Montag, Mai 19, 2008

The Fruits of Appeasement...

It's not necessary to actively appease someone to get you into trouble.

It's enough when you cease to act and protect yourself, when you are sufficiently intimidated so that you do not see it possible to do anything.

There are, of course, nuances to this: what happens when one side simply loses the will to go out and continue to spend blood on a daily basis to defend their ways of life, when their opponents are more than happy to be ruthless and literally bloody-minded?

The one side will continue to be aggressive and continue to push to see how far they can go: the other side is just happy to be left alone as much as possible, and as long as someone else is targeted, then they're fine on acquiescing.

Hezbollah's long-term campaign of the destruction of Lebanon is bearing fruit: the Lebanese, it appears, have abandoned their country. Well, not so much their country as such, but much more the idea of their country. They, the Lebanese, continue to live in the past, content to pretend that the last 60 years never happened, and pretend that they don't, as it were, have this funny lump in their breast. They're in a state of denial because they have suffered so very long and heavily for mistakes: but by allowing Hezbollah to effectively negate the rule of law in Lebanon, the Lebanese have lost Lebanon.

It doesn't really exist anymore: Hezbollah has made it impossible for Lebanon to exist, and that's fine with them. They prefer the anarchy and the lack of law, since it means that they can simply intimidate the rest of the population to get their way.

Appeasement becomes a real opportunity when those targeted have things that they want to keep, but aren't willing to do what it takes to protect those things (here in the general sense, not the specific sense). Hence in order to avoid fighting a war, Chamberlain announced "Peace In Our Time" and waved a piece of paper from his hand, thus making war inevitable and more destructive than would have been the case otherwise.

In the case of Lebanon, the fruits of appeasement against Hezbollah has been the dismantling of the Lebanese state, slowly, surely, step by step. It could have been stopped, but only by a concentrated, concerted effort by a state that could not do so: the soul of Lebanon was torn out during the Civil War there, and while it keeps on trying to return, there are simply too many who want to have nothing better than for the state of Lebanon to vanish forever. People like Syria.

Hence appeasement bears bitter fruit: in the attempt to save Lebanon, of keeping civil war once again at bay, Lebanon has been sacrificed to save itself, as it appears that no one is willing to fight for it in the face of that group of bullies and thugs, financed by Iran, that is called Hezbollah.

Hezbollah doesn't want Lebanon: it's not interested in a country. It's much more interested in having a safe place to work from, and chaos is its best friend, allowing it to hide behind civilians, abject poverty and need. That way they can appear, with their Iranian-backed "social services", to be the only alternative, just as for shopkeepers paying the Mafia for protection, you can't count on the police being around to protect you when the thugs work you over.

Hezbollah doesn't want Lebanon: they want lawlessness and chaos, since Hezbollah offers order from chaos and services when everything else fails. Hezbollah only wants the Caliphate: everything else is a waste of time.

Syria doesn't want Lebanon: they want Greater Syria

Iran doesn't want Lebanon: a state means that they would be made responsible for their puppet's behavior, and while the Iranian financing of Hezbollah is an open secret, it's one that the Iranians prefer to remain that way, as it gives them plausible deniability.

And while both the Lebanese and Israel want Lebanon, they don't want it enough. Or more exactly, the Lebanese don't want it enough to start a new civil war (or continue the old one, however you prefer...), and unless the Lebanese want that, the Israelis aren't interested either.

Hence one of the very, very few even moderately successful states in the Middle East is being destroyed.

Hence are harvested the fruits of appeasement.

Mittwoch, Mai 14, 2008

This is the face of isolationism...

Isolationism has generally not worked very well for the US. It invariably leads to the development of world trends that just plain suck, and the US then has to go and kick in some heads to get things back to normal.

This is the subtle face of isolationism.

Why subtle?

Because of this line:

Salvation does not lie abroad. It's here at home.

This is the most craven line I've read lately: it's nothing less than an abrogation of responsibility, an abandonment of principal, a bowing to an inevitability that hasn't even happened.

And this is the biggest lie I have seen in a long time:

The truth is that the United States, with rare exceptions, has demonstrated little talent for changing the way others live. We have enjoyed far greater success in making necessary adjustments to our own way of life, preserving and renewing what we value most. Early in the 20th century, Progressives rounded off the rough edges of the Industrial Revolution, deflecting looming threats to social harmony. During the Depression, FDR's New Deal reformed capitalism and thereby saved it. Here lies the real genius of American politics.

This isn't the truth: as a matter of a fact, it's the opposite of the truth.

The US has been the world's greatest instrument for change that the world has ever seen: the ways that others live have been transformed. Germany and Japan, Korea, Iraq, every one in those countries has had their lives fundamentally altered, fundamentally changed. We are constantly re-inventing ourselves, making necessary adjustments: that's what free people do. Progressives today are the leading edge of a reactionary, isolationist movement that embodies the very worst in US politics, the woolly-headed Wilsonians.

The real genius of American politics is the wisdom of the American voter in choosing the right man for the job of President, based more on his leadership abilities and character than on any other aspect of his person. Hence Reagan and the younger Bush. Hence Kennedy.

The real genius of American politics is the wisdom of the American voter: when making a mistake, they learn from it and don't repeat it. Hence Jimmy Carter's single term of office.

This further:

For the United States, the prospect of permanent war now beckons.

Well into the first decade of this generational struggle, Americans remained oddly confused about its purpose. Is the aim to ensure access to cheap and abundant oil? Spread democracy? Avert nuclear proliferation? Perpetuate the American empire? Preserve the American way of life? From the outset, the enterprise that Gates now calls the "Long War" has been about all of these things and more.

The US did not decide to go to war, anymore than it did so in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. War was brought to us, or was waged against our interests: the decision to take down Iraq was the decision to start putting a stop to state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East, to finish the job begun in 1991.

And it's not so much that Americans are "oddly confused" about its purpose: it's that the pundits and hacks are confused by the fundamental support for the war. The only sentence that makes sense here is that this war is about all of those things: however, the writer is clearly incapable of understanding that there can be more than one cause or more than one effect of any given event, preferring instead the simplistic and naive belief that everything can be reduced to a single causality or a single effect, the sign of a small mind.

Again, for those liberals with reading difficulties (sorry, I repeat myself): the long war here is not the war that the US wages, but rather the war that is waged against the US.

Nothing more, nothing less.

This writer would have you tire of it, would have you be exhausted by it, would have you snivel and crawl back to the safe haven.

The best way to fight this war is to take it to the enemy and destroy their ability to wage war by changing the way that people that they hide behind live.

Anything else is the face of isolationism, a face that refuses to see how the world is, preferring to cut the US off from the rest of the world, preferring to think that the US doesn't need the rest of the world and vice versa.

Gee, that worked soooo well for the US leading up to WW1 and also up to WW2. That worked so well for Korea, for Vietnam, for the decades of the Cold War, where the world was a zero-sum game with the Soviets.

That way lies not madness, but the inevitability of greater conflagration and even greater deaths.

Nice To Know That They Recognize It...

So, how is the campaign of John McCain going to react to this?

According to Terry McAuliffe, the campaign chairman for Clinton:

"Clearly it has been a biased media, no question about it," ... When asked how much of the mainstream media is "in the tank" for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who leads Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffe estimated that about 90 percent of the media favor Obama.

Now, McAuliffe just wasn't her campaign chairman, but is a long-term mover in the logistics of the Democratic Party (see here).

McAuliffe added that "every independent study has said that this is the most biased coverage they've ever seen in a presidential campaign."

So, you can imagine all the good press that John McCain is going to get in this election.

So, what is the role of a "free" press when it becomes completely - 90% - partisan? At which point does reporting become, indirectly, campaigning, and will the press be responsible and actually give John McCain a fair deal in reporting the news (or will their partisanship perhaps backfire and get him elected?), or will they simply ignore him and given wall-to-wall coverage of Obama, the Boy Wonder?

Don't hold your breath waiting for an answer.

And this is the real kicker: something that will probably haunt him for the rest of his life, as it directly contradicts what virtually all Democratic Party people say and feel:

He also praised Fox News, which is often viewed as a conservative media outlet, as "one of the most responsible in this presidential campaign."


Reality is and will be intruding here: this blog will become more sporadic than it already is.

Dienstag, Mai 06, 2008

An Unspoken Truth...

This is a great article, albeit more than a tad depressing.

Put simply, it's an indictment of how poorly government and NGO attempts to help stem the spread of AIDS have worked, i.e. largely not at all. It is simply politically incorrect to change behavior patterns, even when these behavior patterns - multiple partners at the same time - is largely responsible for the devastating effect that AIDS is having in Africa. NGOs and donors are more interested in PR and helping those that make good reporting than they are in actually doing something about it.

However, the author is missing one additional point, one that is also unspoken.

If diseases, such as AIDS, were to be "properly" addressed and the rates of infection were to slow, what would all those lovely benefactors actually then do?

AIDS prevention is a multi-billion dollar business. Getting people to change their behavior, just to serial partners rather than simultaneous ones, would have an enormous effect on the livelihoods of those involved. A negative impact.

Hence it's better to deal with the symptoms rather than with the cause. The way it looks right now, the AIDS industry will be able to milk the disease for all it is worth until Africa is depopulated. If anything, that is how they can maximize their cash flows.

Interesting that the community that loves to accuse the world's troubles on "big business" and capitalism has become the best example of how unbridled capitalism, uninterested in human welfare except their own, latches on to a society and sucks it dry. They themselves are the true villains of this situation.

That is the unspoken truth of the article above.