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Monday, March 18, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"For the United States, the focus on domestic affairs is compounded by an emerging strategic shift in how the United States deals with the world. After more than a decade of being focused on the Islamic world and moving aggressively to try to control threats in the region militarily, the United States is moving toward a different stance. The bar for military intervention has been raised. Therefore, the United States has, in spite of recent statements, not militarily committed itself to the Syrian crisis, and when the French intervened in Mali the United States played a supporting role. The intervention in Libya, where France and the United Kingdom drew the United States into the action, was the first manifestation of Washington's strategic re-evaluation. The desire to reduce military engagement in the region was not the result of Libya. That desire was there from the U.S. experience in Iraq and was the realization that the disposal of an unsavory regime does not necessarily -- or even very often -- result in a better regime. Even the relative success of the intervention in Libya drove home the point that every intervention has both unintended consequences and unanticipated costs.  The United States' new stance ought to frighten the Israelis. In Israel's grand strategy, the United States is the ultimate guarantor of its national security and underwrites a portion of its national defense. If the United States becomes less inclined to involve itself in regional adventures, the question is whether the guarantees implicit in the relationship still stand." (STRATFOR)


""King Abdullah II of Jordan leads one of the smallest, poorest and most vulnerable Arab nations. But that does not stop him from looking down on many of those around him, including the leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as well as members of his own royal family, his secret police, his traditional tribal political base, his Islamist opponents and even United States diplomats. resident Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has 'no depth,' King Abdullah said in an interview with the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, to be published this week in The Atlantic magazine. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is an authoritarian who views democracy as a 'bus ride,' as in, 'Once I get to my stop, I am getting off,' the king said. And he said President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is so provincial that at a social dinner he once asked the monarchs of Jordan and Morocco to explain jet lag. 'He never heard of jet lag,' King Abdullah said, according to an advance copy of the article. The king’s conversations with Mr. Goldberg, an influential writer on the Middle East and an acquaintance of more than a decade, offer a rare view of the contradictory mind-set of Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world as he struggles to master the upheaval of the Arab Spring revolts. Seldom has an Arab autocrat spoken so candidly in public. King Abdullah appears humbled and even fatigued by the many challenges he failed to foresee when he inherited the throne 14 years ago, describing himself before coronation as a 'Forrest Gump' in the background of his father’s long reign. In contrast to his father, King Hussein, King Abdullah promises to move Jordan closer to a British-style constitutional monarchy, and thus to stay ahead of the Arab Spring wave." (NYTimes)


""How did this unlikely situation come to pass? Obama and Netanyahu spent 2011 and 2012 in a staring contest, and Netanyahu blinked. He blinked because he seems to have realized the limits of Israeli independence. A core component of Israeli national-security doctrine holds that no regional adversary should be allowed to gain control of a nuclear weapon. A second component is to avoid getting on the bad side of the U.S., Israel’s main benefactor and diplomatic protector. These two ideas came into conflict over the Iran nuclear issue, and the relationship with the U.S. has, at least provisionally, won out ... Obama cleverly put his thumb on the scale by dispatching American generals and intelligence officials to Israel, where they painted nightmare scenarios for their counterparts about the possible consequences of an Israeli strike. Partly as a result, Netanyahu and his former defense minister, Ehud Barak, found themselves without the support of many of their national- security officials at crucial moments. For public consumption, of course, both American and Israeli officials say that their governments see eye-to-eye on Iran. Both Obama and Netanyahu oppose containment -- the idea that the West could acquiesce to a nuclear Iran while checking its aggression -- and both have threatened to use military force." (Jeff Goldberg)


"Top Condé Nast editors who were looking for a clear answer on what exactly Anna Wintour’s expanded job entails did not get it Friday morning after their first audience with the new supreme pontiff. The anxious editors filed into the fourth floor auditorium at 4 Times Square for a routine state-of-the-kingdom meeting that had been scheduled far in advance of the announcement Tuesday of Wintour’s new title. These meetings are typically a rehash of the publishers’ annual retreat in Florida — executives toss a few key figures and factoids, chief executive officer Charles H. Townsend rallies the troops and everyone leaves early for the weekend. But this gathering was the first since the Wintour news and editors expected some clues about the perimeters of her new, exalted purview. Wintour, as is her wont, did not comply. Her brief remarks, which followed Townsend’s, were boilerplate. She told editors she’d help them with their jobs, even if they had not particularly raised their hands for the assist. Of course, Townsend had made it clear earlier in the week that the editors still reported to him, not to Wintour. 'It was strangely undramatic given the magnitude of the appointment,' said an attendee ... 'Maybe she plays a huge role. Maybe she’s a figurehead. Who knows?'' (WWD)


"Questlove is in a large dressing room backstage at Carnegie Hall, getting his Afro picked out before going onstage to lead a concert honoring the music of his all-time favorite recording artist, Prince. His mother is sitting beside him, beaming at her boy. Back when Quest, now the Roots drummer and Jimmy Fallon bandleader, was a teenager, she and his father only listened to Christian radio and behaved like 'the black Ned and Maude Flanders,' he writes in his upcoming memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. When she found Prince records in his room, she would throw them out. 'When Prince’s 1999 came out,' he writes, 'it touched off a saga that lasted half a decade. I would say, conservatively, that I purchased that record eight times between 1982, when it first came out, and 1987, when I stopped getting on punishment for having it.' The Carnegie Hall concert falls in the middle of a sort of ad hoc Prince festival in Questlove’s life. He hosted Prince March 1 on Fallon for a performance of 'Screwdriver,' one of several great new songs (Prince may be preparing the release of a new album, and  has also sent a new theme to his friend Tamron Hall’s MSNBC NewsNation). Then, the following Wednesday, came a dress rehearsal for the Carnegie show at City Winery, which felt like a full-on concert in an unlikely space, with almost everybody scheduled for the Carnegie show hanging backstage, swapping Prince stories as Quest sat behind the drum kit as bandleader. The day after Carnegie Hall, in Quest’s Friday NYU class 'Topics in Recorded Music: Classic Albums,' he would deconstruct Dirty Mind with his students—talking through the three-hour seminar about how the album challenged the nature of funk while borrowing from porn. Then, Saturday, the professor would fly to Minneapolis to play with members of the Revolution in an annual benefit concert. If Prince is a musical god, then Questlove has made himself into the Pope of Prince­land." (NYMag)

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