Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘American Foreign Policy

No war yet, but we’re not out of the woods, and other news

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Introduction. Above is today’s Facebook gleaned image. I could post an image every day from Facebook if I wanted to. A very very carefully selected image. Many people I know on Facebook post dozens of images a day. I’ve even unsubscribed to people because they posted so many images, cartoons, bon mots, quotes, etc. Even if I agree with the sentiment, unless it really grabs me or makes me laugh, I’m not inclined to forward it. This one though makes me laugh. As with most things that make me laugh, it’s because I see layers and subtlety in it. Or in more common parlance, it appeals to my particular sense of humour, warped though it may be. Anyhow, moving right along …

Random news. Terrible police shooting in England. Two policewomen were lured to an abandoned building and shot to death. The shooter turned himself in afterwards. It’s the worst police shooting in the UK since 1966, which kinda shows how Britain is still head and shoulders above the US in regards to gun violence. Just in the past few years I know there were several policemen killed in a bi shootout in Oakland. Most cops in the UK still don’t carry guns, neither of the women were armed. And apparently there isn’t much call for them to do so, which again shows that in the USA a frontier mentality still prevails. Maybe we’ll grow up as a nation, but we got a ways to go yet.

Random musing. People pairing up and becoming couples, sex or no sex or whatever, is the most natural thing in the world. People were doing it long before we were even people, if there was no culture or religion and we just lived in little bands of family and friends … couples would still form. It’s kind of at the core of what it is to be human. This is why the primitive religions try to define and control coupling, because if they can get people to surrender control of their core identity … it’s a easy slide to completely controlling them. Religions that completely control their followers are the ones that try and impose their beliefs on other people. It’s … a shame … that fundamentalism persists on a large scale into the 21st century, but the fact that huge numbers of Christians, Jews, and Muslims have managed to reconcile their faith with the 21st century gives me hope. I mean, any sort of just God would want us all to get along with each other, nu?

Random true story. This young to-be-famous-someday author was waiting for a boat one fine day. Standing on the dock next to him was a “slip of  a girl” in his words. And in one of those impulses humans have, he pushed her off the dock. He was instantly mortified, he didn’t even know if she could swim. Moments later, she came to the surface, and flashed him a beautiful ear to ear smile. He immediately thought “My God, that’s the woman I’m going to marry someday.” And he did.

Random science. Or random nonsense science as the case may be. A book was just published that claims to re-examine Velikovsky’s theories. The interview at the link is fascinating. This man has carefully cherry picked a host of scientific mysteries and uses them to support Velikovsky’s whack-job idea that Venus was ejected from Jupiter in historic times. I wonder if he’s a con-artist, or does he actually believe his theory? I am going with “he believes it.” Lately it’s become very clear to me that there is an amazing similarity between the thought processes of those people who fiercely believe in “alternate” theories, from Creationism to Velikovsky to the Electric Universe. All of them appear to be absolutely convinced that theirs is the only possible explanation and there is a conspiracy among mainstream thought to suppress their version of reality. Then they carefully pick and choose whatever little bits of whatever that “support” their theory. Sometimes these things fade with time, like the Face on Mars nonsense, and sometimes they don’t, like Velikovsky apparently. To be fair, I tried to read one of Velikovsky’s books once. It was one of his later books where he tried to support his theories using only “modern” scientific data. I didn’t get far, because it quickly became clear that the man had obsessively read several centuries worth of geology books and papers, and carefully selected the paragraphs, sentences, and sentence fragments that, taken out of context, supported his “theory.” Um, any theory could be “proved” this way. It also should be noted that Velikovsky was motivated by religion, he was very much trying to prove that the events of the Old Testament were literally true. It was nonsense when he wrote it, and it’s nonsense now.

Closing. Well, no war yet. America’s foreign policy in the Middle East does seem to be unravelling though. Whether by accident or design, the recent anti-Islam movie has proved to be a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment. And the USA has created a lot of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world since at least 1953 when the USA arranged a coup against the democratically elected government of Iran and installed the Shah in its place. There have been some positive points in US policy in the region, like in 1956 when Eisenhower told the British, French, and Israelis that the USA would not stand for their invasion of Egypt and acquisition of the Suez Canal. It’s pretty much been downhill since, and took a nose dive after 9/11. Compound that with an increasingly government/corporate compliant media, and we have created a situation where the USA is wildly and justly unpopular throughout a vast swath of the Muslim world, and the vast majority of Americans are not only clueless, a lot of what they do “know” abut the situation is simply wrong. On the plus side, if Romney gets elected, we’ll be able to dispense with further foreplay and proceed directly to World War Three. That will be some fun blogging.

(Once again the above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I don’t know where it comes from, it appears to be a picture of something stuck to a wall. That’s how images like this were disseminated in the old days. Say, the 1990s. If one wanted to post this image in say, the building next door, a copy of it had to be carried by hand to the next building! Hard to believe, eh?)

Written by unitedcats

September 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

American Foreign Policy: The Bull in the China Shop

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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.)

Written by unitedcats

April 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Cutting defense spending and building up our forces in East Asia, is this a good idea?

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I’m going to start posting some timely comments on world events as they occur. These will likely be smaller than my regular posts, less polished, and more prone to factual errors. Please point out same when they occur. I’m doing this because the winds of change are blowing, and I want to stay somewhat current. And to get feedback on my thoughts of the evolving new world order as it unfolds, we are in for a ride in 2012 it looks like.

 OK, Obama just announced a change in military spending and priorities. Fewer ground troops, more ships and planes, increased emphasis on East Asia (China’s neighborhood.) Obama is spinning this as some huge change in our military posture, it isn’t. Some will no doubt claim it is weakening America and our enemies will take advantage of us. No it isn’t, and no more than usual. What does it all mean?

I can only think of two things. One is that it’s a pretty obvious attempt to transfer more money to the armaments industry. We already have more ships and planes than we know what to do with,  and Iraq and Afghanistan suffered form insufficient troops. Secondly, it’s an attempt to get the Chinese to react and increase their spending … which we could spin as a threat … and thus we increase “defense” spending again. We already spend more money on war than the rest of the world combined, but apparently we can always go higher.

Now, domestic pie-slicing concerns aside, is there anything else going on here? China doesn’t really pose much of a threat, a best they are working on the ability to defend themselves far more formidably if we want to go to war with them. (And they don’t have a history of imperial ambitions.) Our nuclear armed Navy and Air Force are still a mind numbingly bloated mass killing machine, it’s not like anyone is going to seriously go at it with them. The one down side to this I see, is this may encourage China to ally itself more closely with Russia, Iran, etc. Which could really be spun into a threat by Obama. See how this works?

And uglier, we segue to a more global idea, is the USA actually trying to start a bigger war? Judging from the hysteria being whipped up about Iran, I am not reassured. I’ll write about that soon.

(There will be no images in these current events posts. Hate em or enjoy em, please let me know.)

 

Written by unitedcats

January 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

The Libyan Army Changes the Rules of the Game

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Well, I was wrong. I’d feel stupid, but since many other people including high ranking military professionals were also wrong, I don’t feel too bad about it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Mr Qaddafi, and the last time I thought war was glorious was when I was ten years old, but something unusual is happening in Libya. The Libyan army has done something no one thought they were capable of, and it may change the nature of warfare. And it might even win the war for Qaddafi … and wreak havoc with what is left of America’s foreign policy. Mr Qaddafi (or more correctly, the unknown military genius who is conducting his war) may very well humiliate Obama on the field of battle. WTF?

OK, so continuing from my last post, most people expected the rebels to quickly gain the upper hand now that they had American air support. I predicted they would chase Qaddafi’s military back to Tripoli. And initially they did so, USA air strikes destroyed Qaddafi’s air force, tanks, and artillery; his forces retreated, and the triumphant rebel army pursued him. And there’s where it stopped following the script. At Sirte Qaddafi’s army not only took a stand, they thrashed the rebel forces and have been chasing them back to Benghazi since. And this was after the USA bombed the piss out of the Libyan army, what the hell is going on here?

Two things as far as I can figure. For one thing I overestimated the military capabilities of the rebels. They, literally, are a disorganized mob. A mass of armed men, enthusiastic, but there is little resembling military organization. Not surprising, it takes six months to a year to put together a military. Basically the rebels are a militia force. A militia is a group of untrained armed men. Historically they were an important adjunct to regular military forces until the mid nineteenth century or so, and they have become progressively less useful since. Basically, if a militia’s morale is good, they fight. If things are going bad, they run. And if a militia fights regular troops, things generally go badly for militias.

Still, with the USA bombing their tanks and guns and supply columns, how did the Libya army keep fighting? And this is where it gets interesting. The Libyan army did something that no one expected. They abandoned their heavy military equipment and converted to what is now call technicals. These are fighters, in this case professional soldiers, who only carry light infantry weapons and travel in civilian type vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks. And modern light infantry weapons can pack a wallop indeed. Rifles, machine guns, and RPGs for one. And more importantly mortars, which trained troops can use to drop high explosives on top of people miles away, people that can’t even see where the mortar rounds are coming from. And the biggest advantage of course is simple, from the air a force of Libyan soldiers is now indistinguishable from a  force of rebels. Simply by chucking the trappings of a professional army, the Libyan military has adopted tactics that largely nullify the USA’s air-power. (Or worse.)

This is  a surprising development. Militaries tend to be rather inflexible institutions, slow to adopt new tactics. Not the Libyan army. They’ve also been reportedly using mines to great effect when they retreat, something that also speaks of an effective military. And as a last point, it obviously hasn’t escaped them that Libya has no railroads, bridges, or other obvious and crippling infrastructure for the USA to attack. Their supply columns can travel overland pretty much everywhere, the USA is not going to be able to cripple their supply situation by blowing up a bridge or two. This all strongly suggests that whatever Qaddafi’s failing as a leader may be, he has some sharp people running his military. So  much for the idea that they were a poorly trained poorly armed bunch, their training and arms appear to be quite up to the job.

And this is especially worrisome compared to the USA’s almost frighteningly unimaginative cookie cutter approach to this crisis. We tried the usual threats and sanctions. Yeah, that always works wonders. A no-fly-zone, like the one that, well, inconvenienced Saddam for what, a decade? And lastly bombing, which has a very mixed track record. Bombing is great for destroying infrastructure and obvious military targets, but not much good for anything else. Destroying Libya’s infrastructure would be counterproductive at best, and the Libyan military has adopted tactics that minimize their vulnerability to American air power. What’s superpower to do? Hell if I know. There hasn’t been an original idea in Washington in decades, so the USA has only one arrow left in its quiver. Ground troops. I hope not.

In any event, the above is all conjectural and subject to errors in my source material, but the basic fact that Qaddafi’s forces are holding their own seems clear. And yeah, Qaddafi is suffering from some high level defections, but so did Hitler. And if anything, what defections Hitler suffered made the remainder of his supporters all the more devoted and fanatical. While Libyans most definitely did not have political freedom under Qaddafi, the ones that are still fighting for him have every reason to continue to do so. I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but right now it looks like the USA has managed to turn another country into a permanent bloody failed state with constant USA support required to keep “our” faction in power. Smooth move Mr Obama.

(The above image is from the Australian National Library and is public domain under US copyright law. It’s sunken ships in Tobruk harbour, Libya, sometime during World War Two. I thought it nicely captured the bleakness, waste, and pointlessness of war. This will be my last post on Libya in the near future unless there’s further developments. Next, the Koran burning riots in Afghanistan, what’s going on with that?)

 

 

Written by unitedcats

April 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm