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Sunday, March 31, 2024

Ukraine is attacking inside Russia.

 Newsweek has an article out today quoting retired U.S. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges to the effect that Ukraine should ignore President Biden’s request that they not attack Russian oil production facilities inside of Russia.  Hodges points out that Russia has attacked Ukraine’s oil production facilities and so “fair is fair.”  President Biden has not explained publicly why he opposes Ukraine attacking Russian oil production facilities, but his critics suggest that he is worried about the price of oil escalating and adversely impacting his reelection bid as well as worrying that it increases the risk of a further escalation of the conflict.  I think both considerations to be valid and I am not surprised that an American military professional would argue with the policy.  I also well understand that I am too far away from the information flow to argue the case one way or the other.

I continue to try to stand back away from the nuts and bolts of the imbroglio and ask myself how we end the Ukraine stupidity without either escalating to World War III or accepting continued Russian aggression.  The first thing that I believe we need to establish is that America is prepared to go to war with Russia should Moscow continue to try to piece the Soviet Union back into existence and we are clearly, repeat clearly, capable of winning that war.  I believe that we need more military leaders like Hodges that advocate cleaning Moscow’s clock once and for all, even though I do not want to actually go down that road.  I disagree with the current effort to make our military polite, caring, sensitive people.  I advocate having a military that is clearly capable of winning a war - mano a mano.  We also need a nuclear capability that is clearly capable of obliterating any nation that chooses to exchange nuclear weapons, but the principal objective of both is to ensure that no one misunderstands what will happen should they pull the trigger on a war with us.  This requires national leaders with balls and intelligence, not charlatans that are seeking the political support of idiots on one side or the other of out current tribal pissing contest that vote depending on the age of the fetus, the number of chips in the bag, the price of gasoline, the proper use of pronouns and/or our feelings.

Once we have restored the America that I was born into, I advocate inviting Moscow, Beijing, and Teheran to sit down at the table and discuss how we come together to help the shit hole countries.  I would start that discussion by telling all and sundry that throwing money at poverty is off the table.  I would insist that we restore and expand the concept behind the Peace Corps, our objective being to get people rather than organizations involved in the challenge facing mankind, and I would establish corruption as humanity’s number one enemy.  I realize that I have lost my audience long ago in this article.  What I am suggesting is “unworkable” and that ensures that we will not do it.   As one of my readers pointed out, I live in Lala land.   Humanity has “developed” to such a point that we “fully understand” our limitations and that fact alone ensures that we will destroy ourselves.   Absolutely hilarious if I were not stuck in the middle of it. 

I look around and I see my fellow citizens ducking their head and going with the flow.  Each of us has to cope with the reality of our immediate existence.  We have to earn a living and that, all by itself, requires us to accept societal discipline imposed by our tribal betters.  To diverge is to be ostracized, canceled and shunned.  Today’s America gives us two choices to cheer on in our social media “conversation,” neither of which is particularly attractive, but what can you do?  Conform or be shunned.  Duck your head and accept conformity even if you have some serious questions.  Avoid substantive discussion, ignore the obvious, hide behind your mask, fervently wish that things will get better.  Bah!  We are a nation of intellectual cowards, noses buried in our phones, yelling at the top of our voices about trivia, and firmly ignoring all that is inconsistent with the mythical world that we have created for ourselves here inside our non-existent borders.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Travel broadens one's horizons.

I don’t remember when I first started traveling on my own, but it was fairly early in life.  I know that I was traveling on my own while a senior in high school, because I fondly remember solitary weekend commercial bus trips all over Luzon Island in the Philippines.  My father and mother were often away on various business trips and I was left in the custody of one of their friends, a former guerrilla leader in the Philippines during the Second World War, who did not mind my absences as long as I did not miss any school days.  Following graduation from high school, I attended Oregon State College for the better part of two years, during which time, I hitchhiked all over the Western United States and down into Mexico.  I was a lousy student, but I was well-traveled.  The Korean War came along, I joined the army and studied the Chinese language for a year.  That took me to Korea, Japan, and Okinawa during which time my working day was filled with trying to figure out what various Chinese military units were trying to accomplish.  After I got out of three years in the army, I went back to school for a bit, got my Masters, and then joined the Foreign Service.  That continued my international travel for thirty years and also continued my interest in and concern with foreign affairs.  After the foreign service, I continued to travel for decades to various places all over the world that I had not yet visited, including most notably, foot trails in every single national and state natural park West of the Rocky Mountains.

I compare my own life with the life experiences of my fellow American citizens and I understand why I am so out of step with my compatriots thinking.  The average American’s travel experiences are severely limited in time and scope.  I studied multiple foreign languages and tried mightily to understand foreign cultures that I was living in for extended periods of time.  The average American has only read about them in school books and novels, seen pictures of them and watched TV shows about them.  The average American has not lived in a third world economy, purchased meat hanging on a tree for dinner, dodged disputes that involved hostile armies shooting at each other, and tried to convince legions of foreigners that siding with us was better than with their other international options.  I consider myself lucky beyond belief, but am frustrated that I can not pass along what I have learned to my compatriots who seem to be intently, nobly, falling on all of the wrong swords.  The childish understanding of life that permeates American society today is, in my mind, the greatest danger that we face.  From it stems the massive misapplication of resources and initiatives that fail to meet the challenges facing us.

I spent a lot of time in and working on Thailand.  Decades.  I was fluent in the language and I understood the power structure.  My political analysis was consistently accurate and I was rewarded with rapid advancement in my professional life.  The way that happened was through an enormous amount of focused work over a long period of time.  At one point in my time in country, I was charged with helping introduce American Peace Corps volunteers into Thailand.  The objective of the Peace Corps was for Americans to help Thai at village level improve their lives more quickly.  In that, the Peace Corps failed miserably.  The average American was unable to breach the cultural divide sufficiently to help his or her counterpart.  What happened more often was that the Thai counterpart taught the American a little bit about life in a less developed society.  The principal value of the effort was the education that it provided Americans, not the other way around.  There were Thai that were much better positioned to help their country develop than the vast majority of naive American volunteers that arrived in country.

The Peace Corps helped mightily to open my eyes as to the intellectual and cultural gulf that exists between peoples and the way in which the resultant differences can be exploited by contrarians and evil individuals.  I eventually came to understand that I can not expect someone who has a different life experience to understand the situation the same way that I do.  I also understand that I am not going to be able to make a difference.  The problem is too all-encompassing for me to be able to do more than understand what is happening.  Those that were conditioned by life differently than was I, will inevitably read things differently than do I.  Because they are in the vast majority, they will prevail.  Given the existence of nuclear weapons, that is way too bad.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Why are we so intent on killing each other?

Chris and I met in Ankara and, following our marriage, travelled widely all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.  At the time, Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East.  Mediterranean scenery, Roman and Greek ruins, delicious cuisine, and delightful people.  Teheran was trying to emerge from being a backward Middle Eastern conglomeration of tribal interests into a modern European style country with courts, lawyers and judges.  Kabul was still a cultural desert, but was unique in its’ backwardness.  That was half a century ago.  Today, Beirut is the home of Hezbollah, an arm of Radical Islam, Teheran is the center of Islam’s current attack on western civilization, and Kabul is about to reinstitute stoning of women for adultery.

Meanwhile, here in this country, we are righting all wrongs done by our ancestors, inviting the world to come live with us, and refusing to talk to each other about anything other than whatever our tribal masters permit us to discuss.  The current list includes the age of the fetus, the price of gasoline, the proper use of pronouns, the number of chips in the bag, and our precious feelings.  Jerusalem and Teheran are engaged in the 2024 iteration of a war that has been going on literally for millennia, and we are playing the exact same role that crusading Christian knights played centuries ago on the exact same turf, with pretty much the exact same ineffectiveness.  The absolutely fascinating aspect of the situation, that we fail to comprehend, is that we now possess the capability to impose a “final solution” to the age old struggle between Europe and the Middle East. Some will say Christianity and Islam.  I won’t quibble with either analysis, but my own is slightly different.  I believe that the irritant that threatens society is technology and the inability of human groups to accommodate to it, compounded by the fact that humans are prone to multiply like rabbits.

Humans are engaged in the same killing spree that is going on in the Middle East in other parts of the world as well.  Not all violence involves Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  Tigrayan and Amaran people continue to kill each other just as enthusiastically and for exactly the same fundamental reasons, but with entirely different ethnic window dressing than clothe  Jews and Arabs.  Having said that, I must also acknowledge that much of the current conflict in Africa has important roots in Islam’s historic effort to proselytize Black Africa.  Humanity has some fundamental issues that none of our various societal efforts have been able to deal with successfully and “advances” in technology are increasing the adverse impact of our various disagreements.  I suggest that our own domestic racial problems are rooted in the same ultimate stupidity that plagues other societies all over the world and, ironically, our current efforts at protecting diversity are prolonging and exacerbating the fundamentals of what is destroying us.

I conclude that the root problem is human stupidity, but that is an unacceptable charge.  All Americans know for a fact that we are not stupid.  People living in the shit hole countries are stupid.  We Americans have gone to school and have degrees and certificates to prove that we have completed multiple layers of “education.”  Some of us have invented things.  Our problem is that we are equating education with intelligence.  They are not the same thing and neither one of them are experience.  We are nice folks.  By-in-large we mean well.  As a society, we are better educated than most in the world today.  Very few of us are aware of how intellectually isolated we are.  How strong the intellectual buffer between us and what is going on in the rest of the world.  We genuinely believe that television, the internet, and the non-stop emersion in facts and figures, adequately educates us about life outside of our cultural bubble that we can govern ourselves satisfactorily in a “democracy,” wherein we blindly accept what some two-bit politician tells us because he is a fellow tribe-member.  I sincerely wish that it were so, but it is not, and I suggest that as that becomes obvious to us, our instinct is to blame each other for the problem.  This introduces the societal division that is currently destroying what was the least bad society in the entire history of mankind.

We can fix the problem, but it will require that we take our masks off, sit down with each other, and vigorously apply our educations to real life problems with an eye to societal priorities rather than personal preferences.  Very unfortunately there is absolutely no indication that we have the slightest inclination to do that.


Thursday, March 28, 2024

India as a force in the world.

 My schooling did a pretty good job of conditioning me to the power of both the Jewish and Arab cultures as well as the animosity that has plagued their relations since forever.  I was short on specifics, but I definitely understood the depth of their dislike of one another.  My teachers did not do as good a job in educating me about the power of Hinduism and the depth of hard feelings between Hindu and Muslim.  I did not see them as a bunch of rag heads, but neither did I have a clue as to what motivated them to war with one another.  My exploration of foreign cultures started in the Philippines and was energized in East Asia, during the Korean War.  I became fascinated by China and spent a huge amount of my working life trying to figure out what made Chinese people and their cultural offspring tick.

While assigned to Thailand, I studied the language with a group of Buddhist priests and learned a little bit about Buddhism.  During my assignment to Thailand, I also collected replica samples of traditional Buddhist art and considered myself to be knowledgable about the important role of Buddhism in the world.  I went out of my way to avoid acquiring genuine antiques for several reasons the noblest of which was that I thought them the property of the Thai people.  The crassest of which was that they were very expensive.  I developed a strategy that worked exceptionally well.  I would go into an antique shop that I knew to be loaded with replicas being sold as genuine pieces, identify the piece that I wanted, and then ask the price of another similar piece on the other side of the room.  When told the price, I would adopt a suitably shocked countenance and exclaim that I had no idea that the piece was a genuine antique.  I would then ask the dealer if he, by chance, had a similar piece that was a replica.  Some times it worked and sometimes not, but over a decade of trying, I managed to fill out my collection satisfactorily.  In the process, I also convinced myself that I knew a lot about Asia.

Then I took a trip to Calcutta.  One of the objectives of my visit was to collect a representative piece of Hindu art.  I found a suitable antique shop and applied my tried-and-true bargaining strategy.  In order to impress the elderly gentleman that ran the shop, I waxed eloquently about Asia, drawing on my “vast” knowledge of Buddhism.  After listening to me for a polite period of time, he replied by saying, very self-assuredly, that Buddhism was merely “a failed religion” and totally irrelevant to anything of historic significance.  The casual, total confidence of the man got my full attention and began my belated thinking about what is today the largest assemblage of people in the entire world:  India with 1.48 billion people.  (China “only“ has 1.41 billion people.)

India and China are currently engaged in difficult border disputes that occasionally deteriorate into low level conflict.  India is allied with Russia as it looks nervously at Afghanistan, which it fears could be a problem, should a troublesome relationship with Pakistan morph into all out war.  Given that both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers, such a conflict would, of course, have repercussions far beyond their borders.  The fascinating imbroglio is further complicated by India being the I in BRICKS, while Pakistan is a key part of China’s new Silk Road that aims at tying China to Western Asia, the Middle East and eventually Europe.  I contend that, in a democracy, the voters need to have some minimal understanding of what is happening in the world so that they can choose their leadership intelligently.  I suggest that we not only do not have that understanding, we don’t even aspire to having it.  We can not stretch our minds to deal with that level of complexity and turn all of our attention instead to the age of the fetus, the number of chips in the bag, the price of gasoline, the proper usage of pronouns, and our precious feelings.  Because all of our antagonists are led by one form or another of authoritarian governments, your and my ignorance places us at a significant disadvantage.

There is no question  in my mind but that democracy is a superior form of governance as compared with authoritarianism, but it requires, repeat requires, an intelligent electorate.  Proclaiming yourself to be democratic is the least important part of being a successful democracy.  We are today, destroying our society and we actually know that we are doing it, and yet we continue to do it.  I ask myself why and continue to believe it is because we have been protected from reality for too long.  We are not yet frightened enough to do the necessary - which is to think.  I worry that the event that wakes us up might well be our death knell.  For that reason, I continue to advocate that we wake up now - before it is literally too late.  Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons sitting on top of satellite guided ballistic missiles.  Iran is about to have them too.  All four of them are actively engaged in trying to destroy you and me.  Why help them?

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Reuters has an article out today reporting the FSB’s claim that Kiev, London and Washington were behind the recent ISIS attack on a concert hall in Moscow.  Putin appears to be saying the same thing.  I suggest that they are merely trying to deflect attention away from the failure of the Russian security apparatus, particularly since there is talk of Washington having warned Moscow that something was in the wind.  Because the Kremlin has a fairly tight rein on information dissemination inside Russia, I believe that the Kremlin’s feeble efforts will be effective with a large percentage of the patriotic public that wants to believe in Putin’s Russia.  Regime fabrications will not, however, be convincing to the more sophisticated Russian citizen whose thinking will control the future of that country.  Those folks will primarily be focused on how well Putin can do in leading Russia to future glories.  Presumably they do not want to see him be defeated in Ukraine, whether they agree with the invasion or not.

I am extremely interested in intellectual dissidents inside Russia because I see them as critical to building a different relationship with that enormous country.  Putin shares my interest and that accounts for so many Russian political figures falling out of hospital windows to their death.  One of the reasons that I deplore Biden’s decision to let Russia invade Ukraine is that the resultant war forced a very large percentage of increasingly western-oriented Russians to flee the country.  Their motivation may well have been self-interest in avoiding the rigors of war, but they took with them their fledgling admiration of Western society.  I hold that Putin was glad to see them go and that explains why he made no real effort to stop the exodus.  Presumably, the ISIS attack on the Moscow concert hall killed and traumatized some percentage of this same group of people.  ISIS sees this group of humans as being their principal enemy - no matter their nationality.  Radical Islam is not at war with any nationality.  Radical Islam is at war with the fundamentals of Western culture.  Moscow’s concert hall and New York’s business center were both iconic targets for Radical Islam.  

I, of course, have absolutely no idea who the people are that are currently flooding into this country, but If I were one of our several foreign antagonists, I would be taking advantage of the situation.  Clearly, the ethnicity of our new immigrants includes groups of people from regions of the world that include regime’s hostile to our interests.  Were I currently in government, I would be looking at the potential for some sort of hostile action by three principal actors:  Radical islam, Communist China, and International Crime Syndicates.  Predicting who the attacker might be, predicting when the attack might occur, and predicting the security and political impact would be extremely difficult - except in the case of the crime syndicates which are, of course, already fully engaged - but the attack will clearly not be beneficial to you and me.  If I were influential, I would elect an intelligent person to lead us.  Because I do not see that level of intelligence anywhere on the political horizon, I am pessimistic, particularly since those fears are not the totality of the challenge facing us.  We also have to worry about one or the other idiot triggering a nuclear exchange,

The “good” news is that I don’t believe that the Chinese Communist Party intends to attack us militarily as long as they assess their overall strategy as being successful and Radical Islam can not presently do more than wound us.  That leaves Russia and societal decay as our principal threats at the moment.  Unfortunately, Putin is capable of triggering a nuclear exchange, Biden is letting Iran become a nuclear power, and Crime is clearly destroying society.  What is going to happen, if we are lucky, is that we will eventually wake up and start pushing back on the stupidity that is currently destroying us.  My guess is that the event that serves as our wake up call is going to be painful.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Mexican President Obrador’s interview on 60 Minutes

 Fox News has an article outlining Mexican President Obrador’s interview on 60 Minutes in which Obrador said that, unless the United States complies with Latin America’s requests for aid, the tide of migrants will continue.  The headline, however reads “Mexican President says the flow of migrants will continue unless the US meets his demands.’  Although there is a typo in the headline, this is a cute effort to protect the alleged veracity of it with a set of quotation marks that only encompass “flow of migrants will continue.’

This is an example of Fox News doing the same thing that the liberal news outlets do all the time.  Purposely slanting their reporting to make a point that they believe to be important - even if it is untrue.  The implication of the article is that the Mexican President is “demanding” that America provide aid to Latin American countries, where as I believe that he is telling us that our problems with undocumented immigrants will continue unless we address poverty in Latin America.  He is also saying, very clearly, that he is not going to go out of his way to help us do the wrong thing.  It is an important difference and I absolutely agree with President Obrador.  Were I in his shoes, I would do precisely the same thing.  I see him as trying to talk sense to a neighbor that is driven by emotion and flip flop politics, not rational thought.

I also agree with critics of our aid program that it is ineffective, ridden with corruption and is not accomplishing its’ objectives in Latin America or anywhere else.  Further more it is symptomatic of the exact same relationship that exists between Western Europe and Africa.  Poor people always seek to live in wealthy communities if at all possible.  They are poor, not dumb.  The situation is compounded by rich countries desire for cheap labor, which encourages them to seek ways to permit a regulated flow of poor people into their countries.  Our favored solution is work permits, but there are both good hearted and mischievous people in this country that believe we should permit huge numbers of poor people into the country as a way of improving their lives.  Some of these people are motivated by their emotions and some by political machination.  I disagree with them because we are unable to absorb this magnitude of outsiders without dangerously straining our own economy and society.

Immigration is not the only place that Obrador tries to speak truth to us.  Drugs is another one.  The majority of the drugs that are killing so many Americans do indeed pass through Mexico on their way into this country, but the fundamental problem is not supply, it is demand.  Until we eliminate demand, drugs will find their way into America, no matter how much money we throw at trying to stop them and Mexico’s effort to help control them will be inadequate because the cartels are already at war with the central government in Mexico City.  I suggest that the root problem is an overly self-indulgent society inside this country.  We can’t even control our over-indulgence in fatty foods, let alone resist cocaine or the latest street drug being hyped by representatives of international crime cartels that are in place all over the country and it should not be overlooked that these gangs are also destroying the social fabric in our urban ghettos as well as dividing society into suburban authority and ghetto submission.

All of this has important implications for our future and I am arguing that we are not even beginning to come to grips with any of it.  Biden has flung the doors of the country open as widely as he possibly can and Trump wants to slam them shut.  Neither one of them is remotely interested in providing any real help to anyone outside of our non-existent borders.  Trump wants to ignore the “shithole countries” and make America Great Again and Biden wants to throw money at everything from Ukraine and Gaza to Taiwan without engaging in anything real anywhere.  Meanwhile China, has during my lifetime, changed from a land of periodic starvation to the second most powerful economy in the world, and they did it without one iota of help from anyone.

So, if I were influential, I would sit down with Obrador and a few of his neighbors and come up with a plan to improve the economies of Latin America such that the people living there do not want to escape their hell for our nirvana up here in the north, just over a non-existent line in the sand that we choose not to defend.  And I would encourage my European friends to do the same thing vis-a-vis Africa and the Middle East.  Every single one of my readers will see all of this as impossible and that will, very unfortunately, make it so.  We are a group of narrow minded, cowardly, ignoramuses, playing with virtual reality because real reality is too scary and unfathonable for our puny minds.  Computers are safer than real life.  Masks are safer than speech.  Monkeys with hands clamped down hard over eyes, ears and mouths.

PS:  I skip over the fact that the migrant flow is taking the most aggressive, fittest individuals with the most initiative, out of the host country, which further weakens those economies.  I am also skipping over the fact that we have absolutely no idea who these “undocumented immigrants” are and what their intentions are.  I am struck by the fact that 911 was carried out by a handful of miscreants, where presently we are inviting in anybody that wants to come in staggering, unknown numbers, for any reason imaginable, and we are even financing them after their arrival.  Go ahead, tell me again that we are not the dumbest people in the entire history of mankind, and,  oh yeah, it is all because Obrador is being mean to us in not refusing to house millions of people trying to wait out the current flip flop in American immigration policy so that they can get into nirvana.   We, you and I, have issues that are far more important!  Pronouns, the age of the fetus, gasoline prices, the number of chips in the bag, and our precious, all important, feelings.  We do not have time to think about Haiti, we have to put food on our own table.  We leave all of that  foreign stuff to our tribal leaders.

Bah!  We are the shadow of a once near-great people who have fallen into ignorant, cowardly, self-indulgence, and it is going to get us killed or worse.  I’m at the end of a very long life, so my imminent demise is not overly concerning.  I’m just massively pissed off that we, you and I, are throwing everything that a lot of very good people worked for away, because it is no longer fashionable to think.  Soon, thought will not be permitted, and we won’t even care.  “They” will give us head sets with programable reality as the replacement and there will be clear instructions on channel one as to where to stand in line for whatever.

Monday, March 25, 2024

China's objectives in Hong Kong

BBC has an article out today describing the steady strangulation of Hong Kong by Beijing that makes the point that foreign companies are increasingly reluctant to invest in and through Hong Kong because of increased Chinese Communist control of the rules of the economic road.  The point of the article is that China is making a giant economic mistake.  The article notes the rise of other economic centers like Singapore that are benefitting from Hong Kong’s impending demise as an international financial center.  I find it interesting that BBC does not even mention Shanghai, or BRICS, nor does it speculate that China may have wanted to destroy Hong Kong because it was controlled by representatives of Western economic powerhouses.  (I am not surprised.  BBC is, after all, British and Hong Kong was London’s cash cow for a very long time.)

I agree that China may well have made a huge mistake by its actions, but I suggest that it is part of a policy set that Western nations, including the United States, do not fully understand.  China is trying to change the fundamentals that undergird the world economy.  Our reluctance to come to grips with this point is a major source of confusion in Washington and results in tactical economic policy decisions that are ineffective in protecting our own international economic position.  I am without an adequate understanding of the world economy to pass judgment on any individual action by Beijing, vis-a-vis Hong Kong, but I am able to see broad trend lines fairly clearly and I argue that they are not consistent with our interests.  In overly simplistic terms, China’s economic influence is expanding while ours is shrinking.  Hong Kong’s deterioration and Shanghai’s emergence on the world’s economic stage is consistent with this trend.

I am not saying that China is winning, only that they are engaged in a much larger struggle than most Americans understand and they are making enough progress to continue their policies.  Because we are a democracy, this ignorance on our part goes a very long way toward explaining our ineffectiveness in adequately meeting the economic challenge that China presents.  We elect politicians that play on our emotions rather than politicians that think.   The American public is aware of tactical problems such as China’s involvement in the drug epidemic here in this country, but we are studiously oblivious of Beijing’s effort to reorient the world economy to their benefit.  I argue that purposeful blindness inevitably leads to tactical mistakes and seriously risks strategic defeat and/or nuclear obliteration.   It is high time for the American public to open its eyes, do its homework, and start thinking more broadly than self about all manner of things to include China.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

ISIS Terror Attack in Moscow.

The press is, today, full of articles concerning the ISIS attack on a public gathering in Moscow.  It appears that US intelligence warned Moscow, but Moscow claims the quality of the warning was insufficient for them to take action.  The back and forth reminds me of a similar story emerging from the Hamas attack on the Israeli music festival.  My guess is that in both instances we had a glimmer of an idea that something was going to happen, but we did not have enough detail about where and when for the attack to be prevented.  Because both attacks were horrific, the host country feels it necessary to discredit the intelligence provided.

I see the back and forth as being of tactical importance.  My interest in the two events is slightly different.  I am far more interested in Radical Islam's anger with modern civilization, be it Russian, Chinese, Jewish, American or virtually anything else.  Muslim insurgents are at war with all of the rest of us that do not accept Islam as the guiding light for our various societies.  Periodically, this provides moments wherein we forget our antipathy to one another and unite in our fear of Radical Islam, but even there we usually fail to find a path forward that permits us to cooperate.

Today, China enslaves a vast Muslim Uighur population while simultaneously seeking to increase its role in the world at our expense.  Russia is doing pretty much the same thing with its Muslim Chetchyn population.  We are engaged in hunting down Radical Muslim leaders and assassinating them all over the Middle East and North Africa.  None of us are trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslim populations, except perhaps President Biden's feeble tactical electoral effort among Muslim voters inside this country.

The Muslim world is split between Shia and Sunni.  Today, the principal leaders of the two sects are Teheran and Riyadh.  Whether we like it or not, we are impacted by the divisions that separate these two formidable entities, as are China, Russia and the rest of the world.  I contend that none of us in the non-Muslim world have an adequate strategy that successfully addresses the challenge, and I firmly believe that our own weak-kneed policy vis-a-vis Teheran is extraordinarily dangerous.  The people that are in power in Teheran are apocalyptic in their thinking.  A nuclear holocaust in the name of Allah would be a good thing, particularly if it obliterated Jews and Americans, even if it martyred Arabs.  Martyrdom in the name of Allah is, after all, the greatest honor to which an individual can aspire.

To the best of my knowledge, no Americans are thinking adequately about the challenge that Radical Islam presents.  We see a threat and our knee-jerk reaction is to try to deal with it with bullets and missiles.  All our policy does is increase the number of people that hate our guts.  Because most of this is happening at village level in "shit hole countries," we are oblivious of it unless and until it bubbles over in places like North Africa ,the Middle East, or New York City.  Our response to Radical Islam is one of the very few places where Americans are agreed as to what our policy should be.  Kill the leaders with a drone strike on a pickup truck in some far off desert oasis.

I contend that what is necessary is an all-out effort to bring all peoples into the Western way of thinking and wean it away from Radical islamic thought.  That is going to entail extensive, vigorous, expensive, continuing engagement down to the village level.  I am not optimistic.  Our over-the-horizon assassination strategy is much cheaper and far, far easier to understand than a policy set based on worldwide economic development.  I am absolutely convinced that we could do the necessary and increasingly fearful that we will never admit it - neither here in this country nor in any other country in the world.  Although our blindness has an origin different from that of our Radical islamic foe, it is, at root, very similar in being all encompassing and pervasive.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The power of domestic American politics in ignorantly shaping our foreign policy.

AP, quoting the Financial Times, reports that "The United States has urged Ukraine to halt strikes on Russian energy infrastructure, warning that drone strikes risk provoking retaliation and driving up global oil prices."  Other press reports indicate that Washington is pressuring Jerusalem to not "go into Rafah" because too many innocent civilians will be harmed.  Cynics, myself included, argue that the Biden Administration takes both positions, not because of any humanitarian consideration, but rather because of domestic American politics.  Ukraine's attacks on Russian oil infrastructure adversely impacts the price of oil in the international market and that drives the cost of gasoline up here inside this country, politically disadvantaging the administration in  power,  Israeli aggressive pursuit of Hamas fighters is causing a backlash inside this country that is adversely impacting Biden's poll numbers.  In neither situation, are Biden's protestations sufficient to shape the actions of our allies, let alone the actions of our adversaries.

I suggest that the ineffectiveness of our influence with our allies is, itself, an important signal to the rest of the world as to the deterioration of our effectiveness as a "world leader."  It has long been obvious that we can not stop Putin, or Xi, or the Ayatollah from pursuing policies that are contrary to our own interests and now it is increasingly clear that we can not even influence the governments that we prop up economically.  (It has long been obvious that we do not give a fig for anything that happens in the "undeveloped world.")  I argue that the fundamental point is that the American people have not thought either Ukraine or Gaza through sufficiently to form a government inside this country that has a firm position on either issue.  I am jaundiced enough to believe that both Biden and Trump shape their positions on issues based on how they believe they will be received by a majority of grossly ignorant American voters.

This is not the first time in history that this situation has arisen.  Every president has, to one degree or another, followed this same path throughout the life of this country and we have always managed to blunder through to a surprisingly good end result because we are basically good people.  We have periodically had to fight civil and international wars to do it, but, in the end, we prevailed and our democracy emerged "stronger than ever."  Never were we able to sustain the peace that we won in the most recent war, but no matter, "history was always on our side."  We choose to see our problems exactly the same way today, even though the situation has changed dramatically.  Never before have we faced the prospect of a war that would destroy us as well as our enemy - even if we later decide that we had won it.  This one is not only going to kill you and me, it is going to poison a significant amount of arable land that is going to change the way in which humans live on this increasingly small spinning chunk of rock.

I argue that, while it almost certainly will not be the war to end all wars, the next world war will be the war that permanently ends the good life in much of the world to include here in North America.  I suggest that it is high time for the citizenry of this democracy to eschew inadequate leadership and accept our own responsibilities.  Inherent in that transformation will be the need to understand that the quality of our life ultimately depends on the quality of everybody-else's lives.  Everybody in the entire world.  Very unfortunately, I do not see any indication that there is a chance in hell that is going to happen.  We are, every one of us, hell bent on proving that "it" is not our fault.  We fully accept that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but take intellectual refugee in the firm knowledge that it is not our fault.  The problem is "the other."  That black guy.  That white guy.  That Jew.  That Arab.  That trans.  That straight.  That whatever.  That other whatever.  The only thing that we have in common is the firm knowledge that none of it is our fault.  Our mantra is "duck your head, stay out of substantive conversations, and get on with life."  If someone points out the inconvenient obvious, silence him or her any way that you can.  Life is too short to worry about someone else's problems.


Friday, March 22, 2024

Thinking about war.

 Over my lifetime, I have had occasion to think about war a lot and I have been engaged in the soft edges of war at dirt level as well as command level for a major part of my active life.  I do not claim anything more than that experience, but I have come to some conclusions that I want to pass on to my friends and neighbors who have only read about war in novels and newspapers.  The bottom line is that war is far worse than anything you can imagine and, because of that ignorance, we have a very strong tendency to slip into it for all manner of ridiculous, trivial reasons.  A second point that I want to bring home to my readers is that war inevitably tends to breed more intense, and far wider war.

I can go on with a long list of other unfavorable results that stem from war, but the point that I am trying to make is that, in a nuclear world, we must, not should, but must, stop the progression as early in the process as possible if we are to sustain a world that is habitable by humans.  As a secondary objective, we should seek to protect our economic and political position of dominance in the world to the degree possible for obvious, selfish reasons.  I argue that we are, today, doing neither.  

In our hearts of heart, you and I suspect that I am right, but we are unwilling to face up to the challenge that presents itself.  It is apparently beyond our ability to grasp and deal with the implications that radiate out from it.  The result is societal disintegration inside our country and the rise of hostile powers outside.  Our vaunted democracy is crumbling around our ears and foreigners are increasingly seeing us, not as bold leaders, but rather as greedy cowards.  I do not see the issue to be how much money we spend for whatever, but rather how much thought and effort we put into resolving the most important issues between people.

You and I have, all of our lives, lived in the richest country in the history of the world and we take wealth for granted.  The vast majority of people living in this world exist in an entirely different situation and most of us have only read about it.  It is not our fault that we are ignorant and it is not our fault that we get angry when it is pointed out that we are ignorant.  We can site a carload of facts and figures to prove the extent of our education and we can recount weekend trips all over the world to prove our experience.  We honestly believe that we are equipped to decide how to deal with poverty and we are willing to pay enormous amounts of money to end it.  

The problem is not here.  The problem is over there where the people are too ignorant to do the right thing.  If they want to tear themselves apart - let 'em, we have our own problems that we need to deal with.  We have to decide whether we are going to elect Biden or Trump and it is not yet clear whether either one of them will deal with the age of the fetus, the price of gasoline, the proper use of pronouns, the number of chips in the bag, or our precious feelings the way I want those world-shaking issues settled.

PS:  we don't even understand that China is already whipping our ass all over the world, without going to war with us, and far too many others are taking note.  Since Mao's takeover and the Korean stalemate, how many expensive foreign wars has China fought?  How many unbelievably expensive wars have we fought for what advantage?  During that same period of time, how much relative economic growth has happened in the two countries?  How has the international prestige of the two countries faired?  Which of the two has seen their economy improve and which deteriorate?  At a tactical level, how many Americans see the relationship between our drug problem and China?

PPS:  The single most dangerous thing about today is that you and I honestly believe that the problem might be solved by either a megalomaniac or a bigoted crook.  We refuse to understand that they are but front men for you and me.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

We are now looking for an alternative location for our drone base in West Africa..

Alex Thurston has an article in Responsible Statecraft today that touches on some of the same criticisms that I make of American foreign policy.  He is attempting to explain why the recent American delegation to Niger failed to even meet with the leader of the coup and was, instead, told that American military were no longer welcome in that country.  His theory is that we insulted the de-facto leadership of the country by sending too low ranking a delegation and further suggested that our presence in that country may not have been perceived to have been as helpful as we assumed that it was. 

The American delegation was headed by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and AFRICOM Commander, General Michael Langley, and included other senior officials such as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander.  Thurston points out the assumption on our part, that an Assistant Secretary of State warranted a meeting with the Head of State was not shared by the Niger coup leaders.  I go further and suggest that there was too much female in the makeup of the delegation for a macho group of military men, not yet acculturated the same way as is the American people and our Department of State.

I am certain that this insensitive comment on my part will become the primary focus for many, but it is not my principal critique of our policy in Niger.  My principal criticism is of the broader policy that we have toward Africa in general and West Africa in particular.  We see Niger's principal importance today as being a host for the airbase that we use to surveil and, I presume, sometimes strike radical Islamic militant groups throughout West Africa.  Thurston implies that the coup group that now controls Niger may not see our military effort to be worth a damn.  I again go further with my critique and conclude that our "over the horizon" mentality is not only not effective, it is actually contrary to our interests.  

The simple fact of the matter is that we can not defeat Radical Islam with missiles and money.  It is going to require one hell of a lot more involvement all the way down to village level, if it is to be successful, and we are clearly not willing to do that, hence the inadequacy of our diplomatic effort.  Here again, my criticism is not just of the idiotic tactical mistakes made by our State Department, but more importantly the lack of awareness that dominates your and my thinking out here in the hinterland.  This is a democracy.  Imperfect to be sure, but still a democracy, wherein we elect people to positions in the government that is currently doing stupid things all over the world.  It is not because we are bad people.  It is because we are intellectually cloistered people who equate what we call education with intelligence.

I find it infinitely frustrating that evil people with common sense are screwing with us so successfully all over the planet, particularly because we are far too rapidly approaching a point where one or the other idiot will trigger a nuclear exchange.  The appalling thing about the Niger debacle is that we are now looking for an alternative location for our drone base.  If successful, we will buy our way into another country from which we can assassinate Radical operatives, thus ensuring continuing opportunities for radicals to advance in rank and position.  Our idiotic policy will do absolutely nothing to stop the spread of Radical Islam in very large part because we don't, anywhere in the world, outside of our own non-existent borders, see what is happening at ground level.  We don't even try to see what is happening and, when we get a glimpse, we hide in our devices.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Economic competition with China

 According to the Mexican newspaper El Pais, Chinese companies are selling significantly more cars in Mexico than they used to and are planning to expand their production of cars in that country with an eye to selling them in the United States.  Former President Trump has pledged, if reelected, to put a 100% tariff on those cars in an attempt to block their sale in this country.  I am not enthusiastic about the "thinking" behind the threatened tariff because, among other reasons, it will put Washington in the position of blocking Mexico's economic development, but I definitely agree with Trump that we have to take the Chinese economic competition very seriously and equally vehemently disagree with Biden's ignoring of the challenge.  

The underlying problem here, as in many other areas, is that we are unable to compete economically with China for market share.  We still have an important, if shrinking, edge in technology, but labor cost, government regulation, and a slew of other factors, including excessive government spending that results in inflation, increase the cost of production in this country, not only of automobiles but virtually everything else that one can imagine.  Not only that, our technological edge is being eroded as China becomes more proficient and efficient in their outreach to world markets.  Those that refuse to accept Chinese technological progress as a fact of life should understand that China is on the moon and they made it on their first attempt, the only country to ever do that.

I accept protectionism as a tactic, but not as a strategy.  Protectionism can obviously be useful in tactical negotiation, but, as a strategy, it puts us at odds with the rest of the world.  Whether we like it or not, we have to compete economically on a level playing field, if we do not want to see our trading partners become our military adversaries.  Both WOKE and MAGA political philosophies fail to encompass this economic reality - the one being overly accommodating and the other overly adversarial.  I find the dichotomy between the American free enterprise myth and the reality of our day-to-day economic thinking to be fascinating.  We claim to believe in free enterprise, but we neuter it domestically at every opportunity and oppose it internationally just exactly as often.

I suggest that a fundamental part of the problem is that we do not fully understand the Chinese threat because we have never seen it executed as efficiently and consistently as the Chinese Communist Party is managing to accomplish today.  China poses many tactical problems, but the more formidable threat derives from the thought, discipline and tenacity that has gone into their strategy - literally over decades.  I first took an interest in China, while serving in the army in Korea, a very long time ago, and I have watched their strategy be rigorously implemented over my entire lifetime.  I am not saying that they have a better strategy than do we, but I am saying that they are implementing theirs better than are we, ours.  The contest is authoritarianism vis-a-vis democracy and our side is presently behind, way behind, and the real problem is that you and I are sound asleep.  

While we flip flop through various conflicts all over the globe, Beijing rigorously avoids wasteful conflict and concentrates on economic growth.  Take Hong Kong for instance.  Our concern has been the freedom of the people.  China's objective was the diminution of Hong Kong as an Asian economic center while simultaneously building Shanghai as the new economic center to replace it.  They did not want to wait for the treaty with Britain to expire, so they pushed reversion, fully understanding that neither London nor Washington would resist militarily.  Their success has, among other things, significantly weakened, if not eliminated, Western economic influence in many third world markets.  BRICS is expanding while western economic fora are shrinking in importance.  Today, China is threatening to sell automobiles to us via Mexico, and Detroit and Washington are in shock.  In the Middle East, China is today positioning itself to negotiate a peace between various groups that increasingly refuse to talk to us.

I am not saying that China is better than us.  I am saying that they are more intelligent and more disciplined than us.  They are pushing forward while we argue with each other about the age of the fetus, the number of chips in the bag, the price of gasoline, the proper use of pronouns, and our precious feelings.  We don't even understand that we are already at war with China and they are advancing while we retreat.  The fact that they are maneuvering economically and socially, literally all over the globe, confuses and frustrates us.  We contemplate military action while they eschew it as being wasteful and ineffective.  You and I choose, repeat choose to not understand what is happening.  I find that inexcusable.  Take fentanyl as an example.  Raw materials sold to Mexican drug dealers generate money in Chinese pockets, strengthens cartel influence in Mexico, and societal disintegration in America.

Tell me again why you and I are not stupid beyond belief.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

"Building a more resilient information environment."

 Yesterday, Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, made a speech in Korea which he closed by saying "We can become so overwhelmed by lies and distortions – so divided from one another – that we will fail to meet the challenges that our nations face.  Or we can meet this moment and do what democracies do best.  We can welcome diverse voices and perspectives.  We can think critically and debate vigorously.  We can actually grow and self-correct."  The tile of his speech was "Building a more resilient information environment" and it is the international version of speeches made by presidents and others inside this country relating to the need to "save our democracy and protect free speech."  

I agree with absolutely everything that Blinken said, but note that nothing in his speech addressed a more fundamental problem, and that is the willingness and ability of humans to "grow and self-correct."  Who is it that decides what is true and what not.  What do we do if we do not "think critically and debate vigorously?"  If we do not "actually grow and self-correct."  Our Secretary of State is talking to foreigners.  Who is talking to you and me?

I spent thirty years talking to foreigners, sometimes with a gun in my hand and sometimes dressed in a suit and wearing a necktie.  Every single one of them, farmer and politician alike, had a different perspective about my words and every single one of them was far more interested in my actions than my jabber.  I spent several years telling my Vietnamese friends about the importance of democratic values and then I walked away from them and left them to the people that I had been urging them to kill.  Colleagues of mine recently did the exact same thing to Afghan friends and we are seriously considering doing it again to our Ukrainian friends.  A strong probability exists in the minds of many that we will do the exact same thing to our Taiwanese friends.  A Russian propagandist sums it up:  "America will hump you and then dump you."

Here, inside this "bastion of democracy", free speech is venerated as an intellectual concept and vigorously denied in practice.  The American government does not control speech. Corporate algorithms and individual disinterest, guided by tribal propagandists, does the job for us.  As a political scientist, I find the situation fascinating.  As an American, I find it disgusting as well as tragic.  In today's America, you and I hide from each other's germs and ideas with equal vigor and we reduce thought to that which we find comfortable.  We ignore all that does not fit into our physical and intellectual neighborhoods.  Those of us living in suburbs, "distant" from urban decay, spout isms without end, but show little interest in far too many people "living" on the street, save to deplore it.  We uniformly refuse to recognize that we are intellectually abandoning the concept of America and activists are championing concepts today that were once anathema.  We fail to understand that our disinterest in urban blight is the exact same thing as our disinterest in the plight of far, far too many people in this shrinking world.

There is little difference, save details and scale, between crime in our cities and war in foreign countries.  Both are facilitated and encouraged by our cowardly disinterest and our ability to pull imaginary, intellectual covers over our head and hide from reality in our "devices."  We choose to pontificate about, rather than deal with, issues.  Some of us see Russia, or China, or Iran as the threat.  I see the greater danger to be our unwillingness, you and me, to admit that we see what is happening to this once near-great people.  I ask myself why and conclude that the most fundamental reason is that we are cowards, too stupid to admit to what we all see happening.

Before the invention of nuclear weapons on top of satellite-guided ballistic missiles, it was eminently viable to periodically knock each other over the head with clubs and bows and arrows, or tanks and supersonic airplanes, but the nature of war has changed and we should think more about what a post nuclear conflagration would look like just down the street from where you and I live.  I argue that to be more important than any of the drivel that you and I are talking about today.  You can put more chips in the bag, lower the price of gasoline, snuff the fetus at any stage of development, ensure that nobody grabs anybody by the pussy, correct everybody's use of pronouns to include him and her, and ensure that nobody's feeling are bruised by any misuse of the English language, and we will still solve the population problem by making it impossible to grow anything on what is left of this chunk of rock spinning in space, unless you and I stop yelling at each other and start talking to each other substantively about very real issues.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Old disagreements or successful, new relationships?.

 Aneliese Bernard, a former senior State Department official dealing in African Affairs is quoted, by PBS, as saying that "We can’t deny that our deteriorating relationships in other parts of the world: the Gulf, Israel and others, all have an influential impact on our bilateral relations in countries in West Africa.”  I agree, wholeheartedly with that assessment and fully expect to see some form of the Russian Wagner Group in Niger in the not too distant future.

The American public refuses to see what is happening across the entire foreign relations spectrum.  We are losing our influence in country after country, and various foreign antagonists are ineffectively, repeat ineffectively, replacing us.  I fully expect the deterioration in our international position to continue and metastasize as the world falls into more and more chaos.  This trajectory, combined with our own internal confusion, is extraordinarily dangerous in a world full of nuclear weapons.  We must not let details continue to confuse and blind us about the sea change that is going on in the world around us, and we can not take any solace from the fact that Russia, China and Iran are no more effective than are we.  The enemy is chaos, not any particular individual international player.

Neither of our two presidential aspirants, nor anyone else that I know of, for that matter, sees the situation the same way that I do.  Biden is the wishy-washy one, Trump the braggadocio, but neither has the foresight to see beyond gaining the right to sit in the White House and play with the knobs and dials of the American body politic.  If I am forced to choose, I will choose Trump, but I do not expect him to do anything other than, at best, postpone the continuing deterioration of our position in the world.  Political stability can not be attained by ignoring the lousy living conditions and aspirations of far too many humans all over the world, including those existing in the "shit hole" countries, and in those countries currently suffering an adversarial relationship with us.

I am as nationalistic as the next American citizen, but I am also a realist.  The reason Putin, Xi and the Ayatollah are threatening war with us is because we can not find a way to live together on an increasingly small chunk of space matter.  We are, today, trying to win old disagreements, when we should be focused on building successful, new relationships that fit conditions in today's world.  None of it is because we have the wrong individual sitting at the Resolute Desk.  The individuals that we select to lead us are selected because they reflect us.  In order to change the way Washington looks at our problems, we have to change you and me.  If we do not do that, the inevitable, repeat inevitable, outcome is, sooner or later, nuclear war.  I believe that to be stupid beyond belief.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Niger tells us that they don't want our military in their country any longer.

The Niger Junta has decided that the U.S. military presence in their country is "no longer justified."  I am long out of touch with our strategy in West Africa, but it is my understanding that our airbase, just outside of Agadez, Niger, has been an important part of our grossly ineffective effort to stabilize West Africa.  I presume that we operated strike as well as recon flights out of the base in some sort of "over-the-horizon" strategy against jihadist terror throughout the region.  Up until the coup that brought the present military junta to power, France provided ground forces in country that I presume coordinated their equally ineffective anti-jihadist activities with us.  

Because of lingering antipathy that originated long ago, during France's colonial control of West Africa, the French troops were thrown out of country immediately after the coup, but we managed to hang on for some time, because we were also providing significant economic aid to the corner stone of our West African strategy.  I don't know what happened behind the scenes, but I suspect that we demanded that the former president be reinstated and the coup reversed.  We have long made a very big deal about our belief that democratic Niger was the shining light in West Africa.  Last December, we told the junta that we were willing to restore aid and security ties with Niger if it met "certain conditions."  I think that we were just told to go screw ourselves.

I do not, repeat do not, underestimate the difficulty that we face in dealing with the challenges involved in eliminating the instability that exists, not only in West Africa, but throughout most of the world, to include our own ghettos, but I continue to believe that unless we do, we will destroy ourselves, one way or the other, but most probably in a nuclear holocaust.  Were I sufficiently influential, I would mount a concerted effort to address root causes of political instability all over the planet even though all of our well-meaning efforts to do precisely this have failed in the past.  Those efforts were defeated by base corruption, stupidity, and impatience, all of which we are very familiar with here at home.  There is a very real possibility that large assemblages of humans are incapable of finding their way through this minefield, but I argue that we must try if we are to avoid nuclear obliteration.

As you can readily understand, I do not see either Biden or Trump to be at all interested in mounting the effort that I favor.  Both men would tell me that the American people are not in the slightest interested in doing that.  I completely agree, and I believe that is what is destroying our leadership outside of our non-existent borders - not the specific blunders of either politician.  Inside those same non-existent borders the disease is rooted in base stupidity and intellectual cowardice.  We are smart enough to understand, but are afraid to do so.  We invent other problems to argue about, because the real ones are too horrifying to consider seriously.  The age of the fetus, the price of gas, the number of potato chips in the bag, pronouns, and our precious feelings are safer things to argue about.

The reason that we do not produce the leadership that we need is that you and I are afraid to think about the problems that we need to address.  They are too monumental for our puny minds to encompass and so we look for leadership that will address the problems that we are willing to think about.  We can't vote for Trump because be brags about grabbing a woman by the pussy.  We can't vote for Biden because he can't figure out where to stand when he reads his speech.  We cloth our "debates" in high sounding clap trap that fools absolutely no one other than ourselves.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Haiti is a mess and it is different than America only in degree, not kind.

 My guess is that if we knew enough about the situation, we would find American officials involved in the Haitian backstory.  I doubt that they would have been in support of the gangs that are currently tearing the country apart, rather I would expect them to have been on the side of law and order and engaged in finding some way to prop up "the government."  It does look as though we have been a principal supporter of the effort to get Kenyan police into the country to restore order in the street, and we are obviously in the forefront of "diplomatic efforts" to restore harmony in the government, but nowhere would I expect to find the kind of effort necessary to change the political trajectory in that unfortunate country, and the fundamental reason is that the American people don't give a damn, particularly since we have even bigger problems in Ukraine, Gaza, and soon in Taiwan.  Who the hell has time to think about Haiti?  Or Sudan?  Or Burkina Faso?  Or....?  We have to settle on the proper age that it is suitable to snuff the fetus, get the price of gasoline down, put more potato chips in the bag, teach people how to use pronouns correctly, and, most important of all, get people to respect our feelings.

According to Google, 11.45 million people live in Haiti.  Again according to Google, "on the UN's Human Development Index, Haiti ranked 170 out of 189 countries in 2020."  That means that, in the entire world, there are 19 countries that are poorer than this close neighbor of ours.  I know of no poor country or community in the entire world that is able to sustain a politically stable society, let alone properly care for its' citizens.  Poverty results in political instability - always.  Here in this country, just exactly for the same reason as in Haiti, and you and I refuse to face up to that fundamental fact.

OK, what do we do about it?  The first thing we have to do is to restore order and that means using force to combat illegal activity.  In Haiti that means putting the gangs down.  In Chicago it means putting the gangs down.  The next thing that we have to do in Haiti is make life worth living for the vast majority of people.  In Chicago it means making life worth living for the vast majority of people.  We actually know what needs to be done, but we refuse to do it for all manner of reasons, all of which boil down to the fact that we are not frightened enough to do the necessary, we have our own lives to live, and besides, it all costs way too much money.  Always before in human history that was good enough.  Eventually we would have a fight and then, after we had killed enough people, we would pick our lives back up, and get on with the effort to put more chips in the bag.  Then Oppenheimer went and invented the atom bomb, Barack and Joe gave the Ayatollah permission to build theirs, and we decided that we could not address any of these issues until we decided whether we were boys or girls.

Remember to vote!  We have a democracy to protect.  That other guy has to be defeated even if the idiot that we are voting for is no better - remember he is different.  We have another flip flop to get done.  Our democracy depends on it and we are, after all, the leader of the Free World!

Friday, March 15, 2024

There is no plan to evacuate American citizens from Haiti.

 Last night, I heard a "news" snippet wherein an obviously defensive State Department spokesman told reporters that the United States had no plan to evacuate American citizens from Haiti, because American citizens have been warned for four years not to go to Haiti.  My guess is that will become more of a political problem in this country than is the political and security deterioration in Haiti that is stimulating the evacuation discussion.  The Biden Administration is, after all, the government that massively failed to successfully execute the evacuation of Afghanistan.  I have actually directed a successful evacuation, and I agree that the Biden Administration is obviously grossly incompetent, but I do not believe that glaring fact is even close to the most important part of the situation in Haiti.

Haiti, like too much of South and Central America, is in the process of being taken over by organized criminal gangs.  Democracy is failing to govern increasingly large parts of the globe for exactly the same fundamental reasons that organized and unorganized crime is becoming more important inside this country.  The specifics in each instance are sufficiently dramatic that we tend to focus on the them, rather than the trend lines.  Part of the reason that we do that is that we are afraid to think about the trend lines that are emerging and, when we do, we reject the actions necessary to deal with them.  I argue that mistake is going to get us, you and me, killed.

Haiti is happening, to varying degrees, all over the globe, including here in this country.  There is a difference in the degree of deterioration in civil order inside our cities as compared to Port-au-Prince today, but the difference is in degree, not in kind.  Were we to compare cities governed by democratic authorities with cities governed by totalitarian authorities, we would see generally more order in the latter, than in the former.  (BeiJing vs San Francisco.)  Wealthy countries in Europe and North America are able to gloss over "urban blight," and throw money at it, while, here in this country, the governing class moves out of urban areas to suburban enclaves, the most elite of which actually have walls.  There is not enough wealth and organization in poorer countries to accomplish this on a sufficiently large scale to mask the underlying problem - hence "Bar-B-Cue's" rise to power.

As Haiti goes down the drain, we increasingly worry about refugees flooding into this country and seek temporary solutions such as trying to hire Kenyan cops to restore order to the afflicted nation and arguing with each other about putting security forces on alert to stop foreigners from flooding into this country.  As our government fails to take the necessary actions that would get our citizens out of Haiti, we will see private operations organized to deal with the challenge.  These efforts will be dramatic enough to capture our attention instead of thinking about the fundamentals that made all of this happen.  Eventually, we will see sufficient order restored by one, or the other power broker, that we can turn our attention away from this problem and focus it on another, somewhere else.  

As we go forward, we will ignore the fact that we have failed to address the underlying issues.  Why am I so certain of the outcome?  Because we do it over and over again, absolutely everywhere in the world, including here inside our own country.  Just as we physically flee urban blight here in this country, we intellectually flee it everywhere in the world.  I contend that population growth is swamping humanity, intellectually as well as physically.  I contend that the only, repeat only, solution is to honestly address the living conditions of everybody in this increasingly crowded world, not because it is the right thing to do morally, but because it is the only way that the human experiment can continue.  Not to do so is to see Haiti, Ukraine, Gaza, Taiwan as being the proximate steps leading to nuclear oblivion.

In the last analysis, Make America Great Again is just as narrow minded as Open Borders and "leaders" are not the problem.  You and I are, and we refuse to understand it because we are greedy cowards.  Things are a mess, that much we well understand, but we choose to carefully select what we argue about.  Pronouns, the age of the fetus, the price of gas, the number of chips in the bag, and our precious feelings being the current list, because we can get our feeble heads around them - not because they are the most dangerous problems facing us.  I continue to see that situation as being the height of stupidity.  I contend that you and I are just as stupid as the "leaders" that we elect.  They are, in fact, our report card.