Saturday, April 26, 2008

Future of World Geopolitical Power Balance

The United States has been the world's largest economic powerhouse since the 1880s. But not until the first half of the 20th century did the US become the world's largest military force as well. The role of world's military hegemon was one that was forced upon the US by Germany in WWI and by Japan and Germany in WWII. By the end of WWII, the intent of the USSR to become the predominant hegemon of Europe and Asia was clear. The US had a choice: either allow itself to become a permanent worldwide military hegemon to balance the effect of the growing influence of the USSR, or to retreat back into an isolationist shell.

The USSR's acquisition of the atomic bomb, and later the hydrogen bomb in combination with long-range bombers and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) made it obvious that isolation had become impossible. The US under Truman committed itself to world leadership in the attempt to prevent Soviet style totalitarianism from smothering the entire globe.

Now, still at the dawn of the 3rd millenium, what is the future of the world geopolitical power balance, in the face of a newly belligerent Russia, a diffuse but ambitious worldwide program of Islamist ambition to conquest, and a rapidly arming mainland China?

The problem today is that the U.S. political system seems to have lost its ability to fix its ailments. The economic problems in the United States today are real, but by and large they are not the product of deep inefficiencies within the U.S. economy, nor are they reflections of cultural decay. They are the consequences of specific government policies. Different policies could quickly and relatively easily move the United States onto a far more stable footing. A set of sensible reforms could be enacted tomorrow to trim wasteful spending and subsidies, increase savings, expand training in science and technology, secure pensions, create a workable immigration process, and achieve significant efficiencies in the use of energy. Policy experts do not have wide disagreements on most of these issues, and none of the proposed measures would require sacrifices reminiscent of wartime hardship, only modest adjustments of existing arrangements. And yet, because of politics, they appear impossible. The U.S. political system has lost the ability to accept some pain now for great gain later on.

As it enters the twenty-first century, the United States is not fundamentally a weak economy or a decadent society. But it has developed a highly dysfunctional politics. What was an antiquated and overly rigid political system to begin with (now about 225 years old) has been captured by money, special interests, a sensationalist media, and ideological attack groups. The result is ceaseless, virulent debate about trivia -- politics as theater -- and very little substance, compromise, or action. A can-do country is now saddled with a do-nothing political process, designed for partisan battle rather than problem solving. __FareedZakaria
The Democratic Party in the US combined with much of the US news media, is painting a picture of widespread national malaise for public consumption. They are portraying the US as a defeated nation in the midst of economic and environmental devastation, with no possibility of improvement--unless one of the unqualified Democrats is elected US President, and the dysfunctional Democratic Party led US Congress is allowed to maintain control over the US legislature.

Yet, it is that same dysfunctional Democratic Party that is responsible for most of the problems the US has with energy supply, lack of innovation, lack of business competitiveness, and lack of credibility on the international front.

The "great national malaise" suffered by the US under President Jimmy Carter was a real phenomenon. Unemployment, Inflation Rate, and Interest Rates were in the double digits. The USSR appeared to be in ascendancy and unbeatable. The world had no respect for a US that had run away from its Vietnamese allies with its tail between its legs, for a US that deserted its ally in Iran to the muslim fundamentalist terror state. Jimmy Carter's policies created the malaise, and it lasted until Jimmy Carter was well and gone from government.

The current malaise is largely a creation of the news media in collaboration with the US Democratic Party and powerful allying forces, including various organisations sponsored by George Soros. The US economy is nowhere near the sad shape it assumed in the late 1970s. But perceptions are often more important than reality. As long as the US Democratic Party has the cooperation of the US news media, it is the Democratic Party's perception that will be presented to the larger part of the US public.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Muqtada al-Sadr: A Source of Family Shame

A relative of renegade Muqtada al-Sadr has indicated that the Sadar family of Iraq is planning to deal with the renegade rebel son as an internal family matter.
Alseyed Josef Alsadar a member of the honored Sadar family wrote a letter to Alrafedain news (Nida'a al Rafidain News) which said: "Muqtada al-Sadr has tainted the reputation of this respected family, and the family disowns Muqtada. We are as innocent of him as the wolf is of the blood of Josef (Biblical (Old Testament I believe) and Koranic reference). The family is working on ways to discipline him with in the family. Consultations for this are held at the highest level to come up with punishments for its rogue son.
This statement from a senior member of the Sadar family comes as the rebel cleric al-Sadr threatens to unleash new violence upon Iraq in the coming days and weeks.
Sadr threatened to end the cease-fire after Iraqi troops took over the Mahdi Army-dominated neighborhood of Hayaniyah in Basrah and ejected the Sadrist political party from government-owned offices in the city. He openly said he was prepared to revolt against the government.

"Do you want a third uprising?” Sadr said, referring to the two Mahdi Army uprisings in Baghdad, Najaf, and the South in April and August 2006. "So I direct my last warning and speech to the Iraqi government to refrain and to take the path of peace and abandon violence against its people. If the government does not refrain and leash the militias that have penetrated it, we will announce an open war until liberation." __LongWarJournal
The rabble following of Sadr has stockpiled weapons for the threatened uprising across the Shia regions of Iraq, although one huge stockpile has been uncovered in Karbalah.
Security forces on Monday seized a huge weapons cache in western Karbala, the police chief said.... “A large security force accompanied by explosive ordinance disposal team moved to al-Tar, a highland area containing a number of caves, to search for explosive based on intelligence tips,” Brig. Gen. Raid Shakir, Karbala security operations commander, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).
The security official pointed out “forces found 20 mortar of different calibers, 72 rocket-propelled grenade(RPG), 54 roadside bombs, ammunition boxes, wires, 23 kg TNT, 33 hand grenades, 14 explosive controls, blast wires, and more than 1000 rifles along with their bullets.”.....Al-Tar is an archaeological site whose history dates back five thousand years characterized by highland caves. ...“The armed groups hid the weapons in such a remote fearful area to prepare for armed actions in the city,” the official added...Karbala, the second holiest Shiite city after Najaf and the capital city of Karbala province, lies 110 south-west of Baghdad. _Source
As more Iraqis grow weary of constant warfare and terrorist atrocities, the number of citizen reports to authorities of arms caches and gathering places for terrorists--both Shia and Sunni--are increasing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama vs. Clinton: What They Choose Not to Say Would Fill Volumes

Senators Clinton and Obama met in debate last night, their last public battle together before next week's critically important Pennsylvania primary. How did they do?
Keeping the score card, there's no way Obama could fared worse. Nearly 45 minutes of relentless political scrutiny from the ABC anchors and from Hillary Clinton, followed by an issues-and-answers session in which his anger carried over and sort of neutered him. But Hillary Clinton has a Reverse-Teflon problem: her negatives are up, and when she's perceived as the attacker, the attacks never seem to settle on Obama and always seem to boomerang back on her. So it would be unwise to declare that Hillary "won" the debate in the dynamic sense just yet. (How much money will Obama raise off this debate? $3m million? $4 million?)

A lot of stuff that Obama doesn't Pennsylvanians to think about were the subject of fairly detailed questions. Obama's supporters are already blaming the "establishment" -- that is, the powerful institution of the mainstream media -- for the tone of the debate. This sets up a blowback scenario wherein his supporters will rally to his defense and lash out at the media very loudly. But Obama's going to be the next president of the United States, maybe. The most powerful person in the world. And questions about his personal associations, his character, his personal beliefs, his statements at private fundraisers -- the answers to these questions tell us a lot. __Source
This was perhaps the first honest debate that Obama has been forced to face head on. He did not do well. He was lost in a fog through most of the performance. His supporters in the audience violated the "no applause" rule repeatedly, which seemed to rattle Obama even more.

The Marc Ambinder report quoted above is fascinating. Why? Because of the comments that followed his report at the Atlantic website. The well-zombied following of Obama comes out in full force in Marc's comments to rant and condemn ABC, Marc, the MSM in general, George Stephanopolous, Charlie Gibson, and the usual suspects Sean Hannity and Fox News (??).

The most interesting way to watch such political performance theatre is to turn the volume all the way down, and watch the debaters' faces. The silent examination allows a better reading of the speaker's subconscious nuances, that underlie the attempts to obfuscate and circumvent the things they really do not want to say.

Most fascinating.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hugo Chavez Gives Venezuelans Something to Cry About: Collapsing Health Care

There are many ways for a revolution to fail. Most of them revolve around a growing dissatisfaction among the middle classes that eventually reaches the lower classes, the proletariat--the ones the revolution claimed it existed to help.
Palacios, Venezuela's largest public maternity hospital and once the nation's beacon of neonatal care, has fallen on hard times. Half of the anesthesiologists and pediatricians on staff two years ago have quit. Basic equipment such as respirators, ultrasound monitors and incubators are either broken or scarce. Six of 12 birth rooms have been shut.

On one day last month, five newborns were crowded into one incubator, said Dr. Jesus Mendez Quijada, a psychiatrist and Palacios staff member who is a past president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation...The deaths of the six infants "were not a case of bad luck, but the consequence of an accumulation of circumstances that have created this alarming situation," Mendez said.

...the problems at Concepcion Palacios are symptoms of a variety of ills that have beset the public healthcare system under leftist firebrand President Hugo Chavez. Cases of malaria nearly doubled between 1998, the year before Chavez took office, and 2007. Incidents of dengue fever more than doubled over the same period.

Poorly paid doctors regularly demonstrate at hospitals from Puerto La Cruz in the northeast to Maracay in the industrial heartland, demanding back pay and protesting the lack of equipment and supplies. Others are leaving in droves for Spain, Australia or the Middle East, where they make 10 times the $600 monthly average salary they earn in public hospitals.

... the system's current crisis comes as the country is awash in oil wealth, a windfall that critics say could be used to ease the problem. Instead, Chavez is building a parallel health program called Barrio Adentro, which features 11,000 neighborhood clinics staffed mainly by Cuban doctors...Inaugurated nationwide in 2003, Barrio Adentro initially was so popular with the poor that it helped Chavez win a crucial 2004 referendum and hold on to power. It has brought basic healthcare to the barrios, providing free exams and medicine as well as eye operations that have saved the sight of thousands.

But the system siphons resources and equipment away from the public hospitals, which have four-fifths of the nation's 45,000 hospital beds and where the public still goes for emergency and maternity care, as well as for most major and elective surgeries.

The finances and organization of Barrio Adentro are "a black box and not transparent, so it's impossible to analyze it for efficiency," said Dr. Marino Gonzalez, professor of public policy at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, the capital.

A lack of openness has affected other facets of public health too. After the medical establishment blamed him for an outbreak of dengue fever last summer, Chavez halted weekly publication of an epidemiology report that for 50 years had tallied occurrences of infectious diseases nationwide....Former Health Minister Rafael Orihuela says the loss of the weekly report has deprived the government of information needed for a quick response to outbreaks of disease.

"I am not talking about a failure of the government to adopt innovations in healthcare," said Orihuela, a Chavez critic. "I am talking about a failure to maintain basic healthcare standards." ___LAT
Leftist revolution is a temporary situation. The inevitable collapse always follows an extended period of progressive deterioration of basic services and quality of life. Even without corrupt dictators such as Chavez and Castro, leftist systems of governments inevitably fail, due to a lack of grounding in basic economic realities.

How odd that so large a proportion of professors, journalists, and politicians in the developed western world should be addicted to the perpetually failing ideology of the left. Barack Obama, the audacity of hope? The futility of empty wishful thinking.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Trouble is the West: Stop Being Weanies!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is perhaps the clearest voice on speaking about Islam in the world today. A refugee from the nightmare of muslim Somalia, Hirsi Ali pulls no punches in warning western countries about what Islam has in mind for them. The choice is the west's.
Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.

Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Reason: Militarily?

Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

Reason: Are we really heading toward anything so ominous?

Hirsi Ali: I think that’s where we’re heading. We’re heading there because the West has been in denial for a long time. It did not respond to the signals that were smaller and easier to take care of. Now we have some choices to make. This is a dilemma: Western civilization is a celebration of life—everybody’s life, even your enemy’s life. So how can you be true to that morality and at the same time defend yourself against a very powerful enemy that seeks to destroy you? __Reason__via__RottenGods
Is the west truly at war with Islam? Of course. Whenever two civilisations vie for dominance, they are at war--total war.

Anyone who thinks otherwise has decided to take a snooze from reality.
Reason: Having lived in the United States for about a year now, do you find that Muslims in the United States have by and large integrated better here than they have in Europe?

Hirsi Ali: Since I moved here, I’ve spent most of my time in airports, in airplanes, in waiting rooms, in hotels, doing promotion for Infidel all over the world, so the amount of time I’ve actually lived in the U.S. is very small. But yes, I have the impression that Muslims in the United States are far more integrated than Muslims in Europe. Of course, being assimilated doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be a jihadist, but the likelihood of Muslims turning radical here seems lower than in Europe.

For one thing, America doesn’t really have a welfare system. Mohammed Bouyeri had all day long to plot the murder of Theo van Gogh. American Muslims have to get a job. What pushes people who come to America to assimilate is that it’s expected of them. And people are not mollycoddled by the government.

There’s a lot of white guilt in America, but it’s directed toward black Americans and native Indians, not toward Muslims and other immigrants. People come from China, Vietnam, and all kinds of Muslim countries. To the average American, they’re all fellow immigrants.

The white guilt in Germany and Holland and the U.K. is very different. It has to do with colonialism. It has to do with Dutch emigrants having spread apartheid in South Africa. It has to do with the Holocaust. So the mind-set toward immigrants in Europe is far more complex than here. Europeans are more reticent about saying no to immigrants.

And by and large, Muslim immigrants in Europe do not come with the intention to assimilate. They come with the intention to work, earn some money, and go back. That’s how the first wave of immigrants in the Netherlands was perceived: They would just come to work and then they’d go away. The newer generations that have followed are coming not so much to work and more to reap the benefits of the welfare state. Again, assimilation is not really on their minds.

...But I don’t even think that the trouble is Islam. The trouble is the West, because in the West there’s this notion that we are invincible and that everyone will modernize anyway, and that what we are seeing now in Muslim countries is a craving for respect. Or it’s poverty, or it’s caused by colonization.

The Western mind-set—that if we respect them, they’re going to respect us, that if we indulge and appease and condone and so on, the problem will go away—is delusional. The problem is not going to go away. Confront it, or it’s only going to get bigger.
There is much more at the link above. Including a discussion about the true meaning of the word tolerance. Perhaps the word does not mean what you think it means?

Iran Declares War on Iraq

Not officially, not yet. But Iranian forces were fighting at command level with Shia militias inside Basra recently. It is safe to say that Iran is the greatest threat to peace in Iraq at this time.
Military and intelligence sources believe Iranians were operating at a tactical command level with the Shi’ite militias fighting Iraqi security forces; some were directing operations on the ground, they think. ___Times

The current US Democratic Party controlled congress has invested deeply in the defeat of the young democratic government in Iraq. You can expect DP hacks such as Pelosi and Reid to resist the fact of direct Iranian government involvement in the killing of Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, and US forces inside Iraq. But then, Pelosi has always been a minor league thinker, and Reid not much better if any.
The real question is how the surrender branch of the Democratic party (is it really only a branch?) will persuade American voters that they can both retreat in the face of a direct military confrontation with Iran -- of all countries -- and nevertheless be relied upon to defend and assert the national interest of the United States. __TigerHawk
The US government is divided between those who are working for a safer world, and those who shirk from any conflict that may advance US interests in any way.

The geopolitical world is not a nice place, on the whole. Nice guys don't make it to the top, as a rule. Crocodiles and pigs predominate. If your leaders are not reptilian crocodiles, like Putin and Hu Jintao, they may be pigs, like Pelosi.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Obama's Strengths, Obama's Weaknesses

The map above reveals the parts of the continental US where Senator Obama enjoys his greatest advantage. Black voters go for Obama between 80% and 90% across the state primaries. In the long run, Obama's advantage over Clinton is greatest in cities and states where US blacks make up the highest percentage of voters. US blacks were slow to warm to Obama, but once the decision is made, it tends to stay made.

The well publicized videos of the Rev. Wright, ranting against and damning the US, will continue to have a damping effect on the enthusiasm of more educated, non-leftist US voters. But leftist oriented voters (universities) and black voters will maintain their loyalty to the junior Senator through almost anything, at this point.

Obama's religion--Black Liberation Theology--is seen most clearly by looking at his church's newsletters. They are full of conspiratorial ideas about "rich white society" in full attack mode against American blacks for the entire existence of the USA. Obama's church expresses anti-Jewish views and pro-Islamist views as well.

Until recently, Obama had seemed to be in control of the Democratic Party's nomination process. He seemed to be a shoe-in for the DP candidate. Now, things may be looking a bit different.

Upcoming primaries in several states present the possibility that Hillary Clinton can win the "popular vote" over all the primaries, while not achieving enough delegates to lock the nomination. When reaching the convention in the summer, if neither candidate has locked the nomination, the unbound super-delegates will determine who goes over the top.

If Obama had been honest throughout the primaries, he would have perhaps half or less of the delegates he currently has. Only after his huge Super Tuesday wins, did some of the truth about his concealed viewpoints begin to trickle out.

Obama's weakness is himself, and his close associates--including his wife. Except among US blacks and leftists. With US blacks and leftists, Obama is Obiwan-Obama, "He is the one."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Obama's Personality Cult, Socialism, Mugabe's Zimbabwe, and Argentina's Death Wish

Senator Obama is an undisputed cult leader. Cult leaders are common in third world politics in places such as Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Peronist Argentina. But they always come to a bad end due to overreach.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe is finally reaching the logical extreme of his own corrupt power hunger, and he has taken his nation all the way down with him. He deserves the fate of Mussolini or Ceausescu. Instead, he will probably live out the rest of his years in comfort at the expense his own country's ruin.

Argentina was once a rich country, with excellent prospects for the future. Peronist populist socialism--in its various revivals--will simply not let go of the chokehold on Argentina's potential wealth. The latest brainless twit dictator in Argentina is Christina Fernandez de Kirchner. She is destroying the country more by the minute.
First, consider that Fernandez is dangerously ignorant of the impact of taxes on any business, having spent her entire life as a politician in cities. Combined with the concentrated power of her Peronist party, which controls every institution in the country, it's little wonder that she has little inclination to listen.

But declining production is likely to be its own message. Already, there is so much micromanaging of Argentina's agriculture that the only profitable areas left are in relatively uncomplicated export crops of soya and sunflowers — 70% to 90% of which are exported.

But three tax hikes on exports in six months, along with VAT taxes, income taxes, capital costs and salaries, are likely to leave no net profit for Argentina's last dynamic producers in agriculture....Fernandez has fixed socialist notions of big farms being capitalistically bad and has tried to make farmers halt their strike based on her proposed subsidies to "small" farmers. ___IBD
Of course the nitwit femme-dictator will not stop until she is overthrown, or until the entire nation is ruined. She and Obama think a lot alike. Chavez in Venezuela would be ruined already if not for a ready supply of oil that he can plunder.

But Argentina is the model that Obama is likely to follow. Take a rich country, decide to raise taxes on all productive sectors to extortionate levels, then reap the praise of your toady "yes men and women" while the country collapses in slo-mo.

Watch while Argentina repeats one of its worst foreign policy mistakes ever--its war against the UK over the Falkland Islands. Now that oil has been discovered in the vicinity, Argentina has decided even more firmly that it must have the Falklands back.
Kirchner called for Argentina to strengthen its representation in international bodies to denounce "this shameful colonial enclave in the 21st century."

And Vice President Julio Cobos said in the southern city of Rio Grande that "we must recover this territory that is ours, that belongs to us."

The comments came as Kirchner faces her own woes, battling against farmers who have barricaded roads in a protest against a stiff tax hike on soybean exports.

The conflict has created shortages of meat and other staples in Buenos Aires and elsewhere, and tested the social fabric, with pro- and anti-government supporters holding dueling rallies.

Foreign Minister Jorge Taina said, meanwhile, that Argentina was awaiting authorization from Britain to allow families of Argentine military personnel killed in the war to fly to the islands for the inauguration of a memorial.

London is insisting the travel be carried out by ship, but Buenos Aires has pointed out that many of the relatives are elderly and would find a long return sea voyage too tough. ___Source
The Falklands are quite small, and a military invasion could be spear-headed by an air dropped commando force under cover of a legitimate series of air flights. No wonder the UK is concerned about the timing of this "memorial inauguration."

The utter foolishness of Fernandez and her Peronist cohorts is astounding. If Argentina was located closer to Venezuela, I would wonder about a possible military alliance between the socialist governments, in a runup to war in the South Atlantic. But all Venezuela could do to assist the Peronists would be to intercept any naval task force that the UK might send to the Falklands. If that happened, the US would probably step in and punish Chavez.

But that assumes that a rational US president would be occupying the White House. A President Obama--rich on rhetoric but poor in experience and rational perspective--would be clueless as to how to respond to such a situation. So expect Argentina to wait until after the US elections in November.

Obama as world leader? If you think that Bush's administration was incompetent, you have not seen incompetence until you see an Obama administration in action.