Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogging from Beijing

I had read that the Chinese government was not terribly keen on blogging, and that access to most blogging sites is restricted, or--with the happy collaboration of corporations like Microsoft--one cannot post (or even *type*) certain dangerous words like 'liberty' or the date of the Tianamen Square massacre. This morning I tried to use the Beijing telecom dial-up service to access Lumpenlogocracy and a few other of my favorite blogs, but I couldn't get through to any of them. Free proxy services like Anonymizer, which mask your IP address and so help you get around blocks for some sites, were also inaccessible. I am able, however, to access the Blogger home page and to view posts through the 'Edit' function. So I have read Christian_Left's recent posts even though I am unable to view the web log itself, or to leave any comments. Hopefully I'll be able to post this, too--we'll see.

I very much enjoyed Robert Jensen's piece on September 11. The less self-centered perspective he advocates would not only make us better individuals, but if it somehow became part of our foreign policy, it would make the country much more secure. Our overwhelming superiority in military and economic power will be difficult to maintain in perpetuity, and to the extent that it is maintained, it will be accepted by other countries only to the degree that the US dedicates itself to serving intnernational as well as national interests.


christian_left said...

Glad to have you back on-line! I went to read Juan Cole's posting, which was helpfully accompanied by a critic's statement calling for immediate withdrawal. Cole is undoubtedly correct that some in Iraq want the U.S. to stay for the short or medium term, partly to prop up their own positions and partly to forestall certain kinds of violent actions that would be easier without the U.S. presence. I think there are pluses and minuses to leaving immediately, as there are to a staged or gradual withdrawal (long-term occupation on the other hand seems like a clearly losing proposition). Let the debate continue...I haven't completely made up my mind, although I still lean towards the speediest possible withdrawal.

But let's be honest here. Neither Juan Cole nor the anti-war protestors in the streets (whom I support) are going to determine the precise details of a withdrawal from Iraq. The message of a mass movement must be simple and direct, so I find Juan Cole's criticism of the protest slogan/goal "Out of Iraq Now" absurd. As a fellow (much lower ranking) inhabitant of the academic ivory tower, I am embarrassed at this all-too-typical disconnect of sophisticated policy analysis and movement politics. What does he think, that demonstrators should develop a nineteen-point staged withdrawal plan and hoist that on their placards? Come on!

The best we can do is continue building a mass political sentiment against the war/occupation of Iraq and in favor of withdrawal. To do that, we must call for the "U.S. to get out of Iraq." We are pushing for a general, radical shift in policy direction. Once that is accomplished--through change of party controlling Congress, stronger opposition to the war/occupation among Democrats, change of heart among even Republican leaders, direct action, whatever--then we can decide how quickly we can pull out without being irresponsible.

I do think, however, that arguments showing that continued occupation may be creating more problems than it solves, even (especially) for Iraqis, play an important role in convincing middle-of-the-roaders that withdrawal from Iraq as soon as possible may not be such a crazy idea.

christian_left said...

Okay, I have to backtrack a little and give Juan Cole some credit for his new analysis showing more respect for the anti-war protestors. It's just been reposted on, my favorite current events and commentary website: