Archive for the ‘International relations’ Category

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About fiddling…

October 17, 2014

while stuff burns….

With minimally sincere apologies for beating a dead horse, I noticed an article this morning that reported ISIS is now training jet fighter pilots with some captured aircraft. I’m right up front there with NOT sacrificing another generation on the barbaric Middle East altar, but I can’t ignore those who caution that we are in danger of repeating history if we continue to just sit on the sidelines and opinionate.

We spent a number of years tossing little more than an occasional “tsk, tsk” across the Atlantic while Germany bulked up to threaten the world. At the same time, we tried pretending Japan didn’t exist, until we had little choice but to do something definitive.

Now, in less than a year, we have gone from blowing ISIS off as an annoying fringe group to stammering indecisively as they spread through Syria and Iraq like a beer fart in a sauna, and suddenly appear in the skies flying captured fighter jets.

Maybe when Congress and the White House get done with the Midterm Elections hoopla they’ll get down to business and….

….never mind….

 

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Revisiting the Sea of Déjà Vu…

August 11, 2014

again and again….

Winston Churchill has often been erroneously credited with coining the wise adage “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ” The fact of the matter is, however, that he actually was paraphrasing George Santayana, who made the remark in his The Life of Reason back in 1905. “Paraphrasing” in Churchill’s case, of course, meant coming up with ten words for every one uttered by whomever inspired him, but it doesn’t matter because Santayana was himself pre-inspired. Evidently, the idea hails from as far back as the 6th Century B.C.E when it was said to have perhaps originated with the Greek Oracles, which suggests they in turn had commandeered it from yet earlier predecessors. In any event, the wisdom of the observation rings perpetually true.

Even now, we continue to reissue the declaration as if it were some virgin epiphany, and do everything short of going to war over who said it first and when. Perhaps someday someone will decide that it’s time to work on coming up with an equally tenacious saying instructing the ages how to not repeat the past. Then again, there are still throngs that will step outdoors during a downpour, hold out a palm-up hand, and announce with an air of professional authority that it is raining.

I don’t suppose it matters, really, but the thought did cross my mind while catching up on how the latest manifestation of humanity’s favorite prophesy is playing out in the Middle East. This mind-crossing took place at the same time as I found myself asking out loud “who the hell is arming these ISIS animals, anyway… !?”

The United States has a superb track record of secretly snuggling up to some of the planet’s most unsavory characters in order to influence or manipulate some aspect of global politics, economics, or military prestige to our favor, only to have our largess later repurposed to do the Big Ugly on us in one way or another. Consequently, I couldn’t help scoffing that we were probably ISIS’ silent benefactor.

I wasn’t far off, unfortunately.

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Our favorite spot to decide to “fix” in recent years has been the Middle East, although we aren’t the only ones who have a habit of stirring everybody’s soup but our own. As part and parcel of “defending our freedom” by lighting up cities a half a world away, which serendipitously also shoots major juice into our domestic economy, we have made sure to powder the right butts and sprinkle rose petals and free munitions along paths with the greatest potential for a positive return on our investments.

When the falfalel hit the Syrian fan back in 2011, the US, as well as other major global players, poked wet fingers to the skies to determine from whence favorable political winds originated. Since Russia kept poverty and unemployment at bay by manufacturing bullets for Syria’s President Assad, and we still don’t like Russia, we resorted to our usual Bernie Madoff School of Investment Theory and put our chips on the Rebels. Even though they were suspected of having al Qaeda ties and clearly demonstrated an inability to play well with others. As recently as last September, Obama and Company decided the rebels were the good guys.

Now, just a few short and rather bloody months later, the Made in America tools of war that found their way to anti-Assad forces in Syria are popping up all over Iraq as ISIS uses them to eradicate everybody and his dog who doesn’t bow instantly to the ISIS mandated version of strict Sharia Muslim law.

So, here we are again, basking on the shrapnel-strewn beaches of Lake Déjà Vu…, breathing the acrid fumes of spent explosives while we hem and haw over when to don the Superman suit and Go Save the Day.

The United States has an uncanny talent for contributing to the creation of circumstances wherein it would be immoral and unconscionable for us to NOT to intervene and put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I don’t know who is behind that curtain actually pulling the strings, but the used car salesman with a law degree that does all the smiling, waving, promising, and plays golf while Mosul burns is a serious threat to Woodrow Wilson’s lock on the Worst Foreign Policy President trophy. His domestic performance has been equally disastrous, though many like him. On the other hand, some will follow just about anyone who throws enough of the right flavored candy at them.

So, it seems I may have answered my own question regarding the source of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s weaponry, and how they were able to amass the momentum they presently enjoy.

We have a lot of work to do. While not all of the 535 members of Congress are damaged goods and need to be replaced over the next couple of years, along with the Mr. Glib occupying the White House and his Howdy Doody side kick. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is not a good plan, which means the politics of some of our more extreme right and left wingers could be worse than doing nothing. The trouble is, we have been divided into single reference points at each extreme for so long, I wonder if that broad and varied expanse of reality in between can re-emerge to reclaim rational territory.

Do I know how to run this country?
Heck, no!…but I do know an empty ballot when I see one.

Do I know how NOT to run this country?
Heck yes!…I’ve been taking notes for years now

 

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Serial redundancy

March 22, 2014

otherwise known as…….

BREAKING NEWS…..

You know that bold-face, 72-point, RED BANNER that keeps tracking across your TV screen like your kid on the Merry-go-Round at the County Fair?

For the past week or two, the only things happening in the entire world…nay!…the entire UNIVERSE…..have been:

  • [1] Everything that is not known, but can be wildly speculated, about the missing air-liner. The only potential answer to the globe-riveting mystery not proposed so far is that the dish might have run away with the spoon.

  • [2] How many times Oscar Pistorius threw up in the South African courtroom… and whether or not he was a jerk for shooting blindly through a door. Even Hopalong Cassidy never pulled such a stunt with his amazing 96-shooter.

  • [3] Russia sidling into the Crimea while whistling idly and gazing around in the sky, and who scored the most points with the latest International Mother Cut to be leveled. Yesterday, it was reported that Obama scowled and shook his finger (index) at Putin. This morning it was reported LIVE….from MOSCOW that Putin had responded with “Ooooooooooooooooooo!”

All seriousness aside, I’d kind of like to sip my morning coffee to the tragic news that somebody ran over the neighbor’s dog, or yawn-inducing news about the invention of a cure for yawning, or that some street person won two bucks on a scratch off ticket in Memphis. Anything. Anything except perhaps another weather report, of course.

It really is a stretch when they play the same two minute loop for sixty minutes, every day, for a week, and call it…

BREAKING NEWS…..

 

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Letting go……

March 10, 2013

of smooching the glutes of humanity’s knuckle draggers….

Every parent knows that one of the hardest things to do is to let go. In fact, parents don’t have a franchise on that very human resistance to change, but it may be the easiest to identify with for most people. People cry when their toddler takes his first step. We like to call them “tears of joy”, but, in truth there is sadness in them as well. There is a grieving of the never-to-be-seen-again infancy.

Sometimes, resistance to change isn’t that romantic and just represents bull headedness, or is a case of sticking with the admittedly dysfunctional M.O. instead of risking the highly likely to be more functional but scary UNKNOWN.

I was thinking about that this morning after I read an Op-Ed piece in the Sunday paper. Of course, so much these days is about the surplus of debt and the shortfall of income. It seems as if just about everybody has an opinion, just about nobody has a solution, and those who do are shouted down as “idiots” by those who don’t. I’m guilty. I admit it.

The quibbler in me strains to break free, however, and throw my non-committal “observations” out there like a slab of bloody meat tossed to the lions for them to hiss and slap over.

It occurs to me that letting go and grieving are processes not limited to individuals. Families do it, communities do it, and by extension, nations do it. Yet, as the world and the circumstances it experiences change, we resist certain changes within our own way of doing business.

The editorial column was in response to a collective question rumbling in the background for so many:

If we are so broke, why do we continue to give away billions to countries that don’t even like us?

Our new Secretary of State John Kerry, for example, just made a bee-line to Egypt where he pirouetted and sprinkled a quarter of a million scented US Rose Petals at the feet of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization of zealots who pray five times a day for their benefactors to drop dead.

Our international circumstances today are ridiculously similar to the stage upon which the Barbary Wars of our earliest years as an independent nation were spawned, with the notable exception that some 215 years later we are a formidable world power rather than the skinny new kid on the block. We have grown in so many ways, but in others have not. The Muslim extremists of the Middle East haven’t changed a bit, on the other hand. They still use their Holy Book to justify virtually any barbaric sub-human act they wish to commit on the grounds that they are Licensed to Kill, by Allah himself, anybody on the planet who does not do exactly as they are told by the honchos of the religion. Kind of like the Mafia.

So, I ask, why are we still paying tribute to keep the animals happy? People LOVE their dogs, yet don’t pamper them as much as America pampers her foes. The strongest argument anyone seems capable of piecing together as justification for this bizarre behavior, including the ordinarily erudite columnist, is that, if we don’t continue, “it could be worse” .

How do I say this in language that would be permissible in the average elementary classroom? I can’t. Sequester the kids in the gymnasium while I let it fly in the janitor’s closet or something.

We used to have an inspiring little jingle that started off: “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…..” , and the last I knew it was still in the Top Forty, …..but our actions tend to suggest the lyrics may have been tweaked a bit.

I think it’s time we made a conscious decision to LET GO of our old habit of buying friends and work on improving the way we practice the principles we have come to rattle off with the emotional investment of a ten year old obediently reciting the times tables or the parts of speech.

It would be NICE if the Grand Poohbah of Habhoop would marry only one wife, she at least being older than twelve, and stop abusing his trained snakes, blowing up our real estate, and generally being a global pain in the ass. Kissing stern sheets of our antagonists didn’t work 215 years ago and it isn’t working today. Tomorrow isn’t looking too hot, either.

I don’t know about you, but if my kids acted like that, I’d take away their allowance…..not RAISE IT and beg them to accept more.

 

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