The Future of Iraq: Democracy, Civil War, or Chaos?Michael Rubin, Middle East Review of International Affairs, September 2005::Ignore the provenance of the MEF, or the author, have a look at this. Do read the interview with John Mearshiemer which I linked to earlier. This from prospect.org, sums up his position: realistpolitik. Well worth the effort, though long and in two parts. I always like a man who has changed his mind: you know where he is coming form (or think you might do). This is his authority to speak on these matters.
The point is admirably shown by weblogworld that anyone can have a go. Though every day Joes like myself, pontificating from a weblog, with the gaps in our knowledge or understanding (or arguments if there are any), will be open to a worldwide audience, many of whom actually do understand things: this the ultimate peer review. If anyone reads you that is.
I do wonder, sometimes, whether time spent writing to a weblog, which in so many cases amounts to little more than the venting spleen, getting something or other off sundry chests, would be better spent reading the experts.
This is what one might term the domain of iWorld (has someone already used it in some other context?) which roughly amounts to the dangerous feeling of empowerment the access the to internet gives the user: the instant access to facts and ideas via the search engine; The ability to set up a weblog in a few minutes to express one's view.
The whole feeling as if one is a newspaper magnate and in the cut of thrust of the newspaper or TV office. All almost completely delusional. People tend to an authority. They (I) want to know what the expert thinks. It is only then, one feels, that verisimiltude is being approached.
How can you tell what are facts and what lies, disortions, red-herrings, exaggerations, pure propoganda? Well, for one, wherever you are starting from, it all takes time. Take your time to read and consider. Write less. No one's reading it. Learn for yourself more. Think about the ability to communicate and what might be worth communicating.
The outpourings in weblogworld on such important issues as Iraq are just that: massive bit streams lying out there in servers across the world but which few read. 'Because it is there' seem to be the watchworld. I don't feel comfortable with the notion that I can write publicly as and when. I have to feel it is actaully saying something useful. This should apply to the likes of the professional commentators too. But poor souls, they have to make a sou, so are forced almost to write from an old, worn-out template of their convictions and prejudices, ad infinitum, ad naseam, as if they were writing the same article they wrote about Cambodia 40 years ago. Endlessly re-cycling the one good idea they thought they had is not always good enough.
I just got a quote from Richard Ingram's biography, Malcolm Muggeridge: while in Russia as foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, as it was then called, he met American journo A.T.Cholerton, well known amongst people who know such things for saying in reply to a question about the confessions in the infamous 1930s Stalinist show trials : 'Everything is true except the facts.' He was also responsible for coining the phrase 'Habeas Cadaver' as the Russan equivalent of 'Habeas Corpus'.
memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East