Awash in Profits, Western Oil Companies Can’t Maintain Influence

August 19, 2008 at 4:50 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

gee, maybe if you guys would have played nice, instead of, well, you know, not playing nice with the locals throughout the world, then maybe you would still have influence to drill for more oil…just sayin’

The Kind of Professional News Analysis You Rarely See These Days in America

August 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

It is sad when al-Jazeera does a far better job at explaining a situation than most news organizations in America. But that is the case.

Musharraf Resigns, A Step Forward in Pakistan

August 18, 2008 at 7:14 am | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

This is great news for Pakistan. Maybe now things will improve there.

Fox News Propaganda Gets Beaten by a 12-year old girl

August 18, 2008 at 6:50 am | Posted in American politics | 3 Comments

Brilliant!

Could McCain Have Orchestrated With Saakashvili?

August 14, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

I just have to raise this question because this whole mess is just so fishy. John McCain is getting quite ahead of himself, dispatching his Senators (Lieberman and Graham) as if he were in charge. Very presumptuous. He even stated:

Asked about his tough rhetoric on the ongoing conflict in Georgia, McCain began: “If I may be so bold, there was another president . . .”

He caught himself and started again: “At one time, there was a president named Ronald Reagan who spoke very strongly about America’s advocacy for democracy and freedom.”

Freudian slip, Senator? You ain’t president yet.

There are a few unwritten rules in politics. One of them is that there is no such thing as luck. Very little is actually surprising. The real surprise is only to the spectators in the audience. John McCain didn’t have such close ties with Georgian leaders by accident. His top foreign policy adviser is Georgian, was paid to lobby Congress FOR Georgia! McCain talks with Saakashvili on a daily basis. Furthermore, McCain is now dominating the headlines and cable news shows. The talk is that this war is making him look “presidential”—when they really should say “presumptuous.”

The timing of this conflict just stinks of politics. Could McCain have orchestrated with Saakashvili to have Saakashvili try and take South Ossetia by force now, in August? What better way for McCain to dominate the news at home with the topic he is most comfortable with (rather than the tedious nuance of domestic politics)—international war, particularly with an old foe—Russia. What better way to put on the “show” that he is the best man to lead America?

McCain says that under his rule, America will have a dramatically different relationship with Russia. Does it not make sense then to get the ball rolling early? to get the belligerence and aggression started early? After all, he has only four years to defeat Russia.

I think this was orchestrated. McCain is a Republican, in the same vein as Dick Cheney (who offered such advice as painting American planes with the UN colors, flying them over Iraq and having Iraqis shoot them down, thus creating the justification for war; or get some Americans in Iranian Revolutionary Guard uniform, put them on a PT boat and have an American battleship kill them in order to start a shooting war with Iran). I think that McCain is that desperate to gain power. He has sold his principles and is no longer an honorable man. Why should he care anymore?

John McCain – Unfit To Lead

August 14, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Giving Republicans a taste of their own dirty medicine.

John McCain’s Stupidity Continues…

August 14, 2008 at 6:52 am | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.

For anyone who thought that stark international aggression was a thing of the past, the last week must have come as a startling wake-up call.

Um…America Invades Iraq. That is usually called “stark international aggression.” But hey IOIADI (It’s Okay If America Does It).

Some Americans may wonder why events in this part of the world are any concern of ours. After all, Georgia is a small, remote and obscure place. But history is often made in remote, obscure places.

Forgetting the lessons of World War I, (though he may have been alive back then) McCain correctly states that history is often made in remote, obscure places. Like, oh, Serbia. 14 million souls died thanks to those Serb nationalists.

Yet regime change in Georgia appears to be the true Russian objective.

Hmmm, regime change appears to have been the true American objective the last time “stark international aggression” occurred. Because we did it, we must assume that others do it to. But that’s not really Russia’s goals, only what McCain wishes for Americans to believe. It is a lie, but McCain has dispensed with even pretending to be an honorable truth teller.

There are credible reports of civilian killings and even ethnic cleansing as Russian troops move deeper into Georgian territory.

Let’s make this lie even bigger. Let’s add the incendiary “ethnic cleansing” lie. What better words to get Americans riled up!

At the same time, we must make clear to Russia’s leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world.

Heh, I don’t think McCain realizes how empty these words are thanks to his twin, Mr. Bush. Once again, IOIADI (It’s Okay If America Does It).

The U.S. has cancelled a planned joint military exercise with Russia, an important step in this direction.

Silly, childish reaction.

As I told President Saakashvili on the day the cease-fire was declared, today we are all Georgians. We mustn’t forget it.

Is McCain, dare I say, a bit presumptuous to claim this for all Americans when he doesn’t represent all Americans?

Are Republicans this silly, this stupid?

John McCain: In 21st Century, Nations Don’t Invade Other Nations

August 13, 2008 at 8:25 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Really?

Um…America Invades Iraq

Are Republicans really going to nominate this dolt?

Is John McCain Ready To Act?

August 13, 2008 at 11:49 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

John McCain claimed we “are all Georgians” when we clearly aren’t. It was a cheap political shot, but, well, it comes now at a price. Georgian President Saakashvili has just called out McCain’s bluff.

“Yesterday, I heard Sen. McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now,’” Saakashvili said on CNN’s American Morning. “Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.”

Ouch! That’s gotta sting.

So, Mr. McCain. Are you ready to send soldiers into Georgia to fight alongside the Georgians? You claim we are one with them. That means that we die with them, too. Are you ready to ask Americans to do that? If not, then shut the hell up!

Your Attorney General of the United States on Crime

August 12, 2008 at 2:36 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

This is what he thinks:

“not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.”

The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of crime:

1: an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law; especially : a gross violation of law

So, so sad when the Attorney General of the United States cannot understand what a crime is or isn’t.

It’s Okay if Israel Does it

August 12, 2008 at 8:19 am | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

George W. Bush on Russia’s attacks on Georgia.

Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” the president said in a televised statement from the White House, calling on Moscow to sign on to the outlines of a cease-fire as the Georgian government has done.

I seem to recall Israel invading a “sovereign neighboring state” threatening that democratic government, elected by its people. That nation would be Lebanon. That year would be 2006. That is in the 21st century. If it is unacceptable for Russia to do this in the 21st century, why was it acceptable for Israel?

Why shouldn’t this be the “birth pangs of a new Caucasus?”

Still Stuck in 1938

August 11, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Yet another conservative. It’s been SEVENTY YEARS FOLKS! It’s NOT 1938 folks! Russia is NOT Nazi Germany. Georgia is NOT Czechoslovakia! Get away from this infantile thinking!

Where is Bush?

August 11, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

As Russia pounds Georgia, angry Georgians are asking, “Where is George W. Bush?”


(courtesy of the New York Times)

Oh….there he is


(Courtesy of LA Times)

George Bush to the Georgians in 2005:

“The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.”

The Result of Taunting Russia

August 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

That would be Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili. And that would be the result of listening to American neo-conservatives, Mr. Saakashvili. Their kool-aid is bad for your country!

Quote of the Day – George W. Bush

August 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

to the poor Georgians:

Back in 2005, speaking before a crowd of more than 150,000 exuberant Georgians cheering “Bushi! Bushi!”, President Bush made a promise to the people of that former Soviet republic: “The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.”

The Chinese Sure Know How To Throw A Party!

August 8, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Just finished watching the 12 hour tape delayed NBC aired showing of the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (Leave aside the ridiculousness of not showing the event live for those who desire to watch it live here in America). I must say I was mightily impressed by the creativeness and expert choreography of the Chinese efforts. I’m going to post here three particular pictures that are available in the New York Times Slide Show of the event, that I found spectacular. Each picture is linked to its original source.

Enjoy the Olympics!

The Great Walls of Baghdad

August 8, 2008 at 8:27 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

(h/t Democracy Arsenal)

The legacy of George W. Bush.

Should America Be An Empire or Not?

August 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Posted in American politics | 13 Comments

Mother Jones got access to a Pentagon study done in 2002 on the lessons America could possibly learn from the great empires in history. This is a worthy question for a powerful nation like the United States to ask, particularly in terms of how America should behave towards the rest of the world. Should the United States stop being in denial that it acts like an empire? Should we stop the imperial actions and act as we believe we are, a benevolent power? Is there such a thing as a benevolent empire? At some point, someone will not like being dictated to by a distant power. We, the United States, for example, really didn’t care for England dictating our affairs without representation of some kind. We kicked the English out.

Today’s world is vastly different than any in the history of the world. Technology has brought the whole world to a point where nations and individuals are at a far more egalitarian point than ever before. A simple terrorist using a nation’s technology against itself can do far more damage than ever before (see 9/11 as the most successful example—on 9/11, 19 terrorists took control of jets belonging to us and used them as missiles to destroy various buildings. The only things they brought of themselves were their wit and box cutters. The rest of the damage was done with our technology). To attempt to study past imperial successes in a present scenario isn’t very effective, in my view at least, for at least four reasons that I can think of without much thinking.

1. Forces back then were much more brutal to local populations.
2. Local populations were less educated and more malleable.
3. Local populations had few if any avenues of recourse or rebellion.
4. Rebuilding and improving social conditions within the local population was easier and cheaper than today.

Technology has changed the face of the world. For one, a local population can turn against the occupying forces and through slash and burn guerrilla warfare cause death by a thousand cuts to the occupying force. The improved education and communication has made it more difficult for modern forces to be as brutal as in the past. A massacre of a local population can turn the tide of public opinion, even in the population of the occupying forces, making it vastly more difficult politically to maintain that occupation. Vietnam, for example, was a disaster because the American forces could not be as brutal as they probably needed to be to pacify the Vietnamese, and when they did attempt the more brutal actions, they proved to be severe trouble back at home politically. This was not taken into account by those who proposed the actions in the first place, or those who tried to continue them.

The purpose of the Pentagon’s 2002 study was to figure out how the United States could “win” in the Middle East. I’m glad that the Pentagon realized for a while that any attempts to control such a volatile area is highly risky and probably doomed to fail in the long term. It goes to show though, that much of the thinking in the Pentagon is that the United States is to stay deeply involved in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. This is somewhat sad, because most of the pains we have had to deal with relate directly with our meddling in the Middle East with our military. Bin Laden stated that the reason he declared war on us was because of our military presence in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

World War II radically changed our country, our psyche, our identity, our ideals. We were, and I hate to say it this way, but we were traumatized by the Nazis. I don’t think we were necessarily overly horrified by what they had done. What horrified us was the scale on which it was done. Genocide had been done before numerous times. It was not a new phenomenon. What was new was the scale. Germany was the most powerful nation on the planet in 1939. They had the will, the means, the capability, and enough political support to actuate a genocide on a scale like no other. We vowed “never again” will we allow such an event to occur. Of course, events like those are highly rare (seeing that it happened only once), but that did not stop us from radically altering our behavior. Every minor threat, every two bit dictator was viewed in the Hitler prism. We became stuck in 1939 rather than move forward with the rest of the world. We kept bases in Germany and Japan and placed other bases in numerous other places. We created the CIA with the instructions, first, to be a spy agency, and then secondly to become a covert operation group. We would dabble in the affairs of local populations. We would sow the seeds of chaos to disallow certain individuals we didn’t like from getting into power, regardless of popular will of the local population. Henry Kissinger stood best for this mindset when he said:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

The fear of that “never again” becoming an “again” was of greater importance to the United States than the will of the locals in Chile. Nevermind, of course, that Chile would not, and certainly could not ever attain the strength and power of Nazi Germany. But it could be a link in a stronger chain tied to the Soviet Union, which was, at that point, our “never again.” The Soviets under Stalin had killed over 20 million of its own during the 1940s. Very very repressive. Very bad regime and ideology. This fear, however, was not very realistic. It was overhyped. The Soviet Union was bankrupting itself in its attempts to keep up with the real threats it faced from the United States. It was, inevitably, a matter of time when they would face reality that they had to stop (which they did in the late 1980s). Ironically, the Soviet Union’s fall came quicker thanks to their failed attempt at increasing their empire through its invasion of Afghanistan. The locals however, fueled by the United States, turned against the occupying force, and caused a death by thousand cuts, forcing the Soviet Union into an embarrassing, ignominious withdrawal of Afghanistan.

How should our military behave in the world today, and particularly in the Middle East?

1. Continue building close relations and good communications with other militaries. Keeping in constant communication makes it harder to misinterpret what an opponent does. As Sun Tzu counseled, “know thy enemy.”

2. Have a good understanding of the ranking and lines of commands of belligerent militaries. The incident at the Strait of Hormuz back in January 2008 was very close to starting a shooting war between the Iranians and the Americans that really didn’t need to happen. Surprisingly from what I read about that incident, the Americans had no communication with their counterparts within the Iranian military. Why not? An American general gets on the phone with an Iranian general and learns that there was a mixup down the ladder and the Iranian general recalls the boats apologizing to the American general. Problem solved. No damage done.

The rest of the things that need to be done are political and must be done by politicians.

The thing to realize right now is that we are trying to control the world, to get it to do things as we wish them to do things. We think we’ve got life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness down and that other philosophies don’t work like ours does. We are arrogant but don’t seem to care. While it is true that our general philosophy on life has produced strong results, we have not figured everything out. Our system is not perfect and has many defects. This is not to say we should dismiss what we have for other alternatives. I think our general philosophy works the best, but it needs some improvements.

I lean on not trying to control the world. We cannot stop every threat to our nation. We cannot stop every “never again” moments. Heck, we failed with Rwanda. We’re failing with Darfur (which is, sadly, still going on). These two incidents, sadly, were not “never again” moments because they really were not a threat to us, were in very remote areas, not strategically located, and had no chance of spreading out like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. The less we use our military as a political tool, the more long term success we will have. Our real power is soft. We are liked by most of the world because we produce so many things that benefit people, that bring happiness, or massive consumption. We have inspired creativity and innovation. I am amazed to see what other places in the world have done as inspired by what we have done.

What we should do with our military is strengthen its defense capabilities, rather than its offense capabilities. Let our enemies come to us, if they dare. The more we stretch out toward other lands, the less powerful we become. That is one of the greatest lessons of the Roman Empire, ironically, the example that the Pentagon picked as the one to follow. As Edward Gibbon said:

“But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long.”

The Pentagon has looked to the wrong examples when questioning what path America should take in its survival as a superior force for the future. It should look at the enduring examples of nations that did NOT attempt to control the world around it. Let me name two examples that come to mind: China and India. To my knowledge, and I admit not to be an expert (what blogger is) on this, China and India were never considered expansive imperial powers. Their histories are not replete with examples of attempts to conquer lands around them. (In fact, in the case of China, they had built a massive Great Wall in order to keep OUT foreign invaders—certainly not something you would do if you were planning on heading OUT to conquer). They endured thousands of years.

How long had the conquering empires lasted? Napoleon’s France lasted not more than a few years. The Roman Empire lasted about 1000 years, but for the most of that history, they did NOT go conquering. They built up their power and influence for a few hundred years and then a conquering they went. Alexander the Great’s Macedonian empire lasted only as long as he was alive. Because of squabbling among his sons, it came crashing down. Why would anyone look at that example for what to do? I don’t get it.

If we want America to endure, we must stop trying to force others to “bend to our views” as some Americans want. America is at its best when it doesn’t force. America is at its worst when it does force because we, well, to put plainly, suck at it. We are not good at being brutal. It goes against the principles we believe in, and when we do it, it reflects badly on everything else we do. We proclaim high standards to the world around us, demanding they treat everyone respectfully. Thus because we believe those principles, we are conflicted when faced with a situation requiring brutality for success. We just can’t do it right. In fact, it makes matters worse when we act brutally than if we hadn’t acted at all. And that is my point. It is better, in the long run, for the United States to not be brutal, and to not take the paths that lead to brutality. We know where those paths are in any given situation. They are not mysterious. Invading Iraq, as one example, was clearly going to lead America into a brutal situation. This is not to say that military action should not ever be taken. What it is saying is that military action should be taken judiciously and not rushed. All the evidence, in the case of Iraq, shows a rush to judgment and a lack of thought.

To conclude, I believe America will endure as the most powerful and influential country in the world by projecting its soft power patiently and employing military power judiciously. We must elect leaders who respect this pattern. We won’t be liked by everyone, and we don’t want that anyways. We must be tried, we must be kept in check or our own power will go to our heads and we will lose the balance we carefully nurture. It is easy to fall prey to the temptation to use military might. It is easy to kill someone. It is hard to have that person stay alive and eventually come around to your view. The one has short term benefits, the other has long term benefits. I prefer the long term benefits for the endurance of my nation.

Pakistan to Impeach Musharraf

August 7, 2008 at 9:27 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

would that our Congress have this courage…

Iraq Reaps Whirlwind Oil Profits While American Taxpayers Pay For Iraq’s Reconstruction

August 5, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Thanks a lot George W. Bush. Thanks a lot John McCain.

now go away.

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