Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So, I was heading out for my normal morning chai this morning, and trying to find something to listen to on the radio.

We essentially have three choices of english language programming: AFN music, AFN talk, and BBC.

BBC was talking about cricket or something, AFN Music was playing its morning hip-hop show, which really isn't my bag, so I flipped to the talk channel.

And for some reason completely beyond me, they were playing Sesame Street. In an odd bit of irony, they were playing an episode on voting (and the meaning of unanimous). So my first thought was that it was some kind of misguided attempt at Stategic Communication to the Iraqis as they ramp up for their next election. I seriously hope I was wrong (although I wouldn't put it past the Army to try something that facile).

Apparently AFN has completely revamped its schedule, as they used to play Click and Clack on Wednesday mornings. And after Sesame Street, they've apparently started playing Oprah.

The most shocking thing is that they're removed Rush Limbaugh and replaced him with Terry Gross. Now, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a not a fan of Rush, but I will admit he's dynamic and interesting. Terry Gross, by contrast, is the most boring interviewer in the history of the universe (honestly - an hour long interview with John Cusack, and she spends 45 minutes talking to him about The Grifters).

People raised hell when Stars and Stripes stopped carrying Ann Coulter. I wonder how they're going to respond to this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What's Wrong with Nation Building?

I tell my friends that I'm so liberal I support the war in Iraq. What I typically mean by that is that if American soldiers pulled out (even today), there would be a civil war and millions of people would be killed. For the same reason, I support peacekeeping missions in general, and even, horror of horrors, nation-building missions. These are all attempts, at their heart, to improve the lives of people living in other countries. I am not a fan of unrestrained capitalism, and but I am a fan of unrestrained development. And sometimes, the military is the best tool for that job, especially when people are killing each other and sometimes you just need a tank or two to get in the way and make it stop.

How many American troops do you think would have been necessary to keep Rwanda from becoming a bloodbath? Reading the accounts of both UN Peacekeepers and the survivors of the genocide there, I personally think it wouldn't have needed very many. Considering that UN forces were unable to actually run missions, and still managed to save quite a few lives (most well known at the Hotel des Mille Collines, but also in many other areas of the country) simply through their presence, how effective do you think a couple tanks and twenty soldiers who were able to defend themselves would have been? Yes, there is the possibility that this would have made the hotel more of a target, but as we saw in Somalia, twenty soldiers are capable of dealing out a hell of a lot of damage on under-armed and poorly trained insurgents in a stand-up fight.

But getting back to my point - in a recent article in Time magazine, a line caught my eye: "With his advisers split between advocating a full-scale counterinsurgency, which some Democrats say amounts to nation-building". Now, seriously, what is wrong with nation building? We performed nation building in Germany and Japan after World War II, South Korea, the Philippines, and these are all thriving nations, with a solid, democratic, and peaceful government, who are relatively staunch allies of the United States.

And the liberal part of me points to the "relatively" qualifier as the most important part of that phrase. These are not puppet governments in some imperialistic American attempt to take over the world. These are governments which are looking after the interests of their own people, not falling into lockstep with American desires. That those interests tend to coincide with America's is not an indication of any conspiracy or imperialism, its simply that democracies tend to get along with other democracies, and this is overall a good thing for the world.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weather and Weather Reports

It's a desert. Luckily, it's started cooling off, so even though it gets up to the nineties during the day, at night it cools down to a very pleasant sixty degrees.

However, it's a desert. So even though the weather is cooling down it's still sunny.

In fact, as Yahoo Weather puts it:

Today: Plentiful sunshine.
Tonight: Mainly clear.
Tomorrow: Mainly sunny.
Tomorrow night: A mostly clear sky.
Tuesday: More sun than clouds.
Wednesday: Sunny.
Thursday: Abundant sunshine.

I wonder if they're going to start turning to a thesaurus for synonyms of "sunny"?