Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Some Links and Observations

A few interesting articles have crossed my path recently:

Stephen Schwartz (no relation, as far as I know) comments on similarities between the Cold War-era Soviets and the Saudis of today. He makes some telling points; it's well worth the read. For example:
While Soviet communism pledged to its subjects and acolytes that the revolution would achieve prosperity, freedom, global prestige, and even the human colonization of space, it delivered none of these. Shortages and deprivation characterized Russian daily life until the end of the Soviet system, as did censorship, repression, and forced labor. The economic system that Communist rulers from Lenin onward had argued would catch up with and surpass the West failed to manufacture a single consumer product competitive with a capitalist brand. Who on earth, given a choice, ever bought a Soviet razor or pen or, more recently, computer or car, except in Third World backwaters where clunky Ladas and Yugos were sold at a discount so low as to amount to the dumping of goods?

Saudi Arabia faces the same dilemma...
(Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein, who points out that, if these similarities are real and important, Bush's appointment of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State makes even more sense than before.)

Another article that caught my eye, courtesy of Roger Simon, was this beauty by Julie Burchill. (As I recall, she resigned/was fired by The Guardian for not being sufficiently anti-Israel. If so, here she demonstrates that bias, with a vengeance, and it's a pleasure to read!)

Just in case anyone is wondering if I use my blog as a warehouse for URLs I'm afraid I might lose -- yes, of course. Isn't that what you use your blog for?

Finally, I had occasion to catch up on my Belmont Club reading recently, and something occurred to me. When I was a boy, I noticed (and resented) that people who kick up the least fuss are often required to do the most work. (Maintaining discipline takes serious effort! Coddling bullies and troublemakers certainly brings on a host of problems, but it does have the advantage of requiring very little work. If you're lazy, incompetent, unprincipled, or just extremely busy, that sort of thing looks attractive after a while.)

Similarly, countries that play by the rules are often held up to the highest standards... while countries (and organizations) that do not are given a free pass. Why is this? Is it simply the same playground rules, writ large? I have to wonder.

Daniel in Brookline


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