With that said, I'm just now catching up on a few of the great links that came up over the last few days. The high points range from articles about General Petraeus to blog entries about Lady Gaga. A brief rundown:
- Sayyid Qutb can take a ride on a disco stick.
Andrew Exum (Abu Muqawama), made a few interesting remarks in response to an article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. Exum echoed Stephens' sentiments that the Islamic resentment towards the Western world--and the United States in particular--is not entirely motivated by American policies in areas such as Palestine. Rather, much of the anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, according to Exum, is a backlash against globalization and seemingly-omnipresent Western culture.
That means Lady Gaga and Her Royal Hotness Megan Fox.
Others remain skeptical. At Foreign Policy Online, Thomas Hegghammer noted that, while some anti-American attitudes in the Muslim world are a response to western "decadence", support for terrorist organizations is not linked to American culture. Rather, says Hegghammer, al-Qaeda's recruitment tends to swell during periods of perceived injustice in Palestine, as does violence directed against Americans. (Foreign Policy's Daniel Drezner also weighs in on the issue). Indeed, they attack us for our foreign policy, not for our disco sticks.
Of course, the real expert on this issue is none other than the Great Satan's Girlfriend, whose amusing combination of valley-girl talk, foreign policy, military analysis, and pictures of chicks has given her just as many web hits from the sexually frustrated denziens of Middle Eastern countries as they have from the staff at the Washington Post. (Yes, much like that song from the Cardigans, GSGF is a site that we all look at, yet never admit to.)
The GSGF responds to the Wall Street Journal:
"The American girl knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it."
Direct Hit! Fire For Effect!
- General Petraeus in Vanity Fair.
The first I heard of Mark Bowden's (Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo) Vanity Fair article on General Petraeus came in the form of several blog posts bashing the vignette (Attackerman, Ink Spots). Spencer Ackerman not only notes that much of Bowden's vignette seems ripped from Tom Ricks' The Gamble, but that Bowden fills much of the narrative with "sycophantic prose", crossing the line from journalism into legend-writing.
Granted, General Petraeus is quite an amazing person, and many of his exploits are the stuff of legend. He survived a bullet wound to the chest, only to leave the hospital a few days later, knocking out fifty push-ups on his way out the door. He also helped bring a wounded soldier out of a coma by shouting "Currahee", the cry of the 101st Airborne Division. Spencer Ackerman also readily admits to lauding his achievements. I'm certainly no better. In fact, I might have unintentionally contributed to the Petraeus mystique.
I've been getting quite a few visitors arriving from Mother Jones, specifically from an article by Nick Baumann. Baumann references a blog entry I wrote last summer, when General Petraeus was visiting my particular corner of the world: Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq. A few of us received word that the General's itinerary would take him through the dining facility (in typical military fashion, abbreviated "D-FAC"), and we positioned ourselves near the door to catch a glimpse of him. However, our informant seemed to not know the difference between a "D-FAC" and "D-Main" (the division headquarters, also at COB Speicher), where General Petraeus would actually be visiting. You can read the story in its entirety, but to make a long story short, we spent much of our time waiting for General Petraeus by re-wording all the Chuck Norris facts into General Petraeus facts.
Now it looks like someone actually did make a website of General Petraeus facts. Five hundred years ago, I'm certain students will think that Chuck Norris and General Petraeus single-handedly defended America from the ever-present zombie menace (Probably something like this).
To round-out the weekly update:
- Attackerman on Matt Gallagher's new war novel, "Kaboom". (A must-read for those frustrated with Army bureaucracy)
- Themistocles' Shade reminds us that the regular baseball season begins, linking to the best baseball movie of all time: The Naked Gun.
- And, finally, thanks to the US Naval Institute for allaying some of the hysteria surrounding "swarming" tactics (though I disagree), as well as giving us the following picture: