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Sunday, November 29, 2009

About a Suicide Pact

From what Mr. Ignatius has to say, Democrats do not have an easy task for mid-term elections. Do you think GOP has the answer? No, says Kathleen Parker, they are too focused on their social-conservative agenda. Here is her opinion in W.Post:

Some people can't stand prosperity, my father used to say. Today, he might be talking about Republicans, who, in the midst of declining support for President Obama's hope-and-change agenda, are considering a purity pledge to weed out undesirables from their ever-shrinking party.

Just when independents and moderates were considering revisiting the GOP tent.

Just when a near-perfect storm of unpopular Democratic ideas -- from massive health-care reform to terrorist show trials, not to mention global-warming hype -- is coagulating over 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Just when the GOP was gaining traction after gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey . . . Republicans perform a rain dance at their own garden party.

Things were just going too well.

Thus, some conservative members of the party have come up with a list of principles they want future candidates to agree to or forfeit backing by the Republican National Committee.

The so-called purity test is a 10-point checklist -- a suicide pact, really -- of alleged Republican positions. Anyone hoping to play on Team GOP would have to sign off on eight of the 10 -- through their voting records, public statements or a questionnaire. The test will be put up for consideration before the Republican National Committee when it meets early next year in Hawaii.

The list apparently evolved in response to the Republican loss in the recent congressional race in Upstate New York, when liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava withdrew from the race under pressure from conservatives and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens, who won. Republicans had held that seat for more than a century.

James Bopp Jr., chief sponsor of the resolution and a committee member from Indiana, has said that the problem is that many conservatives have lost trust in the conservative credentials of the Republican Party.

Actually, no, the problem is that many conservatives have lost faith in the ability of Republican leaders to think. The resolutions aren't so much statements of principle as dogmatic responses to complex issues that may, occasionally, require more than a Sharpie check in a little square.

It's too bad that elite and nuance have become bad words in the Republican lexicon. Elites are viewed in Republican circles as those people who are out of touch with real Americans. And nuance, the definition of which suggests a sophisticated approach to understanding (as opposed to Because I said so, case closed) has come to be viewed as a Frenchified word Republicans successfully hung on presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. His flip-floppery on issues became associated with nuance, a.k.a. lack of decisiveness. Ergo, a lack of leadership skills.

It was superb message manipulation, if you go for that sort of thing. But it was also pandering to America's inner simpleton. Not to defend Kerry, specifically, but heaven forbid anyone should ever consider shades of meaning or new developments and change his mind. As Kerry said during a 2008 Associated Press interview, Decisiveness wrongly applied can create a lot of pain. This nation was, after all, for slavery before it was against it.

Most of us know that decisiveness isn't always a virtue, yet those pushing the purity test seem to view nuance as an enemy of conservatism. The old elite corps of the conservative movement, men such as William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk, undoubtedly would find this attitude both dangerous and bizarre. When did thinking go out of style?

In fact, the 10-point checklist proffered by Bopp and others is the antithesis of conservatism. As Kirk wrote in his own Ten Conservative Principles, conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata . . . conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

Each of Bopp's bullets is so overly broad and general that no thoughtful person could endorse it in good conscience. Some are so simplistic as to be meaningless. As just one example: We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges. What does that mean? Do we support all troop surges no matter what other considerations might be taken into account? Do we take nothing else into account? Does disagreement mean one doesn't support victory?

Whatever the intent of the authors, the message is clear: Thinking people need not apply. The formerly elite party of nuanced conservatism might do well to revisit its nonideological roots.

Otherwise, might we bother Mr. Kirk to beam us up?

(Please send your comments to kathleenparker@washpost.com)

(Zoon Politikon)

Ignatius: The Jobless Scary Movie

David IgnatiusDavid Ignatius in W. Post:

For a political horror show, fast-forward to the summer of 2010: The unemployment rate is stubbornly high, hovering between 9.3 and 9.7 percent. Companies are wary about hiring more workers because the economy remains soft. Small businesses, which normally power a recovery, are caught in a credit squeeze.

In this scenario, the jobs outlook will remain bleak for another year. The unemployment rate will remain well above 8 percent in 2011. And the economy won't bounce back completely for five years after that.

The Democrats, in our scary 2010 movie, will be heading toward the midterm elections hoping to preserve their 81-seat margin in the House. Vulnerable incumbents will be clamoring for more economic stimulus, but the Obama administration will be constrained by the huge budget deficits needed to bail out the economy after the 2008 financial crisis.

I wish that this economic forecast were just a bad dream after too much Thanksgiving turkey. But it's drawn from the minutes of the Federal Reserve's Nov. 3-4 meeting, released last week. It's a genuinely troubling document, as much for its political implications as for its number-crunching. It draws a picture of a nation of unfair and unequal sacrifices, where Wall Street is recovering even as Main Street continues to pay the bills.

If the Fed's projections are right, the public is going to be very angry next year -- at big business and at the elected officials who have spent trillions of dollars without putting the country fully back to work. Lou Dobbs, the voice of populist anger, may become the nation's hottest politician. President Obama, who has struggled to find a centrist consensus for economic policies, may be tossed like a cork on a stormy sea.

The Fed struggled to answer the basic question that is haunting administration policymakers: Why has unemployment remained so high, even as the economy has started to grow again and the stock market has been on a tear? The Fed's answer is that businesses, having been burned by the recession, are wary about adding more workers or making new investments. Like consumers who have just discovered the virtues of saving, their prudence -- however sensible on an individual basis -- is a collective drag on the economy.

Business contacts reported that they would be cautious in their hiring, the Fed minutes note. Indeed, participants expected that businesses would be able to meet any increases in demand in the near term by raising their employees' hours and boosting productivity, thus delaying the need to add to their payrolls.

If hiring hasn't bounced back, neither has lending. Bank loans continued to contract sharply in all categories, the Fed reports. Big businesses may be able to get money, but smaller firms "faced substantial constraints in their access to credit."This credit squeeze, in turn, will "restrain hiring at small businesses, which are normally a source of employment growth in recoveries.

Putting the numbers together, the Fed predicts that despite a growing economy, unemployment will be 8.2 to 8.6 percent during 2011, down only about a percentage point from 2010. And here's the scariest line of all in the Fed minutes: Most participants anticipated that about five or six years would be needed for the economy to converge fully to a longer-run path and a normal job market.

Looking toward next year's congressional elections, strategists will have to calibrate the politics of high unemployment. The four states with the highest jobless rates as of October are all Democratic strongholds: Michigan, at 15.1 percent; Nevada, at 13 percent; Rhode Island, at 12.9 percent; and California, at 12.5 percent. And if you look at the states where Democrats gained their 21 House seats last year, the list includes eight states where unemployment in October was above the national average of 10.2 percent.

The politics of rage aren't pretty. But in this case, it's hard to argue that the anger isn't justified. The Fed's analysis shows what we see in the daily stock market summaries. People on the top are recovering their losses; people on the bottom are out of work and out of luck.

I admire Obama's effort to make responsible economic choices in this environment and his refusal to demagogue issues such as financial reform. But he will need all the political genius he showed during the 2008 campaign -- and which he has displayed too little lately -- to handle what's coming at him next year.

(Please send your comments at davidignatius@washpost.com)

(Zoon Politikon)


Kiarostami: Taste of Cherry (1997)

Ta'm e guilass, 1997
(Firouzan Films)
no copyright infringement intended

Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry), made by Abbas Kiarostami in 1997.

It happened that I had already seen Ten, made by Kiarostami in 2002, and I was struck by the resemblance of approach in the two movies. As I was now watching Taste of Cherry, dialogues from Ten were coming to my mind. In both movies a driver is running the car through the streets of Tehran (or on shabby routes around Tehran) and approaches various people. The reactions of those people are similar in both movies. It is like the driver is the only character played by a professional, all others are just common people who seem totally unaware that they are filmed.

There is a subject here in Taste of Cherry (I would rather not deconspire it, to not frustrate you of the pleasure of discovery), only I believe the subject is more like a pretext, for studying the reactions of those common people.

I believe that Kiarostami is actually interested in the reaction of common people confronted with the convention of the movie. There is a subject, yes: it is a convention proposed by the creator of the movie, like any filmic subject. It is not the reality, it is a convention, that presents itself as reality. However, it is a convention, not reality. How are common people reacting to this convention? Are they considering it as normal, as belonging to their universe?

Or, can these common people become part of the artistic universe? They belong to our, real, world. The main character (the driver) provokes them. They can enter the illusory world of the movie; they can refuse the illusion.

Anyway, either they accept the convention, or they refuse, it is a moment of contact between two worlds: the real world, the illusory world of the movie (pretending to be the real world itself). What is the relation between the two worlds? What is the relation between object and image? A question that has tortured so many artists in the twentieth century, and I believe this is also the question that Kiarostami is trying to find the answer.

The ending of the movie can be read in various ways. I believe that the sense of it is, hey, guys, a movie is just a movie, it is convention claiming to be reality, but it remains convention.

I know, of course, that I could be wrong :) I also believe that Ten developed Taste of Cherry in a more radical way.

(I'm in the Mood for Kiarostami)

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Revival of Latin Mass

It was 1995 and I spent three days in Vienna. I had the opportunity to attend a traditional Latin Mass: it was a rare occasion, as the old Catholic Liturgy needed by that time a special approval from the bishop.

Times changed again, and the Latin entered again the catholic churches. Here is a column in today's NY Times about this topic. The opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, Kenneth J. Wolfe.

Walking into church 40 years ago on this first Sunday of Advent, many Roman Catholics might have wondered where they were. The priest not only spoke English rather than Latin, but he faced the congregation instead of the tabernacle; laymen took on duties previously reserved for priests; folk music filled the air. The great changes of Vatican II had hit home.

All this was a radical break from the traditional Latin Mass, codified in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. For centuries, that Mass served as a structured sacrifice with directives, called rubrics, that were not optional. This is how it is done, said the book. As recently as 1947, Pope Pius XII had issued an encyclical on liturgy that scoffed at modernization; he said that the idea of changes to the traditional Latin Mass pained him grievously.

Paradoxically, however, it was Pius himself who was largely responsible for the momentous changes of 1969. It was he who appointed the chief architect of the new Mass, Annibale Bugnini, to the Vatican’s liturgical commission in 1948.

Bugnini was born in 1912 and ordained a Vincentian priest in 1936. Though Bugnini had barely a decade of parish work, Pius XII made him secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform. In the 1950s, Bugnini led a major revision of the liturgies of Holy Week. As a result, on Good Friday of 1955, congregations for the first time joined the priest in reciting the Pater Noster, and the priest faced the congregation for some of the liturgy.

The next pope, John XXIII, named Bugnini secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of Vatican II, in which position he worked with Catholic clergymen and, surprisingly, some Protestant ministers on liturgical reforms. In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.

Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, We must strip from our ... Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants. (Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.

Bugnini fell from grace in the 1970s. Rumors spread in the Italian press that he was a Freemason, which if true would have merited excommunication. The Vatican never denied the claims, and in 1976 Bugnini, by then an archbishop, was exiled to a ceremonial post in Iran. He died, largely forgotten, in 1982.

But his legacy lived on. Pope John Paul II continued the liberalizations of Mass, allowing females to serve in place of altar boys and to permit unordained men and women to distribute communion in the hands of standing recipients. Even conservative organizations like Opus Dei adopted the liberal liturgical reforms.

But Bugnini may have finally met his match in Benedict XVI, a noted liturgist himself who is no fan of the past 40 years of change. Chanting Latin, wearing antique vestments and distributing communion only on the tongues (rather than into the hands) of kneeling Catholics, Benedict has slowly reversed the innovations of his predecessors. And the Latin Mass is back, at least on a limited basis, in places like Arlington, Va., where one in five parishes offer the old liturgy.

Benedict understands that his younger priests and seminarians — most born after Vatican II — are helping lead a counterrevolution. They value the beauty of the solemn high Mass and its accompanying chant, incense and ceremony. Priests in cassocks and sisters in habits are again common; traditionalist societies like the Institute of Christ the King are expanding.

At the beginning of this decade, Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote: The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself. He was right: 40 years of the new Mass have brought chaos and banality into the most visible and outward sign of the church. Benedict XVI wants a return to order and meaning. So, it seems, does the next generation of Catholics.

(Icon and Orthodoxy)

Pankaj Mishra: India's Eternal Crisis

Pankaj Mishra is an Indian essayist and novelist born in 1969 in Uttar Pradesh. His book Butter Chicken in Ludhiana is a sociological study of small-town India. Mr. Mishra is known for his literary and political essays published in NY Times, W Post, The Guardian, New Statesman, among others. A recent book of his is Temptations of the West: How To Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond.

Here is an essay by him, published in today's NY Times:

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, I hurried through a dark apple orchard to the nearest television in this Himalayan village. My landlord opened his door reluctantly, and then appeared unmoved by the news I had just received by phone. I struggled to explain the enormity of what was happening, the significance of New York, the iconic status of the World Trade Center — to no avail. It was time for his evening prayers; the television could not be turned on.

I did not witness the horrific sights of 9/11 until three days later. Since then, cable television and even broadband Internet have arrived in Mashobra and in my own home. Now the world’s manifold atrocities are always available for brisk inspection on India’s many 24-hour news channels. Indeed, the brutal terrorist assault on Mumbai that killed 163 people a year ago was immediately proclaimed as India’s own 9/11 by the country’s young TV anchors, who seem to model themselves on Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Yet, on the first anniversary of “26/11,” it seems as remote as 9/11 to the inhabitants of this village.

There is no great mystery behind this indifference, which is distinct from callousness. India, where most people still depend on agriculture for a living, has just suffered one of its most serious droughts in decades. The outlook for winter crops is bleak; many farmers have committed suicide in recent months, adding to the epidemic of rural suicides over the last few years.

Politically, too, India has lurched from one crisis to another in the last year. Prudent financial regulation saved India from the worst effects of the worldwide economic recession. But the rage of people who feel themselves not only left behind but victimized by corporate-driven and urban-oriented economic growth has erupted into violence; the Indian government has called for an all-out war against the Maoist insurgent groups that now administer large parts of central India. Anti-India insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeast continue to simmer, exacting a little-reported but high daily toll.

Geopolitically, India’s room to maneuver has shrunk since the Mumbai attacks. Last November, middle-class nationalist fury, though initially directed at inept Indian authorities, settled on Pakistan, where the attacks were partly planned and financed. The writer Shashi Tharoor described “India’s leaders and strategic thinkers” as watching Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter with “empathy,” and wondering “why can’t we do the same?” One hopes Mr. Tharoor, who has since become India’s junior foreign minister, is today more aware of why India can’t do a Gaza or Lebanon on its nuclear-armed neighbor.

As Western anxiety about nuclear-armed Pakistan’s stability deepens, India can barely afford aggressive rhetoric, let alone military retaliation, against its longtime foe. Pakistan remains vital to Western campaigns against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Aware of its strategic importance, Pakistan has been in no hurry to accede to India’s demands to prosecute those it holds responsible for the Mumbai massacre. (One hopes the charges filed against seven radicals on Wednesday mark a real change.) Islamabad has also upped the rhetorical ante by accusing India of backing the violent secessionist movement in Baluchistan, in western Pakistan.

India’s seeming impotence enrages those in the new right-wing news media who are eager to commemorate 26/11, and to make that ersatz shorthand signify India’s unavenged humiliation and shame. Prabhu Chawla, the editor of India Today, the country’s leading newsmagazine, expressed the frustration of many middle-class nationalists: “India, divided by politics, doesn’t know what to do with its enemy or with its much-mauled nationalist soul. We are as clueless as we were on that dreadful November night one year ago.”

That may be true, but in a country where 400 million live without electricity, it isn’t easy to manufacture, or sustain, a national consensus. In any case, things are not as bad as the pundits make out. The lone surviving Mumbai killer is already on trial; his accomplices are being gradually apprehended. There have been no major retaliatory attacks against Muslims. There are stirrings of a civic, even political, consciousness among rich Indians who, until the Mumbai massacre, were largely unaffected by our frequent terrorist bombings.

India may have been passive after the Mumbai attacks. But India has not launched wars against either abstract nouns or actual countries that it has no hope of winning or even disengaging from. Another major terrorist assault on our large and chaotic cities is very probable, but it is unlikely to have the sort of effect that 9/11 had on America.

This is largely because many Indians still live with a sense of permanent crisis, of a world out of joint, where violence can be contained but never fully prevented, and where human action quickly reveals its tragic limits. The fatalism I sense in my village may be the consolation of the weak, of those powerless to shape the world to their ends. But it also provides a built-in check against the arrogance of power — and the hubris that has made America’s response to 9/11 so disastrously counterproductive.

(Zoon Politikon)


Air Race Filmed in Super Slow Motion


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Matrix in Lego Version

When The Matrix was announced, ten years ago, I was very enthusiastic about. I created a web page with images from the movie before watching it. That web page is no more... it was on a server that's no more, too...

Here is a Lego version of one of the scenes, side by side with the original. This guy is a real enthusiast!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Terry Strickland at Principle Gallery in Alexandria

Principle Gallery invited Terry Strickland (from Birmingham, Alabama) for an Artist's Choice Show that was at the end October. The gallery selected four of his works for the exhibition.

(Principle Gallery)

Newbury Street: Walker-Cunningham Gallery

Walker-Cunningham Fine Arts: a small and nice gallery specialized in American artists fro 1850-1950, also displaying contemporary paintings. I entered there by chance and I found a very nice and competent manager, Ms. Sarah Cunningham, who talked me with great enthusiasm about each art work there.

I enjoyed the most the industrial landscapes of Dora Atwater Millikin. She is looking for the industrial aspects in the scenery of coastal New England, because these poles, and wires, and cars, offer a universe of colors in nuances and contrasts: between black and white, gray and blue. Thus, this urban-industrial-gritty is for the artist an alphabet used to create words and sentences where the words compete or cooperate, and these words are tones of color.


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Newbury Street in Boston

If I were to choose which Bostonian street I am more enthusiastic about, Newbury Street would be the answer. It is full of small cafes, and small art galleries, and small funny stores. It is always full of great young people who give this street with small Londonian houses the air of a Parisian Rive Gauche place.


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BBC: Grizzly Bears Catching Salmon


The Photographs of Jim Wilson

The Nine Students from Nikolski
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

The photographs were made by Jim Wilson for NY Times: amazing images of a small remote village on a remote Aleutian island.

Nikolski is a village on Umnak Island, Aleutian archipelago. The single -classroom school there has been closed: there were only nine students there, from kindergarten up to 12th grade, and the law in Alaska states that a school can function with at least ten students. There is an article in yesterday's NY Times: in the Alaskan mathematics 10-1=0.

Nikolski Village on Umnak Island
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

The Wreckage of a Reeve Aleutian Plane That Crashed in 1965 is in the Background
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

Fishermen of Nikolski
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

Cleaning Silver Salmon
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

Ivan Krukoff with a Freshly Caught Salmon
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT

(America viewed by Americans)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lexington: House on Bedford Street


Maziar Bahari: Why We Should Still Talk to Iran

Maziar Bahari
in today's W Post:

Since I was released from Tehran's notorious Evin Prison last month, the questions have come again and again: Can we still talk to these people? Should the Obama administration engage in dialogue with Iran? What should the West do in nuclear negotiations? After being jailed, interrogated and beaten by the Revolutionary Guards for 118 days for reporting honestly on the disputed June 12 presidential elections, I am often expected to oppose any dialogue. But the West still needs Iran and should continue talking to it -- no matter what it has done to people like me.

Inside Evin, I was forced to confess that I was part of an insidious Western media conspiracy to overthrow the regime. I was forced to apologize to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. I was released as suddenly as I was arrested, without explanation. But my interrogator told me to send a message to the world: We are a superpower. America's power is waning, and we will soon overtake them. Now that Americans have started this war against us, we will not let them rest in peace. He paused, perhaps realizing that he sounded defensive. I was a jailed journalist wearing a blindfold, not some sort of spy. (I'm not even American.) He changed the subject to soft war, a term Tehran uses to refer to an imaginary war that it says is promoted by the media against the holy government of the Islamic Republic. We will answer their attacks with all our might, he said.

The Revolutionary Guards are a schizophrenic bunch, plagued by both deep insecurities and a superiority complex. They have ambitions to take over the government and expand their business empire in Iran. At the same time, they are terrified of individuals and groups that question their grip on power. The Guards are the real power base of Khamenei. They are the main supporters of his claim to be Allah's representative on Earth. One of the most serious charges against me was insulting Khamenei. In a private e-mail I had wondered whether Khamenei has been blinded by power and had lost touch with his people, and if that was why he was answering people's peaceful demands with brute force. That was enough for my interrogator to kick and punch me for days and to threaten me with execution.

In Iran's triangle of power -- the Guards, Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the Guards are becoming stronger than the president and the supreme leader. Some Guards are devoted to Khamenei for religious reasons, but many of them use his status as a religious leader to legitimize their own actions. They also use Ahmadinejad, a former Guard, to increase their political power. The Guards have arms and money. They are the biggest industrial contractors in Iran. They have front companies all over the region and in the West and are involved in smuggling goods into and out of Iran. They answer only to Khamenei.

So can the West, especially the United States, have a dialogue with these people? Yes. Because there is no other choice. The West has to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear program and the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan. Not talking to Tehran doesn't work: The hostile rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration against even the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami helped the hard-liners to consolidate power. Only by engaging, even with a more radical regime, can the West force Tehran to measure the costs and benefits of dealing with the outside world.

I don't know exactly why I was released, but I can guess. Over four months, my friends and colleagues at Newsweek and elsewhere waged a massive public and private campaign for my release. Around the time that Iran was sitting down in Geneva to discuss the nuclear program, my conditions inside Evin started to improve. One Iranian official told me later that I had become more of a liability than an asset in jail. At least some elements of the regime still make such rational calculations.

So what should the United States do? First, a nuclear Iran should not be tolerated. Although I believe that Iran will not start attacking other countries the day after it builds the bomb, having the bomb will embolden the Guards to intensify their repression inside the country and regional expansion. The American government should use all of its resources, including President Obama's charm, to persuade allies, especially China and Russia, to work with it to put in place smart sanctions that solely target Iran's nuclear program and do not affect ordinary Iranians.

At the same time the West has to separate the nuclear negotiations from talks about Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran understands that insecurity in those countries is damaging to itself as well as to the United States. Iran would love to make its help conditional on a grand bargain with the West that would guarantee the security and survival of the regime and preserve its nuclear program. But the better course would be to use cooperation on those two countries as a confidence-building measure in negotiations.

The common perception among my American friends used to be: If Americans support a certain faction in Iran, it would be easier for the regime to persecute them. That might have been true once. But Iran has entered a new phase. Opposition activists from all walks of life have been accused of being agents of the West. I was accused of working for the CIA simply because I wrote for an American magazine. The rumor du jour in Iran is that Obama and the Guards are reaching a deal to normalize relations, in exchange for which America will ignore human rights abuses in Iran. Hence, the opposition movement's slogan Obama, either with them or with us. The United States has acted against the interests of the Iranian people in the past. Repeating that mistake for tactical gains would be the biggest mistake of the Obama administration.

As for the Iranian people, the more immediate victims of the brutal regime, we have to think long-term. Our anger should be sublimated into something more positive. We have been brutalized to think of the world in black and white. Seeing the shades of gray can be our strongest weapon against those who would jail, beat and torture us.

(Zoon Politikon)

David Ignatius: Obama's Skeptic in Chief

David IgnatiusDavid Ignatius in W. Post:

With President Obama finally ready to announce his decision about Afghanistan, it's a good time to examine the role played by Vice President Biden, who emerged during the policy review as the administration's in-house skeptic -- the questioner in chief, as one insider puts it.

Biden has been the point man in challenging some premises of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's strategy, according to civilian and military officials involved in the review. He was dubious about committing more troops when the administration announced its initial strategy in March, and over the months his doubts came to be shared, increasingly, by the president.

Biden's questions sometimes peeved advocates of the military buildup -- one official describes a process of discussion that resembled bashing a piñata -- and they added weeks of delay. But administration officials argue that the review, protracted and painful as it has been, will produce an Afghanistan policy that can better withstand public scrutiny.

Obama is still working on the final details, and one participant describes the narrow balance as 51-49. Officials predict that he will send some additional troops to secure Afghanistan's population centers, though probably not the full 40,000 McChrystal requested. Obama's support for the mission will be hedged and time-limited, as Biden has urged.

Biden won his case against an open-ended commitment to a policy that, as even its strongest advocates concede, may not work. Instead, the president appears to have embraced Biden's demand for a proof of concept to test the strategy in the populated regions where the United States added troops this year. The time limit for this experimentation isn't clear yet, but it's likely to be less than the three to five years U.S. commanders think is needed.

Obama is said to be confident that the military can succeed in the clear and hold part of the strategy but less certain about the subsequent build and transfer phase, where the Afghans take control of cleared areas. That's where Obama will apply his benchmarks and testing: Can the United States mount a civilian surge of aid workers? Can President Hamid Karzai curb corruption and improve governance? Can Afghan security forces expand rapidly enough to take over responsibility?

U.S. military commanders don't disagree with the need to test the counterinsurgency strategy and see what works. They're doing plenty of experimentation already -- organizing governance and development projects, and bolstering Afghan tribal forces. This kind of trial-and-error approach worked in Iraq, commanders note, but only when it was coupled with sufficient military power. What has frustrated the military has been the political hesitation and uncertainty in Washington when they're fighting a war.

Biden and the other skeptics are said to have focused on some key assumptions in McChrystal's strategy that, on examination, they found to be weak:

-- The relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Military strategists had argued that gains for the former would lead to a resurgence by the latter. But the skeptics argued that most Taliban commanders, while opposing U.S. troops, don't want to join al-Qaeda's global jihad.

-- The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Proponents of a troop surge contended that it would help Pakistan battle its own Taliban insurgency. But critics cautioned that the evidence was mixed. While the Pakistanis certainly don't want the United States to leave Afghanistan, they're also worried that more American troops next door would drive Taliban fighters back into Pakistan.

-- The feasibility of creating a 400,000-man Afghan army and police force. McChrystal's plan proposed roughly doubling the Afghan security forces. But the skeptics argued that the forecasts for recruitment and attrition were unrealistic, and they seem to have convinced Obama. The final strategy probably won't make a specific force projection.

Biden and the other doubters have warned against an ever-growing cycle of escalation in Afghanistan. What they want instead is for the military to consolidate its forces where they're already deployed -- and demonstrate that the strategy can work. Even Biden seems to accept that this means some increase in troops, because the force now isn't sufficient to consolidate its hold.

We'll find out next week how Obama has decided to marry the battle plan of his commanders with the exit strategy of his vice president. Straddling yes and no is never a good idea. But if the long review produces a sharper and more realistic plan, it will have been worthwhile. Obama's obligation is to give the military enough resources to succeed at the mission he assigns them.

(Zoon Politikon)


About God and Religion

Religion is not as much about God as it is about a projection of God, as seen within a culture. That is why religions evolve in time, and also the understanding of God. Nicholas D. Kristof discusses in today's NY Times three new books on this subject:

Just a few years ago, it seemed curious that an omniscient, omnipotent God wouldn’t smite tormentors like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. They all published best-selling books excoriating religion and practically inviting lightning bolts.

Traditionally, religious wars were fought with swords and sieges; today, they often are fought with books. And in literary circles, these battles have usually been fought at the extremes.

Fundamentalists fired volleys of Left Behind novels, in which Jesus returns to Earth to battle the Anti-Christ (whose day job was secretary general of the United Nations). Meanwhile, devout atheists built mocking Web sites like www.whydoesGodhateamputees.com. That site notes that although believers periodically credit prayer with curing cancer, God never seems to regrow lost limbs. It demands an end to divine discrimination against amputees.

This year is different, with a crop of books that are less combative and more thoughtful. One of these is The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright, who explores how religions have changed — improved — over the millennia. He notes that God, as perceived by humans, has mellowed from the capricious warlord sometimes depicted in the Old Testament who periodically orders genocides.

(In 1 Samuel 15:3, the Lord orders a mass slaughter of the Amalekite tribe: Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child. These days, that would earn God an indictment before the International Criminal Court.)

Mr. Wright also argues that monotheism emerged only gradually among Israelites, and that the God familiar to us may have resulted from a merger of a creator god, El, and a warrior god, Yahweh. Mr. Wright also argues that monotheism wasn’t firmly established until after the Babylonian exile, and he says that Moses’s point was that other gods shouldn’t be worshiped, not that they didn’t exist. For example, he notes the troubling references to a divine council and gods — plural — in Psalm 82.

In another revelation not usually found in Sunday School classes, Mr. Wright cites Biblical evidence that God (both El and Yahweh) had a sex life, rather like the Greek gods, and notes archaeological discoveries indicating that Yahweh may have had a wife, Asherah.

As for Christianity, Mr. Wright argues that it was Saint Paul — more than Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet — who emphasized love and universalism and built Christian faith as it is known today. Saint Paul focused on these elements, he says, partly as a way to broaden the appeal of the church and convert Gentiles.

Mr. Wright detects an evolution toward an image of God as a more beneficient and universal deity, one whose moral compass favors compassion for humans of whatever race or tribe, one who is now firmly in the antigenocide camp. Mr. Wright’s focus is not on whether God exists, but he does suggest that changing perceptions of God reflect a moral direction to history — and that this in turn perhaps reflects some kind of spiritual force.

To the extent that god grows, that is evidence — maybe not massive evidence, but some evidence — of higher purpose, Mr. Wright says.

Another best-seller this year, Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, likewise doesn’t posit a Grandpa-in-the-Sky; rather, she sees God in terms of an ineffable presence that can be neither proven nor disproven in any rational sense. To Ms. Armstrong, faith belongs to the realm of life’s mysteries, beyond the world of reason, and people on both sides of the God gap make the mistake of interpreting religious traditions too literally.

Over the centuries people in all cultures discovered that by pushing their reasoning powers to the limit, stretching language to the end of its tether, and living as selflessly and compassionately as possible, they experienced a transcendence that enabled them to affirm their suffering with serenity and courage, Ms. Armstrong writes. Her book suggests that religion is not meant to regrow lost limbs, but that it may help some amputees come to terms with their losses.

Whatever one’s take on God, there’s no doubt that religion remains one of the most powerful forces in the world. Today, millions of people will be giving thanks to Him — or Her or It.

Another new book, The Faith Instinct, by my Times colleague Nicholas Wade, suggests a reason for the durability of faith: humans may be programmed for religious belief, because faith conferred evolutionary advantages in primitive times. That doesn’t go to the question of whether God exists, but it suggests that religion in some form may be with us for eons to come.

I’m hoping that the latest crop of books marks an armistice in the religious wars, a move away from both religious intolerance and irreligious intolerance. That would be a sign that perhaps we, along with God, are evolving toward a higher moral order.

(Nicholas D. Kristof invites you to comment his article on his blog, On the Ground. Thank you)

(Church in America)


Britney Spears parodied by VenetianPrincess (Jody-Amy is her real name): just enjoy!


Bucurestii Adolescentei Mele

Maria Tanase in 1939

Am primit azi dela un bun prieten o poveste superba, despre Bucurestii anilor '50 si '60. O redau aici integral.

Pana pe la inceputul anilor '70, pe locul actualului hotel Dorobanti au existat doua localuri: Mon Jardin si Poarta Alba. Primul era un restaurant interbelic, cu loji de plus si ring de dans, iar vara cu o gradina faimoasa.

La Mon Jardin s-a cantat jazz chiar si in anii '50, cand acesta era considerat muzica decadenta. Din formatia de la Mon Jardin au facut pe atunci parte Sergiu Malagamba, Iancsi Korosi si Johnny Raducanu. A cantat in particular cu aceasta formatie Yves Montand, care in 1956 a intreprins un turneu la Bucuresti; unul rasunator, intrucat de aproape un deceniu nu mai venisera in Romania interpreti din Occident. Yves Montand a sustinut cateva concerte, iar dupa unul dintre acestea a fost dus la Mon Jardin, unde a ramas incantat de jazz-ul interpretat acolo si a cantat impreuna cu formatia. Frecventau in anii '50 Mon Jardin-ul criticii de arta Petru Comarnescu si Eugen Schileru, calamburgiul Oscar Lemnaru si multi alti intelectuali.

Poarta Alba
era o carciuma cu ciorba de burta si gratar unde se consumau bere si alcooluri distilate, inclusiv secarica, populara bautura dinanii '50. Intr-o seara a nimerit acolo si Maria Tanase. Era iarna si un taran din apropiere de Bucuresti isi priponise calutul cu care aducea marfa la piata la intrarea in local. Maria Tanase a intervenit pentru ca animalul sa fie ingaduit inauntru, la caldura. Acesta, ascultator, s-a lasat dus intr-un colt al carciumii si-a adormit cu capul sub masa stapanului.

Adio, mama! Asa era poreclita secarica! La Poarta Alba venea autorul versurilor cantecului Din bucata mea de paine care putea fi auzit in bodegile de periferie, si mai veneau vreo doi poeti de carciuma; specie de mult disparuta. Acestia isi multiplicau poeziile pe coli de hartie, si, dupa ce intrau in local, le imparteau clientilor asezati la mese. Dupa o jumatate de ora, poetul facea din nou turul meselor si isi strangea versurile. Unii musterii drept rasplata, ii trimiteau autorului ceva de baut: o halba de bere, o tescovina, o suta de rachiu sau de Adio, mama!...

Din bucata mea de paine
Am hranit un om si-un caine
Omul nu ma mai cunoaste
Cainele ma recunoaste

Versurile unui poet de carciuma puteau suna in felul urmator:

Eu nu-s decat un vagabond
Batut de vanturi si de ploi;
Sunt un gunoi
Dar, din an in an
Imi fumez pipa mea sub un castan.

Pe vremea dezghetului, cand galantarele si rafturile restaurantelor nu mai erau goale, Pastorel Teodoreanu sustinea in revista Magazin o Cronica gastronomica, iar Maria Tanase canta la redeschisul restaurant Continental de pe Calea Victoriei acompaniata de Faramita Lambru.

In pauza,cantareata mergea in bucataria localului sa fumeze cu sete doua-trei tigari, una dupa alta, impreuna cu instrumentistul, care tocmai isi instalase telefon si se furlandisea fata de personalul restaurantului sunand acasa. Intr-una din seri, intrebandu-si in receptor nevasta ce ii gatise, dupa primirea raspunsului, o indemna: Da' sa pui, fa, in tocana si-o foaie de dafin... si pune si nitel piper... Plictisita, Maria Tanase ii recomanda intre doua fumuri de tigara: Spune-i, ma, sa puna si niste rahat! Prompt, acordeonistul se executa: Doamna Maria zice sa pui si niste rahat,pentru ca vine si dumneaei la masa.

Un alt turneu al unui artist strain care a lasat urme adanci la Bucuresti, mai ales in cartierele marginase, a fost cel intreprins in 1958 de actorul si regizorul indian Raj Kapoor, protagonistul filmului Vagabondul Raj Kapoor a aparut si la noua televiziune - care emitea din 1957 – a inregistrat un disc la Electrecord cu piesa Avaramu din coloana sonora a filmului. Pe canavaua acestuia, lautarii au dat la iveala o manea care s-a cantat apoi ani de zile prin bodegile de la periferie:

Pe Soseaua Colentina
Trece Rita cu masina.

In anii 1959-'60-'61 nu prea iti dadea mana sa ai automobil. Omul bine cotat avea motocicleta si magnetofon Tesla cehoslovac. Motocicleta cea mai sic era importata din RDG, MZ, de 250 cm3, si Jawa (cehoslovaca). Mai exista Zundapp si BMW, unele cu atas, dar acelea erau din timpul sau dinaintea razboiului. La sfarsit de saptamana, bucurestenii cu motociclete plecau impreuna cu sotiile sau cu prietenele spre Snagov, Mogosoaia, Padurea Pustnicul sau pe Valea Prahovei. La petrecerile date in apartamente particulare, sambata seara, magnetofonul era un simbol de modernitate si inlesnire. In anturaje mai modeste, cu acelasi prilej, se puneau la patefon discuri cu Dorina Draghici, Nicu Stoenescu, Ioana Radu sau Mia Braia.Dupa discuri de patefon dansau si elevii din ultimele clase de liceu atunci cand mergeau in excursie la munte, scolile medii avand patefon in dotare.

In fostul local Modern aflat in capatul dinspre Calea Victoriei al strazii Sarindar s-a deschis in 1958 restaurantul Berlin, cu specific culinar german, decorat de catre un arhitect din Republica Democrata Germana. La etaj exista un bar cu taburete inalte, unde berea blonda Radeberger, imbuteliata in sticle de o jumatate de litru, era servita in sonde. Multe dintre restaurantele bucurestene fusesera rebotezate: Capsa devenise Bucuresti, de pilda. Athenee Palace isi pastrase insa hramul si-l pastrase si pe Petrica Johnson, barmanul de culoare de pe vremuri. La Capsa (tot asa ii zicea lumea) si la Athenee Palace venea noua elita intelectuala fidela regimului, aflata la loc de cinste intre privilegiati. In cele doua braserii mai puteau fi vazuti insa si scriitori interbelici straini de gratiile noului regim, precum poetul Ion Barbu, sau Pastorel Teodoreanu. Acesta din urma, putin grizat,intr-o seara iesind de la Athenee Palace, a scos o bancnota de cinci lei vrand sa i-o dea portarului - credea el - galonat si plin de fireturi, cu rugamintea: Adu-mi te rog, un taxi. Poetul il confundase pe portar cu un amiral venit la o receptie. Indignat, acesta si-a declinat identitatea, amenintandu-l cu arestarea pe poet. Atunci, adu-mi un vapor.

In apropiere de Athenee Palace, pe locul actualului Hotel Bucuresti, intr-un imobil prabusit la cutremurul din 1977 isi continua existenta, la parter si la primul etaj, Cofetaria Nestor, rebotezata Victoria. La etaj, cofetaria avea aspectul unei braserii elegante. O frecventau domni de pe vremuri, cu parul alb sau grizonat, imbracati pedant, unii arborand batista la buzunarul de la piept al hainei. Aici se serveau café-frapé si Mazagrin, cu paiul lipit de sticla brumata a sondei, bere germana, vermut italian, coniac indigen, citron pressé si oranjada... Specialitatile de cofetarie erau pregatite dupa retete vechi, adesea de catre aceiasi oameni din epoca anterioara instaurarii comunismului. Se serveau la Nestor profiterol, tort si merengue-glacé, inghetata simpla ori asortata cu frisca si langue de chat, Coube-Jacques, Krantz, Joffre, Parfait Marechal, prajituri Bibescu, carora ulterior li s-a spus Tosca, pricomigdale, alune de padure pudrate fin cu sare, cafea turceasca si cafea-filtru. La parter, pe langa bomboanele cu visine trase in ciocolata si fructele confiate, se vindeau, in cutii, fondante...

O braserie cu scaune inalte imprejurul barului fusese deschisa la parterul unui bloc interbelic de pe Bulevardul Nicolae Balcescu - noua denumire - care se invecina cu Biserica Boteanu. Intrucat veneau studenti de culoare,nu putini in Bucurestiul epocii, i s-a spus Katanga, porecla substituindu-i numele.

Ciao, ciao, bambina Primele doua congrese ale Partidului MuncitorescRoman se desfasurasera in Sala Ateneului. Apoi, ocarmuirea s-a gandit sa inalte o cladire anume pentru ele si asa a fost construita, la sfarsitul anilor '50. Sala Congreselor, cu o capacitate de 3600 de locuri, in spatele fostului Palat Regal. S-au demolat case vechi pentru ca noul edificiu sa fie inconjurat de o duzina de imobile dominate de un bloc turn cu 14 etaje. La parterul unuia dintre acele blocuri mai exista si azi magazinul Filatelia, inaugurat in 1960, iar in capatul opus, colt cu strada Stirbey Voda, la parterul altui bloc, s-a deschis tot atunci un restaurant-expres spatios, modern pentru acele vremuri, in care se putea lua masa de pranz compusa din doua feluri de mancare cu circa 10 lei.

Dupa ce in Sala Congreselor s-a tinut, in iunie 1960, al treilea conclav al partidului unic, au nceput sa fie proiectate aici filme, indeosebi premiere, i s-a zis Sala Palatului si din 1962 au inceput sa cante pe scena ei solisti straini. Intre primii, Domenico Modugno. In iarna lui 1962 Modugno a cantat aici Alleluia si cateva din compozitiile sale, Volare, L'uomo in frac, Piove, ramasa multa vreme in amintirea romanilor prin refrenul Ciao, ciao,bambina... A inregistrat si el un disc la Electrecord.

In acelasi an a mai cantat o celebra soprana peruviana de coloratura, Yma Sumac, apoi Claudio Villa, facand furori cu Un tango italiano. Era vremea muzicii usoare italiene - din 1964 Televiziunea Romana incepe sa retransmita Festivalul de la San Remo. Insa noul dezghet adusese cha-cha-ul, muzica latino-americana, concomitent cu bomboanele cubaneze (din trestie de zahar, colorate, in forma de inimioara) si twist-ul.


Mai adaug o amintire personala. In spatele blocului cu cofetaria Nestor de pe Calea Victoriei se afla o straduta, azi disparuta, inghitita de cladirile hotelului Bucuresti. Era o straduta fascinanta, cu casute mici, cu gradini mici de tot in fata fiecarei casute, si cred ca nu avea canalizare.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kazdy Den Odvahu (Evald Schorm, 1964)

Každý Den Odvahu (Courage for Every Day), by Evald Schorm: the Czech movie school of the sixties... a mix of poetry, sad humor, of fantastic and mere realism, a style that has some suggestions of baroque and a clear restraint in the same time; this mix makes those movies unique. They talk about everyday life in the Communist regime, without emphasis, without pathetism: young people trying to believe, trying to hope, discovering limits everyday, learning to take it easy, learning to give up, learning the dullness.

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 1/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 2/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 3/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 4/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 5/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 6/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 7/8
(video by mouchette12)

Každý Den Odvahu: Part 8/8
(video by mouchette12)




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Check This Out: Troop Decision To Be Announced Soon By Obama

Zoon Politikon)


Max Tzinman: The Mob Project

Says Max Tzinman, with my images I try to transform urban and natural landscapes, with their intrinsic, and sometimes contradictory values, to render a parallel, deeper reality. I am not a photographer or painter but an image storyteller. I am not trying to freeze the moment, but to render a continuously changing world. I am trying to push the viewer to think and feel: what comes after?, where is this going?, and sometimes even: how did we get here? Something is happening both before, and after that captured moment... I am building a parallel reality that moves, breathes, and lives as much as the everyday reality we know and experience.

(Contemporary Art)


Is India the Forgotten Partner?

Nicholas Burns in today's Boston Globe:

President Obama faces a classic diplomatic challenge in South Asia - how to balance a short-term need for progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan without losing sight of our equally important long-term ambitions with India.

The Obama administration is right to focus on fixing a faltering war in Afghanistan and shoring up a weak and unstable Pakistan. But it has been less attentive to one of the most important bipartisan achievements of the Clinton and Bush years - the creation of a long-term US friendship and partnership with India. Few issues will be more important for Americans in the next half century as the global balance of power shifts toward Asia.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington this week, US-India relations have stalled on some critical issues. Influential Indians complain the Obama administration is diminishing America’s prior strategic priority on India to avoid antagonizing regional rivals Pakistan and China. They worry the Obama team does not embrace the core conviction that India’s dramatic rise to global power is clearly in the US interest.

Some of this criticism may be misguided, if not premature. Obama cannot avoid making the Afghan war a priority. Indians should also not view every American initiative through a zero-sum lens. After all, Obama’s decision to make Singh the first state visitor of his administration is a positive symbolic gesture.

Still, relations between the two countries are strained by important differences on terrorism, climate change, trade, and, potentially, future sanctions against Iran. To be fair, India is a difficult and irresolute partner on some of these issues, particularly climate. But, Obama can act more vigorously to restore the energy on India left to him by his predecessors.

The president has an opportunity during Singh’s visit to present his vision of what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called US-India 3.0 - the third phase in constructing a US-India partnership. What should he propose?

First, India is focused on making a dramatic reduction in poverty among India’s 700 million poor. Singh has long called for a Second Green Revolution in India and believes the United States is uniquely capable of helping. Obama could offer assistance from America’s Midwestern land-grant institutions that were pivotal in achieving historic breakthroughs in Indian food production four decades ago.

Second, the president could build on common US-India strengths in education and science by proposing more significant cooperation in space research and environmental technologies that would play to the comparative advantage of our private sectors and the 100,000 Indian students in the United States.

Third, Obama should push for stronger military and strategic ties between the two countries. India is a natural military partner of the United States given our common interest in resisting terrorism in South Asia and beyond. Our navies and air forces, in particular, have trained and worked effectively together in recent years. Our defense ties will be transformed should India decide to purchase advanced American military technology to replace its aging and outdated Russian equipment.

Fourth, the United States should work more actively behind the scenes to urge India and Pakistan to restore their Composite Dialogue, reduce bilateral tensions, and commit to progress on the Kashmir issue. India must be more sensitive to Pakistani concerns over its involvement in Afghanistan while Islamabad should finally prosecute the terrorists responsible for last November’s reprehensible Mumbai attacks. As the United States is now the key power broker in the region, Obama is uniquely positioned to help nuclear-armed India and Pakistan avoid the nightmare fear of war that has bedeviled their relations since Partition in 1947.

Finally, as America looks to a future where China’s growing power will be a central challenge, building this new US-India partnership is fundamental to all we seek to accomplish in Asia. Stronger Indian political and military bonds with the United States, Japan, and Australia are the best way to ensure these democratic powers can balance and limit the potentially dangerous aspects of China’s rise in the decades ahead. And, in a larger sense, India can be our most effective international partner in tackling the daunting array of transnational challenges - climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, human rights, and pandemics, to name some - that are now at the heart of America’s global agenda.

Juggling short-term crisis and long-term opportunity is difficult in a complex and combustible South Asia region. But that is what Obama must now do more effectively as he welcomes Singh to Washington and puts his stamp on this pivotal relationship. He should embrace this moment to restore direction to our partnership with India that has been among the most positive bipartisan foreign policy successes of the last two administrations.

(Ambassador Nicholas Burns is professor in the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He was undersecretary of state for political affairs)

Zoon Politikon)