Through Thick and Thin
Another Friday, another day of semi-random musings about the state of the world. It’s actually been a fairly eventful week as world news goes, and at least some of it is good. Granted I do cover a lot of depressing things, but the world is a depressing place right now. I’m trying to come up with a list of ten good things about the USA, and I’ve only come up with two so far. In many ways the USA is resting on its laurels. (Or selling them to the highest corporate bidder for the naming rights I suppose.) In any event, this web site is called Doug’s Darkworld.
On the positive front, the Iraq legislature rejected a treaty with the USA, claiming quite accurately that it would infringe on Iraqi sovereignty. So it looks like nothing will happen on this front until after the US election. It should be noted that the USA needs Iraq to sign some sort of treaty with the USA because the UN mandate for stationing US troops in Iraq expires this year. And this is once again another fine example of how flawed the “invade and occupy Iraq plan” was, as even our puppet government can defy us with impunity. What are we going to do? We can’t exactly invade them again. Threaten to pull out? They’d be perfectly happy with that. Our options are limited and our enemy’s options are multiplying, as some of us tried to warn would happen before we got into this mess.
In testimony before Congress a case was made that the Iraq war would eventually cost nearly three trillion dollars. A number so big that it boggles the mind. There are two other mind boggling aspects to this. The first being that the Bush Administration estimated that the war would cost 60-100 billion. The best one can say about that is that it’s proof positive that wars do not necessarily turn out the way their advocates claim they will, something that even a cursory review of history shows. The other absurdity is that within months of the occupation simply based on the costs of Gulf War One, it was clear that if the insurgency continued that the war would cost trillions. So five years later Congress and the public are being told what they should have been told at the start of this mess. It’s things like this that are why some say the mainstream media is little more than a spokesman for the Bush Administration.
In further depressing news, American warplanes killed eleven Pakistani paramilitary troops in Pakistan. This is not going over well in that increasingly fractured and increasingly anti-American country. The US claim made to justify the air strike is that the troops were fighting on the side of the Taliban. If true that means that the USA is even less popular than ever in the region, and while these were not Pakistani Army troops, they were Pakistani supported troops. And to transcend absurdity, the USA is suggesting that NATO needs to send even more troops into the region. I strongly suspect that NATO will be able to stall Bush on this one until he’s safely gone, because no one wants to send more troops into an increasingly volatile region that isn’t anywhere near Europe and doesn’t concern Europe in any way.
The price of oil continues to climb, with no end in sight. I fear I may have underestimated the extent that speculation has contributed to the rise. While the price of oil was fated to go up because of increased demand and a steady supply, rampant speculation has made the situation far worse than it had to be. At least this is my current understanding. And no, the USA does not have three times the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and only the liberals are preventing us from drilling for it. To think so belies every reasonable scientific estimate of the USA’s oil reserves…and imbues the liberals with magical powers since in every other way the conservatives and oil companies have gotten pretty much anything they wanted for decades. More on oil in a future post, apparently its going to be an important topic for some time to come.
And lastly, a bit of good news. The Supreme Court said that the prisoners in Guantanamo prison have rights and can seek redress in civilian courts. This is the third time the Bush administration has lost a case in this regard, and gives hope that maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Three points: Obviously if Bush thought what he was doing with these prisoners was legal…he wouldn’t have hidden them away in Cuba or on prison ships. Secondly, arguing that people’s rights can be suspended for any reason is a mockery of the whole concept of human rights. If even one person’s rights are suspended then no one has any rights, because they have been turned into privileges granted by authority. Thirdly, the idea that somehow the “war on terror” is some sort of extraordinary threat that requires us to suspend human rights is no more than a modern version of “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” It’s predicated on the idea that the people we are fighting are less than human, therefore we don’t have to treat them as human beings.
There are monsters in the world, but they can be found on both sides in any conflict. If we forget that and convince ourselves that our atrocities are acceptable and their atrocities are murder…we be monsters too.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of the British prison ship Jersey holding Americans imprisoned during the Revolutionary War is public domain under US copyright law. Credit: Wood engraving, by an unknown artist, after F. O. C. Darley, from Henry Howe, Life and Death on the Ocean, 1855, Library of Congress. More Americans died in prison ships than died in battle during the Revolutionary War, this was an atrocity we shouldn’t be emulating in any way.)