Showing posts with label worldPolitics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label worldPolitics. Show all posts

Friday, February 24, 2017

Natasha Dances for the American Deep State

How nice that I have managed to appreciate art in 'this lifetime.' Although music and comedy were two forms of art that were easy to appreciate, the visual arts left me yawning, in the past.

I refer to "art" in the Tolstoyan sense. This is quite different from Beauty, which most people confuse with "art."  Tolstoy thought that art was anything that transferred emotional experiences from the artist to the viewer/reader/listener, by means of words, pictures, sounds, or stories. Beauty is a another matter, according to Tolstoy.

Movies should be good at providing "artful" experiences in this sense of the word, and, one would think, the Russian movie version of "War and Peace" should be good at it, too.

I watched the first third of the three-disc movie, and couldn't make up my mind if I liked it. The star of the second third of the movie was "Natasha," the young Russian noble-girl who came of age during the lead-up to Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia.

It became easier to notice how graceful her movements. Well of course! Look at her: she has "ballet dancer" written all over her. And thank heavens they chose a young actress to play this role, instead of taking the BBC approach of using a 30-year-old actress to portray an adolescent.

Tolstoy uses the behavior of Natasha's family at a wolf hunt to foreshadow the upcoming big-battle-scene. Gone are the genteel French manners. Natasha's family starts acting like Russians. But what exactly does that mean? Napoleon is about to find out.

I wasn't prepared for what came just after the wolf hunt, at the evening meal at her bachelor-uncle's hunting lodge. Natasha hears some Russian folk music being played on a balalaika, a traditional instrument. They tell her to dance, although she doesn't quite know how to dance to uncivilized Russian folk music.

But she plays along, and improvises, haltingly, almost reluctantly. Somehow she connects with something, and finally cuts loose, while the voice-over and subtitle repeats Tolstoy's words:
Where...how...when had this young countess absorbed the spirit of this dance from the Russian air she breathed? Dressed in silk and velvet, educated by a French emigrée governess, how had she acquired these movements; yet these movements were the very ones, inimitable, unteachable, Russian, which her uncle expected of her. How well she understood all that was in...

Let's be playful with an anachronism, and imagine ol' Bonie in the slow lane on St. Helena. Since he has lots of time on his hands, he pops the movie into the machine one night. What would he really think of the wolf hunt and Natasha's dance? "Art" or merde.

Perhaps modern neo-cons, Democrats, and Deep-Staters might get something out of Natasha's dance, as well, before they try to force Russia to surrender Crimea.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

There Really Is an Exceptional Nation

Britain impressed the hell out of me a couple years ago when Parliament refused to go along with the Nobel-peace-prize-winning president in sending troops to Syria, to add it to the post-9/11 casualty list of destroyed countries.

But this recent move of theirs to withdraw from the European Union! It certainly made me appreciate Britain as the Exceptional Nation. As luck would have it, I had been reading books by Madame de Staël [*], written during the Napoleonic era. She too praised Britain as the exceptional nation, not that she used that exact phrase. 

The pre-Brexit polls showing the opposite result look a little fishy, to say the least. Oh, but we don't want to give into conspiracy theories!

How many Americans are feeling the irony and significance of these two recent moves by the Exceptional Nation of Britain? We were all by brainwashed by the government's schools that Americans were 10 feet tall, and that:
  • we had courageously broken away from the evil empire of the British king, George III; a president is better than a king,
  • democracies never start wars,
  • we were always the Good Guys in wars, and that we always won our wars,
  • Congress is the essence of self-government,
  • we were heroic, risk-taking pioneers and entrepreneurs.

How threadbare this myth has turned out to be!

[*] See her free books on Gutenberg.org and elsewhere. What a remarkable story is her life.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mental Junk Food in a Town of Health Food

I certainly am mooch-docking in a town of health food, vegetarian, vegan, organic, high-priced, food ideologues.  I have always dismissed food purists. Granted, not all of America is as wacky about food ideology as this town. But doesn't it seem strange how little the subject of mental junk food gets talked about?

The limiting case of mental junk food is television news, especially during presidential elections.

For instance, the moment the word 'Muslim' is mentioned, the word 'terrorist' comes to mind. It was not always so.

Perhaps that is why I appreciated a book by (the late) Maria Rosa Menocal, "The Ornament of the World", about medieval Andalusia (southern Spain). It was certainly a colorful time, with clashes and coexistence between the dominant Arab Muslims, Jews, and backward Christians.  Today many people overlook how advanced and dominant Muslim culture was from 800-1200 A.D. It was through Andalusia that European Christian civilization was awakened from its mental slumber of 800 years.

Unfortunately her book contains a thinly-disguised sales pitch for 'Diversity'. No doubt she thinks like an orthodox member of the European elite in believing that somehow Europe will benefit from the mass migration of Muslims from North Africa and the Mideast. But the example of medieval Andalusia doesn't correspond well with modern Europe and its neighbors to the south. She is trying to insinuate something by a loose analogy.

In her book, the only example of Diversity paying off was the service provided by the Jews in Muslim Spain: society needs some kind of financial arrangements to prosper, but the narrow dogma of the Muslims prevented them from providing that on their own.

Andalusia was set up as the pseudo-caliphate of the far West, by the scion of the deposed caliphate back in Damascus. The usurpers moved their capital to Baghdad after their victory. As a result Cordoba in Andalusia became the far western outpost of the best of what Muslims had to offer. To me, it shows the value of competition, decentralization, and colonization by an advanced culture in a backward region, rather than 'Diversity' as it is understood as a modern bumper sticker slogan.

Even if my criticism is not correct, it is satisfying to do my best to look at the big picture, and protect the integrity of my own mind from those funnels that are jabbed into our eyeballs, through which the garbage of the media-universe flows.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Being a Geo-political Strategist is Tough

(Must I add that the title is meant tongue in cheek?)

 As I read an interesting book on geo-politics, I am struck by a couple things:
1. How incompetent politicians and diplomats are at avoiding war. (Perhaps because they don't want to avoid it.)
2. How naive and easily deceived the masses are. They will believe anything. Immediately the war drums are being beaten. Preachers are talking about their War God from their pulpits. And how useful the Media is in starting a war.
3. How powerful hindsight is.
4. How poor I am at looking at international crises today, determining who is really behind it, what they hope to gain, and what is likely to happen.

In fact, #4 is so strong that I sometimes think that reading history is a waste of time. For instance I was surprised by Russia's military involvement in the current Syrian crisis. Then I was surprised by the recklessness of the War Party in Washington DC in wanting to send American planes and troops to Syria, despite the risk of an incident with the Russians. Such an incident feeds into #2 above. We have already survived one such incident when Turkey (a member of NATO) shot down the Russian bomber. 

No doubt, the incident was planned to provoke Putin into doing something rash, but he was too 'cool a customer' to fall for the trap.

Very well then, it is time to be foolish and predict how this mess is going to play out:

1. Russia's military commitment is enough to stabilize their ally, the Assad regime of Syria. But it isn't enough to ensure its long term survival. But Assad will survive until Washington DC gets a new president.

2. Russia is creating a bargaining chip which they will cash in during the early days of the next American president's term. The Russians will pull out of Syria, and leave a hypocritical war against ISIL to NATO, while in the background, NATO will pull away from the regime in Ukraine.

3. Both Putin and the new American president will look like great states-persons and peacemakers, so their popularity ratings will soar.

4. Washington's neocon warmongers, and Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, will then be free to finish destroying Syria, install a friendly puppet, build their pipeline from Qatar, and keep Israel happy now that Hezbollah in Lebanon has lost its ally, Assad, in Syria.

5. The Russians will be happy to keep NATO from expanding into the Ukraine.

6. A sense of crisis along the way will keep empowering Washington DC, London, and Paris to rub out the civil liberties of their serfs citizens.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Will Post-Attack France Be as Unwise as America?

Will the French be as stupid after the Paris attacks on Friday the 13th as America was after 9-11? For their sakes I hope not. But there are always those who seize on terrorist attacks to implement their own agenda, an agenda decided-on long before any attacks.

The two best editorials I've run across on the recent Paris attacks are described now:  The first was by Andrew Bacevich. This isn't the first time I've been impressed by one of his editorials.

The second recommendation appealed, in part, because I am a sucker for analogies. Bret Weinstein wrote in Salon that:
But to the nation as a whole that level of damage [from the 9-11 attacks] was about as dangerous as a bee sting.You may find that analogy suspect because bee stings are deadly to those with an allergy. But what kills people is not the sting itself. It is their own massive overreaction to an otherwise tiny threat, that fatally disrupts the functional systems of the body. And that is exactly what terrorists hope to trigger...
Let's hope the War Party and NATO don't use the Paris attacks as an excuse to create an even bigger disaster in Syria, as they did in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Asymmetric Warfare When Playing Chicken

While detesting the neo-con/Israel-first/Republican/Rapture Christian doctrine of permanent war, I still have an interest in being an 'armchair general' or military strategist. Yes, it is inconsistent, but if consistency is your hobgoblin, you are at the wrong blog.

The world seems to be beating Washington's pants off lately, with a Russian/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian axis building up in the Mideast, and China becoming more assertive about its reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. One way to see these developments is as a growth in a new type of asymmetric warfare, aimed straight at the least trusted government on planet Earth.

Do any readers know of any good articles or books about asymmetric warfare? The Wikipedia article is a good place to start. They give several famous examples in history.

What if the world is learning to exploit the fragility and hollowness of the American economy to play 'chicken' with Washington, and to win? Washington's rivals around the world have more weapons than they used to have. They now have Permanent Zero Interest to exploit. If instability starts the American consumer tipping into a recession, the Federal Reserve can't lower interest rates like they used to -- the rate is already zero.

The presidential election cycle is another weapon for America's rivals. Anything that freezes consumer spending tends to tip the country over into a recession, which means that the party that occupies the White House will probably lose it to the other side. 

Losing an election is not something that you can be a 'good sport' about, anymore. Washington's laws, regulations, subsidies, taxes, loopholes, contracts, court nominations, and economic favors are simply too important to surrender to the other political party. The truly private economy rots into insignificance. 'What's good for Washington is good for America.'

Permanent bubble-blowing is an integral part of America's economy, as is high unemployment -- properly measured -- and even higher under-employment. That means ever-increasing vulnerability because everybody besides Federal employees is hanging onto their job (and their ability to make loan payments) by their fingernails.

An oil exporter such as Russia should win a game of chicken with an oil-importing country like Washington. During threats of war in the Mideast, the price of oil will go up, to Russia's advantage.

But it seems that Washington's rivals are just learning how to exploit these vulnerabilities. In general, this is a development that much of the world can be cautiously optimistic about. 

But I have a lot to learn about this subject, and won't be offended if commenters point that out to me.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Are the Uni-power's Glory Years Over?

Most people probably don't talk about geopolitics and world events with family members. Who wants to have an argument with your own mother about politics? Perhaps that is why I still remember when my mother talked about the dissolution of the Soviet empire circa 1990: "...it all seemed so easy!" 

After all, most of her life had been spent during the "Good War" and its aftermath, the Cold War with the USSR. It must have seemed strange to her to realize that the world had suddenly become something quite different from what she had known.

So too it must seem to people, say, 35--45, whose adult years have been spent during the era when Washington DC was the great Uni-power, the mighty Hegemon of the world. It was a time with no "first world" military opposition. Washington could take over any country it wanted, on the flimsiest -- and phoniest -- excuse. The financial cost meant nothing -- they just borrowed whatever they needed.

I was astonished when the news came out that Russia was becoming overtly involved in the Syrian civil war. I'd gotten used to the Russians being "non-players." Surely Putin must be taking advantage of the presidential election year in the USA. The financial markets and the real economies are falling these days. The president in Washington can not risk making this worse by having a major confrontation with Russia. The best he can do is make it look like this is Washington's idea, and that the Russians are doing our dirty work for us.

If the Russians behave well, they might get eager cooperation from the Shia axis from Lebanon, to Syria, a Shia-dominated Iraq, and Iran. Just imagine the enormous and deep hatred of Washington that must exist there and elsewhere in the Mideast! The outcome could be a Mideast, or even a world, that has learned how to fight back against the open-ended cruelty of Washington.

It isn't often that 'world news' looks hopeful. For the sake of all those miserable people in countries destroyed by Washington, let this be one of those times.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Failure of Washington's Foreign Policy Imagination

Although I genuinely believe that Washington DC has become an Evil Empire, it is probably useless to write about its foreign policy in terms of morality and emotion. Nobody who disagrees with me wants to be told their government is eeevil, since that is like being told that they are evil; nor do they want to see me indulge in moral posturing on the side of the angels.

That is the advantage to seeing an issue in intellectual terms. It is possible for people in different moods to reach some sort of common ground. "Losing or winning" an argument in this way can be a partial thing, not an example of unconditional surrender. Nor is it as offensive as being told your side is eeevil.

Let's look at Washington's current policy in the Ukraine in this manner. Let's see it as a parallel with another historical event: the lead-up to the Great War of 1914.

Recall that in August of 2014 the Media took a break from its usual drivel to mention the centenary of the Great War. I was surprised (and pleased) that the American media noticed it at all. By luck a cyclist in my Yuma snowbird bicycle club gave me an excellent book, "The War to End All Peace," by Margaret MacMillan. It is not as pro-British as one would expect. In the chapter "Dreadnought" she wrote about the building tension on the seas:


Thanks to its geography Britain had generally been able to regard the growth of powerful land forces on the Continent with equanimity. It could never do so on the seas. The British navy was at once its shield, its means of projecting its strength and its lifeline to the wider world. Every schoolchild was taught how the navy had seen off the Spanish Armada...and had helped to bring Napoleon down.

It was a policy supported not just by the ruling elites but by much of the British public. The British across the political and social spectrum took great pride in their navy...

Tirpitz [ed., the top German admiral], [Kaiser] Wilhelm and their fellow enthusiasts for a big German navy which could challenge Britain's never understood how vitally important the Royal Navy was for the British and that failure of imagination was to cost them, and Europe, dearly.
___________________________________ 

Could Washington be failing to use the imagination needed to see that Russia considers the Ukraine, Crimea, and Black Sea as being too important to allow the intrusion of NATO and the European Union? There must be somebody in Washington's foreign policy establishment who understands the national mythology of Russia. Of course that doesn't mean that they have any influence.

I only understand the basics of Russian mythology. The story starts with the half-legendary trading voyages and depredations of Swedish Vikings, who used the rivers and portages of today's Russia and Ukraine to get from the Baltic Sea to Constantinople. The Kiev Rus was the first Slavic state, and it was formed on one of those rivers of trade. Eastern Christianity got started there. The center of Holy Russia moved from Kiev to Moscow over time, and it came to be seen as the "third Rome."

How much of this is history, how much is myth? What matters is how securely it is attached to a Russian's DNA. Can you intrude on somebody's "founding" myth and expect them to meekly move aside?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Salad Days of Secession

It improves your life to pay little attention to the "News," but not for the reason usually offered: that it is too negative.  At the moment there are Baja-hurricane-related flash flood warnings in southern Arizona. That's certainly negative, but it is worth knowing about if you live near an arroyo down there.

A better reason for ignoring news is that most of it is trivial entertainment, spin, and government propaganda. But I certainly admit that some of it has been interesting lately.

Consider the Scottish Independence vote. Incredible news actually. Isn't there an old proverb on Wall Street that a stock market adviser can give the price of a stock OR a date, but should never give both. In defiance of that I am here to make a fool of myself, on the day of the Scottish vote, and predict that they will vote 'No' to independence.

Perhaps it will be close, but the whole thing is redolent of Quebec versus the rest of Canada. Threatening to secede is just a bargaining chip that gives the minority more power than mere numbers give it. It makes sense that the majority of the country would get sick of the extortion eventually and tell the secession-threateners to put up or shut up. There must be many 'undecideds' who get cold feet about disrupting their lives with independence.

In the case of Scotland, the issue must be oil in the North Sea. It is too easy for the majority of a country to cave in on something and give the secessionists more autonomy or more free goodies, and keep them in the country.

But I hope I'm wrong. The world would benefit from more secession, be it Basque, Catalunya, Venice, eastern Ukraine, Kurdistan, etc. The USA should split into at least two or three countries.

Isn't it strange how we are all brainwashed with the holiness of democracy, but it seems dangerous or extreme to talk of secession. Consider how Thomas Jefferson put it: 'government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.' And that means of course that the governed can withdraw that consent, and secede. 

There have been worrisome but still peaceful secessions. One of them was the Norwegian secession from Sweden in 1905. It helped send my grandfather to the USA. If he had stayed in Sweden he wouldn't have been sent as cannon fodder to fight Germany 12 years later.

The country that mismanaged secession worst of all was the last country that should have. The USA completely failed as a nation when it used the secession of the southern states as grounds for an invasion. Americans still think there is something evil about secession, even though their whole over-rated country owes its existence to a secession from the UK in 1776.

If Scotland votes 'Yes' to independence, what would happen if things proceed relatively smoothly, and it all works out rather well? Would anyone even point out how ridiculous it makes the USA look for the disaster of 1861? Perhaps the Brits aren't as civilized as they look. Maybe they only offered the Scots a vote because they thought that the vote would be against independence. That lesson will be learned from the "mother" countries elsewhere, who won't even offer a vote to Catalunya, Basque, Flanders, Venice, etc.

I wonder if it will be 1861 all over again if any European country tries to withdraw from the suffocating bureaucracy of the European "Union."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Practical Way to Get Started on the Origins of World War I

If you are interested in the centenary of the Great War but don't know where to get started, consider this brief article by Eric Margolis. Recall the old quote by the Latin poet, Horace, that "fleeing vice is the beginning of virtue." In studying the origins of the Great War, the first mistake you must avoid is the British bias, which is also the bias of Anglophiles in the power establishment of the American Northeast.

Many people see diplomats as empty talk, talk, talkers, as well as duplicitous scoundrels. But the diplomats at the end of the Napoleonic wars crafted a peace that lasted a hundred years in Europe -- not complete peace of course, but there were no general European-wide wars for a hundred years after their peace treaty.

But halfway through that remarkable century of progress, something new happened: Germany became a united country, and started industrializing and arming itself at a rate that soon threatened to make it the Big Cheese of Europe. The former Big Cheeses couldn't stand to see themselves become second-rate powers. It is not an easy transition. The Balance of Power in Europe simply failed to accommodate a rising Germany. 

The USA faces the same problem today. It must gracefully bow out of running the planet and let China take over meddling, bombing, invading, and occupying half of the countries on the planet. A lot of good it will do them. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Optimism about the Country that used to be America

For the first time since the Fourth of July was officially declaimed (by me) as the most idiotic national holiday, I feel optimistic about America, or what remains of it. 

1. Many Americans seem to be at a tipping point: they are abandoning their passive acceptance of the neo-con dream of permanent war (mostly in the Mideast.) Republicans are catching on to the fact that today is not the day after 9-11, and that endless militarism is not the ticket to electoral success.

2. It's not impossible that Rand Paul will be the Republican candidate for president, rather than some senile warmonger like McCain or some low IQ Bahbll Christian.

3. No matter what your politics most people know that at least two healthy parties are necessary for a healthy democracy. Until the Republicans free themselves of the neo-con, Rapture Christian, Israeli-lobby doctrine of Permanent War, the Republican party is doomed. Is it just wishful thinking or are they actually starting to free themselves of the stain of the last 13 years?

4. Thanks in part to the centenary of the Great War (World War I) good articles are appearing on the internet about the Great War, British/French imperialism after that war, and American interventionism in general. I am hopeful that Americans will start seeing Arab and Muslim terrorism for what it really is: an Effect; the Cause is Western imperialism. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Admit it! You Too Admire Putin

From a BBC article today we have,
"The constitution of Ukraine requires that any effort by any entity within Ukraine to secede be done through the constitutional process," Mr Kerry said.
Aren't you proud and happy to live under a Washington DC regime/Imperium that understands the constraints of constitutions? (emoticon eyes rolling upwards) And knows everything about how to handle secessions sensibly?

I don't follow the news very closely. There's a tendency to get angry, and anger gets wearisome. And yet, this Ukrainian debacle is perversely fascinating in the sense that it has resulted in theoretical maximums. How complacent can the Media be? How hypocritical can the Washington DC regime be? How poodle-like can Europe be?

It demonstrates to perfection how nothing of importance will ever be discussed in the establishment Media. Does anyone ever say, "Isn't the Cold War over? Washington and Russia aren't enemies."  Why is NATO trying to encircle Russia with tighter and tighter circles? Why does NATO even exist, since the USSR and the Warsaw Pact died over 20 years ago?

The more I learned of Vlad Putin, the less I would probably like. He is a politician who used to be in the KGB. What's there to like? And yet there is something gratifying about seeing him out-fox and defy the Washington/Wall Street/London/Brussels regime. I guess this is just an example of seeing the enemy of your enemy as your friend. That's hardly an attitude to be proud of, but that's the situation right now.
______________________________________ 

After writing the above I realized that I didn't provide a constructive alternative to sitting in front of the toob and passively absorbing the Media's and Washington's lies. Very well, consider davidStockmansContraCorner.com, ericMargolis.com, or paulCraigRoberts.org.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Indispensable Country, The Exceptional People, The Judge of the World

From a CNN article we have:
"President Obama made clear that Russia's continued violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia's standing in the international community," according to a statement released by the White House.
Gee, aren't you happy and proud to live in a country, like the USA, which would never seriously consider violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stay Optimistic About the Syrian War

As you follow the operations of the Media, the Congress, and the Imperial Presidency, it is easy to get disgusted and ruin your day feeling sour about the future of what's left of the American Republic. Do yourself a favor and resist the doom and gloom.

The faster the hateful amerikan Empire breaks down, the sooner something better might replace it. It took over 400 years for somebody to sack imperial Rome, starting the clock from the time of Augustus. For the sake of argument, let's say that the British Empire collapsed when Indian and Pakistan gained their independence. We could date the end of the French Empire in the early 1960s, when Algeria gained independence. In either case, it took these two empires 200 years to collapse.

The amerikan Empire didn't start until the end of World War II, so it isn't even 70 years old. The good news is that it is making great progress in destroying itself. We should all wish It continued success.

But it is easy to forget the long-term optimistic trends while focussing on the short-term doom and gloom. For instance you can draw a long face over the amerikan Caesar making it clear that He/She didn't really need Congress's approval to wage war against Syria. Caesar is only going in front of Congress now to spread the ownership and blame, and because He/She expects to get that approval, unlike the British non-Caesar.

Indeed, I'm willing to bet that Congress will give this approval. After all, the amerikan Caesar will get support from most Democrats because they don't want to see one of theirs keep ratcheting downward throughout His/Her second term. Benghazi, the IRS scandal, NSA spying on all Americans, deferred ObamaCare... Imagine what defeat at the hands of Congress would do to His/Her prestige!?

There is an opportunity for the Republicans to gain from the unpopularity of a Syrian War, but they are too stoopid to use that opportunity. They are hopelessly addicted to endless War, and to open-ended militarism in amerikan society. Therefore the President will get the unrequired approval.

This is evidence that the Republican party is going the way of the Whigs circa 1850 and the Federalists circa 1800. This is a huge breakthrough because it means that amerika will soon be a one party system, like california has been for the last 30 years. Bankruptcy and economic ruin will be the Empire's well-deserved fate.

Who knows how much damage the Syrian War will do to the Empire. But let's keep being optimistic and think long-term.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Whodunnit?

Within a couple hours, news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings had become repetitive and predictable. Every uniform or badge was a "hero"; endless drivel about "pulling together"; bravado about American fortitude; "how did you feel when..." questions; platitudes from politicians trying to assume a mock-Churchillian pose; and all the rest of it.

Let's assume, until something definite is known, that the perpetrator was a Middle Eastern terrorist. There is something good that could come out of this bombing, if we could just channel our shock and disgust in the right way, that is, sieze the moment to ask questions that normally never get asked. The most draconian dictatorship could not impose tighter censorship than we impose on ourselves, voluntarily it would seem.


Rather than lay out these questions in a point-by-point, policy-wonk style, I choose a concrete representation of all those questions. Let the questions arise indirectly when millions of Americans watch a remarkable movie about the French-Algerian War of the 1950s and 1960s. It's called the "Battle of Algiers", was made in Italy in the mid-1960s, and was partly funded by the Algerian government, just a couple years after their war of independence succeeded.

Even Bible-believing, Israel-worshiping, soon-to-be-Raptured Republicans could watch this movie and have completely different sympathies than if this were a Hollywood movie about God's Country (America) and the evil AAArabs. Even they would ask, "What the heck was France doing in somebody else's country?" Somebody might answer that Algeria was legally a part of France at the time. But what is so sacred about "law", when it's whatever 51% of a body of French politicians say it is.

And why were the French, self-professed champions of a Grand Civilization, torturing their prisoners? (The movie doesn't show it, but torture took place on both sides.) Torture -- now that's something God-fearing Americans would never tolerate!

An American viewer of this movie might feel enmity towards the very idea of the French Empire or any other empire of decadent old Europe. Most Americans are (justly) proud of having kicked the British Empire out of half of North America.

The American viewer might even sympathize with the Algerian freedom-fighter, patriot?, terrorist?, when he was captured and paraded out in front of the French press for questions. One of them asked him, "Isn't it cowardly to put bombs in women's baskets, and leave them in crowded buildings?" He answered by comparing Algerian methods to the military advantages of the French Empire: "You give us your planes and tanks. We will gladly give you our baskets."

The American viewer of the movie might catch himself wondering what the difference is between Algerian terrorism and the normal military operations of the French Empire. Numerically the legitimate governments of the world kill far more (innocent) people than the hit-or-miss methods of amateurish, low-budget terrorists.

It fascinates me to even imagine millions of Americans watching this movie. It would highlight the strange inconsistency of most Americans being anti-imperialist (or anti-colonial) as long as the bully is any country other than America. But as for our own un-American Empire that followed upon World War II, most Americans will just passively accept its necessity, legitimacy, and permanence. Then there is a terrorist act that kills Americans and we just can't understand why somebody would do such a thing.

On a lighter note: the movie has a soundtrack half-composed by Ennio Morricone.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Long Will the World Tolerate the YHWH Cult?

The world as a whole is a remarkable practitioner of Jesus's instruction to 'turn the other cheek' when it comes to putting up with the YHWH cult in its three main manifestations: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It angered me to see President Hope-and-Change groveling in front of AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in the USA. This isn't a partisan attack against the Democrats; a Republican president would probably already be bombing Iran.

Won't some leader get up and say that the YHWH cult has long outlived its use to the world, if indeed it ever had any!? And that the rest of the world is sick of the violence and economic hardship that this ridiculous superstition is inflicting. Where are Tom Paine and French Revolutionaries when you need them?

Which of the three main branches of the YHWH cult is most bizarre and dangerous? Most people would probably answer, Islam, because of the enormous publicity given to terrorists. But how many people have terrorists actually killed, compared to "legitimate" governments? Terrorism was not invented by Islam; it was adapted by them to fight against Western imperialists who have vastly better military technology and organization.

My choice would be for literal-Bible-Protestantism as the most bizarre and dangerous form of the YHWH cult. It's ironic that 30% of the Republican party are Rapture Christians who hate Islam and worship Israel in light of what the historian, Arnold Toynbee, said about Protestantism: right from its inception, it represented the Islamicization of Christianity. That is, it turned its back on the intellectual growth of Catholic Christianity during the High Middle Ages, and stopped seeing the Church itself as a divine instrument. Instead, it retrenched in an atavistic idolatry of an old holy book. Like Islam, Bible-Protestantism can not move forward like religions that worship a church instead of an old and flawed book. Catholics and Mormons are less hopeless.

Meanwhile, the tribe of ethnocentric fanatics that started the YHWH superstition are barely religious at all. Modern Judaism is less of a religion than a nationalism. I sometimes wonder if that weren't true even in ancient times. Other countries can be fanatical nationalists, so why shouldn't Jews? But over 99% of the American population do not have relatives in Israel, so why aren't we essentially neutral toward Israel?

I believe that Pat Buchanan wrestled with the central organizing myth of our political and foreign policy establishment when he wrote Hitler, Churchill, and the "Unnecessary" War. Until we confront the Good War myth, our presidents and Congress will function virtually as operatives of a foreign country.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why People Don't Like Political Essays

It's so much easier to find political opinions on the internet these days, compared to the dead tree era. Remember how you could travel from one end of the country to the other and buy newspapers that featured the same six pundits on the editorial page? But even though there are more choices today, dualism gets in the way of enjoying political essays. You're either on my side or the other side, Good versus Evil, left versus right, big government versus small, blue versus red states, etc.

That's why the ideal political essay should try to stay away from this trap. It should reach out to opinions and values that aren't necessarily "political" in the normal sense of the word.

Besides avoiding simplistic and divisive dualisms, we should also avoid excessive consistency and predictability. For instance Eric Peters writes about automobile regulations from a libertarian point of view. At times I agree with him; at other times, he irritates me with his gearhead culture. Libertarian purists don't believe in speed limits, for instance. But what matters is the inconsistency in my reactions to him; it's what makes reading his essays beneficial to me.

Consider the surprising accord between pols on both sides of the pond in hitting Iran with sanctions. What a contrast that is with the disaccord during the buildup to the Iraq War in the early Aughts. Regardless of where you fit on the dualistic spectrum you might look at this surprising accord and think, "Something's fishy. They're probably both up to No Good."

And they probably are. It's not surprising that the USA-Israel Axis is bucking for a new war that will extend or protect Axis domination of the Mideast. What else is new?! But why would Europe ally itself with the Axis this time around?

The likely answer is that this is the price of an insurance policy: a bailout of Europe by the American taxpayers, ministered by their great public servant, Ben Bernanke. It astonishes me to find this explanation so overlooked in the media.

If this speculation is incorrect it is at least the right kind of effort. We need to laugh off official stories. Instead of rehashing the issue du jour we need to back up a step and ask what the assumptions are. Political discussions are likely to be useful only if they try to pull the curtain back from the little man who is operating the controls over the big phony projection of the Wizard of Oz.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Churchill and "Good War" Cults

The favorite war of most Americans is World War II. In fact it is part of their mental furniture that World War II was the Good War fought by the Greatest Generation; that it was Churchill's finest hour and that He was the man of the century; that Hitler was the Devil incarnate; and that Stalin... well we won't talk about Stalin.

I just finished reading an excellent book by Patrick Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. Some people wouldn't consider reading the book because Buchanan was a speech writer for Nixon. That's too bad, because the book doesn't concern itself with partisan politics. Also, Buchanan writes clearly.

What a relief it was to find that the first 100 pages of this 400 page book were dedicated to the Great War, World War I. Any discussion of World War II that ignores WWI is seriously flawed. To a large extent they were the same war, interrupted by a 20 year armistice.

Let's take just one example from our standard World War II myth and morality fable: Hitler's grab of Czechoslovakia and Poland was proof positive that he intended to take over the world. If land grabs are so awful, what does that say of the USA and czarist Russia in the 1800s? What does it say of the British Empire? And what does it say of most Americans' favorite foreign country, Israel?

Any German or Austrian of Hitler's generation was used to the idea of "Czech-Slovakia" being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Poland had been dominated by Prussia or Russia for centuries. Most historians acknowledge that Hitler didn't want war with Great Britain.

I won't comment on the validity of Buchanan's argument about how unnecessary the Western Front war was. What interests me is how mindlessly accepted the Good War morality tale is in the USA. Where is the healthy skepticism and free discussion? Why has there been so little mention of Churchill continuing the starvation blockade of Germany during the negotiation of the Versailles Treaty? We look at the war with no more balance and perspicuity than children in Baptist Sunday School learn about God and the Devil.

In case all of this sounds like water-under-the-bridge, keep in mind that every time there is an expansion in America's War on Terror, metaphors and the "lessons of history" are dragged up about Churchill, Hitler, the Holocaust, appeasement, etc. Every time the usual suspects are salivating over a new war, they need only show a television clip of Chamberlain waving his paper, after returning from the Munich conference about Czechoslovakia. Each new disaster starts with the leader of some Muslim country (that most Americans can't locate on a globe) being compared to Hitler.

Every American president of either party would see a good crisis going to waste unless he assumes mock-Churchillian poses in front of the television cameras. Regardless of which party you vote for, doesn't it seem healthy to have foreign policy discussions that are open and real, instead of on auto-pilot? It is time Americans stopped being slaves of the Good War morality fable.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

iDrones on Sale at Walmart?

Zero Hedge is a financial blog that I sometimes scold myself for reading: it is doom-and-gloomy, hot-headed, and sensationalist. But perhaps a person has to tolerate a certain amount of kookiness from a blog or a person in order to get something other than predictable, Establishment cheerleading and conventional thinking.

At any rate Zero Hedge outdid themselves recently with some comments about President Obama asking for the errant drone back from Iran:
"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said at a news conference. Obama said he wouldn't comment further "on intelligence matters that are classified." Great, the only problem is Iran will never return it, as they have already indicated, for the simple reason that it has already been reverse engineered 5 ways from Sunday somewhere deep in the bowels of one of China's unpopulated cities, which just doubles as a very populated military intelligence base. The only good news is that within 6-9 months every American will be able to buy a personal stealth drone for an [Every Day Low Price] at their friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart. Our only concern is whether FoxConn [who manufactures the iPad, etc., for Apple] will be able to handle the supply of both iPads and straight for re-export drones: it would be ironic if this massive military embarrassment ends up as being a catalyst to short Apple. [changes were made by Boonie]
Indeed, what consumer wouldn't be able to put his own personal iDrone to constructive use in his daily life, commuting to work, or at the office? Recall the lyrics of Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado, "I've got them on the list, I've got them on the list, and none of them'd be missed..."

Well OK, now that we've had our fun: how geopolitically significant will it be now that the Sabre-Rattlers of the West are driving Iran into closer and closer relations with China? I wish I knew more about the military and geopolitical situation at the Strait of Hormuz and at the Chinese-built oil port in southwestern Pakistan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Uselessness of Political Theories

Despite my sermons against the reading of books I am guilty of just that, from time to time. Normally I reread a classic rather than look for a new book, since the latter has only one chance in a thousand of being worth reading.

For instance the other day I was rereading a semi-classic by Bronowski and Mazlish, The Western Intellectual Tradition. The book is OK, but these cut-and-paste historical surveys seldom show much original thinking. They give a professor a chance to appear as an elder statesman, and to broaden his appeal outside a sub-divisional sliver of research.

While reading about Hobbes, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and other celebrities of history, I got bored and went to the al-Jazeera website.