Tuesday, March 11, 2003

first, the inconsequential daily stratum of life: NO MORE NATSCI EVER!!! today was the last quiz; we get to fill out evaluation forms on wednesday. guess what i'm going to say? -grinning happily at the prospect of being the world's biggest BITCH on the evaluation forms- but yeah. that was the highlight of my day. it's the start of tenth week, slowly but surely this miserable-ass quarter is coming to an end, and not a MINUTE too soon, i'll say. i also had kaya toast for the first time in a long time, which was immensely pleasingly good. =) and have also discovered that the dining hall chocolate chip cookies taste much much better when dunked in hot coffee.

ooh! ooh! and my book from Amazon.com was put in the mail today, and my copy of Nightwatch is supposed to be in the mail today too. looking forward to getting them...


round and round and round we go -- back to the war issue: i'm currently reading this week's New Yorker and guess what? a whole bunch of articles on the impending war and Saddam Hussein being interviewed by Dan Rather on 60 Minutes II. some choice quotes:

(1) Bush, on what is to happen after the end of the military conflict in Iraq: "After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies, we left constitutions, and parliaments...In societies that once bred fascism and militarism, liberty found a permanent home."

(2) An unnamed diplomat to the Washington Post, directed at the members of the UN Security Council: "You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not. That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the Council will go along with it or not."

(3) James Surowiecki, for the New Yorker in The Wages of War: "The era of military Keynesianism, in this country, at least, is dead, and we really shouldn't mourn its passing: an economy that relies heavily on military spending is unhealthy anyway."

(4) Simon Schama, for the New Yorker in The Unloved American: "Serving the United Nations with notice of redundancy should its policies not replicate those of the United States and the United Kingdom might turn out to be shortsighted, since in Europe, even in countries whose governments have aligned themselves with America, there is almost no support for a war without U.N sanction."

i continue to think about the conflict between wanting a UN that works perfectly and living with the UN that exists. is it really better to have something that's sort of halfway to our imaginations than to not have anything at all? i'm sure that in the real world, the UN serves an important role in the diplomatic lives of the smaller countries, who use its multiple fora as a place for discussion and coalition building, among other things, and their aim for a seat on the SC for two years to be able to have a say in the closest the UN gets to political influence. but at the same time, i can't help but wonder if by existing in its current state the UN allows us to turn a blind eye to its faults, by saying - well, its existence is better than nothing at all.

despite my distaste for the moral question, i come back to it anyway: do we leave nations well alone when they commit atrocities behind their borders, protected by the notion of sovereignty? does morality count as a justification for the violation of the rights of nation-states? do non-democratic nation-states have the same rights accorded to them as democratic nation-states? does the slippery slope argument hold, or do we have more faith in collective human nature than to believe that everything is necessarily a slippery slope? i ask a lot of questions, and very often, i find myself even more depressed by my answers: no, i don't believe in the goodness of collective human nature; yes, the slippery slope argument in 99% of cases will hold. but i can't answer the question of morality as justification. that's why the moral rhetoric coming out of the White House makes me uncomfortable and unhappy.

i think the reasons i am constantly thinking about war are (a) everyone is always talking abt it and asking for my/your/our position on the war in Iraq; (b) my beloved New Yorker has lost its mind -or perhaps gained it- and the entire front chunk of this week's issue is taken up with matters of war; and (c) i am reading Saburo Ienaga's The Pacific War on Japanese expansionism in the early 20th century. war everywhere.


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