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‘Youth is the weapon’

April 16, 2011

Deadly idealism

The New York Times recently reminded me of an aspect of story of African and Middle Eastern uprising I hadn’t thought about before: how this revolutionary and reformatory fervor must appear to Iraqi youth politically suffocated by the limping government.

Supplementing their article, the At War news blog offered quotes from Iraqis collected during the reporting, “a sampling of their comments on three topics vital to the country’s future: democracy, faith and the future of the young generation.” Sherzad Omar Rafeq, a Kirkuk attorney: “The youth is the weapon of the next change in Iraq, and especially in the Kurdistan region, through demonstrations and sit-ins that are forcing change and overthrowing corrupted people.”

Youthful idealism has always frightened me, if only because history has showed me so many dreams of change end up in the gutters of geo-political reality, especially after U.S. force is utilized to take down those “corrupted people.” I used to condemn my own cynicism. I don’t anymore. I just remind myself to check particular numbers on a particular list to see the price of idealism. I don’t want to ever see any more lists like that one, especially if they’re the consequence of anyone’s youthful idealism, conceived on the streets of Baghdad or behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Speaking of Iraq, take a moment to listen to PRI’s stunning three-part series on the history of Iraq, the torturous British legacy and its bloody history with the United States.

Beautiful Blue Friday

My soundtrack for today included:
1. WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN U2 and B.B. King
2. BLOOD AND SNOW The Melissa Ludwig Band
3. TAKE ME Mable John
4. HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN Muddy Waters
5. LAST NIGHT Little Walter
6. THE THRILL IS GONE B.B. King
7. I’M A MAN Bo Diddley
8. THAT’S ALL RIGHT Mighty Joe Young
9. MY LOVE WILL NEVER DIE Otis Rush
10. DEATH LETTER Cassandra Wilson

Writing tips

Over at the Guardian’s Punctuated Equilibrium blog, Henry Gee contributed his 10 tips for good writing. I feel better, knowing I already follow “the first six.” Check it out here.

Journals and books recently received

1. “The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power” by Sean McMeekin. Belknap Harvard. $29.95
2. The Journal of Military History. April 2011, Vol. 75, No. 2
3. “The Union War” by Gary W. Gallagher. Harvard.
4. The Journal of the Civil War Era. March 2011. Vol. 1, No. 1
5. Civil War History. March 2011. Vol. 57. No. 1

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