Posts Tagged ‘Svetlana Alexievich’

The passing scene – October 14, 2015

October 14, 2015

On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail) by Andrew Bacevich for TomDispatch.

Andrew Bacevich is a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran and a retired career Army officer who now teaches political science.  He said the goal of the neo-conservative faction in the U.S. government is military domination.

Since most Americans are unwilling to fight except against actual threats to the nation, the neo-conservatives try to use foreign fighters as proxies.  But foreigners also are unwilling to fight for American neo-conservative goals.

Those who are willing to fight have their own agendas, which is not the same as the U.S. agenda.  The latest example is the attempt to train “moderate” Syrian rebels.   Where, asks Bacevich, did Americans ever get the idea that they are especially good at training foreign armies?

I would be interested to hear from anybody who could make a case that the American people are better off for any of the U.S. military interventions during the past 15 years, or that the people of the target countries are better off, or that the world is better off.

Aerospace Trade: Trump’s Winning Card by Eamonn Fingleton for the Unz Review.

Eamonn Fingleton, a former editor of Forbes and the Financial Times, says Boeing is a prime example of the failure of U.S. trade policy, which is based on obsolete ideas about free trade.

As a condition for doing business, Japan, China and other countries insist that U.S. companies such as Boeing shift not only manufacturing operations to their countries, but share vital technological know-how.  The short-term benefit is a boost in profit for the U.S. company.  The long-term cost is a hollowing out of American industry.

He thinks it would take an outsider such as Donald Trump to change this.  I agree it would take someone not beholden to the American business establishment.

How to Protect Your Personal Data—and Your Humanity—From the Government by Walter Kirn for The Atlantic.

Electronics, the Internet and computer algorithms give governments and businesses the means to monitor your every move and draw conclusions—not necessarily accurate ones.

I’m reminded of the old definition of a paranoid:  Someone who lacks the normal person’s ability to diminish awareness of reality.

A History of Secret Torture at Guantanamo Bay by Bonnie Tamres-Moore for the Washington Spectator.

For Murdoch and Fox, the chickens may be coming home to roost by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Svetlana Alexievich: The Truth in Many Voices by Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books.

The passing scene – October 10, 2015

October 10, 2015

Excerpts from the works of Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich by the Associated Press.

Boys In Zinc by Svetlana Alexievich for Granta.   The title refers to the zinc-lined coffins in which bodies of Soviet troops were shipped home from Afghanistan.

Nobel laureate Alexievich on Putin and Soviet trauma for the France24 TV network.  (Hat tip to O)

Svetlana Alexievich captured the psyche – and trauma – of a Soviet people and nation by Elena Gapova for The Conversation.

Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich

I never heard of Svetlana Alexievich until she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  She is a non-fiction writer from Belarus, which before 1991 was part of the USSR and Russian Empire.

Her theme is said to be the spiritual vacuum left by the fall of Communism.  She seems like a writer worth getting to know about.

The average Russian has a little Red Man inside who longs for the return of a strong, authoritarian ruler, she says; that is the secret of Vladimir Putin’s power and the reason for his aggressive policies.

Game On!  For Abe in Asia by Peter Lee for China Matters.

Peter Lee thinks the Trans Pacific Partnership is part of a U.S. strategy to checkmate China by building up Japanese power and influence in the Pacific region.  Specifically, he thinks Japanese companies could use the TPP to block Chinese infrastructure projects in Vietnam and Malaysia on the grounds that Chinese companies enjoy unfair government subsidies.

Leaked (final?) TPP intellectual property chapter spells doom for free speech online by Corey Doctorow for Boing Boing.