The Ultimate Pyrrhic Victory

Let’s see.  Russia can destroy the continental United States in about 20 minutes.  Probably kill about a 1/3 of the population with the initial strike, but of the ones who survived, 90% will die from starvation or radiation.  But the Russia-haters in Congress think it is a good idea to keep poking Russia in the eye with a stick.  I don’t.

I do think our military technology might be slightly better than Russia’s since we spend so much money on it, so that in 20 minutes we kill 1/2 their population, and then 95% of the rest dies from starvation or radiation.  So I suppose you could say we would “win,” right?

Pyrrhic Victory

My Story

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

 

Advertisements

Who Gets To Be Secretary of State

John Kerry was an clueless Secretary of State — witness his various Geneva “negotiations” over the Syrian civil war that, oh by the way, didn’t include any of the key players — duh.  He calls for negotiation in Geneva and no one comes.  That’s called talking to yourself and thinking it “diplomacy”.

Then there was the Chamberlain-like, “peace in our time” Iranian deal that he engineered, which was the big giveaway in order to get any kind of agreement, so that he could claim “success”.  No one told Kerry that you have to be willing to walk away from the table in order to get a good deal — you can’t be too eager or give that impression.

Now he is being a disastrous ex-Secretary of State and actually interfering in our foreign policy with respect to Iran — his first experience dealing with Iran wasn’t bad enough, it seems.  These former office-holders should learn how to fade away gracefully, but apparently that is asking to much.

But I guess my lingering question has to do with how we fill this position of Secretary of State?  It seems to be reserved as a political plum, that is to say, it’s given as a prize to some former senator or other, as if election to political office is the appropriate background and sufficient training for diplomacy.  But why would some political hack necessarily have the best qualifications for leadership in international affairs?

Remember Henry Kissinger, with that marvelous gravelly voice?  Whatever you might say about Kissinger, he wasn’t some off-the-wall political hack, but someone who actual knew something about negotiating, foreign affairs, and diplomacy, with enough gravitas that even our adversaries listened his every word with rapt attention.  Seems to me we should get back to that model for making this very critical appointment — appointing someone as Secretary of State who has actual claims as a diplomat.  Doesn’t that make more sense?  Or are we going to continue giving away the position to ex-Senators as a booby prize — ex-Senators with zero qualifications for the job?

Pompeo on Kerry Undermining Our Foreign Policy

Neville Chamberlain’s Peace in Our Time Speech

Henry Kissinger

My Story

 

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

Anti-Russia Hysteria

So now we see what the net result is of all the anti-Russia hysteria in Congress and the country — war games carried out jointly by Russia and China.  We have just driven the Russians into the arms of the Chinese.  Very smart foreign policy on our part — duh.  Tell me again, how was this in our interest?

My Story

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

Iraq — Our Three Stooges War

During the 1980’s, Iraq and Iran were at war with each other.   Sunni-led Iraq was fighting against Shiite Iran, so that the war had a sectarian character.  The war was fought to a stalemate, and so, ironically, established a clear balance of power between the Sunni countries and the Shiite countries, as neither Iraq nor Iran could make any territorial gains, so that purely sectarian aggression in the Middle East was held in check pretty much throughout the 90’s.

The Iraq War that began in 2003 undermined that precious balance of power.  We went to war to prevent Saddam Hussein from using “weapons of mass destruction,” even though he had none, and to remove him  as an ally of Al-Qaeda, even though he wasn’t one.  But what we did remove was a regime ruled by the Sunnis in Iraq, and replaced it with one ruled by Iraqi Shiites.  The net result was that Iraq invariably fell under the sphere of influence of Iran, as both countries were now  allies as ruled by the same Islamic sect — in essence, Iran ultimately won the 1980’s war without having to fire a shot due to our foolhardy invasion of Iraq.

And without the balance of power represented by the Sunni-led Iraq under Saddam, Iran has extended its hegemony in the region as an ally of Assad in Syria and in support of the powerful Hezbollah party in Lebanon, so that its sphere of influence now extends from its own eastern border all the way to the Mediterranean.  That has been one unfortunate result of our Iraq War.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

The other unfortunate result has been to launch sectarian civil war throughout the region.  Saddam had kept a lid on the violent sectarianism that stewed in Iraq under a seemingly tranquil surface.  That was in fact his mandate for governing — his raison d’etat — to maintain a strictly Sunni government that would hold in check the Shia and Kurdish segments of the country.  By removing Saddam, we removed that check on the violent sectarianism that seethed just below the surface between the Iraqi Sunnis and the Iraqi Shiites.

But the Sunnis that we displaced in Iraq were not going to be subjugated by Shiites without a fight, and so our displacement of the Sunni-led government of Saddam as well as the disenfranchisement of his Sunni-oriented military led inevitably to the spawning of Sunni extremist groups and civil war first in Iraq, but ultimately with ISIS in both Iraq and Syria — yet another unanticipated consequence of our ill-considered invasion of Iraq.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

So our Iraq War produced results directly opposite of our interests — creating a much stronger Iran regionally and unleashing an ongoing sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiite throughout the entire Middle East that had once been held in check by the stalemate from the Iraq/Iran conflict in the 1980’s.   The conclusion is undeniable: We blunder into stupid wars and have no idea of the consequences, not unlike the buffoonish and clumsy behavior of the Three Stooges.

Iraq War

ISIS

The Three Stooges

My Story

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

 

Islamic Sectarianism

The Middle East and north African countries were held in check by ruthless autocrats for decades until the introduction of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with the loud speaker that is social media, sent the message to the Muslim world that autocracy was not the only option, and so the “Arab Spring” emerged first across north Africa and conspicuously Libya and Egypt, but then in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.

This turn of events – the overthrow of tyrants – was a double-edged sword, for the tyrants had accomplished one positive result during their reign.  They had managed to keep a lid on Islamic sectarianism, a malady potentially pandemic in many Muslim countries with sizable sectarian minorities, whether Shia or Sunni.

What has evolved now is a full-bore sectarian civil war between the two prominent Islamic sects.  It is not confined to a single country or even a single region, and so intense it calls into question the practicality of maintaining many of these nations as is – Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc.   These nations are composed of the two Islamic sects that will never again live peacefully together, so that to keep these nations intact ensures permanent disorder, that is, no end in sight to the sectarian violence.

The reaction of the West has often been to misinterpret this evolution as an assault on Western values and religions when, in fact, even though this assault may indeed be taking place, it is really more in the vein of collateral damage.  The main objective of this sectarian conflict is for the Sunni to put an end to the Shia and for the Shia to put an end to the Sunni, an internecine war among Muslims.  On a larger geopolitical basis, this sectarian conflict is represented by Iran and its bloc of nations representing the Shia side and by Saudi Arabia and its bloc of nations representing the Sunni side.

We in the United States have a bitter history and knowledge of the ruthlessness of civil war so that we should not underestimate how ruthless this one may become.   So what is to be done?   So far, the emphasis seems to be to target and bomb the Sunni side – bombing in Syria and Iraq to eliminate ISIS, the most extreme element on the Sunni side, although Yemen now sees bombing of the Shia side as well.  In effect, the idea is to bomb the oppressed minority into submission or oblivion.   But will this be effective in the long run?  I think not.

A more effective, long-term approach to end this sectarian civil war would be to evaluate the countries that are mired in it, and to subdivide them along sectarian lines.  We can only emerge from the sectarian civil war with Islamic nations that make sense by containing no oppressed minorities.  A Shia central government with an oppressed Sunni minority or the reverse — that very scenario is the cause of the civil war, and so its elimination is the real, political solution, not endless bombing.

Syria should be divided into a Shia western nation and a Sunni eastern nation that includes the Sunni section of Iraq, preferably under the control of the Sunni tribesmen, not ISIS.  The Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran should have their own nation so that they are not subject to a central government intolerant of their religion and way of life. What remains of Iraq should be exclusively Shia.  Yemen should be similarly divided along sectarian lines as well as any other country that has this sectarian cancer.

To those who would protest and say we should retain the territorial integrity of these nations, I counter that their sectarian composition – trying to mix the two Islamic sects under one roof — is the cause of the problem.  How can it possibly be the solution?  Neither will the sectarian civil war that has resulted be resolved by introducing the decidedly Western concept of fair treatment of minorities, as we have clearly seen under a Shia Baghdad now oppressing Sunnis and a Sunni (Saddam Hussein-led) Baghdad that had been oppressing Shias – in essence, doing the same thing but expecting a different result, the definition of insanity.

Only a sharp and clear separation of the two sects into their own distinct nation states, so that there are no oppressed religious sects within any countries, will put an end to this Islamic civil war, while wishful thinking about the fair treatment of minorities will merely perpetuate it, as we have already witnessed twice in Iraq.  Some may say that to subdivide these nations along sectarian lines is not practical, that such a solution is the wishful thinking.  I would counter that, in fact, it is the only solution.  And it has worked before in the creation of Muslim Pakistan in separating it from Hindu India along religious line — and it can work again, elsewhere.

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

“You Are So Alone”

I must admit to have been a Trekkie — for the series with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.  But I’m not ashamed to admit that I never missed an episode, and still enjoy the reruns, although now I think some of the razzle dazzle technology a bit outdated, with the except of the tricorder (first smartphone?) and beaming people up and down and all around — no better way to travel.

Despite being popular culture, there were some episodes that had a real contemporary edge to them and a strong message.  I remember one where there were two races on this planet who hated each other with a visceral hatred that they could barely contain.  They were in mortal civil war at each other’s throats when the Enterprise showed up to mediate the conflict.  What was truly brilliant about this episode about racism was that the two races were in fact almost identical except for one seemingly trivial difference.  One race was all white on the left side of their bodies and all black on the right side.  The other race was the reverse — all black on the left side and all white on the right.  That ridiculous difference was the basis of their intense hatred.  The episode, simply but  eloquently, showed just how ludicrous it was to hate someone else for their skin color, and, with this little bit of imagination, the message hit home.

The show definitely had a strong moral center, as witnessed by the “Prime Directive”.  This was the guideline set down by the United Federation of Planets (i.e., headquarters) for any of its Starfleet vessels in their interactions with other cultures in the universe.  The Prime Directive (also known as Starfleet General Order 1) prohibited Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations.   How enlightened that was when you compare it to United States foreign policy since World War 2 where we have done nothing but interfere in the internal development of other nations — e.g., Vietnam, Iraq, etc.

But there was one episode where Mr. Spock has a long soliloquy about what it means to be a human being that bordered on Shakespearean, in my mind.  I don’t remember the plot of the episode at all or any of its other details other than Spock conducted a mind meld with a human and for the first time experienced what it was like to be totally human instead of Vulcan and human.  Frankly, I am still bowled over by his words.  I am bowled over by them because they ring so true yet also profound: “How compact your bodies are.  And what a variety of senses you have.  This thing you call… language though — most remarkable.  You depend on it, for so very much.  But is any one of you really its master?  But most of all, the aloneness.  You are so alone You live out your lives in this…shell of flesh.  Self-contained.  Separate.  How lonely you are.  How terribly lonely.”

The Bard of Avon would be envious.

Star Trek Quotations

Prime Directive

Two Ships Passing in the Night

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

On the Brink

I’m fascinated by the Edwardian Age, that period from the 1890’s to World War 1 when civilization had seemingly reached a pinnacle.  The world had been at peace for decades, and it seemed like war itself was a thing of the past, outmoded, irrelevant.  A new age of civility and manners had dawned on mankind, and industrialization had created immense wealth and widespread prosperity.  In America, this was the Newport era where the wealthy (“Robber Barons”)  built their “cottages” by the sea.   The wealthy on both sides of the “pond” enjoyed themselves with extravagant leisure activities like the new game tennis or endless summer lawn parties for the “in” crowd.

The arts were thriving, and culture had seemingly fused the best of old traditions with amazing modern innovations like the automobile and the bicycle.  In one area the Edwardians did achieve a zenith in culture that had never been reached until then or since, and probably will never be reached again: high fashion.  Men wore the perfect tuxedo and top hat, while curvaceous women — shaped by the devilish corset — enjoyed outrageously stylish big hats and stunningly elegant dresses.  Their high fashion really  puts our Kentucky Derby fashion statement to shame — there simply is no comparison.

Many wealthy young American women married into the British and European aristocracies —  a clear trend.  They brought their financial assets with them, and therefore restored the fortunes of a great number of old European houses, so that European aristocracy witnessed an unexpected renewal and flourished once again.   It was a golden age that looked out upon the future not just with mere hope but with bright confidence — nothing could ever possibly go wrong again, and everything would certainly always go right, to bigger and better things, to a higher and higher state of civilization.

Then Sarajevo happened.  Entangling diplomatic alliances took a very local incident and inflamed it into a general European crisis.  And so war burst upon the Europeans suddenly, like a steamroller exploding out of the night.  And what war!   Trench warfare, “no man’s land,” machine guns, heavy ordinance with gigantic cannons, a new and formidable weapon called “tanks,” airplanes with machine guns and bombs, gas attacks, and a horrendous new affliction dubbed with the apt name “shell shock” — all the horror that modern military technology could bring to bear upon the art of killing large numbers of human beings.  In this diabolical type of war, humans were not really individual soldiers anymore, but so many ants to be crushed en masse under foot by the war machine.

And no one in the Edwardian Age — busy whiling away their leisure time playing tennis at a lawn party in Newport — saw it coming.  Busy with social media and our smart phones, are we not the same today as the Edwardians — without a clue we are on the brink?  Our threat — lest you forget — is nuclear.  Whole cities can be destroyed in a blink.  But that can’t happen, right?

(Still one of the classics, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in Nazi Germany because it was thought it would demoralize the military.  In my opinion, the book is a must read for anyone who considers themselves educated, but, if you prefer, there was also a fine early film made based on the book.)

Edwardian Era

Edwardian Fashion

The Edwardians — a novel

Sarajevo

Shell Shock

All Quiet on the Western Front

A Speech Like No Other

LBJ

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00