WHAT WAS I THINKING? AXIS OF CAFFEINE OVERDOSE
In a fit of madness yesterday I promised to cover recent developments in Korea, Palestine/Israel, and Iran. Yeesh, I may have been suffering from caffeine poisoning. Well, at least the short version is easy. Those people are all nuts, steer well clear of all three regions. This was an easy blog! Alas reality is more complicated than simple truisms and stereotypes, no matter how satisfying and consoling they may be. Or cowardly I suppose, since saying “those people are nuts” ignores all the wonderful contributions by other meddling world powers that helped create the messed up situations in all three regions.
Korea. More specifically, North Korea, the world’s ugliest legacy from the mass insanity that gripped the planet for decades, the Cold War. Well, um, North Korea hasn’t set off any more nuclear bombs, I guess that’s a good thing. On the other hand they are now crowing about being a nuclear power, and thus on par with the USA. Neither is anything to brag about in my considered opinion, but furious rhetoric is the fashion of the day. In this case, it is all Saddam’s fault, since Gulf War One everyone has been trying to top his “mother of all battles” speech. Joking aside, even though nuclear talks are deadlocked, at least the various parties are talking. And sanity has prevailed in the White House, no one is talking about attacking North Korea at the moment. These days, “war hasn’t broken out yet” is a win as far as I’m concerned.
On the Iran front things are also somewhat positive in my admittedly ignorant opinion. They finished with their bizarre Holocaust Denial conference, one of the odder international events to come down the pike in recent years. All sorts of people went ape shit over what was at best a silly PR stunt. Gotta just love how westerners go nuts when a non-westerner says something outrageous, but if the Pope or such says something that causes outrage outside the west…why, those people are overreacting! It’s pathetic actually. Efforts to get Iran to abandon its perfectly legal nuclear program are going nowhere, Gee, I wonder why? Sanctions are being considered, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to do expect make the hard-liners in Iran more popular.
Speaking of hard-liners, we come to the man who for good or for ill should have been Time’s “man of the year,” Iranian President Ahmadinejad. A man who is repeatedly accused of calling for genocide when he talks about regime change in Israel. I mean listen to what he is saying, he stated he wants Israel gone the same way the Soviet Union is gone. For the record: The Soviet Union was not nuked out of existence. Granted I think the man’s choice of words could be better, but there’s plenty of that going around. And Ahmadinejad just lost influence as local elections went badly for him. Note the word “elections” in there, Ahmadinejad is not a dictator and Iran is more democratic than many key US allies in the region. Say Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia just for starters. So let’s not go nuts with the Hitler comparisons just yet.
I’m still terribly worried that Israel or the US is going to attack Iran, but I am pleased to say that maybe that possibility is fading. The lessons of the USA’s failure to establish law and order in Iraq/Afghanistan and Israel’s inability to destroy Hezbollah this past summer may actually be sinking in. The days of the Six Day War and Gulf War One are now officially over, Arabs are no longer impressed with “shock and awe.” “Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes” appears to be a perfectly workable counter-strategy.
This of course segues neatly into Israel/Palestine. The poster child for FUBARed regions of the world. The Palestinians had the nerve to elect people the US and Israel don’t like this summer, and the situation has gone downhill from there. It must make everyone in Palestine feel so special and privileged knowing they are a democracy and can vote for anyone they like, as long as they vote for who Israel says they should! Is it any wonder they are shooting at each other? Keeping the Palestinians fighting among themselves has always been a goal of Israel (they didn’t give Hamas its start up money out of the goodness of their hearts.)
The whole problem here is that Israel wants to annex the West Bank and Gaza strip, but doesn’t want to give the people living there any voice in Israel’s government. Thus the demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s “right to exist,” a thinly veiled demand that Palestinians both give up their own ambitions for statehood, and recognise the suzerainty of the Jewish dominated government of Palestine. I really do recommend the just linked article to understand more how insidious this seemingly “reasonable” demand of Israel’s is.
Which leads out of this mess and to the interesting observation just how common this sort of word game is. Basically as long as world leaders can make demands of other nations that sound reasonable to their own people, they can deliver any sort of ultimatum they want. Once one steps back and sees how this works, it is obvious that every leader on the planet plays this game. Ahmadinejad, Olmert, Bush, and all the rest are always saying things that appeal to their own people as reasonable, even though they are demands for other people to make concessions.
The point here is that just because a leader says something that sounds outrageous, doesn’t make that leader a madman or a fool. (Madmen and fools don’t last very long in the corridors of power, and if they do they are there because they have powerful friends propping them up from behind the scenes for some reason.) When judging what the leader of a foreign nation says, it’s important to look where they’re coming from and not judge it solely from your own nation’s perspective. Context is important. Personally I think they are all madmen and fools, because no one in their right mind would want to be the leader of any nation-state. I mean, random lunatics would want to kill you just for the notoriety it would give them, who in their right mind wants that in their job description?
Bush took the cake today, he announced he is not necessarily going to listen to his generals, and to expect more US losses in Iraq. Bush has been really good at keeping those sorts of promises, so I expect the worst. Meanwhile the Pentagon has quietly asked for another hundred billion dollars be run up on America’s VISA card. I once read that if every house in America replaced four light bulbs with low wattage fluorescent bulbs, the USA would become an oil exporting nation again. If that’s true, I can think of a much better use for that hundred billion dollars.
In local news, there was an Earthquake practically under my feet last night. I suppose all earthquakes are under my feet, but this one was close enough for momentary alarm. It felt like a huge truck slammed into the building. The cats were temporarily disconcerted, but they quickly reset and were able to continue complaining in seconds. Normally cats spend about half their time complaining about the freshness of their food. This time of year they also spend half their time complaining about the weather. As a matter of principle they do not overlap their complaints. I love the little darlings, but it does get a bit much sometimes.
Safe Travels, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Super Solstice, etc to everyone hitting the road this Holiday Weekend. For those for whom this is not a Holiday weekend, have a great weekend as well. Myself, I will continue to blog merrily along.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is integral to illustrating the post. I think it is credited to Neal Van Dyke at this site, but am not absolutely sure of that.)