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Scene & Herd - Is the Iraq War hastening the remilitarization of Japan?

Don't Panic ... Your War Questions Answered

In addition to all that death, destruction and mayhem stuff, wars inevitably have weird side effects that almost nobody can anticipate.

For example, when the United States entered World War I, it's doubtful that many people listed "mass migration of Southern African-Americans to factory jobs in Northern industrial cities such Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, forever changing American culture" among their war predictions.

When the United States entered World War II, I don't think many people reacted by thinking, "Gee, this war not only will vanquish fascism, but will lead to a five-decade Cold War with the Soviet Union and an arms race in space that will put a man on the moon and give us the technology to mass-produce pens that can write upside-down."

And, seriously, who'd have thunk that one of the most prominent results of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 would be that rappers and soccer moms alike would start buying luxury civilian versions of the military Humvee?

In 2002 and 2003, when people were arguing for or against invading Iraq to topple Saddam, I don't recall anyone (myself included) pondering what effect the war would have on Japanese military policy. Nearly three years into the conflict, however, it's easy to see that the war in Iraq is indeed exerting influence on Japan's military strategy.

In a nutshell, Japan is creeping in the direction of remilitarization. It's a process that's been going on for decades. The Iraq War is simply speeding it up. Let me 'splain.

After World War II, pacifism was enshrined in the Japanese Constitution. Article 9 of the constitution declares that Japan will forever renounce the right to wage war or maintain a military. Although Japan does maintain a military-style security force known as the Self-Defense Force, the country is the least militarized of the world's economic powers. For decades, Japan's military budget has hovered around 1 percent of its gross domestic product. By comparison, annual U.S. military spending is 3.3 percent of its GDP. The United Kingdom's military spending equals 2.4 percent of its GDP.

While 1 percent of Japan's GDP is a lot of money, Japan's security force lacks basic military capabilities that Americans and Europeans take for granted. For example, if North Korea's Kim Jong-Il said that he was going to launch a missile at Japan from the roof of one of his palaces in exactly one week, Japan couldn't do anything about it but watch and worry. They have no military first-strike capability.

Japan has been able to survive while spending so little on its military because of its alliance with the United States. The U.S. bases nearly 50,000 of its soldiers in Japan and patrols the sea lanes around the country with the U.S. Navy. The United States also keeps Japan under what's called a "nuclear umbrella." The policy is, "If you attack Japan, you're attacking the U.S., too." In essence, the U.S. military is Japan's military.

But the economic and military rise of China and the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear power have started to make Japan feel insecure. Right now, Japan is rewriting its constitution. Though there is no chance that Japan will turn into the militarily aggressive monster that it was in the early 20th century, it's likely that the revised constitution will allow Japan's military to grow, both in size and scope of mission.

What does that have to do with Iraq? Well, it's simple. China and North Korea look at Iraq and think, "We have to make sure that we're well-armed enough to deal with an aggressive U.S. military." Japan, in turn, looks at North Korean and Chinese military buildups and starts to feel a bit under-gunned. The Japanese also know that, while their military alliance with the United States is in no danger of collapsing, the U.S. is interested in pulling some of its military manpower out of Japan so that it can better man its War on TerrorTM-related missions.

Add that all up and voilà — you've got a Japan that over the next couple of decades will probably re-emerge as a regional military power. And because we're more scared of an aggressive China than we are an aggressive Japan, its a process we're actively encouraging.



More By This Writer

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If you have time away from work for Independence Day, chances are one of these noun combos is an accurate summation of your holiday activities. Sure, there are variations. No doubt some of you will choose Boca burgers or drink wine, liquor, or soft drinks instead of beer. And some of you are smart enough to lather up with SPF 50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Menus and melanomas aside, my bigger point is this: Independence Day isn't the national day of historical commemoration or celebration it's supposed to be. Instead it's an "I found $40 in these old jeans"; a bonus day during which we're allowed to start fires and detonate explosives without ending up on a Homeland Security watch list. It's our national Sabado Gigante that, six out of seven years, isn't even on a Sabado.

The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

Andisheh Nouraee is the author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. Find him and the book at twitter.com/andishehnouraee."
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Menus and melanomas aside, my bigger point is this: Independence Day isn't the national day of historical commemoration or celebration it's supposed to be. Instead it's an "I found $40 in these old jeans"; a bonus day during which we're allowed to start fires and detonate explosives without ending up on a Homeland Security watch list. It's our national Sabado Gigante that, six out of seven years, isn't even on a Sabado.

The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

''Andisheh Nouraee is the author of'' Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom''. Find him and the book at [http://twitter.com/andishehnouraee|twitter.com/andishehnouraee].''"
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If you have time away from work for Independence Day, chances are one of these noun combos is an accurate summation of your holiday activities. Sure, there are variations. No doubt some of you will choose Boca burgers or drink wine, liquor, or soft drinks instead of beer. And some of you are smart enough to lather up with SPF 50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

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The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

Andisheh Nouraee is the author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. Find him and the book at twitter.com/andishehnouraee.       0,0,10    "4th of July 2020"  13068840 5696723                          Opinion - The Declaration of Independence Day "
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Monday July 2, 2012 10:14 am EDT
Fourth of July has devolved into a mindless national block party. Here's what we should do about it. | more...
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  string(3399) "During the week prior to Labor Day, the leading edge of the 9/11 10th anniversary media storm began pelting my DVR. So far, I've managed to stay dry. I'm making a point of avoiding the coverage.

The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

Secondly, I've already had my personal fill of "Look how bad this war screwed up America" introspection. Enough with the self-pity already. Instead, I think everyone could stand a few hours of TV devoted to the war's civilian victims abroad. How about a TV special devoted simply to figuring out how many Iraqi noncombatants died as a result of the U.S. invasion? Is it 122,000, as the website Iraq Body Count suggests, or is it more than 600,000, as the British medical journal the Lancet contends.

I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

More importantly, it's about time we stopped treating innocent foreign victims of our wars as if they're nothing more than eggs in our freedom omelette. They were real human beings with families who loved them as much as our families love us. We would be a better and safer nation if we could learn that lesson. 

Former CL staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. He blogs at AmericapediaTheBook.com."
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The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

Secondly, I've already had my personal fill of "Look how bad this war screwed up America" introspection. Enough with the self-pity already. Instead, I think everyone could stand a few hours of TV devoted to the war's civilian victims abroad. How about a TV special devoted simply to figuring out how many Iraqi noncombatants died as a result of the U.S. invasion? Is it 122,000, as the website Iraq Body Count suggests, or is it more than 600,000, as the British medical journal the ''Lancet'' contends.

I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

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''Former'' CL ''staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of'' Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom''. He blogs at [http://www.americapediathebook.com/|AmericapediaTheBook.com].''"
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The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

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I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

More importantly, it's about time we stopped treating innocent foreign victims of our wars as if they're nothing more than eggs in our freedom omelette. They were real human beings with families who loved them as much as our families love us. We would be a better and safer nation if we could learn that lesson. 

Former CL staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. He blogs at AmericapediaTheBook.com.             13062776 3947494                          Opinion - What can we learn from the 9/11 anniversary? "
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Wednesday September 7, 2011 04:30 am EDT
Ten years later, a TV terrorpalooza rings hollow | more...
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units."
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units."
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units.             13054842 2076921                          The last-ever Don't Panic!: Is Pakistan on the verge of collapse? "
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Tuesday September 7, 2010 09:11 am EDT

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andishehnouraee/4966908103/

My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq”...

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The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya! 

No. Wait. Upon further review, it turns out the war isn’t exactly over.

The combat troops are out, but there are still roughly 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq. Iraq still has the third largest foreign deployment of U.S. troops in the world. Afghanistan, site of the War On Terror™’s other big clusterf**k, has the most.

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(Pause for you to Google).

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The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya! 

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The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya!

No. Wait. Upon further review, it turns out the war isn’t exactly over.

The combat troops are out, but there are still roughly 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq. Iraq still has the third largest foreign...

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Article

Tuesday August 24, 2010 12:04 am EDT

As someone who had to turn on the closed captioning during The Wire, I totally get this.

The Associated Press:

ATLANTA — Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find...

| more...
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