Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Qaddafi

Can I Open My Eyes Yet?

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Well, I’m back. Maybe not literally back, but back to blogging. July was a very rough month for me on a personal level, but I made it through and am a better person for it. I’m also vastly more free than I was a month ago, nothing like having options to help keep one’s perspective. And then there’s the little matter of the world going to shit. For those who are reasonably aware of what’s going on in the world, the consensus view is along the lines of  “this isn’t going to end well.” Colonialism is exacerbating our problems as a species, and has about run its course as an economic ideology. (I know, we’ve pretended since World War Two that colonialism has gone away, the exact same way that renaming the Department of War as the Department of Defence made war as a national policy go away.) Moving right along, some highlights of the ongoing madness.

Looks like Qaddafi is on his way out. He’ll probably end up in some western (IE colonial) prison with little to no chance of a fair trial, held as an example to anyone with would defy the west’s might.  On the one hand, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. On the other hand, NATO’s war on Libya was just as much a war crime as anything Qaddafi has done, and none of the leaders who ordered that will be going on trial. This is why they hate us. Not all of them, but the blatant hypocrisy and evil of the west intervening on “humanitarian” grounds when it is painfully obvious we are just seizing the moment in a blatant attempt to replace Qaddafi with a regime more pliable to western manipulation is not lost on many people in the region. Coming soon … Libyan suicide bombers. Mark my words, the western intervention in Libya will end no better than the intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, these two are both still bloody messes with no end in sight. I don’t know what horrifies me more, the endless carnage we have unleashed, or the fawning obsequious US media pretending that there’s something noble about the deaths of Americans in these far away lands, pretending that these senseless deaths are about protecting our freedoms. Um, fighting with local tribes on the other side of the planet, is about as far away from “protecting our freedoms” as it is possible to get. Literally. This is another reason I am so pessimistic about America, so many people have bought into this, and other, virulent tripe. The rich have stolen everything, and most Americans are blaming each other or groups even more disadvantaged than they for their problems. Yes, it’s poor, gay, illegal, HIV positive, Latino immigrants that are causing all the problems!

In summation, 2011 is some sort of twisted blend of 1928 and 1938, and God only knows what’s going to happen next. And since God doesn’t exist except as a metaphysical concept, that means no one knows. And frankly, there’s tons of intelligent commentary out there on current events for those who care to look, Aljazeerah is a good start, or Haaretz, or I’m not sure what I can add to the discussion, another reason I haven’t been writing. Or having been writing on Doug’s Darkworld to be more exact. I have been working on my novel. A fictional account of a man whose life began with a childhood in a besieged city. It went downhill from there.

There’s other stuff going on in the world as well. Global warming continues apace. We’re all going to be killed by a doomsday comet in 2012. Michael Jackson is still dead. What should I write about? I dunno, I’m open to suggestions.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a rebel tank rolling into Tripoli. That so many “historic” moments in the past century involve tanks rolling into somewhere should give us pause. They are just the armoured knights of our time, the end development of the Roman centurion. Sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

August 21, 2011 at 11:59 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

The Libyan Uprising, a Tactical Analysis

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OK, thought I’d have some fun with this looking at it purely from a tactical or wargaming perspective. I’ve done a lot of wargaming, too much really. And Libya is a classic battlefield so to speak for wargames. That’s because some classic battles were fought there during World War Two, Libya was the scene of much of the fighting between Germany’s Rommel and the Afrika Korps against the British Eighth Army. It as some interesting fighting indeed, I will have to write about it some day. For now though, the lessons learnt in World War Two still apply. And the rules for fighting in Libya are thus: Only mobile (motorized) ground forces are useful, ranged weapons rule, and air power rules. (By motorized I mean that troops with trucks or some other means to get around besides walking.) In other words, Libya is the perfect battleground for modern heavily equipped troops as opposed to mountainous or jungle lands where lightly armed guerrillas can have the upper hand.

Lets see how this came about. Look at the map above. That’s Libya. It’s a little smaller than Mexico or about twice the size of Texas. The terrain is also shown on the map above.  IE it’s one big flat desert where vehicles can drive just about anywhere, but are completely exposed because there’s no cover. And as the map shows, the only things worth having are along the coast. So vehicles rule because moving by foot is just too damn slow when people with vehicles can just drive anywhere. And since it’s all open ground, the troops with the longer ranged weapons have an advantage. Air power rules over all because there’s no places to hide except in the cities. So fighting in World War Two went back and forth east to west in Libya several times. Now it should be noted that in World War Two if one had the manpower, time, and land mines it was possible to set up extensive fortified lines. Neither side has that luxury in the current fighting, so fortified lines aren’t a consideration.

So on the map above, the rebels hold the brown cities to the east, Qaddafi’s forces hold the green cities to the west. Misrata being the exception, it’s been besieged by Qaddafi’s forces for over a week now. At first, after his initial setbacks, Qaddafi’s tanks and motorized forces advanced rapidly to the east, reaching the gates of Benghazi, the heart of the uprising. The rebel forces were mobile, but they lacked the heavy weapons that Qaddafi’s troops had. Unlike stupid Hollywood war movies (which is to say, all Hollywood war movies,) untrained lightly armed troops fare very very poorly against anything resembling a professional army in an open fight. So Qaddafi’s forces kicked butt, and likely would have stormed Benghazi and that would have been that.

Then however, the USA intervened (I’m not even going to pretend there was anything “international” about this intervention) and quickly dominated the skies over Libya. And quickly destroyed the equipment of Qaddafi’s mobile forces. Their tanks, trucks, and artillery were sitting ducks. Reduced to foot soldiers, fleeing is pretty much Qaddafi’s troops only option. And as I type, hastily organized rebel mobile forces are now once again advancing rapidly westward towards Tripoli, where Qaddafi is holed up. Basically pickup trucks and SUVs filled with fighters and small weapons.

What happens now? I don’t see Qaddafi has any option but to retreat to Tripoli and dig in. As I explained, there’s no such thing as natural defensive lines in Libya, no rivers or mountain passes to defend. And his troops don’t have the time to build any sort of fortified line. So I would expect that in a week or so, Qaddafi will once again be back in Tripoli with rebels in control of most of the country. And that’s where it get interesting again, because Tripoli is a large city and troops dug into a large city have some considerable advantages. They are no longer at the mercy of air power or ranged weapons, so if Qaddafi is going to make a last stand, the streets of Tripoli are it.

Assuming Qaddafi’s forces remain loyal and defend Tripoli, what happens then? Well, if civilian life and damage wasn’t a problem, the rebels could simply shell and bomb the city until it surrenders. However, the rebels likely do not have the heavy artillery or warplanes to accomplish that. So the USA can either give them the weapons to do so, or bomb it themselves. Both sound like unlikely prospects to me, in fact the idea that the Libyan rebels would decide to bombard Tripoli into submission sounds dubious to me. And even Obama is not clueless enough to order US planes to bomb Tripoli flat. I hope. OK, bombing is out, the second alternative is starving the city into submission. That could take months or years, and isn’t guaranteed to work. I don’t think I’m going out on a  limb to state that the rebels are unlikely to either bombard or starve Tripoli into submission.

So what’s left? Storming the city. IE rebels charge into the city with small weapons and fight with Qaddafi’s troops. And likely without much by way of USA air support. That’s because providing air support to troops fighting in city streets pretty much means getting up close and personal with jets and especially helicopter gunships. And that puts them in range small arms, and losses would be inevitable. Again, I think it’s safe to say that Obama won’t want a repeat of Black Hawk Down, so USA close air support is out of the question. Yes, if Qaddafi’s troops dig into Tripoli the rebels will have no choice but to charge into Tripoli. Where they will be ambushed and slaughtered in droves by Qaddafi’s professional soldiers.

In other words, there may not be a happy ending here. The rebel’s best bet is that Qaddafi’s forces will be so demoralized that they will flee rather than fight. Qaddafi and a few hundred loyalists might hole up somewhere and fight to the bitter end, but even a rag tag rebel army could deal with that. If Qaddafi has enough loyalist soldiers to defend the city, the Battle of Tripoli could be an ugly thing indeed. My current thinking is that if this war isn’t over in a  week, it could drag on for months or years.

Good luck Libyan rebels, may your aim be true, your sense of justice great, and your desire for vengeance small.

(I’ve made a good faith effort to use the above images legally, the top image is Public Domain or close enough. The second image is a low resolution, grey scale reproduction of a Reuters image, and the third dates from World War Two and is in the Public Domain. The map of Libya is pretty basic, the size of the circles represents the population of the cities. The second image is Libya rebels with makeshift mobile forces, hey, it works as long as they don’t run into tanks or such. The third is a German long range 88mm anti-tank gun from World War Two. I chose it to illustrate the advantage long range weapons have in desert warfare. Note the 40 plus rings painted on the barrel, those are kill rings, each one represents a tank destroyed by that gun.)






Written by unitedcats

March 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Another Day, Another War

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The USA is now at war with Libya. Not to mention in conjunction with our old buddies, France and Britain. Since this website is about war and the onrushing darkness, I guess I better comment on it, depressing as it is. And it is depressing, wars almost never work out the way people wanted, and they almost always have unintended consequences. And, well, people die. Mostly innocent people for the most part. That’s one of the things that shows that we are getting sicker as a species, not better. Before the 20th century, the vast majority of people killed in wars were combatants. Now it’s the other way around. Kill granny for freedom, right. Sigh.

First off, I am dismayed by how little public debate there was over this war. It seems like there’s been less public debate over every recent war than the previous one. More proof that modern propaganda and politics has turned Americans into sheep? Maybe, but also it’s old news. We’ve been at war for nearly a decade now, what’s one more enemy? I suspect most Americans just don’t care anymore, and it’s not like we can do anything about it. We elected a president who promised to close Guantanamo prison and pull the US out of Iraq. Well, neither of those promises are going to be fulfilled, and now we have another war on to add to our troubles. Obama is a politician, not a leader.

But wait, isn’t Libya’s Qaddafi a piece of work who is slaughtering his own people? Well, yes. Doesn’t that mean the West should do something about it? Maybe. And won’t no fly zones protect the Libyan rebels at little or no risk to the West? Answer: You’ve got to be joking. How well did no-fly-zones prevent Saddam from crushing all opposition to his regime? They didn’t of course. Air power has its uses, but it’s also completely useless for many tasks. And protecting a rag tag rebel army from a professional fighting force is one of the situations where air power is of limited or no use.

So what the hell is going on here then? Why is the West attacking Libya? I see two possibilities. The first is that the West, especially the USA, is flying blind so to speak. The situation in the Middle East is very much drifting in ways the the West doesn’t want, and Libya is being seized on as a chance to “take the initiative” and try and restore the West’s waning influence in the region. IE, doing something because they don’t know what else to do. I think the best argument that the “clusterfuck” scenario is unfolding is the name of this military operation: Operation Odyssey Dawn. How the hell did they come up with that, it’s like something a hippie on acid would name their kid, not the name of a military operation. Or maybe we’ve just used up all the good names for military operations, the same way the eighties is remembered as the decade where they ran out of good movie titles.

The other possibility is more sinister. Bottom line, Libya isn’t very important. If it turns into a failed state, no big deal, it’s not going to destabilize its neighbours. And whoever controls the oil fields will no doubt be happy to keep selling oil. The point here, is that a big exciting “shock and awe” campaign in Libya likely won’t make the situation worse. And what it will do is provide a desperately needed distraction from a couple of other ongoing issues: The “Arab Awakening” continues … and various western satraps are using increasingly brutal methods to put an end to any idea of democracy and self determination. And worse, the situation in Japan is so catastrophic that it endangers the entire world, and we can’t have people really understanding that. If people really understood what a disaster unfettered corporate/military capitalism really is, they might demand change, or worse, accountability.

Or in other words, if Tokyo has to be abandoned, the cost to the world’s economy is going to be in the trillions. The rich would prefer that the poor and middle class pick up the tab. Nothing like a shooting war to distract people while their pockets are being picked. Just saying. And I’m not talking through my hat, coming soon, I got some expert (as opposed to talking heads) opinion on Japan’s reactor crisis. As a bonus, I managed to get a first hand account of the revolution in Egypt. Doug’s Darkworld may be a small unassuming blog, but I have my sources.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. Credit and copyright: Prescott. It’s a picture taken by Prescott’s grandfather during World War Two, outside of Tobruk, Libya. I leave it to the gentle reader’s imagination why I thought it was an appropriate image to illustrate this post with.)



Written by unitedcats

March 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Libyan Rebel Jets Sink Qaddafi’s Warships, Saudi Arabia Invades Bahrain, and Japan Evacuated in Escalating Nuclear Crisis

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And another oh so exciting day in the news. I’m getting tired of this, it’s almost scary to turn on the TV now. Well it is scary. However, I’m still here and there’s nothing really worrisome going on in Berkeley, so I will carry on and try to make sense of the rapidly changing world. No matter what happens there’s always lessons to be learnt, and in a way, since we are in uncharted waters, my thoughts and commentary are going to be as valid as anyone’s. Even the experts founder when the rate of change gets up there, so just hang on for the ride.

First, I was heartened to see reports that Libyan rebel jets had sunk some of Qaddafi’s warships. Woohoo! I bet they didn’t see that coming. I’m pretty much against all wars, but the two exceptions would be when a people take up arms against an invader … or a tyrant. What can  say, the ten year old Doug comes out when I read about Libya, I want the Libyans to kick Qaddafi’s ass. I know, people are dying, but this time I’m taking sides.  Meanwhile the West is still dithering about whether or not to intervene in Libya. There’s all sorts of very practical reasons why it’s a terrible idea, even if some factions in Libya are calling for it. The main reason I suspect the West isn’t going to do anything is simple. Qaddafi sold out to the West a few years back and thus was one of our colonial satraps keeping Libya stable while we extracted their resources. And if the West turns on him, it’s going to give pause to our various other satraps in the region, we don’t want them getting any independent ideas.

Which leads us to Bahrain, where Saudi troops are being sent in to, well, crush the protests. Enormous numbers of Bahrainians have been peacefully protesting for weeks, despite some violent attempts to quell the protests. For some reason the people of Bahrain have decided that being ruled by a monarch is a little, well, behind the times. Using foreign troops to crush revolts is a time honoured tactic, they tend to be a lot less squeamish about shooting into crowds of peaceful protesters than local troops. How will it all end? Who knows. There’s also major problems in Yemen and Pakistan, and ongoing and escalating problems in Palestine, Afghanistan, Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Syria, Somalia, Lebanon, Oman, and others. And of course Egypt is still evolving. Yes, gonna be an interesting summer.

Now, in Japan, “Oh shit” just about covers it. The quake and tsunami did terrible damage to their infrastructure, and huge numbers of people are living in makeshift shelters with limited power, water, and food. Compounded by people fleeing the reactor fires. And that’s where the real nightmare is raging. The problem here is simple … humans have never faced this particular problem before. By that I mean that one can’t test a reactor’s safety systems under real world conditions. So not only are they very possibly unaware of exactly what’s going on in these damaged reactors, there may be stuff happening that is completely outside our knowledge. This is a point that even very smart people stumble upon, no matter how accurate science is, reality bats last. For example a few years ago there was a fire in a London subway where smoke from a fire did something no one knew smoke could do, and as a result dozens of people were instantly incinerated. Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime. My point is that stuff could happen in this damaged reactor that no one thought was possible, because it’s never happened before.

And while we are on the topic, one of my contacts, an engineer, has been studying what videos have been released. (Remember, what governments are saying about this nuclear crisis can’t be trusted.) He thinks the containment chambers have been at least partially breached. And he also points out that they must be operating valves by hand. Which means like at Chernobyl, some of the people trying to get this reactor under control are knowingly giving their lives to save their fellow citizens. That’s gotta be pretty intense.

Oh, great, Qaddafi is threatening to ally with Al Qaeda. I stand corrected, it’s going to be an interesting and weird summer.

(The above image is public domain under US copyright law. It’s the British battleship HMS Barham exploding and sinking after being torpedoed by a German submarine in 1941. The actual motion picture can be seen here. More than 800 men died in that explosion, God rest their souls. It was the best public domain image of an exploding warship I could find.)

Written by unitedcats

March 16, 2011 at 4:24 am

Posted in Propaganda, War, World

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Taking Stock: Japan, Giant Earthquake, Tsunami, Libya, etc.

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Just when I thinks the news can’t get any worse, it does. Actually, I always know things can get worse, I’m just a bit dismayed that my predictions of doom and gloom are bearing fruit from unexpected quarters. And by that I mean the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This is already one of the largest earthquakes in history, and the most destructive earthquake in Japan in nearly a  century. This was badly timed to say the least. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and here are a few points of interest, thoughts about the quake, global implications, etc.

First, Japan is an organized an efficiently run country, right, so at least the rescue and rebuilding and all that will go smoothly, and they were well prepared? Well, sort of. My readings have indicated that Japan has one of the world’s best government bureaucracies. And by that I mean like all well run government agencies, they are really good at covering up problems and shifting blame. And they don’t have a good track record for honestly either, especially when it comes to nuclear releases. My point here? Take anything the Japanese government says with a grain of salt. Like any other government when they need to, they will lie. (Not putting them down though, in fact Japan has practised sustainable forestry and agriculture for centuries, nearly 80% of Japan is forested, something no other industrialized country can claim. That’s fodder for an upcoming blog.)

And how the hell did a bunch of nuclear power plants fail? Aren’t they designed to withstand earthquakes? Well, yes. Just not this earthquake. Nuclear power plants are designed to (hopefully) withstand a major quake, like a 7.0 or something. This quake was around 9, one of the largest quakes in history. And the cost to make a nuclear power plant able to withstand a 9.0 magnitude quake would be ridiculous, if it could even be done. Basically by building nuclear plants in Japan they were betting they wouldn’t have a quake like this in the lifetime of the plants. They lost the bet.

So what’s the worst that could happen? Something as bad or nearly as bad as Chernobyl is possible. The fact that they are evacuating huge numbers of people alone says that. Chernobyl killed over a hundred, certainly gave thousands cancer, and likely in the final analysis will have caused hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer. Then there’s the plain economic damage from abandoned cities and towns and lost agricultural land. Yes nuclear fallout is the gift that just keeps on giving. For generations. And this wouldn’t just be confined to Japan. Measurable (and thus cancer causing)  fallout could easily reach the USA west coast, I mean, Japan sent balloon bombs to the West coast in World War Two, that’s just the way the wind blows. Sigh. Is this disaster an argument against nuclear power? Yes, yes it is.

Now globally, what are the implications of this earthquake? There’s two areas of concern here. The geophysical and the economic. The geophysical first, could this be a harbinger of things to come? There have been a  lot of quakes lately, what’s up with that? Statistically, nothing. There’s big quakes all the time, usually they hit remote areas because most of the world’s population is very concentrated. There’s been a bit of bad luck lately in that some big quakes have struck areas were a lot of people live, but these things happen. Still, humans have made some enormous changes in a very short time geologically speaking in terms of how weight is distributed on the Earth’s surface. Think massive erosion, countless trillions of tons of soil have been eroded off deforested mountains the world over and washed into the oceans. Add to that cubic miles of ice melted from ice caps and glaciers the world over in recent decades. So maybe we are in for more quakes as the earth “settles” so to speak. Global rattling, great.

That’s pretty speculative. The economic news, well, that sucks. Japan is one of the world’s largest economies, so this is going to hurt. Tens of billions of dollars in real damage. Real damage in that real things were destroyed, infrastructure, farms, homes, businesses. Printing money won’t replace these, actual wealth has been destroyed. Then there’s further pressure on already shaky global food supplies. In and of itself this might not be a big deal, but in combination with other economic disruption running through the world today, this quake and tsunami is a body blow the world’s economy didn’t need. And by other economic disruption, I mean events in Libya and the Middle East. Just look at Libya, for one thing their imports and exports  have dropped to zero. That’s going to hurt any business that had dealing with Libya. Then there’s refugees flooding into neighbouring countries, they have to be fed and housed. Then there’s the just plain loss of wealth because people in Libya aren’t working. And what’s playing out in Libya is also going on in a half a dozen other countries throughout the Middle East in one fashion or another. Not to mention ongoing war in a few countries, the west is pouring a lot of wealth into Bush’s foreign adventures still.

I wrote most of this last night. This morning I see there’s been another explosion at an afflicted reactor in Japan. And the rebels recaptured a city in Libya. I should mention that at this point, almost no matter what happens in Libya, it’s going to cause global problems for years or decades. If Qaddafi wins, great, Libya is a pariah state with  an ongoing insurgency. Yeah, the world needs another one of those. And if Qaddafi loses, rebuilding Libya into a modern state and undoing the damage wrought by the rebellion will take years at best.

Sigh. So since things might get worse before they get better, my next post will be a helpful guide to surviving the coming appocalypse, whatever shape it may take. Suggestions welcome.

(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been created over a century ago. It’s titled “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” and was created by Hokusai. It’s not a tsunami though people often assume that. The reasons I selected it for this post seem pretty self evident to me, so I’ll let people guess. My heart goes out to the people of Japan, I can’t imagine what they are experiencing.)



Written by unitedcats

March 14, 2011 at 5:33 am

“How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.”

with 3 comments

The Arab Awakening continues. German tanks roll across Poland. Life goes on in America as if nothing is happening, as if the events unfolding in the Middle East are no more inconvenience than a brief rise in gas prices and a few images of demonstrators on TV. I mean, most Americans couldn’t find Iraq and Afghanistan on a map, how many have even heard of Libya and Tunisia? It’s fascinating to watch, I imagine it’s like America in 1939 when the Germans rolled into Poland. I’m sure plenty were concerned, but I suspect most Americans paid little attention, Europeans had been waging war with each other for centuries, how could their war affect America? Little did they know that events were being set into play that would change America, and the world, forever. I know it’s far from a perfect analogy in all sorts of ways, but I think it expresses the general tone of what’s going on. More than five decades of America’s shortsighted, self-serving, foreign policy in the Middle East is falling into ruin … and we’re watching Charlie Sheen brag about having two girlfriends.

The focus is still on Libya, effectively in a state of civil war, with Qaddafi holding onto pats of his capitol, Tripoli, and making grandiose and bizarre claims about how his people still love him and the problems are all being caused by terrorists and Al Qaeda agents! In fact he’s claimed that his people were fed drugs by Al Qaeda, yes, that’s what’s going on! Well, on the plus side, at least we now know that his selling out to the west a  few years ago was sincere, he’s trotting out the obedient propaganda that when something happens the west doesn’t like in the Middle East, why, it must be those goddamn islamo-fascist terrorists! Hell, Qaddafi may even believe it, his hold on reality appears a bit tenuous at this point. If Qaddafi is a malignant narcissist, and that may very well be the case, he simply can’t grasp that his people don’t love him.

And how is the west responding to Libya? Why, they have a number of brilliant ideas. Sanctions. No-fly zones. International condemnation and isolation. Yes, all those things that worked so well to force Saddam to resign. Can we spell “lack of imagination?” Yes, the west has no ideas. All they’ve done in the Middle east for decades is prop up dictators while talking democracy. And now that Arabs have decided they want to give democracy a try and to hell with the western imposed dictators, the west has no plan B. Or to be more accurate, there is a plan B, but it’s insane. Yes, the USA is apparently seriously considering “humanitarian intervention” in Libya. That they are even considering the ultimate failed strategy in Libya shows the shallowness of American foreign policy, our government simply can’t grasp that events are spinning out of our control and that we are becoming irrelevant to what is going on in the Middle East.

How about we MYOB? Apparently letting the people of the Middle East determine their own destiny isn’t an option. As a final example of the utter failure of the USA government to even grasp the basics of what is going on in the world today is that the USA insisted that the African mercenaries who Qaddafi as hired be made immune from prosecution. That’s right, Obama insisted that Qaddafi’s hired thugs be immune from prosecution. Why did he do this? To protect American mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan from prosecution. Yes, we are doing something stupider to fix something stupid we did. How well does that work in real life? It doesn’t, at least not for very long. We shouldn’t be hiring American mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to shield them from the law is simply going to make America even less popular in the Middle East. And in a world where we will have to actually have relations with the people of the Middle East instead of the quisling governments we install, this is head-in-the-sand strategy at best.

Speaking of head-in-the-sand, I’ve come across a few Faux News viewers who appear to actually believe that the revolutions sweeping the Middle East are some sort of Al-Qaeda/Islamist plot. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. News flash, the “War on Terror” is propaganda, Al-Qaeda and their ilk are tiny number of fanatics that pose essentially zero threat to the USA. The USA has been wildly exaggerating the “threats” facing it since at least 1945 … to justify our militaristic imperialistic foreign policy. “Get Smart” was an escapist fantasy, “KAOS” an absurd literary device, not a reality. No, the revolutions sweeping the Middle East are because of decades of poverty, lies, and repression. They aren’t fuelled by AlQaeda, if anything they are fuelled by Al Jazeera. Yes, the Middle East now has a free press, like the USA did in the sixties. Something to think about.

Lastly, as a synchronistic event, the USA’s last veteran from World War One has just died. Yeah, just a coincidence, but symbolic of the end of an era. And in a few decades from now the last World War Two veteran will be dead. I don’t know what’s going to emerge from the events unfolding in the Middle East, but whatever transpires, I suspect it’s going to put post World War Two America and our “New American Century” fantasy empire in the dustbin of history with the Soviet Union and the Ottoman Empire. The era of colonial empires is over, we are a relict state of a bygone era, like Cuba or North Korea. No amount of spin will fix that, reality trumps Hollywood movies every day.

(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s American soldiers going ashore in Operation Torch in North Africa in World War Two. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen again soon. Coming next, a nice diversion from current events, a post about religion and prayer. Oh, the post title. It’s a quote from Karl Kraus, it seemed appropriate.)







Written by unitedcats

March 2, 2011 at 6:41 am