Archive for November 2012

Obama’s U.S. Foreign Policy or the Appalling Normalization of the Bush Legacy.

By Fernando Gómez Herrero, fgh2173@gmail.com

 

I am writing these lines a few days after the third and final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and a day or so before the election date of November 6, in which I will probably vote in my first election as an American citizen. I still want to keep electoral politics at some distance and not go up and down in the swing of it, but keep a somber mood so to speak, in the certainty of the thinness of the choice presented within strictures of global capitalism and the corresponding debilitation of the political universe that accompanies a certain normality that I still think it is still quintessentially American in the sense of keeping public discourse ever so docile and timid within such conventional horizon. It appears that the world is tilting towards Obama, with endorsements such as EL País for instance, and the moment appears ominous, the superpower is at its weakest, economically, politically, intellectually, rhetorically, I find, hence there is yet an effort towards pulling together no matter what, of fastening trembling knees, of keeping discourse disciplined, of holding tight the butterflies in the stomach, not quite willing to contemplate in public the abyss of a defeat, the bad Bush years still daunting and fresh in the recent memory of a disaster. And how many are there out there?

I felt I wanted to magnify somewhat the first event and I decided to go see it in the big screen at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge with popcorn and soda and a discreet, anonymous brunette who nearby occasionally dozed off during an exchange that promised and delivered no surprises. I still want to pause for a minute and engage with a certain political climate that has settled in the U.S. in the last four years with an eye towards such lack of surprises appertaining to the foreign dimension in truly explosive moments, mind you. Yet these foreign parts are typically routinely relegated to secondary status in the American elections, particularly when things are increasingly complicated domestically, to put it mildly. Why bother to look outside the house when the house is in such state of disrepair? Well, maybe you want to have a greater awareness of the houses out there. And the primacy of nativism over foreignness makes fleeting sense, but only initially, and never in an increasingly interconnected world mocking most if not all insides and outsides (check out the multi-directionality for best advances in professional life for re-assurances in these collective times of dire straits, and if itinerancy is certainly taxing, staying put is almost always worse).

The world of foreign affairs implies some kind of travel, if only figuratively. And geopolitics is one non-demotic word for the big game that superpowers will have to play. Yet, the world is somewhat kind of “there,” and “we” are here once upon a time safely caught up in between two big oceans and some attitude, call it perhaps exceptionalism, while meaning that  “we” were privileged humanity and that disproportionate superlatives flew naturally under the sun, the best and number one and all that, more often than not with precious little background knowledge of why, how or what. This appears less so now, and the world comes to us like it should with the tremendous, real force of the return of the repressed, not last, but on a first-come-first-serve basis, and un-American in its unrepentant glory and not necessarily in the subaltern position. It may come as an unpleasant surprise to realize that we were always part of the world and that we were always already part of the picture that had to be integrated into larger vistas inside which the U.S. was a portion, and not necessarily always good or healthy one.

The Obama moment means –with or without provocative discourse—that the U.S. will have to get used to having a more limited role in world affairs, to join the concert of nations more genuinely, while big processes of denationalization are taking place as we speak, and no doubt that some out there will take the reminder personal, what do you mean that America is not the best society humanity has ever wanted to emulate? So, hopefully certain vulgar political-unconscious right-wing Hegelianisms will get fixed along the way, also inside university precincts, not to mention an aggressive monolingualism that typically accompanies the belligerent profession of monochromatic supremacism increasingly difficult to sustain also in controlled environments, political and otherwise. But this ugliness will not die fast enough. It made discreet presence in the debate I am talking about.

Try to put some distance between certain gestures –for example the kid feeling Obama’s hair to ascertain some well-publicized camaraderie— and the implications of the first African-American President in the U.S. in relation to the sobering foreign-affairs record. What about putting a different face in the line of presidential faces against galleries of same fundamental policy of U.S. number one? A little change to guarantee that the things that matter do not drastically change? I do not know about you but I would rather emphasize the turkeys sacrificed in the Thanksgiving celebration, instead of raising one high in the air by the leg saved by the President, the exception that proves the rule. I wonder how we will look at the Obama years from the middle of the century against the legacy of the previous century that peaked the U.S. in the 1970s, at least according to Wallerstein. We are dealing with an exceptional individual as such, not coming from the mainstream of African-American political culture by birth, training, upbringing, reaching out the political pinnacle after incredible Bush erosion, but also a series of elements such as a white-middle-class upbringing, a crucial marriage to a more anchored African-American woman, “centrist” politics, careful calibration of what to say and not say about race politics, and no doubt intelligence and ambition, etc.

The string of exceptionalities must be reframed in relation to matters of (foreign) policy, since this is the matter at hand, contradicting previous statements and positions of the former Illinois Senator, but also in relation to the tremendous continuity at least since the Vietnam moment in a U.S. that, leaving McGovern behind, has not contemplated the real possibility of non-supremacy. I wish therefore to emphasize continuity over non-continuity and there never was any illusion about anything different with Obama. This must be put against the precious little dissension on the Democratic side, with particular notoriety among African-American sectors (I thoroughly endorse Fredrick C. Harris’s argument in the recent article titled “The Price of a Black President,” www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/the-price-of-a-black-president.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0). The worse the situation gets for your community, the more enthusiastic you become in your support within the modicum of political difference?

It is as though one has no option but to go to the dance and that you must dance and both girls are not particularly graceful or becoming, particularly after four years, but you are stuck, whether you like it or not, and there is nothing else to do, but dance and shut up. Who picks the music, the dance, and why should the dance be non-negotiable, etc., these are uncomfortable questions, also crucial, in mounting the unoriginal accusation of low expectations that I was willing to magnify with the big-screen public event non-debate between both candidates over U.S. foreign affairs, post-Bush but not quite through with him completely.  And the ex-president was not mentioned once, as though the name alone delivered bad juju. You could feel nervousness in the liberal audience at the Brattle Theatre, as though in an American-Idol type of setting, in which your candidate has to score points fast in easy one-liners, for example the celebrated mention of the bayonets, and mostly through firm demeanor, rather than eloquence of philosophies of geopolitics which will not be paraded in broad daylight in the American commons.

But such debates are not about debating fundamentals. There is a certain liberalism that is averse to such “fundamentalism,” which is bad word for others’ rigidity and lack of modernity. Yet, one lesson: the sitting President owns what the precedent President breaks. And this is, I would argue, where we are, in fact this was the strongest endorsement in the New York Times editorial apropos Obama: he has done a good job considering what preceded him (“Barack Obama for Re-Election,” www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/barack-obama-for-president.html?pagewanted=all). Had we but world enough and time, this coyness, lady, would be no crime… Well, there is apparently never world enough and time, and our time is accordingly such coyness apropos crime, “state terrorism” is the strict nomenclature, and try to catch this nomenclature flying around official pronouncements or conventional media. This is the Foreign-Affairs endorsement portion:

“Mr. Obama and his administration have been resolute in attacking Al Qaeda’s leadership, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. He has ended the war in Iraq. Mr. Romney, however, has said he would have insisted on leaving thousands of American soldiers there. He has surrounded himself with Bush administration neocons who helped to engineer the Iraq war, and adopted their militaristic talk in a way that makes a Romney administration’s foreign policies a frightening prospect.

Mr. Obama negotiated a much tougher regime of multilateral economic sanctions on Iran. Mr. Romney likes to say the president was ineffective on Iran, but at the final debate he agreed with Mr. Obama’s policies. Mr. Obama deserves credit for his handling of the Arab Spring. The killing goes on in Syria, but the administration is working to identify and support moderate insurgent forces there. At the last debate, Mr. Romney talked about funneling arms through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are funneling arms to jihadist groups. Mr. Obama gathered international backing for airstrikes during the Libyan uprising, and kept American military forces in a background role. It was smart policy.

In the broadest terms, he introduced a measure of military restraint after the Bush years and helped repair America’s badly damaged reputation in many countries from the low levels to which it had sunk by 2008.”

It is a shabby piece of writing that appears written in haste. I would argue this is not incidental but quite proper and generic, casual and light-touch, in relation to the dirty record on foreign affairs that we are dealing with (“we know the situation is bad, but we are still recovering after Bush,” so to speak, a kind of strong hangover or bad aftermath, better kept under the carpet). The killing of bin Laden is presented as resoluteness. The Iraq was has ended. The policy on Iran is tough. The handling of the Arab Spring is good. US supports moderates in Syria, his policy was background role in Libya. Restraint, therefore, is the supreme virtue, of what if not of military power? Is there anything of substance in this series of vignettes? It is more lack of intelligence and disorientation than sobering recollection and becoming wiser after truly trying years. But building what upon what premises? Do Empires ever mount gracefully from the high horse of morality and civilization? Tough journalists of the Robert Kaplan type can only wish apparently for a “prolonged and graceful exit from history as a dominant power”? A more damning line, historically from a sympathetic ally: Americans will pick the right choice after having tried all others. Is this where “we” are?

There were a lot of broken things in the Bush legacy and these things remain broken, to the point that this ghost has still been moving around this election, not mentioned once by name in the last debate, and the individual in question has been virtually kept in the closet, also among Republicans (some of his cabinet members have been on the other hand actively positioning themselves for what is probably the most significant election in four years). Obama owns accordingly the Bush legacy and the political system, it appears, allows for no substantial discontinuities, certainly in the field of foreign affairs not really willing to contemplate publicly the post-superpower abyss, at least not when you are seeking American votes. It is sobering to note that the talk of decline has become a certain commonplace in noted academic environments, selectively, however. But this is not for public consumption.

I will say it like this, the 9/11 attacks forced a retaliation that zeroed in on Iraq and Afghanistan, the debacle of international law that ensued did tremendous damage to the U.S. standing and reputation in the world, the lesson remains unlearned and unacknowledged, the official thing to do has been to more or less talk the more politic talk of walking out of this double mess, while conducting target assassinations and keeping stealth operations, drones and the like, with Guantanamo still to this day open. A North-Carolinian saying, if you paint the lips of the pig, it is still a pig. So pig it is, with Bush or with Obama. Romney makes little difference. And who would expect something different from the geopolitical scene?

I put it to you that Obama represents the managerial virtue of damage control in relation to the Bush erosion, without marking or making a genuine cut (if it is broken, you own it, as the Colin Powell line had it, and his double endorsement of Obama has to be understood expansively, allegorically in relation to the performance of this Caribbean black, not quite black in his own auto-biographical words, selling the war he claimed he did not believe in, but only retrospectively). The identity crisis of an Empire is genuine in doubting itself now more than ever. What does it mean to be a superpower? How to go about it? What does it mean to do war here or there? Who wants it? Can we do it? Do we want it? Can we afford it? Etc. But it is clear that a certain critical intelligence must never remain within the managerial horizon operationalizing discretion, measured discourse, a deliberate quiet, even insipid way of going about things, against a more aggressive (Texan) demeanor immediately responding to a dramatic moment. Obama is this more tacit, tactic, tactful, if not tactile, conventional management of the crisis of the U.S. Empire and some self-appointed liberal sectors avoid addressing these issues, they would rather sweep them under the rug, as though importance and foreignness did not interpenetrate each other meaningfully. Imagine something bad: how do you think things would go, should a second attack of comparable proportions happen?

The emphasis must be placed, I still think, on the genuine lack of substantial difference between Democrats and Republicans in our conjuncture in the field of foreign relations (the recent passing of George McGovern may put in relief the ideological distance left behind in public discourses in the U.S., currently utterly incapable of mounting sustainable anti-war demonstrations of substance, European positions made clear by leading newspapers are fundamentally in the same knot tie with the U.S.). But foreignness has still come to be relegated to a secondary or tertiary set of issues at best, despite the involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with Iran constantly in the bull’s eye. We appear to have returned to some reprovincialization of the U.S. not seeking vigorous intercourse with a messy world when the easy-listening music is of internationalization, flatness and interconnectivity. The longest wars remain largely neglected, currently with hardly a mention in the newspapers, and the fit of absent-mindedness acquires collective proportions. The manufacturing of consent denounced by perspicacious critics is only part of the story: what if the general population, in a troubling combination of little knowledge and thick ignorance sometimes, is unwilling to compromise the subordination of other societies to its will, even their destruction, while playing the double standards, international law is for others, etc.? The debate did nothing to stir some of the monumental issues facing the U.S. in world affairs in the last two decades and there was little sense of a minimum projection. It can be argued it brought them to a quiet point of indifference between dimming positions of intersecting irrelevance. The debate proved to be a comfortable one for Obama with the Republican candidate doing something of an occasionally more emphatic “tough talk” or thick-brush approach to the mappa mundi that paints the U.S. influence receding, the Middle East as chaos, Israel as the reliable partner, Iran as unruly, bad guy, China as potentially bad competitor who does not play by the rules, and Latin America as a good, still under-utilized business option, and little else. Foreign ears could easily pick up the jingoism and native ears have heard all of that before many times over, and such type of supremacist discourse is still American apple pie and sandwiches of peanut butter and pickles, also for Obama who does this, as mentioned, ever more tactfully (it is funny to witness how some comments go along the speculation line of what the President thinks as though they had access to the thinking process in the manner of an omniscient narrator in a short story written by them, obviously). The general feeling I had was instead a distressing one, that there was really nothing to talk about. The poverty of discourse went largely unquestioned, no surprise either, in the television screens, the dearth of critical receptivity of the event was the norm, the generic NPR coverage delivers commentators largely repeating what the politicians have said, and one exemplary piece of misleading front page among many, by the Boston Globe: “Laying out 2 visions for US role: Romney, Obama clash on wars, the Mideast, China in final debate (Oct. 23, 2012). Two?

The main idea I got underlined in the brief panel before the debate moderated by Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source –Theda Skocpol was to be sorely missed—was the things the candidates cannot say to the American public, the proverbial “elephant in the room” that cannot be stroked, much less whipped and kicked out of its quiet slumber, so that the big mess ends up breaking up the china, which is apparently what you do no want to do if what you want to do is to appeal to voters. Politicians are like salesmen, so the sentence goes, and no one wants to spoil the “party” with some bad news. So, if the china is broken, look on the bright side, but where is it? And for how long? The working assumption:  the cynical saying of “the customer is always right.” Hence, the talk has always to be courageous, determined, admit no error, and the occasional superlative about being “number one,” that is becoming increasingly artificial and unpalatable, but still dangles like the tin can in the tail of the cat running away from pertinent-issue meaningfulness about how the superpower has been doing business with the rest of the world (the very U.S. and rest of the world partition is worth underlining).

The debate was accordingly, I found, more about elephants in the room than anything else, and the critical discourse has to learn to deal with such poverty of conventional discourse and this is not an easy thing. Are you clear about how to undermine non-discursivity with your most careful prose? One comment was that, perhaps after the Reagan moment, Americans do not really want from their top politicians fierce diagnosis of bad twists and turns, or ferocity about shortcomings and mistakes and even less unflinching diagnosis about rampant pathologies that did not start with the Bushes. Apparently what we want is some feel-good pick-me-up no-matter-what and off we go, the proverbial American resourcefulness, but where and to do what in what part of the world that is still put out there like we were not part of it? The mounting suspicion is that we may well be witnessing the shattering of a certain frame of the world that is too daunting for collective contemplation, for example, Western frames no longer holding forth and U.S. number-one society of the world may have been the story your (grand-)parents may have swallowed whole because they did not know any better, but no more, and we are left with Obama and Romney in this election.

 

There was no mention of Guantanamo.

 

The killing of Osama bin Laden is presented as one undisputable asset for Obama. Dare discuss this publicly as a purely intellectual point or matter of breach of international law. Even worse, make the situation reciprocal (would you like it if they came inside our borders and, etc.?). The Republican candidate used the unvarnished verb “to kill” side by side the delightful “bad guys.” The president is more polished than that, but that is in essence what the U.S. is doing selectively. Or should one add allegedly?

With good tone and demeanor, Obama defended that the U.S. is on the side of democracy in relation to the Arab Spring. This is stated matter-of-fact with a straight face and with no need for greater context and specificity and it is the conventional narrative that the U.S. is a force for good in the world, which American Presidents must subscribe to. This is the cardboard language that routinely gets described in the papers as idealistic and positive, whereas skepticism gets called “being negative” and “cynical.”

 

Iran was mentioned in relation to preventing access to nuclear weapons.

 

The alliance with Israel was affirmed by both candidates.

 

The official line is that the U.S. has left Iraq and has concentrated on Afghanistan, with an exit plan in the near future. This is presented as homework, things one has to do without any attempt at any explanation of hows and whys.

 

Drones, no problem. Stealth operations, no problem. This is the normality that does not merit linguistic “rendition.” I use the term advisedly, and I am willing to bet that an immense majority of Americans will not understand, much less contextualize, the terrible euphemism in relation to the Guatanamo normality.

 

There was never any policy detail and this debate was largely a high-school-level canvas in which positions came about as more coincidental than divergent. Most comments tended to emphasize the mannerisms of both candidates rather than the substance of the policy proposals. There is a para-language dimension to the debates that political pundits and party people will surely take into account (I remember reading that debates do really change little the voters’ landscape). In general, the incumbent defended the greater safety after the previous administration, and greater collaboration and cooperation with friendly nations, and the opposition candidate tried to emphasize the straying of the collaboration and the greater dangers, and the charge was to the lack of a grand strategy.

This grand strategy is veritably the defining Lacanian lack that is also crux of our times, it appears. One could put it in Wallersteinian language thus: nomothetic regularities and predictabilities are not forthcoming and we are in the midst of “cultural-studies” idiographies or “messy humanities” almost completely anarchic beyond “our” grasp. I recall the image of the philanthropic ogre in Octavio Paz’s sociological essays in the mid-1980s, the ugly creature of little intelligence and ever so clumsy gestures one has to pay attention to because the big and ugly creature can do damage. I can also recall the extinct dinosaur of small brain in the provocative critique of Area Studies by Harry Harootunian (“Tracking the Dinosaur: Area Studies in a Time of “Globalism,” included in History’s Disquiet, Columbia UP, 2000; pp. 25-58), and this narrow academic intensity can also travel to larger vistas: Obama styles himself as taming these ugly creatures, somewhat, after some bad behaviors in the recent past. Yet larger parameters or criteria appear lacking. What big units to consider inside these continentalisms? What interplays? How does the U.S. make itself recognizable, predictable and most importantly respectable in all of this apparent chaos? One facile answer: as the self-appointed, self-righteous Empire of Goodness, typically in solipsistic discourse fenced-in with brutal collapse of perspectivism and cut-off method that closes the door on avatars of yesterday. A certain amorphous or diffuse globalism was ever-present in the foreign-affairs debate and this is also, I would defend, burning actuality in academic environments undergoing their own battles in the various teacups. Still, there is a clear sense of restlessness, of things not quite going all right and of increasing dissociation of sensibility accordingly. One does not quite know what the right mood is or should be, as I have heard some Obama team members inside Harvard precinct enunciate, which must put the previously broadcast enthusiasm of four years in some stark relief, retrospectively.

 

U.S. foreign policy has no apparent big room in which to maneuver and the present moment is one of explicit lack of grand strategy –post-George-Kennan say, there has been no grand syntheses, or at least they have not been operationalized, with various attempts such as Huntingtonian clash of civilization, Fukujama’s “end of history,” sold as some form of the world wants to become American, and this norm of a certain right-wing vulgar-Hegelianianism may still find its protected quotas in official gatherings, but it has not aged well. I recall William Kristol not making a big fuss about the lack of big theory, as though ad hoc responses developed reflexes and made limbs nimbler and more realistic Realpolitik actors can do without corsets and bayonets if you wish. Still, lots of people have chased this one big successful theory down that could be adopted by imperial state-structures in the last three or four decades, and Joseph Nye’s “soft power” was one recent example, mocked by Republicans of the Robert Kagan stripe, with little patience for nuancing the bi-syllable noun that matters in relation to its expansiveness or growth, or geopolitics, the big game about which the officials of the lone standing superpower appear to recede publicly. There is little appetite or gusto for big vistas, historical and future visions of what the U.S. officially intends to do, and there is little effort to take a look at the immediate past, as though it was better to keep it behind closed doors. Both candidates failed to deliver an intellectual debate. I am fond of recalling Stanley Fish’s humorous self-mocking and not only about the academic profession, “aim low!”

It is thus this little, this non- and even anti-intellectual little that I wish to underline as non-surprising in relation to the third and final presidential debate that I wished to follow with some care. It is an appalling framing of foreignness in relation to an Americanness that is still not learning lessons other than supremacy, or perhaps this is not the type of hard endeavor that is not for public consumption (there is the humor-filled expression “leading from behind,” in relation to events in the observant role of the U.S. in the Arab Spring). Perhaps some indisputable good thing is out there happening in the relative modesty of the rhetoric, and yet power is something that everybody wants admittedly, and that you must get it if you really want it, think of the abstractions of knowledge, influence, recognition, also good sex, and we appear to inhabit some kind of waiting-room, some kind of limbo, not quite being certain about the delineations inside which Obama’s U.S. presents a clear profile against previous decades.

There is a bit of the Kagan’s famous dichotomy of Mars and Venus, Europeans are more postmodern Venus-like creatures, whereas the U.S. is still more modern and more bellicose, more like Mars, in the dealings with the general mess of world affairs and there is a perceived reluctance to engage in these, also epistemologically. There is projection of a reticence to intervene in foreign nations and the whole discourse of nation-building is kaput. And yet foreign intervention is still tried to be justified in terms of women’s –soft—issues, when everything else appears to have been tried and died some time ago, and the litany is that women are more compassionate, Democratic vote, men are more war-like and Republican, and we are there to help the women, etc. I must say that I do not recall one single meaningful line about the current world map that put the U.S. in strong relief. This diffuse, fuzzy quality is comparable to the squeegee nonfigurative paintings of Gerhard Richter, currently enjoying world-market appreciation. Some of this, I would argue, is what happens in the world of geopolitics, at least from my observation platforms. And for how long?

In the meantime, I am detecting a certain return of “Eurasia” to center stage, almost in the magical-realism of a fetish of foreign parts in the García Márquez’s great short story of the “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” (“the handsomest drowned man in the world”). But this is beautifying a world that is emphatically not literary or poetic. I am thinking of recent books such as Zigniew Brezinski’s Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power (2008), Ken Calder’s The New Continentalism: Energy and 21st Century Eurasian Geopolitics (2012), and Robert Kaplan’s The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (2012), claiming learning lessons from historians such as Braudel. There is a certain return of critical attention to geography and to history after some short-term “holidays.” Europe is taken for granted in a certain way, meriting intellectual emulation, and yet not putting itself up to a dominant position, kind of a Derridian supplemental position to a daunting Asia. So one could argue that there is a certain streamlining of Eurocentrism that will linger around a couple of decades, at least. Such is the fundamental epistemological structure inherited in the U.S., officially and these matters of knowledge production do not quite change fast and furious like the ephemerality of fashion shows in the metropolis. Hence, the challenge will be to try to see where this is going and who is going with it. It was only half a century that Europe was center stage of global preoccupations so we have come a long way to assert its provincializing, now one has to walk that talk, since provincializing the United States goes along with it. I will have to write about some of these changes in some detail soon taking into account these and other texts. I only now wish to anticipate the increasing assertiveness of relatively marginal environments, for example Turkey, and I have Ahmet Davutoglu in mind, Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory (Lanham: New York, 1994), in what effectively sounds desirable Kuhnian paradigm-shift push in ways that are not conventional in the geopolitical American sense of the term before, during or after the said debate. A certain myth of exceptionalism, of a certain America different and distant, safe, prosperous and apart from world affairs, is thus increasingly turned around and shot through by its opposite, sheer comparativism with other nations, but also emotional and intellectual fragility, lack if you wish, of historical stamina and experience, and now it is when the thinness of it will come at a cost, and debilitating distancing if not active disconnection from the world at large (“The Opiate of Exceptionalism,” by Scott Shane, Oct. 19, 2012; www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/sunday-review/candidates-and-the-truth-about-america.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0; there is the mention of Mark Rice’s blog “Ranking America,” mentioned in the article is easy, sobering reading for pinching quickly some balloons). But these unpleasant truths will not be typically get publicized politically.

Where to find solace? Where are the good Americans? This is one: William Christie. His memorable line: “Seeing beaches full of ladies in white gloves applauding mock attacks on mocked-up Vietnamese villages and someone calling out the body count and people applauding, it was pretty grotesque.” Mr. Christie is responsible for some of the best Baroque music out there. We will have to explore it in some detail in some near future (“Opening the Gate to a World All his Own,” www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/world/europe/william-christie-opens-garden-gate-to-private-world.html?pagewanted=all).

Our moment: no body count of “them” in these foreign wars, surgical stealth operations, secretive commandos, drone actions and targeted killings, no ladies in white gloves at least caught on camera clapping hands about graphic attacks, but some ladies out there have been promoting Neo-Wilsonianism, and there is lots of support for our troops strategically broadcast, with precious little discourse, against a certain background of “woman-talk” on the part of U.S. officials in their handling of the Arab World, and the former senator who opposed the war now “owns” two broken war situations, but also the systematic violation of international law in the legacies of Iraq and Afghanistan, and no one has resigned for the atrocities of Guantanamo, still open, and of Abu Ghraib, and the erosion of civil liberties in the U.S. continues to this day with no end in sight (“Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent, by Glenn Greenwald,  www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/24/obama-terrorism-kill-list), so would you still like to tell me good things or no things at all about the favorite candidate to win the next election while you still vote for him in the minimal space of a significant difference as far as foreign affairs are concerned. “Disposition Matrix” is us in the home of the brave, and outside, and vice versa.

Any comments, suggestions, get in touch, fgh2173@gmail.com