Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beer, Basketball, the War on Terror, Today's News, and Me

One of the reasons I started this blog, back in July of 2007, was to provide a sort of scrapbook of news items relating to the war on terror. Which, officially, doesn't exist any more. Not as an officially-recognized term, anyway. (March 30, 2009)

Whatever it's called, what I regard as the first major global conflict of the 21st century is still going on. And, in my opinion, will continue for years. Probably decades. Generations, maybe.

It's not that I'm pessimistic: quite the contrary. I believe that, in the end, we will still be able to enjoy beer and basketball - or decide not to; that women will have the option to drive cars; and that wearing trousers will not be a capital offense.

The reason I think this conflict will not be resolved quickly is that it is not only spread across the world: but is complex. What I think may take the most time is enough people deciding that they can live with a world that's changed since the days of Ur and the Chaldeans.

Economics, Religion, and a Burr Under the Saddle

At the risk of being pegged as one of the folks who see everything as a class conflict between bourgeois capitalists and the oppressed proletariat, I think economics is involved in the war on terror.

That's because I think that theocracies like the Ayatollahs' Iran aren't good for business, among other things. I've discussed economics, and thinking straight, before.
Where was I? War on terror. Economics. Religious crazies in charge isn't good for business. Right. Moving on.

I also think that the war on terror exists in large part because we live in a world of individual rights, Barbies, soap operas, bikinis, and Mickey Mouse. That offends folks like the Ayatollahs and Al Qaeda's leaders. They seem to have a burr under their saddle about people not being sufficiently 'Islamic.' Their own particular flavor of "Islam," of course. It's hard to imagine Shia and Sunni chauvinists, for example, getting along.1

I'm not entirely happy with all aspects of contemporary Western culture: but my beliefs include a high respect for tolerance and freedom. And that's another topic, for another blog.
I've discussed 'tolerance,' real and imagined, before: and my take on culture shock as a factor in the war on terror.

News and Views North Africa and the Middle East

I don't think that information technology 'made' folks in places like Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, get fed up with their autocrats. I do think that Information Age technology and the social structures that are evolving around it lubricated the revolts: in part by letting individuals learn that they weren't the only ones who were ready for change.

I also think that folks like the Libyan colonel and the Saudi royal family aren't the only ones who are having a hard time adjusting to the Information Age. And that is yet another topic. (February 23, 2011, August 14, 2009)

Now, excerpts from news and views about -


"Sectarian clashes erupted at a school in Bahrain on Thursday, fueling fears a planned march on the royal court on Friday could inflame the Gulf island where a majority of citizens is Shi'ite but the ruling family is Sunni...."


"The Army joined with armed thugs yesterday to force protesters out of Cairo's Tahrir Square – one of many incidents lately that make Egyptians blame regime elements for trying to limit the scope of the revolution...."
(Christian Science Monitor)


"France became the first Western country to recognize Libya's opposition as the country's legitimate representative. The move comes as the European Union agreed to toughen sanctions against the North African country and its leader, Moammar Gadhafi...."
(Voice of America News)
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying Thursday before the House Appropriations Committee, said, 'We are suspending our relationships with the existing Libyan embassy, so we expect them to end operating as the embassy of Libya.'..."

Saudi Arabia

"Saudi police opened fire Thursday to disperse a protest in the mainly Shiite, oil-producing east, leaving at least one man injured, as the government struggled to prevent a wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world from reaching the kingdom...."


"President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday proposed a new constitution that allows transition of some powers from the executive authority to the parliament, but opposition parties rejected the proposal and said Saleh's initiatives were too late...." (News Yemen)

"National Democratic Front Party (NDFP(announced on Thursday full support to the recent national initiative made by President Ali Abdullah Saleh at the General National Conference to come out of the current crisis witnessed by the national arena...."
(Yemen News Agency (SABA))
Somewhat-related posts:
News and views:

1 "The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future," Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institution, via Intelligence in Recent Public Literature, CIA (2008)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.