Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 31, 2010

Calling all Comrades

Filed under: media — louisproyect @ 8:32 pm


Calling All Comrades!

October 31, 2010, 12:31 PM

Imagine the chagrin.

Louis Proyect, the Unrepentant Marxist, dinked a $25 donation into Counterpunch‘s Fundraising Drive only to click on the site five minutes later and discover he had been insulted by the co-proprietor and guiding force of the site, Alexander Cockburn.

And not just the everyday run-of-the-mill sort of insult bloggers blow out their nose every chance they get–often words suffixed with “-tard” (“libtard,” etc)–but one drawn from Greek myth, one of those Oxbridgean putdowns you don’t run into too often at yard sales and such.

Who says these days that in the last analysis, the only way to change the status quo and challenge the Money Power of Wall St is to overthrow the government by force? That isn’t some old Trotskyist lag like Louis Proyect, dozing on the dungheap of history like Odysseus’ lice-ridden old hound Argos, woofing with alarm as the shadow of a new idea darkens the threshold.

That’s a hard one to have a snappy comeback to. “Yeah, well you remind me of Tiresias before Athena cleaned the wax out of his ears!”

See, that just doesn’t scan; you’re not going quiet any heckler with that line.

But as Proyect amiably notes to a commenter, “[N]o matter how much I badmouth Alexander, I really rely on Counterpunch.”

Me too also similarly likewise.

Alex wrote some vicious personal things about me in the past, but that was during the Tong Wars, everyone was a little testy.

But I have donated to the site before and will do so again during this Fundraising Drive.

I go to it for Mike Whitney’s economic analysis:

There’s no doubt now, that the Fed’s efforts to engineer a sustained recovery have failed. The fact that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is planning to resume his dubious Quantitative Easing (QE) program is an admission of failure. That said, I expect the Fed to “go large” on November 3, and purchase another $1.2 trillion of long-term Treasuries adding roughly $100 billion per month to the money supply. That should placate Wall Street and keep stock markets sufficiently “bubbly” for the foreseeable future. After 12 months of QE, unemployment will still be stuck at 10%, the output gap will have narrowed only slightly, and confidence in the Fed will have plunged to historic lows. Monetarism alone cannot fix the economy.

The fiscal remedies for recession are well known and have effectively implemented with great success for over a half century. QE is a pointless detour into uncharted waters. It is like treating a hangover with brain surgery when the bottle of aspirin sets idle on the bedstand. Why bother?


Typically, personal consumption and housing lead the way out of recession. This time, the rebound was spurred by gigantic injections of fiscal and monetary stimulus, dodgy accounting practices (blessed by the SEC) and unlimited funding guarantees by the Central Bank. Now the stimulus is running low, the equities markets are tilting sideways, retail investors are exiting the markets in droves, wages are contracting, businesses are hoarding over $1 trillion (for lack of profitable outlets for investment), and deflationary headwinds are beginning to gust with increasing ferocity. So, what is Bernanke’s remedy?

Rather than push for more fiscal “pump priming” so households can continue to pay-down debts and rebuild their savings, the Fed chair is planning to flood emerging markets with hot money, increasing currency volatility and forcing trade partners to clamp down on capital controls so they don’t drown in the surge of greenbacks fleeing the US. He’s merely adding to the turmoil.

This week, interest rates on 5-year inflation-protected bonds went negative for the first time while two-year Treasury yields set a record low. What does it mean? It means that investors are so utterly flummoxed that they’re betting on inflation and deflation at the same time. No one really knows what the hell is going on because the policy is so muddled. And, when uncertainty grows, long-term expectations change and investment slows. QE is undermining the prospects for recovery. It’s time to fire Bernanke.

The angry alarm cries of former Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts.

To keep eyes off of the loss of jobs to offshoring, policymakers and their minions in the financial press blame US unemployment on alleged currency manipulation by China and on the financial crisis. The financial crisis itself is blamed by Republicans on low income Americans who took out mortgages that they could not afford.

In other words, the problem is China and the greedy American poor who tried to live above their means. With this being the American mindset, you can see why nothing can be done to save the economy.

No government will admit its mistakes, especially when it can blame foreigners. China is being made the scapegoat for American failure. An entire industry has grown up that points its finger at China and away from 20 years of corporate offshoring of US jobs and 9 years of expensive and pointless US wars.

And then there are Cockburn’s own contributions, his style and independence managing to weather these weary times.

The sun will rise next Wednesday on a new American landscape, the same way it rose on a new American landscape almost exactly two years ago.

That was the dawn of Obama-time. Millions of Americans had dined delightedly on Obama’s rhetoric of dreams and preened at his homilies about the inherent moral greatness of the American people.

Obama and the Democrats triumphed at the polls. The pundits hailed a “tectonic shift” in our national politics, perhaps even a registration of the possibility that we had entered a “post-racial” era.

The realities of American politics don’t change much from year to year. The “politics of division” which Obama denounced are the faithful reflection of national divisions of wealth and resources wider today than they have been at any time since the late 1920s.

In fact the “dream” died even before Obama was elected in November 2008. Already in September that year Senator Obama, like his opponent, Senator McCain, had voted, at the behest of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, for the bailout of the banks. Whatever the election result, there was to be no change in the architecture of financial power in America.

Two events are scheduled for next Tuesday. If we are to believe the polls, the voters will install Republicans as the new majority in the House of Representatives. A longer shot – they may even win the Senate.

If that happens, Obama will be in exactly the situation that Bill Clinton found himself on November 9, 1994, the day after the Republicans won control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Also on Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, chairman Bernanke and the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve Board will convene in Washington and decide on how much money to create – “quantitative easing” – and hand to the banks, in order to lift the country out of a Depression which has 30 million Americans either without a job, or working part-time. Their deliberations will be more consequential, at least in the short term, than the verdicts of the voters in the democratic contest.

The November 2 election will at least settle a simple question: will the Tea Party movement, as nutty a bunch as has diverted America since the Goldwater movement of 1964, have any sort of decisive political effect?

So far as the US Senate is concerned, the Tea Party has been the prime factor in keeping Democrats in certain states in any sort of contention…

Now that Gourmet magazine is no longer on the newsstands, it’s vital to keep Counterpunch a going operation.

That’s a total non sequitur, just to see if you were paying attention once you reached the bottom of all this text, but if you have money to give, give.

Engineers of the Soul

Filed under: art,China,Cold War,Stalinism — louisproyect @ 4:10 pm

Last Saturday a week ago I went to the opening night reception of an art show titled “Engineers of the Soul” in order to do some videoblogging. Thomas Campbell, a member of the Chto Delat (What is to be done) collective and Marxmailer, suggested that it might be worth my time since his group’s video “The Tower: a Songspiel” was on display there. He wasn’t sure what I would make of the other works there. After seeing them, I am still undecided.

If I had read the gallery notes on the exhibit before going down, I probably would have sounded more like Robert Hughes than Robbie the Robot. As will be obvious from my commentary, the works on display—excepting Chto Delat’s intelligent and artistically fully realized video, mystified me. Now that I have had a chance to read the notes at http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/engineers-of-the-soul-new-york-city/, I have somewhat a better handle on things.

To start off, my reference to what the artists were trying to say with the Mao and Stalin photos was obviously meant to be a question about the gallery’s intentions rather than the photographers who were government-sanctioned “official” recorders of the Communist power structure. Magdalena Sawon and Tamas Banovich, the owners of Postmasters Gallery, describe themselves this way:

For better or worse Tamas Banovich and I are children of Communism, having grown up in Hungary and Poland respectively. We have always wanted to organize an exhibition that brings together Communism’s past, present, and future and shows artists’ ongoing relationships to power and ideology as they negotiate the treacherous zones of propaganda and dissent.

The moment seems right. With growing political extremism at both ends of the spectrum, Communism is on our collective radar. Since the fall of the Soviet block in the early nineties, we have thought of Communism as the past, yet there are millions of people who are still living under communist regimes and many more who live with its consequences and legacies.

Unlike the Hard Times show I reported on last August, this show was not quite so partisan. Although the curators were not making an anti-Communist statement (how could they by including Chto Delat’s hard-hitting anti-oligarch politics?), they clearly were not indulging themselves in nostalgia for the past.

The show continues until December 4th and is well worth a trip to the westernmost regions of Chelsea for New Yorkers.

And for out-of-towners, I invite you to watch “I Hate You, Karl Marx” below. See if you can make sense of it. I still can’t.

And here, especially recommended, is a performance of “The Tower: a songspiel”. Brilliant stuff.

October 29, 2010

High-pitched musical interlude

Filed under: music — louisproyect @ 8:18 pm

A nice compliment from Alexander Cockburn

Filed under: Dotty Nation Magazine writers — louisproyect @ 7:53 pm

Not Todd Gitlin, despite the flag


Who says these days that in the last analysis, the only way to change the status quo and challenge the Money Power of Wall St is to overthrow the government by force? That isn’t some old Trotskyist lag like Louis Proyect, dozing on the dungheap of history like Odysseus’ lice-ridden old hound Argos, woofing with alarm as the shadow of a new idea darkens the threshold.

This is the kindest thing I have heard from a Nation Magazine writer ever since Marc Cooper called me a “prolific buffoon”. I only wish I had place for it on my blog like Doug Henwood put on LBO:

“You’re scum…sick and twisted…it’s tragic you exist.” – former Wall Street Journal executive editor Norman Pearlstine, who has gone on to great things at Time Inc.

I should add that I spotted Alex’s fulmination not 5 minutes after sending in $25 to the Counterpunch fund-drive.

Budrus; The Time that Remains

Filed under: Palestine — louisproyect @ 6:23 pm

Over the past several days I saw two radically different films about Palestinians. One is the documentary Budrus that is a stirring introduction to the new nonviolent resistance movement in the West Bank. The other is The Time that Remains, a fictional chronicle about a middle-class family in Nazareth over a 50 year period that is deeply problematic but worth seeing.

Budrus is a farming village of about 1500 people largely dependent on its olive tree groves that had the misfortune to be located close to the border between Israel and the West Bank, the so-called Green Line. When Israel began building its infamous wall of separation in 2004, it chose to build it not within its own borders but within Palestinian territory—and more egregiously right through the middle of Budrus. Not only would the Palestinians lose a good part of their olive groves that had sustained them for hundreds of years; their civic life would suffer as the wall cut through and surrounded the village.

The mayor of Budrus was one Ayed Morrar, a long-time activist who arrested as a student activist at the age of 19 in 1981 when it was still illegal to raise a Palestinian flag. He spent most of the first intifada organizing strikes, demonstrations, protest roadblocks and boycotts of Israeli goods. When the villagers first learned about Israel plans, the mayor convened a meeting in which he insisted that they had to choose between passive resignation and peaceful resistance. They chose the latter. This meeting, as well as other key moments in their struggle, was captured by director Julia Bacha, a Brazilian graduate of Columbia University who was inspired to make such a movie from professors in her Mideast Studies classes who challenged the ideological consensus.

She and her film crew risk Israeli repression to get you close to the action, so much so that you can practically smell the Israeli tear gas. Most of the movie depicts the cat-and-mouse game between the IDF and protestors as they fight for control over the olive groves. In one key scene, we see Morrar’s 15 year old daughter Iltezam jump into a pit that has just been dug by a bulldozer, risking the same fate as Rachel Corrie. We also see a number of Israeli peace activists who have come to the aid of Budrus, including Kobi Snitz, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall. (http://www.awalls.org/). In my review of Rachel (https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/rachel/), I commended another anarchist—Jonathan Pollak—whose email reports I receive on a regular basis. As a long time critic of anarchism, I can only say that the movement puts its best foot forward through the example of Pollak and Snitz.

Scheduled to have its last showing yesterday at the Quad Cinema in N.Y., Budrus has been extended to play through next Thursday and possibly longer. It is not to be missed.

The Time that Remains was shown last night at the Museum of Modern Art as the opening night selection of an Arab film series titled “Mapping Subjectivity“, a program described on the MOMA website as aiming “to map the largely unknown heritage of personal, artistic, and sometimes experimental cinema from the Arab world.” Not quite my cup of tea, but I was willing to give director Elia Suleiman’s movie a try. MOMA describes it this way:

Subtitled “Chronicle of a Present Absentee,” this humorous, heartbreaking film (the final installment in a trilogy) is set among the Israeli Arab community and shot largely in homes and places in which Suleiman’s family once lived. Inspired by his father’s diaries, letters his mother sent to family members who had fled the Israeli occupation, and the director’s own recollections, the film spans from 1948 until the present, recounting the saga of Suleiman’s family in elegantly stylized episodes. Inserting himself as a silent observer reminiscent of Buster Keaton, Suleiman trains a keen eye on the absurdities of life in Nazareth.

The movie starts off very promisingly as a dramatic recreation of events in 1948, as Elia’s father Fuad is picked up by Israeli soldiers for supplying guns to the Palestinian resistance. He is beaten into unconsciousness by men who seem exactly like the goons currently making life miserable in places like Budrus. There is a taut and suspenseful quality to these scenes reminiscent of Battle of Algiers. If only the rest of the movie had lived up to these opening scenes, then it would have been a film for the ages. Alas, it veered off in an entirely different action as it moved forward in time.

In the next chapter in the life of Fuad Suleiman, he has become a father to Elia, the character based on the film’s director. Elia goes to a school run by Israelis that awards its Palestinian children a prize for singing Israeli nationalist anthems. Like just about every scene that takes place at this point, Suleiman is determined to wring out every ounce of the ironies of life under occupation.

Despite having withdrawn from the struggle, Fuad is still hounded by the Israeli authorities. As a devotee of late-night fishing, he keeps being interrogated by Israeli cops whether he has an id and why he is fishing so far from Nazareth. Finally, he is arrested—falsely—for smuggling weapons carried by boat.

His son becomes a victim as well. During the first intifada, he learns from a Palestinian cop that he has been denounced and must leave the country. When he returns, his father has become gravely ill from heart disease and soon dies. From the very minute that Elias makes his appearance in the movie as a young boy, he never says a single word. His role in the film is to stare glumly at the camera as one irony-drenched scene unfolds after another.

One in particular illustrates the sensibility that informs the movie. A young boy enters the Suleiman house unannounced and demands that they buy his string beans. It turns out that he has come from Jenin, a village in the occupied territories. He is told by the cop alluded to above, a family friend and frequent visitor, to show his permit. He says he has none and virtually demands that the cop arrest him. Elias’s mother intercedes on behalf of the boy who continues to demand that they buy his string beans. And if they won’t buy them, then they at least should give him a cigarette. This scene, which lasts about five minutes, conveys the futility of Palestinian existence that Elias takes in with the same mournful and mute expression throughout. When there are street protests, he never joins them but stares at them blankly from his balcony.

One cannot help avoid concluding that Elias Suleiman made this movie for Western consumption, and for art houses particularly (it opens at the IFC Center on January 7th.) He studied cinema at NYU and has obviously absorbed the international minimalist style that can be seen in Jim Jarmusch or Aki Kaurismäki, whose deadpan humor he imitates with mixed success.

As a contrast to the stirring Budrus, it is a dispiriting reminder that for at least some Palestinian intellectuals and artists, the experience of expulsion, dispossession and occupation is no guarantee of great or even good art.

October 28, 2010

Abraham Foxman gets grilled by Israeli journalist

Filed under: zionism — louisproyect @ 7:46 pm

Hat tip to Mondoweiss.org, an indispensable website these days.

Bill Fletcher channels Gus Hall

Filed under: parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 4:22 pm

Bill Fletcher

If you want to read a sales pitch for voting Democrat that shows a mastery of Gus Hall’s political rhetoric second to none, I heartily recommend Bill Fletcher’s article Enthusiasm?: I Am Not Interested in Things Getting Worse! on the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) website. The PDA was launched in 2004 by Tim Carpenter, a Dennis Kucinich staffer. Fletcher is an erstwhile radical who has carved out a career in high-level policy jobs, his latest as a “senior scholar” with the Institute of Policy Studies, a left-liberal think-tank with close ties to the Nation Magazine.

After taking a couple of anti-emetic pills, I feel prepared to give Fletcher’s piece a close reading. He starts off by chiding people who forgot that Obama was “not coming into D.C. with a red flag, a pink flag or a purple flag.” Actually, nobody expected anything like that. All they were expecting is action on a number of items that Obama promised his supporters, like EFCA for the trade unions, closing down Guantanamo, and—most importantly—a resolution of the financial crisis. On that last item, Fletcher admits that “President Obama chose to surround himself with advisers who either did not want to appear to believe or in fact did not believe that dramatic structural reforms were necessary in order to address the depth of the economic and environmental crises we face.”

But don’t you dare blame Obama for picking scumbags like Timothy Geithner or Lawrence Summers. The fault, dear pwogwessives, is not in the stars but in ourselves that we are underlings:

Unfortunately, the main problem rests neither with the Obama administration nor the Democrats in Congress. It rests with the failure of the social forces that elected them to keep the pressure on. Too many of us expected results without continuous demand.

Get that? If only we were carrying out our duties to pressure Obama from the left, like the unemployed did during the early days of FDR’s presidency, then we could have gotten a new New Deal. Well, that assumes that we had an incipient FDR in the White House rather than the Herbert Hoover that resides there now. The Nation Magazine, Bill Fletcher and so many other liberals who repeat this argument have conned themselves into believing that sufficient pressure was the key to genuine reform.

On November 15, 2008 the now defunct Air America, a primary outlet in its day for this kind of addled thinking, aired a discussion with a group of Obama supporters when “change” and “hope” were in the air, like the scent of magnolia blossoms. Mark Green—a sleazy NYC politician and president of the radio station–asked people like  Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation and a ubiquitous defender of Obama on cable TV news shows, to hold forth on the great new period opening up.  She responded:

I think there are lessons to be drawn, Mark. I think they’re close. And yes, the Nation is one of the few publications which one lived through the first New Deal and did an issue on the 75th anniversary of the New Deal. But I think history shows us that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was compelled to abandon caution because of the great traumas of his day — the Great Depression gave him little choice but to be bold. And it was the great popular social movement of his time, working outside his administration, the unions at that time, that put pressure on FDR to carry out bolder reforms.

Leaving aside the question of exactly how “bold” FDR’s policies were (it is, for example, rather clear that WWII ended the Depression, not public works projects or Keynesian fiscal policy), it should have been obvious to those who had not drunk the kool-aid that we did not have an FDR to put pressure on:

But, like Hoover, Obama has been unable to make his actions live up to his words. Health care is being gummed to death on Capitol Hill. Obama has done nothing to pass “card check” provisions that would facilitate union organization and quietly announced that he would not seek stronger labor and environmental protections in NAFTA. He has capitulated on cap-and-trade in the budget outline and never even bothered to push for an actual carbon tax. Only minuscule portions of the stimulus bill or his budget proposals were dedicated to mass transit, and his indifference to the issue—what must be a major component of any serious effort to go green—was reflected in his appointment of a mediocre Republican time-server, Ray LaHood, as his transportation secretary.

Still worse is Obama’s decision to leave the reordering of the financial world solely to Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, both of whom played such a major role in deregulating Wall Street and bringing on the disaster in the first place. It’s as if, after winning election in 1932, FDR had brought Andrew Mellon back to the Treasury. Just as Herbert Hoover could not, in the end, break away from the best economic advice of the 1920s, Barack Obama is sticking with the “key men” of the 1990s. The predictable result is that, even as he claims to recognize the interlocking nature of the problems facing us and vows to solve them as a whole, the president is in fact abandoning most of his program, at least for the time being.

That’s from Kevin Baker’s article Barack Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again that appeared in the June 2009 Harper’s Magazine. Harper’s, a liberal magazine with a history going back to the abolitionist movement like The Nation, is distinguished by its superior grasp of the futility of Democratic Party politics.

After stating that he is not interested in listing “the bad calls or stands with which I disagree”, Fletcher repeats the argument that can be found on the CPUSA website:

I am focusing on those on the right attempting to move in, and frankly they are an unsettling bunch. You see, my enthusiasm for voting rests on the fact that I am not interested in people who worship ignorance, intolerance, war and the strengthening of a plutocracy increasing their grip on power and pulling this country any further to the right than it currently is. In other words, the challenge for progressives is two-fold: one, to beat back the irrationalist right; and, two, to move against the right-wing of the Democratic Party and to push for real change.

Of course, this is a position that will remain true as long as electoral politics is defined as a contest between the two major capitalist parties. The Republicans will keep moving to the right and the Democrats will move along with them, except not as precipitously. Essentially, you have had a choice since the Carter presidency between a Republican Party that is more awful day-by-day and a Democratic Party that represents itself as “not as awful”.

Since he is an erstwhile radical who has probably read Karl Marx at some point in his life, you’d think that he’d understand the nature of bourgeois politics. After all, the Democratic Party has been an enemy of social change throughout its history, a function of its class character. Expecting something otherwise is understandable if you are an unsophisticated liberal, like most of us were until we got hit by the lightning bolts from reading Marx.

I would suggest that there is a class explanation for this, to revert to our Marxist heritage that so many seem willing to renounce. In 1914, Lenin was outraged by the social democratic capitulation to war. He understood this as a co-opting of the left by the ruling class  through the privileges that accrue from lofty trade union posts, the parliamentary perks afforded to deputies, etc. In our day, we are faced with the same kind of corruption but it comes from somewhat different sources. Outfits like the Institute for Policy Studies, Fletcher’s employer, are funded by the liberal wing of the bourgeoisie. Start-up funding was secured from Sears heir Philip Stern and banker James Warburg.

While the Philip Sterns and James Warburgs of the world are anxious to fund any initiative that will make the system more equitable, they will not tolerate any serious challenge to private property. Finding ex-radicals like Bill Fletcher to serve as policy analysts is a marriage made in heaven. It provides the ex’es with a pleasant and prestigious occupation, while it helps to maintain the ideological consensus that There Is No Alternative to Barack Obama.


I just had some truly frustrating exchanges with Fletcher. He said he didn’t care about my criticisms but thought that people would not take me seriously because I wasn’t accurate about his CV. Since he singled out my reference to him as a policy wonk as an example, I changed that to “high level policy jobs”. In any case, here’s his CV for what its worth:

Bill Fletcher, Jr., is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Labor Rights Forum, Executive Editor of The Black Commentator and founder of the Center for Labor Renewal. A longtime labor, racial justice and international activist, he is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, a national non-profit organization organizing, educating and advocating for policies in favor of the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Fletcher is also a founder of the Black Radical Congress and is a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

As if that will compensate for shilling for Barack Obama Hoover.


October 27, 2010

Separated at birth

Filed under: separated at birth? — louisproyect @ 5:00 pm

John Burns, New York Times reporter, who wrote a smear job on Julian Assange

Norway Rat


Bourgeois press can’t get its act together

Filed under: Afghanistan,media — louisproyect @ 1:48 pm

NY Times October 20, 2010
Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region

ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan — American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar Province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters, faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, NATO commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said.

A series of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 American and NATO troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base.

Some of the gains seem to have come from a new mobile rocket that has pinpoint accuracy — like a small cruise missile — and has been used against the hideouts of insurgent commanders around Kandahar. That has forced many of them to retreat across the border into Pakistan. Disruption of their supply lines has made it harder for them to stage retaliatory strikes or suicide bombings, at least for the moment, officials and residents said.

NATO commanders are careful not to overstate their successes — they acknowledge they made that mistake earlier in the year when they undertook a high-profile operation against Marja that did not produce lasting gains. But they say they are making “deliberate progress” and have seized the initiative from the insurgents.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/world/asia/21kandahar.html

Washington Post, October 27, 2010
U.S. military campaign to topple resilient Taliban hasn’t succeeded

By Greg Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 12:47 AM

An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan.

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

“The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience,” said a senior Defense Department official involved in assessments of the war. Taliban elements have consistently shown an ability to “reestablish and rejuvenate,” often within days of routed by U.S. forces, the official said, adding that if there is a sign that momentum has shifted, “I don’t see it.”

One of the military objectives in targeting mid-level commanders is to compel the Taliban to pursue peace talks with the Afghan government, a nascent effort that NATO officials have helped to facilitate.

The blunt intelligence assessments are consistent across the main spy agencies responsible for analyzing the conflict, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and come at a critical juncture. Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/26/AR2010102606571.html

October 26, 2010

So you want to get a PhD in the humanities

Filed under: Academia — louisproyect @ 9:34 pm
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