DOW up 900 points, world rejoices the end of financial crisis, meanwhile Italy invades British Somaliland.
Well, the DOW went up over 900 points Monday, so the world economic crisis is safely behind us now. (pause for laughs.) OK, during the weekend the Europeans came up with their own bailout plan, and for the moment at least it seems to have stopped the world wide stock market plunge. The credit markets are still frozen though. So we’ll see what this week brings. In both the world financial system, and other problem areas that have been quietly bubbling away on the back burners.
As far as the financial sector, I don’t think this latest bailout will do more than delay the inevitable. Granted, trying to make heads or tails of the finance mess makes my head hurt, but there’s one thing I really don’t understand: where is all this money for these bailouts coming from? We’re up to something like $3 trillion now between the USA and Europe. All these governments are in debt, so to put this money into the markets, the money had to be borrowed, right? And doesn’t that mean it gets borrowed on the world financial market? Um, isn’t this like using one credit card to pay off another credit card? Or worse, writing a bad check to pay of a credit card? Maybe someone can explain to me how this is supposed to work, but I’m not filled with confidence. As always, we’ll see. And as a final observation on the financial crisis, I noted that the markets continued to plunge after Bush gave his speech last week, but the Europeans getting together over the weekend calmed things down. Curious, nu?
Moving on to other world hotspots, in Korea the US has backed down and taken North Korea off our “Official Bad Guys List,” IE the list of nations the USA claims sponsors terror. They did so because the North Koreans had started working on weapons again claiming the USA hadn’t held up its end of the complicated deal to get North Korea to shut down its nuclear weapons program. The North Koreans were basically right, but it’s unusual that the Bush administration switched course on this. I doubt the Bush administration has suddenly decided that negotiation is the way to go, so this is more likely just an attempt to avert yet another crisis during troubled times. It might also be the North Koreans cynically hitting us while we are weak, hell, there’s certainly some element of that. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, away from war and nuclear proliferation.
In Somalia, the insurgants are clearly winning and the Ethiopians appear to be on the way out. The UN installed government isn’t expected to last long after the Ethiopians leave, more than likely the Islamic Courts will once again resume governing southern Somalia. The last time they were in power they brought the first peace and stability to the country in decades. And this time the USA likely isn’t going to be able to do anything about it, as I said before, the USA kinda has its hands full now. The worst thing is that they Islamic Courts are likely going to be more radicalized and definitely more anti-American. now In a very real sense the USA created what it feared most in Somalia, and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.
In Afghanistan, the Karzai government has called for negotiations with the Taliban. It’s unlikely they will agree, but it is probably an indication of how threatened the Karzai government feels. The USA is talking about a “surge” in Afghanistan, but there’s no guarantee it will happen and a good chance it will make things worse if it does. And God only knows what will happen in Afghanistan if the situation in Pakistan deteriorates more. Our troops in Afghanistan have to be supplied overland through Pakistan, a tenuous situation if there ever was one. And, I might add, if we are going to talk to the Taliban, couldn’t we have just accepted their offers to turn OBL over for trial back in 2001, and avoided the whole bloody war?
Speaking of bloody wars that should have been avoided, Iraq’s Maliki government has asked the British to leave. They are still trying to get us to leave too. And if we leave, we leave a partitioned Iraq allied with Iran and riddled with destabilizing factions. Or we can stay there at great expense and try to hold things together. Notice a theme here? An over-extended empire is unravelling at the edges. The trillions we have borrowed to wage Bush’s “War on Terror” are definitely a part of this economic mess we are in, so it all ties together.
I’m not sure where Israel’s latest threats fit into this picture. Peres gave a speech where he warned Iran against a surprise attack on Israel, such as when Syria and Egypt attacked Israel in 1973. It’s kind of strange really, Iran doesn’t even border on Israel, and has neither the means nor the motive to attack Israel. Just your basic sabre rattling I guess, though it’s also possible Israel is feeling a little threatened as financial disaster looms in the west. The odds of an Israeli (or USA) attack on Iran have gone down after the recent little problems in Georgia and Ossetia, since the Russian promise to defend Iran against attack must be taken seriously now.
We are in uncertain times now, and it’s a good bet that stuff will keep on happening until the inauguration. Anyone could play a wild card before the election, and if Bush doesn’t like the results of the election, he might play a card or two of his own before he leaves office.
(The above image is Italian troops invading British Somaliland in 1940. This was Italy’s only successful campaign during World War II that didn’t involve German troops. I chose it because it shows one of the problems that bedevil that part of the world, waves of invading European (or European proxy) armies. Africa in fact benefits from over four centuries of European enlightenment at the point of a gun. It’s worked out well, hasn’t it?)