Posts Tagged ‘Syria’
Well, Washington and Obama are making noise about attacking Syria. Quelle surprise. Kerry was saying today that the evidence of a Syrian chemical attack was “undeniable.” Please, spare me. Washington has been lying about this sort of stuff since the Mexican War in 1848, and it’s hard to find a 20th century war they didn’t lie through their teeth about. Our economy and political system is based on war forever, Syria is just more of the same. The main reason we know this is a lie is simple. Obama stated that the use of chemical weapons would trigger US intervention. Why in the name of God would Syria do the exact thing that would trigger US attacks? They wouldn’t of course, no one is that stupid, especially considering that chemical weapons are essentially useless on the battlefield unless your enemies are using World War One style human wave attacks. So Syria has no conceivable reason to use chemical weapons, and excellent reason not to use them. Kerry’s claim should be taken for what it most likely is, a lie.
So if the Syrian government didn’t launch an attack, who might have? Well, let’s see, who has to gain from US intervention? Bingo in the Elf Lounge. The rebels. Yes, a chemical weapons attack was launched by the Syrian government conveniently near a UN inspection team even! How lucky was that? And snipers even tried to slow the team down as it approached the stage of the purported chemical weapons attack. Stage as in staged. It’s more than likely the rebels faked an attack of some sort, it wouldn’t take much. For all practical purposes Obama asked them to stage an attack, who can blame them? Even the public evidence is suspect. There are photographed bodies of claimed sarin gas victims. Assuming these are real pics (yes, the rebels have tried crude fakes before) it’s been pointed out that if these people really did die from sarin gas, the people wandering around the bodies without protective gear would also quickly be succumbing to the intensely lethal substance on the bodies. They aren’t.
Sadly the truth doesn’t really matter. The USA attacks whomever it pleases whenever it pleases, and manufactures whatever justification is needed. Most Americans don’t want another war, but their opinion hardly counts anymore. Even Congress isn’t even trying these days, this time they might not even bother to pass a resolution supporting the attack. What will be the results of the attack, aside from more profits for the military industrial complex? Who knows, it often takes years for the blow-back from this sort of nonsense to fully realize itself. It stands a good chance of bringing down the Assad regime, one of the only remaining secular regimes in the region, and replacing it with a Islamic fundamentalist government aligned with Al-Qaeda. How would that help the USA or Syria? Damned if I know.
What I do know is that there is nothing “humanitarian” about an American attack on Syria. Yes, that’s part and parcel of the endless propaganda flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, we’re all concerned about the plight of woman and minorities and democracy. Yes, unlike every other empire in history, the USA’s motives are pure! Spare me. Anyone who believes that may have pure motives themselves, God bless em, but the facts on the ground consistently belie the idea that we are trying to make the world a better place. US intervention almost invariably makes things worse for the people in a region, especially the ones we kill and maim with our “well intentioned” bombs and missiles. It does however prevent the rise of modern secular nation states, which would be far less pliable to American influence and meddling. They might even have radically dangerous ideas like those pursued by Saddam for example … he thought that the profits from the sale of Middle Eastern oil should be invested in the Middle East! One can see why he had to go.
So many lies, when it’s all just about western militarism and colonialism. European armies have been marching through the Middle East since Alexander the Great. The excuses change but the end result is the same. Death and destruction for the locals. That’s what wars do on the receiving end. Our current Alexander in Chief hasn’t shown any qualms about that before. And of course wealth and profits for the west. Follow the money as they say.
Lastly, a point about chemical weapons. They are not WMDs. They in fact aren’t anything special, just another one of the myriad evil ways humans have devised to kill each other. Like nuclear weapons, they have few real military applications and are more a political and propaganda weapon than anything else. And to make the hypocrisy complete, not only does the US cheer on such weapons when they approve of the regime using them, the USA has utterly no qualms about using them itself. So the idea that Syria has crossed some sort of moral boundary by using (purportedly) chemical weapons doesn’t pass the laugh test.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no conceivable way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Its a photograph entitled “Viktor Bulla’s Pioneers in Defense Drill, Leningrad (1937)” It appears on page 79 of a book of photographs called “Propaganda and Dreams” by Leah Bendavid-Val. While a lovely ghoulish photo by modern standards, it was very much meant as a propaganda picture showing how prepared the Soviet Union was for self defence.)
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.)
I’m off for a long awaited trip to the desert. I need this so much I could spit. Aren’t male figures of speech so delightfully colourful? I will return next week sometime. Well, someone will return, hopefully not the stressed out person I am now, I’m leaving him in the desert. Somewhere near this old mining structure. I slept on top of it in the 1970s, it was connected to the hill then. It got kind of windy during the night so the two friends who were with me wimped out and retreated to the tunnel we were camped in. It was a nice comfy tunnel. I’ll take lots of pictures on my trip and will post any interesting ones when I return.
I’m going to be making more posts on the dripping misogyny the Christian right seems to have decided to self-immolate itself with. At this point I’m hoping that the Republicans will make “legitimate rape” part of their party platform, because some of these folks don’t seem to realize just how far afield they have strayed from anything resembling common humanity. Let alone Jesus’s teachings. For the record, anyone who would deny a woman who was impregnated by a rapist an abortion is sick in the head. Let me repeat that, anyone who would deny a woman who was impregnated by a rapist an abortion is sick in the head. The people people who claim that such is justified are people who are revealing their true colours. And they are not baby lovers, they are people who think women are no more than breeding sows whose only purpose in life is to crank out babies. This is not a pro-life position, this is “I am a medieval fuck who thinks all women are sluts who should be punished when they they get pregnant” position. Yes, gentle reader, I feel rather strongly about this.
Hopefully the US won’t invade Syria while I’m out in the desert. Still, it would mean plenty of blog fodder when I get back. Hopefully the US won’t invade Syria ever, but I’m not optimistic on that score. Invading countries is what we do. Then we pretend to nation build before going on to wrecking the next country. Kinda like Bain Capital but on a grander scale. I’m not very optimistic about the state of the world, but long time readers know that. Heck, even short time readers can glean that from a post or two. I’m back to thinking that a major regional war is in the offing in the Middle east, even a world war is possible at this point. Expect posts on that when I return.
I’ll be posting more on global warming as well. It’s been a few years since my last foray into that false scientific controversy. I tend to avoid false controversies, like that over Evolution or the Big Bang, because there’s almost no point. Those who reject science generally aren’t terribly amenable to debate on same. Still, fun to be had. And one never knows, I might learn something. It’s been known to happen. There’s also posts on Venus and the various probes planned for it. Mars has been getting all the luvin lately, but Venus is due for some strokes.
And that’s that, time to pack and get the flock out of here. I’ll be impressed if anyone can identity the location in the picture. It’s in Nevada near a ghost town. The image is being used legally as it is not being used for profit. Credit and copyright: OldBlueWebDesigns.com
Have a great weekend everyone!
I have to admit that the situation in Syria and the Middle East is a little disturbing. Maybe a lot disturbing. In the normal course of events the rebellion would be crushed in Syria, but we are no longer within the normal course of events. And the Syrian mess is horribly intertwined with Israel’s threat to attack Iran, and the spreading instability from Syria … Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are already getting spillover. And on the “World News” tonight on TV: The Washington Shooting, Immigration, Domestic politics, and … drum roll … the Loch Ness Monster. Yes dear reader, the sole actual international story on the American news tonight was about the latest Loch Ness Monster hoax. They didn’t call it a hoax though. And then they claimed people have been seeing the Loch Ness Monster since the seventh century. That, in the common or orc speech, is called a lie. Loch Ness Monster sightings date from 1933, which should have ended all the silliness long ago.
Yes, I’m digressing all over the place again. Syria, what’s to be done? I tried writing a blog post. Turns out just understanding the history of Syria is a few blog posts on its own, maybe dozens. Add current events and its a real conundrum. I’ll try and sum it up. Under the guise of supporting a democratic uprising in Syria, the USA and Israel are destabilizing Syria to further isolate Iran, and maybe even force it to capitulate on its nuclear program. Russia and China are supporting the status quo in Syria, and for the moment at least have forestalled direct NATO involvement. No lines in the sand have been drawn yet though. Everyone else in the region is trying to look after themselves, which sadly includes huge numbers of civilians and refugees at this point. And to spice up the mix, Israel is openly talking about a “30 day war” with Iran. And the Iranians responded with stupid sabre rattling of their own.
Fun fun times. It’s impossible to say where this will lead, but I don’t really see how this is going to lead to more peace and stability in the region. Syria, like so many Middle Eastern and African nations, isn’t a natural nation, just lines on the map drawn by France and England after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War One. That bodes ill for any peaceful end to this. The ongoing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan also bode ill for Syria, ten years after the west “liberated” them they are still failed states with no end in sight. Even Egypt’s new president has called for “regime change” in Syria, while criticizing Muslim on Muslim violence, especially during Ramadan. Encouraging violence while simultaneously criticizing it, I don’t even begin to understand that.
And then there’s Israel’s threat to carry out an extended bombing campaign against Iran. Sigh. The Israelis seem determined to keep themselves isolated and hated among nations of the Middle East, they are so stuck in siege mode that they can’t seem to imagine anything else. Once one has convinced oneself that their enemies are sub-human savages, it’s a short trip to believing that violence is the only option. Again, I can’t even imagine what the fallout from an Israeli war on Iran would entail. Though I certainly don’t imagine it leading to peace in the Middle East and a democratic western oriented regime in Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran would be Muslim militant fundamentalist’s wet dream though. That’s another aspect of this mess that’s appalling, so many of the actors seem to be deliberately taking steps that will lead to more Islamic militants and more terrorism. Madness, ignorance, or design? Damned if I know.
To me it’s clear that anyone who says they understand what’s going on the Middle East now is a liar or a fool. Decades ago a wag said that “If God is dead, he died trying to solve the Middle East Problem.” Truer now than ever. I think modern propaganda is making the situation worse, it has been a terrible force for polarization and tunnel vision. Having everyone in the region armed to the teeth isn’t helping any either. I also think Israel is one of the worst actors in the whole unwholesome mess, as I think their goal is to create a situation where they can ethnically cleanse the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the name of “national security.” The USA is running a close second, our foreign policy is so driven by domestic affairs that it has lost touch with reality. I don’t think anyone involved has pure motives though, at least not the major players. And of course I could be utterly wrong about any or all of this.
And here in America in the run-up to the fall presidential elections, we are having a spirited national debate on the wisdom of our militant and aggressive foreign policy. Snort. Nope, we have two war party’s calling the other side “soft on defence.” The one candidate, Ron Paul, actually calling for some sanity in our foreign policy is ignored or hated depending on who’s doing the ignoring or the hating. Lot’s of hating going around, that’s the one constant in all of this, domestically and in the Middle East. Yeah, that always ends well.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been painted in 1872 by Peter Nicolai Arbo, Norway 1831-1892. It’s titled Åsgårdsreien, or in English, The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a common myth across Northern Europe, it’s the sighting of a group of spectral hunters and hounds tearing across the sky. Sightings of it are often supposed to be an omen of disaster or war. I think the gentle reader can discern why I found it an appropriate illustration for this post.)
It’s been awhile since I wrote a “Through Thick and Thin” post. The phrase still and likely always will appeal to me. Partly because it’s a reminder of a more bucolic era, it is an old phrase. Partly because I like running around in the woods and fields myself. I don’t do as much of it as I used to. Moving right along, a lot has been happening lately, so why not comment on several trending events?
Chick-Fil-A. Sigh. This has gone off on so many tangents it’s gotten truly bizarre. Note above image. Conservative black churches tend to be very anti-LGTB. So we have people who in living memory were a terribly discriminated against minority … actively advocating continued discrimination against another minority. It’s images like this that explain why the aliens haven’t contacted us yet. While I respect people’s right to oppose gay marriage, I won’t dignify their opinion by referring to it as a “defence of marriage.” Marriage is not under attack, it needs no defence. In fact, if marriage is such a good thing, why shouldn’t any two adults be allowed to get married? So much silliness though. Tortured explanations from the left as to why it’s OK to use the power of the state to discriminate against Chik-Fil-A. I still don’t think so. Claims by Chick-Fil-A’s defender that this is a freedom of speech issue. No, aside from some rhetoric, no one’s freedom of speech has been threatened. Yet. I’ve seen a mangled Lincoln quote trotted out by LGBT defenders to bolster their cause. Yeah, adopting Faux News tactics doesn’t impress me.
Granted, some of the groups that Chick-Fil-A has been funding (it’s not just their owners, the corporation itself is a big donor) have been designated as hate groups. I find the appellation “hate group” as annoying as “terrorist group.” It’s a label to demonize a group and their opinions. Neither terrorism nor hate is an ideology, so when it comes right down to it, as a descriptive label its misleading as best. It’s an attempt to frame the discussion in such a way that the other side’s concerns can be ignored. That’s not really a good way to resolve an issue. Lastly, after defending Chick-Fil-A’s right to donate to whoever they please, let me say this. They are donating to some groups that are spreading the most horrific lies and falsehoods about homosexuals. Groups that are advocating the death sentence for gays in Africa. Not cool, not cool at all. I won’t be patronizing Chick-Fil-A, and I heartily encourage others not to do so.
Syria. Sigh. I’m writing a post about it, but it’s complicated. Kofi Annan is quitting as UN-Arab League envoy for the Syria conflict at the end of the month, he claims foreign meddling by both sides is making his job impossible. How the UN ever got involved in an internal, not international, dispute is not mentioned. China and Russia support the Assad regime. The USA and the west are supporting and arming the Islamist revolutionaries. Yes dear readers, China and Russia are supporting the secular government of Syria, while the USA is arming Islamist rebels, including Al-Qaeda linked groups. The people who we call terrorists when they are fighting us. As my more astute readers know, supporting Islamist rebels was such a great idea in Afghanistan, how could it go wrong in Syria?
The Mars Curiosity Rover sets down on Mars this weekend. Hopefully. It’s the most amazing rover ever deployed, jam-packed with whiz-bang experimental gear. If it lands OK and functions OK, it will be like the Hubble on Mars. If they forgot to convert English measurements into American measurements, or installed something backwards, it will be a waste of over 2 billion dollars. This is what the old folks called “putting all of your eggs in one basket.” I still think that at a dozen cheaper rovers based on the wildly successful Spirit and Opportunity rovers would have been a better option. I hope I’m wrong.
The Aurora shooting … conspiracy theories abound! This is priceless. Yes, it looks like this will be as good as the Truthers or the Birthers, or maybe it will be a flash in the pan, who knows. It’s a fascinating how some events can trigger conspiracy theories. Scientists are no doubt gathering data and examining this as I type, this is like seeing a supernovae. So much can be learned about the psychology and sociology of conspiracy theories if one watches one actually spring forth. In this case, the current Holmes version is that this was some sort of false-flag government operation to act as an excuse for gun control. And that the person being tried isn’t actually Holmes. Pass the popcorn.
Australia refuses US carrier base. Yes, Australia in no uncertain terms said they saw no need to have a US naval base in Australia. No doubt the USA will punish them for their refusal in some way, but it’s nice to see a bit of sanity in the world. WTF does Australia need with a US base, and all the attendant problems that go with it? World War Two is long over, there is no threat to Australia that requires the presence of an American carrier task force. And why does the USA want a naval base in western Australia? It’s all part of the militarization of the world, apparently we are going to be the world’s policemen now. I’m not kidding, Marine units are now being trained to act as world policemen. There’s so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start, so likely there will be a post on it in the future.
Lastly, a bonus image to share. This made me laugh. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above two images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Both have gone viral on Facebook, so I think they are pretty much public domain, I have no idea who to credit them too. Heck, I could make an entire blog just from the interesting images that crop up on Facebook daily, I’ll certainly try to post more of them here in the future.)
I’ve been writing less about world events lately because it has gotten so insane. And the insanity is driven by the USA. The specific insanity I refer to is the USA’s unwavering continuation of policies that are clearly fails. And fails in that they not only didn’t achieve what they were promised, they made things worse. It’s like Vietnam never happened, we just keep intervening in parts of the world for little or no reason, oblivious to the harm we are causing. And not only harm to other parts of the world, harm to the USA itself. In any event, a short case by case analysis:
Afghanistan: Ten years later and it’s still painfully apparent that the “government” we set up in Afghanistan is totally corrupt, extremely unpopular, just as misogynistic as the Taliban, and is only in power because western troops keep it in power. This isn’t nation building, it’s refusal to see that the Afghans aren’t ever going to accept rule by foreign imposed satraps. And of course this endless war has slowly and steadily destabilized Pakistan, a far more important country to the USA than Afghanistan.
Iraq: The poster child for failed interventions. We removed a tin pot dictator who was no threat to anyone outside of Iraq, and replaced him with an Iranian aligned government that is looking more like a dictatorship every day. Not to mention the Iraqi people paid a terrible price for this act of beneficence on our part. And it’s never mentioned that while there was no terrorism in Iraq before our invasion, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is now a powerful force launching attacks daily. And there’s numerous other insurgent groups killing people, and a horrible mess has been made of Kurdish Iraq to boot. Which is spilling over into Turkey. This invasion cost the USA trillions, made the situation far worse, and is basically considered one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in US history. And most Americans couldn’t find Iraq on a map.
Libya: Well, turns out that intervening in Libya has had the same effect it had in Afghanistan and Iraq, a country that was formerly relatively stable is now a bloody factionalized mess with violence spilling out into foreign lands. A coup and Civil War in Mali being the immediate aftermath, and no end in sight.
Somalia: 20 years on the Somalis are still refusing to accept as legitimate a foreign imposed government, no matter whose army tries to impose it! Why not let the Somalis form their own government? I guess it might give other countries ideas. Or more likely the people running Washington are so full of themselves that they can’t even contemplate the idea that people in other lands might not want the “benefits” of a foreign imposed colonial government.
And despite it all, the calls for foreign intervention and the foreign interventions themselves are never-ending. We are now involved in Kenya and Nigeria, and looks like we will get involved in Mali. Pundits and members of congress have even talked about the “threat” posed to the USA by events in Mali! Dear God, Mali is a tiny, impoverished country in the middle of the Sahara desert, if they are a “threat” to the USA then any country is a “threat” to the USA. This is crazy. And coming soon it seems, intervention in Syria. That will almost certainly cause problems elsewhere, Lebanon being the first example.
The second pillar of the USA’s failed policies is sanctions. Refusing to have diplomatic relationships with nations and hitting them with sanctions and international isolation almost never works. The last ten times it was tried, it worked once, in South Africa. And it only worked there because everyone in Africa knew that eventually a tiny white minority was going to have to share power with the rest of the citizens of the country. Other places it has been tried it has been a complete failure, in some cases for decades. Normalizing relations with China and Vietnam didn’t end the world, far from it. Yet somehow the idea that recognizing Iran, Cuba, or North Korea and actually having diplomatic relations with them is off the table? I’m getting really sick of hearing Obama (yeah, he’s a progressive, snort) claim that “all options are on the table.” What he means is “violence and threats are the only course of action we will pursue, diplomacy and peace are not on the table.”
And our corporate controlled media just regurgitates Washington’s propaganda and sound bites as if they were facts, while Americans watch American Idol and the beauty contest our election campaigns have turned into. At least there was debate about the invasion of Iraq, now it seems like almost every week the government launches some absurd new intervention overseas, and Americans couldn’t care less. Or worse, blame the victims of these policies, be they domestic or foreign. I think the final thing recently that illustrated to me the psychotic inability of Washington to understand that it reaps what it sows, was Obama telling Mexico that the drug gang violence in their country was endangering relations with the USA. As if somehow the fact that the money, market, and weapons for all of the violent drug cartels on Mexico are primarily American. Basically, we are unable to stop Americans from funding and arming Mexican gangs … but it’s their problem? Jesus wept.
Or maybe it’s just me.
(The above image is claimed as Fair use under US copyright law. It’s from World of Tanks, a free online game that I waste a lot of time playing. So I recommend it. If one looks closely it does nicely illustrate the point of this post.)
Another week gone. The situation in the Middle East just gets worse. And I mean the greater Middle East when I say Middle East, including Iran and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan the situation is acutely bad. Riots and demonstrations triggered by the burned Koran incident continue. And pathetically, many Americans simply regard this as “loony” rather than try to understand the far more difficult concept that these people are reacting in a way that is entirely consistent with their cultural and historical context. If a hated decade long occupier in the USA trashed some of America’s most sacred relics, Americans might riot too. In just a few weeks with just two brain dead incidents, the pissing on Taliban corpses and now this burned Koran thing, the USA has given the Taliban a huge propaganda boost and undone much of whatever good we did in the country. Smooth move.
Syria is more or less in a civil war. And in the new world order, that means intervention, IE benevolent invasion. Somalia, same deal. More drone strikes, more interventions, more inability to grasp that there are problems you can’t kill your way out of. Well, at least without killing on a scale that hopefully even the most rabid pro-war American would blanch at. One can hope at least. I think wider war in the Middle East is inevitable at this point, has been really since the USA rolled into Baghdad.
And in the USA, the Republican race to see who gets eviscerated by Obama gets weirder all the time. The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did in 2004, they seem intent on running a candidate with zero crossover appeal. The more they pander to their extreme religious base, the more they guarantee Obama’s reelection. At least that’s my take on it at the moment, could be an interesting summer.
In science news, they seem to have discovered that the faster-than-light neutrinos measurement was due to an equipment malfunction. Seem to being the operative words here, testing continues. That they can’t pin it down precisely just yet is a great illustration of just how fine scientists are slicing reality these days, we are talking extremely thin slices. Sadly, a lot of media sites pounced on this to take cheap shots at science and scientists by making this seem like it was a simple as a loose VCR cable, reinforcing the worst negative stereotypes about scientists. And these days, with massive sophisticated organized efforts under way to deny science for both political and religious reasons, I find gratuitous attacks on scientists distressing.
The myth of eight hours sleep. This one is great. There seems to be a case to be made that it’s normal for humans to sleep for two periods at night with an activity period in between. Honestly, that’s pretty much my usual pattern. Many of these blogs are written between four and six in the morning, then I go back to bed for a few more hours. There’s probably a book that could be written about things that are commonly believed to be true, with little or no scientific basis. Dogs are mammals, apples are fruit, that sort of thing.
In a last little science tidbit, research is increasingly showing that humans are naturally cooperative, not competitive. There’s actually been a lot of research like this the past few decades. It gives me hope for the species, though organized government and religion loathe research like this, don’t expect it to be getting it into school curricula any time soon. Both organized government and organized religion are predicated on the meme that without them, people would do bad things. Can’t have people doubting that, they might actually start to wonder why organized government and religion get such a big slice of the pie.
Lastly, in local news, Berkeley had its second murder of the year. Basically a lunatic attacked a man who confronted him trespassing in the man’s yard. Infuriatingly, the Berkeley police didn’t respond to the first call because they were too busy “standing by” because an Occupy Oakland march was scheduled later that night. Yerp, a massive police presence has to “stand by” when a few hundred people engage in a peaceful and legal protest, but actually protecting the public and doing their job, that gets short shrift. The media of course is having a field day blaming the protesters! That’s right folks, don’t dare engage in peaceful and legal protests, you might get someone killed!
The founding fathers are rolling in their graves at that sentiment. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is believed to be Public Domain under US copyright law, but I will gladly amend if informed differently. The wild police over-reaction to OWS is a symptom of how far down the road to a police state this country has gone, if Washington had done their job the past few decades instead of selling the country out to the highest bidder, OWS wouldn’t be happening. Attacking protesters with riot police isn’t going to fix the problem.)
There’s been a developments in Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan, so another extemporaneous post on this scary and developing situation. Iran first. The UN has been asking to look at a military base where it is suspected that Iran may have been testing components for a nuclear weapon. This has been an issue for at least six months or so. The inspectors spent a few days cooling their heels, and are now on their way home. Much sabre rattling and threats from the USA ad Israel, with Iran not backing down in its own stead, pointing out that the have the right under international law to launch a preemptive attack at the forces arrayed around Iran if they think an attack is imminent.
This is not good, but it’s not what it seems. The military site isn’t a nuclear site, and Iran is within their rights to refuse access to it. Especially since the US has been known to place spies in UN inspection teams, and considering that the “evidence” claiming this base has been used for nuclear testing isn’t exactly iron clad. Look at it this way, would you let your sworn enemy to send their finest James Bond type guy into your most top secret military base on the basis of what you know to be faked evidence? The damage done by something like that could be incalculable, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They’ve wisely chosen the known diplomatic damage by refusing entry, instead of the unknown damage a spy could cause.
Does this make an attack on Iran more likely? Yes, yes it does. I still think it’s a crazy idea, but Germany declaring war on France and England in World War One was a crazy idea, and they did it anywise. Add whatever historical examples of stupid wars one wants, there are a lot of them when it comes right down to it. Lastly on Iran, note that this military base is NOT a nuclear facility, yet somehow the UN is demanding to see it? Iran’s nuclear fuel supply and enrichment facilities are carefully monitored, this is another example of the USA making demands that are above and beyond Iran’s treaty obligations. (The UN is now just an organization for rubber stamping pretty much whatever the USA wants.)
Sigh. Moving right along, anti-US riots and protests in Afghanistan, several dead. These were triggered by locals discovering charred copies of the Koran dumped in a local dump by US forces. Two points here, the first being that while the burned Korans triggered these protests and riots, they’re a symptom of deep anger and dissatisfaction at the foreign presence in their country. Secondly, how the hell did this happen? Our forces are unaware that if they were going to burn copies of the Koran, they shouldn’t let the locals know about it? Talk about a PR bonanza for the Taliban. Major facepalm. And in Syria, two western reporters were killed. That will certainly spur more calls for the west to “do something” in Syria.
Not a good morning for news out of the Middle East. As a capstone to all this madness, US proxy forces in Somalia have captured a major town. Yes, decades after our humanitarian adventure in Somalia ended in Black Hawk Down, we are still intervening and Somalia is still a bloody mess. That’s because humanitarian intervention really means invasion, meddling, and often occupation. And oddly enough, people tend to resent outside powers fucking up their country, that’s because it’s their country, something the west has forgotten under the all encompassing Christian religion known as cultural imperialism.
Sigh. Tomorrow I will get back to the GOP’s War on Women, another fine example of Christianity’s dark side.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a very low resolution copy of the original poster, it’s not being used for profit. Credit: Advertisement from the 1970s by American nuclear-power companies. It’s used to show that times have changed, and that Iran’s reasons for building nuclear power plants are as good as they were then. Of course then they were a US lackey, today they are one of the world’s few remaining sovereign states.)
I made the mistake of watching the TV news last night. Senator McCain was openly calling for the USA and the west to support the rebels in Syria. Heck, even Angelina Jolie is calling for intervention. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that it’s gonna happen one way or the other. And I do mean out on a limb, anyone who has been paying attention knows that all bets are off in the Middle East right now. Well, specific bets at least. In general, it seems safe to say that the trend has been from order to disorder. It’s also very safe to say that the west has been batting 1000 when it comes to recent humanitarian interventions in the greater Middle East. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are all text book failed states … it’s hard to imagine Syria ending up any differently.
So, what happens if Syria turns into a failed state? Well, note Syria’s proximity to Iraq. Iraq is still out of control a decade after the fall of Saddam, it’s kinda like a free trade zone for non western approved activity. This means whatever is going on in Iraq will be able to spread freely to Syria, in fact there’s evidence it’s already doing so. Kurdish insurgents will now have access to the Mediterranean coast. Hezbollah will have more secure supply lines to Iran. Turkey, Israel, and Jordan will have more border issues. It’s interesting to note that Iran is hedging its bets, Iranian warships have docked in Syria. So they likely win either way. And Jordan and Saudi Arabia may very well see more internal unrest.
So who benefits? Israel will be happy to see the Assad regime go, though it may well end up being a mixed blessing for Israel. Other than that, it’s hard to see who is going to benefit from having the bloody stain on the map that is Iraq spread to Syria. Syria has no oil and is no threat to the international bankers. So what gives, is the USA really driven by humanitarian concerns? Um, no, similar rebellions are crushed all the time without “benefit” of western intervention. Heck, usually with little or no mention in the western press at all. Maybe some of the people calling for intervention are driven by humanitarian impulses, if so, they haven’t been paying attention the past decade or so. Insert obligatory comment about how one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results here.
My current theory is that US foreign policy is driven by, well, inertia. The World War Two and Cold War “arsenal of democracy” and liberator mentality lurching forward of its own momentum. Driven by an array of well healed special interests, most purely looking out for themselves, some by the attendant ideological canard that peace and freedom can be brought to other lands at the point of a gun. And none of these interests seems really cognizant of the fact that the world is moving beneath their feet. Profits are still up, the rich are still getting richer, what’s the prob?
In Iran it’s even clearer that the same old dog eared, blood stained, playbook is in use. Make an ultimatum that is basically outrageous (shut down your nuclear industry or else in Iran’s case,) refuse to talk until they do so, and simultaneously claim to be using “diplomacy” to “solve” the “crisis.” The only crisis is that the USA is making demands that it would never bow to if it was on the receiving end, but oddly enough, despite many American’s claiming that we are a Christian nation, apparently they are comfortable with a foreign policy that is about as far from the golden rule as it is possible to get. Which I am beginning to suspect is the primary function of religion in society, to mask and justify the kinds of hypocrisy that allow massive inequities of wealth and power to exist both domestically and internationally.
And, well, among genders. There has been a war of sorts going on in the USA ever since modern birth control gave women control of their lives in the 1960s, there are a lot of men who are still not comfortable with this at all, as bitter and ongoing efforts to limit access to birth control in the USA demonstrate. I am suspecting that the USA’s incredible effort to “control” the world is to some extent driven by the same social and cultural forces trying to force America’s women back into the home, barefoot and pregnant, where they belong. That however is a topic for future blog posts.
Or maybe we’re just insane as a species.
(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been produced by the federal government. Note how large Iran is compared to Iraq. And anytime a country destabilizes, its borders destabilize. Notice how long Iran’s borders are.)
Image brought to Doug’s Darkworld inspired by the Oklahoma Senate, which just passed a bill claiming that a fertilized egg is a human being. We live in an interesting age, but when one tries to enforce a bronze age morality on a 21st century nation, the going really gets weird. Bottom line: It’s OK for people to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Really, try it some time, you’ll be surprised. As soon as we get that settled, the sooner we can go about sensible ways of making sure that every child is a wanted child, but sadly the evangelicals are never going to give up on sex. It’s how cults control people. It would be like a government giving up taxation, aint gonna happen.
Whitney Houston died. Whitney who? This story got vastly more press than it deserved, but that’s the corporate fawning media at work, real news get short shrift, dead celebrities get top billing. Yes, the mainstream media is now little different that the celebrity magazines by the checkout counter at Safeway. The state of New Jersey is even going to fly its flags at half mast for Whitney, so yes, it can always get weirder. Some aren’t exactly thrilled by this, who can blame them?
The UN has condemned the Syrian government and asked them to step down. Yes, an organization touted as being a way for states to avoid conflict with each other is now simply the enforcer of western hegemony, the US and its allies get to decide what a legitimate government is. The usual burblings about it being about human rights, like the bloody sores that are Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya were. Only tyranny and discord can be imposed on a country from outside, freedom can only be had when a people chose to be free … which of course is what the west is so freaking terrified about in the Middle East. They aren’t afraid of terrorism, that’s to distract the rubes. The real fear is powerful sovereign governments running their countries in their own best interests. Can’t have that, it makes it almost impossible to exploit them for their resources.
Speaking of fake scary again, Iran made its heralded nuclear announcement. Which got zero news coverage because they announced that they had installed their first domestically produced fuel rod in a reactor, and that they had made a breakthrough in medical radioisotopes. All under constant western supervision of course, since Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is carefully monitored as per its obligations under the NPT. Iran being a peaceful responsible player isn’t part of the crazy mullahs meme, so I doubt anyone even saw this in the news. No, just the stories about purported amateur Iranian plots to kill Israeli diplomats, stories so fishy one has to hold their nose while reading them.
Greece. What a mess. My current understanding is that the crux of the whole Euro thing, is that everyone borrowed beyond their means on the assumption that the world and national economies would continue to grow forever and outpace the debt. Yes, basically every nation in the west acted like a crack head with a credit card, and now the bills are coming due. All in collusion with the bankers of course. If people really understood that, capitols would burn. So instead a fall guy has been found, Greece. If the bankers can just get the population of one county to agree to be serfs to pay off the bankers debt, maybe others will follow. I don’t think it’s gonna work, people may be sheep, but they are going to notice if serfdom is brought back.
One would hope so at least. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over the Internet, I have no idea who to attribute it to. Redefining reality to promote social control, that’s religion in a nutshell.)