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Algernon Moncrieff

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Member since: Sat Apr 19, 2014, 11:49 PM
Number of posts: 5,047

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Rick Steves on Iran (From his Facebook page)

Iran: If You're Going to Bomb a Place, You Should Know Its People First

A decade ago, I traveled to Iran to better understand a country with whom we seemed perennially on the verge of war. I came home with a one-hour public television special ("Rick Steves Iran: Yesterday and Today" that attempted to understand the Iranian psyche and humanize the Iranian people. I believe if you’re going to bomb a place, you should know its people first. Even if military force is justified, it should hurt when you kill someone.

Some things just don't change. America is, once again, on the verge of war with Iran. And, just like a decade ago, we are not prepared for that reality. As a nation, we don’t adequately understand Iran. From my travels there, it's clear to me that Americans underestimate both Iran's baggage and its spine.

"Baggage" shapes a country's response to future challenges. In the USA, our baggage includes the fight against socialism during the Cold War and the tragedy of 9/11. Iran’s baggage has to do with incursions from the West. Examples include 1953, when the US and Britain deposed a popular Iranian prime minister (after he nationalized their oil) and replaced him with the Shah; and the 1980s, when--with US funding--Saddam Hussein and Iraq invaded Iran, leaving hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers on Iran’s Western Front.

Iran is a proud and powerful nation of 80 million people--long a leader in its corner of the world. When I was in Tehran filming my TV special, I went to the National Museum of Iran expecting to film art from the great Persian Empire (the “Empires of Empires” ruled centuries before Christ by great leaders like Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes). I found almost nothing. Apologetically, the curator explained, “You’ll need to go to London or Paris. Iran’s patrimony is in the great museums of Europe.” This is baggage.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979, which deposed the US-friendly Shah, is seen in the USA as a terrible thing. It led to the rise of the ayatollahs and the taking of 52 American hostages (which--speaking of baggage--is why our president recently threatened to bomb 52 targets in Iran). But traveling in Iran, I heard a different narrative: The revolution was a people's uprising in the context of the Cold War, as Iran’s young generation wanted to be neither East nor West (independent from the USA or USSR realms).

If you don’t know Iran (as, I fear, is the case with our country’s decision-makers), it would be easy to underestimate their spine. Filming there, I was impressed by the caliber and the goodness of the people on the street — and haunted by a feeling that we could easily radicalize them with a reckless foreign policy.

I'm no diplomat, and I realize that Iran is a challenging puzzle to solve. It seems we will always be in conflict with Iran, and the answers will never come easy. But surely whatever we do should be built upon a foundation of understanding: We must get to know Iran on its own terms. We would be foolish not to recognize its baggage--and not to appreciate its spine.

My public television special, "Rick Steves Iran: Yesterday and Today," is as timely and important today as it was when we first released it in 2009. Back then, when people asked me why on earth I was making a TV show about Iran, I told them, “I believe if you’re going to bomb a place, you should know its people first.” And I believe that now more than ever.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Tue Jan 7, 2020, 07:23 PM (30 replies)

Nora En Pure

Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sun Jan 5, 2020, 02:04 AM (0 replies)

My two favorite covers of 80s songs

Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sun Jan 5, 2020, 02:02 AM (1 replies)

BBC News (via MSN): Your questions: Will Soleimani killing cause WW3?

BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus answers your questions about what this action means.

How likely is this to escalate to WW3? - Lewis Alcott

While some have described the killing of Soleimani as "a declaration of war" by the United States against Iran, it is important both not to overstate nor to understate the significance of the moment.

This will not prompt World War Three. The key actors who might be involved in such a conflict, for example Russia and China, are not significant players in this drama.

But this could become a defining moment for the Middle East and for Washington's role in it. A significant Iranian retaliation is to be expected, and this could lead to a cycle of action and reaction that could bring the two countries ever closer to an all-out conflict.

Iran's response might be against US military interests in the region but equally it could be against any US-related target that Iran thinks vulnerable.

Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Fri Jan 3, 2020, 04:21 PM (0 replies)

Who might this Republican Veep be, and when might the pick be made?

Larry Hogan?
John Kascich?
Is he confused about the political affiliation of Senator John Kennedy (R - LA)?

Will he announce at the convention? Once the nomination is wrapped up?
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Thu Jan 2, 2020, 11:48 PM (16 replies)

My limited view of retail doesn't look great

I've been shopping this week and the past two. This week, the big-boxers (Walmart, Target) have finally begun to look busy, although both were running about 1/3 of their available cashier lanes.

I also went to a Department Store last night - Dillards. My older daughter wanted some boots, and I was able to order them online for store pickup. Easy, no-hassle experience with no complaints. But the store was dead. A week before we all try to outdo the Three Kings for gift giving - dead. I'd remember being in Department stores in the malls in my 20s and 30s a week before Christmas, and they were packed. The cashier stands had lines. Now racks of clothes and costume jewelry and boxes of Harry & David Moose Munch and Godiva Chocolate go untouched. It came as a surprise partly because I've been told that the higher-end stores are largely escaping the carnage in retail.

I'm just one guy; this was just one store, and I have only been to this store in this place. I have to think that there will be more hemorrhaging in retail in 1Q and 2Q 2020, though. The malls are just not attracting buyers; the remaining department stores seem to not have a market to whom to sell, and free shipping and the time savings are just making online buying so simple.

If you've seen a different story, I'd be interested in you to share it.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Wed Dec 18, 2019, 10:17 PM (10 replies)

General Questions for DUers About the Holidays & The Economy

1) Thinking about the last Holiday season, do you figure to spend more, less, or about the same this year?

2) At this point, is your shopping done? Close? Not close? Not Started? You make gifts?

3) Do you still mostly give "things" or gift cards?

4) Do you mostly shop brick and mortar or Online?

5) Has the recent rise in retail closings impacted your shopping this year?
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sun Dec 15, 2019, 05:07 PM (14 replies)

A shout-out to all of the college kids working in these campaigns

A son of a friend of mine was working for the Harris campaign. He'd survived the staff cuts that came with the office closures a few weeks back. Honor student and recent bachelor's degree grad who had deferred law school to work on the campaign. There are a lot of those kids / young adults on these campaigns doing the grunt work - answering calls, handing out fliers at events, making calls, and knocking on doors. For many, when their candidate drops, it's back to school or the job market. For others, it will be on to another campaign - maybe another Presidential candidate, or maybe someone looking to win a House or Senate seat. Very long days, very little money, and maybe there's a staff job at the end if the candidate wins - and maybe not. It's a labor of love, and none of these candidates could do the job without them.

So thanks, guys!
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Tue Dec 3, 2019, 03:34 PM (3 replies)

Question: Why Walter Reed?

I thought the feds were closing Walter Reed, and that Bethesda Naval Hospital was where Presidents got their medicine on? I obviously missed something.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sun Nov 17, 2019, 03:25 AM (4 replies)

Dear Admins: Can Deval Patrick please be added as a candidate choice? (eom)

Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Thu Nov 14, 2019, 10:35 AM (4 replies)
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