27 September, 2007

Links and Categories

If you are reading Hunting Monsters, look to the right. I have tidied the categories somewhat and updated my links.

Regarding links, I have decided to delete all links to blogs that do not have serious IR content, even if they link to me. Some of the ones there are only just hanging in, but as Hunting Monsters does not really have a major IR content these days I can afford to be generous.

It's later than you think

Student harangues politician; student is then dragged from the meeting by policemen, subjected to electrical shocks, and charged with trying to incite a riot.

This was in the United States of America. The incident is reminiscent of the bundling out of a Labour Party conference in 2005 of a delegate who heckled the then foreign secretary (and his subsequent detention under anti-terrorism legislation when he tried to re-enter the hall).

12 September, 2007

My Inner Librarian

I have attached keyword labels to all Hunting Monsters posts, and put these labels to the right on the Hunting Monsters front page. The next step is to rationalise these keywords.

Pot. Kettle.

"He's a man who is a propagandist and is not a scholar."

Thus speaks Alan Dershowitz, who when not advocating the legalisation of torture, is a man always ready to heap vitriol on anyone with whom he disagrees. He was commenting on the recent resignation from DePaul University of Norman Finkelstein. DePaul had previously denied Finkelstein tenure, following a campaign against him by Dershowitz. The Dershowitz-Finkelstein love-in has being going on for a while now, with Finkelstein's recent book Beyond Chutzpah being largely a riposte to Dershowitz's The Case For Israel. Part of Finkelstein's claim was that Dershowitz had plagiarised elements of his book from Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial; Finkelstein had originally made his representation by exposing that book as fraudulent and plagiarised.

I can't claim any great familiarity with Finkelstein's work, nor can I comment in an informed manner on his suitability for tenure in DePaul. My suspicion, though, is that Finkelstein is being punished not for unscholarly writing but for taking on one of the giants of his profession, and that he was denied tenure not on academic grounds but because he was trouble.


Roundup is a potentially interesting new blog, in which some Tracer Hand fellow comments on stuff going on in the world. I will add it to Hunting Monsters' links if it does not prove timewaster.

The most recent post is about Pantsyr... I wonder are they anything to do with Manpads?

08 September, 2007

Farewell Spy School

I have handed in my thesis.
Now I just need to find a job with one of the world's more forward thinking intelligence services.

02 September, 2007


More on Belgium: Belgium doomed?. Nicholas reckons that Belgium will survive the current crisis but has possibly terminal problems in the long run, as all the old hands from pre-federal days who broker compromises are coming to the end of their lives.

One great thing about Belgium is that the country has an east-west orientation, but the national divide runs on a north-south axis. So if Belgium splits in two we will be left with two long and thin comedy countries.

I hope Belgium does not split up, as I have a sentimental fondness for the place, based on it being a country of comics, rich food, and tasty beer. Its weirdo dysfunctionality is also appealing in an I'm-glad-I-don't-live-there kind of way. I also like the way Belgians are all very clear that regardless of what language they speak, they are neither Dutch nor French. I wish its leaders would cop themselves on... can't they just get along?

I need to get out more

I am reading this book by Amin Maalouf called "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes". Last night I had a great anxiety dream, about how my thesis needs a last minute change to discuss the impact of the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate on Palestinian semi-presidentialism.

01 September, 2007

Belgium To Split?

I have been reading on blogs that Belgium is about to split in two or something. Maybe they will have a huge war and FRONT 242 will reform and release a concept album about it all, just like LAIBACH did with the former Yugoslavia.

Polish elections

There are elections taking place in Poland later this year. The last elections were held only two years ago. These early elections have been triggered by the collapse of the governing coalition, with Self-Defence and The League of Polish Families dropping out of the coalition dominated by the Law & Justice party (Law & Justice is often abbreviated in English to its Polish initials, PiS).

The last round of elections saw parliamentary and presidential elections take place in a short space of time. They produced the unusual result whereby two twin brothers came to dominate Poland's politics, with Lech Kaczynski becoming the country's president and Jaroslaw Kaczynski the leader of the largest government party (and subsequently the prime minister). The Kaczynskis then proceeded to govern in a manner that appealed strongly to their natural supporters, while simultanaeously convincing many other observers of the country's politics that they are a pair of boorish fuckwits.

It is funny noticing how international sentiment turned against the twins. Around the time of their elevation, a lot of international commentators were saying things like "they may be a pair of ultra-catholic weirdos, but they do seem to be serious about stamping out the corruption and cronyism that have bedevilled Poland since the transition". Since then, these commentators have been increasingly struck by the Kaczynskis' love of picking fights with international actors (Germany, the EU, Russia) for no obvious gain except to make populist appeals to Polish public opinion. A certain amount of schadenfreude has greeted the collapse of the governing coalition and the calling of early electons, with people expecting that this will mean an end to the terrible twins. Expectations of the twins' political demise are perhaps premature. There is an interesting article by Derek Scally in today's Irish Times, suggesting that the Kaczynskis remain popular with a large section of the Polish population. PiS could still poll strongly in the election, particularly if the vote turns into a highly polarised contest between PiS and a coalition led by the country's former communists. Even if PiS is hammered in the elections and a new "left" government takes office, we will not have seen the last of the Kaczynskis. Jaroslaw will no longer be prime minister, but Lech will remain as president. Polish presidents have considerable powers, and it would be interesting to see how President Kaczynski manages to deal with a hostile government.

Open Democracy

People have been bigging up Open Democracy. It is one of those websites which carries articles by noted people about stuff happening in the world.

Some recent articles include:

Cyprus’s risky stalemate by Fred Halliday, a handy primer to what's been happening over the last while in Cyprus, reminding me yet again that letting (Southern) Cyprus join the EU in advance of a deal on the island was an act of most dreadful folly.

Arab Christians: a lost modernity by Tarek Osman, on the retreat of Arab Christians from the mainstream of their countries. People tend to forget how many Christians there are in the Middle East, with Egypt having a Christian population of some 15% and Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon all having substantial and ancient Christian communities of their own.

Indonesia: the biofuel blowback by James Painter. All that biofuel shite is leading to farmers in Indonesia being kicked off their land so that car people in Europe and North America can keep on driving. Mentioned in passing is the threat to the Orangutang's continued existence by the turning of jungle into palm oil plantations.

The recurring anniversary of wilderness by Jim Gabour, an evocative article on what New Orleans is getting up to these days.

Open Democracy has its own RSS feed: http://www.opendemocracy.net/xml/rss/home/index.xml