International

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Here’s Phil, in the mountains of Kyushu, Japan, telling it like it is to David Brooks. He’s commenting on David’s Op-Ed, The Larger Struggle, in the July 14, 2010, NYT online..

You really out-do yourself with your nice books with nice theories.

Today, reading another book giving simple views of the world, you summarize its nice simplicities, saying “Under state capitalism, market enterprises exist to earn money to finance the ruling class.” What a hoot this is, as you don’t realize that this is exactly what also happens under the economies you alternatively call democratic capitalism.

In America, in case you don’t know, the schools are failing, the infrastructure crumbling, the need for fast rail and green energy investments going begging, with millions unemployed and underemployed. But those atop Corporate America are fat. The bankers are giving themselves mega-million-dollar bonuses. Industrial Ag fattens on multi-billion-dollar subsidies. The health biz has the nation hostage. The military-industrial complex gets all the wars and all the military bases at home and abroad that it wants. The oil companies grease the national waters by ignoring safety and grease their own profits by making sure the military keeps reliant on mega-consumption for its constant, never-ending wars and provocations to more wars.

You’re reading too many nice books projecting the world into nice, simple theories. So you’re missing how the habits of greed and recklessness that sustain Corporate America make its captains every bit as sinister as those anywhere in the world.

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Need I say more? Yes, it’s the Republicans, including our dear Maine Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, together with Blue Dog Democrats who support those fat leaders atop Corporate America. How can we change this situation? Your guess is as good as mine.

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More Juan Cole stuff this morning. He’s making a good argument that these new Obama administration airline passenger screening measures are casting too wide a net and will end up alienating people. Also, they tell al-Qaida which countries not to send bombers from. For example, Indonesia and India aren’t on the list. And why is Cuba on the list?

It’s hard to find a discussion of these issues on the American media which is so scared it might be called ‘liberal’ that it constantly bends over backwards to appease the republicans, who are mostly right wing now, with vanishing numbers of ‘moderates’. So, it was refreshing to hear, thanks to Juan Cole, a different analysis of these new screening measures brought to us by, yes, you guessed it, AlJazeeraEnglish.

Here’s a 24 minute video from AlJazeeraEnglish with the title, “Inside Story – New airline security measures: Safe or discriminatory? – 5 Jan 2009″

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIRp4qKp138[/youtube]

So, if Obama’s rhetoric is high minded and progressive, are his actions more like a continuation of George W. Bush’s policies? In other words, is Obama becoming W-ized?

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Can it be that the world as we know it may be coming to an end? Naw, it can’t be that bad, can it? Well, I’ve been cramming as much of this global financial predicament as I can stand into my head the last couple days, between going about my daily chores and ablutions. And, as one might say, this is serious shit. Paul Krugman’s blogs have been my main starting points, but also I watched online Bill Moyers’ interview of George Soros, the man who predicted this perilous predicament a number of months ago. George states that we have wasted valuable time and are still behind the curve but may be lucky. Nothing less than a coordinated intervention by all the countries into their banking systems to supply vast sums of equity, plus huge economic stimulus packages and bailouts for homeowners, will work. Or at least it seems so. Tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008, may be the D-Day, D for decision. Will it work? We’ll have to see.
Update Oct. 12: Well, here it is Oct. 12, Sunday, and it looks like the Europeans at least are starting to get their acts together. We’ll see about the U.S.of A. Paul Krugman still has doubts about our commitments, but thankfully our markets are closed tomorrow, the day Columbus discovered America, or so the story goes…… Oh, and here’s another great source of info on the current situation.

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Juan Cole this morning has an excellent summary of where we are seven years after 9/11. His main point is that the original al-Qaeda is defeated. Usamah Bin Laden’s original voice hasn’t been heard from in four years, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two man, is alive and kicking but is mainly playing wolf and offers no “genuine accomplishments in recent times save the ability of the top leadership to elude capture!”.

On the other hand, the Taliban in Afghanistan are increasingly strong but “do not pose the threat of international terrorism, though they may give safe harbor to individuals from abroad that do.” The locals in Afghanistan increasingly distrust the US and NATO as this Aljazeera video demonstrates:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uetz17naVQ[/youtube]
Rather than sending more US troops to Afghanistan, “a fool’s errand”, we should realize that the locals are right and that more Afghan troops are the answer.

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What is the story on Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT grad who may have been imprisoned at Bagram, that notorious American detention facility in Afghanistan, for the past five years?

Siddiqui is a 36-year old Pakistani woman who when young was sent to America by her father, along with her two siblings, for education. But in 2003 while she was living in Karachi, Pakistan, with her parents and three children she suddenly disappeared. She was arrested on July 17 of this year on false charges, according to her lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, who says she has proof that Siddiqui was being held at Bagram Air Base for the past five years.

Sharp also says Siddiqui appears traumatized, is very passive, and is “like a person who has been excessively institutionalized.” I got this information from this NPR article. Eric Alterman has further details and links here. Particularly interesting is the investigation by Tim Bella at ProPublica, Mystery Surrounds Case of Terror Suspect. Here is a 3-minute video, The Case Against Aafia Siddiqui, from Aug 6, 2008, on AlJazeera:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMcJr0NbzNA[/youtube]
I doubt there is anything like this in the American media.

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I watched most of Bill Moyers’ interview with Andrew J. Bacevich last evening. What an eye-opener! I’d been aware of a lot about Bacevich (see my post from last year) but had never known what he looks like nor witnessed his strong personality in a video before.

I would sum up what he is saying as follows: we have become an imperial nation over the past thirty years because of the combination of our naivety and hubris about “freedom” and our craven commercialism.

A small group of us at the top has led the way into this economic, political and military pickle we’re now in, and he blames Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II all about equally, except of course that Bush II has really accelerated our decline, but we, the American people as a whole, bear equal responsibility for being oblivious and allowing this nonsense to go on. You could blame the media too.

He feels that no matter who is elected president, Obama or McCain, nothing much will change because we are already far down the road with this imperial state and certainly Obama does not appear to have deviated much from the status quo, evidence for this being he does not list Andrew J. Bacevich among his advisers.

Bacevich is a Professor of International Relations at Boston University, retired Army colonel, and West Point graduate who served in Vietnam and retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He’s come out with a new book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, which Moyers referred to in his interview with Bacevich.

He invokes Reinhold Niebuhr, that famous intellectual American theologian of the 20th century, in this paragraph given by Moyers from the first chapter of The Limits of Power:

The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of these crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making. In assessing the predicament that results from these crises, THE LIMITS OF POWER employs what might be called a Niebuhrean perspective. Writing decades ago, Reinhold Niebuhr anticipated that predicament with uncanny accuracy and astonishing prescience. As such, perhaps more than any other figure in our recent history, he may help us discern a way out.


So what should we do on Nov. 4? I’d say hold your nose and vote for Obama. Here’s a paragraph from a comment by PacificCoastRon on Steve Clemons’ blog:

So: oppose Obama all you want up til Nov. 3rd, criticize him, hold him up to higher standards, advocate for the revolution you’d like to see, and call out the Democrats for the cowardly leeches that most of them are. But hold your nose to make sure you vote for him on Nov. 4th (or earlier if you can vote by mail), and get all your friends to vote for him, and get all your friends to make sure the Republicans don’t steal it again. then on Nov. 5th you can go back to being disappointed in Obama, and in pressuring him and criticizing him with all your might to guide him towards your vision of utopia.


The alternative, John McCain, is unthinkable.

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One of my morning reads to capture the news and find out what’s going on in the world has always been Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. He’s got a great post this morning on the hysteria of the neocons over the Russian response to Georgian troops invading Ossetia. Here’s the closing paragraph of this short four paragraph read:

Watching the Bennetts and the Krauthammers get all jazzed up about Georgia as the new Afghanistan, with all the painfully awkward nostalgia and excitement of an 80s era Gilligan’s Island reunion flick is entertaining. But much less so when you realize these jokers might be running the government in six months.

Of course McCain is right in there with the rest of them, championing them in fact and sending his surrogates to Georgia. Well, we’ll see whether the whole thing doesn’t blow over in a couple weeks. I’ll come back here then with an update!

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Here’s a serious interview on the Israel-Syria negotiations. Imad Moustapha, Syria’s ambassador to the US tells Al Jazeera how much progress has been made in talks with Israel over the Golan Heights. Thanks to Juan Cole for this. See the big Al Jazeera symbol. Not your “Main Stream Media”. :mrgreen:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJNukZhnIwE[/youtube]

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