Through Thick and Thin
I couldn’t help but notice that Bush made a speech on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. I didn’t listen to it, I’ve never found him a terribly inspiring speaker. And truth be told, I almost never listen to any politician’s speeches. They rarely have much to say. I do however glance at the headlines, the New York Times summed Bush’s views about the war in Iraq: “…he remained unwavering in his insistence that the invasion of Iraq, which began in March 2003, had made the world better and the United States safer.”
OK then. First I want to point out that claiming that one has “succeeded” because one claims credit for two nice sounding things…is a bit vague. IE, who wouldn’t want to live in a better world with a safer United States. What, exactly, does that mean? How is that measured or quantified?
So let’s look at Iraq. By numerous measures it is one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the region in decades. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead, millions of people are displaced. I’m pretty sure than none of these people think the world is a better place now. Not to mention tens of millions of other people negatively impacted by five years of war and occupation in Iraq. Claiming that a disaster approaching the scale of Darfur or Rwanda makes the world a better place is hard to swallow in my book.
And then the claim that the USA is safer. Well, we are more hated in much of the world than before. OBL is still at large, and claiming that Iraq has been a Godsend for Al-Qaeda. More Americans are attacked and killed every day by terrorists than in whole months or years in the eighties. Our enemies are stronger, and people are celebrating being declared an enemy of the USA. How does being more hated than ever and having more enemies than ever make us safer?
I am reminded of the last company meeting I went to when I worked for a cutting edge dot com in the nineties. The company officers got up and claimed we were going to be the next Microsoft, and congratulated themselves on a “great” meeting afterwards. Unfortunately, the handful of people who worked for this tiny company knew that we were actually in huge financial trouble, and that this meeting meant our leaders were either lying to us or deluded, probably both. There was a line at the photocopier as people sent out their resumes. I quit soon thereafter, and the company failed within a year or two. I can’t quit the USA though. So here I stay, blogging furiously as I wonder at the words of our leader. Does Bush really believe the world is a better place, and we are a safer nation because of the Iraq War? Beats me. I don’t, and I’ve yet to hear convincing argument that he has.
Moving right along. There’s been a large Earthquake in rural China. I just think it’s curious that this happened at the same time that unrest in Tibet is becoming a serious concern. I’m not seriously saying this quake is a message from God or anything, but a lot of people will wonder if there is a connection. “As above, so below” colours many people’s thinking. China has a long and varied history, and I certainly wouldn’t want to predict what is in store for its one party dictatorship. They weathered the collapse of the Soviet Union, will they weather hosting the Olympics?
In global warming news, it just keeps getting worse. The seasonal climate is changing over the entire planet, changing local ecosystems in various ways. And while some are touting the large extent of Arctic ice cover this winter as evidence of improvement, the real story is that the Arctic continues to lose it’s old stable ice at increasing rates. By the same token the unusually cold winter is also touted as “proof” that global warming is a hoax, ignoring the fact that it was only the coldest winter in the past decade or so, and was still warmer than the average winters of the last century. And when one realizes that there were two powerful forces at work cooling the Earth this winter: the Sun is at its minimum in its cycle, and “La Nina” is cooling the Pacific…this winter was unusually warm.
In politics Clinton and Obama continue to snipe at each other with no winner in sight yet. The economy and the dollar continue to be volatile. The new five dollar bill is out, it looks like Disneyland money it’s so colourful. The dollar may be worthless someday soon, but at least the bills will be brightly coloured. (Is that grasping at straws or what?) They had to come up with a new five because the old “new” five had the same security features as the new hundred dollar bill. So counterfeiters discovered they could bleach five dollar bills, print a hundred dollar bill on them, and have a nearly undetectable counterfeit. I’m sure there’s an Enron or Wall Street joke hiding in their somewhere, but it’s just too depressing.
(The above image of Chinese police is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and it’s use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: AP Photo/Greg Baker. These are Chinese paramilitary police being deployed in the Tibetan area of Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La.)