Friday, November 14, 2008

State of the blog and the human condition

I never intended this blog to be exclusively about foreign affairs. If I had, I would have given it a different title, but I used my own name reserving the right to write about whatever happened to interest me at the time. While my primary interest has been foreign affairs since 9/11, I had a goal in mind, and that goal has been reached. I believed the weight of evidence was on the side of Islamism being a serious threat to the U.S. and the rest of the West; so hoped that the Democratic administration that succeeded the Bush administration, would be willing to carry on that war. Yes, the Left is a potent force in America nowadays, but I hoped it wouldn’t be able to withstand all the governmental forces in place that demand that we behave responsibly in Iraq, Afghanistan and in support of our allies against Islamism. I have heard enough from Obama to believe he will carry on that war.

So I feel free to turn my attention to other things. Actually, one of those “other things” is still on the subject of foreign affairs, just not affairs that involve Islamism. I have an ongoing interest in the European human condition. I am presently reading Henry Kissinger’s Diplomacy, and Tony Judt’s Postwar, A History of Europe Since 1945. And as I mentioned yesterday, I feel free enough to take up some literary subjects, and have been attempting to resume Bolano’s The Savage Detectives.

I am somewhat compulsive about writing and study. I have a hierarchy that I’ve adhered to for years. If I can write, then I do that first. Second would be a serious work of history, philosophy, etc. Third would be a serious writer of some sort (Balono at present). Fourth would be some “no-brainer” fiction if my mind doesn’t seem up to any of the first three on my hierarchy. Fifth would be “no-brainer” movies, when my mind seems almost at the point of shutting down. But thanks to Netflix I have become almost totally soured on movie-watching. I am about to cancel my subscription.

In regard to my fourth category, I am presently reading Nevada Barr. She is a former park ranger with a talent for describing the National Parks she’s worked in. She’s created a character, Anna Pigeon, who is a tough and tenacious law-enforcement Park Ranger who solves some sort of mystery in each novel – after several harrowing experiences in which Anna is beaten, wounded, or left for dead.

Aside from my disappointment with modern movies, what could I have to complain about? I’m reading a couple of serious books. I’m making slow progress through a serious novel, and my attention wanders, I can resort to whatever predicament Anna Pigeon has gotten herself into. Perhaps “complain” is the wrong word, but everything I’m reading at present is depressing. I’m up to page 386 of Diplomacy, and Kissinger is describing Roosevelt’s struggle against the American isolationists. It is depressing to realize how prevalent this view used to be. Of course we still have Pat Buchanan, but he isn’t a major force. While not pacifism, it worked the same way pacifism did in that it left us ill prepared to fight our wars. We had to tool up in a maddening hurry to take on the Japanese, and we were ill-prepared to take on the Germans even though our generals didn’t understand that.

I’m not so far into Judt’s Postwar, A History of Europe Since 1945, only on page 20. He is laying the groundwork for what is to follow: “When the Red Army finally reached central Europe, its exhausted soldiers encountered another world. . . The Germans had done terrible things to Russia; now it was their turn to suffer. Their possessions and their women were there for the taking. With the tacit consent of its commanders, the Red Army was turned loose on the civilian population of the newly conquered German lands.

“On its route west the Red Army raped and pillaged (the phrase, for once, is brutally apt) in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Yugoslavia; but German women suffered by far the word. Between 150,000 and 200,000 ‘Russian babies’ were born in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany in 1945-46, and these figures make no allowance for untold numbers of abortions, as a result of which many women died along with their unwanted fetuses. Many of the surviving infants joined the growing number of children now orphaned and homeless; the human flotsam of war. . . .”

I haven’t returned to Balono’s depressing beatnik-type poets since describing them yesterday, which leaves only Anna Pigeon, but she is now on Ellis Island to be near her sister, Molly, who is in a coma because she smoked too much and never exercised and may die. She befriends a guard who takes her up to the top of the statue of liberty one night when a party boat woke her. The next day a ten-year old boy comes crashing down to the ground dead. She looks up and sees the guard. A young boy standing nearby said the guard pushed him, but he probably jumped . . .

Poor Roosevelt, poor “Russian babies,” poor Mexican visceral realists, poor Anna and her sister and the little boy who probably jumped . . . I might as well continue reading about the Islamists.

And in the midst of writing this, I got an email from one of the pundits I occasionally read, Dick Morris. He is worried that Hillary may be appointed Secretary of State. Actually that wouldn’t worry me. She understands the importance of combating the Islamists. If Obama and Clinton can get along, she would be a better choice, in my opinion, than some of the other names I’ve heard. Dick Morris doesn’t think they will be able to get along.

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