Sometimes, I wish I could muster the faith, to step apart from my materialism, to believe that there is a plan, that everyhing's going to be all right, that there's some fate that separates our steps from brownian motion..
A few supplemental things to comment on while I wait for an analysis to finish:
- I'm looking forward to seeing Moore's next film, 'Sicko'. It's about the health-care industry, and it lays at least part of the blame for poor health care standards in the United States at the feet of the voters. This is a risky move by Moore - while the masses are at least partly complicit in the poor management of our country, they probably don't like to hear that. Still, while I'm not sure Moore gets the fine details right all the time, I think he's an important positive force in our society, and hope to see him continue.
- Similarly, the population controls that China has, while (I think) well-intentioned and positive, ask people to make a sacrifice for the greater good of society, and there were recent riots in Guangxi over their application.
- Jimmy Carter called BushJr the "worst president ever". I'm not sure I can agree with the details (I'd need to do a comprehensive review of our past presidents to feel comfortable making such a statement), but I at least don't think he's far off the mark. I admire Carter's willingness to endure controversy to say what he thinks needs to be said, and at least in many of his stands, I agree with him.
- Things like this stoning would be unremarkable (even though tragic) if they didn't happen so often in the Middle East. I recognise that there *is* another side on this matter, and that punishment for violating society's most strongly held norms is a regular and necessary part of civilisation, but for those who don't hold the norms in question, it's horrific to see things like this. A similar divide separates those of us who believe in this society and who would jail (and possibly execute) people for violating those norms we enshrine in law from those who don't believe in the state at all and would attempt consensus and shaming to solve every problem (reminder of nuance: I think we need both).
- Vietnam is slowly democratising its political system, with the Communist party looking to create its own opposition in the form of independents. Kemal Ataturk did something similar for a time with Turkey's parliament, later abandoning the idea when some of the details didn't work out. It's an interesting thing when a one-party system reaches (either truly or in illusion) towards a multi-party system...
- Struggle continues in Afghanistan against Taliban forces. I'm pleased that this step went badly for their forces - it may be difficult to eradicate them completely because they have grass roots with a substantial part of the population, but the longer they're knocked down, the more easily the rest of the country can develop
- In Pakistan, students of a mosque have formed an "anti-vice" squad and captured some policemen, demanding the release of members who have been arrested. I think it's an interesting challenge for moderates like Musharraf (president of Pakistan) to deal with issues relating to rule-of-law in his country - in the west, terrorists generally stand far apart from the values of society (even radical ecology groups, for whom I have a lot of sympathy, enjoy little support), while in other parts of the world, a substantial part of the population openly supports the values (and possibly actions) of groups that would be considered extreme in the west. The states are often significantly weaker in the countries in question as well - Saudi Arabia's slow steps to weaken their religious police (as I mentioned in an earlier entry) are difficult and yet deeply meaningful - I think Musharraf probably has one of the most difficult political jobs in the world. It's tempting to imagine him becoming as ambitious as Ataturk and forcibly move his entire country in a beeline towards western values, but today's Pakistan is substantially different than the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s (and the international climate might not appreciate the means Ataturk took to accomplish his amazing results). This is a problem I see with a lot of liberals - they become too focused on allowable means and disallow means that produce outstanding ends. I don't think that the means are unimportant, but they need to be negotiated against the ends.
- An interesting scandal in British politics - the House of Commons passed a bill that privatises more communication between MPs and private parties. (this particular article is more fuming than factual, but I can't find the other article I read first)
- You've probably read about Gaza degenerating into chaos as Hamas (the "bad guys", from my perspective) and Fatah (the "relatively good guys") have sent militias after each oher. Recently, the imamate have entered the struggle, many of them supporting the fighting. Israel has been quietly supporting Fatah (at least partly because Fatah is much more likely to move for peace with Israel) with arms and other services, but this has been discreet because they know how they're still percieved among the Palestinian populance (and because of internal lack of solidarity on the matter). Across the border, a group that split from Fatah in the Palestinian exile community in Lebanon, has had armed struggles with the Lebanese army, with possible funding from Syria.
- Dubai is starting to make some very public investments in education in the Middle East. This is fantastic.
Ahh, analysis just finished. Hurrah.
Lizza passed this on to me - it's interesting reading.