Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hillary...explain this.


Hillary had the intelligence that Bush had (or very similar to it). Hillary had the benefit of the perspective of her husbands term as president. Hillary wanted what Bush wanted. (Saddam gone/disarmed)

What is the difference? Why is GW a dirty lier and Hillary a hapless victim. Politics perhaps?

Africa Welcomes China.


China rides the Africa Express

Good! I hope they establish a fantastic relationship. I hope China becomes heavily invested in Africa. I hope Europe and the US can divest themselves from Africa. (Not completely.)

It seems from the article above that capitalism is healing the wounds of Africa. Let's see if any of that capital trickles down to the masses.

And then there is this little tid-bit!

"...Hu would urge Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow a hybrid United Nations and Africa Union force into Darfur.

Until late last year there was little indication that the Chinese were prepared to help persuade Sudan to do this."

This is huge. I don't mind if China looks like the hero if Sudan agrees to a UN force (already provided for by UNSCR 1706). It will be short lived when troops, money and logistics are assigned and China is no where to be found as usual.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a Dream" speach.

One of the most important things you can do today is spend 17mins and 27secs watching and reflecting on this speech.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Middle Eastern Blogs: Something to Say and Somewhere to Say It. (Essay)


Much has been said about the spread and conduct of terrorism via the Internet. Terrorist groups have embraced technology and leveraged it to attack enemies and distribute propaganda. The internet and the information age link terrorists like never before, giving them unprecedented access to each other and the terror victim. Groups based in Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran -and with each a diaspora- connect to plot and plan the next attack.

There is another group of Middle Easterners that use this same system to network. This group connects via the internet. They plot and plan. They spread their views throughout the world. Yet, these Middle Easterners contribute to an over all global conversation that in turn contributes to democratization and the mobilization of soft power the likes of which the world has never seen. With the spread of connectivity comes the spread of public diplomacy, as well as a voice to react to the legacy media of the West and the state run media at home. These are Middle Eastern bloggers.

Something to Say and Somewhere to Say it.

What is a blog (weB LOG)? Generally an online journal meets the criteria of blog when it is regularly updated, past posts are archived and posts are dated. Additional criteria may be attribution through linking and Real Simple Syndication (RSS).[1] As this new media evolves what a blog is will certainly change. Blogs are “new.” The Internet as we recognize it is still only in its teens and blogs are slightly younger. Blogs numbered in the twenties before 1999. Now in 2007 if you ask the blog index and search engine Technorati to search for blogs containing the term “middle east” it returns 933,070 results.[2]

Today you can find blogs all over the world touching on as varied subjects as the people who write the blogs, from an 18 year old Chinese girl living in Hamilton, New Zealand introducing herself to the world via MySpace[3] to an American student in Dublin Ireland going on about his pub adventures via Blogger[4] to a mother of three in Mosul Iraq trying to make sense of her chaotic life.[5] Each of these people is an active participant in the new media of blogging. Each contributes to a massive dialog that is largely unfiltered, unedited and patently democratic.

Middle Eastern Blogs

Middle Eastern blogs are just as varied in content as any other part of the world. There are blogs that feature cats,[6] blogs that feature art[7] and certainly blogs that feature political commentary and analysis. One of the most prominent of these is Iraq The Model run by two Iraqi brothers, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil.[8] Iraq The Model’s first post was on Friday, November 14, 2003 which makes it one of the oldest blogs in the Middle East and certainly Iraq. Anton Efendi’s Across the Bay is a Lebanese blog. It is mainly politics and dates back to April, 2004. Its most recent post “Arafat on Steroids: Syrian Style” is a comparison of Syrian leader Bashar Assad to Yassir Arafat.[9] There is also a strong representation in the blogosphere by the Middle Eastern diaspora. IraqPundit: Observations of an Iraqi Exile is also political in nature. The last post,” Al-Jazeera Stumbles Down Haifa Street” is critical of Al Jazeera’s reporting on recent Iraqi army operations in Baghdad.[10] One very interesting blog is by Jordanian Roba Al-Assi, And Far Away.[11] This blog could pass for that of a twenty-something living her life in Manhattan. Here is how Roba describes herself:

Female. Twenty-something. Jordanian of Palestinian origin. Born in Amman. Bred and raised in the compounds of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Moved back to Jordan in 2003 to take up a degree in Fine Arts and Design at Jordan University. Should be graduating soon…

Liberal. Feminist. Overachiever. Messy. Optimistic. Cynical. Slightly cocky. Major listening problems. Rather humorless. Tiny attention span. City person. Generally a very happy individual. Believes self-expression is an essential part of her identity. Complete nerd but partial geek. Looks forward to meeting new people. Obsessive by nature. Places logic above all. Art aficionado. Infatuated with design. Fascinated by the power of brands. Loves minimalism. Finds red irresistible. Fascinated by glue…

Loves shoes. Adores the internet. Admires Andy Warhol, Marcel DuChamp, and Leila Shawa. Willing to live on soda, brownies, and kubeh nayyeh.”

When Western minds conjure an image of a Middle Eastern woman Roba’s description of herself is not what comes to mind. The legacy media’s portrayal of Middle Easterners follows a particular stereotype.[12] The new media blog works to counter preconceived notions. Bloggers and readers are no longer tied to the old media. There is no longer hegemony of information, sources and distribution. Information is now dirty and democratic. In fact blogs, as described in the 2003 debate between intellectuals and bloggers in Iran, are said to be “Vulgar.”[13] Vulgar here describes the unedited and raw nature of the text and the irreverence towards academic cannon and religion. The great unwashed now practice their own system: part netiquette, part mob rule, part capitalism. However it is practiced, it is practiced on a scale that grows exponentially every year, doubling in size every 5 months from 2003.[14]

From social networking to political analysis blogs serve many uses each of which assumes at least one thing, an audience. How many and who is reading. In the run up to the 2004 US Presidential elections a few American blog’s audiences were the US nation and the world. When the Dan Rather CBS news report about President Bush’s National Guard experience turned out to be less than accurate it was a collection of blogs who got credit for doing the legacy media’s job of reporting and fact checking. This use of blogs influenced a US Presidential election. Most of the power of blogs is more subtle, in fact “soft.”

Joseph Nye Jr. describes soft power as “the ability to obtain desired outcomes through attraction rather than coercion…”[15] In the Middle East the emergence of blogs has given a voice to those that did not have one a few years ago. That voice is out there for billions to receive. Practically that voice may not be reaching but a few hundred thousand but given the exponential growth of blogs, the questionable nature of the Middle Eastern media, and the ease of access these blogs are “attracting” attention. During the recent Israel-Lebanon war blogs attracted the attention of the mainstream news.[16] Blogs from both sides of the conflict gave us a raw and unedited view. While a hard power coercive war was being fought in southern Lebanon and within the dangerous radius of Hizb’allah rockets in Israel, a soft power struggle of a more diplomatic and free nature was being waged as well. This soft power struggle tries to analyze and make sense of the war, the politics and the history during the actual fighting rather than the usual post mortem. The Lebanese blog, The Lebanese Blogger (472,000 visitors), has this interesting exchange from Thursday, July 20, 2006[17]:

“…today Sayyid Nasrallah, in his interview on Al-Jazeera, almost answered Al-Mustaqbal by already deciding what the role of the Lebanese government should be: namely to receive all the international mediators, to take notes of their ideas and then to relay those ideas to Hizbullah, for Hizbullah to say, "Yes or No!"

I once wrote a post on this blog that said something along the lines of how in such a tiny place like Lebanon, some people can be so close, yet worlds apart!

And in the comments that followed:

Loli said...

I think it's outrageous that a militia gets to decide for our government and our people. I've been outside Lebanon since 1990, and perhaps I'm missing some crucial piece of information, but I don't undertand why nobody seems to openly oppose Nasrallah. Can someone pls educate me? The answers I've heard so far are to the effect that we want to avoid a civil war. I think letting a militia use arms as it pleases is a much worse enterprise.

nasbined said...

Everybody expects Lebanon to solve all the problems that Israel created in the middle east. Lebanon should not walk a single step alone when it comes to making sacrifices. Nasrallah said in that statement Doha quoted that Hezbollah defends the entire Islamic nation from Israeli aggression in a world that blindly supports Israel. So as long as Israel is at war with Muslims, Hezbollah's response is a natural one.”

This back and forth and countless more like it constitute the information age version of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is “the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies…”[18] The Middle Eastern blog dialogue grows everyday and with it the influence.

In the conversation below an Egyptian professor tackles three issues in the Middle East: hate culture, conspiracy theories and western views of the Middle East.[19] First an excerpt from his actual blog:

It is again the same culture that burned the consulates during the famous Danish cartoon protests in Syria, and killed a old nun in Lebanon in protest of the Pope's remarks accusing Islam of violence! These ignorants didn't know that what they really did was to proove his point!”

From the comments:

حفصوتشا ام مصطفيتش said...

what shall we say ?!!?? again its the wahabyah dogma that invaded the pure and simple rules of human living wihtout any consideration to others…

…i dont think that it was muslims who did the 11/9, its way beyond our abilites otherwise we could have done somehting long time ago, and lets say that it was done by arabs, i would assume that they were only puppets in the hands of bin laden whos another puppet in the hands of the states itself.”

The blogger responds:

Nah·det Masr said...

I think as a community we have a problem in the tolerance department… However, I strongly disagree with you regarding the perpetrators of 9/11 since I have seen a TV show on Aljazeera, where Khalid Shaykh Mohamed described the details of their planning of their crime…”

Finally an American comments:

howie said...

For an American...it is "easy" to talk about how people need to self-critic, debate, explore, criticize...but in much of the Arab world, people who write articles like this one and end up like Kareem [in jail] or worse. What were the authors own words about being afraid to speak his opinion in the mosque?
I admire you and the sites I am finding like this one.”

Nah·det Masr responds:

Nah·det Masr said...

Howie, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am sure that all of us humans share the same universal set of values…

Blogging is magical in that you get to express your true beliefs and thoughts under the false sense of security and anonimity. The good surprise is that you find that many people share your thoughts!”

Ten years ago what stars would have had to align for two Egyptians and an average American to be able to discuss openly radical Islam? Now via the internet worlds are close enough and the thought police are far enough to allow this example of public diplomacy.


Months from now there will be thousands of new blogs in the Middle East. Opinions will be launched and government “facts” will be questioned. Causes will be lobbied and authority interrogated. All of these things that are possible in the relative anonymity of cyber space are appreciably more difficult in reality. State run media for some and sectarian death squads for others stand in the way of individual expression. Many of the Iraqi blogs reviewed refer to friends, family and relatives only by initials or by pseudonym. Even with the anonymity of the internet the reality of what is at stake makes prudence first and serves as a reminder how real the freedom deficit is in many parts of the Middle East. The blogs of the Middle East serve to fill some of that deficit. It gives a few, but growing number, a public voice, a vote in the public diplomatic debate.

Blogs are democratic by nature, each its own vote. Like all votes, by itself it is not very weighty but the aggregate of many like minded votes is powerful. Places like itoot.net network and sort thousands of Arab bloggers.[20] Here one vote turns to many one voice joins many and attraction rather than coercion hold sway. The soft power of the Middle Eastern blog is in its infancy. As connectivity grows in that region so will the volume of the blog voice. Internet usage in the Middle East has grown 479% since 2000. Sadly that only represents a 10% penetration compared to 69% in North America and 38% in Europe.[21] Optimistically that leaves room for growth. Realistically these statistics serve to further illustrate the great deficits of the Middle East. If the Middle East continues its current growth in internet usage and leverages it to become more of a participant in the global conversation then that is a true seed of democracy.

Additional Sources Consulted












Iraqi Diaspora





Syrian Diaspora


[1] Gill, Kathy, E., (2004) How Can We Measure the Influence of the Blogosphere? Pg. 1.

[2] http://www.technorati.com/search/middle+east

[3] http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=67870277&blogID=216777696&MyToken=ba7bd429-b9d5-435a-9483-0774a58825ca

[4] http://arenablog.blogspot.com/

[5] http://youngmammy.blogspot.com/

[6] http://baghdadgirl.blogspot.com/

[7] http://www.baghdadartist.blogspot.com/

[8] http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

[9] http://beirut2bayside.blogspot.com/

[10] http://iraqpundit.blogspot.com/

[11]Al-Assi, R., http://andfaraway.net/blog/ Retrieved 12/21/06

[12] Shaheen, J.G., Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 482, Changing Patterns of Power in the Middle East. (Nov., 1985), pp. 160-175.

[13] Doostdar, Alireza, AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 106, Issue 4, pp. 651–662

[14] http://technorati.com/weblog/2005/08/34.html

[15] Nye, J., (2007) Understanding International Conflicts, Pearson Longman, 289

[16] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4775393.stm

[17] http://lebanesebloggers.blogspot.com/2006/07/so-close-worlds-apart.html

[18] http://wiki.uscpublicdiplomacy.org/mediawiki/index.php/DefiningPD

[20] http://itoot.net/

[21] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats5.htm

Monday, January 22, 2007

One of the smartest men in the world misses the point and misses it badly. Fareed Zakaria

One of the smartest men in the world misses the point and misses it badly. (Fareed Zakaria)

In Mr. Zakaria’s latest Newsweek column he talks about Bush “souring” the world on democracy. Well, thank you very much Fareed, I did not know that we/US/Bush had that kind of quick power. In fact, I would like to suggest that the world is already sour to the idea of the hard work that is democracy way before Bush. If you could list for me the democracies that started and functioned, as Iraq is expected to function, in three years.

As the world becomes a Human Security world instead of a National Security world we are bound to see the “pangs” and ugliness of the switch. Democracy and its close cousin Sovereignty are the red headed step children of Human Security or, if you like, Human Sovereignty. They are now in a back seat to the feel good age of “save the children” and “Responsibility to Protect.” (Doctrines that I mostly agree with.)

In Darfur we can pass UNSC resolution after resolution (ten in fact including 1706) in order to prove to the world that the “Global Civil Society” is quite concerned and sympathetic. What we can’t do is take substantive measures to bring about real change because that might cost 10s of thousands of lives or risk a developing nation's oil exploits (read: China). (As opposed to the scores of thousands of lives lost now.) See Utilitarian Calculus.

The difference is the crux of my argument with Fareed. The difference is the absence of a stalwart nature that our previous generations had. This dedication to something larger than the present was the hallmark and major contribution of the “greatest generation.” What is more, not only do we lack this noble quality we reward the opposite. The short sighted onslaught that began its attack on the US no latter than post 9/11 has been very successful. In fact it has been wildly successful. Immediately Post-Modernist/Relative views flooded open ears as an answer to “Why?”, or the Chomskyfication of the canon of international relations thought. (Bush's main failure (one of many) is allowing the Chomskyfication of IR to go unchecked.)

These overly equivocating views painted the US as brutish and arrogant. While often enough true, the other more over arching context and prospective left out is the stalwart goal we have in mind while exercising our noble minded vigor for decent ends. Ends that when tallied by history, and those not as prone to confirmation bias, reveal what many of us all ready know, that the US is in fact still –as always- a champion for those that look first to the ideal of individualism and conservatism tempered with liberalism. (Or the only lasting and working formula for a true civil society.)

The great disconnect is that the “world” is not interested in anything but feel good quick fix entitlement liberalism that makes the talking head of the moment look as though he/she is uniquely sympathetic and connected to the root of the problem. Add to this an all too willing media (that Fareed is a part of) that not surprisingly insists on reporting the one truck that did catch on fire on the highway instead of the multitudes that did not, and you have the reason that one might infer that the world has “soured” to democracy because of Bush or the US.

Clearly it is democracy that has brought us to the most peaceful of times in recorded history, clearly it is democracy that allows Fareed’s very thoughts to be published, clearly it is democracy that continues to be an axiom a truism a heuristic and not this promise of a never existent collective security that ideally, though never actually, is supposed to protect the least among us. This “tragedy of the commons” that is collective security only ever rarely works because of the effort of those willing to stand for something like democracy and real security. Those that "sour" to democracy do so at their own peril and there own volition.

So Mr. Fareed Zakaria, in the one breath I recognize your vast contribution and in the other I point out the horrible over simplification and “misunderestimation” that is your last Newsweek addition. I hope for clearer and deeper work next time around.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Back in Dublin!

Well, the exam is over and the papers are turned in. What to do with my time. Well, I think I will blog a bit.

The law exam was interesting. I had to pick three topics out of six. I picked one on the effectiveness of international law (or ineffectiveness), the ineffectiveness of sanctions, and the legality of regional organizations.

Basically the whole exam revolves around the concept of enforcing the "Purposes and Principles" of the UN and the problem of contradicting laws. They contradict because international relations are moving from a national security standard to a human security standard. Ideas and entities like the Global Civil Society and the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect are confronting old ideas of sovereignty and IR in general.

Add to this the general stalemate in the UN Security Council that disallows any meaningful and timely resolutions to be produced and you have the jist of my exam answers. Now, lets just hope my prof thinks the same.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Those crazy French... Chirac upset that we upset his favorite trading tyrant.

Here is an article about Chirac's statements about the Iraq war creating terrorism.

The French president said, "As France had warned and feared, the Iraqi war has resulted in upheavals whose effects are still being felt today. "

Yep. That was the point you imbecile.

A few posts down you can find my ideas on this "America creating terrorists with the Iraq war" business.

I noticed that it was either not mentioned or not reported that Chirac apportioned any blame to radical Islam. Interesting.


Friday, January 5, 2007

Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-Va.), this guy represents all that is bad and stereotypical of the "South".

I hope this guy gets kicked out of office. It won't happen...but I wish it would. If I were a fellow republican I would go on the record as recommending that he resign.

Of course this will never happen.

If you don't know the story you can find it here.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

As usual, without context and perspective...you get half the story! "...US causing terrorism..."

Here is a fun little article from Singapore. In it the "expert" is quoted as saying: "The US invasion of Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism very significantly. As the United States withdraws from Iraq, the threat will grow and will become more significant. So it will require increased international investment in Iraq to stabilise Iraq because terrorist ideologies are also influencing a number of terrorist groups and extremism groups based in Asia."
Let's start with the first part. The part that links the Asian increase in terrorism with the US efforts in Iraq. I don't doubt that there is a wannabe mujahedeen sitting in Asia somewhere who is filled with hate (put there by radical Islam) watching the events in Iraq and moving more and more toward action. Sound perfectly plausible. What you have to ask yourself is what if Iraq went perfectly. By perfect I mean that Iraq is free of radical, sectarian and al qaeda terrorism. Do you think that world wide radical Islam would view that as a victory? Do you think that they would quiet their rhetoric and go hide in the corners of the mosque? No they would be just as loud and threatening if not more so.

What we have here is half an "expert" theory, or it is also likely that we have half a story. A story typical of the modern media only concerned with the headline. One void of context and perspective. Half a theory because it neglects the realities of radical Islam. It assigns blame to the US rather than radical Islam. What came first in terrorism in Asia, radical Islam or the US invasion of Iraq? Why don't we ask the families of those killed in the 2002 Bali bombing if they think the invasion of Iraq radicalized those responsible!

On to the second part. The part that says we will need an international effort to fix Iraq. REALLY? Maybe a "Coalition of the Willing?" Because I could have sworn that the time to sign up for that job was in 2003. Don't get me wrong. The current coalition would love to have you. But you don't get to sound self-important and capable of effecting change in Iraq without being asked why you did not enlist when the original call came out! Perhaps you were scared of how the radical Islamists at home would react to your participation? Perhaps now you see the folly of bending your policy to comfort radical Islam. Radical Islam does not go away if asked nicely or ignored. The US calls it a Global War on Terrorism for a reason. That reason is that we...the US, recognized early on that when a terrorist "butterfly flaps its wings" in Egypt, it changes the "weather" in New York. The same for Iraq and Asia. Perhaps one of the problems is the tardy nature of the call for a coalition by those that originally turned down the invite.

Now, the Iraq Study Group in all of its collective wisdom is calling for a coalition as well. Nice! Good timing. Why don't you also call for Saddam and his sons to leave the country as well. That would also be good timing.

So why don't we concentrate on the problem. Radical Islam.