A French-American perspective on politics, culture, current events, religion, languages, and education
The Austrian maker Hubert Sauper shows a picture of pure hell on earth and this hell is located in
The film shows different facets of the nightmare. First the ecological nightmare – the destruction of the biological diversity of the lake after a predator, the
In the background you see planes landing with empty cargo (or with weapons sold to neighboring countries at war) and taking off with the fish. The interviews of the Russian pilots show that the misery extents far greater than imagined. The other people in this documentary are either forced into prostitution, dying of AIDS or violence but all have one thing in common: they are just trying to get by however they can.
Another shocking scene shows a woman drying the leftover carcasses of the fish (once the filets have been) saying ‘I’m not too badly off’ while the maggots wriggle around her bare feet.
The film is hard to watch. Really. It gives you pause to think. Those people’s reality is so removed from ours, that it is hard to even imagine humanity in such atrocious hopeless environment. The strength of the documentary is not necessarily the investigation nor its critique of globalization, it is rather the impressive testimonies it presents.
Here you get the 'essence' of the whole speech, in a few seconds.
“Global war on terror, September the 11th, 2001, terrorists, terrorists , totalitarian ideology , freedom, tyranny, oppression, terror, kill, terrorists, September the 11th, freedom, enemy , war, terrorists, kill, murderous ideology , terrorism, terrorists, free nation, war on terror, freedom, violence and instability, dangerous, violence, bloodshed, violence, sacrifice , war on terror, violence, killers, freedom, criminal elements, hateful ideology, freedom, liberty, democracy, terrorists, war on terror, terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, murder and destruction, enemy, terrorists, car bombs, enemy, terrorists, suicide bomber, enemy, terrorists, violence, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists , freedom, enemies, September the 11th, Bin Laden, enemy , free, tyranny, terrorists, anti-terrorist, free, al Qaeda, free nation, terrorists, terrorists, enemy security terrorists, anti-terrorist terrorists, terror, enemy, tyranny , enemies, freedom, freedom, ideologies of murder, atrocity, September the 11th 2001, car bombers and assassins, freedom, freedom, flying the flag, freedom, freedom, September the 11th 2001, enemies”.
When I watched the NBC News last night, I was dumbfounded by the realization that paranoia could run so high.:
For weeks, America was on edge as security operations went into high gear. Almost 30 international flights were canceled, inconveniencing passengers flying Air France, British Air, Continental and Aero Mexico.
But senior U.S. officials now tell NBC News that the key piece of information that triggered the holiday alert was a bizarre CIA analysis, which turned out to be all wrong.CIA analysts mistakenly thought they'd discovered a mother lode of secret al-Qaida messages. They thought they had found secret messages on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language television news channel, hidden in the moving text at the bottom of the screen, known as the "crawl," where news headlines are summarized.
"The biggest gap between the way Americans are seen by other Western countries and the way they see themselves," the poll said, "is with respect to religion." Majorities in
and the France and large numbers of people in Netherlands , Great Britain , Germany and Canada "see the Spain as too religious," Pew reported."By contrast, a 54 percent majority of Americans say their country is not religious enough," the poll said "On this point, Muslims find themselves in rare agreement with the American public. Majorities in U.S. , Indonesia , Pakistan and Lebanon all believe the Turkey is not religious enough." United States
Eating dark chocolate may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system in healthy people, the results of a new study suggest.Something that my body and I have always known somehow. Boy, it feels good to know you've always been right eating all that dark chocolate over the years... ;-)
Is this news to anyone else? Are they seriously considering building an entirely new internet? Is that even possible? I just stumbled across this in the WaPo today and was left scratching my head. Yes, this animal is big and bulky, but can it really be rebuilt?
"Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever experienced," Professor Levine said. "Being born poor in the U.S. gives you disadvantages unlike anything in Western Europe and Japan and Canada"
In its series on 'Class' the N.Y. Times had a chapter on culture... well, actually it was on television. One of their major points is to say that whereas TV 'used to be fascinated' with ‘blue collar life’, it now shows us a world of 'cops, doctors and lawyers'.
It seems to me that the word ‘fascinated’ is a somewhat an exaggeration. Yes there were shows like "The Honeymooners," "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son" and "Roseanne," but those were the exceptions rather than the rule. Besides, I don’t know why TV should necessarily reflect reality. Both television and cinema are forms of entertainment and people want to dream their everyday lives away when they go to the movies or watch a fiction. They want to be entertained. That is why the musicals were so popular during the depression. It takes excellent writing and cast to make a ‘blue collar’ show (or any show about the ‘guy next door’ for that matter) really entertaining. Life and routine can be a bore on TV. Look at ‘Desperate Housewives’ which is supposed to be about a regular upper-middle class neighborhood… well, hardly your regular everyday life. Look at a good show like ‘Lost’ - do you often see a plane crash with so many (mostly good looking) people coming out of it without a scratch? No! But frankly, who cares? It’s a very good show anyway.
However, I’d agree with the N.Y.Times that ‘reality television’ is a twist of the American dream for wealth and fame (although mostly fame) are instantaneous and not the result of hard work. It presents a very unrealistic way of rising in class. But there too, maybe the NYT reads too much into it. Those shows are mere entertainment. I’m not sure people are really fooled into taking them seriously – and if they are, well, then it won’t change anything and they probably deserve to be. After all, there will always be some form of ‘opium for the masses’.
A constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the U.S. flag moved closer to reality. Wednesdaywhen the House of Representatives passed it 286-130. (USA Today)
The scorching heat wave sweeping
A few regions in
So whereas there are many things that cannot be done about droughts, there are some things that can be done fairly - quickly and effectively. Once again it seems that Blair makes a lot of sense, let's cut the damn subsidies to corn farmers!
This week, The Economist had a good article on drugs – more particularly on methamphetamine (also called meth, glass, ice, or crystal). Apparently, one of the spooky effects of meth is ‘early ageing’, with cheeks sinking, eyes turning glassy and teeth rotting (also called ‘meth mouth’) and in case of heavy users, a shrinking of the brain. It is also
Now the interesting twist is that despite “the evident dangers of increased meth use, the
The Economist article ends on a wise note, saying that the anti-marijuana campaign may backfire once teenagers realize that cannabis is not so bad. It's all about credibility of course, and most certainly they won't believe future anti-meth campaigns that tell them meth causes terrible things - which it does.
As we have discussed before, the N.Y. Times has recently published an interesting series on class in the United-States. One chapter concerns religion, particularly the evangelical Christians (by ‘evangelicaism’ here, we mean the more conservative version of Protestantism, which is how the term is now often used in the U.S. even though the term in its strictly lexical definition means 'the belief in the gospel') .
It did not come as a surprise to read that the class status of evangelicals has evolved in the last 40 years from a "religion of the disinherited" to a religion of the affluent.
This change is explained by a number of things, including:
The article thus explains the new influence of evangelicals in American culture and politics by their growing wealth and education.
Then a large part of the analysis focuses on the power strategy of the new affluent evangelicals who are trying to influence the
Personally, I'm all for 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of religion', but the main problem is that of course the lofty ‘spiritual goal’ of organisation such as the Christian Union comes with a very earthly Conservative political agenda, which I think has very little to do with what Jesus has tought us. Their move is clearly not (just? at all?) guided by mere altruism, or by concerns for 'wretched souls' – it is about political influence - the leaders of tomorrow as of today will graduate form those schools. One good illustration to keep in mind - seven of the nine Supreme Court justices are Ivy League grads.
NOTE: it is interesting to note that in France, the evangelical Christians tend to be theologicaly but not politically conservative. In fact there is a great variety of political beliefs within the French evangelical church even though a majority is probably more to the left - for historical reasons
[the French Protestants used to be discriminated by the Catholic church and the catholic elite and so they tend to emphasize social and economic 'equality' and justice. Being in the minority, I think, has made them more aware of the plight of other minorities, and this is still true today]
Blair is blamed for this latest European crisis over the E.U budget but it seems really hard to not agree with him when he says this:
"It simply does not make sense in this new world for Europe to spend over 40 per cent of its budget on the common agricultural policy, representing five per cent of the EU population producing less than two per cent of Europe's output,"And as he argued as well, 'the 40% of the EU budget taken up with agricultural subsidies was seven times the total amount spent by the EU on science, education and innovation.' So it is not really idiotic to consider that it might be time to consider goals worth of the 21st century.
Where Blair is wrong is when he refuses to increase the E.U. budget at all, and I see Jean-Claude Juncker’s point when he spoke of a "cause for shame" after the EU's newest, and poorest, member states offered to take a cut in their shares if a deal could be brokered.
As ‘French-American’ educators and explorers of each other’s culture, here’s a topic of interest to us - the French baccalaureate which has just taken place.
Yet the French also have their rite of passage, it is ‘le bac’ (the baccalaureate).
Le bac is the end-of-high school exam that French students must pass in order to go to college and university. In
Every year, the exam is launched with the Philosophy exam, with topics such as “whether language's only purpose is to communicate” or “whether being free simply means not encountering obstacle” (2005 exam).
The exam and the subjects are the hot topics in the media every year, with the very same reports and articles about the students’ anxieties, the preparation, etc….
This year, a total of 634,168 students are taking "le bac," from mainland
It is worth noticing that the French are very attached to their ‘bac’. As pointed out in this article, “In France, a student who goes on to higher education doesn't say he has a university degree, for instance. He says he has a "bac plus two" or "bac plus four," depending on the number of years at university.”.This year, the (previous) Minister of Education tried to modify the exam by using test points accumulated over the year toward passing the exam. Well, there was general uproar and, bien sûr, demonstrations and strikes. The minister eventually backed down.
The bac is clearly more than a mere exam in
This year, 4 million tests are being corrected by 129,441 correctors, (all high school teachers) and I’m one of them. You get about 80 papers to grade over a week, and it takes about ½ an hour to grade one single paper, so it is quite a bit of (boring and repetitive) work that one must do as exactly and fairly and as possible.
Here’s a few basics concerning the bac in case you might be interested:
Most examinations are given in essay-form. The student is given a substantial block of time (depending on the exam, from two to four hours) to complete a four to six page, well-argued paper. Math and science exams are problem sets. All foreign language exams include a short translation section as well.
A passing mark is a 10 out of 20. Three levels of honors are also given. A mark of 12 will earn a student a "mention assez-bien", a mark of 14 will earn a "mention bien" and a mark of 16 will earn a mention of "très bien". If a student earns an 8, he or she is permitted to sit for the "épreuve de ratrapage", an oral exam given in two subjects. If the student does well enough in these orals to raise the total grade to a 10, then he or she receives his or her baccalauréat. If the student does badly in the orals or receives below an 8, he or she may choose to sit for the entire examination once again in September. If in September, the student fails, he or she may choose to repeat the final year of lycée.
A similar debate has been taking place in
When Indians embrace English in order to win in the global market place, they don't turn their back on their mother tongue. While English empowers us, our mother tongue continues to give us identity. I agree with Ananthamurthy that in our big cities, we retain our 'home tongues', while using a 'street tongue' and working in the 'power tongue'
I like such a pragmatic approach which to me is very wise. This is all the more interesting when you keep in mind that most people in the world today are actually bilingual. (Most French speaking Africans, for instance, also speak a local language which they have kept through years of colonial occupation). The author also underlines this pragmatic approach when he says that:
Every Indian mother knows that English is the passport to her child's future – to a job, to entry into the middle class – and this is why English medium schools are mushrooming in city slums and villages alike.
Now the Indians have come up with a more accepted form of English called ‘Hinglish’ (a mix of Hindi and English) which the author says “should in fact be called Inglish because it is increasingly pan-India's street language”, but unlike Franglais which is a loaded term, Inglish is very popular in India, even in the parts of Indian that don’t speak Hindi. Apparently, Hindi has also gained popularity throughout
An interesting idea that I still find hard to embrace. It is English which is now becoming an Indian language but the Indians are leading the way “in a world where a quarter of the people already know the world language and where experts predict another half will be English literate within a generation,” when China has the “objective to make every Chinese literate in English by the 2008 Olympics”.
As unrealistic as it might be, it reveals one thing – the two largest countries in the world have undertaken the immense task of embracing English as the necessary language for the future. So it is about time that
The after-tax income of the top 1 percent of American households jumped 139 percent, to more than $700,000, from 1979 to 2001, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which adjusted its numbers to account for inflation. The income of the middle fifth rose by just 17 percent, to $43,700, and the income of the poorest fifth rose only 9 percent.
40 percent of Americans believed that the chance of moving up from one class to another had risen over the last 30 years, a period in which the new research shows that it has not. Thirty-five percent said it had not changed, and only 23 percent said it had dropped.
“I’m not disposed to compromise on the unanimous accord reached in 2002 on the Common Agricultural Policy and it is a question that I am not prepared to revisit.” , adding “Our British friends must be aware of how things are changing, and therefore of the necessity of a greater fairness in the burden carried by each member.”
Even by the standards of war, some of the atrocities in eastern Congo are shocking. Zainabo Alfani, for example, was stopped by men in uniform on a road in Ituri last year. She and 13 other women were ordered to strip, to see if they had long vaginal lips, which the gunmen believed would have magical properties. The 13 others did not, and were killed on the spot. Zainabo did. The gunmen cut them off and then gang-raped her. Then they cooked and ate her two daughters in front of her. They also ate chunks of Zainabo's flesh. She escaped, but had contracted HIV. She told her story to the UN in February, and died in March.
Veronique, an office worker, was separated from her daughter by the war. When peace broke out, she booked an aeroplane ticket for her (penniless) girl to rejoin her. But before the daughter could board the plane, she was detained. Her yellow fever vaccination card had been stamped by rebel health authorities, and so was invalid, the officials tut-tutted. Alas, she had no money for a bribe.
But Veronique was able to send her the equivalent of cash by mobile telephone. She bought $20 worth of telephone cards. These give you a code number which you key into your phone and thereby “recharge” it with pre-paid airtime. Veronique called the obstructive officials and gave them her code numbers to recharge their own mobile phones. It took only minutes to send her bribe across the country—faster than a bank transfer, which would in any case have been impossible, since there is no proper banking system.
it revives the tired specter of moral equivalency between flawed democracies and totalitarian dictatorships - a specter particularly obscene when real gulags still exist in places like North Korea. It also gives the Bush administration an "out" to deflect attention from its own policies to its critics' hyperbole.The hyperbole is wrong - but that's cold comfort to those of us who believe America should hold itself to a higher standard than "we're better than the gulag.
It is important to remember that the United States is dealing with the unprecedented situation of de facto enemy combatants who belong not to the army of a hostile state but to a vast, murky terror network - a network that proved its deadliness on Sept. 11, 2001, and other occasions. This does not give America carte blanche for indefinite detention without charges, let alone torture of suspects, but it does pose serious issues of balancing civil rights and national security that other democracies, such as France, are grappling with as well.
By allowing Al Qaeda to become the top brand name of international terrorism, Washington has packaged the "enemy" into something with a structure, a leader, and a main area of operation.
In what has to be one of the all-time biggest cases of situational irony, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) House Republican and chair of the panel reviewing the Patriot Act, abruptly shut down debate on the act while the Democrats were speaking critically of it. Sensenbrenner, who authored portions of the act, felt that Dems and their witnesses had had enough time to present criticism of the controversial piece of legislation. Do you understand? The most important piece of legislation dealing with civil and human rights can't even sustain its own critical inquiry. Opposition was NOT allowed to finish speaking. Dems were left shouting into microphones that had been turned off. This sort of thing just blows my mind. I'd love to be wrong about this. Are there details I'm missing, or is this the biggest mockery of the democratic process we've seen since the President's "Town Hall" meetings?
...and she recognizes that there is a need for such social niceties as the hungover apology letter (you should laud your hostess's own behavior as ''magnificent'' while owning up to no specific behavior of your own).
Journalists have been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism in the last couple of years, especially since the beginning of the Iraq war, for being either too cushy with the present administration in Washington or for being too critical of the same. While some of it is deserved (CBS, Newsweek needed to apologize for not vetting sources, FoxNews & "Talon News" needed to explain their unprecedented access to officials) much of it is not. The press, for all its warts, still does one helluva good job providing information to the rest of us who sit in our comfortable armchairs reading about wars in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, AIDS in Africa, druglords in Afghanistan, etc. It's good to be reminded of this from time to time, which is why I was really struck by an excellent article in the May issue of The Atlantic Monthly by their Iraq correspondant, William Langewiesche. It's a very non-politicized piece about the simple pleasures and trials of residing in Iraq and trying to provide coverage for an audience half a world away, both physically and mentally. Just read it. You'll be doing yourself a favor.
"We want to turn around the contraceptive mentality," she said. "The mentality that is unwelcoming to the gift of life that is a product of marriage."
A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.
...the scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because all agency employees are forbidden to speak with reporters without clearance, said the kinds of changes made by Mr. Cooney had damaged morale. "I have colleagues in other agencies who express the same view, that it has somewhat of a chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration," he said.
...a sentence in the October 2002 draft of "Our Changing Planet" originally read, "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change." In a neat, compact hand, Mr. Cooney modified the sentence to read, "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."
The American president can show some accidental wit and wisdom:
'See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.'
The Joker and Thief recently attended a one day colloque in Paris at the Cité Universitaire on the topic "Du modèle US à la superpuissance?" It was intended for history teachers in the French schools, to give them an opportunity to discuss America as a topic for their classes. Already the US occupies much of the curriculum since it dominates current events. But talking about the US in a balanced way can be a bit tricky in France right now with students more than willing to reduce American culture to McDonalds and Michael Jackson (et alors?...) than to discuss any upside of American society.
As I mentioned before, I recently saw an excellent BBC documentary called 'The Power of Nightmares’. The thought provoking thesis at the core of this three part documentary is that the threat of Al Qaeda has been greatly exaggerated, and somewhat fabricated for political purposes.
You’re thinking ‘Liberal Propaganda’, and that’s initially what I feared, but the reputation of the writer and producer, Adam Curtis is excellent and his rigorous and meticulous intellectual analysis are quite obvious. In other words, Curtis is no Michael Moore. Over the past dozen years, via similarly ambitious documentary series such as Pandora's Box, The Mayfair Set and The Century of the Self, Curtis has established himself as perhaps the most acclaimed maker of serious television programmes in His film makes the case that "in a post-ideological age, politicians increasingly use fear, rather than vision, to bolster their positions.". The documentary does not deny the existence of terrorism but it puts it into perspective and shows that it is not the super-coordinated international terrorist network with sleeper cells on every continent everybody, especially the media, assumes it is. In the end, the terrorists are a number of extremely dangerous but often disparate small groups of extremists
His film makes the case that "in a post-ideological age, politicians increasingly use fear, rather than vision, to bolster their positions.". The documentary does not deny the existence of terrorism but it puts it into perspective and shows that it is not the super-coordinated international terrorist network with sleeper cells on every continent everybody, especially the media, assumes it is. In the end, the terrorists are a number of extremely dangerous but often disparate small groups of extremists
A good illustration was also the dirty Bomb which according to some experts would actually pose little danger.
“The American department of energy, says Dr Theodore Rockwell, an authority on radiation, has simulated a dirty bomb explosion, "and they calculated that the most exposed individual would get a fairly high dose [of radiation], not life-threatening." And even this minor threat is open to question. The test assumed that no one fled the explosion for one year. Apparently, it is the panic resulting from the fear that would have a real impact. But who is ready to listen to such a non-dramatic message? Indeed, drama sells better.
PS: If you want more details on the program we just talked about, here’s a good link.
On this beautiful Sunday, the Lord’s Day, I find it quite appropriate to tackle again the controversial issue of Evolution and ‘Intelligent design’ as it has been in all over the news in recent months and days. I am myself a Christian (of the Protestant Kind) but being European I hold rather liberal views both in politics ad theology. I also tend to have the greatest respect for the scientific world and happen to know quite a few – especially in the science of maths.
First it is important to say that the Evolution/Creation debate is strictly an American issue and for most Westerners in the world today that very fact
Second, I find it interesting to read in Courrier International that this recent issue of the scientific magazine Nature has created great controversy and has resulted in a great number of mails including furious scientists.
Above is the cover of the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature.Is the cover 'sticker' a taste of the future? Few scientists have any time for the concept of intelligent design. Its thesis is that scientific knowledge cannot explain the natural world fully, and never will. Biological systems are too complex, gaps in the fossil record too large and interspecies differences too great to be explained by natural selection alone. Based on those perceptions, proponents of intelligent design argue that an intelligent creator must be directing life on Earth. OK as theology, but not as science. Yet intelligent design is catching on among students on US university campuses, and some academics offer courses on the subject. Is the presence of intelligent design in universities legitimizing the movement? And what should scientists do about it? Geoff Brumfiel reports from the ideological front line.
I find it amazing, that Salvador Cordova, one of the main advocates of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) club can say this:
"If I could prove even one small part of my faith through purely scientific methods that would be highly satisfying intellectually,".
It is as if he wanted to prove God’s very existence scientifically. Cordova’s quest is intellectually incoherent- even idiotic and extremely arrogant. It shows a great state of confusion – if not a lack of faith.
On the other hand, some Darwinists have also used their cause to go a step too far and try to ‘debunk’ religion. This is nothing new, and Charles Darwin’s theories were used in the 19th century and early 20th century to justify a social view based on the "survival of the fittest." also known as ‘social Darwinism’. And this has been going on even recently:
Popular contemporary biologists like Edward O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins have also exacerbated the divisions between evolutionists and creationists by directly challenging the validity of religious belief - Dawkins by repeatedly declaring his atheism (''faith,'' he once wrote, ''is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate''), and Wilson by describing his ''search for objective reality'' as a replacement for religious seeking.
In a recent book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at
that many religious believers who currently reject or remain indifferent to Darwin can come to accept it - as long as they are presented strictly with scientific facts, and given less reason to think evolution could be a threat to their social and spiritual values.
It is the case in
It is usually assumed that suicide bombers are religious fanatics but a new book called ‘Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism’ blows that assumption. According to political scientist Robert Pape of the
Robert Pape cites
In one of those campaigns in 1983, the
had forces in United States as peacekeepers. And then, on a single day, 241 Marines were killed by a suicide bomber driving a truck. Those who sent him got exactly what they wanted. Lebanon
"Ronald Reagan, no pacifist … withdrew all our military forces from
and virtually abandoned the country," Pape said. "Doing that sent a clear message to terrorists, suicide terrorism pays." Lebanon
Here are some interesting findings, according to Pape:
The book seems to also provide the first comprehensive demographic profile of modern suicide terrorist attackers. With data from more than 460 such attackers–including the names of 333–we now know that these individuals are not mainly poor, desperate criminals or uneducated religious fanatics but are often well-educated, middle-class political activists.
That would be a very interesting part to read for it is hard to imagine, however, why someone with a rational mind would be willing to die for a cause. I suppose that strong conviction and good propaganda alone can do the trick to some weaker minds. Religion is not really needed. Japanese kamikazes were a good example of thatbut also the resistance in Europe during the Nazi occupation.
And so success and conviction seem to be the keys as explained here:
Success only half the time may not sound like much, but the fact that groups so weak in a conventional military sense have any success at all may attest to the strange potency of a weapon that is comprised mostly of a person willing to kill himself for a cause.
"It makes us feel that our enemies are so committed to their cause that they're willing to do this seemingly irrational thing," said Jessica Stern, a lecturer at
's Kennedy School of Government and the author of "Terror in the Name of God." Harvard University
"They are willing to lose their lives because they feel so strongly that they are right and we are wrong."
In a recent Op-Ed for the N.Y. Times, Robert Pape makes some puzzling conclusions :
Understanding that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the
and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism. Spreading democracy across the United States Persian Gulfis not likely to be a panacea so long as foreign combat troops remain on the Arabian Peninsula. If not for the world's interest in Persian Gulfoil, the obvious solution might well be simply to abandon the region altogether. Isolationism, however, is not possible; needs a new strategy that pursues our vital interest in oil but does not stimulate the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists. America
Beyond recognizing the limits of military action and stepping up domestic security efforts, Americans would do well to recall the virtues of our traditional policy of "offshore balancing" in the
Persian Gulf. During the 1970's and 1980's, the United States managed its interests there without stationing any combat soldiers on the ground, but keeping our forces close enough - either on ships or in bases near the region - to deploy in huge numbers if an emergency. This worked splendidly to defeat 's aggression against Iraq in 1990. Kuwait
The Bush administration rightly intends to start turning over the responsibility for
's security to the new government and systematically withdrawing American troops. But large numbers of these soldiers should not simply be sent to Iraq 's neighbors, where they will continue to enrage many in the Arab world. Keeping the peace from a discreet distance seems a better way to secure our interests in the world's key oil-producing region without provoking more terrorism. Iraq