Being Right After The Event

The FT has a piece on the growing tensions within the Republican tent over Iraq.

If we quit now, said Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, in a speech at Princeton University last month, we will embolden every enemy of liberty and democracy across the Middle East. We will destroy any chance that the people of this region have of building a future of hope and opportunity. And we will make America more vulnerable.

She is right. This was always the risk, that the objectives were unrealistic and that the US would come out weakened, but it seems that at the time few were willing to listen.

Kanan Makiya, an outspoken proponent of the war who is documenting the horrors of the Saddam regime in his Iraq Memory Foundation, opened the AEI meeting by admitting to many dashed dreams.

He said he and other opposition figures had seriously underestimated the powers of ethnic and sectarian self-interest, as well as the survivability of the constantly morphing and flexible Ba’ath party. He also blamed the Bush administration for poor planning and committing too few troops.

Well this seems to be another example of what at times rather than shouting it may be better from time to time to listen to what your opponents are actually saying. If you strip out the WMD argument, concern about “ethnic and sectarian self-interest” and the impact of this on any subsequent political process was always the major preoccupation of those who had doubts.

We Was Robbed

In Brazilian football this seems to be the case, quite literally!

For all that they say about detesting corruption in public life, most ordinary Brazilians do not see it as something with a direct impact on their own lives. But one scandal has caused personal offence to millions.

“I was knocked sideways,” says Catarina Pedroso, an 18-year-old psychology student and dedicated follower of Palmeiras, one of the big São Paulo football clubs. “At matches everyone shouts out juiz ladrão [“referee, you’re a thief”] but you don’t expect it actually to be true.”

Getting Too Much Of A Good Thing

China is getting worried about the impact of the internet on one of its national passtimes:

China on Tuesday introduced an ?anti-online game addiction system? intended to protect players from the mental and physical perils of spending too much time in front of computers.

The system, which will encourage players to play less by cutting the benefits they gain in online games, is to be implemented by local internet companies that have signed a code of conduct drawn up by China’s press and publications administration.

Bolivia Has A New President

His name is Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, he has been a judge in the supreme court, and he appears, at this stage at least, as an interim, compromise candidate:

The action came after lawmakers gathered following a day of demonstrations and under a warning by the military of possible intervention if the spreading chaos isn’t quelled.

Congress rapidly accepted the resignation of President Carlos Mesa. Then both the Senate and House leaders rejected the job, automatically giving it to Supreme Court Justice Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, who had been third in the line for the presidency.

“Bolivia deserves better days,” Rodriguez told lawmakers after swearing in. “I’m convinced that one of my tasks will be to begin an electoral process to renew and continue building a democratic system that is more just.”

Publius Pundit has another good Bolivian blogs roundup. In particular Mabb has a good on the spot account of the tension involved.

Interestingly enough Miguel at Ciao and Eduardo Barrio Flores are arguing that opposition leader Evo Morales should resign too, in order to reduce the dangers of this conflict exploding.

Bolivia In Crisis

The situation in Bolivia seems to get more complicated by the day.

Thousands streamed into the Bolivian capital, La Paz, on Tuesday as Indian protests against the ruling elite gained force even after President Carlos Mesa offered his resignation.

The critical highway to the highlands, where the international airport is situated, remained cut off by roadblocks, and the city of one million people was hit by food shortages and a transport strike.

Demanding that the government expropriate foreign energy installations and call new elections, miners in hard hats and indigenous women in derby hats and colorful, multi-layer skirts marched into La Paz in a show of force punctuated by blasts of dynamite that demonstrated the depth of the crisis buffeting the government.

Publius Pundit is covering the blogging side. Eduardo Alvarez is giving a good running commentary, Miguel Centellas worries about his mum and other issues from the comparative safety of the United States, and Nick Buxton has photos and good narrative description of the anecdotal details. And a good reflective analysis of what is going on comes from Miguel Buitrago at Mabb.

Update. This seems to be a fairly good summary of where things stand late afternoon CET.

Advantages Of Trade With China

I remember it was not so long ago that people imagined China was so, so far away. Now this kind of news is almost daily.

Media and publishing group Bertelsmann on Tuesday announced the first big Sino-foreign wholesale book distribution business in China, as overseas investors seek new ways to get access to the country’s book-sales market.

Bertelsmann’s DirectGroup said it had set up a joint venture with Liaoning Publishing Group worth Rmb30m ($3.6m), with the Chinese group controlling 51 per cent“.