Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? | Jesse McCarthy at The Point

In this marvellous essay, Jesse McCarthy puzzles over why there is “a bloody knot in the social fabric that is as vivid in Ferguson, Missouri today as it was in Baldwin’s Harlem half a century ago.”

He starts with “Fifth Avenue, Uptown: a Letter from Harlem”, James Baldwin’s essay from 1960.

It is hard on the other hand to blame the policeman… he too, believes in good intentions and is astounded and offended when they are not taken for the deed… He moves through Harlem, therefore, like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile country; which is precisely what, and where, he is. … He can retreat from his unease in only one direction: into a callousness which very shortly becomes second nature. He becomes more callous, the population becomes more hostile, the situation grows more tense, and the police force is increased. One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.

“Want to be treated like men.” That wish, together with all its many ramifications, is in McCarthy’s view ground zero. Continue reading

Is the battle in eastern Ukraine at a turning point?

A few weeks ago, the separatist militias appeared to be under the gun. In the last few days, the Ukrainian forces have been melting away in an apparent stunning reversal.

The western narrative puts this down to recent direct Russian intervention. Maybe, but there seem to be real grounds for doubt.

At Sic Semper Tyrannis (SST), one of their contributors with a deep military and intelligence background suggests a very different narrative may be called for. While Russia has almost certainly been covertly supplying materials and intelligence to the militias throughout the conflict, there seems little or no credible evidence that they’ve become directly involved. Instead, the separatist forces (with indirect Russian assistance) may have survived the Ukrainian onslaught and, through a mixture of luck, pluck and smart manoeuvring (and, probably, Russian intelligence), turned the tide. Continue reading

‘Martin Amis on Hitler and the nature of evil’ | FT Magazine

In the afterword to his new novel, “The Zone of Interest”, Martin Amis tries to make sense of the man who he describes as “stand[ing] alone as a source of lasting and unanimous incomprehension.”

An edited version is now in the FT Magazine, titled “Martin Amis on Hitler and the nature of evil”.

The question of “Why” pervades the essay from the first:

Newly detrained at Auschwitz in February 1944, and newly stripped, showered, sheared, tattooed, and reclothed in random rags (and nursing a four-day thirst), Primo Levi and his fellow Italian prisoners were packed into a vacant shed and told to wait. This famous passage continues:

. . . I eyed a fine icicle outside the window, within hand’s reach. I opened the window and broke off the icicle but at once a large, heavy guard prowling outside brutally snatched it away from me. ‘Warum?’ I asked him in my poor German. ‘Hier ist kein warum’ (there is no why here), he replied, pushing me inside with a shove.

One can argue about the success of the attempt but the journey is worthwhile: Continue reading

Dan Rather to Pundits Calling for War: Send Your Own Kids or ‘Don’t Even Talk to Me’ | Mediaite

All of these people on television, some of whom I have enormous respect for, it unsettles me to hear them say, listen, we the United States have to ‘do something’ in Ukraine, we have to ‘do something’ in Syria, we have to ‘do something’ in the waters around China, we have to ‘do something’ in Iraq, we have to ‘do something’ about ISIS. What they’re talking about are combat operations.“My first question to anyone who’s on television saying ‘We have to get tough, we have to put boots on the ground, we have to go to war in one of these places’ is: I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war for which you are beating the drums. If you aren’t I have no patience with you, and don’t even talk to me.

[ . . . ]

Those of us in journalism, and I include myself in this, we have a lot to answer for about what we did do and what we didn’t do in the run up to the war in Iraq. We didn’t ask the right questions, we didn’t ask enough questions, we didn’t ask the followup questions. We did not challenge power. I am concerned that once again as the war drums begin to beat and get louder and louder that there will be a herd mentality of saying, ‘Well, we have to go to war in Syria, we have to go to war in Ukraine.’ I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that we need to be thinking very very carefully and seriously about this, and journalists have a special responsibility to at least ask the right questions.

via Dan Rather to Pundits Calling for War: Send Your Own Kids or ‘Don’t Even Talk to Me’ | Mediaite.

Nasrallah: ISIS an ‘existential danger’ to the whole region | Al Akhbar

In a speech on Friday, 15th August, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah described the Islamic State as “an existential threat to Lebanon and the region”.

Nasrallah called for unified regional action to counter ISIS.

“We are able to combat the ISIS threat. It won’t be fought with inaction, but through unity and sacrifice,” he said. “We will not let them invade our countries, destroy our churches and our mosques. We will fight to stay in our countries.”

He cautioned the region against falling into sectarian discourse, saying this would only weaken their fight against ISIS.“

Sectarian incitement from anyone is as dangerous as a car bomb,” he said. “It should be dealt with seriously.”

“Don’t pack your suitcases and leave,” Nasrallah beseeched Lebanese citizens. “Stay and fight for your honor and existence. Lebanon can change the fate of the region.”

The Islamic State seems to him something monstrous, without precedent, as per this recent interview: Continue reading

Ukraine factories equip Russian military despite support for rebels | The Washington Post

Ah, what a tangled web.

But Kiev’s pleas for an end to trade ties have run into strong resistance from workers at companies like Motor Sich, here in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, where 27,000 employees build engines tailor-made for Russian military helicopters and planes. Most senior executives here grew up as part of the same Soviet military-industrial club as their Russian peers.“

We have our own party, the party of Motor Sich,’’ company spokesman Anatoliy Malysh said.

The competing pulls are complicating Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s efforts to chart a new course with Moscow at a time when Ukraine and Russia’s economies remain deeply intertwined.

There’s no simple solution here. The economic, social and cultural ties run deep.

“We’re dependent on Russia,” said Malysh, the company spokesman. Leaders in Kiev “think that national interests are more important than the economy. But let them speak to people who live without jobs. We are also patriots,” he said. Motor Sich hasn’t stopped exports to fulfill existing contracts, he said.

Many people tied to the plant say they have conflicted feelings about severing ties with their neighbor.

“Nobody ever thought about this. We’re brothers,” said Alla Kozlovskaya, 47, a teacher at a trade school designed to funnel students onto the factory floor. She said she had family in Moscow.

Continue reading