There is, sometimes, some good to business travel—apart from your flight and hotel room being paid for by the company. It gets especially better if it involves a massive opportunity to network with the locals (such as conferences); or a string of meetings with local organisations. Throw in a fairly over-rated destination that calls for a re-invented itinerary, far away from what equally over-rated travel books plot in their pages, and you have a recipe for local taste of an adventure. San Francisco is one of those specimens for re-invention.
Can internet activism turn into a real political movement?
There is a direct line between the attacks on September 11, 2001 — the most significant instance of blowback in the history of the CIA — and the events of 1979. In that year, revolutionaries threw both the Shah and the Americans out of Iran, and the CIA, with full presidential authority, began its largest ever clandestine operation: the secret arming of Afghan freedom fighters to wage a proxy war against the Soviet Union, which involved the recruitment and training of militants from all over the Islamic world. Steve Coll’s book is a classic study of blowback and is a better, fuller reconstruction of this history than the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission Report” published by Norton in July).
Voting for Romney is like hooking up with the last single person at the bar at 4 a.m.
Argo (2012)—a heart-stopping political epic of how CIA operatives extracted six US diplomats out of Iran when the Revolutionary Guards seized the US Embassy in Tehran and held dozes more of the embassy’s staff as hostage. Ben Affleck stars and directs the gripping story of how the Canadian government, though its ambassador to Tehran, also took the risk to secretly house the six who had escaped the siege and gambled diplomatic tiff with Iran—which resulted in the closing of its embassy there. Superb screenplay, photography, cinematography and scoring! Unfortunately, the timing of the release of the film couldn’t be any more blatant—when the West wrestles with the imagined evils it has against Iran and hypes up some of the most dangerous steps in geo-politics along with other issues in the region.
America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill.
I don’t think I’ve ever, in the 40 years I’ve been doing this, have heard of another … American ally trying to push us into war as blatantly—and trying to influence an American election as blatantly—as Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party in Israel is doing right now. I think it’s absolutely outrageous and disgusting. It’s not a way that friends treat each other. And it is cynical and it is brazen. And by the way, a little bit of history here: In December of 2006, George W. Bush went over to the Pentagon, met with the joint chiefs of staff and asked them, “What do you think about military action in Iran?” They were unanimously opposed to it. And as far as I know, the United States military, the leaders of the United States military, are unanimously opposed to it to this day. This is a fool’s errand. It would be a ridiculous war with absolutely no good coming of it.
When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside—walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer of a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.