States of affairs and affairs of states

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The big news this week is the dissolution of my relationship.

That’s not actually true. The big news this week is Israel bombing the shit out of Gaza.

That’s not actually true either. The big news this week is General Petraeus and his affair with Paula Broadwell, who is making the job of biographer seem sexy, which is deceitful. Though I hardly see how it is news that a powerful man cheated on his wife. Without even creasing my brow I can think of Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, that one guy who posted that awful topless photo of himself, and that other guy with tastes in high-class hookers. Oh and the South Carolina governor and his mistress from Argentina.

David Petraeus’s twinkie was in the news this week.

And that’s just from the past few years.

I’m sorry Petraeus resigned. I agree with journalist Thomas E. Ricks (Wall Street Journal and Washington Post) who argues that you can be a cheating asshole and still excel at your job. He doesn’t use those words, exactly, which is probably why he has a Pulitzer and I don’t.

Also worth reading: When the Stains of War Lead to Infidelity, by a woman whose military husband cheated on her.

Back to my comparatively modest news: my boyfriend broke up with me. You’d think I’d be devastated, and I’m frankly astonished that I’m handling it as well as I am, but it was a week ago and I’m basically okay. I don’t care to discuss the subject in more detail on this public forum, but you can contact me individually if you’d like to know more.

He and I will continue to live together as roommates. I expect we’ll be able to maintain some sort of friendship; it makes a lot of financial sense; and the kitties have abandoned him to sleep in my room, and that’s all that really matters.

Back to the non-Petraeus big news: after several years of leaving Palestine mostly alone, Israel is again on the offensive — and this is not a country that does things by halves. This is not a good time to be a civilian in Palestine, and it is really not a good time to be a military leader in Palestine.

Here’s what I can’t figure out. Israel is using excessive force and killing innocent civilians. This seems indefensible.

But Hamas is a terrorist organization, if we are to believe the United States. (And not just the US. A lot of countries identify Hamas as a terrorist group.) And while I think the United States supports Israel to a fault, I don’t imagine the American government goes about capriciously labeling Israel’s enemies as terrorists.

Israel has a right to defend itself, but from what I can tell, this military action is purely offensive. I don’t agree with what they’re doing. But neither am I ready to conclude that Hamas is the good guy.

What I really need here is a solid education in Middle Eastern current affairs and history. That would be the ideal approach for forming an opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Looking at a few wikipedia pages, I am sorry to report, does not in fact make me an expert.

I am slowly developing a sense of global affairs and foreign policy. In an effort to make myself competitive for the Foreign Service, I have been reading a lot of international news. It’s nice that I am becoming slightly less ignorant.

It is not nice that I am losing my time for pleasure reading. The hours I used to spend with books have been parlayed into civic education. From that perspective, I suppose I should be glad that my temp job is ending in two weeks.

Starting in December, I’ll have an extra forty hours per week on my hands. The plan is to spend many of those hours doing freelance work. If all goes well, I might just possibly be able to stay afloat until the Foreign Service or the Peace Corps comes through.

Some of those hours will need to be devoted to volunteering. The Peace Corps won’t take me without a letter of recommendation from a volunteer supervisor, and it’s been years since I’ve done any sustained volunteering. Time to fix that! I’ve got a a few different organizations in mind.

But I intend to carve out some time for pleasure reading. I’m grumpy without my books. I’ll endeavor to maintain this blog (I enjoy writing, and anyway I feel guilty when I let it stagnate), but if I go a while without posting, the lapse will be caused, at least in part, by a good book or two.

2 responses »

  1. I think you should consider applying to the CIA. Surely they need smart librarians.

  2. Overlapping military specification subjectification in this fine Post, Jess. Though sorry to hear that your personal relationship empathy level has been elevated, I hope your situation continues to be a bearable one for you. The Petraeus level of egregious is, as you note in your “see-alsos”, largely understandable given the enforced separations of the military lifestyle. 4-stars on the epaulets do not come easily, especially when a career soldier is constrained to abide by a much higher standard of conduct and much more closely, (almost invasively so) degree of personal scrutiny than most civilians can imagine.Despite all the efforts of Chaplains, Army Community Service support programs and an almost Norman Rockwellesque reverence for family life, “non-accompanied combat tours of duty SUCK when it comes to the ties that bind. Rather than get too specific in your forum, we can however leave other readers with the assurance that these events of infidelity are indeed exceptions rather than the the norm.
    On the Israel-Palestinian situation you seem to have opened a can of worms that has also a great deal to do with very literally ancient political lifestyles inherent in warrior tribes and the strategic defense of nations. On that mil-spec note, this reader is going to grab another cup of coffee and review the long entry …
    Sincere personal good wishes…Suggestions for Middle East reading material will follow. Thanks for exercising your journalistic skills, Jess…
    out-4-the nonce
    Tom B.


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