) piece that covered most of this Shadow Squad . Both of these pieces show that post-Sep 11, the neocons were ready to find the intelligence to support their gut feeling: that Saddam had to go, that the Empire had to return, that the World was Dangerous Place. Of course, any kind of intelligence can easily be found if one culled over enough policy and analysis memos and, of course, called a dissident insider who had all kinds of “neat” information. It is a pattern we have seen in every other public policy of this administration: Have a conclusion, find the reasons. And the reasons are all there in those books and memos. God forbid one has to leave the Regenstein.
What is fascinating to me is the way that the neocons have gone around defending themselves. Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Orientalists, was on Charlie Rose last night saying how wonderful a guy Chalabi is and how cruel the media has been to him. Oh yea, the media is sooo bad to them.
The neocons LOVE the spotlight. They do. Have you seen any tabletop lately that did not have Richard Perle perched on it? They know they were right and they thought this was going to be the moment when sheepish intelligentsia would be lining up to shower them with flowers (ha). The fact that it did not happen in Iraq may have given them pause, but no. They want the accolades. They want to be proven right.
In the end they are the quintessential Chicago students: Hungry for approval, utterly convinced of their rightness, and with immutable faith that the text will save us all.

Identify Yourself

Britain is rolling out the I.D. cards in London. This is a voluntary trial but by 2012 it will be compulsary. Funnily enough, Muslim women will be exempt from this trial presumably because it fringes on their religious practice to veil. Mind you, Britain is a police state already. There are cameras every 10 feet in london and I am sure the MI-5 learned a trick or two from the K.G.B.
The backlash specifically counters the claim [pdf] that ID cards will deter terrorists (I have yet to hear about terrorists faking identities).
I remember Dean taking all kinds of flack because he mentioned something about a National ID card. In Pakistan, we have had ID cards forever (as in most of Europe and Asia) and I know that my uncles had about 6 a piece – with different names and pictures. My uncles were no terrorists. They are not even shady. The multiple ID cards were used to get out of parking tickets and cast multiple votes in student elections in their college. Of course, that was long ago and the new NID card in Pakistan has some biometric (?) data and a spiffy website. So, presumably, that kind of abuse no longer takes place.
I think that National ID card will debut very soon after the Bush re-election. Larry Ellison is chomping at the bits to put his Oracle db to the backend and have a national ID. Ashcroft, who hated the idea of gun owners having to register, is on board.
My small contribution to this debate is to merge the CAPPS II rating system with the ID card. Look at your driver’s license. On the front, it has a “class” listing which pertains to whether you use corrective lenses. That should be the terrorist rating you get from the CAPPS II. Help the police out. I am AAB, btw, which means I get checked manually on the terror list each time I board a plane. But I do NOT get body cavity search. WOO HOO.


From Wired, comes an article on the adoption of computers in Madrasas in Lahore. A couple of weeks ago, Boston Globe ran an article that also tackled the modernization of syllabus in Deobandi madrasas in India. Both of these articles point towards external and internal reform pressures on the madrasa system. The impression is that the madrasas teach nothing besides the rote memorization of the Qur’an (picture boys in caps on floor swaying back and forth). The further implication is that the madrasa system in Pakistan is a breeding ground of terror and extremism. Hence, reform must come by reforming the curriculum of these schools.

Continue reading “Madrasas”

Summer movies

Saw The Company friday night. It was ok. I was hoping for more back-stabbing, anorexia and mis-shappen toes. The music was good and there were some funny moments. Over all, it was good p.r. for the joffret ballet. And for a movie set in Chitown, it showed us scant of this beautiful city.
While in the car, we were talking about whether anything besides Spiderman 2 was worth waiting for and … came up empty. Well, EW came on Saturday and it is the Summer Movie Preview issue. Here is what I am psyched about:
SpiderMan 2: Sam Raimi is god. No doubt. and the preview shows that the studio is finally letting him be.
Super Size Me: The guy managed to kill off supersize option at McD. If that is not a triumph of humanity, I don’t know what is.
– Beat Takishi’s Zaitoichi: The man is cooler than whip cream. And this is no sword lite · la Kill Bill. Can’t Wait.
Bourne Supremacy: Bourne Identity was a great little movie. This one has a different director – Doug Liman ran away – so, my enthusiasm is moderated.
The Garden State: The writer/director, Zach Braff, is funny on The Scrubs. The preview looks good as well.
– List of Movies that Will Suck: I, Robot (Will “I-have-a-song-for-the-credits” Smith”), Before Sunset (Richard Linklater goes navel gazing. again), The Village (M. Night Boring), Troy (DUDE, it’s like GREEKS!)

Ok. I have to go write a lecture on Maududi now.