Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not for the faint of heart: my grad-school paper on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East..


A Minor-League Exercise in Preventative Diplomacy:
The Kennedy Administration’s Use of the Civil War in Yemen

                North Yemen’s[1] civil war in the 1960s dragged on from 1962 until 1970.  Yet, for all the destructive impact on the lives of the Yemeni people and all their goals and aspirations represented in the fight, in the eyes of the world Yemen’s civil war was never about Yemen.  It was about Nasser and the House of Saud, Arab progressives against Arab conservatives.  It was about colonialism (vis-à-vis the British in bordering Aden), imperialism, and the last gasp of Nasserist pan-Arabism.  It was about Kennedy’s New Frontier, a chance for the United States to prove that it was turning over its imperialist leaf to a new, more progressive one, and that it could do so while still hanging onto its oil-rich, conservative friends.  It was, as everything was in the 1960s, about communism and capitalism, about East versus West.  It was many things, but never about Yemen itself.  As inevitably happens with foreign policy, volatile situations affecting real people with real lives and families become little more than chess pieces in the diplomatic game.  Such was the case with Yemen.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"All of which are the American Dream..."

Standing in the weight room next to the bench press, I had one more set to go.  I scrolled through the songs on my iPod to find the perfect finishing song, and of course I went straight to Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of."  I finished my last set, and as I am wont to do, thought about the lyrics to the song and what Zach de la Rocha was probably thinking as he wrote it.  I envisioned him scribbling the lyrics on a notebook while in a Cal-Berkeley class called "U.S. and Latin American Relations during the 20th Century."  He, of course, had a hoodie to cover his dreads and had the old school Walkman, with headphones covering his ears, and Eric B and Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" bumping (I always envision him listening to Eric B and Rakim, mainly because to my delight he covered one of their songs in the Renegades album).