Friday, 13 November 2009

Corruption corrupted


The furious devout drench is with us. Sky like smoke. Road like glass.

I listen to Gordon Brown on Afghanistan as I drive in to work. For the first time in a long time, apart from the first question where, to a three word question, 'Are we winning?' his answer bulldozes on for about three-hundred breathless words (how can he not see how counterproductive this is?) I think he is making his case well, or well enough. He argues that we are fighting the Taliban because of their ideological links and close collaboration with Al Qaeda who are currently holed up in the mountains of Pakistan under attack by the Pakistani army. He talks of extremists rather than Islamist extremists or jihadists but we broadly know what is meant. He talks of building up Afghan forces until they can take over the fighting and policing, and links it to reducing corruption. He mentions heroin, he mentions the village-based societies of the country, he talks of Karzai as having a desire (questionable to many, I imagine) to reduce corruption and he talks about pressurizing other members of the alliance to provide more troops.

Nothing unexceptionable here. However, he doesn't mention the threat to Pakistan's nuclear weaponry, which must be the main worry, almost too big a worry to be bringing to public attention; he seems surprised and slightly outraged - as he surely cannot be - that the Taliban are fighting a guerilla war rather than ranging armies in direct conflict; and he nowhere makes mention of the nature of Taliban rule as a possible reason for fighting them.

And that last point is the mootest. To supporters of the Iraq War it was about WMD, about establishing a secular democratic state in the region, and about liberating Iraq from the universally admitted horrors of Saddam Hussein. To opponents it was about a ruthless oil grab, though I have heard nothing about that recently, and about US triumphalism and imperialism. The question of the death count, and at whose hands, will continue unanswered except to those committed to one or other side.

Afghanistan was always primarily about Al Qaeda, about Bin Laden's safe haven. The rule of the Taliban was horrific but the argument against intervening - the argument against all interventions - was that it was none of our business, that the Afghan people would rise against the Taliban in their own time, and that mass beheadings, stonings, oppression of women, and so forth were a matter of cultural difference that we had to respect because we were no better in our own foul ways. That argument remains in place though it doesn't convince me.

Why not?

It is partly to do with the issue of corruption. When the recent election in Afghanistan was declared corrupt the cultural difference argument went out of the window. That was not what we expect of elections, we raged. When football stadiums were being used for mass public executions that was cultural difference.

I don't want to caricature this position too much because circumstances were different. In the case of the election we were supposedly in charge so were in position, supposedly, to enforce the cultural norms we expect. We were in charge because of the invasion. In the case of Taliban rule we had no influence and were certainly not in charge. So was it worth the war and the deaths and the being in charge in order to support a corrupt government with a corrupt election behind it?

Nevertheless, I still think the passion outweighs the facts. There are no mass executions, no terrorising of great swathes of the Afghan population, there are schools that girls can attend and there is progress on infrastructure. This is not nothing. It may mean we are imposing our cultural values on people from another culture but no one actually complains about such things, only that they haven't gone far enough or are not sufficiently secured. A corrupt election still remains a corrupt election - though it might be worth asking how many other places continue to have corrupt elections and at what degree of corruption, or have no meaningful elections at all - nevertheless there seems to be no doubt the Afghan election was corrupt. And we are in charge.

I want to think a little further about corruption - since it affects us all in different ways - in another post.



28 comments:

Mark Granier said...

"I want to think a little further about corruption - since it affects us all in different ways - in another post."

Then I would mention the election of George W Bush, which was considered thoroughly corrupt by many.

I agree with much of what you say about corruption, especially the nauseating doublethink regarding preservation of culture, etc.

However, regarding Iraq, I don't know anyone who actually believed that 'a ruthless oil grab' was the primary reason for the second conflict, though I know it was one of the reasons mentioned. It seemed obvious to me at the time that that war (unlike its predecessor) was wrong on two important counts: 1. the whole enterprise seemed ill-planned from the start; it stank of reckless triumphalism, reason swamped by self-serving rhetoric and (2) it was predicated on two blatant, outrageous falsehoods; that Iraq posed a threat to the West because of a spurious connection with Al-Qaeda, and the WMD nonsense (as Hans Blix made pretty clear at the time). As Amis remarked, the opposite was far more likely: that a war with Iraq (and a high profile capture of Saddam) was essentially a safe bet, partly because there was no real risk of any nuclear conflict; whereas North Korea (whose actual WMDs really did, and do, pose a threat) was never on the agenda.

George S said...


Yes, regarding the election of GWB. Hanging chads, as I remember. Wasn't that the first time round though, not the second? Generally I propose we are pots rather than kettles in respect of corruption at election time.

There were many people who did think Iraq was all about oil. I distinctly remember Sean O'Brien's poem about this in The Guardian, which represented the general view pretty well. I suspect it is selective amnesia if we forget this. I don't mean you mean to be amnesic, it just happens. No other reason, at least, was mentioned with any regularity or conviction.

Later the notion of establishing a democratic state entered calculations (I myself thought then - and wrote - that this was the one convincing if unstated reason, chiefly with the rationale that once a democratic presence had been established in the region it would be easier to work towards a general Middle East peace - and I still think this is the one believable pragmatic reason for the invasion. Granted, it was badly handled once the invasion had taken place). This turned out to be the Wolfowitz line but it wasn't headlined to begin with. Oil was.

WMD wasn't as much a false trail as was thought, since, if you remember, in the 1990s Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction. What about the killing of the Kurds with chemical weapons at Halabja? And the Marsh Arabs? And there remained the question of why Iraq threw out the weapons inspectors before 2002? That is when they returned and they hadn't finished their inspection in March 2003. Blix said they hadn't found any WMD. It was suggested that weapons might have been hidden, or shipped elswhere. There was no certainty. According to Wiki: 'Based on its inspections and examinations during this time [meaning the time following the invasion too] UNMOVIC inspectors determined that UNSCOM had successfully dismantled Iraq's unconventional weapons prorgram during the 1990s'

This is not to argue that there was a sound WMD cause for invading Iraq - there wasn't - and the 45 minute Blair warning was, as we see it now, clearly off the wall. It is only to argue that what we know now is not necessarily what we knew then. The overt reason therefore was a false reason, but not so false as to be glaringly obvious.

I don't accept that the suggestion that democratic states do things out of sheer wickedness (triumphalism, imperialism). I don't even think non-democratic states act out of sheer wickedness. States act because they desire to achieve something they think worth achieving. The question is what did the USA and the UK think worth achieving? If not oil, that is.

Quite rightly, we expect more of democratic states. We don't idealise them, we just think they may do more good both to their own people and to others. Not that they will, but that they may.

That does not mean that states will inevitably declare their true puposes. In fact democratic states due for re-election may be all the more wary of stating their long term strategic purposes.

That's tough, but I would still far rather live in a democratic state and learn as far as I can to read between the lines - a very common activity for East Europeans before 1989.

But not telling the truth is in itself a kind of corruption. The question is how much corruption is tolerable - or even desired.

Poet in Residence said...

Staring from the top:

'A' was an oil man
'B' was an oil man, and
'C' was an oil man
'C' even got a supertanker named for her.

How much evidence do we really really really need?

Unfortunately as a plan it went slightly askew. The Iraqi Parliament has decided in favour of: BP and China.
Not Exxon and Chevron.

George S said...

Who were A and B and C?

And if it was a plan that was intended to be enforcable by sheer weight of arms and occupation, how did it go askew?

Poet in Residence said...

OK, George,
Bush snr. declined to topple Saddam. Bush jnr. decided one day he'd go one better than dad. It's the old father & son thing. 9/11 was the window of opportunity. And before you could say tune in to fox news there we were
Bush the failed oil man (bailed out by the Bin Landens)
Cheney the succesful oil man
Rice the succesful oil woman
The big 3. Bring in poodle Blair and front-up with fatherly uncle Don (Rumsfeld) and away you go. The plan went belly-up because Obama got elected and since Iraq didn't owe him any favours they could now do business with China and BP. These two were lately awarded the contract to develop Iraq's biggest oil field and not Chevron and Exxon (the Rice and Cheyney companies).
Btw George if you click on that logo top rt on PiR there's an interesting story out of Japan. It's regarding a man with a moustache whose book published in Japanese comics I'm not allowed to mention as I don't live in a free country like you do.

George S said...

Never read it quite like that, PiR. Bush Snr didn't topple Saddam because he'd have lost all Arab support if he did. Project was to free Kuwait not topple Saddam. And if they did topple him there was nothing in place.

Bush jnr - 9/11 was more, I think, than a window of opportunity for oil. Afghanistan comes first in any case.

Cheney and Rice - I'd have to assume a lot worse of Rice than I do. Cheney can look after himself and God help him.

Why does poodle Blair cooperate in making Bush-Cheney-Rice rich?

Bush was going to go after two terms anyway so it is not surprising there should be another president since.

I agree it looks like a case. Just not sure how good.

It doesn't support Mark's contention that oil was not regarded as the chief reason for the invasion.

Old toothbrush moustache I see in your link. Mangamann.

Mark Granier said...

'I don't accept that the suggestion that democratic states do things out of sheer wickedness (triumphalism, imperialism).'

I didn't mention Imperialism. Regarding 'sheer wickedness', I don't think 'wickedness', per se, is usually 'sheer', though, like triumphalism, it can often be reckless. To take just one example, GWB's grossly premature victory speech, in 2003, on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, strikes me as both triumphalist and reckless. He landed in an S-3B Viking jet, from which he emerged in full combat/flight gear, to declare 'mission accomplished'. MSNBC's Chris Matthews congratulated this 'amazing display of leadership'.

As Mailer remarked of Bush (on another occasion), 'You just can't trust a man who's never been embarrassed by himself.'

George S said...

Mailer on Bush is pretty good.

But isn't what Bush did what all war leaders do? They don uniform or equivalent and give an impression of an embodied spirit of victory.

Not sure what less than sheer wickedness might be? Wickedness is generally conceived as sheer. There is no doubt attached to it.

What's bad is bad, but bad may be done for good or less bad reasons - I suspect it often is.

In any case the Wolfowitz hypothesis is still standing.

I don't think Bush was mad or wicked enough to start a war just so that he could parade about in a flying jacket. Oil is a better reason, but I am going for the Wolfowitz script. It's still the only one that makes concrete sense to me. That doesn't mean he was right or that I was right or that anyone was right - it only means that there is a reason I can believe in to be reason.

I don't really go for PiR's vision of the three oil-covered demons.

Could be wrong, but just don't.

Mark Granier said...

'But isn't what Bush did what all war leaders do? They don uniform or equivalent and give an impression of an embodied spirit of victory.'

I'm not sure about that. In any case, I think most sensible war leaders would at least wait till victory was assured before declaring 'mission accomplished'. And those of them who never actually saw action, or were even in the military, might have second thoughts before playing Top Gun.

'I don't think Bush was mad or wicked enough to start a war just so that he could parade about in a flying jacket.'

Nor do I (or not quite anyway; who knows what may be going through the head of someone who believed God told him to run for president?).

That aside, GWB's actions and speeches seem pretty revealing to me.

Desmond Swords said...

Corruption in Iran elections - bad, boo hiss, lots of outrage from the West.

Corruption in Afghanistan elections - muted, no outrage.

Double standards?

The 'fallen' brave, their names listed.

The anonymous 'collateral' deaths of faceless Afghans, oops, sorry, a different syntax and tenor employed.

Men join an army, go to war and die, knowing the risks, and yet..and yet..

Poet in Residence said...

How can I accept that it was simply a kind of coincidence that the 3 demons plus fatherly public image Uncle Don were in charge when a war to look for non-existent WMDs went off in the world's biggest oil field ???
Blair? Good for the image to have someone like him along for the ride. Makes it a bit more legit, I'd say.

George S said...

I suspect anything Bush Jnr did would come across as buffoonish. I am trying to imagine Boris Johnson in the same situation.

Yes, he was buffoonish in his Top Gun manner. But the war - as conventional war - had been won. It would have been difficult not to celebrate that. It is almost demanded that such things be celebrated, much as football crowds celebrate a victory that doesn't yet make them champions.

I find it hard to assess the balance between deliberate and involuntary buffoonishness in Bush Jnr. A lot of US Presidents and presidential candidates come across as buffoons at times. It's probably the Simpsons-Springfield vote.

But if Bush Jnr was as dumb as that why did an intelligent and canny leader like Blair follow him so closely?

I suspect we have a bottomless capacity to sneer at America and Americans. Vulgarity. Stupidity. Fat white folk stuffing themselves with Big Macs. They don't even know what the capital of London is!

Some sneering may be justified but the adoption of the sneer as a fixed look is, in my opinion, unwise. Not that you do, Mark. It is just something that seems pretty well constant.

That is when the US is not being evil.

George S said...

Desmond - forgive me, but there has been plenty of outrage about the Afghanistan elections. Not a day passes without reference to Karzai.

As regards the Iran elections the evidence is there in front of us on YouTube and elsewhere. It wasn't sporadic local intimidation or bribery - it was well documented heavy police action, arrests, building, torture and murder.

Has that been the case in Afghanistan? Have national forces - far better concentrated and controlled in Iran than in Afghanistan - been engaged in the same kind of action? Evidence?

By corruption I have generally assumed less directly violent means of affecting the vote: bribery, interference at ID, voting slip or ballot box stage, fiddling of true ballot box figures.

It is the difference between corruption and oppression / violence.

If the polls in Afghanistan were subject to the same centralised government oppression and violence as in Iran then they deserve exactly the same degree of condemnation.

As it is, condemn away. The condemnation is deserved.

I expect that, as ever, we notice that which affects us most, or accords most with our own expectations.

Mark Granier said...

"But if Bush Jnr was as dumb as that why did an intelligent and canny leader like Blair follow him so closely?'

A good question that, something I have often wondered about. I suspect that Blair, in his later incarnation as PM, became rather messianic, and that the streak was there to begin with. BTW, I didn't say that GWB was 'dumb'. In a way I think he was quite canny, and also ruthlessly cynical.

As for sneering at yanks, I am glad you acknowledged that I don't indulge is such pathetic behavior (an attitude more British than Irish in my experience). One of my closest friends happens to be American/Irish, and I consider him practically heroic. Actually I think American people can be among the best I have ever met, openly generous, intelligent and truly adventurous in the best sense of that word, a real breath of fresh air.

American foreign policy though (as many Americans would acknowledge) has a depressing history of tragic, sometimes criminal, interventions, especially in South and Central America, where, with the encouragement of 'Chicago School' economists, they befriended dictators and helped train juntas at least as evil as Saddam & Co.

George S said...

I don't - I couldn't - disagree about US foreign policy, Mark, though I think much of that was in the poisonous atmosphere of the Cold War - domino theory, bilateralism, nuclear threat,post-war anxiety, we will bury you, Cultural Revolution and so forth - which doesn't excuse it though it does to some degree explain it.

It is governmental thinking that is fascinating, the course it has to steer between principle, pragmatism, cynicism, self-preservation and so on. The Machiavellian versus the the Liberator and the Wise Leader.

Being, somewhat against the odds, of a broadly generous spirit I tend to think that govenments and states are the human condition writ very large.

Generous but - actually - rather bleak in that case. Every man his own potential Machiavelli. As indeed every man his own Good Father. (Substitute genders at will).

Poet in Residence said...

Obama has said in connection with the Bush-Cheyney-and others- Iraq-WMD-Rendition-Wiretapping-torture-misuse of executive powers to circumnavigate the Law-fiasco that "nobody is above the law."
We will see. I suspect, no I'm confident, that some Very Big Heads are going to roll. We've moved on from the age of colonialist imperialism and exploitation but Bush 'dumb ot not dumb' hadn't reckoned with the new way of thinking. He was still playing his Texas cowboy games. The problem is not with the USA and its people. The USA and its people are wonderful. The problem is with a certain way of thinking in that can only found in the Lone Star State. A kind of "Happiness is a warm gun" mentality.
George, I recommend Honky Tonk Gelato by Stephen Brook, short of going to Texas yourself, that is.
Any sign of the Bush memoirs yet??? Usual ex-presidents can't get to the publishing house fast enough!

Desmond Swords said...

There was an interesting article in yesterday's Guardian by Aram Roston, now buried beneath the mountain of analyses and comment How the US army protects its trucks – by paying the Taliban

It tells how the US army pays heroin kingpin and cousin of the current president, Ahmad Rateb Popal, millions to safeguard supply routes. Popal was working for the taliban in 2001 as an interpreter for their ambassador in Pakistan, and is now chief of:

"Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan [its senior personnel are ex-British army, many of them from Special Services]. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

At first the contract, for "host nation trucking", was large but not gargantuan. But over the summer, citing the coming "surge" and a new doctrine, "Money as a weapons system", the US military expanded the contract 600% for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: "Service members will not get the food, water, equipment and ammunition they require."

Each of the military's six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360m, or a total of nearly $2.2bn. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10% of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defence minister's well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold."

Mark Granier said...

'Being, somewhat against the odds, of a broadly generous spirit I tend to think that govenments and states are the human condition writ very large.'

I agree George, and, as you say, that prospect is rather bleak. Writ large, we are so often a sad excuse for a species (though not always, of course). Unfortunately, we live in very 'interesting times' (politically, technologically, environmentally, etc.); plenty of opportunities for large metaphorical writing, accompanied by its literal equivalent: fat, black, screaming headlines.

Sometimes we can surprise ourselves though. The election of Obama gave me a dose of hope, and it hasn't worn off. As for Irish politics though (an old boy's club writ small), yech! The Brown One doesn't impress either: no courage, no vision, no humility, all of which should be mandatory for a vocation in politics (Heaney's tragically impossible 'Republic of Conscience' comes to mind:

'At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office –
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless...'

The Plump said...

Perfection is for the Gods. There is no heaven on earth. Fascism, especially this brutal, theocratic version, is hell; man made hell - here and now - on earth.

Instead of stoking our self-righteous anger and hinting at dark ulterior motives, shouldn't we be relieved that one hell on earth has been overthrown, even if it has only been replaced by purgatory?

We should be expressing our solidarity with the people, with the educators, with the musicians and artists, with the Afghan cricket team, with the women and children flocking to schools and colleges. That certainly means opposing corruption, exploitation, dodgy deals and the like, but it must never mean abandoning the new hopes of an imperfect human life in an imperfect world to the fascist demons who still lurk in the shadows, waiting to impose fresh horrors.

Poet in Residence said...

The Bush system of govt. used Orwellian Doublespeak. Phrases like 'enhanced interregation techniques' and 'rendition' were brought forth and promulgated. A tragic mistake.

Obama uses refreshingly straightforward words - like 'torture' for 'torture'. He lays the USA's cards on the table - face up.
Here's a guy the world can do business with. The world should make the most of it. It'll be a long time before another Obama appears on the world stage.

For the extremists and their corrupt paymasters Obama is the nighmare scenario; an honest intelligent man in the White House.

And maybe that's why they are so active at the moment. They see that their game is almost up. In 6 or 7 years they will be an irrelevance. And when they become an irrelevance they will disappear like the morning mist. The world will move on without them.

It's a must.

George S said...


Heaney's Republic of Conscience has, it is needless to say, never existed, nor will it, and we know from the text that Heaney doesn't intend it to be rebuke to real politics:

At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather...


The Republic of Conscience is as real as the City of Conscience or the Family of Conscience.

And since we all know that, it suggests to me that it isn't so much tragically impossible as simply impossible. In other words its failure to exist is not a tragedy. It's what we are, and I don't regard us as a tragedy. I think we are in certain ways an absolute miracle. In other ways rather less so.

Nevertheless Heaney's poem does show us what individual actions are possible on specific occasions - in that respect it is not so much about the tragedy of disappointment as about the human comedy of hope. That homespun coat. It is about what humans, we naked apes, can occasionally, miraculously do.

I really don't expect my politicians to be 'good people' any more than I expect the first person I meet in the street to be a good person. I expect them to be compound of all we are. I expect them to be good enough. In democracies politicians depend on us to re-elect them. I hope they are good enough.

Personally I prefer them to talk like human beings rather than like machines. I prefer them to have imagination as well as logic. I prefer to think of them as people in streets as much as people in offices. I accept that beyond certain point those in power - in so far as they are in power - will not always explain their actions to me if only because I know I could not follow all their actions and depend on others to do that for me. Guessing what I do guess about human beings this necessary reliance inclines me to be sceptical but not cynical. I know people do evil but I think they can be good enough to do well enough.

I don't think politicians have an easy time. I do think many of them enter the political field because they have some idea about what makes a good working society, though they may well be wrong, indeed terribly wrong at times. Nevertheless I have never hated a politician for being a politician.

The question of what makes a good working society is something that interests me and I feel I have some stake in it. I vote for those who seem to hope for something similar.

I wouldn't vote for the Taliban and I wouldn't have voted for Saddam Hussein. It is therefore possible to hope that whatever has succeeded them might do better and those who succeed their successors might do better still. It is possible to think one might vote for them and hope for that better. For something good enough.

And then, maybe, better.

I am with the Plump on this.

Mark Granier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Poet in Residence said...

The various admirable movements in which I have been engaged have always developed among their members a large lunatic fringe - Theodore Roosevelt

Perhaps this quote points to the weakness that brings corruption problems.
When the 'lunatic fringe', blessed with qualities like pride, prejudice, arrogance, and ignorance, is moved from the fringe to the centre, the system is corrupted.

When the swine are feeding at the troughs and the vultures are flying down from the trees it can't go well.

George S said...

I was thinking less of lunatic fringes when it comes to corruption, more the centre. Of ourselves. Lunatic fringes generally assume their divine right to do what they like because they are so convinced of their rectitude.

I myself possess pride, prejudice, arrogance and am not short of ignorance though that, in my (humble) opinion, does not position me on the fringe but in the big centre where everyone else sits. What is just as well about these others - and I hope myself - is that they have compensating virtues and that they entertain doubts about their own rectitude. The centre, in this respect, is a far less comfortable place than the fringes.

My sense of corruption, that I want to explore a little further, is less to do with a sense of rectitude and divine or other justification, than with custom, habit, manners, mythologies.

One expects to find swine at troughs and vultures in trees. I will worry more when - á la Hieronymus Bosch, -the vultures are feeding at the troughs and the swine are flying down from the trees.

And by the way, far too late - if only because I scarcely look at my links column - I have added Poet in Residence to them. Perhaps Bard on the Run should be there too.

Poet in Residence said...

After I posted my last comment had a lovely image of pigs seated at an oval table set with the best cutlery, tucking with into the golden goose.
My dad was in India during the war and the 'shite-hawks' as they were there called would swoop down and steal his food even as he was raising it to his mouth.

I see what you mean about the qualities of the centre being the same as those of the fringe, but the centre having compensating qualities whilst the fringe can only have fringe qualities, almost by definition. But the problem is when the fringe becomes the centre - where does the centre go?

Corruption can always be self-justified by those who seek to be corrupt or corrupted. Orwell's Animal Farm is the classic study. Some animals are more equal than others but Texas oilmen and their Saudi bankers are the most equal animals of all.

Corruption, to be or not to be, is something that everyone, every individual, every political leader, must decide for himself, for his regime, for his country. It's a difficult situation without good role models. But it's not all hopeless. I think Botswana is being pushed along as a big role model of the way-to-go hope for the African states. Good luck to them.


Obama is, from almost all ethical standpoints, the big hope for the future of this planet. Probably the only real hope. He has a way of spelling things out. The man is a visionary and a prophet. He is the complete antithesis to Bush. I love the guy. I love all he stands for. The future he represents is a future I want to live in, and George, I'm not even American!

"(Americans) understand that politics today is a business and not a mission, and what passes for debate is little more than spectacle."
"A government that truly represents these Americans - that truly serves these Americans - will require a different kind of politics [.....] It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past. We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we will need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break."

ps - re any LINKS. Please add away !-)

George S said...

The man is a visionary and a prophet. He is the complete antithesis to Bush. I love the guy. I love all he stands for. The future he represents is a future I want to live in, and George, I'm not even American!...

He is certainly cause for hope, Gwilym. I am wary of prophets and even visionaries, that is to say visionaries as practical persons. I daren't hope for too much of him and have said so from the beginning. He is the leader of a state and states are such as they are, not visions or prophecies but people and combinations of persons. He has to cope with the people he has and make the best of whatever situation that state finds itself in while addressing it in the most effective way. That is brass tacks, a sea of brass tacks as far as the eye can see.

Nevertheless, I do feel we have more than a symbol in the White House. I think he has great capabilities and a sense of life I trust. I wish him as well as I can wish any man who is neither prophet nor visionary but a good, straight, intelligent, highly gifted, powerful, and generally admirable member of homo sapiens. I wish him to succeed as well as any president of the USA can. I actually believe he might be able to succeed in such terms. So, yes, go Obama! Be what we hope.

"...It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past. We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we will need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break."

Indeed, who would not say Amen to that?

OK, second link to follow.

Poet in Residence said...

Amen, George
and many thanks for the link.

I've left Bard enjoying a glass of moon water. I'm off to the library.

Cheers,
Gwilym

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