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Barack Obama recently severed all links with Robert Malley, an informal Middle East policy adviser, after the latter “confessed” that he had met with the Palestinian group Hamas. And in a recent interview, Obama said, “We don’t do nuance well in politics and especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy…It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, ‘This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,’ and that’s something they’re hopeful about. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel’s security.”
This prompted Luca Menato, my favorite correspondent from overseas, to write:
The problem, according to Obama, is that America doesn’t do “nuance well.” Is it possible that it could be a little worse than that?
Can you confirm for me that America really believes that it is reasonable that its leading presidential candidate can be politically blackmailed over an alleged link with a Palestinian faction whose number of armed militants is likely to be smaller than the number of known victims in the latest Chinese earthquake? Your great unwashed consider it appropriate that this paragon of personal independence and virtue ducks & dives and feels compelled to fire a colleague (Robert Malley) only because that person is accused of “talking” to a group that for all its many sins is in fact the legally elected representative for its sorry constituency. I wonder, if he had just admitted looking at pictures of Hamas, would he have just got a suspension?
All I can say is that America must truly be the most f****d up, insecure and paranoid superpower I’ve ever had a very bad dream about … Peace be with you, god willing (shalom, inshallah) …
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”