The current Lebanese government has resigned. Syria of late is so cooperative! First handing over 30 IRaqi Baathists, and now this.

When the possibility of military action is felt, the diplomatic channels flow.
But will actual military action be required to force the withrawal of Syrian forces? I suspect that if the Syrians do not withraw "voluntarily", then the Lebanese will take actions, possibly with air support from the US (via Turkey, the Balkans, Italy, Carrier group) and possibly even our "oldest ally" France!
Interesting times.

As i have predicted elsewhere, a regime change will occur in Syria before Iran.


Shiftings over Sand

Just two quick news item worthy of consideration.

An authoritarian government shifts toward democracy?
A hostile people shift toward democracy?

Too early to know how serious or durable the changes signify, but both mark hopeful development in the Middle East. Could the Bush doctrine of freedom and democracy be taking effect?

Ofcourse it is more than just politics, it is also social changes



It seems though i titled my blog "Perspectives and Modernism" most of my posts have been perspectives and very little, if any at all, has been about modernism. But as i see it, modernism was about the rejection of the past methods and standards and striking out to create new ones, without the bagages of the old, and with clean and clear optimism for the future. from Wikipedia:
The modern movement emerged in the late 19th century, and was rooted in the idea that "traditional" forms of art, literature, social organization and daily life had become outdated, and that it was therefore essential to sweep them aside and reinvent culture. It encouraged the idea of re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was "holding back" progress, and replacing it with new, and therefore better, ways of reaching the same end. In essence, the Modern Movement argued that the new realities of the 20th century were permanent and immanent, and that people should adapt to their world view to accept that what was new was also good and beautiful.

Note that it isn't just about art but also culture, spirituality (as in the abstract expressionists) and even politics (with the suprematists). With my blog i hope to challenge the establisted and entrenched order of things in hope we can abandon what does not work or make sense, and embark of a path free of emotional baggage.
I've read two articles today regarding Europe and the US that i want to link to, because both speaks of baggages we should consider abandoning in order to move on. The first is by Mark Steyn:
But, in the broader sense vis-à-vis Europe, the administration is changing the tone precisely because it understands there can be no substance. And, if there's no substance that can be changed, what's to quarrel about? International relations are like ex-girlfriends: if you're still deluding yourself you can get her back, every encounter will perforce be fraught and turbulent; once you realise that's never gonna happen, you can meet for a quick decaf latte every six – make that 10 – months and do the whole hey-isn't-it-terrific-the-way-we're-able-to-be-such-great-friends routine because you couldn't care less. You can even make a few pleasant noises about her new romance (the so-called European Constitution) secure in the knowledge he's a total loser.

The second article is from Germany's weekly Spiegel
Quick quiz. He was re-elected as president of the United States despite being largely disliked in the world -- particularly in Europe. The Europeans considered him to be a war-mongerer and liked to accuse him of allowing his deep religious beliefs to become the motor behind his foreign policy. Easy right?

Actually, the answer isn't as obvious as it might seem. President Ronald Reagan's visit to Berlin in 1987 was, in many respects, very similar to President George W. Bush's visit to Mainz on Wednesday. Like Bush's visit, Reagan's trip was likewise accompanied by unprecedented security precautions. A handpicked crowd cheered Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate while large parts of the Berlin subway system were shut down. And the Germany Reagan was traveling in, much like today's Germany, was very skeptical of the American president and his foreign policy. When Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate -- and the Berlin Wall -- and demanded that Gorbachev "tear down this Wall," he was lampooned the next day on the editorial pages. He is a dreamer, wrote commentators. Realpolitik looks different.

While you could interpret the second as a glimmer of hope that some in Europe do get it, it also reminds me that in 20 years the German reaction in particular, and Europe's reaction in general, has been and still remain to accept the status quo rather than risk enacting changes to improve the state of things. That is not modern.

Similarly there are two articles regarding the UN that seem to complement each others. The first is from Claudia Rosett, who lead the MSM in exposing the UN food for oil scandal.
But that's hardly the worst outrage that's been bubbling at the UNHCR. If you believe in the U.N. charter's promise to promote "justice and respect for obligations arising from treaties," along with "the dignity and worth of the human person," then the real scandal--less racy, but colossally more devastating in human cost--has been the UNHCR's failure in recent years to stand up for refugees fleeing North Korea. The problem here is not, as far as I am aware, one of embezzlement or fraud. Nor is it on a par with any amount of sexual harassment in the comfortable Geneva headquarters of the UNHCR--however upsetting that might be. The true horror is the way in which the well-mannered nuances of U.N. bureaucracy, structure and management have combined to dismiss demurely the desperate needs of hundreds of thousands of human beings fleeing famine and repression in the world's worst totalitarian state.

Matched to this Harvard Model UN meeting:
The visitors were Iraq’s first-ever representatives to the annual HNMUN conference, which brings students from around the world together to simulate the United Nations.

Arwa Nazar Hamdan, one of the University of Baghdad students, said she was surprised to receive such a warm welcome, since she had expected to be viewed as a terrorist.

“The [American] military back home treats us with hostility,” Hamdan said. “I can see it in their eyes that they look at us as suspects.”

From this early encounter, Iraqi students had the chance to dispel their misconceptions of America—and Americans’ misconceptions of them—at a series of events throughout the weekend.

Iraqi student Quasay Mehdi Hussein said this was the first time the students attended a conference where they could speak their minds freely without being told what to say. He added that he spent more time informally talking with other delegates than participating in the conference itself.

In one of these conversations, Hussein spoke on Thursday with Shira Kaplan ’08, an Israeli student, at a reception hosted by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The two students discussed the future of their region and how to teach tolerance for “the other side,” Kaplan said.

“As an Israeli, it was a rare opportunity to meet Iraqi people,” Kaplan recalled later.

Yet, when one gets down to it, the model UN probably does as much good as the real UN, and certainly no worse. Perhaps it is time to recognize the sentimentalities we have attributed to the conceptual UN is not worthy of the actual UN. And that the modern thing to do is to move on and create a new framework for international cooperation.

Once we declared "Look West young men", perhaps we should now look "East" toward Australia, India, and Japan.



By now most of us are aware of the scandal over Eason Jordan's comment alleging US troops intentionally targeting journalists. And "due to" blog pressure, and despite it being a non-issue in the mainstream media, Jordan has resigned from CNN. The scuffle has evolved beyond what Jordan alleged into a power struggle between mainstream media and the blogosphere. Leaving all of these issues aside I question why Jordan felt it necessary to resign at all! The blogs, though persistent in pursuing the story and the truth, had not to me generated the same level of pressure as they did with Rathergate (and still no resignation!). Why couldn't Jordan issue a public apology and retraction of his unfounded assertion without resignation? I think that would have satisfied most. Thus i believe there is more to the Jordan's resignation than what has been revealed thus far.


Year 4703

Wednesday Feb 9 was Lunar New Year. This was celebrated by the Chinese as well as the Vietnamese, Koreans, and the Mongolians, which constitute the majority of the Far East. The obvious exception are the Japanese, which in 1873 adopted the Gregorian calendar, thus making January 1 their new year.
Of note is that it is the year 4703. The Chinese culture has spanned this entirety largely intact, despite the rise and fall of several dynasties and occupations. This is appreciation is often unrecognized, that the Chinese "empire" is one of Culture and not of direct conquest. In fact China has been invaded and conquered by its neighbor many times, but each time China's culture has converted and assimilated the "foreigners" into Chinese. Similarly, the Vietnamese, Koreans, the Mongolians and the Japanese have maintained their distinctive national (as in Nation, a cultural distinctive people) identity for a similar historical span despite their own political flux and despite proximity to China.

Unfortunately, my internet connection was down until last night thus i am late with this post.

Happy New Year.