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Candide’s Latest: Friday, August 25, 2006
Morning-After Cluster Bombs

The war is over. Abir Khaled's mourning for her lost cousins, killed in Marwaheen, Lebanon, will be the scars of a lifetime.

Hypocrisy of the Day: “The State Department is investigating whether Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements with the United States that restrict when it can employ such weapons,” the Times reports. But the State Department a few weeks ago approved Israel’s rush-order of just such cluster-bomb munitions! “The investigation,” today’s Times story continues, “by the department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls began this week, after reports that three types of American cluster munitions, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, have been found in many areas of southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian casualties.” In South Lebanon, the UN reports the presence of about 285 cluster bombs. And Israel, of course, is disputing Amnesty International’s claim that it committed war crimes.

France remembers Lebanon exists after all: Jacques Chirac, like every president before him, once said that Lebanon has a special place in his heart. Lebanon was once a French colony, and as such has traditionally had a special place at the bottom of French leaders’ boots. Lebanon would have settled for a few thousands of those boots to anchor the multinational force for South Lebanon that UN Resolution 1701 calls for to keep Hezbollah and Israel in their respective armories. Chirac was willing to send just 200. He’s now upped the number by 1,600—still not nearly the kind of numbers France should be sending (a 51 percent stake in the force would have been nice, considering that today’s Lebanese border was a creation of the French in the 1920s). But it’s an improvement. The Italians, after characteristic dithering, put up the largest force yet: 3,000 men. But the rest of the European Union is still dragging. Update: Europe pledges close to 10,000 troops. The UN’s Kofi Annan can’t figure out who the hell will command the UN force between France and Italy. I’d give it to the Italians, based on the Italian Foreign Minister’s unvarnished truth, spoken in an interview with Haaretz: “ The American policy, which Israel also supported, created an impossible situation. Just a few years ago, they foretold the demise of the UN. I recall that on the day Baghdad fell, Richard Perle wrote that along with Baghdad , the UN also fell. The thinking was that it is possible to control the world via the power of a hegemonic liberal power. This philosophy has created serious damage, and now the U.S. is looking for a logical way out.”

The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh has been virtually predicting a war with Iransince spring: “A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed [this view]: “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said,” Hersh wrote in the April 17 issue. “The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.” A military conflict that destabilized the region could also increase the risk of terror: “Hezbollah comes into play,” the adviser said, referring to the terror group that is considered one of the world’s most successful, and which is now a Lebanese political party with strong ties to Iran. “And here comes Al Qaeda.” Newspapers are beginning to pay attention: “The escalating confrontation over Iran's nuclear program raises an unsettling question: Is Iran the next target for U.S. military action?” That’s McClatchy’s question. “Some analysts think so. The focus is on diplomacy for now, but President Bush hasn't ruled out the use of force to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Tensions are likely to ratchet up a notch next Friday if, as expected, Iran ignores a U.N. Aug. 31 deadline to abandon its uranium-enrichment program.” And where’s Bush? On vacation again.

I Can’t Go to Iraq. I can’t Kill Those Children.” Jason Chelsea, a 19-year-old English infantryman from Wigan, near Manchester, was about to be shipped off to Iraq. He had told his parents that he “had been warned by his commanders that he could be ordered to fire on child suicide bombers.” But he wasn’t scared of dying. “Within 48 hours of confessing his concerns to his family, Pte Chelsea was dead after taking an overdose of painkillers and slashing his wrists. On his death bed, he told his mother, Kerry: "I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq. I don't care what side they are on. I can't do it."” The story from the UK Independent…

In Other Worlds

Morning-After Civilization: The United States’ Food and Drug Administration wakes up to the mid-20 th century and finally makes the morning-after pill available, over the counter. But the 21 st century still eludes the FDA: Girls 17 and younger will have to have a prescription. (It’s no secret that the FDA gets its directions from America’s evangelical Taliban.)

Paul Krugman bursts the housing bubble: "...the long-feared housing bust has arrived. Home sales are down sharply; home prices, which rose 57 percent over the past five years (and much more than that along the coasts), are now falling in much of the country. The inventory of unsold existing homes is at a 13-year high; builders’ confidence is at a 15-year low."

Little Miss Sunshine: Slate’s James Kinkaid holds his nose and gives us an in on the perverse public obsession over JonBenet Ramsey: “The discourse is alive; the game is afoot. Makes one wonder if we aren't giving Karr's background and confession so much prominence because they feed our deep personal needs and not the needs of justice. Just why is it we need to hear, once again, about JonBenet and the beauty pageants, the murder and the bad parents, about the little body unveiled?”

Killing Kittens: “A recent essay by prizewinning novelist Masako Bando in which she describes killing kittens immediately after they are born by throwing them off a cliff has sparked hundreds of protest e-mails and phone calls,” The Japan Times reports. “In the essay titled "Killing Kittens" in the newspaper's Aug. 18 evening edition, Bando, 48, wrote that she owns three pet cats and throws their litters off the cliff near her house on Tahiti. "I am fully aware what severe criticism I may face if I write this," she says at the outset of the essay. "I will probably be condemned as a savage by animal lovers around the world, and people may say I am violating the animal protection law. Knowing this, I confess I am killing kittens."”

Blogs

  • Callimachus mourns the loss of Pluto with Jovian resentment: "Pluto woke up Thursday morning as a "dwarf planet," a category that seems to please no one. Planetariums had to cancel their shows. NASA was despondent. Just this year it launched a $700 million mission to what turns out to be a non-planet."
  • Israel's Barrier to Peace: From Truthdig: "the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” examines the way Israel’s security wall has ripped a mortal gash in the lives of Palestinians living in its shadow, and argues that there can be no hope for peace in the Middle East as long as America continues to aid Israel in its dehumanizing practices."
  • Eric Scheie at Classical Values exposes the fault lines in "hate-crime" laws.
Who says Indonesia is repressed? A worker and a billboard have words in Jakarta.
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