10.19.2004 | J.E. D'Ulisse | International Affairs, Interviews & First Person, Letters From Abroad | 2 Comments
The Japanese have fallen in love with this city because of a near unlimited supply of extraordinary sea food, because of its pizza (the best in the world), because of the cheap, hip clothing and cafes, and -- don't let the teenagers riding Vespas haphazardly on jam-packed sidewalks fool you -- because Napoli is possibly the most laid back place in the world, and the Japanese really need to relax.
"I would sleep in the back of the truck as my father drove down, dodging the Israeli tax police. Through the night he would stop, sell a chicken and butcher it. All night driving, selling and killing chickens, and I would sleep in the pickup, surrounded by them. In the morning we would be back in Gaza and I would go to school. We did this every night for five years."
Ramallah is full of lingerie shops. Ergo Ramallah is full of children.
Despite a security apparatus that had half the country spying on the other half and each other, like every other nation in the bloc, its totalitarian regime tumbled at the first signs of weakness.
08.18.2004 | J.E. D'Ulisse | International Affairs, Interviews & First Person, Letters From Abroad | 9 Comments
Disapproval of beheadings is expressed to me incessantly, since I am the room's representative of the West. "This is not Islam," says one of the secretaries. "I know," I reply from my culturally aware up-on-high. "No I mean it's really not. It says in the Koran that if you kill an animal you should do it with one stroke of a sharp blade."
08.11.2004 | J.E. D'Ulisse | International Affairs, Interviews & First Person, Letters From Abroad | 2 Comments
The soldiers are afraid and it is written on their faces: Does this person have a bomb? Or a piece of a bomb to be put together in Tel Aviv? Will the next bomb that goes off in Jerusalem have passed by me? The mistake they make here might not kill them, it could kill a family member instead. Still you can only feel fear full on for so long before it's all just boredom.
Nader on Israel -- "The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington. The Israeli puppeteer meets with the puppet in the White House, and then moves down Pennsylvania Avenue and meets with the puppets in Congress, and then takes back billions of taxpayer dollars."
One photo every American should see is that of Reagan emissary Don Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand before calling him "friend." His mission: to tell Saddam that while the U.S. would officially condemn his gassing of the Kurds, we still considered Saddam our boy against Iran. Mr. President, do you ever think of this when using the "gassed his own people" line over and over?
A decade ago, Kofi Annan, then head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Agency, stood by as 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered. Is history repeating itself in the Sudan?
The graffito that says the most about Italy's relationship with the United States is a message I saw in a few parts of the city: "Americans, Go Home."
In Bombay, you had novelist Arundhati Ray coming out with "Debating imperialism is like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?" No wonder Clinton cancelled on the Spanish sequel.
Now, remember when Defense Sec. Rumsfeld drew a distinction between "torture" and "abuse," and initially shrugged and joked about the photo evidence from Abu Ghraib? That's also explicit Administration policy, because of our new Most Torture Isn't Torture Doctrine. Drawing on a mail-fraud statute for a definition of "good faith" and health-care legislation to define "severe pain," the Defense Department analysis concludes infliction of physical suffering isn't torture unless it's specifically intended to cause pain on the order of organ failure, amputation, or near-death. I have to conclude that stabbing or shooting a prisoner, in a manner not specifically intended to cause organ failure or the loss of any other critical bodily function, would be just dandy.
In a recent issue of The Spectator, columnist Rod Liddle averred that everyone would be much better off if Saddam were still in power. Not even as vehement an American critic of the Iraq War as Howard Dean ventured such an opinion on this side of the Atlantic.
Photographs of the newly released captives embracing one of the clerics who'd helped negotiate their release were treated with vituperative contempt back on the island. Their desire to continue working in Iraq was silenced by widespread disapprobation by Japanese who saw such sentiments as inconsiderate and ungrateful. As one Japanese official put it, "if they really hate Japan, I want them to defect to Iraq."
"The Armenian is no longer imploring. He now demands, with gun in hand." ... In Turkey, a century-old pattern has reasserted itself, as a secular leftist-nationalist resistance has been replaced by its more violent radical Islamist counterpart.
The disaster of Abu Ghraib is a product of this administration, perpetrated by men and women under its command, aided by a civilian-contractor system championed by Secretary Rumsfeld. The resignations of senior Defense Department officials, up to and including Secretary Rumsfeld, are in order, because ultimately their policy contributed to the shame wrought on the military uniform and the pain suffered by the detained Iraqis.
About 50 German and Italian prisoners were paraded about naked, splashed many times with ice water, and slapped around.
Now that Bush has told Americans that we owe Don Rumsfeld our thanks, I want to thank him especially for bringing Schindler's List-style random shootings to our own prison camps. Not enough people give him credit for bringing recreational sniping to our possibly uniformed/possibly private-contractor prison guards.
In the event Bush chucks Rumsfeld overboard, as if he's the equivalent of Richard Nixon's felonious yes-men H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman at the height of Watergate, he's certain to lose this November's election. Obviously, that's the objective of Bush's detractors, a fact the president is well aware of.
Having failed to seize the moment for unification, the political, legal and economic problems posed by the island nation are legion. The French, long hostile to Turkey's membership aspirations, are hoping that the Greek-Cypriots do their dirty work for them.