Posts from — April 2009
Am I going through writer’s angst or is there nothing really interesting to blog about? It’s so bad that I’m taken to book reviews, even though they are really informative books.
In high school the only things I was good at were English and history. I love reading history. History is the path leading us to tomorrow. Right now, I’m still going through Jimmy Carter’s “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”, but I’m also reading Bob Woodward’s “Bush at war”.
I had previously read Woodward’s “State of Denial” and found that it gave fascinating insights into the extremely flawed (mild description) personnel of the Bush regime. “Bush at war” preceded in the same vein… having been written first.
Though I wish I had read it earlier, it still holds some lessons for us today, particularly in respect to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But what held my attention most was the disturbing arrogance of those who led the United States. The following choice quotes will illustrate my point.
*Immediately after 9/11, George Bush met with congressional leaders where he used a whole lot of ‘they’ to define the enemy, including “They hate Christianity and they hate Judaism”. To me this indicates that the enemy is not radical Islam, but Islam itself.
*At one point, the head of the Pakistan Intelligence Service, General Mahmoud Ahmad was visiting the CIA and was trying to contextualise the Taliban’s leader Mohammad Omar… claiming that Omar was a religious man and one given to humanitarian instincts, not a man of violence. He was rudely interrupted by a low ranked CIA officer with, “Stop! Spare me. Does Mullah Omar want the United States military to unleash its force against the Taliban?… Will you go ask him”.
Two things. The visiting head of an important governmental position in Pakistan was treated like a messenger. The functionary wasn’t interested in the point of view of a ‘non-American’ expert.
*At the state department, Mahmoud again tried to put the taliban in historical context but this time he was interrupted by Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s deputy. Armitage warned, “The future begins today”. This indicates the fundamentals of US’s weakness… arrogance and a severe lack of appreciation for history. This will continue to haunt them.
*The CIA had the belief that their technical superiority would give them a significant edge. It did only up to a point.
*The head of the CIA’s counterterrorism department Cofer Black, in briefing Bush, said this, “…we’ll set this thing up so it’s an unfair fight for the US military”. He also continued, “When we are through with them, they will have flies walking on their eyeballs”.
What’s my point? I’m getting to it. Be patient.
*The same dude was warned by a Russian counterpart, “With regret, I have to say that you’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you”. Black’s retort, “We’re going to kill them. We’re going to put their heads on sticks. We’re going to rock their world”.
Seven plus years later, Mullah Omar is alive and free, Osama bin Laden remains not captured, the taliban has control of most of the country, making audacious raids in the US controlled capital Kabul, Barack Obama is sending additional troops to Afghanistan and is trying to find some way out of a second and now admittedly, unwinnable war.
Sidebar: While many US and coalition soldiers have died in Afghanistan, Cofer Black resigned from the CIA shortly after Bush began his 2nd term and has since been a vice-chairman of Blackwater USA. Yes, the now infamous private security firm that became the state department’s biggest contractor (two-thirds of their government contracts under Bush were no-bid contracts). Blackwater’s heavily armed personnel were very visible in New Orleans after Katrina and scared quite a few legitimate police officers.
Oh yes, they run a gift shop. Creepy.
To be honest, much of the planning for the invasion of Afghanistan had solid ideas. Humanitarian aid, propaganda leaflets telling the population that this was not a fight against Islam but the ‘invaders’ (al qaeda), roping in a coalition even with a prevalent go-it-alone mentality in the upper echelons of the Bush regime, low collateral-damage targets.
But two things undermined the intellectual part of the planning. The first was ego particularly Donald Rumsfeld’s, and the second was well, the American persona. Put it this way. An overweight man decides to go on a diet (good idea) but the moment he passes a McDonald, then shit happens.
Once the war started, everybody reverted to typecast. Screwing up is in their nature.
More on this book as we go.
As anyone failed to notice the rash of multiple killings recently? Man kills four police officers, man kills three police officers, man kills wife and children, man kills, man kills. I think that there are about 8 of them nationally.
Other than the fact that they are all male killers, there are some similarities in that most were going through very depressive circumstances. Loss of jobs, home foreclosure, divorce, economic difficulties. Wow. Makes me wonder how fast this society is degenerating into anarchy.
Four of the 8 incidents since March 1, had an unemployment factor, either loss of job, unable to find employment, or fearing loss of job. Three had marital troubles.
Moral. If your husband loses his job, now is not the time to bring up divorce.
Oh yes, one other similarity. THEY ALL USED GUNS!!!
Many, led by a small surge of positive numbers, have all but declared the recession done.
But I’m not sure that things are really looking up. What I’m sure of, that those hardest hit at the bottom will take years to recover. One friend just lost her job and is now coming the point where she is in deep mortgage do-do.
Cases like hers are in abundance. The banks and credit card companies are tightening loans and other credit facilities to save themselves but also to be in a position to launch massive cannibalizing of weaker entities. It will be some time before they turn their attention to us. And even when they do, they might very well be with Shylock-like ruthlessness.
A big deal is being made Obama reducing restrictions that Bush and others before him had put in place on Cuba. This I think was because Obama is scheduled to be in Trinidad soon to meet with latin American leaders… most of whom are asking for normalized relations between the two.
I think that Obama is just basically posturing. And obviously Fidel Castro agrees, stating that without lifting the embargo, nothing really tangible would have been done.
There are those who argue that the ball is in the Castro government’s half and it is for them to make matching moves. That will be rejected and I agree.
The embargo has been going on for nearly half a century now and it has not achieved what it intended to do. It has caused onerous difficulties on the people of the island. They can’t argue about dictatorship when they have coddled and are still coddling many of the most repressive dictatorships. They can’t argue human rights when Hillary says it’s not an issue with China, or for that matter Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
This reminds of a quote from Malcolm X, “If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.”
April 14, 2009 No Comments