All Tumbling Down
Here come the events all tumbling down - Nice Cave
Overwhelmed yet? For quite some time it's been impossible to keep current with our condition, which is either falling into or being drawn towards something we've yet to see. Without much comment, here are some snapshots of where we are.
You may know that Israeli President Moshe Katsav is facing indictment for the rape of two female staffers. Earlier this week in Moscow after a brief public appearance with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vladimir Putin remarked "Say hello to your president. He really surprised us." The New York Times notes that the microphone "was quickly turned off as reporters were ushered from the room," but Putin was overheard to continue. "He turned out to be quite a powerful man. He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him."
Diplomats on both sides are said to have responded with laughter and continued with their meeting. The generous interpretation is that Putin was simply making a coarse joke. Putin has always thrived on generous interpretations, from the Moscow apartment bombings to his kissing the belly of an adolescent boy. Even after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and the suspension of 100 NGOs including Amnesty International, the prevailing assumption appears to remain that whatever he said, he didn't mean it, and whatever he did, he didn't do it. What was he thinking? is not so terrible a question if it is left unanswered.
In Toronto this week, a notorious former teacher-predator of Canada's premier school for privileged boys received an extraordinary pardon for his years of molestation and rape. Abuse by Clark Noble and other staffers at Upper Canada College has been an "open secret" for years, though tolerated by authorities and families as a seeming "rite of passage" through private school and into positions of leadership in business and politics. (UCC alumnists include the late Lord Kenneth Thomson, Conrad Black and Michael Ignatieff.) One poster remarks on the RI forum that "it seems that sex assault is part of elite school curriculum all over," and another: "Maybe thats why the powerful send their kids to elite schools, the abuse is part of the training."
And regarding Iraq, there's been a lot of noise how James Baker's "Bipartisan Study Group" has weighed in and assessed the mission as a failure, and what a blow this must be to the Bush White House.
"Staying the course" is not an option, but it never was the intent. The Iraq project has always envisioned the dissolution of the country into three "federal states" - sectarian bantustans ruled by obliging strongmen - but to get to that point a united Iraq, that had never seen a civil war, needed destabilizing. To that end, the US and UK mission has truly been a catastrophic success. Now, it's the time for the neocon berserkers to take one on the chin, and the "grown-ups" to move in and complete the job in such a way that it appears they're simply cleaning up an unfortunate mess. "Few officials in either party are talking about an immediate pullout of U.S. combat troops. But interest appears to be growing in several broad ideas. One would be some kind of effort to divide the country along regional lines...."
Don't be fooled again, or for the first time.