Saturday, March 22, 2003

Incidentally, if any of the legion of blog-readers who will no doubt soon be converging on this site should want to contact me, they should know my e-mail address on the sidebar is inaccurate; I can in fact be reached at joshua.cherniss@aya.yale.edu. Alas, the job of changing the layout of this site -- including the title and e-mail addresses -- is the province of my collaborators, who, by their own admission, have not checked in here since January.

After a concerted campaign of mixed praise and needling, we've finally managed to get mentioned -- and linked to -- by OxBlog! (Ok, so the mention wasn't exactly positive ...) Thanks guys; and to anyone who is actually reading this, welcome to our (soon to be re-named) little blog.
As far as Dave's post goes: my main objection to OxBlog's handling of the issue was its insistence (following the NY Times) that protests in the Middle East have been peaceful, when in fact they've turned violent (this, of course, came after Dave's initial post -- but it is interesting to note that the post hasn't been subsequently altered to acknowledge that, in fact, Arab protests are not all peaceful.) As for whether these initial protests will be followed by a larger wave of anti-American feeling, or will subside once (or if) the US succesfully institutes democracy in Iraq, Dave's guess is at least as good, and probably better, than mine. But, as so often, my friends at OxBlog seem awfully sanguine -- and I don't think such optimism is yet warranted by events (there's also the larger point that Dave's argument seems to rely on, that the Arab world will be appeased, nay, won over, when they see we've established democracy -- or something like it -- in Iraq. Again, he may well be right; but I would't assume so. His argument seems to assume that many Arabs will eventually come round to seeing that liberation from without is preferable to national autonomy under a brutal despot. Well, it seems like a no-brainer to me, too; but it ignores the power of nationalism -- the intense resentment by some of any outside interference, to the extent that some may prefer to be enslaved by members of their own nation, to being liberated by foreigners. I'd like to think that, if the US behaves itself and supports genuine democracy in Iraq, many Arabs -- and other peoples around the world -- will be weaned from this irrational, self-destructive view. But I do think that it's a sentiment that needs to be reckoned with more by self-confident proponents of democratization.)
As for Turkey and the Kurds (about which the NY Times still, so far as I can see, doesn't have an article -- why?) -- well, of course I'm worried. I'd like to think the US will be both able, and willing, to force the Turks to stay within their own borders, and leave the Kurds alone. But, if Turkey doesn't especially want to do so, are we really going to be able to make them while prosecuting our war on Iraq? Or will they, while we're pushing to oust Saddam, be able to make enough headway so that their presence in Northern Iraq becomes a fait accompli that has to be accepted? And, even if we can succesfully drive them back, do we really want to start fighting one of our more dependable (not that that's saying all that much) allies in the region? (Of course, if all this makes the US re-think it's anything goes stance towardsits Turkish ally, I won't be distressed). And how will a possible 'war within the war' effect our attempts to secure Baghdad and the rest of Iraq as quickly and efficiently as possible? Seems like cause for worry to me.
And, while one can never draw conclusions about the future from the past, Kurdish history does tend to inspire a reflexive pessimism ...
Ah well. Thanks for the mention, Dave. Hopefully next time we can be in agreement.

More on the Turkish invasion of northern Iraq.
As I said, this is really bad ...
(Also, the NY Times seemsnot to have anything on it. Why?)

Friday, March 21, 2003

Anti-war protests in Egypt and Yemen turn violent.
Um, that'd be that backlash people have been talking about, Dave. Sorry.

Huh? What?
A little while ago I checked in at the Guardian's home page. At the top of the page, below the graphic and above the main headlines, I read an unlinked bit of text which said something to the effect of, Turkish troops move into Northern Iraq -- more to follow, or something. I immediately think, of course, 'Shit. Oh, shit. The Kurds are gonna get screwed again. We're going to screw the Kurds again. Damn it!' So, impatient for news, I go to the NY Times. Nothing. Ok, so the Times has fallen pray to American patriotism, or its just slow. I check out the Indepedent. Typically, the headlines convey a strongly anti-US bias, but there's no mention of a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. I check back at the Guardian. The thing about Turkey has been removed. There's no mention of it anywhere, in any of the articles. I check CNN, the BBC -- nothing. Back to the Guardian. Nothing, at this moment.
UPDATE: The Guardian now confirms that there have been reports of Turkey moving 'crack troops' into northern Iraq, supposedly to prevent an influx of refugees; they did so without checking with the US-led coalition. Also, Turkey's foreign minister said that Turkish troops were going to enter the Kurdish enclave in n. Iraq to 'prevent terrorism.'
So, as I began to say to myself earlier: Shit. The Kurds are going to get screwed again.
This is really, really bad ...

Yup, those neo-con hawks sure are diplomatic.
Publishing this was a very, very bad move for prominent adviser to the US government to make. Not that Perle is wholly wrong -- I don't wholly agree with him, but I think he overstates the case against the UN, and has nothing better to offer -- but issuing such a blatant fusilade of scorn and arrogance at a time when we should be trying to involve the UN in reconstruction plans for post-war Iraq -- well, it's stupid. Stupid, and arrogant, and self-damaging.
But then, I can't say I'm surprised -- merely disappointed, and appalled.

Burning bales of hay? Smashed police car windows? Vomitting on this street? THIS is 'what democracy looks like'??? Then give me liberal oligarchy any day.
But, no, this isn't what democracy looks like -- it's what anarchy looks like. And it isn't a pretty thing.
When -- or, alas, rather if -- Iraqis are able to go to the polls to elect their own leaders for the first time in decades -- and, more importantly, if and when they are able to go to the polls and vote out their own leaders -- THAT will be what democracy looks like. And that will, or would, be a great victory. These incidents (and, to be fair, they seem to represent only the radical fringe of the anti-war movement) are merely the antics of political infants.

Ok, I've been trying not to give in to the crude Francophobia that seems to be so fashionable among many Americans today. But, this is just silly -- and obnoxious.
Where to begin? Some French visitors to the US are cutting short their stays or cancelling their trips due to fears of anti-Americanism. Not that any of them cite any incidents, but they FEEL it 'percolating beneath the surface'. Huh? Talk about hyper-sensitive! What about the rampant anti-Americanism that so many French activists -- and some politicians -- indulge in, and the many reported incidents of French people being rude to American visitors (incidents of Americans being spit at, etc.) Look, I'm currently living in a country in which there's a certain amount of anti-American feeling, mainly on the Left. It's not aggressive, its not obtrusive, it's directed mainly against Bush and co., but it's there. You don't see me packing my bags and leaving in a snit, now do you? (Well, actually I am packing to return to the US right now -- but not in a snit!)
Then there's the expressed fear of delays -- and a very funny whining-fit by one French businessman about being held up by security for 15 minutes. A FIFTEEN MINUTE DELAY, and this guy calls it a 'nightmare.' Um, no. Having your plane hijacked and flown into a building is a nightmare. Having to take off your shoes in an airport is a minor irritant. Let's get that straight.
Ok. I feel better now.
Having now exorcised my choler, I'll get serious: I think anti-French feeling, anti-French jokes, anti-French attacks, are wrong. Of course, one can -- and I think should -- criticize the French government over its policies, as well as France's often ignominous record in recent world affairs. But it's childish, and unjust, and dangerous, to generalize resentment and contempt to a whole people, and vent it on individuals whose only fault is to have been born in a particular place. This is bigotry; and Americans, who are today so sharply aware of the force of equally unfair anti-American prejudice and ire around the world should know better.

Josh Chafetz on Oxford's own anti-war movement -- nice headline!

The US and Uk have suffered their first casualties of the war -- twelve killed in a copter crash.
My heart goes out to their friends and families.
(Speaking of families of the dead: an interesting tidbit from a NY Times article on the initial advance into Iraq:
"American soldiers gathered the dead, placing the bodies in black bags and leaving them beside the road before moving on. They also collected the dead soldiers' belongings, one officer said, so that word could be passed to their families."
Sounds like our troops are thus far doing fine upholding warrior's honour. Good job, guys.)
Also from the first NY Times article linked to above: the campaign has apparently been named 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' Good choice. I like the sound of that.

More wisdom -- that is the word for it -- from Kanan Makiya, courtesy of TNR.
Reading Makiya, I hear a familiar voice -- a voice of moral maturity, and tough-minded clarity, and passionate humanity. It's the voice of those Eastern European dissidents -- Havel, Michnik, Kuron, Kiss, Konrad, Sakharov -- who led the fight to free their countries from the tyranny, and the lies, of Communism. Alas, the situation in Iraq is very different -- while Stalinism had decayed into a decadent, Brezhnevian Communism in Eastern Europe by the 1980s, which allowed for the growth of an 'anti-political' sphere in society from which resistance was possible -- Iraq will, when 'liberation' (hopefully the scare-quotes won't prove to have been necessary), be emerging from the terror and moral morass of pure, ruthless Stalinist totalitarianism. And the regime will have been toppled from without, by an invading, foreign power, rather than by democratic dissidents from within -- a scenario that will, I hope, be better than nothing, but which is still far from ideal. Furthermore, Iraqi society is fragmented in a way that Poland, or Czechoslovakia (even granted its later fragmentation into the Czech and Slovak republics), or Hungary, or even Russia, weren't. So, it's unlikely that we'll see Makiya enthroned as a head of state, like Havel -- or even becoming a prominent media figure, like Michnik, or a semi-institutionalized political proponent of democracy and human rights, as Kurzon and Sakharov became. Still, the mixture of moral vision, and a clear picture of the muck of reality and the necessity of a politics of responsibility and messy compromise, is there in Makiya's writing and activism, as it was in those of the Eastern Europea dissidents; and it's heartening to find. I hope that his people -- and the US government and its allies -- listen.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
I sure as hell hope we've learnt from our role in installing the Ba'ath as rulers of Iraq ...

Here's one for the inappropriate humour category: it's really awful -- given the likelihood of civilian deaths in US bombing -- and yet also (or, precisely because of that) strangely amusing.
And also rather disturbing. I really, really hope that this isn't how George Bush actually thinks -- but I can't be entirely sure ...

Thursday, March 20, 2003

More on anti-war protests in Europe.
Most risible incident: an anti-war march in Berlin where protestors held up signs saying 'George W. Hitler.' Oh, come on. How stupid can one be? And such talk in BERLIN is, well, let's say it shows a hell of a lot of chutzpah. (Note also the allegation by protestors that the war is cruel to the Iraqi people. Yes, it is; but how much crueler would it be to start bombing them, holding out the promise of liberation, and then suddenly stop and say, 'Oh, never mind, our bad. You guys can go back to being terrorized and killed by your own leader. Again.'
No, what these people fail to recognize that, while launching this war may have been a bad, bad move, launching it and then pulling out without accomplishing anything could well be a worse one. And, at any rate, it's something that isn't going to happen, no matter how many intersections are blocked or embassies picketed. But, then, I suspect that at this point the anti-war movement is no longer about effecting actual political goals, but about venting frustration. This frustration may be legitimate, and I can understand how good people would feel moved to resort to protests to vent it. But I'm afraid I can't take this venting seriously as mature politics.
Finally, a note on Oxford's own protest: a (Canadian) friend of mine in the Balliol MCR who was there and took part reported not seeing many students there, and none that he recognized (of course, I'm pretty sure another Canadian friend, also in the Balliol MCR, was there, as he was involved in organizing it; so I don't know how reliable my initial informant was). I myself saw the protestors gearing up at around a quarter to six, but was able to avoid witnessing any of the actual demonstration.
Anyway, if they did try to block traffic, I suspect the protestors were able to win a few converts -- to the pro-war cause (as they've largely managed to do, over the months, with me).

It may well be that anti-war protestors in Oxford do indeed sleep in; but when they rouse themselves, roused they become. I reproduce below an e-mail I received today (sent to the entire Balliol MCR list, which led to a rebuke from the list moderator. Heh.)

From the Oxford Students Stop the War (OSSTW)...

----- Forwarded message from "oustw2001" -----
Dear all,

Action is underway against the war across the country, and several
small actions (banner drops, teach-ins, rallies) have already taken
place in Oxford.

All of this is of course leading up to the mass protest at Carfax
at 6 pm tonight. PLease make sure you and everyone you know are
there! There will be opportunities for all kinds of action, from
a rally to a vigil to direct action.

[Um, 'direct action'? What does this MEAN?)

Also, the anti-war space has now been confirmed. From 5 pm onwards
the Main Hall of the Town Hall at St Aldates will be an autonomous
anti-war space. [What the? I'm not making this up, folks!) Please help this vital resource to grow and
survive, both by turning up to it and by bringing supplies. We
particularly need mugs, plates, kettles and books and magazines with
an anti-war/protest related theme.

If you are delivering them before 5 pm, please deliver the supplies
to the foyer of the Friends Meeting House on St Giles. If after, then
bring them directly to the Main Hall of the Town Hall so we can
set up.

We look forward to seeing you all on the streets in a few hours,
and at the anti-war space. Everyone is welcome, everyone is

[Best argument for staying home I've heard in a while ...]

In peace,


Anyone reading this who does not read -- or, in fact, write -- OxBlog should check out two great pieces from the Washington Post: a masthead editorial on the right -- indeed, patriotic duty -- to dissent in times of war, and Richard Cohen's ruminations on one of the most important moral concepts in the world today -- evil.

The New Republic has made a very good, smart move, and provided a real service, in deciding to publish (online only, alas) a war diary by Kanan Makiya, one of the leaders of the Iraqi dissident diaspora -- and the most prominent, consistent, thoughtful, and eloquent proponent of Iraqi democracy.
Makiya's article (which includes more info on Jay Garner, the subject of my last post) is heartening, and also surprising -- he reveals that, in their meetings with him, top Bush administration officials (primarily Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith) have promised that they will be pursuing a policy that is far more responsive to, and cooperative with, the Iraqi dissident movement. This is very good news, if its true (and hopefully Makiya's broadcasting of these promises will make it much harder for the administration to renege -- something I fear I wouldn't put past some of them). However, much about the American plan for post-war Iraq remains vague and murky, and, as Makiya notes, its a disturbingly late decision to embrace Iraqi democracy.
I still hope that, with the help of the US (and the UN), good, thoughtful people, genuinely dedicated to democracy, such as Makiya, win out in post-war Iraq. However, if, like Makiya, I'm 'elated and worried,' the worry is far stronger than the elation.

As we enter war, we must prepare for peace; and an important part of this will be the reconstruction of Iraq, and the provision of humanitarian aid to its people, when the shooting stops (indeed, preferably BEFORE the shooting stops). So it's worthwhile do some reading up on the man who's been put in charge of this task -- retired general and defense industry excutive Jay Garner. So far, the Fortune article linked to here is all that I've been able to find -- I'll post more links as I find them. His commitment to humanitarian efforts, and apparent feeling for the Iraqi people, are heartening -- even if I do have misgivings (which I hope reflect illegitimate and unfounded liberal bias) about his involvement in Star Wars.

And so the war comes. It's a grim, worrying moment -- and yet also, I'm ashamed to confess, for me a somewhat relieving one. There are new, more serious worries ahead -- of which I'm already sharply aware, as two close friends set off on trans-atlantic flights, and I prepare to do the same. But at least the waiting, the worrying, the agonizing over what might be done and what should be done, are over -- or have moved into a very different period.
I still haven't decided whether I think this war is right. But, if it's to be done, it's best that it be done quickly. And so, to the extent that I'm hoping for a quick, succesful, minimally bloody war -- that is, for American military success -- I suppose that I'm pro-war (I'm reminded of Emerson's response to Margaret Fuller's declaration, 'I accept the Universe': 'By God, she'd better!').
I wish that I could pray for our troops and our allies' troops in the Gulf; for the people of the US, and the UK, and all other countries likely to be the targets of terrorist designs; and for the poor Iraqi people, whose day of liberation is hopefully at hand, but will have to go through further hell first and, I fear, afterwards as well. But I can't. I can only hope for the best for all of them -- all of us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

For a new Iraq: yet again, bravo Tony. Easier said than done, of course; but at least Blair is saying that building a 'brighter, better' Iraq is a priority to which he's dedicated. Now, if only there was a way the PM could ensure that the US government follows suit ...

The generally war-wary Independent has run a masthead editorial praising Blair's leadership, and regretfully backing his case for Brittain joining the war. Bravo Independent; and bravo, Tony.

'Playing the ping-pong': a nasty exchange over the war, with much rudeness on one side, and much vapidity on the ohter. Sound file, linked to by Andrew Sullivan, under the heading 'A riveting exchange' Now, I don't think that either the Iraqi caller or the host were especially fair to the poor, beleagured anti-war activist, not allowing her to respond; on the other hand, I can understand why they would be a bit riled, given that, from what one could make out of her answers, she really wasn't managing to say anything new, or anything in response to the question (which was the same one I've been asking myself, and others, for weeks: how, aside from a US invasion, is Saddam's reign of terror to be brought to an end?) Riveting stuff indeed -- and also very sad.

Ah, Maureen, Maureen, Maureen. The Dowdster is at it again -- a full column on Dubya's use of a certain first person singular pronoun (MoDo incidentally uses the word 'I' herself, to refer to herself, thrice in the first third of her column. This is hardly Al Rosenthal self-regard territory, but you'd think that Maureen would look at her own writing, scratch her said, and say 'Hmm, maybe using a first person singular pronoun isn't such a profound reflection of one's fundamental character as all that -- maybe it's just a common feature of speech.' Oh, wait, what am I thinking?) Now, I (whoops) actually agree with much of Dowd's critique of Bush's unilateralism; on the other hand, what about Saddam's defiance of international law throughout his political career? Or France's refusal to even consider adopting an ultimatum to enforce 1441? Is the US acting so uniquely unilaterally here?
Note also Dowd's jibe about oil companies -- something even most Guardian writers have given up on at this point -- and her reference to Dick Cheney (a man I [oh, gosh, there I go again -- I must be a real narcisist. Oh, wait, I did it again -- and again -- gah!] truly despise, by the way) meeting with Iraqi dissidents as if it were a BAD thing is, well, really off-putting (I [sorry]'m noticing a pattern here: compare this to Dowd's column mocking Bulgaria -- she seems to have a real feel for beating up on small countries and beleagured minorities. What's next -- 'MoDo to Kurds: Hah! Your flies are open!'? Which is pretty much the level much of her writing's on.)

The imminent war fills me with misgiving, worry, dread. I'm not sure if it's the best course, or the right thing to do.
But I also am not wholly despondent over it. Because, whatever else happens, it will topple Saddam Hussein's regime. Which means that it will stop things like the atrocities described here from being carried out by Saddam's thugs. This is not an added bonus; it is necessary, and it is far past time. But it is not in itself sufficient to make this an honorable humanitarian war: we must ensure, not only that these horrors cease, but that they are succeeded not by further horrors, but by freedom.
Incidentally, on the agonizing question of Iraqi civilian deaths: I can't speak for anyone in Iraq, and I am deeply thankful that I've never been faced with such a choice. But I think that, if ever I did have to choose, I'd prefer being killed in a bombing raid than falling into the hands -- or watching those I loved fall into the hands -- of Saddam's 'security' forces.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The NY Times OP-ED page redeems itself for Nick Kristoff's unfortunate lapse into less-than-Delphic mumbo-jumbo with a very interesting piece by (the unfortunately yet not inappropriately named) Anne-Marie Slaughter, on the legal standing of the upcoming war; it makes good sense to me.

The latest fusilade from the anti-war camp -- i.e., the NY Times: Paul Krugman has a very good column on the very real dangers of the upcoming war, both for international and national politics; I hope that he's being a tad overly pessimistic, but fear that he isn't. On the other hand, Nicholas Kristoff has a plain silly piece on the Trojan war. Yes, that largely mythical war was the inspiration for some truly great anti-war statements -- such as Euripides' Trojan Women, one of the most powerful condemnations of war ever penned (and a good warning about what to avoid letting happen in the post-war period), as well as Girandoux's Tiger at the Gates -- a comic masterpiece, at once bitingly ironic and weightily forboding, which, unfortunately, was written in 1930s France and is a major expression of the mindset behind the appeasment of Nazi Germany.
Incidentally, Kristoff manages in his Trojan war analogy to compare the US both to the Greeks, and the Trojans. Which is interesting. Though understandable: there's nothing like Saddam's Iraq in the pages of Homer -- such horrors were beyond even his imagining. I've expressed my misgivings about historical analogies before, as well as my belief that they can do some amount of good if approached critically and with sophistication. Kristoff's use of analogies, however, is an object lesson in how not to use them (it also, of course, doesn't even rely on history, but on mytho-history.) In short: while not quite Dowdy, Kristoff's piece is a mighty embarassing piece of shallow thought.

Final post (for today) o Britain and the war: read Tony Blair's speech moving the motion to go to war. Whether war is the best course may be doubted (I certainly do); but Blair makes the case convincingly, and reasonably, and eloquently, that war is a better course at this moment than the atlernative -- which is inaction. A speech that is fully worthy, and aware, of its place in history.
(BTW, if the Brits don't want Tony Blair, do you think they'd give him to us?)

Right on, Mr. Chafetz: Our favorite (read: sole) reader calls for less triumphalism, and more humility, from his fellow hawks (but then you knew that). Well done, and quite right (and that Amichai poem is great).

We can't fight a war on two fronts, against both Iraq and Al Quaeda, critics of war say. The WaPost suggests that, actually, we are -- and it seems to be going quite well, thanks. This is comforting to hear; let's hope that it's true.

David Aaronovitch excoriates the British anti-war consensus -- and shows that, while the British public and British politicians are divided, opposition to the war -- often unthinking opposition based on a one-sided view of reality -- has become 'axiomatic' in the media (well, maybe -- excepting the Times, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, etc. etc. But Hampstead leftists often forget that those exist.)
On a related note: yesterday as I walked by the Houses of Parliament, I saw a vertiable wall of anti-war signs across the street (which seem to have been left there by the protesters, who at that point weren't much in evidence - though the London police sure were). Most of them said something to the effect of 'Blair and Bush: Stop Killing Iraqi Children.' My second reaction was to wonder whether the bombs had started falling without my knowing it -- were the US/UK already killing Iraqi children (and why just children? Do 'smart bombs' have the capacity to select targets based on age? Now that IS high-tech!)? This seemed to me to share the same tendency to jump the gun (sorry) that all the 'stop the war' signs display: for the war to be stoppable, it has to have started. What the signs mean is 'prevent the war', 'Bush and Blair: don't START killing Iraqi children.' Which are, of course, perfectly fair and decent things to be saying.
That was the second reaction. The first reaction, felt with a cold fury, was: they've directed the signs at the wrong target. Last I checked it was Saddam Hussein who was doing the killing, torturing, maiming, starving (the last with considerable help from US and UK-backed UN sanctions) of his nation's children (and adults). Why don't the protestors say something about that? If they really want to prevent the war, why not fly out en bloc to Baghdad, camp out in front of one of Saddam's palaces, and demand disarmament and human rights?
Perhaps because if they did, they'd all be killed, for one. Or maybe it just hasn't occured to them.
Still, the fact remains: no matter what happens, an awful lot of Iraqis are going to die, either at the US and its allies' hands, or at Saddam's. Just as an awful lot have died already. And so far no opponents of the war (nor, I need hardly add, any of its proponents) have explained to me how we can avert many innocent Iraqis dying, horribly.

More on the Commons debate on the war with Iraq: The Government's motion on the war, courtesy of the London Times. Note, in the penultimate item, the clear call for a democratic reconstruction of Iraq. Wouldn't it be nice if the US government actually adopted such a statement as binding policy?

A terrific blow-by-blow account of the debate over war in the House of Commons today. I'd have greatly liked to sit in; but, though I was in fact in London today, I wasn't able to, being preoccupied with running around the city, dealing with complications caused by a closed Tube line as I tried to meet up with a couple of friends who, as it turned out, had stayed behind in Oxford, due to fear of bio-terror attacks on London. Wimps. (Instead, they went to Woodstock -- near Blenheim, the birth and burial place of Winston Churchill. Ah, the irony.) Thanks to the Guardian, though, I can picture it in my mind. And what an account, and what a picture, it is. Best quote: 'Mr Kennedy picks his nose and turns red.' (NB: I LIKE Charles Kennedy. So does the Guardian. But stuff like this is too entertaining to ignore out of personal bias!)

Then it's war.
Today, sitting on a bus driving back from London, as the sun began to set, I remembered Viscount Grey's remark, on the eve of what turned out to be World War I: 'The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.' Grey proved more correct than his (at that point) largely optimistic, even triumphalist, contemporaries could have imagined. I can only hope that the optimism of my own contemporaries and countrymen proves far better founded, and our own war on behalf of democracy and international order proves to be far more honest, far more genuine, far more succesful, and far less bloody than that earlier conflict, and others since.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Oxford Update: Chris Patten has been elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford (check out the video clip of the announcement on the page linked -- Oxford still knows how to do arcane ceremony -- and still has the sense to use Latin for special occasions). My congratulations to Mr. Patten, who will, I'm sure, make a fine Chancellor (and will continue toe proud traditionl of Balliol Chancellors well into the future -- despite talk of a decisive 'anti-Balliol vote'. Humph). The results were much as I'd expected, with dark-horse candidate Sandi Toksvig being eliminated in the first round, and internal candidate and elder (University) statesman Lord Neil of Bladon coming in third. I was a bit surprised that more of Toksvig's votes didn't go to Lord Bingham of Cornhill in the second round, making it a closer race; but I suppose this confirms Oxford's reputation for worldliness. (On the other hand, it's nice to see Patten winning without employing a PR firm -- as Bingham and Neil did)

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