Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Quark - Political Iteration

When it rains it pours. 'Tis the season for blog competitions. An old favorite - 3 Quarks Daily - is holding the third of four annual competitions called "Quarks." The winners for each category (science, philosophy, politics, and art) have and will continue to be announced on each equinox and solstice. The current theme is Politics and although the entry from TPG is tenuously political it remains a fun exercise in blogosphereological exploration. To peruse the 47 entries click here. If you already know what you would like to vote for click here.

There is some excellent writing among some very timely entries. As much as I disdain Salon.com I did particularly enjoy Glen Greenwald's dissection of Obama's Afghanistan escalation speech from a few nights ago. In this commentary he got me with the phrase "national narcissism" when describing our collective willingness to buy into war if we think we are morally justified. How does citing human rights violations or oppression of women make make it justifiable to wage war in certain countries? The truth is there are brutal human rights violations all over the planet and yet we are supposed to focus our military might at only those that happen to be sitting atop the world largest oil supplies or other "interests?" It makes no sense.

This all made me think - why isn't Greg Mortenson crusading in Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Egypt? I am not questioning Mortenson's great and worthy intentions but I am wondering why we are so easily swayed to focus our empathy on countries that have been deemed to have U.S. "national interests" at stake? If you want to have a clear definition of what the code words "national interest" mean look no further than this letter drafted and signed in 1998 by the motley crew at the Project for the New American Century and sent  to President Clinton.
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