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Intelligence… Sort Of…

The world of intelligence is usually depicted as a dark, sometimes flashy, dangerous world filled with the likes of James Bond and Jack Ryan.  The U.S. Intel community is divided into three major categories.  The first is the civilian government’s agencies such as CIA and NSA.  These are the ones most often thought of when the term spy is encountered though the vast number of employees are not spies in the normal sense of the word.  In any case, CIA mostly handles “humint,” or human intelligence, i.e. information gathered or provided by human action.  NSA deals with “sigint” or signal intelligence gathered from electronic signal sources.

The second category is the military branch’s internal versions of the same two types.  For example in the army, the whole is under AIS or “Army Intelligence and Security.”  MI, or Military Intelligence, is a rough equivalent to CIA and ASA, or Army Security Agency, is a rough equivalent to NSA.  The navy has one of the best intel groups around.  These are supposed to constrain their activities to intelligence related activities and materials directly impacting their primary military roles but since much military data crosses services they are pretty good at working together.

But government intelligence agencies, both civilian and military suffer the same limitations: their data and often their conclusions are too often filtered through political agendas and action taken on them is too often based on political expediency or other political perspectives and not the real issues.

A third category exists however that is not affiliated with the government or military.  By law they are relegated to gathering what is called “open source” intelligence, meaning from public sources.  But what do you think is the source for most of the other intel if not from observations, contacts, and data that is actually public but often not understood for the value it may have?  These non-governmental intelligence sources usually provide their information for a fee to business and industry.  Because of that, because to make good business decisions you must know the truth of situations, not the political spin, in order to successfully do business and make money.  They do not have political filters attached to them.

Most of them are manned not just by former operatives from the government or military sectors, but also special area experts who can take the raw data and see in it the threads of domestic and geopolitical activities vis-à-vis what is likely to happen and upon which their business clients can rely to inform their decisions.  Frequently therefore, in terms of scoring accuracy, the open source agencies draw unbiased conclusions not only better but which are not subsequently filtered by political desires.

One of the best is a company called STRATFOR.  Its analysis and newsletters are often far better predictors of future events at home and around the world than what you here from the political hacks on the various TV shows.  It’s not that government agencies do not obtain the facts too, it is that those facts are too often spun based on a political decision not a proper strategic or tactical one.

Newer in the field is LIGNET, composed of former intel operatives and area experts like STRATFOR.  Both of these companies have a world wide network of informants and contacts and local area experts and insiders.  Taken together their reviews and conclusions, most especially when they coincide, can generally be taken to the bank.  And they generally directly contradict the baloney coming out of the administration and the congress which is rarely honest or factual.

I’m mentioning these groups because they both published reviews of actiovities and sentiments that would have let anyone foresee the likelihood of the events in the middle east revolving around the 9-11 anniversary.  While our government was asleep at the switch, insisting nothing was afoot (I would guess in defiance of intel reports they were receiving in their briefings) bad folks were watching and plotting.

Both warned of impending attacks; both were seemingly ignored by our leaders.  When I read the first reports of the attacks of our embassies in Libya and Egypt, despite the forewarning from STRATFOR and LIGNET both, I assumed the official story of it being a result of the stupid movie was probably true.  After all, those savage mental midgets over there have gone on killing rampages before for what they perceive as insults to their beliefs.  But now we are beginning to see that things were different; that the private intel groups were far closer to the truth than we were ever told by the government.

We are being told now that this was a coordinated attack by either Al Qaeda groups or other radical jihadists groups as their way of commemorating the 9-11 attacks here at home.  And we are being further told that this was a failure of intelligence.   Although I have no doubt that some operative or director will be told by the administration to fall on their sword over it, I’ll bet the truth is they had told them all along and it did not fit the political agenda. it was not a failure of intelligence gathering but a failure to accept that reality the data indicated.

Today LIGNET had this to say:

“It was reported at first that these attacks were a response to a YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammed, but it is now becoming clear that the attacks, in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed, were planned and perpetrated by al-Qaeda. They are a clear sign that the governments that have come to power since the Arab Spring are weak, and unable to control their radicalized Muslim populations that are determined to wage war on the United States.”

That last sentence repeats and reinforces the conclusions both STRATFOR and LIGNET have had for some time about the weaknesses of those new governments and their inability to reign in radical elements… even if they might want to.

I know that most people, and unfortunately most voters, are far too interested in the next American Idol and far too little interested in the truth of what is happening in the world.  I know that most of them are willing to take the pronouncements of their own party flacks as gospel.  But, if you are one of the true 1%, meaning those that really are what is happening and want to know the truth without spin or political bias, then I would encourage you to look into subscribing to those services.  Though both have free trial periods, for the full subscriptions they are not cheap… but neither is the price of freedom.  Freedom can only be based on the truth and that critical commodity is too often withheld from us by our own leaders.

Now, relative to the last post when I too fell for the initial official line that it was the stupid movie trailers on YouTube that was the catalyst for the violence instead of it simply being the cover and excuse for thugs and violent idiots to do their thing,  It looks now like it really was a coordinated attack by radical groups, so I need to amend my comments to include this newer information.  But the conclusions about our leader’s reactions and the message they send to this intractable enemy remain intact and I stand behind them.

Mohammed was a warrior from a warrior society.  His religion now is controlled by people who wish the followers to remain in his original 700s mindset and outlook.  They are told that the only thing that can hold back the Islamic world order is the devil or his minions who are to be killed at every opportunity. THat is why the iranian Ayatollah called us the “Great Satan;” to make us a legitimate target for them.  Specifically mentioned in the Koran are Jews and Christians as those to be converted or killed. Warriors are not impressed with ANY signs of weakness or deference.

It amazes me that when an enemy army, whether a uniformed state army or an ad hoc collection of radical theological mutants, has a published set of guidelines and rules that the other side, their avowed enemies… you … would not be willing to take the time to read it.  But then you probably bought for your bookshelf but did not read Obama’s books which also laid out his dreams and desires for the country flowing from the mentioned mentors of his. You may have fallen for the fearless leader’s ploy of making sure we do not see anything as a “war on terror.”  But if you cannot see that the terrorists have declared war on you and your country and are perfectly willing and able to do something about it, then you deserve, frankly to, as they are directed to do, have your neck smitten and your head separated from your body.  Have you already forgotten Daniel Pearl?

Those books are the ultimate in easy intelligence gathering.  They are akin to finding a normal enemy’s strategic planning papers.  To not take advantage of them, something everyone of you can do, is not a sign of intelligence.  In fact that lack of initiative is a case of intelligence failure of galactic importance.  If you do not avail yourselves of it but still insist on voting and trying to influence the direction of this country, no matter your party partisanship, then you are a fool.  And a country with fools for an electorate is lost.

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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Where the HELL is the President???

After that last multi-part post I thought i could relax a little and not worry about any subsequent postings for at least a week.  But reality has a way of influencing our most ardent desires.  And as stupid as the postings on Facebook have been relative to the presidential race, the silence on recent events is far more stunning and far more indicative of a population totally self absorbed and out of touch with things in the broader world that can turn round and bite them.

Are you all paying attention or does Prince Harry’s latest streak or Bradjalina’s latest spat demand your full attention?  Do you have even the remotest clue that possibly, just possibly, very recent events concerning the middle east, while they may not have actually lit the fuse, certainly opened the box of matches?

In two countries in the middle east, Egypt and Libya, Islamists principally following the Muslim Brotherhood, yes, that same group our administration declared were good guys, stormed and took over the American Embassies. These were factions that we had recently helped to overthrow the former governments and from whom, in any intelligent part of the world, we might have expected some loyalty.  But none was evident as the walls were scaled, fires were set, flags were torn down, and violence and murder were perpetrated on our representatives to those countries.

This is not like having some tourists attacked, heinous as that would be.  Are you aware that an embassy is considered by all governments to be the sovereign soil of its country?  The other countries with embassies here demand that status of us and in past administrations we have demanded it of them.  Two of our embassies were just attacked and overrun.  By the language of international law, when any, much less two areas of American territory were attacked an overrun, that is an overt act of war.  Once inside the compounds they tore down the American flag, burned it, and replaced it with their own.  That is an act of war.

But it gets worse.  In one of the attacks, an American ambassador was killed – no. let’s call it what it was, he was murdered.  THAT is an act of war if one ever existed.  In scale only does this depart from the precedent of Pearl Harbor.

And what set off this attack?  A cheap, independent, stupid movie was what.   A F*****G MOVIE was all it took to rouse adherents to the “religion of peace” to attack U.S. territory and murder its Ambassador.  In my opinion the moment word was received of the actions, the congress should have been convened, the acts of war recognized for what they were, the governments of the countries put on notice that we would be considering responses but that in the meantime not another dime of foreign aid would flow into their corrupt coffers… and they could stand by for the REAL response…

But what did we actually do?  The following day – not that very evening – the following day our fearsome guardian of the American way essentially apologized for the affront of the movie.  He did mention the attacks and murder really shouldn’t have happened and were perhaps a bit over the top, but the major thrust was that we were sorry and that our values did not include insulting someone else’s religion.  Apparently however, they do condone murder of our own people based on the provocation of an insult to someone else’s beliefs.  THat is news to me and not news i find positive since it tosses out the 1st amendment.  Remember this murder did not happen on foreign streets, it happened on U.S. territory.

And wait a minute, was the government the one who created the film?  Were its comments about violent Muslims coming from any official voice of the country?  Did embassy personnel or the ambassador himself offer free screenings of the film on the embassy lawns and speak on its behalf?  Did the movie even act as if it were speaking for the country as a whole?  No, they did not.

But both attacks took place after some time passed as the crazed, ignorant savages worked themselves into a frenzied froth before launching the actual assaults.  There was enough time for message to be sent here asking for guidance. The governments of those countries then had more than enough time to become aware of the growing mob, assemble their troops to, as all countries agree to do, defend the embassies of countries they host, but they did not. We apparently didn’t even ask them to.  That overt, purposeful lack of action on their part is tantamount to a tacit official OK of the actions and, it turns out, neither has offered any sort of apology or offer of restitution for the actions of their countrymen.

Do you truly believe we are respected in those areas more so for being patently weak-kneed in a response to attack?  Do you truly imagine a warrior culture such as theirs would look up to such cringing cowardice and seemingly paralyzed leadership?

But it gets still worse.  A flashpoint that nearly everyone agrees has the potential for escalating into a conflict that will inure to the benefit of NO ONE is the issue of Iran and its nuclear ambitions.  So far, the rhetoric has served both sides if, and only if, the leadership of Iran truly are completely rational persons fully in command of the realities of the world and history despite idiotic assertions and saber rattling rhetoric.

If that rationality it true then we (the U.S., Iran, and Israel) are playing a dangerous but understandable game where the rhetoric serves to keep the people stirred up but the reality is far less inflammable.    If that is true, Iran may indeed NOT have any nuclear weapons ambitions but is using the possibility for international credibility, Israel may actually not feel threatened with their very existence but wishes to test its so-called “friends” relative to their actual support, and we can cleverly, if cruelly, play them off against each other by holding to the public rhetoric that we want to give Iran more time to ‘come clean’ and stop their weapons plans but in the meantime we will hold Israel back from precipitous action.

It is a potential win-win-win in a macabre and ugly game of international politics.  But it will work only if Iran and its leaders are (a) rational and actually do not really have the desire to build a nuclear arsenal and (b) there is not a hidden agenda that would make the Iranian government have fish other than Israel to fry, oh, such as re-establishing the Persian empire and Hegemony of old and, at the same time, settling once and for all the under the table war between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

If either (a) is not true or (b) IS true then we, the U.S. have been suckered (or strode knowingly) into a huge problem likely to spill over into regional and then possibly global war.

And then… into that uncertain environment steps Iran’s leader who, purposefully as an insult, comes to speak to the U.N. Security Council on Yom Kippur, one of the holiest of Jewish Holidays.  The next day, Israel’s leader then comes to New York to speak.  Israel is internally seriously divided in purpose between those that want to do a pre-emptive strike before Iran can develop a weapon and those who believe that since they have not even tested a device yet, there is no hard evidence they are developing one and a strike is a very bad idea.  The U.S. certainly acts as if it is in the second camp while, officially, being a firm back-up to Israel if that is wrong, something the Iranians cannot ignore.  We back worthless sanctions for the PR value but do virtually nothing else even though the sanctions have only the effect of irritating the Iranian public who attempt to clean up their government went unsupported while we whole-heartedly backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s take over of an Egyptian leader who was at least sometimes an American ally.

And what happens?  The Israeli leader asks to meet with the American leader.  Of all the people in the world you would think we would want to chat with and both press our point while getting a feel for his real intentions it would be him, especially since he is given to rhetoric as volatile as that of the Iranians.  But the response from us is that our leader is too busy.  His schedule is full.  He cannot meet.  And what IS on his schedule that day?  Appearing on the Letterman show.

I know Letterman is a huge fan and supporter, but what private citizen, even George Soros or Michael Moore, could be more important than meeting with a person who may hold the key to war in the region?  For that matter what government official would not happily re-schedule a meeting if in doing so they could help promote the agenda of at least delaying such a war?  Well, now we know the answer to that question and it is not some lower level functionary, it is our dear leader himself.

There is a complex geopolitical high wire act going on with global stakes and our President does not seem to get it.  If our stance and rebuff make the Israelis feel they truly are on their own and all decisions have to be based solely on their own beliefs about a potentially existential threat, and the Iranians are made to think that despite blanket and outdated comments of support, we will not get involved in their squabble, just how much more secure do you think we have made the situation?

The only thing that even remotely makes sense, other than potted plant levels of stupidity, is that the Administration wants Israel to either act first or so frighten the Iranians that they perform a pre-emptive strike to forestall the feared Israeli pre-emptive strike and hopes that this time, finally, Israel looses.

No?  Give me another logically sound way to look at it?  You cannot separate these two actions happening so close together.  You cannot think that the rebuff to Israel which happened first fell on deaf Islamic ears and did not play some part in the thinking that led to the belief in an assault on American soil that could be done without consequences.

And regardless of your conclusions about the Israeli leader’s rebuff, do you think it is good for us to have the Muslim militants assume, based on experience, they can mess with us and get no more than a few words about how we wish they had not done it but we understand why they might be mad at us?   Is that a position for the U.S. to occupy in the world that you honestly think will lead to others respecting us and to a greater likelihood of world peace?

If you do, then I think that while the jury is still out about the administration being rock stupid, there is no longer any question about you.

(ADDENDUM… to be fair…)
Finally, today, our President, after a round of criticisms from a number of fronts, went BACK before the cameras and actually condemned the actions and said we would punish the people responsible.  i applaud that position but it should have been the FIRST reaction, not one as part of damage control.  We shall see if something actually happens…  However AFTER that the countries involved now are apologizing and offering to help.  Perhaps they think that now Obama is forced into real action so they had better shape up.  That would indicate they do not know the lengths he will go to to avoid that but it is informative to indicate that when we DO at least act or talk like we are still America and mean business it gets a response.

If only it were true…

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Evolving Egyptian “Revolution:” Naivete Gone to Seed

San Diego – We were all told that the “revolution” in Egypt was what Democracy should look like and that it would lead to a proper democracy where the rights of the people, human rights, political rights, freedom, were in the forefront of this twitter and facebook led event.  And I was bashed and flamed a bit because I said that view was factually inaccurate, politically naive, historically ignorant, and an expression of terminal wishful thinking.  There is no point to rehashing my arguments, you can look at them in the older posts on Egypt and then Libya.  But let’s look at what this wonderful Facebook democracy is beginning to look like, shall we, and to make it more real to you we’ll use only information gathered from that bastion of accurate and fair reporting (if you never do your own fact checking, that is) the New York Times.

  • The now ruling army counsel is planning on how to prohibit and stop all future protests and sit-ins.
  • There is now evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood (who was claimed as small, secular, and completely national in outlook) has brokered a deal with the army to expedite elections.  Why?  Because the MB is the only group sufficiently organized to win an election and know how to run a state to their satisfaction.  And they are already helping the military to crack down on suspected anti-muslim behavior.  This from a group we were told hated the military and vice-versa.
  • Women who were protesting were arrested and the non-married women were stripped and checked to prove their virginity (and therefore given a ticket to live a bit longer) by the demoocratic and humane MB.
  • MB has renewed its calls for an Islamic State.
  • MB has openly stated the first order of business will be in canceling the peace treaty with Israel.

Wow, that is going pretty well, don’t you think?  Why was this not seen coming by all of you who said I was way off base?  There are very few alternative explanations.  (1) The NYT could be lying but since this contradicts their own earlier stance I doubt it.  (2) THe first analysis was based on virtually ZERO data since facts are not needed when ideology can supply an answer.  I vote for #2.

It seems that some on the deep left are desperate to finally see ONE social/governmental experiment following in the warm and fuzzy tradition of Godwin, Rousseau, Marx, that will actually lead to the utopia they claim will happen if only given a chance.  That it has not happened in the history of the world bothers them not a bit.  Unfortunately it forces them to embrace events based on seeing the world through ideological blinders rather than based on history, facts, and human nature.  That would simply be funny to watch were it not a time in the world when stability is fragile, and our own country is at a major low point economically and in terms of geopolitical respect.   And since it is a view shared by the administration, it leaves us open to pursuing courses of action based in virtually no part on the realities of the situation.

These are truly frightening times!  If we don’t start seeing the world as it is not as we want it to be, and getting ourselves a leader who is, well, a leader, then we are really in deep trouble.

 

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Revolution Revisited: Libya, Bahrain, and More to Come.

I can’t tell you how much flak I took because I suggested that the recent events in Egypt not only did not amount to a revolution per se, but that they were not a democratic upswelling of the populace nor the progeny of social networking.  In fact, I asserted they were what amounted to a bloodless coup by the military using the protestors as cover.  For the gall of suggesting that “the people” had not risen up and overthrown a dictator I was seen as reactionary at best and an more likely an idiot… and then it got ugly.

Amazingly I got it from all sides.  The left-leaning were incensed because I cast water on the fires burning for their messiah-in-Chief and suggesting his apparent foreign policy was amateurish and dangerous, that is if it existed at all.  The right-leaning were incensed that I cast water on the fires burning for their martyred hero, “W” by suggesting that his dream of spreading democracy by example was naïve.   And the youth were incensed that I cast water on the fires of their fervent belief that youth and exhuberance coupled with the sacred Facebook could accomplish anything by virtue of its own sincerity and enthusiasm and that anything so accomplished would, by definition, be a good thing.

Let me introduce you to Bahrain and Libya.   Perhaps the people in those places too were emboldened by those misconceptions and thanks to the cheerleading of the media believed that a groundswell of democractic ideals was in the process of sweeping the middle eastern dictators and theorcratic tyrants from their thrones.  They certainly had reason to wish a change in their own oppressive autocratic regime as would so many in that region.  It does not take that much education to see that the monarchies are too self serving to worry overly much about the populace as long as their own coffers are kept full to overflowing.  So long as they can hop on their own jetliners and escape observance they can flaunt their devotion to Mohammed in public and then engage on whatever manner of debauchery and excess they desire in practice and away from scrutiny.

Unfortunately both monarchs and theocrats bought into the same mistakes Marx did in not really recognizing the cultural-social positive impact of the middle class and established socialist/communist style economies so that the leaders are getting rich while the people are getting poorer and more subservient and dependent.  Many of those countries are ripe for a revolt; if the revolt went well – a complete uncertainty and not the statistical norm – then such an event, after the smoke cleared and the blood was washed away, would be good for them.  Sadly the history of revolutions is not one filled with good endings for the world or for the people.  The lure of power and ill gotten gain is too powerful and most end in what has been referred to as a “kleptocracy” or a rule by thieves of the people.  Machiavelli is still the most accurate predictor of their behavior because his directions to his own Prince, Lorenzo de Medici, actually worked and worked well.  To understand the holding of power read him.

To bolster their regime’s security and longevity no matter how disgruntled the populace, those countries have followed the obvious and successful tactics of every dictatorship in history: they disarmed the people.   Things were different for, say, the French revolution.  Pitchfork-armed citizens were, in sufficient numbers, a better match for musket and sword wielding soldiers.  Now, virtually no number of pitchfork, knife, sword, or even pistol wielding citizens can match automatic weapons, artillery, ordinance, air power, and chemicals used by the army.  Ask the Kurds in Iraq, or the protestors in Tripoli for examples.  No amount of enthusiasm, sincerity, desperation, anger, or need can overcome a larger number of better armed, better trained, better led, and better fed body fighting for their privileged position.

I said in the first piece that the protestors in Egypt could protest in relative peace for one reason only: the army allowed it.  And that meant, necessarily, that the army had something to gain by it.   In Bahrain the people also rose up to protest the situation.  And they rose up in some pretty good numbers vis-à-vis the proportion of the population.  And they were routed from their assembly area by gas attacks like swatting flies.  By whom or what?  What, according to the press and wishful thinking could so easily route such enthusiasm and sincerity?  The Army.  They were beaten by the army that, in that case, is interested in maintaining the current government.  Similarly in Tripoli the security forces are in control.  But in Benghazi, the army appears to have sided with the protestors and there THEY are in control.  In both cases, who is in control?  The army.  And in Libya this is far more a tribal row fomenting civil war than a true overall revolution.  Also the Libyan despot, who completely understood what i just said, kept the military fragmented so it could NOT perform a coup d’etat against him so the end game will be somewhat up for grabs here.

Over the next few days this will play out to some conclusion.  There are several optional scenarios.  Will enough of the citizens join in to where the army realizes it has a loyalty to the country that is higher than its loyalty to the individuals leading it?  If so the ‘revolt’ will succeed.  But if not; if the army remains firm, then they could decimate the entire population without breaking a sweat.  If the army is made up of more fundamental Muslim thinkers then the individual is of far less importance than they would be to us and it will get really ugly.

I was also called to task for my characterization of the “peaceful” Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt.  After all, our own intel man in the White House called them secular and moderate and driven only by Egyptian Nationals interests.  That man is either a political pawn, an illiterate idiot, or has a position to promote that is not in any western country’s best interests and certainly not ours.   That view can only come from following someone else’s talking points and doing no, I mean ZERO, ZED, NADA independent research into the matter on their own.  To substantiate that I included a URL to the page of the Brotherhood’s own website that displayed their Mission Statements and By-Laws.  Why would you not believe their own charter?  Well here is a reason: the response, not just from me but from others was so great that the English language site for MB just took down the page with their by-laws on it so outsiders could not read them.   Hmmmmmm.  Go to that link and you will see the message that the page is “no longer available.”  Why not unless it was not something you wanted to outside world to see?  Fortunately some of it i copied down the first time i visited it.   Clearly, the purpose of the MB or Ikhwan was to unify the predominantly Islamic countries under a new caliphate and subordinating all lands to the rule of a single caliph, under shariah law.  In its bylaws The Muslim Brotherhood makes clear the organization’s objectives and how it intends to achieve them:

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an International Muslim body which seeks to establish Allah’s law in the land by achieving the spiritual goals of Islam and the true religion which are namely the following: . . . (F) the need to work on establishing the Islamic State; [and] (G) The sincere support for a global cooperation in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia.”

Chapter II, Article 3 of the MB’s bylaws states:

“The Muslim Brotherhood in achieving these objectives depends on the following means: . . . (D) Make every effort for the establishment of educational, social, economic, and scientific institutions and the establishment of mosques, schools, clinics, shelters, clubs, as well as the formation of committees to regulate zakat affairs and alms; (E) The Islamic nation must be fully prepared to fight the tyrants and the enemies of Allah as a prelude to establishing the Islamic state.”

So tell me again about their secular nature and interest only in Egypt.  Ah, but it then got even better.  E-mailed responses tried to tell me that Islam was completely and thoroughly a religion of peace and that true believers abhorred violence and condemned it.  Really?  And where are those voices of condemnation to be found, much less heard occupying the world stage?  This is a religion with lots of believers scattered around the world.  So where is the world-wide murmur of condemnation for acts of terror and the murder of both muslims of other “denominations” and non muslims all in the name of Mohammed?  I don’t mean a few isolated rational voices which certainly exist, but a ground swell of push-back against the apostate terrorists?  If these extremeists and Jihadists have truly highjacked the religion then where are the voices of the highjacked believers complaining about it?

The truth is that what we call extremists are simply following the words in their sacred text.  Again, if you don’t believe me then read the book; read the Qu’raan itself.  It is not long, it uses simple words, and it does not ever, ever equivocate.  You will not have to “interpret” anything, unlike the often cryptic Judaeo-Christian Bible.  For your own purposes you may be able to force spin in it some direction or the other (and it even clearly says a believer is encouraged to lie to non-believers to advance their cause which might explain some Muslim Brotherhood statements that contradict their own By-Laws ) but it will require you to do it in contravention of the clear meaning of the words themselves.

I’m waiting…

And while I’m waiting to hear the litany of world wide voices condemning terrorists and murder as being anti-Islam let me ask this… even if they actually materialized, how does one reconcile them with such Qu’raanic verses as, Surah II, 216 which states clearly,

“Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful to you. It may happen that you hate something that is good for you or love a thing that is bad for you.  Allah knoweth, you know not.”

There is an apparent huge contradiction of attitude in the book but it is easily explained by history.  Early on when followers were few and surrounded by enemies they were told to be nice and cool and friendly to avoid being simply exterminated.  But by the time Medina was taken and Mohammed was in tight control of an impressive army, the gloves came off.  Now he could have kept to the original peaceful vision that got him that far… had it been what he really wanted.  But instead, once the ability was there with virtually no risk of self destruction, his real goals and beliefs were given free reign and he had no problems seeing every non-believer as someone to be converted or killed or, when it was a population segment that possessed special and needed skills, allowed to live and work but under very restricted and oppressive conditions.  Islam was not spread by the good word, it was spread by the sharp sword.  Still think I’m making it up?  Then read on in the good holy book of these peaceful folks:

Surah III, 196-197.  Let not the vicissitude of the success of those who disbelieve deceive thee.  It is but a brief comfort.  And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode.

Surah V, 10.  They who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are the rightful owners of hell. .. (14) And with those who say, “Lo, we are Christians,” we made a covenant but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished.  Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection.  (51.) Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends.  They are friends to one another.  He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.  Allah does not guide wrongdoing folk.

Surah VIII, 12-13.  … So make those who believe stand firm.  I (Allah) will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.  That is because they oppose Allah and his messenger.  Lo!  Allah is severe in punishment.   (38-39) Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease from persecution of the believers that which is past shall be forgiven them.  But if they return thereto, then the example of the men of old hath already gone before them for a warning.  Fight them until the persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah.  (65) O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.  If there be of you (believers) twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be one thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.  Allah is with the steadfast.  It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.

Surah IX, 36. … Wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you.  And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him. (123) O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him.

So, hey, if you want to go on believing that the Egyptian event culminating in the removal of the dictator Mubarak was the result of some protestors following the call of Facebook and Twitter or that any Muslim organizations that might wish to coopt it are really only interested in peace with their neighbors, then go ahead.  But start now practicing the explanations for why in other areas (can we spell “Iran”) that same approach has been, shall we say kindly, somewhat less successful.  For me, I would assert, rather, that the way to carry off a successful overthrow of an oppressive government or at least to survive the attempt, is to first gain the ear and sympathies of the army.  Don’t spend time putting your money on demonstrators, spend time putting money on the ones with the weapons.  Protests and Demonstrations are not revolutions; regime overthrow is a revolution.  Figurehead replacement is not a revolution; replacing or converting the real power often behind the thrown is revolution.

Pay attention to the events of history.  Remember Tieneman Square in China.  The revolt failed but one lone man did the unthinkable and stood in front of a tank moving in to clear out the rest of the protestors.  The cause was already lost but this one incredibly brave soul had one last act in him.  The tanks and army had already brutally crushed revolt-minded citizens but then one tank driver, dealing not with a hostile crowd but with one brave citizen, would not run him down.

That is how you win your revolt.  That moment of revolution failed, but that image has, in the end, done more to bring about change in China than all of those other protestors who died combined.  And it happened because he was lucky enough to stand in front of a soldier who would not kill his own peaceful people.  Others may well have had no problem driving over him but not that one driver.  One citizen and one soldier connected in that time and place and a continuing massacre was averted.  One citizen and one soldier were photographed and flashed around the world and the government could simply not pretend it did not happen.

And finally I was assailed because I said it was better in Egypt that the army remained in control than if the “democratic” protestors had actually taken over.  I said that because stability in the region and the potential of improving the lot of the Egyptian people is, to me, a better goal than simply some change of governmental form with a name that we like.  Creating a government, especially an otherwise unknown and untried form of government is not an easy or quick task.  How many revolutions do we have to review to understand that when the mob wins, for whatever reason, it is usually unable to rule?  That job falls to the better organized groups waiting in the wings to let the others get bloody then take over.  It happened in the Russian revolution which was taken over by the thuggish Bolsheviks once the Tsar was toppled.  It happened in Iran.  It happened in Cuba.  It happened in China.  Never forget that Hitler rose to power in a completely democratic way winning his elections to power as vestiges of the old republic were swept away.  The iconic revolution of the French saw desperate people topple the monarchy and then fall under Robespierre and the reign of terror.  America is one of the very few revolutions in history that came out OK but it was led by people who already had experience in the administration of a civil government.

The Shia/Sunni divide is simmering just under the surface in the middle east, power brokers for both sides are looking for every chance to advance their territory in preparation of a great internal struggle they know is coming and we are ignoring or denying.  They are watching these countries in turmoil and looking for an opening provided by a desperate people wanting change from despots but unable to actually govern for themselves due to lack of organization and experience.

We need to be very, very careful what we ask for from these so-called revolutions.  We may be sorely troubled by the results if we get it.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Wishful Thinking Over Egypt’s So-Called “Revolution.”

For once I agree, more or less, with a statement of our messiah in chief: we are seeing a (to me “potential”) world changing event in the making.  The good news is that on the surface it appears that the Egyptian “People” were able to rise up and toss out a despicable dictator.  What great news for democracy and what wretched news for other dictators around the world.  If it were only true it could send major shock waves through tyrannical regimes all over the place but, alas, to be a tyrant you have to, on some level, be a realist and, in order to hold on to your ill gotten power as long as someone like Mubarak, you have to be able to read things well and have a firm understanding of your basic “Machiavelli” well at hand.  Mubarak simply forgot the real regime was not him and never had been, it was the military.  And when he got a bit big for his britches, as they used to say, and bit the hand that fed him, the real regime reacted and bit back.

The “revolution” or even “democratic revolution”  line makes for great press here because it gives credence to the non-policies or confused policies we’ve seen coming from Washington by making it appear, even if only by coincidence, that we at least did the right thing by not overtly backing Mubarak who we confused with the real regime.  I personally think that lack of action was because, based on the incredible array of mixed messages coming out of the amateurish administration’s foregin policy people and the idiotic appraisals by people, like the Intel Secretary who, of all people, could have done his research and known he was mouthing patend falsehood, that the lack of movement was largely because they truly had no idea what do do and were hoping the situation would resolve itself and THEN they could comment on it.  It is dumb luck not brilliant policy making that reached a marginally good result for us.  Well, that is if you do not consider how it made us look weak-kneed in the eyes of the world once again.  Hey you don’t have to believe me, simply read the foreign press.  The major ones all have English Language versions.

It is of course laudable and notable that some of the Egyptian people evinced the courage and passion to risk going into the streets to protest the excesses and corruption of the so-called “President.”  I think that is fantastic and hope it truly inspires others to do so.  But I also think it is a huge mistake if our adrift foreign policy makers buy into that line and use it as the basis for real policy should they ever decide on one.  Think about the numbers and the situation.  All of the protestors, whose total participants never topped about 300,000 — a tiny fraction of the Egyptian population and truly miniscule compared to the proportions of the Iranian protestors who rose to topple the Shaw in a REAL revolution —  were allowed to concentrate in a small, contained area where if it had been desireded by the military who generally does not like demonstrations, they could have been cut down in a matter of minutes.   A great hue and cry would have gone out, obligatory disapprovals would be forthcoming, and then after a suitable display of handwringing all would have gone back to business as usual breathing a sigh of relief that one of our strong allies had not been toppled in an uncontrollable fashion and by a group laced with virulently anti-western characters and philosophies at that.  But that is not what happened, fortunately for all.

Instead, the crowds and protestors provided the perfect cover for what has amounted to a bloodless coup d’etat by the military.  Long at odds but now increasingly drawing away from Mubarak and his excesses but most especially his decision to name his non-military son as his successor and thereby creating another dynastic monarchy such as ruled Egypt before Nasser, the military could have easily driven off the smaller number of unarmed protestors that actually appeared, and done it in a way so as to put the fear of Allah in the rest of them.  But the military not only held back, it helped them.  Why act so against its normal nature and goals?  Simple:  it needed them and at the same time used them.  So in the background, after delivering a final straw speech asserting he would NOT step down, Mubarak is hustled off in in the wee hours (we do not know if it was in his pajamas or he was allowed to dress) to an out of town safe haven probably, in the end, headed for Saudi Arabia where he is friends with THEIR dictator King.  Immediately — IMMEDIATELY — his assets in Switzerland are frozen, something that could only happen with advanced notice and proper authority which could not have come from the protestors or even the would be heir or his newer named successor, his VP.   And when he is escorted away, does the heir apparent or even newly tapped VP take over as planned?  No, a Field Marshall and a military counsel takes over.  Don’t you “get” it?   He did not announce he was going to step down and then do it, he was removed from the palace, from town, from the area, and then allowed to announce that he HAD stepped down as a fait accompli.  That is not how one honorably abdicates.  You cannot connect the dots until you can see that there ARE dots.  There are several incredibly obvious clues in here waiting to be noticed…  But, I forget who is “leading” us and the fact that his sycophantic media will never step out of line to suggest anything other than sheer brilliance of thought and action no matter how tortured the facts or level of sophistry of reasoning it will take to do it.

The real geopolitical issues for us are what this means for regional stability now and what will happen next.  And we cannot deal with that wisely unless we admit what really happened so as to better understand the dynamics of it.  We totally misunderstood the Iranian protests in 2009 so I should not expect us to try to understand this but hope springs eternal because so much is riding on it.

In the short term I think this military coup is a far better outcome, from that perspective, than a leaderless nearly anarchic attempt to remake a government overnight by those with no skill or experience at it and, as I mentioned, laced with hard core extreme theocratists.  Egypt, like other middle eastern countries has no experience with or skill at a truly democratic form of government with competing parties, civil procedures governed by a workable commonly accepted document, or a clear political leadership.  Such things take time to build from scratch and in the meantime, were this the revolution the media seems to think, all that would have been created is a power vacuum into which could pour Iran.

The Military is famously secular and nationalistic.  And having a practical view of the world from a “country first” perspective is a very positive thing for them.  They know that Egypt is not in danger from Israel and they are not likely to ever successfully launch a conventional attack ON Israel for one reason: the Sinai; The Gaza Strip.  Their real vulnerability, besides, is from Iran which puts them on alert in a direction that also works for us.  Their secular view also prefers to see the country grow and prosper in a way it could never do under an Islamic Theocracy ruled by Sharia law as has been clearly demonstrated by every country that went that route compared to those who did not.  Further, no one in the region could topple them, much less their own people who, if they are allowed to prosper, will not want to.  The real hue and cry from the streets was a simple demand: Mubarak had to go.  The idea that they were fomenting to establish a true democracy is a media fabrication.  And if the military stabilizes things and adopts the reforms it has promised, which it has every reason to do since they do not threaten their continued regime and actually stabilize it by providing better for a country of followers, we likely will help fund that prosperity especially it it seems that finally the money is getting where it belongs instead of being skimmed off by Mubarak and his cronies.  That would further ally them with the interests of the Saudis and in concert against Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other extremist groups.

However, these are but the first days of the event and generally the euphoria of the moment runs high now.  History shows that all ‘revolutions’ follow fairly fixed patterns but we are apparently hoping that this one will finally be different.  Maybe…  But I would contend it is not really a revolution at all.  Nevertheless there are pitfalls into which the entire situation could fall regardless of its true nature.

The military leadership is all old and filled with veterans of the bloody losses against the Israelis. They have no taste for a rematch and know it would be costly because the Isaelis would fight desperately.  Egypt’s survival as a state was never in question in any of those previous encounters.  From their perspective they were all based on ideology and following a theology in which the individual is essentially irrelevant compared to the demands of the state and especially of the theology itself.  Until it reaches national critical mass, the body count of foot soldiers is meaningless if a theological goal is attained.   They could fight and lose hundreds of times an merely lose citizens which are of little consequence to them.  However Israel only has to lose once and it faces national extinction.  Their motivation is a bit more dramatic.

But even without the issue of israel and the Palestinians being real, there are still dangers.  The operative word for the military leadership is “OLD.”    The younger generation has never felt the sting of combat and losses and may well be itching for some misbegotten sense of glory in the belief that they lost before because of poor planning by their elders which, in some senses is actually true.

And the undercurrent of protest by the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be utterly discounted.   They were instrumental in putting Nassar in power along with the help of the Soviets in order to replace a monarchy that put and kept them down.  But he had their ‘number’ from the start.  Once in power, he killed most of that leadership off or sent it to prison and courted the Russians for armament to fight Israel.  That approach worked into the early Sadat years when Sadat foolishly attacked Israel again and the Egyptians Russian weapons and tactics were just destroyed by the American armament and tactics of the Israelis.  So Sadat did the only reasonable thing, to guarantee border security from an enemy that proved over and over to be superior and had every possible interest in securing THEIR border, he recognized a great mutual interest and made peace with them.  Israel needed that peace so it could put it greatest attention toward Syria and Lebanon.  So two old enemy warriors, together and simultaneously recognized that reality trumped ideology and using Carter as a cover to mollify their home constituencies, made peace.   And for that, operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated him.

The New York Times, that bastion of Liberal ideals trying to make Carter look good, announced authoritatively as only it can, in the first few days of the Iranian Revolution that drove out the Shaw, that democracy had triumphed and there was absolutely no chance it would be trumped by any of those Islamic extremists.  About one month later, to the day, the Ayatollah returned, our hostages were taken and  the rest, as they say, is history.  I think therefore that it is too soon to judge how this will all play out.  That the military is running this, to me, a better omen than if the crowds were doing it.  They offer, if they work to the benefit of the country and its citizens, a more stable regime in the short term.  And besides, much as the Theocratists are devoutly wanting a regional Caliphate to be centered in Egypt, there is no currently exiled cleric waiting in the wings to come back, al la the Ayatollah, and make it happen.  But the real test will come in September when they have promised elections.   Whether they allow them or not, it will certainly get interesting when they come due.

But it is interesting to note that the so-called (by our chief intel idiot) “secular” Muslim Brotherhood is not named the “Arab Brotherhood,” or the “Egyptian Brotherhood” or any name suggesting national or secular allegiance.  It is named as a brotherhood of the followers of Islam and its mission is clearly and graphically spelled out in its history of support for fundamental and extremist causes but most notably by its own documents and web site (there is an English Language version (which I’ll spell out to avoid a link here  — www dot ikhwanweb dot com/article.php?id=22687) where you can find its mission statement/by laws.  If you still insist on believing our leadership and their press please go to that site and make special note of Article II, A,B, E, F, and G and then try to tell me it is even remotely secular.  It is even clear it is a transnational society and not an egyptian-directed one.  Synthesized down to a single directive its goal is a large cohesive transnational Islamic State ruled by Sharia Law.  Secular; indeed.  Only this administration and the New York Times could be so obtuse as to believe that.

And as for Facebook, Twitter, and social networking being such an influence?  Puhleeeze…  The major gatherings took place days after all internet was shut down.  And a gathering of 300,000 +/- is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions that took to the streets in Tehran in 1979 long before there WAS an internet or even common PC usage even here.  And in 2009 the demonstrators in Iran still vastly outnumbered those in Egypt and they had only filtered access to the internet and certainly minimal if any social networking.  So get over it and get real.  That reality check just bounced.  When you have an administration and its pawns that have all accepted that old storyteller’s mantra to, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” the citizens are forced to do a serious and seriously heretical thing… think.

So the 30-90 days will see the standard revolutionary phases start to unfold if this is/was a true revolution; and if not, then in six months when the promised elections come due will be the next critical moment.  If, in the meantime the military regime that has been the real power, and has continued to be the real power since Nasser, actually helps stabilize the country, end corruption, and help its people, it will have done a very good thing.  And it will owe a lot to the pawn protestors who covered its real behind-the-scene actions and helped them avoid explaining to the world community why they staged a coup, even a bloodless one.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Second Week of Spring Semester is History

San Diego –Quite a few things to chat about from events of this week.  From school to my hot car to Egypt to Reagan’s birthday, topics come leaping out so lets get this underway.

Well, we made it through the second week of the Spring Semester without major angst.  Unfortunately i had to turn down an amazing number of second week requests to crash some of my classes as they were simply full and there was no room.  I was able to let a few into some classes that were nearly full but not yet to overflowing and the early attrition did open up a couple of seats here and there.  Now that period is over and the crush for seats in class is over.  I was chastised for not showing proper respect to our IT team but in truth i have none to show nor will I facilitate their incompetence by pretending they are good at it.  As I keep saying over and over, you cannot fix a problem you will not admit exists.

Field Trip/Workshop Dates:  In the Landscape Class i finally got back information on availability for lodging for our field trips and those are now set.  The three day trip to Lone Pine and Alabama Hills will be March 11-13 and the four day trip to Yosemite will be April 28-May 1.  i gave out data on where i was able to arrange discounts in class this week so people can start to get their reservations in early.  We will also be doing a Saturday afternoon workshop for students interested in printing on Canvas on Feb  19th at 1 pm – 4pm +/-.   Sign up is through the Check Out room.  If the canvas workshop is successful then we may do more during the semester.

Jag Progress: This has been a time of trying to “beta test” the Jag’s engine work.  I have had very little time and in any case it is necessary to work carefully since I’ve not been able to get into DMV for the temp permit to go to a California Smog referee for a new ID/Compliance sticker.  My old one is in the engine compartment and consequently it has faded over the years.  You can still read the numbers but cannot scan the bar code with a reader and the law is that it must be scanned.  That has to have been in order to sell more scanners; some legislature cleaned up big time when they got that law passed.  It showed me one problem from the first drive back from the shop.  The tuner had set it up for serious competition driving not for daily freeway stuff.  The shift points were placed high at the top of the “power band” so the car simply would not shift into High (and then overdrive).  I ran it to 90 mph quickly but still it did not shift.  The Tach was right in the power band at that point at about 3,000 RPM… but it was in third gear.  OK, Note one for tweaking…

Anyway, yesterday I drove to Barrett Junction for lunch because the old Highway 94 road can be a fun one to drive.     There was too much local traffic to really play with it seriously but it was obviously now a much stronger car especially in the mid range.  However as I was returning, the engine cut out.  It then returned to fire and then cut out again.  It did this on and off a few time  until I was almost back to campus but just past the Highway 125 interchange it cut out and… did NOT come back.  I drifted over to the side and checked the engine for anything that seems to have become unplugged.  it was obviously an electrical problem because when it cut out all gauges and lights died with it.  But the battery was connected, coil was connected, at the junction box for ignition all was connected yet it was still dead as the proverbial doorknob.  (Note: does anyone know a live doorknob? They must have very short life spans…)  i called Lawton at Top Flight Corvette/Racing where it had been worked on and he went through a series of checks on the phone with me, none of which led anywhere so he called a tow truck for me.

Once back at the shop they were stumped until one of the mechanics noticed there was no wire running into the alternator.  In fact there was no connector post on the alternator AT ALL.  And there, dangling down was the post, still connected to the wire that had come completely out of the alternator.  In fact it had arced and spot welded itself to the engine and almost looked like it belonged there.  The guys jumped on it and quickly swapped it for an alternator they had on the shelf, charged the battery and the car was fine.  None of them had ever seen anything quite like it so even though it was an irritation I at least kept my reputation for not bringing them anything normal.

I would be remiss in not including a plug here.  That shop is wonderful and it has one of those rarities I have come to find in very short supply: an honest and skilled mechanic.  Alan Curtis who first built the car was one of them but he retired.  Now Lawton at Top flight has taken over care of the car and he is like Alan (without the British accent): skilled to the point of being creative and artistic and scrupulously honest.  As a race driver of long standing and experience himself, and as head of a racing team he does understand high performance cars and loves them.  His shop is always filled — and I mean FILLED — with wonderful and powerful cars.  And his son is following in his hard to fill footsteps.  I’m telling you, if you have any form of muscle car or other high performance American iron trust me on this; here is where you need to take it.  Let me know and I’ll put you in contact.

Geopolitics: The unrest in Egypt continues.  As has become typical, our would-be erstwhile leadership has responded based not on facts or history or even the country’s best interests, but on the basis of what their own party’s leaders have done in the past vis-a-vis connections with various foreign governments.  Those from the parties that supported and still funnel money to Mubarak  see nothing positive in the protests as they focus only on what they see as the inevitable disaster to flow from this.    Meantime those who hated the leaders that supported Mubarak see the protestors as the new voices of democracy to be backed.  In doing so they show the same lack of knowledge about the players and regional issues as they did in the first Iranian revolution when they dumped the Shaw and lately in the unrest over the past elections.

When the Shah was overthrown in a coup by a “democratic” revolution that democratic ideal, as much as there was of it in a land that knew nothing about Jeffersonian Democracy and only about the far less messy (if far more painful) monarchies, autocracies and tyrannies, was short lived and soon taken over by the Islamic extremists to bring about a complete Theocracy — something we helped to facilitate and then got our hand bitten by way of thanks. When the protestors then took to the streets in the last election to defeat the current Iranian President, a person clearly in need of defeating, our own political idiocracy saw the opposition as potential allies of the U.S. but never bothered, apparently, to study the make up of them.  The argument in Iran was not over pro or anti U.S. policy, that was but a convenient and handy bone to the political dogs slobbering at their feet tossed out to try to lure us into their court.  The truth was the only real argument was theologically dogmatic and the protestors saw a different role and status in government authority vested in the clergy and Ayatollahs.  That was utterly meaningless and not even remoptely understandable to and by us, but was a critical distinction to them, worthy of risky protest.  But the protestors were not ever or remotely about regaining a secular society much less a democracy.

Now in regards to Egypt the same reaction is taking place in the hallowed halls of our government and the spewings of the mainstream press and its pundits.  And it is seen through the same willful blinders as before.  The regime of the current President is remarkable mainly for its corruption and ill treatment of the Egyptians themselves; of that there is no doubt.  We stupidly pour tons of money into their economy and then say nothing when it is skimmed off by the elite but rarely makes its way back to the streets where we pretend it is intended.  We spend  a statistically important part of our taxes to support the extravagances of foreign despots.  In some cases, and this was one of them, they did some of our bidding and helped a little with the current issues of terrorists even though that was mostly in their own self interests.  So some supported him without question and other opposed him without context.

Sadly Egypt is hardly a stand out case for this idiocy, virtually every tin hat dictator we readily support does the same thing.  And so certainly the ranks of the protestors contain those who would like to make of Egypt a more democratic society dedicated to serving the needs of its people and also to maintain their status as a secular government, not wanting to return to Taliban-like suppression of human rights and especially women’s rights.  But behind the scenes, just as there was in Iran when their pro-democrativ movement was taken over and subverted by Islamic extremists, funneling money into the movement and waiting in the wings is another extreme Islamic group, the Islamic Brotherhood.  Though not listed as a terrorist group themselves it is generally agreed that they exist to support and funnel money to groups that ARE terrorists from Al Qaeda to Hamas to Hezbollah.  Their own charter and surrogates make it impossible to ignore their real goals and purposes and it is open for anyone to read if they will take the time.

History in the region has given us several examples of Middle Eastern/Arabic and North African protests that turned into revolutions and overthrew the existing regime:  Iran,  Yeman, Oman as a few examples.  There are exceptions as there always are, but the trend has been that the ‘democratic’ movement, or just the movement crying for change and better treatment by the people, initially succeeded but was so poorly led, funded, and/or organized that once the major power was eliminated and it was safe for them to emerge,  the extremists moved in to set up their end goal from the start: an Islamic Theocracy.  This situation in Egypt is far more complex and has far more potential dangers than either side of our aisle of entrenched political morons seems willing to admit or address.

On one hand that is none of our business.  If that is what the people want then let them live with it.  That is what democracy is supposed to mean.  But when a newly formed government threatens the stability of the area and, by extension, the world, then it unfortunately becomes our business.  This is why it is SO important for us, in the short term as we look for workable affordable alternatives, to make use of our own fossil fuel resources so that those savages over there can be free to hack each other to pieces, burn wells, close canals, and force $10/gallon gas to their black heart’s content… but not on us.

Except for politicians with money to be made, no one in the energy business questions that oil, especially middle eastern oil is running out.  The easy and cheap to get “sweet” oil has already run out over most of the middle east and only so-called “sour” crude which is very expensive to extract and refine, remains.  We can ignore it all we want but there is no getting around the fact that it was oil and oil alone that allowed our planet to double its population and more in the years since it was discovered and turned to our use.  It was oil and oil alone that allowed our incredible growth in a standard of living.

Not just gasoline, but most of our lives and life styles are dependent utterly on by-products of oil.  And even for gasoline and vehicle fuel, it is oil and oil alone that allows for relatively cheap transportation and flow of goods around the country and the world.  North America has vast reserves that are untapped.  Bringing them online takes time.  If we continue to delay then the loss of oil from other sources may happen in a time span shorter than what it would take to start replacing it with domestic oil and if that happens we will see an impact on our lives like none other that has happened before in history.  The sad truth remains that we could bring our own oil reserves online faster than we can start from where we are now and fully augment alternative energy technologies for direct use in heating and fuel.  But even if we could, there is no other product that can yield, things like the plastics and other compounds that while generally ignored, actually make our lives livable as they are now.  imagine a world without oil-based plastic and I will show you the 18th and early 19th century.

Yes, of course,  we should start an earnest program to explore the alternatives and find substitutes as quickly as we can.   But we also need to address and prepare for the shorter term in which oil, not just for us, but for the world starts to either run out or be so tightly controlled by antagonistic regimes as to functionally cease to be available.  We get most of our oil from Canada and Mexico now but what if pretty much all of the industrial world started knocking on their doors because their supply of middle east oil was no longer available for whatever reason?  Governments and their people are, in unfortunate fact, so utterly dependent on the products that flow, at the moment, only from oil, that if the supplies are shut down there will be major world wide upheaval, and countries will. in fact, go to war over access to it.  They may not want to, but they will have to in order to maintain some semblance of their former standards of living.  We need to make sure we are not in such a vulnerable position and now is the time to start to work on ALL fronts.

Of course we will not do that…  and to make matters worse, as money is cut from education the individuals who could become the future scientists to find our solutions will be missing in action here because they were never created int he first place or supported when they were; but not in places overseas that realize how important education is.  Think about where that will place us in terms of world leverage in influence… or standards of living costs.

Reagan’s Birthday:  Much political hay has been made over the birthdate of Ronald Reagan this past week. He has become the icon for one side and the bogeyman for the other.  And one of the main cores of the arguments swirling around him and his accomplishments is the issue of tax cuts.  One side says he had the largest tax cuts in history and the other that he has the largest tax increases in history.  Good grief… so who is right?  The answer is they both are.  Early in his presidency he put through an enormous tax cut that was, in fact, the largest since we started imposing a “temporary and voluntary” income tax in the first place to pay for war.  But in his own autobiography, he admits that given the times and other issues he went too far and too fast.  So he started putting into place a series of tax hikes that also constituted the largest set of tax hikes ever done.  But what is missing from both sides of the argument is that his tax hikes only replaced about HALF of the tax cuts he had made in the first place.  And that was enough to get the rest of his agenda through including bankrupting the Soviet Union and still bring some enormous productivity to the home shores.  His cuts in government spending were also significant.  They actually negatively effected me directly when money was lost for an NEA grant.  But it was the right thing to do and I never regreted the policy even though I bemoaned the loss of our own grant money.

So, yeah, interesting week…

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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