'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

2 Seemingly Unrelated Articles 

MEXICO, AGAIN: More about the turmoil in Mexico, as John Ross describes the certification of Calderon as President:

In an epiphany of how he might have to govern Mexico if the left opposition allows him to assume the presidency December 1, right-winger Felipe Calderon had to be helicoptered to the bunker in the deep south of this conflictive capital where the nation's top electoral tribunal, doing business as the TRIFE, was to hand him the certificate attesting that he had, in the judges' less-than-august opinions, won the July 2 election from leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO.).

Upon emerging from the chopper which had been accompanied by a military gunship, the stubby, balding Calderon was quickly hustled into the TRIFE headquarters by the back door a full 90 minutes before the actual ceremony was to commence, a subterfuge necessitated by the presence by thousands of AMLO's enraged supporters, some of whom had already stripped naked.

Calderon's witnesses -- members of his campaign team and functionaries of the archly-rightist PAN party who had the misfortune to arrive by land -- were greeted by clods of earth and screams of "Rateros!" (Thieves) and "Fraude!" (Fraud.) The ritual unfolded under a steady barrage of rotten eggs and tomatoes which AMLO's people kept hurling at the TRIFE bunker, a kind of Aztec version of a U.S. missile silo, to express their unhappiness with the seven-judge panel that had neither heard nor seen any evil in the maladroit machinations of President Vicente Fox, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), and the PAN to steal the election from their candidate.

As with most of Ross' articles, it proceeds to provide a riveting account of the contentious faultlines within Mexican society.

BRZEZINSKI THE BAPTIST: Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has always been an anomaly, a blunt spoken person in a field, foreign policy, where subtlety and indirectness is normally prized. But, in an interview with the German publication Der Spiegel, he outdoes himself to an extent to where the simplicity of his speech takes on the aphoristic quality of prophecy:

SPIEGEL: Are there any conditions under which America could lose its current political supremacy?

Brzezinski: One would only have to continue the current policies and, also, in future not give a serious response to increasingly louder complaints of global inequality. We are now dealing with a far more politically active mankind that demands a collective response to their grievances from the West.

SPIEGEL: Is your demand to eradicate global inequality not as illusionary as Bush's demand that America free the world from evil?

Brzezinski: Achieving equality would indeed be an illusionary goal. Reducing inequality in the age of television and Internet may well become a political necessity. We are entering a historic stage in which people in China and India, but also in Nepal, in Bolivia or Venezuela will no longer tolerate the enormous disparities in the human condition. That could well be the collective danger we will have to face in the next decades.

SPIEGEL: You call it a "global political awakening."

Brzezinski: Yes, and it is essentially a repetition, but now on a global scale, of the societal and political awakening that occurred in France at the time of the revolution. During the 19th century it spread through Europe and parts of the Western hemisphere, in the 20th century it reached Japan and finally China. Now it is sweeping the rest of the world.

A global political awakening! Brzezinski invokes the rhetoric of 19th Century Protestant evangelicalism, while simultaneously channeling Mike Davis, as American Leftist readers will recall this passage from his recent book, Planet of Slums:

In summary, the Pentagon's best minds have dared to venture where most United Nations, World Bank or Department of State types fear to go: down the road that logically follows from the abdication of urban reform. As in the past, this is a "street without joy," and, indeed, the unemployed teenage fighters of the "Mahdi Army" in Baghdad's Sadr City--one of the world's largest slums--taunt American occupiers with the promise that the main boulevard is "Vietnam Street." But the war planners don't blanch. With cold blooded lucidity, they now assert that the "feral, failed cities" of the Third World--especially their urban outskirts--will be the distinctive battlefield of the twenty-first century. Pentagon doctrine is being reshaped accordingly to support a low-intensity world of unlimited duration against criminalized segments of the urban poor. This is the true "clash of civilizations".

Say, perhaps, someday in Mexico? In any event, I strongly encourage people to read the interview in its entirety, as Brzezinski addresses a broad spectrum of topics, including the necessity of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, the variegated nature of Islamic fundamentalism and the absurd inflation of Bin Laden into a figure of global influence:
SPIEGEL: So it is exaggerated rhetoric which ensures that Osama bin Laden is elevated to the level of a Mao or Stalin?

Brzezinski: Correct. And that is of course a distortion of reality - notwithstanding the fact that bin Laden is a killer. He is a criminal and should be presented as such, and not intentionally elevated into a globally significant leader of a transnational, quasi-religious movement.

Here is the link again for anyone who wants to enjoy Brzezinski's ability to simply communicate complex ideas. Or, is it the inability of others to convey them in a straightforward manner that makes them appear complex?

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