Tuesday, May 30, 2006

drumroll, please....

i have been reading newsweek for the last 22 years. in my baby album is a picture of me at around age 3, reading newsweek while sitting on a little plastic potty. so you see i do not exaggerate. (although let's be honest, back then i mostly looked at the political cartoons.) anyway, for 20-some years i have been wanting to submit an article to newsweek, a "my turn" to be specific. and today? today i have accomplished something important. i have submitted my first letter to the editor. i have written 3 in my life, but never sent them, as they tend to come out to hot-sounding, and i can picture my mom saying "please watch your tone." what article has inspired this land-mark occurrence, you might ask? fareed zakaria's "what the world really wants" (and this follow-up) from the may 29th issue. what do you think..? about this or that or anything remotely related?


hawk christian said...

I'm very excited for you and I can't wait to read the article. Send this one in!!!

The Goodfellas said...
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The Goodfellas said...

i like it because he puts so much together that it's like "aha, of course...!" normally i like reading authors i disagree with 'cause it gets the mind going. but him? he gets me every time. he's always one step ahead of what i could come up with on my own...and on top of that, i'm sure he's a coke drinker, as he is decent and honest. ;)

Mr. McFall said...

I've never even heard it rumored, perish the thought, that he's even had one Pepsi!!! Oh Lu, perhaps therein lies your problem!!!

The Goodfellas said...

:D HA!

so have you read it yet?

mark and monsita! said...

I really hope they print your article, I can't wait to read it!!!

The Goodfellas said...

no no no, i didnt write an article... just a measly letter to the editor. nevertheless, i hope they print it too. :)
dad, you never did send in your "moving a holstein" article! why? hmm? that was good writing. and i think of that every time i talk politics...

ningyo said...
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ningyo said...

Ah! Reading news is like swimming through mud for me. Why is that? I think sometimes I can only read between the lines and get distracted from the meat.

My between the lines thought which distracted me so much was: the writer is extremely pompous.

But after I got over that: 1) I agree, it isn't very democratic to force-feed democracy. It's noble, but it doesn't work. 2) The writer saying that "polls in Russia show that people still rate democracy as something they like and value. But...they value more urgently conditions that will allow them to lead decent civic and economic lives" ticked me off a bit since it insinuates that it's an either or only choice between "democracy" and "well being" which, in my opinion, go hand in hand for large countries. I don't think we should push democracy there, but simply support it as Russian culture recovers and grows it's own over time.

3) The Iraq thing is painful. Iraq is a multi-ethnic and cultural country in a way that the U.S. is entirely not. To find a leader who truly supports all the people within that country is depressingly difficult. It will be at least a generation or so to change someone's culture so entirely. We're too freakin' impatient in America since we're used to changing people's minds with facts or (too frequently) repetitive loud statements. Changing a person's culture just won't happen overnight.

Will you post your letter to the editor now or wait to see if it's in Newsweek. Either way I hope to see it since you always make things so much clearer for me!

The Goodfellas said...
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The Goodfellas said...

as to russia: i think this caught my eye so much because it directly flies in the face of an ideal i had taken so much for granted: the fact that freedom is worth anything; any cost. there's a quote - i think it was maybe jefferson - that says "those who are willing to give up freedom for safety deserve neither and will get neither." that's a terrible paraphrase, but at the very least it shows what i took from it.

anyway, and when zakaria said the obvious - that this may not be true, not when played out in real life - i was astonished. it's like it was dirty words, saying that. i felt like admonishing him that you don't say that in the States, and at first chalked it up to him being from somewhere-else, or at least having ties, given his name. either way, i realized, it doesn't make a difference. he had pointed out it's not a universal truth, that the world is not full of william wallaces, that to others there are things better than freedom.

which brings me to iraq. painful is a good word for it. painful to sit on my couch and watch the chaos and tell myself it's for their own good. painful to have presumed to know so much. it reminds me of the nation of israel, begging to go back to egypt. they had their freedom, but what did they want? fruit. how much more valid is the desire for safety, even if given from the hands of hussein?

i think you made a good point about logic. from over here it seems so obvious. we gave them a clean slate and the recipe to be a great nation like the states - it looked so simple. which brings me to the last thing: washington said that government is not eloquent: it is a force like fire. he also said (or maybe this was jefferson too?) that majority rule is mob rule. ...because it's popular doesn't mean it's right; it's just bully power. which, like we talked about before, explains the insurgency. it also explains why police power isnt enough.

in the end, i think it also shows how this is a battle we can't win for them. we could get rid of their tyrant but we can't get rid of their fear; we can't get rid of the distrust. it will take time, but it is right to be impatient - people are dying, americans and iraqis. we need to hurry, hurry... but hurry to do what? it is so frustrating.

ningyo said...

Yes! Freedom is worth anything! Reading his comments aobut the Russian polls makes me wonder how much misinterpretation went into what he said. I mean, did the polls actually read:

Do you want a democratic government? Check yes or no.

Would you rather a democratic government or more food and clothes on your back? check yes or no

Since the poll was hardly likely to be that terrible, I can only presume that he added that little connection between the two in his own information.

When it comes to Iraq, I just think that few people truly understand what a war is these days. I mean, the all thought it would be like Desert Storm, but Kuwait is smaller, was wanting our help, and not nearly as multi-cultural/ethnic as the huge country of Iraq. Also, we weren't breaking down the government of Kuwait, we were defending it from Iraq.

This case is SO different from Desert Storm. Other cases in which the U.S. set up new governments and put certain people into power, but this is a much bigger case, a bigger country and a larger variety of groups who all hold extremely strong belief systems.

Another example is Japan, the U.S. basically set everything up here post WWII, but the people were willing it. Japan's generals had no care for their people, didn't care about them starving, didn't care as long as they could continue the fight. The people and their opinions/needs were entirely overlooked. So Japan was an easy case since, originally, the troops brought relief, food, medical supplies and set up a democratic government. However, Japan is an extremely unified country culturally. Many things are set in stone for them food, (Ryan and I have been scoffed at for using unique ingredients in Japanese soups, even though they're delicious they're "wrong" and "not the way it's done.") clothes (I have been lectured that I'm wearing the wrong colors or fabric for the season), how to spend holidays and much else. So their case was easy since thier culture as a whole loves things to be set up for them. Now the media seems to associate their post-war poverty not with their WWII govt, but with U.S. soldiers, but there's nothing I can do about that ridiculous perspective.

Anyway, I guess the media wouldn't make any money, though, if they said, let's just stop kicking this dead horse on TV and let everyone know "Honestly, we truly need to wait around a generation for Iraq to change, so we're going to talk about (insert smaller event here) for an hour today instead."

heidi_go_lightly said...
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The Goodfellas said...

i think the urgency people feel in tracking iraq's progress is because there -is- no guarantee that it will be better in a few generations. when hussein was ousted, it was like lifting the lid off a pressure cooker. all this stuff that had been brewing for so long was held under such a tight wrap that we didn't even know about it (though everyone now, with retrospect, acts like it was common knowledge.) for example, you mentioned the different ethnic groups and their conflicting religions - yet they all go under the name muslim. the same name that held the entire middle-east together, shoulder to shoulder as brothers in favor of the palestinians, now means nothing? how could anyone have seen that coming? it is like saying the irish are just too different to get along, too ideologically removed. (and speaking of kuwait - it's actually almost the same demographic of sunnis and shias, but with a smaller amount of kurds, who haven't been involved in the insurgency.)

i think what the author was saying is this: it's not just a matter of clothes and food, it's these basic things that hold society together; safety and stability. knowing you have a future. i read this article a few weeks back... it talked about all these women in iraq who had been kidnapped and sold into prostitution; because of all the chaos, police can't do anything about it. a lot of these women are girls who had been living in orphanages or shelters, so they were easy targets. under hussein, it almost never happened. he was a tyrant, but his iron hand kept order.

shame on me if i seem to be condoning his actions. that's not my intention, and he has no excuse. but i am saying that there is such a thing as romanticizing democracy, romanticizing freedom. it's easy to say freedom is worth all costs when we've never had to pay a price.

ps. i can see where you're coming from too; i think it's just complicated enough that i can both fervently agree and disagree. do you know what i mean?

The Goodfellas said...
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The Goodfellas said...

PS! (since i just saw your post) :)

1)about the dixie chicks: they have a right to say whatever they want. radio stations have a right to decide who they play. i think that's that.

2)about japan: i don't think the 2 reasons suffice to explain why we were welcomed. if a strong military presence, money, rebuilding, and a destroyed infrastructure are the recipe for success then the iraqis should be singing our national anthem about now...!!

ps. che guevara started lots of successful foreign revolutions. but i do get your point. ;)

ningyo said...

I don't quite understand since the comments Jenny is responding to are deleted?

Anyway, just to clarify on what I was saying, since my writing was jolty: I didn't mean we were specifically welcomed by Japan, just that it was easier since they're so culturally strict and due to other aspects of thier culture.
When it comes to Iraq- the pressure cooker thing makes a TON of sense and I understand even more now. Before when I would read it was like just small things and I could never see how they were interrellated. Silly as it sounds, just that analogy clarified a lot. I'm like that, I never learn, I just assimilate and wait for something to randomly "click" it togehter.

Anyway, I don't think you're backing up Hussein, I can totally understand your meaning, NO problem!

The Goodfellas said...

yeah, those deletes are me: sorry! i would post and then notice some crazy sentence that didn't make sense and repost again.

i read another thing today, about the congo. this is my new thought: the genius of democracy is accountability. it's the only political system in the world where the government is afraid of the people. where they're watched, weighed, chided, mocked on SNL: held responsible.

i didn't even know the congo is in the same situation as iraq - ethnic wars, mass chaos, about to hold its first election in 40 years. thanks for still checking this, by the way - as long as someone does i'll keep checking it too. helps me piece things together. :)