A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘iraq

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith updates his readers about the progress of his various writing projects.
  • The Big Picture shares photos from the Battle of Mosul waged against ISIS.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of rogue binary planet 2MASS J11193254–1137466, two super-Jupiters by themselves.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the raw photography of early 20th century New York City’s Weegee.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is rightly unimpressed by the reflexive Russophilia of The Nation. Imperialism is still imperialism …
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen strongly recommends Dali, in the Chinese province of Yunnan, for tourists.
  • The NYR Daily features Masha Gessen, looking at the truth underneath the lies of Trump.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer makes a case that Macron’s use of “civilizational” to describe Africa’s issues might be the subject of over-quick outrage.
  • Peter Rukavina describes his two weeks with a Nokia N95, without a modern smartphone. There was good and bad to this.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle explains, with photos, what hoverflies are and why they are so important.
  • Understanding Society considers a fraught question: what paths to modernization were open for China in the 1930s, before the People’s Republic?
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that, in 30 years, Moscow will be a megacity with a large population of (substantially immigrant) Muslim origin.
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[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Language Log argues that, despite a lack of official or public support, Cantonese remains the dominant language of Hong Kong.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the case for the global relevance of the Cranberries’ song “Zombie.”
  • Marginal Revolution seems to like the end results of Canada’s immigration system.
  • The NYR Daily notes that, even after ISIS, Iraq will be beset by multiple ethnoreligious crises.
  • Out There’s Corey S. Powell interviews an astronomer about the very strange Przybylski’s Star, rich in rare radioactive elements.
  • Savage Minds considers the decolonization of anthropology in the context of Iraq.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers the surprisingly deep historical resonance of the loon in Canada.

[LINK] “Trump’s Ban Undermines Iraqi Cooperation Against Islamic State”

Meghan L O’Sullivan writes for Bloomberg View about how the ban on Iraqis’ entry specifically, by demonstrating a lack of American trust, undermines the US-Iraqi relationship more generally.

There are many good reasons to object to the Trump administration’s new ban on allowing people from seven predominantly Muslim Middle East countries to travel to the U.S. and halting the acceptance of Syrian refugees. I am among the many Americans ashamed that our great country could so easily push aside its history of caring for people with the most desperate needs in the world. I also am among the national security analysts who don’t see how this helps deliver on the promise of protecting the U.S. from terrorism, and worry that they will inflame the resentment and anti-Americanism that fuel attacks against our citizens at home and abroad.

But, most tangibly and practically, I am among the millions of Americans who served as soldiers, diplomats or humanitarian workers in Iraq or Afghanistan, and therefore have insights into how the immigration ban has made Defense Secretary James Mattis’s job of devising a plan to eradicate Islamic State a whole lot more difficult.

On Saturday, Trump issued a national security memo giving Mattis and the Pentagon 30 days to “develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.” Yet the immigration ban seriously complicates that task by jeopardizing the cooperation of Iraqis. Iraqis are among the most important partners we have in fighting the Islamic State. While the U.S. and its allies are providing critical air, intelligence and logistical support in northern Iraq, it is Iraqi forces — both Arab and Kurd — that are pushing Islamic State out of Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city.

As evidenced by Mattis’s efforts to get exceptions to the immigration ban for Iraqis who worked alongside American forces, we rely heavily on Iraqis willing to risk their lives, and those of their families, to work with us. Such cooperation has cost many Iraqi lives. Signaling that we may need them while we are operating in Iraq, but see them as a security threat in the U.S., will have an immediate chilling effect. This distrust will not be limited to those Iraqis who want to become U.S. residents or citizens, but will permeate all of our relationships there.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2017 at 5:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • The Boston Globe‘s The Big Picture shares photos of Spain’s Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia.
  • blogTO reports on Toronto’s biggest pumpkin parade.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the immigrant’s dilemma on election date.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the importance of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s concert for Hillary.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a report on hot Jupiter Kelt-17b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests Sputnik Planitia may dominate Pluto.
  • Far Outliers talks about Cherokee language revitalization movements.
  • Language Log looks at a Korean tradition of satirical poetry in Korea and classical Chinese.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a fascinating book about manuscripts.
  • The NYRB Daily talks about Trump as a consequence of the Iraq War.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the recent discovery of evidence for ancient habitation in Australia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the advance of plans for a lunar-orbit space station.
  • Peter Rukavina shares headlines in the Guardian of a century ago on Romania’s entry into the First World War.
  • Torontoist annotates the SmartTrack report.
  • Towleroad shares Robyn’s new track, “Trust Me.”
  • Understanding Society celebrates its 9th anniversary.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Russia’s escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic.

[URBAN NOTE] “Basra, Dystopian City”

Middle East Online hosts Peter Harling’s article, originally published in Le Monde diplomatique, about the decline of Iraq’s Basra.

Basra, the second or third largest city in Iraq, should be a great metropolis, more dynamic than Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Kuwait City, and should dominate the Gulf. Its port, Umm Qasr, offers the rest of the world access to one of the biggest oil-producing countries, which is also a huge potential consumer market. Hydrocarbons are abundant in the area, and the deposits are cheap to exploit, giving substantial profit margins no matter how much the price of oil varies.

Not so long ago, Basra was known for its cosmopolitan society, intellectual elite and skilled workforce — a real city that should have become a manufacturing power and a platform for regional trade. Its fertile hinterland is suited to rice and dates, for which it was once famed. Yet now, when you arrive at the airport, the first thing you see is a banner reading ‘Basra: Investment Paradise’ and all you can do is laugh, and despair.

Basra feels like a third-world dystopia. The state is almost absent, except as a governorate, which complains that it has not had a budget since 2013. Week after week, it is surrounded by demonstrators who never stop protesting, though they don’t attract much popular support. The spread of sectarian militias has almost eclipsed the presence of the official security forces. The foreign oil companies are also invisible: At best, they recruit manual labour locally, when some tribe or other resorts to violence to ensure that it receives a share of the oil money.

The economy is shifting rapidly from dependence on sectors that are already fairly doubtful — such as public funding (when salaries are actually paid and projects financed) and consumption of imported goods (especially cars) — towards the morbid reality of endemic corruption and trafficking in hydrocarbons and drugs. Meanwhile a continuing demographic explosion has led to uncontrolled urban development.

Basra is the exact opposite of a city-state — that ancient model of autonomous, resource-rich cities that seems to reappear when the nation-state disintegrates. Those who make the law here are outsiders. The governorate is subordinate to a hyper-centralised system: Even trivial decisions are taken in Baghdad, where Basra has few to speak for it — just one minister out of 30 and 9% of seats in parliament. The local political class represents non-indigenous parties and militias, which have a parasitic relationship to the city.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Bloomberg looks at the Vietnamese government’s response to a mass fish death, examines political instability in Iraq, notes a potentially problematic nuclear plant in the United Kingdom, and studies an illegal amber rush in western Ukraine.
  • CBC looks at the recent New Brunswick ruling on interprovincial alcohol shipments, notes an auction of Prince’s blazer from Purple Rain, suggests that a Facebook rant by a man convicted of neglecting the health of his son may not help him in sentencing, and looks at the retirement of Pierre Karl Péladeau as head of the Parti Québécois.
  • The Inter Press Service notes African support for West Papuan freedom.
  • MacLean’s looks at the Island’s preparation for Mike Duffy’s return to the Senate, notes Karla Homolka’s children will have to deal with their mother’s past crimes, and reacts to the new Drake album.
  • National Geographic interviews the author of a new book on abandoned cities.
  • NPR notes how Somali-British poet Warsan Shane has become a star thanks to Beyoncé.
  • Universe Today notes Russia’s first launch from its Far Eastern Vostochny cosmodrone and reports on the identification of an extragalactic neutrino source.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Africa is a Country looks at how Ethiopians interpret the 1966 visit of Haile Selassie to Jamaica.
  • The Building Blog depicts how a California town is literally being visibly distorted by seismic forces.
  • Bloomberg considers the import of Beyoncé’s debut of Lemonade on Tidal.
  • Bloomberg View notes how the China-Venezuela money-for-oil pact is failing and looks at the risks of being a Russian media mogul.
  • The Globe and Mail looks at the very high cost of internet in Nunavut.
  • MacLean’s looks at the Iran-Iraq War and examines Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
  • Universe Today notes how spaceflight apparently acts to accelerate aging.
  • Wired notes how much of Venezuela’s electricity shortage is the consequence of booming consumption in the good years.