Archive for the ‘World’ Category
Well, Syria is still in the news. Well, the colonial propaganda that passes for news in the west. Let’s see, Syria is another of the countries that was made up after World War One by the British and French as they carved up the Ottoman Empire for their own colonial exploitative purposes. Since Syria had no resources worth bothering with, it was ruled by a series of more-or-less independent dictators until the present day. With the arrival of the Arab Spring a few years back, serious opposition to the Assad dictatorship broke out, and the country is essentially in full blown insurrection. It’s not however a civil war, since the rebels are not united into a single faction by any stretch of the imagination. Since the Assad dictatorship posed a clear danger to colonial rule in the region, IE the possibility that Syria would evolve into a modern secular state, the west has been almost gleefully providing the rebels with support. And it’s certainly made a bloody mess of the country, if nothing else.
Where to start. Chemical weapons. This is a propaganda term used by the west to claim that someone is as bad as Hitler. Chemical weapons are just that, weapons. There’s nothing magically evil about them, and for most purposes have limited military applications. IE a nation with chemical weapons isn’t anymore threatening than a nation without them, they are weapons, that’s all. Sure, they can be used to commit atrocities, like any other weapon. So when Obama makes a big deal about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, it is just a propaganda device to justify further US meddling in Syria. Which leads us to a sad observation, the west isn’t even giving lip service to national sovereignty anymore. The fact that Syria is an independent country doesn’t even register in the western media.
And now Israel is getting its licks in. Israel respects no limits in its quest for control of all of Palestine. They routinely wage war in other countries when it suits their military. How this will help matters in Syria is difficult to grasp. How it will help Israel is also a mystery, but Israeli foreign policy long ago ceased to make sense. Apparently they plan to live behind a wall forever, periodically waging war on their neighbours and occupied territories. The claim is that it is trying to prevent arms from being transferred to Hezbollah. Since Hezbollah is both well armed, and strictly defensively oriented toward Israel, it’s hard to see why this would be necessary … especially since it risks widening and already ugly war. That’s how countries get when they are hyper-militarized though, like the USA and Israel, military action is not only the first option, it’s the only option.
And of course the UN is playing its now well established role as the enforcer of international rule, IE western rule. It’s a safe bet that the Arab League’s request that the UN stop Israel’s attacks on Syria won’t go anywhere. Granted its more a less a symbolic gesture by the Arab League, since most of their governments are western satraps. The UN is also questioning whether or not the rebels used chemical weapons. The west isn’t all too excited about the rebels either, they are hardly the secular (IE can be bribed) freedom fighters the west prefers to bankroll. I’m not even sure the west has much of a strategy at this point, other than the usual fall-back, let the locals kill enough of each other and maybe we will get back in somehow someday.
God only knows what is going to happen to Syria. We are seeing a weird combination of trends in the world now. The military might of the west continues to grow, though it is purely the ability to wage destruction from affair. At the same time the proliferation of weapons in the world and the rise of social media and modern communications networks is making revolt against dictatorships both more effective and more likely. We’re seeing the post World War One colonial edifice in the Middle East collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. The old fashioned personal based dictatorships seeming to be the most vulnerable to this collapse. Even if a regional war doesn’t break out, I suspect in ten years the Middle East will look nothing like it does today. Good times.
At least this isn’t another Obama post.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a Syrian tank destroyed during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the last World War Two styled war in the region. With a dead Syrian soldier beside it. So so many people die in the endless madness in the Middle East, but it’s what the west wants. And what the west wants, it gets.)
Well, yesterday’s guest post got a few interesting comments. They mansplained everything to me quite nicely. I would have responded, but it didn’t seem like debate was indicated. Many westerners apparently do know what’s good for the world, no matter what the world’s people think of it. Of course European armies going out to “fix” the world is at least a two millennium list of ghastly failures; but that’s the beauty of colonialism, if it fails, why, it’s because they are ignorant savages. Of course colonialism, especially the modern version, hasn’t failed to make a tiny number of people richer than all the tyrants in history, but of course colonialism is about helping people, not loot. It’s just a coincidence. Snort. In any event I am going to keep re-blogging stuff one won’t see in the Washington Post. I am assuming anyone reading this blog is curious about what other people around the world think. If not, well, plenty of lighthearted posts like this one to read.
So, back to North Korea. I’m still hoping this is just a war scare, but still, really? Really? If it turns into a shooting war, I have no clue how it will turn out. I am still constantly amazed though by the people who believe that the USA would “win” in days. We bombed them flat in the 1950s war and they didn’t surrender, why would a few days bombing suddenly change their minds? Especially since they’ve had decades to prepare for more bombing? Hope springs eternal I guess. In the movies if you beat up the bad guys enough they always surrender, real life is a bit trickier. Movies are so much more fun too, as the above image illustrates. As long as North Korea doesn’t have any Chuck Norris’s of their own.
Which alas they do. This brings us to today’s fun topic, North Korea’s secret weapon:
Yes, that’s a biplane. And Antonov An-2 to be precise. An a amazing plane really, in production from 1947 until 2002. It was a light utility/transport aircraft and an all around useful aircraft. Crop dusters, fire fighting, whatever. Russian parachutists would practise jumps out of them into snowdrifts without parachutes! Russian are crazy. Wait, how was that even possible? It’s possible because the An-2 could fly as slow as thirty miles an hour. So in a thirty mile an hour headwind, the An-2 could fly in one place, in a stronger wind … it could fly backwards. It was easy to fly, cheap to produce, and just in general one of the good things that came out of communist Russia. Over 18,000 were built, thousands of which are still in use. Including several hundred in North Korea.
How is that a problem? Several things. Their version has canvas covered wings. This really lowers it’s radar profile. And the fact that it can fly at slow speeds at treetop level, it is very difficult to spot with radar or even visually from above. And it can take off or land on small dirt runways, so it isn’t going to be sitting at air bases waiting to be picked off by the USAF, they are likely squirrelled away all over North Korea. They have a range of over 400 miles, so they can reach all of South Korea and a large portion of Japan. The North Korean’s plan to load them with ten man suicide commando teams, and use them to attack American and Korean installations in the region. Yeah, it’s not a war winning weapon, but it could do terrible things. And there’s no way to really defend against it, any installation could be attacked at any time from any direction. Or a couple of these could sail in and land on a runway or a street inside a military complex like the Israeli’s at Entebbe. And North Korean commandos are good, some of the toughest and best trained in the world.
They also have midget submarines. Same problem, more range. I really don’t want North Korean commandos popping up while I am shopping on Telegraph or wandering through People’s Park. I like the variety we get in Berkeley, there’s a limit. Next post, spontaneous human combustion and Bigfoot, new source of forest fires explained?
(Let’s see, the Chuck Norris image was passed along by George Takei, so I refer any copyright issues to him. The An-2 photo came from Wikipedia, I think. In either case I think the images are public domain under US copyright law. I’d finish with a Chuck Norris joke, but I couldn’t find any funny ones.)
I’m back! I was going to post a picture of a zombie cat to announce my return, but I couldn’t find a suitable one. I stumbled upon this picture in the search and it seemed like it would do. Thanks for all the inquiries about my health and well being, this is the longest break I’ve ever taken from Doug’s Darkworld. There wasn’t any particular reason for it, it was a combination of things. Mid blog crisis I suppose. Part of it is that I have achieved new levels of cynicism and objectivity. So my world view has become much bleaker. Although in some ways less bleak. I’m not worried about North Korea for example. North Korea seems to be in the news, so that will be my first topic. OK, my only topic.
I really only have a few observations. North Korea poses essentially zero threat to the USA in any objective measure. That alone highlights the egregious nonsense being spewed in Washington. Anyone who is actually worried about a North Korean attack on the US mainland is worried about something less likely than lightning strike or shark attack. It’s sad that some people are actually scared. On the other hand, I hear plenty of people saying the USA could defeat North Korea in days. There is a term for people like this. Idiots. North Korea isn’t Grenada, Panama, or even Iraq. It’s a country that has spent more than fifty years preparing for another attack by the USA, after a war where the USA bombed their entire nation flat without them surrendering. But now they would roll over in a few days? Like I said, idiots.
On the flip side, many people, possibly the same people, are convinced that North Korea could never strike the US mainland. Yes, it’s unlikely, but not impossible. They probably don’t have missiles that can reach us, but they do have nuclear weapons. Enormous amounts of contraband are smuggled into the USA every year, could North Korea sneak a nuclear bomb into San Francisco harbour? Sure, why not? This is why starting a wear with North Korea might be a bad idea, among many other reasons. Giving a nuclear armed country a reason to try and nuke the USA is a really dumb idea. The overall point of course is that no one knows how wars will turn out, although there is that word for people who think they know. Idiots. Lastly, it needs to be understood that the situation with North Korea is entirely the USA’s creation. The USA insists that its enemies surrender to it unconditionally, and oddly enough North Korea doesn’t want to do that. North Korea has offered perfectly reasonable terms for ending the war since the 1950s. The USA refuses to even consider that.
In any event I hope cooler heads prevail. Sadly any serious study of history shows that nations can and do start utterly senseless wars that spiral out of control as the politicians involve try to save their own bacon. There’s always a chance that war with Iran will break out somehow too, but that’s a whole other story that I’ve discussed many times. And in other world news, nothing much is happening. There was a plague of locusts somewhere. The NRA is going to start flying armed drones over schools. Joe Biden announced he will be changing his sex. The usual fluff.In Doug’s Darkworld a post on the best roller coaster ever proposed is coming up, plus a solution for spontaneous human combustion, and another reason why Bigfoot is a myth. The unusual fluff in other words. Oh, yeah, and how Boy Scouts almost saved Hitler’s Third Reich.
Welcome back, have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is blatantly ripped off and being posted without attribution or copyright notice. I will remove it or attribute if the copyright owner so requests. And no, there’s no such thing as zombie cats. In fact, there’s no such thing as zombies! Who knew?)
One of the hardest things about trying to keep up with what is going on in the world is that things change. Sometimes very quickly. Yet the model of the world we have in our heads changes a lot more slowly, or not at all in some people. Things that were stable for decades do eventually change, and if we don’t update our mental models to reflect this, our understanding of the world becomes flawed. Frankly most people’s understanding of the world is a more reflection of their prejudices than any true understanding, but still, some of us are trying to make sense out of it all. And in trying to make sense of it all, a huge shift has taken place over the past few years. Illustrated above. That’s the USA from space. See the big lighted splotch near the upper left middle of the image? That’s in North Dakota. How many huge urban areas are there in North Dakota? None. So what the hell is that huge lighted area? That, dear readers, is fracking. More specifically, that’s the Bakken Formation being exploited for oil. Even five years ago the expert opinion was that the Bakken Formation wouldn’t be producing oil any time in the near future, I even blogged about it. Then a breakthrough was made in oil extraction, fracking as it is known, and the Bakken Formation is now a major and expanding oil producer. The lights by the way are excess natural gas simply being burned off.
OK, so what does this mean? I think it means we’re screwed. We were already in trouble, but this is a huge change, and I think it’s going to have some disastrous consequences. First, the huge change part. Remember peak oil? Well, despite decades of expecting peak oil to hit around 2010, it hasn’t. And now, with fracking, peak oil has been put off for decades. And instead of being an oil importing country, the USA will soon be an oil exporting country once again. These are huge changes and futurists must be scrambling to adjust their models and forecasts. Oil is at the centre of modern civilization, so these changes will ripple outwards and affect everything. And yet this huge change in where our civilization is headed is taking place almost unnoticed. That’s a topic for another day, most people miss anything less than sudden catastrophic rates of change. And as a codicil to my following two points, I don’t think much could derail this. Keystone pipeline or no, the fracking accessible oil deposits in North America will get used, they are way too valuable and the oil industry is already the most powerful industry on the planet, weapons possibly excepted. Of course the weapons industry also wants these deposits exploited, since one can’t fight modern high tech wars without oil. And if one is at all familiar with American politics, big oil has huge influence. Not to mention more or less corporate control of the mainstream media, so opposition to massive fracking will be marginalized. Whether we like it or not, oil is going to be the prime mover in the USA for decades to come.
Speaking of opposition to fracking, that’s where the first major problem rears its ugly head. A massive new wave of oil exploitation is going to be the death knell for any serious mitigation of global warming. Just the lights in the image above illustrates that. We’re talking a mind numbing amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere just from the production of oil in the first place, and then of course that oil will almost inevitably be used in such a way as to also add to the CO2 in the atmosphere. I don’t even blog about global warming any more. The people who are in denial about it are no more rational than people who deny evolution or the Big Bang. Eventually it will get bad enough that maybe something will be done, but by then it will be far too late. Fracking just means it will get worse sooner.
OK, so fracking means global warming is going to destroy civilization even sooner than was feared, there’s something worse than this? Yes, yes there is. War and oil. Or more specifically, it takes oil to build and run tanks. If one has lots of oil, one can build a lot of tanks. Yes, that’s the simple version. Let me try a different approach. The rich of a country come into a huge pile of money. They are urged to spend it on consumer goods or war to make even more money. They already have all the consumer goods they need. War it is! I posit that the USA will do what every imperialistic power in history has done when it came into some profound new source of wealth … go on an orgy or war and conquest. And since the USA has been on an orgy of war and conquest since 1900 at least, it’s just going to get much worse. I think in the 21st century the USA is going to try and reassert western colonial control over the entire world, at the point of a drone if need be. That’s certainly been the path we’ve gone down under Obama.
So, world war and world climate catastrophe all because of some lights in North Dakota? Yeah, that’s pretty much my theory for today. Earth is a strange planet.
PS: The day after I posted this, I got this link in email: Geologist’s provocative study challenges popular assumptions about ‘fracking’ Who knows?
(The above image is by NASA and is Public Domain under US copyright law. Yes, I’m blogging again after a hiatus due to odd events in my life. Future posts will get back to weird history and such, I’m getting all my negatively out on this post. For the moment.)
Welcome new readers! Apparently one of my old posts made the front page of Reddit on 6 January, and I received over 200,000 hits in the days that followed. Typically I only get about a thousand hits a day, so for Doug’s Darkworld this was pretty crazy. The good kind of crazy. And of course I’d like to thank whoever posted on Reddit for me in the first place, I probably could figure it out if I looked, but I’m a writer, not an Internet geek. Hell, I didn’t even know what Reddit was until a few days ago and I looked it up on Wikipedia. In any event it’s a good way to start the year, and this is a good time to set course in 2013. What’s in store for Doug’s Darkworld?
For one thing, it’s not going to be quite so dark this year. I’m going to be posting less about politics and current events, and more about science and history. I enjoy writing the later more, but am more compelled to rant about the former. Still, being a grown-up (“There are no adults.”) means controlling one’s impulses. I plan on more movie reviews too, again, because it gives me pleasure to both watch a movie, and to deconstruct it afterwards. Granted my movie reviews tend to be dated, as I usually wait for the CD to watch a movie, but the good things in life are worth waiting for. I may blog more on current cultural events. I was tickled pink by the Gangnam Style phenomena last year, and also amazed by the negative reaction to it in some quarters. Lastly I will also try to add a bit more levity this year. Try likely being the operative word, my humor tends to go over a lot of people’s heads. Or under or around. Like the image above, it still makes me smile.
As always, I am open to suggestions about topics to write about. Sometimes I get to them promptly. Sometimes not. I still plan a post about the battle of Pegasus Bridge for example, and that was suggested years ago. Comments are always welcome as well, as long as they are reasonably polite. Granted I have had very few comments over the years that fell into “We’re you raised in a barn?” category. I think that speaks highly of my readers. (The spam-catcher isn’t perfect, if someone’s highly crafted comment doesn’t post, it was misidentified as spam. Fire me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will rectify the situation.) Also I suspect that I piss off the type of people who would make such comments, they rarely seem to follow my blog for long. I’m not complaining.
Fortunately, aside from the ongoing collapse of the US Empire, we still live in a Golden Age of science and space exploration. Endless fodder for blog posts. And new discoveries in archeology and paleontology give new insight into our past all the time. It’s safe to say that there has never been an era where humans were discovering so such about the universe around us, and our own past and place in it. Even as a child it filled me with wonder, and as I have grown older, the wonder at same has increased. For me I’m perpetually a ten year on Christmas, science puts new presents under the tree every day. It’s a dream come true, how could I not write about it?
Have a great 2013 all, old readers and new!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, its use here in no conceivable way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image, and arguably Tardar Sauce is a historically significant figure. Yes, that was a joke. See what I mean about my sense of humor? Credit and copyright: Tardar Sauce. Did I mention I will post more cat posts?)
There’s lists of things that happened in 2012 all over the place, and many people have predictions of things that will happen in 2013. In the spirit of Doug’s Darkworld, here is my list of things that aren’t going to happen in 2013. Unlike other posts, where I lied and said the following is in no particular order, this list is carefully ordered. It’s from least unlikely to most unlikely. I could be wrong about any, or all of them; but the ones near the top of the list are more likely to be wrong. This is mostly just for fun, enjoy!
- No contact with aliens. They aren’t going to land on the Washington Mall this year. The government is not going to reveal we have secretly been in contact with them. They probably don’t even exist, at least the extremely anthropomorphic aliens we imagine. And if they do, they are separated by us through so much space and time that we will never come into contact.
- There will not be a zombie apocalypse. While the meme has some amusement in and of itself, and as the cultural progression from the 1950s mutant apocalypse meme it’s fascinating; all in all it’s just a bogeyman story for grown-ups. Some people seem to be taking the possibility more than in jest, hopefully I am just imagining this.
- No global warming action. Until the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) slides into the sea, nothing will be done. The energy industry, the most profitable looting exercise in world history since the conquistadors, makes the gun lobby look like a lemonade stand. And when I say looting, I mean taking a natural resource that really belongs to everyone on the planet, and exploiting it for the the profit of a tiny few at the top. Moving right along, history teaches that more often than not, the powerful will pursue their own interests till the end no matter what the costs to society at large. And when the WAIS does start to go … it will be decades too late to do anything about it.
- No progress in Palestine/Israel. Unless less one considers further Israeli encroachment into the occupied territories as progress. In which case not only will there be progress, if anything it will accelerate.
- No withdrawal from Afghanistan. Not now. Not ever. We may get kicked out at some point, as happened in Iraq or Vietnam, but we ain’t leaving voluntarily. Even the Romans knew when to cut their losses, America doesn’t.
- No Gun Control. A no brainer. The gun lobby’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to not only prevent gun control, but to roll it back even, will continue unabated. They are trying to get silencers legalized now, on the pretext that it will protect children’s hearing. Frankly, if you’re too ignorant to get your kids earplugs and hearing protectors when you take them shooting, you’re too ignorant to own a gun. And while silencers are rarely used in crime, it’s because they aren’t widely manufactured and thus available … the NRA wants to change that. I digress. Suffice it to say that America will remain one of the most gun violence afflicted countries in the developed world.
- No cuts in the military. In the USA this is taboo, even thinking about cuts in the military marks one as a coward at best, a terrorist sympathizer at worst. The discussion has so entered the realm of fantasy that if one side proposes a slightly less insane increase in military spending, they will be accused of proposing cuts in military spending! Right. If out-of-control military spending bothers the gentle reader, they can console themselves that the military really needs nearly 300 golf courses to defend us from terrorists. The terrorists have zero golf courses, victory is assured.
- Congress Does Nothing. Another no brainer. The Republicans spent Obama’s entire first turn obstructing everything; the result, the least productive congress in history. They apparently thought that by preventing Obama from doing anything, they could claim he did nothing, and there was no way he could get re-elected. This is the same method used to eliminate non Republican/Democrats when they get elected. Kill all their bills in committee, then claim they were do-nothing legislators. It works like a charm getting rid of the occasional Green Party legislator in state governments, used against a sitting president, it was exercise in magical thinking. It will continue though, partly because the Republicans still want to marginalize Obama, but mostly because the powers-that-be are perfectly happy the way things are. The rich are still getting ever richer, there’s no need to rock the boat.
- No Discussion of the Upwards Transfer of Wealth, no tax on the rich. Powerful forces are at work to make sure this doesn’t happen … ever again.
- Lastly, the one that that I can guarantee isn’t going to happen, is an end to the endless ridiculous propaganda about Obama from the right. If being a secret Muslim who wants to turn America into a police state and take away all our guns didn’t win the election, the sky’s the limit.
I hope everyone has a wonderful year, or at least some semblance of same. Any day one wakes up in the morning is a good day. One last thought, if some breakdown in the laws of statistics occurs and I am wrong about all of the above … 2013 will be a year to remember!
(The above image of the world’s most famous cat, Tardar Sauce, is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. It’s central to illustrating the post. It still makes me laugh.)
Yes, this image isn’t completely fair. Still, it’s not that far off. Only a tiny handful of people are killed and injured by rockets fired from Gaza. Vastly more people are killed and injured by IDF violence in the occupied territories. That’s because Israel has a vast array of modern weaponry at its disposal, they are one of the world’s great military powers. The Gazans have hand weapons and home made rockets and mortars. So that’s the first lie that is perpetuated by the media, that this is is some sort of conflict between equals. No, they aren’t equal in any sense of the word. This goes hand-in-hand with the lie that Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories are neighbours, and this is some sort of squabble between two regions, and that Israel is “defending its borders.” No, Israel is not “defending its borders,” since the occupied territories lie within Israel’s borders. That’s why they are called the occupied territories, Israel invaded and occupied them in 1967, and since no one wanted them back, they are stuck with them. Israel created the current situation with the Palestinians in the occupied territories, they aren’t some hapless victim.
There are lots of lies in this situation. Israel was based on lies, known as propaganda in the modern parlance. The very first lie set the tone for what was to follow. This was the story that the 700,000 Palestinians who fled what is now Israel in 1948 did so because the Arab governments told them to flee. Even Israeli historians now admit this was a fabrication from beginning to end, Arab governments did no such thing. (Why the f**k would they, no nation wants refuges flooding into its country.) The Palestinians fled because there was a war going on, which people always do when there’s a war. Israel then not only refused to allow them to return, they stole their homes and businesses, and deny to this day that a terrible crime was committed. In fact it’s illegal to commemorate the Nabka, the 1948 Palestinian exodus, in Israel. When one flees their legal residence during a war, one does not magically give up one’s residency. That’s one of the things so infuriating about the “the Arab governments told them to flee” lie, even if was true, so what? It wouldn’t magically change the law, the Palestinians that fled what became Israel were legal residents, and held legal title to their homes and property.
It went downhill from there. One common lie is that “there is no such thing as a the Palestinian people.” There are many permutations to this, basically boiling down the the racist attitude that the Palestinians are Arabs so they should go live in Arab countries. Again, the beauty of this lie is that even it it’s true, there never was a nation called Palestine, so what? The Palestinians living in Palestine were legal residents of the land, because they aren’t mentioned in the Old Testament doesn’t magically make it OK to steal their homes and property. A codicil to this lie is the “no partner for peace” lie. This is the idea that for one reason or another, none of the Palestinian leaders are “fit” to negotiate with. Israel not only chooses its own leaders, why, they are so superior, they can chose what leaders are appropriate for the benighted Palestinians! And of course none of the Palestinian leaders ever lives up to Israel’s standards, convenient, nu? It’s Israel that refuses to negotiate in good faith, not the Palestinians.
Notice a theme here? Racism. Both of these lies are much easier to believe if one thinks that Muslims/Arabs are somehow less than fully civilized, or even less than fully human. This comes out clearly in lie three, the big lie, the one repeated so often that much of western humanity believes it implicitly. And this lie is simple: “Jews are peaceful, Palestinians are violent.” I hardly even know what to say about this. Anyone who believes it is a racist for starters. Humans are violent, and there aren’t really any exceptions. Israel especially isn’t an exception, in fact they are one of the most violent militaristic nations on Earth, the violence they have perpetrated is at least the equal of the violence perpetrated by Palestinians. And in terms of people killed and wounded, Israel is the hands down winner, killing far more Palestinians than vice versa. And as of today, are Israelis striving for peace with the Palestinians in Gaza? Some few are, but many are braying for blood. Of course the western media and Netanyahu’s apologists love to portray images of Muslims espousing violence, while images of Israelis braying for blood will never sully the airwaves. Jesus wept.
Lastly, the coup de grace, the capstone lie that glues the rest all together. Once one understands that the Palestinians are an illegitimate, uncivilized, violent people, the natural conclusion is obvious. The Palestinians deserve what is happening to them, Israel has no choice but to use violence to defend itself. If the Palestinians would only behave themselves, Israel wouldn’t have to resort to such measures. Siege mentality, biblical insanity, racism, all of the above, whatever one wants to call it … Netanyahu and his supporters have blinded themselves into thinking that violence is their only option. Unless one grants that Netanyahu was motivated by simple domestic politics, a desire to drum up support before upcoming elections. Racism or killing babies for votes, take your choice. If that is the case, I think Netanyahu may have made the biggest miscalculation in Israeli history. Since the last time Israel waged war on its occupied territories the Arab Spring has occurred, as well as an explosion of social media in the Middle East. He is making millions of new enemies for Israel across the Muslim world, this is not the road to peace.
I have a friend in Egypt. She’s an engineer, an educated and good person, someone anyone would be proud to have as a friend. And yes, a supporter of democracy and secular values in her nation. IE she is not some jihadist wing-nut who spends her time calling for the destruction of Israel. This is what she posted on Facebook about the current Gaza violence:
“May your skies forever rain with rockets … may you never sleep in peace … my you never have a worry-free smile … may you never live in peace … may you never be safe as long as you live on Palestinian lands … go back to where you came from … to where they kicked you out and burned you alive … “
And note she was careful to say that this sentiment is directed at the baby killers in the IDF, not all Jews or Israelis. To put it mildly, Operation Pillar of Defence, is not going over well with Israel’s neighbors. That’s because it is a genocidal cowardly attack on a helpless population, a population Israel has kept imprisoned in stateless limbo since 1967. That Americans fall for Netanyahu’s siege mentality and disproportionate brutality is a sad reflection of how our western media simply regurgitates Israeli propaganda as if it were fact. If a population of Jews or Christians were being treated the way Israel treats the Palestinians in the occupied territories, Americans and the mainstream press would be foaming at the mouth with the injustice of it all. Yes, hypocrisy has become America’s core value.
Merry Christmas indeed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. This won’t be my last post on Netanyahu’s insanity, and if it goes on, they will get even less diplomatic than this post.)
I want to write a post about the current situation in Gaza about as much as I want a root canal. Sigh. That means I must write one. It’s both a painful and a touchy subject personally. Worse, much much worse, globally this could easily lead to a wider war. It’s not like everything is hunky dory in the Middle East right now, this is going to inflame hatred further throughout the region. That’s never a good thing.
So, what’s going on? Well, it’s pretty simple. There’s been a lot of cross border incidents in the past year, including rocket attacks by various factions in Gaza. Israel assassinated a Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, on November 14th. Some rockets were fired out of Gaza in retaliation. And Israel escalated into launching large scale attacks and is threatening a ground invasion. In other words, Netanyahu chose to start and escalate this now, it’s not debatable. In fact the Hamas leader that was killed was in the process of trying to negotiate a permanent cease fire with Israel. Good thing they blew him away, eh? That’ll teach those Palestinians to try and work out a lasting peace with Israel. And of course England and the USA have fallen all over themselves supporting Israel. Western press coverage is simperingly pro-Israel. A blog dedicated to that is in the works.
Background: Israel has the military advantage by orders of magnitude. Israel wields one of the world’s greatest militaries. Gaza isn’t even on the charts. This is not a contest between equals, or anything even remotely close to it. Gaza is legally Israeli occupied territory. Israel captured it from Egypt in 1967. They pulled their troops out a few years ago, and imposed a crushing blockade on the territory. Hamas is the effective government of Gaza, though there are militants not under their control. Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas. The blockade has eased since the Egyptian revolution, Egypt has relaxed the blockade along their border with Gaza.
Why did Netanyahu attack? Damned if I know. He’s certainly a bellicose fellow. Some speculate he is doing it to get votes in an upcoming election. There’s speculation that he is trying to scuttle negotiations with Iran. There have been many rockets fired from Gaza in the past year by various factions, but no one in Israel has been killed. The timing of Netanyahu’s attack is very suspicious. If Netanyahu thinks waging war on Gaza will stop rocket attacks, why didn’t it work last time? Why launch the attack when Hamas wanted to talk permanent cease fire?
As of my writing this, Netanyahu is launching more attacks. I think it’s crazy. Weakening Hamas will just strengthen more radical Palestinian factions. And since this will likely strengthen Hamas, wtf? The attack gives hard liners in Egypt more traction, not to mention in Syria. The attack is also triggering anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment throughout the world, I don’t see how that is in Israel’s interests. And somehow I doubt Obama appreciates another layer of added complication to the Middle East situation. Lastly, the US’s enemies around the globe will be looking at this to see if they can exploit it in any way. Yeah, the USA needed that.
In other words, Netanyahu is risking terrible regional or even global consequences in order to strengthen his hand in elections. That strikes me as criminally insane. Yet some Americans are cheering him on. That’s just ordinary insane. There are Palestinians and Israelis working for peace, the Netanyahu government isn’t among them, and in fact is doing its best to perpetuate the violence.
The bottom line, the one so many in the west refuse to understand, is that Israel has held all the cards since 1967. (Since 1948 actually.) Yet instead of annexing the occupied territories, or letting them declare independence, Israel has kept them in stateless limbo for decades while slowly stealing their land bit by bit. Not to mention constantly and routinely using military force in the occupied territories, both a threat and an actuality that dwarfs the threat of Hamas rockets in Israel. Israel reaps what it sows, and it has been sowing war for decades.
My heart goes out to all the innocent people in the region, they as always are the victims. God help us all if this war spreads.
(The above image was taken from a Gazan web site, it claims to show some of the current violence. I’m claiming it as Fair Use, and since I am critical of Netanyahu’s current attack, hopefully the copyright holder wouldn’t object. And if it turns out the picture isn’t what it claims, well, the blarney is flowing thick and fast from almost every faction in this ugly mess. Just turn on the mainstream news or look at Wikipedia.)
The world, 2031? I doubt it. This in fact was touted as a “random Balkanization map,” and it looks pretty random to me. I’m willing to bet though, that like my proposed map of the Middle East post, sooner or later a commenter will think it’s completely serious and take great umbrage. Stay tuned.
Why a random map? To illustrate Balkanization. What is Balkanization? It’s when a big country breaks up into smaller countries. It came into popular usage after World War One, when the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires were broken up. A lot of this happened in the Balkans. According to Wikipedia, the term Balkanization is usually used as a pejorative. Curious. In any event, this topic is more current than many people, especially in the USA, realize. Over the past few decades there has been extensive Balkanization in Europe, the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia being the foremost examples. Czechoslovakia also split in two. A map of Europe now is considerably different than the one I grew up with.
Now however another wave of European Balkanization seems to be on the horizon. Spain, Belgium, and Great Britain all have very serious separatist movements that are gaining in popularity. In Great Britain it’s primarily Scotland, but the Wales independence movement is getting stronger. Flanders (in Belgium) and Catalonia (in Spain.) Then there’s Venice, an independent republic for centuries before it was conquered 156 years ago. I mean, Spain, Britain, or Italy could break up? Anything is possible, the incredible scope and breath of human history shows that.
Why does Balkanization occur? For the most part, nationalism. A people, culture, or ethnic group decides they would prefer to have their own government and run their own affairs. Seems reasonable enough, right? Sadly, no. Reasonable as it may be, governments tend to be adamantly opposed to peoples and territories under their control declaring independence. In fact, that encompasses much, if not most organized violence on the planet, now and historically. Sometimes countries break up peacefully, more often than not violence is involved.
What does the future hold? My guess is a lot more Balkanization. There are two reasons for this. First, there are thousands of ethnic groups on the planet, and only a few hundred governments. Many of these thousands of people would prefer to have their own nation. Few, if any, of the hundreds of governments want to give up people and territory. And modern communication is increasing nationalism, or at least a case can be made that it is facilitating it. On the other hand, modern propaganda is ever more effectively blurring the boundary between people and government. In some cases, governments and peoples more or less overlap. Many of the European nations. A handful of small nations around the globe. In much of the rest of the world, governments and peoples have little relation. And while the masses in the west are propagandized into thinking that “Libyan, Syrian, Somalian, Iraqi, Mali, etc.” are describing real peoples, the peoples living in these regions are not confused. These “nations” are are lines drawn on maps by the western colonial powers. People are setting themselves on fire in Tibet to demand their own state for god’s sake.
So we have some problems. Compounding this argument, is the idea that smaller is getting more powerful. As I have said before, gunpowder ended feudalism as a way of life. Smokeless gunpowder ended overt colonialism. It’s looking like a combination of computers (in the broadest sense of the word) and the IED/RPG/AK47 are ending the era of neocolonialism. As evidence look at Afghanistan. The USA, the greatest military power the world has ever known, has fought it’s longest war ever against a rag-tag insurgency that has no major international supporters. The Viet Cong had China and Russia at their back, the Taliban has nobody. And yet the USA is no closer to vanquishing them than ever.
In other words, I see a lot more Balkanization in the future. And a lot more violence. Not a terribly sophisticated argument, but one of many that flies in the face of rosy predictions that The End of History is here and western, especially American, confidence that overwhelming military power will solve all our problems internationally. No, no it won’t, the age of gunboat diplomacy is long over, no matter how powerful our gunboats.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Yadda yadda, yadda. The credit and copyright may belong to someone who goes by the Internet moniker Thespitron 6000. Notice how I subtly snuck in that now the US Navy is building drone warships.)
Another week gone by. Two more days to the last and final debate between Romney and Obama. Both sides are pulling out all the stops. I’m more bored by the day. What’s this, the tenth election in a row billed as “the most important election ever?” I don’t think so. Might be the most screwed up election ever. Now that “both sides” have convinced their base that the only thing that matters is their narrow ideological stand on a handful of of social issues, there is zero chance that any of the real issues facing this country will be addressed. Climate change? What’s that? Our endless overseas wars? Don’t go there. Our every expanding security state? Fracking? GMOs? Forget about it. Nope, just legions of people who thinking they are saving babies or saving women by their respective vote for a dyed-in-the-wool agent of the 1%. Like in the previous election, I’m hoping that the Republican wins, because it might breath new life into the antiwar left, which Obama has effectively driven into a lobotomized coma. Yes, Obama has succeeded where Nixon and his generation only dreamed, he destroyed the antiwar movement. In any event, a few random notes on recent events, in no particular order:
A huge US led anti-mine drill in the Persian Gulf was a disaster. It was called the single largest naval drill in history, with more than 30 nations participating. Twenty nine simulated mines had been planted, the whole point of the exercise was to demonstrate the West’s effectiveness to find mines and keep the Straight of Hormuz open. Reportedly the drill was an abject failure, with less than half of the simulated mines being found. Not exactly sure what this signifies. I can’t see why the US would lie about something like this, maybe they want to encourage the Iranians to do something rash? Seems like sowing international doubt about our ability to keep the straight open wouldn’t be worth the damage it would do to the US’s credibility and efforts to prevent diplomacy with Iran. It’s certainly possible that we’re just that bad, a huge amount of military spending the past few decades has been about enriching the arms manufacturers, with limited attention paid to whether equipment will actually work under real world conditions. Who knows, curious though.
An interesting poll was just taken in Egypt. Apparently there is a trend towards support for Iran and Egypt acquiring nuclear weapons. And the military is still the most trusted institution in the country. Interesting for a number of reasons. I think it’s a good thing that Egyptians are turning away from the USA and the west and more interested in hewing their own path. It’s painfully clear at this point that the USA doesn’t give as rat’s a** about the people of the Middle East, and is only trying to maintain western and Israeli hegemony in the region. And it’s also painfully clear that the nuclear powers, declared and undeclared (cough Israel cough) have no intention of giving up nuclear weapons and are perfectly happy to have the current situation perpetuated forever. It was also interesting some of the reaction to the poll in the west. They saw it as a sign of the rise of extremism in Egypt. Yerp, people deciding they know what’s best for their countries and not wanting to be a satrap of the USA is extremism. The US and Israel keep reaping what they sow, and there seems like no end in sight.
Scientists have decided to send a paddle boat into space. Those crazy scientists, what will they think of next? OK, not space exactly, they want to send a paddle boat to Titan, a moon of Saturn. It’s actually a good idea, it will get to sample both the lakes and the atmosphere of Titan, and move around a bit to get more varied data. The plan is for it to last for six months to a year. The last Titan lander lasted 90 minutes. Considering it’s nearly 300F below zero that’s a tall order. I’m assuming it will be nuclear powered. In other space news someone stitched together the above panorama from shots taken by the new Curiosity rover on Mars. I love pics like this, really shows it as the surface of a planet; add a few juniper bushes and it could have been taken in Nevada.
I have a number of dedicated posts I have been chipping away on. Hopefully I will get some of them out in the next week. Another week where I have a lot of work. that’s good, the wolves have been pushed back out the door at least. I hope everyone had a good weekend!
(The above image is public Domain under US copyright law. Credit and copyright: NASA. For the readers of coarser tastes so to speak, a stone penis was also recently discovered on Mars. I don’t think it’s going to give the Face on Mars a run for its money.)