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Monday, March 14, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition force into Bahrain to help the government calm the unrest there. This move puts Iran in a difficult position, as Tehran had hoped to use the uprising in Bahrain to promote instability in the Persian Gulf region. Iran could refrain from acting and lose an opportunity to destabilize the region, or it could choose from several other options that do not seem particularly effective. The Bahrain uprising consists of two parts, as all revolutions do. The first is genuine grievances by the majority Shiite population — the local issues and divisions. The second is the interests of foreign powers in Bahrain. It is not one or the other. It is both. The Iranians clearly benefit from an uprising in Bahrain. It places the U.S. 5th Fleet's basing in jeopardy, puts the United States in a difficult position and threatens the stability of other Persian Gulf Arab states. For the Iranians, pursuing a long-standing interest (going back to the Shah and beyond) of dominating the Gulf, the uprisings in North Africa and their spread to the Arabian Peninsula represent a golden opportunity. The Iranians are accustomed to being able to use their covert capabilities to shape the political realities in countries. They did this effectively in Iraq and are doing it in Afghanistan. They regarded this as low risk and high reward. The Saudis, recognizing that this posed a fundamental risk to their regime and consulting with the Americans, have led a coalition force into Bahrain to halt the uprising and save the regime. Pressed by covert forces, they were forced into an overt action they were clearly reluctant to take." (STRATFOR)


"The Iraq war hawks urging intervention in Libya are confident that there's no way Libya could ever be another Iraq. Of course, they never thought Iraq would be Iraq, either. All President Obama needs to do, Paul Wolfowitz asserts, is man up, arm the Libyan rebels, support setting up a no-fly zone and wait for instant democracy. It's a cakewalk. Didn't we arm the rebels in Afghanistan in the 80s? And didn't many become Taliban and end up turning our own weapons on us? And didn't one mujahadeen from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, go on to lead Al Qaeda? So that worked out well. Even now, with our deficit and military groaning from two wars in Muslim countries, interventionists on the left and the right insist it's our duty to join the battle in a third Muslim country. 'It is both morally right and in America's strategic interest to enable the Libyans to fight for themselves,'  Wolfowitz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece. You would think that a major architect of the disastrous wars and interminable occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture." (Maureen Dowd)


"Forces from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will enter Bahrain to help the Bahraini regime quell unrest, according to a number of media reports, including by Bahrain's Alyam newspaper, known for its close links with the ruling al-Khalifa family. The reports come one day after clashes occurred between Shiite protesters and police in the capital, Manama. Meanwhile, Bahraini state media reported that the Independent Bloc (a parliamentary bloc of the Bahraini parliament) asked Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to enforce martial law to contain the unrest. These reports suggest that foreign intervention in Bahrain, or at least the possibility that the Bahraini military is taking over the security reins, is imminent. Such a move would mean the regime is getting increasingly concerned with Shiite unrest, which does not appear to be subsiding despite calls for dialogue from Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. Troops from the United Arab Emirates are reportedly expected to arrive March 14. Al Arabiya reported that Saudi forces have already entered Bahrain, but these claims have yet to be officially confirmed by the Bahraini regime."  (STRATFOR)


"High on the calendar was the Public Prep Network's first fundraiser which was held at the Monkey Bar with Caroline Kennedy as the guest speaker last Wednesday. Joel Klein made the introductory remarks. Also among the guests were Joan Ganz Cooney (founder of Sesame Street), Majora Carter, Liz Abzug, Boykin Curry, Laura Weil, and Holly Peterson. Public Prep is a non-profit organization that develops single-sex elementary and middle public schools. Currently they are operating three single-sex schools here in New York ...a couple of weeks ago my friend Christy Ferer invited me to a screening at Soho House of The Lottery, a docu-film about a charter school in Manhattan called the Harlem Success School. The screening was presented by Coralie Charriol and Dennis Paul, a married couple who have decided to make it their (non-profit) business of informing the public on serious, pertinent public issues by screening documentaries that can tell the story effectively on a subject." (NYSocialDiary)


"Torrential rain? Gridlock? Even (now steady yourselves) a Towncar shortage? All these indignities were encountered by potential Frick-goers on Thursday night, and all were promptly managed. Because when it comes to partying in (arguably) the most opulent museum space in New York, there is very little to derail this crowd. To the Young Fellows Ball! As the heroic, happy few sedans lingered outside, taxi doors opened and cascading layers of tulle, silk chiffon, and duchess satin spilled out onto the slick pavement. Inside, a guard stood by the door and grabbed one reveller whose Manolo flew out from underneath her. Damn marble! It seemed like everyone was coming from somewhere. Trisha Gregory: back from Milan. Lydia Fenet: back from her honeymoon. (Tahiti and New Zealand, parachutes were involved, be jealous.) Cena Jackson: back from the office. Everyone else: back from Bronson and Andrew's place." (Fashionweekdaily)


"The head-spinning amount of movies screening at SXSW this year is enough to make even the nerdiest film nerds feel overwhelmed. Our HP Mobile Park neighbor Lindsey Weber helps you digest it all with this handy-guide to 10 must-see movies this week." (Papermag)


"It always struck me as odd that Japanese bookstores have not just earthquake sections, but entire aisles of titles devoted to tectonic upheavals. After Friday's big one, I'm now a believer in quake-ology ...
Economist Nouriel Roubini has a point when he says the earthquake came at the 'worst time' as Japan struggles to reduce its massive debt. Let's go the other way for a moment, and explore three potential silver linings from this quake. One, it's a wake-up call. Japan dithered for years as deflation deepened, wages stagnated and public debt exceeded gross domestic product. Even after China's economy blew past Japan in 2010 and a Standard & Poor's downgrade in January, officials in Tokyo remained as paralyzed as ever. The days before Friday's quake saw Japanese politics at its worst. Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, a 48-year-old who had been tipped to be the next prime minister, was browbeaten into resigning over a clerical error. His campaign received 250,000 yen ($3,053) since 2005 from a South Korean woman residing in Japan. By Friday morning, before the quake, the opposition was digging up similarly petty dirt on Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Such complacency and distraction is no longer an option. Japan's leaders must now roll up their sleeves to rebuild after the strongest earthquake on record. And they must do so without the luxury of massive borrowing. As Roubini, co-founder of Roubini Global Economics LLC in New York, says, a 'shock like this' complicates reining in the world's biggest public debt." (Bloomberg)

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