Not to bum you out, but…

This has been a good week for spotting our old seminar speakers, but not always in the, you know, good sense.

Juan Cole was one of them. He’s a Middle Eastern scholar at the U of M who blogs here and is widely interviewed. I thought this interview with him in our otherwise pretty limp alt-weekly was must reading, particularly if you’re looking for a reason to stick your head in the oven:

There is a problem, and I don’t think people have any idea how much of a tightrope we’re walking in the Gulf region. If Iraq did go to a conventional civil war; if it drew Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey into it; if you have generalized guerrilla war among countries; and if they started hitting pipelines the way they’re hitting pipelines in Iraq, you could really send the world into another Great Depression.

MT: We were going to ask you about the worst-case scenario.

Cole: That’s the worst-case scenario. The three of us standing in a breadline.

MT: And what do you think is the likelihood that could occur?

Cole: I would give it 5 percent. I don’t think it’s a high probability. It’s out there as a possibility.

There’s the worst-case scenario: Full-on civil war in Iraq triggers worldwide depression. I hit Cole’s blog today. I knew the news would be horrible, but it was worse than that:

Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss.


Off to Chicago. Try not to dwell on the bad news.

Posted at 9:01 pm in Uncategorized |

22 responses to “Not to bum you out, but…”

  1. joodyb said on February 22, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    And when Juan Cole uses the term apocalyptic, kids, he really means it.

    From the Dan Murphy story (quoting Cole) in XnSciMonitor:

    “(Samarra’s) history is also wound up with an age-old Sunni-Shiite rivalry, as well as with the apocalyptic beliefs of many Shiite clerics, like Sadr. The shrine contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasan al-Askari, the 10th and 11th imams of Shiite Islam who died in the 9th century. Legend has it that Askari’s son, Muhammad al-Mahdi, was born in the city. It is one of four main Shiite pilgrimage sites in Iraq.

    “Mahdi was the 12th and final of the Shiite imams. Legend has it that he was ‘occulted’ by God before his death, and will return to earth to bring an era of justice and peace, followed by the end of the world. Sadr’s militia is named for this imam.

    “Sadr and his followers are convinced that the time for the Mahdi’s return is close. ‘He disappeared into a supernatural realm from there … so this will be interpreted as an attack on the imam al-Mahdi, an attack on their guy; so for the Sadr people it’s an apocalyptic moment,” says Cole. “There will be reprisals.”

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  2. alex said on February 23, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Well, if this ends up costing the neocons their stranglehold on American politics it will have been worth it.

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  3. brian stouder said on February 23, 2006 at 8:37 am

    “…it will have been worth it.”

    This reminds me of that scene in Dr Zhivago where Omar Sharif is aboard the impressive red train as it rolls through a destroyed village – and he argues with the red guard commander who ordered the ‘pointless’ destruction. The Red commander says there had been local support for the opposition, and the destruction of the village will make the point that supporting them is unwise; whereupon Sharif ‘pointedly’ says something like “It was YOUR point- but it was THEIR village�?

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  4. ashley said on February 23, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”

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  5. Dwight The Troubled Teen said on February 24, 2006 at 9:39 am

    “Well, if this ends up costing the neocons their stranglehold on American politics it will have been worth it. ”

    Yep, yep, yep.

    Millions die. World in depression. Economic crisis in America…

    And if that’s what it takes to stick a thumb in the eye of Dubya, SO BE IT!

    Just freakin’ brilliant. And these are the same pinnacles of intellect who believe with every fiber of their being that Republicans are the party of hate. A-mazing.

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  6. alex said on February 24, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Just trying to look on the bright side of an otherwise dismal situation is all, Dwight. Really, I wish none of this had to happen. But then I and the majority of America didn’t vote for that dickhead in the first place.

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  7. Dwight The Troubled Teen said on February 24, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    From the pages of Dwight’s Dictionary:

    LIBERAL: (Def 6.) One who doesn’t understand the difference between “parity” and “escalation.” Someone who feels inherently entitled to always be “one up” on any display of opposing values.

    Never, never, never in eight years of President Clinton did the rhetoric ever get as personal, or as personally directed at him as an individual, or as a solitary avatar for the success of a set of values not universally shared.

    Our president a flawed man, Alex. Regardless of any comparison to his predecessor, he’s simply a flawed human being.

    But it is not his flaws that eat at you, Alex. It is the fear that his values, heretofore dismissed and NOW tested on a grand scale, will definitively prove more effective than your own. The more you fear, the more you hate. The more success engendered by this administration, the more you fear.

    I can only hope that your hatred for our president continues to grow and grow. Your hatred is a barometer which indicates that a safer world awaits us all.

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  8. basset said on February 24, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    y’know what I’m hearing in this thread? same thing we get every day on talk radio and cable tv… “I’m right, you’re wrong, my tribe is morally superior to yours, shut the **** up, you don’t deserve a say in this.”

    and that is what passes for discussion here in 2006, no matter if you’re lefty, righty, in betweeny, on the radio, on the net, or in the break room at work. there seems to be no discussion any more, no cooperation, we used to talk in this country but now we just proclaim.

    now here comes the inevitable flood of abuse from both sides…

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  9. Danny said on February 24, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    basset, you varmint, I’ve had about enough of you and your moderate, reasonable views. Please put a sock in it immediately. 😉

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  10. alex said on February 24, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    Not to one-up or escalate, Dwight, but you really think liberals are unkinder to Bush than conservatives were to Clinton? Evidently, as a troubled teen you’re too young to remember.

    When you’re older and wiser perhaps you’ll also understand the difference between hatred and contempt. I’d suggest you look them both up, but with a better dictionary.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on February 24, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    Talk about corrupt,
    Clinton looked you in the eye on national t.v. and flat out lied to you.( I did not have sex with that woman) I look at it this way, Neither party gives a rat’s ass about me here in Auburn In. So I have to take care of myself and ignore Washington. The main differance in the party’s, to me seems the Dem want to take my money and give it to everybody else and the Rep just want my money.The Rep will tell you we are going to screw you and the dem say We are going to help you then turn atound and screw you.

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  12. alex said on February 25, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    I never cared about that lie. It’s a question that should never have been asked. Is anyone asking Bush who all he’s fucked since he took vows with that shriveled-up piece of work he married? Of course not.

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  13. basset said on February 25, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    I must be losing my touch… last time I posted in a political thread someone said they wanted me dead, along with everyone else like me. now they just run right past me and keep quacking like I wasn’t even here. Gonna wreck my self-esteem if this keeps up.

    and the question, guys, is not Hillary or Laura… it’s Ginger or Mary Ann. That and the name of your favorite Beatle provide a good thumbnail personality profile.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on February 25, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    True he has never been asked that question,
    but I can bet the answer is none, and why call Mrs Bush names? What has she ever done to you? it only makes you Libs seem small minded and petty.

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  15. Dorothy said on February 25, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    I can’t stand W but I think the smartest thing he ever did was marry Laura. She’s the only tolerable partner in that marriage.

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  16. Joe Kobiela said on February 25, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    Why do you hate W? What has he done that other presidents both Dem and Rep havn’t done in the past? Clinton was the most corrupt Pres there was and you think he could do no wrong. Kennedy had a little problem called the bay of pigs where he invaded a country, not to mention Vietnam, Johnson escaladed the war in vietnam, yet no one talks about that.
    Just what is it? His look? the way he talks? or that fact that the dems could not come up with some one to beat him? The libs say they are for the (blue coller man) yet can only run a guy that is a multi-millionair? Give me a break Kerry did not give a rats butt about me or you. He was in it for him.

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  17. alex said on February 25, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Sorry, Basset. I generally know better, in fact suck it in all the time working as I do in the Fort. You’ve shamed me for giving in to my baser impulses. I’ll try to do better.

    By the way, are you a LaOtto Basset descendant? The Bassets of LaOtto were bigtime abolitionists and charter members of the Wesleyan church there. The place was known as Simon’s Corners before 1880 or so. Why they renamed it for Otto von Bismarck (and so oddly — LaOtto) is anyone’s guess.

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  18. mary said on February 26, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Joe, I think we have very different ideas about what corruption means. Bush and his cronies are world class. Clinton had Whitewater, which lost him money. Clinton got blow jobs from a silly intern, Bush lied about going to war. He looks us in the eye and denies that. I don’t think any of the sexual adventures Clinton had killed thousands of people or cost billions of dollars. I think George Bush is corrupt in the most evil, cynical sense. He uses religion and patriotism to fuck the country and the world. Lying cheating husbands with questionable real estate deals are small potatoes.

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  19. basset said on February 26, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    didn’t know about LaOtto Basset, I use the name only because the basset hound is kinda my totem animal…

    never even been to the Fort except once on the way from Detroit down to Indy. pulled off the interstate to eat, got turned around, and ended up at the gate of the old Zollner Piston plant. hmmm, NBA history right there in front of me.

    I just got a little frustrated with the level of discussion recently, if I want to hear that kind of thing I can just turn on talk radio. “you libs,” “why do you hate W,” “your hatred for our president,” “shriveled-up piece of work,” so on, so forth, nothing new, nothing convincing, just another place for the angry to vent.

    and I thought we were doing better than that on here.

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  20. alex said on February 26, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Thought perhaps it was your surname, Basset. These are people of interest in my historical research; apparently they didn’t stick around in these parts for long. Sort of like the Pistons, the Berghoff, Nance and anything else here that was ever any good.

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  21. Joe Kobiela said on February 26, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    I am guessing you do not really like it here. Just wondering why you still live here? Family? Job?
    not a flame, just wondering.

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  22. alex said on February 26, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    To the contrary, Joe, I love it here. I live in a place of natural beauty that would be unaffordable almost anywhere else, and this is where my roots are. No denying I’m dissatisfied with certain aspects of life here, but as I see it life’s a bunch of tradeoffs no matter where you live.

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