Good Morning To Everyone And All the Ships At Sea
I guess the question is where to begin our tour of the world this morning. Starting at random we could visit Iraq, where Iraq the Model describes how his neighborhood is setting up road blocks, setting up patrols and looking out for suspicious characters, that is to say killers -- to make it through to the next day. A few blocks away Damien Cave of the New York Times might be accompanying joint US-Iraqi patrols in Baghdad, where 10 of 11 recent operations against death squads have taken place. Or we could skip further afield to the outskirts of Falluja, where four of journalist Jill Carroll's kidnappers have just been arrested. Moving to the south we'd be confronted by the sad scene of carnage in Najaf, where a suicide bomber blew himself and 30 people up at a Shi'a shrine.
Some distance West would take us to the Holy Land, where 15 Israeli soldiers and an untold number of Hezbollah were killed in fighting in Lebanon. Sirens continued to sound all through northern Israel, as civilians hunkered down in shelters to escape rockets fired from across the border. Things were quiet on the West Bank, as the IDF arrested an al-Aqsa commander in Ramallah. The Israeli cabinet halted the ground assault in order "to allow diplomacy to run its course. A senior minister said Wednesday that Israel might delay the expansion for 2-3 days for that purpose." That might be related to the fact that France threatened to break ranks with the US to accommodate demands that Israel withdraw from Lebanon before any ceasefire. Syria, ever the prudent, has readied its civilian bomb shelters against the possibility that they may be needed.
Southwest Asia has seen some interesting developments. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad told reporters that "that any attempt to take away the rights his country had under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty could force it to reconsider its adherence to the NPT." Across the border in Afghanistan, coalition forces killed 15 Taliban fighters across that rugged country. "A spokesperson for the US-led forces said that the militants were killed after they attacked a base in Nuristan with rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The soldiers responded with small arms fire before calling in air support to bomb the attackers."
All that, however, has been pushed below the fold by dramatic events in England, whose airports went into shutdown against a plot to blow airliners out the sky in a conspiracy said to be potentially more dangerous than 9/11. Practically all carry-on luggage has been banned at embarkation. Even baby bottles must now be tested by security personnel before they can be brought aboard. The air alert has now spread to the US, where two men from Dearborn were arrested on suspicion of being involved with the airplane attack plot. The operation is still ongoing as of this writing. No one can say where it will end.
But one thing that did finish was the contest between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman for the Democratic Senate primary of Connecticut. The Boston Globe says it should be a warning to all those who supported the war in Iraq.
now that Lieberman has paid a severe price for his unpopular war vote, the 77 senators who voted for the Iraq War can no longer assuage themselves with the once comforting thought that a fate like Lieberman's is an impossible prospect.
That was the mistake, in the view of some. Where it all started to go wrong. That and not September 11, 2001. And in some alternate mental universe people wish it were possible to return to that wonderful point in time when world history had ended and all the problems of the world seemed so near to solution you could almost see the dream unfolding before the clouds closed in. Bernard-Henri Lévy recently visited Israel to see how Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz and his old friend Shimon Peres -- men of the Left all -- were preparing for battle with Hezbollah. He asked Peres, now 86, to analyze the situation.
“The whole problem,” he begins, “is the failure of what one of your great writers called the strategy of the general staff. No one, today, controls anyone else. No one has the power to stop or overpower anyone else. So that we, Israel, have never had so many friends, but never in our history have they been so useless. Except.. . .”
He asks his daughter, who is present as we talk, to go to the neighboring office and find two letters, one from Mahmoud Abbas and one from Bill Clinton. “Yes, except for the fact that you have them,” he then continues. “The men of good will. My friends. The friends of enlightenment and peace. The ones who will never renounce peace because of terrorism, or nihilism, or defeatism. We have a plan, you know.Still the same plan for prosperity, for shared development, which will end up triumphing.Listen.. . .”
And reading these words for some reason reminded me of what Fitzgerald wrote of Gatsby's determination to set things to rights.
“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”
He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was. . . .
. . . One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. They stopped here and turned toward each other. Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.
His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
In some alternate universe.