Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art and Culture in the War of Ideas

Supporters of the Iraqi insurgency have begun producing Hollywood-style movie posters, most based on horror or action movies, satirizing the American military. While the precise origin of the posters is unclear, Britain's Sky News, the only media outlet to cover the matter, reported this summer that the images are proliferating on Islamic extremist websites, which attribute them to the insurgents themselves.

One blogger who picked up the story noted that the insurgents "show a native fluency in American popular culture." This indeed raises a variety of questions about culture, popular or otherwise.

Is culture the type of thing that can be used or abused?

Is art merely techne, the ability to craft something well? In that case, might we call this latest propaganda campaign by these mufsidun "good art"? Or does art necessarily have a moral dimension?

Finally, do cultures have an innate value, or are all equal? As a practical matter, should we be studying the enemy, in order to bring this sort of propaganda to his camp, or is there something inherently wrong with this, if his culture is intrinsically disordered? Is his culture so disordered?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

NATO planes intercept Russian bombers

As if we needed more reason to be worried that Pooty-Poot wants to bring back the glory days of the Cold War, the AP reports
Norwegian and British fighters scrambled... to intercept eight Russian bombers that neared the Nordic country's territory in the latest show of air power by the Kremlin.... The Tu-95 strategic bombers rounded Norway's northern tip over the Barents Sea and flew south over the North Atlantic before turning back, Norwegian defense officials said. The Russian planes... stayed inside international air space during the maneuvers.

Lt. Col. John Inge Oeglaend, of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, explained that two Norwegian F-16s were sent up both times that the Russian aircraft approached Norwegian territory. He said it was the third time since mid-July that Norwegian fighters have scrambled to counter Russian maneuvers. NATO spokesman James Appathurai said Norway and Britain launched quick-reaction interceptor and airborne-warning planes and tankers "as part of routine NATO procedure."