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The Weekend Desk Report

"After a frightening and tragic night in Paris, Chicago Public Schools and University of Chicago officials say that all students currently in the French capital are safe and accounted for," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Students from Chicago's Lincoln Elementary and Chicago Agricultural High School are currently in Paris."

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"Twenty-six days after terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, this country and its allies retaliated with the invasion of Afghanistan," the Tribune editorial page says.

"There was no question of if. Just when and how this country would respond to that terror attack. The American-led invasion quickly toppled the Taliban and scattered al-Qaeda. But that war still awaits its final battle. U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan to keep the pressure on the Taliban and terrorists who seek to reprise a caliphate of cruelty in that country.

"Now a new threat rises. Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has made it clear in the past few weeks that it is not content to carve out its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Islamic State is fighting a global war."

Huh. You know what's missing from that timeline? Let me refresh the Trib's memory:

"[T]he Tribune now urges the swift launch of the war Saddam Hussein has, by his 12 years of cunning defiance, demanded," the paper wrote in March 2003.

Proponents and opponents of military action against Saddam Hussein have, in their zeal, clouded the central issue here with assertions that are well intentioned but not compelling.

Choose your (abbreviated) litany:

Proponents say Iraq broadly foments international terrorism. They predict that eliminating Hussein's regime would open the way for both resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the spread of democracy to neighboring lands.

Opponents say war is an expression of U.S. hubris that will further destabilize the region, prompt more terror attacks and ultimately fail to unify Iraq's rival factions. Many suspect that this is all about oil, or settling old scores.

The problem here is not with the dueling assertions but with what they betray: a yearning to resolve ambiguities in one direction, pro or con.

Emphasis mine to show that reality didn't prove ambiguous, though; opponents to the war were absolutely right and proponents to the war were absolutely wrong. Among those proponents: the Tribune editorial page, which concluded then that war opponents had not met the burden of persuasion that war proponents had.

Why is that important now? Because most of the Islamic State's leaders are former Iraqi officers, unleashed by the United States' invasion, dispersed and re-coalesced, as reported by the Washington Post among others. That part of the equation has to be understood if the problem is to be solved. (For example, more of the same may be counterproductive, as it has been for 15 years.)

"The raw cruelty of Hussein's Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State's ascent, said Hassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.

"A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it's not useful," Hassan said. "It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq."

Thanks, Tribune.

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Now the paper seems to be saying U.S. boots should go on the ground . . . somewhere. At least I think that's what they're saying, unless they believe we can just bomb every nation where Islamic State factions reside into submission from the air. As if we aren't already trying in seven predominantly Muslim countries. How is that working out?

It's easy to talk tough from the editorial board room; I'd rather see someone talking smart.

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The Sun-Times, which was even more war-mongering than the Trib in 2003, takes a different tack:

The horror grows with every new report out of Paris, and our thoughts and emotions shift and surge. They can hardly be contained. Will we call upon the best in ourselves, or stoop low and grow small in our fury?

When we do the first, we begin to defeat the forces of evil that would carry out such attacks. When we do the latter, stooping low, we allow them to defeat us.

That, to me, is talking smart.

We are infuriated. We, like the entire civilized world, want nothing more than to strike back at such savagery - and in one way or another we will. Every terrorist attack is a reminder of precious values that must be defended at all costs.

Secure in our freedoms and commitment to tolerance, we will prevail over barbarism - so long as we live by those values even when it is most difficult.

Isn't that the missed post-9/11 opportunity we now lament that we missed? Instead of doubling down on our highest values then and leading a united world in a better direction, we halved our ideals and commenced a global torture and surveillance regime. We turned the beacon for democracy into the very kind of police and security state we used to differentiate ourselves from.

I'm not expert enough to know what all the strategic and tactical options are right now for France and its allies, including the United States, but I do know that one path has proven historically disastrous while another is the one that holds hope.

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Weekend Must-See TV
Spies of Mississippi on WYCC-TV at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

"The story of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a secret agency created by the state during the 1950s to spy on its citizens and maintain segregation."

Boy, were they backwards.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #77: Narrating The Bears
Kill fanboy groupthink!

Plus: Fight The Bulls Narratives!; Partisan Sports-Watching; Blackhawks Still Trying To Find A Narrative!; and The Hottish Stove League.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Sound Opinions pays tribute to New Orleans pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint who died on November 10, 2015. The music legend chatted with hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot in the studio in 2013 after the release of his album Songbook. Later in the show, Jim and Greg review a New Zealand import from The Chills."

I listened to this on Saturday afternoon and I can't recommend it highly enough; the boys' interview with Toussaint is one of the most informative and enjoyable of any artist I've heard. The Chills are good too.

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Weekend BeachBook

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Turn it around.



Permalink

Posted on November 14, 2015


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Trump's Disastrous FCC Chair.
POLITICS - Filing: Walmart CEO Made $22.4 Million Last Year.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Pace Pantsed.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Bus Stop.


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