The Walrus Blog

Monthly Archive: January 2007

Attack Ads

Are the Conservative attack ads newsworthy? There is little information in them, they are not interesting, and they could not be more predictable: Mr. Harper attempting to define Mr. Dion before he can do it himself. The Conservatives are hedging their bets, they’ve got the money, they enjoy pre-emptive strikes, and why not? An election campaign might begin in eight weeks, and if you can, why not begin campaigning now? But is this a news story? The answer is oblique: the ads became one, the lead story, in fact, still. As a result, the Conservatives don’t have to worry about what placement their ads get during next weekend’s Super Bowl – pre-game, half time, the critical moment, it doesn’t much matter. The “message” – that Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is weak and indecisive, that he did nothing about the environment, that he is the leader of a scandal ridden party – is already out there. The Liberals will have to respond, and, as such, consider the electoral wheels in motion – a fabricated campaign based on a fabricated story.

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Afghanistan: The Second Theatre

On January 13, 2006, a US air strike hit the village of Damadola in Bajaur, Pakistan. Eighteen people were killed, and Pakistan’s government lodged a formal protest claiming that the attack violated its sovereignty. Bajaur is one of seven regions bordering Afghanistan, and is part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). While Pakistani security officials said they supported the US air strike, the formal denunciation marked a turn in the US-Pakistan partnership in the fight against terrorism in the region. In a show of force and territorial authority, using helicopters and ground forces, on March 1 the Pakistani military attacked the village of Danda Saidgai near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, another FATA region. The locals fought back with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers. Nearly fifty suspected al Qaeda fighters were killed. (more…)

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The “Iraq Report”

Reports written by committee tend to produce middling or confused recommendations, tepid prose, and, almost inevitably, end up on the shelf, there only to be retrieved by future policy analysts searching for a different approach or, more simply, old information to fill out a new report. Opinions differ on whether The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward – A New Approach is destined for such a fate. The co-chairs and lead authors, James A. Baker, III and Lee H. Hamilton, and their many colaborators – expert working groups, domestic strategists, Middle East strategists, members of the US Congress, journalists, the intelligence community, and dozens of others in good standing along Washington’s beltway and cocktail circuit – certainly hope not. Available on the Internet, and therefore presumably being read in the cul-de-sacs of Baghdad as in caves dotting the Afghanistan-Pakistan border but worth purchasing as a slim and handsome book), the “Iraq Report” is, in fact, a highly interesting read. It is also a testament to democracy in action and an encapsulization of seething anxiety within the United States regarding its place in the world.

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