In the latest number of the New York Review of Books, John Gray rewiews Robert D. Kaplan's Imperial Grunts, which George W. Bush is said to be reading these days.  --  In his previous book, Warrior Politics (2001), Kaplan wrote: "Despite [America's] anti-imperial traditions, and despite the fact that imperialism is delegitimized in public discourse, an imperial reality already dominates our foreign policy."  --  John Gray, who teaches at the London School of Economics, situates Kaplan's work in these terms:  "Where Kaplan is distinctive is in claiming that America's imperial mission follows from a realist analysis of contemporary international relations, and asking [in Imperial Grunts] how the sections of the American military that have the task of implementing this mission perceive their role."  --  But Gray shows that the historical connections to which Kaplan likes to appeal (Indian fighting in the American West; the British Raj in India) are "tenuous or nonexistent" (as well as "repugnant and absurd").  --  And he shows why America's alternative to classical Western colonialism, "democratization," is an "impossible" project doomed to failure.  --  The real reason that "America is facing strategic defeat in Iraq" is that the "operations [of its forces] have never served any political goal that could be realized."  --  Because Kaplan has a sense of the doom that awaits the enterprise he so enthusiastically advocates, Gray qualifies him as a "a Romantic elegist of an American imperium he suspects has already reached its prime."  --  The second book Gray reviews, Michael Mandelbaum's The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World's Government, argues that "The American global role differs dramatically from -- indeed is the opposite of -- imperial rule" because even as the U.S. acts as a world government, "it is the United States that pays and the rest of the world that benefits without having to pay."  --  But for Gray, this view is based on the delusion that the U.S. "won" the Cold War and now enjoys global supremacy.  --  In fact, "The era of Western primacy is coming to a close.  It is this fact more than any other that precludes the formation of an American Empire and rules out any prospect of the United States being accepted as a de facto world government."  --  Gray concludes:  "We are moving into a world in which peace will depend on concerted action by several great powers.  In these circumstances a revival of realist thinking is overdue.  Global security is not served by launching messianic campaigns to export democracy.  Nor is it advanced by pursuing a mirage of empire, which even now is melting away." ...


The story of the Christmas truce of 1914 deserves to be retold every year. -- Another world is possible. -- On this subject, see also The Rite of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age by Modris Ecksteins (Mariner, 2000)....


Nasrin Alavi is an Iranian author whose new book about Iranian bloggers, We Are Iran, is being noticed in the West.  --  On Tuesday, she appeared on NPR's "Open Source."  --  On Friday, her volume was reviewed in the Financial Times of London.[1]  --  It is not surprising that her book is receiving attention, since her message, like Azar Nafisi's in Reading Lolita in Tehran, is one that comforts Western elites.  --  "The clamor for change and the details about activism are so strong that you are left convinced that the small band of clerics cannot possibly hold on to power," is how reviewer Kamin Mohammadi paraphrases it.  --  This is what the West likes to hear, and this is the end toward which the U.S. national security state has dedicated itself, so we can rest assured that we will be hearing it again and again.  --  It is true, no doubt, that the "reality" of Iran is very different from the country's "image in the West."  --  Of what country could this not be said, however?  --  To appreciate the perspective of the Financial Times's reviewer, it would have been helpful to know that she is, like Azar Nafisi, from an √©lite family that fled the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979 -- in Kamin Mohammadi's case, a family of khans that once ruled the southern Persian Gulf province of Busheir and which fled to London after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  --  Kamin Mohammadi does conclude by noting, though:  "[O]ne blogger [who has read We Are Iran] points out:  'We are not Iran.  Iran is full of those who support Ahmadi-Nejad and voted for him.'" ...