Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Bradley Manning Video

David Seaton's News Links
This video raises many, many issues... but the most significant thing is how somebody like this was ever kept in the army in the first place and then was sent to Iraq and then given the access to the classified information he was given access to.

This is very, very strange... This is NOT about Bradley Manning, this is about the US Army. The US Army is supposed to be the "greatest" army in history, certainly the most expensive one in history... what the hell is going on?

I find it utterly tragic that the only way that a person as potentially valuable in an information economy as Bradley Manning could ever hope to go to university was to enlist in the army... as if Shirley Temple had to join the Marine Corp in order to get dental care

The whole thing is so amazing... It's not that he is gay, gays come in all shapes and sizes, but he is like a little girl. He is blond, blue eyed, about five-nothing tall and practically floats. In an overtly homosexual and violent environment like a prison, he would probably become the "punk" of the most alpha-male doing life and just "keep house" for him and never have to worry about violence or humilliation, but in the "don't ask, don't tell" environment of this weird army, hypocrisy meets sadism bathed in incompetent stupidity... When you get this far into the story, you are not really surprised to find that the passwords to highly classified material are written on post-its and stuck on the computer screens.

Manning's best defense would be temporary insanity and the people who admitted him and kept him the army should be court marshaled. There should be a congressional investigation into the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Middle East made simple(r)

David Seaton's News Links
When very complex situations become very simple is when they become most dangerous. The situation that America finds itself in today's Middle East is such a situation: simple and potentially deadly for American prestige and power, two things which feed off each other, and in passing feed the American people.

The endless Palestinian question is a bone in the throat of an Arab and Muslim world that sits astride some of the world's most essential commodities, notably oil. The United States is seen as the only country that could possibly have enough influence over Israel to solve it.

The perception the world has is that Israel has more influence over the USA than the USA has over Israel, this is very bad for America's worldwide reputation and influence. In a great extent the prosperity, the "way of life" of the American people depends on that power and influence.

Perhaps for the senators and congressmen in Washington, Israel is the measure of all things, but this is not true for the rest of the world, and every day there are relevant, new players to take into account. AIPAC works tirelessly to insure that Americans' notorious love of cheap gasoline doesn't trump their legendary love of Israel. Unfortunately for Israel there is no such thing as a CHIPAC (China Israel Public Affairs Committee) or much less a BRICIPAC or a even a European EUIPAC... so Obama is left holding the bag.

The "solving" of the Palestinian question is the Saudi Peace Initiative, which would fully integrate Israel into the Middle East, economically and diplomatically, in exchange for Israel returning to its 1967 frontiers. Israel wants no part of the Saudi plan. My private hypothesis is that they are merely playing for time, thinking that sooner or later a great war will break out involving the entire Middle East, and under the cover of that chaos, they will be able to ethnically cleanse the occupied (sorry, "disputed") territories.  With the entire region in ferment, the possibility of such a conflict and the opportunities it would present, multiply exponentially.

Truly the "Arab Spring" complicates the situation wonderfully. Let me quote president Obama on this one:
(...) a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
The rest of oil-consuming world is also running out of patience: they are suffering from (to coin a phrase) "Israel fatigue". Again Obama:
And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There's a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World -- in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it's already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
America is trying to end two wars of its own and cut its gargantuan defense budget, this is urgent because the American debt is causing great concern everywhere, the dollar, the basis of international commodity trading, is no longer seen as a uniquely reliable store of value and the Middle East, where the oil on which the world runs is concentrated -- democratic and otherwise -- is growing more volatile with every passing day.

Ending the Palestinian problem is an essential component in pacifying the Middle East. If the USA is incapable of doing so the rest of the world is going to give it a try.  They  have no other choice. "Ein brera" as the Israelis say. DS

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Arab Spring, Israel, the dollar and gasoline: "Horror on K-Street"

Arm wrestling?
In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.(...) Iran announced late last month that its foreign currency reserves would henceforth be held in euros rather than dollars. Bankers remember, of course, what happened to the last Middle East oil producer to sell its oil in euros rather than dollars. A few months after Saddam Hussein trumpeted his decision, the Americans and British invaded Iraq.  Robert Fisk - Independent
David Seaton's News Links
The US dollar is not in good shape, the sharpest speculators like Soro's old sidekick Jim Rodgers or Pimco's Bill Gross call the US currency "debased" and are unloading them as fast as they can.  Oil producing countries are especially "long" on dollars, as dollars are the only currency in which oil is traded. The United States has dominated the world's access to the world's most important center of oil production, the Middle East,  since World War II, and just as much or more than its military might the US dollar has defined that domination.

It might not be an exaggeration to say that with America's humongous debt and overextended military, having the world's most essential commodity, oil, bought and sold in dollars, of which the United States can print as many as it likes, is the most important remaining pillar of America's imperial status. As it stands, any country that wants to buy oil has to change their currency into dollars to do so...  If the USA had to change dollars to another currency in order to buy oil, it might find itself in a similar situation to the emperor whose new clothes turned out to be his birthday suit.

Cutting to the chase: If this happened Americans might find themselves facing Wiemar-like inflation. It is not very difficult to predict that if Americans cannot afford gasoline to go to and from work,supposing they still have work to go to,  that they will vote out of office anyone who happens to be occupying the White House at  the time. This sort of thing will concentrate a president's mind wonderfully... Even if he finds himself helpless to do anything about it.

Now we are faced with what is called the "Arab Spring".

Before we go on much further talking about said "spring", let us see what the word "spring" means... as you can see below it means almost anything you'd like it to mean. Have a look, take your time:
spring  (sprng)
v. sprang (sprng) or sprung (sprng), sprung, spring·ing, springs
1. To move upward or forward in a single quick motion or a series of such motions; leap.
2. To move suddenly on or as if on a spring: The door sprang shut. The emergency room team sprang into action.
3. To appear or come into being quickly: New businesses were springing up rapidly. See Synonyms at stem1.
4. To issue or emerge suddenly: A cry sprang from her lips. A thought springs to mind.
5. To extend or curve upward, as an arch.
6. To arise from a source; develop.
7. To become warped, split, or cracked. Used of wood.
8. To move out of place; come loose, as parts of a mechanism.
9. Slang To pay another's expenses: He offered to spring for the dinner.
1. To cause to leap, dart, or come forth suddenly.
2. To jump over; vault.
3. To release from a checked or inoperative position; actuate: spring a trap.
a. To cause to warp, split, or crack, as a mast.
b. To bend by force.
5. To present or disclose unexpectedly or suddenly: "He sprung on the world this novel approach to political journalism" (Curtis Wilkie).
6. Slang To cause to be released from prison or other confinement.
1. An elastic device, such as a coil of wire, that regains its original shape after being compressed or extended.
2. An actuating force or factor; a motive.
a. Elasticity; resilience.
b. Energetic bounce: a spring to one's step.
4. The act or an instance of jumping or leaping.
5. A usually rapid return to normal shape after removal of stress; recoil.
6. A small stream of water flowing naturally from the earth.
7. A source, origin, or beginning.
a. The season of the year, occurring between winter and summer, during which the weather becomes warmer and plants revive, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice and popularly considered to comprise March, April, and May.
b. A time of growth and renewal.
9. A warping, bending, or cracking, as that caused by excessive force.
10. Architecture The point at which an arch or vault rises from its support.
1. Of or acting like a spring; resilient.
2. Having or supported by springs: a spring mattress.
a. Of, relating to, occurring in, or appropriate to the season of spring: spring showers; spring planting.
b. Grown during the season of spring: spring crops.
The Free Dictionary
Perhaps the most relevant definition as far as America's future role in the "new" Middle East is concerned would be definition number eight in the above verb list: "To move out of place; come loose, as parts of a mechanism." 

That "coming loose",  is really what is happening: America's foreign policy in the Middle East, elaborated over decades, is being destabilized and deconstructed and it is extremely doubtful that new governments resulting from this destabilization will be more ductile and cooperative in complying with American designs than the security states they replace.  Instead of its shining moral and democratic example, it may be the weakening of America's power grip that is helping to drive event in the Middle East.  

In short, the weakness of the dollar, military weariness, and America's mountainous debt, more than its love of democracy, are what the US brings to the "Arab Spring". 

And now in a "perfect storm" of American domestic politics, the future price of gasoline meets the Israel lobby, a film that might be entitled "Horror on K-Street".

The crunch for the USA in the Middle East comes in September, when the UN General Assembly -- where the US has no veto -- is set to recognize Palestine as an independent, sovereign state, whose frontiers will be those of 1967 and whose capital will be Jerusalem. This will mean that 1/2 million Israelis will be illegally occupying the territory of a UN member state and this will convert Israel into an instant "pariah state". The US and Israel will naturally vote against this and as it stacks up today they will be accompanied by the likes of Guatemala, Tonga and Vanuatu... a disaster... even Britain and France are set to vote for the recognition of a Palestinian state. 

Everybody, everywhere would like a peaceful and quiet Middle East, where the oil flows freely like the biblical milk and honey and the Palestine question is a major obstacle to this, because it has become perfectly obvious that Israel is only using the "Peace Process" to kill time while they carve up and colonize the occupied (sorry, "disputed") territories bit by bit... "creating facts" they call it... "one hill at a time"... it has been going on since before WWI and it is obvious that the USA is unable to make them stop. Seeing the tail so blatantly wagging the dog gives the new Arab democracies little motivation to go against their public opinion and cut the US any slack at all. The USA is not seen to holding any solutions for the problems of the Middle East, neither those of the new democracies, nor those of the remaining autocracies (read Saudi Arabia) but rather part of the problem.

Oil even more than money makes the world go round. For most of the world the choice between cheap oil and Israel is a no-brainer, but the American political system is paralyzed by its myriad lobbies and political action committees, like the NRA or AARP or in this case, the  American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

AIPAC works tirelessly to insure that American's notorious love of cheap gasoline doesn't trump their legendary. love of Israel. Unfortunately for Israel there is no such thing as a CHIPAC (China Israel Public Affairs Committee) or much less a BRICIPAC or a even a European EUIPAC so Obama is left holding the bag. If one day the President of the United States announces that the frontiers of any Palestinian state will be the frontiers of 1967, the next day he has to back down.

So that is the lay of the land: oil may be sold in a basket of currencies, which will mean a dollar in free fall, which will mean the end of "happy motoring" and Israel will have become a pariah state in a sea of hostile new democracies, mostly because the American political system is terminally paralyzed. DS

Saturday, May 21, 2011

UPDATED: Protests in Spain: waiting till the fat lady sings

The results of the election were exactly what the polls projected: the 15-M Movement appears to have had no affect on the voting... Whether this movement consolidates into something meaningful remains to be seen.

The Socialists got trounced because they applied neoliberal recipes and their voters deserted them, preferring the original to an imitation (Democrats take note).

What is most striking about Spain is that despite very high unemployment, the elections were quiet and without incidents. The protest movement has been non-violent and the atmosphere cheerful. This is due to Spain's society still being based on personal relationships and not just on the cash-nexus. As Dimitri Orlov says, when things get really bad, what you need are friends, friends being defined as people who will do things for you without asking for money in return. I shudder to think what the USA would be like with Spanish unemployment figures.

So yes, Spaniards still have their happy families, because if they didn't, with those levels of unemployment, the 15-M Movement would have been violent, not Gandhian. The United States could certainly benefit by studying the stability of Spanish society under stress.

As to bullfighting, the Mexican bullfighter, Ignacio Garibay, got gored badly in Madrid yesterday by a bull from the ranch of Pablo Romero that weighed 672 kgs. (nice Hemingway touch, nu?)

David Seaton's News Links
I am holding off writing about this till the votes are counted on Sunday's local elections, because till then, it will be difficult to extract any meaning from it except that, up till voting, what we have here is one of those wonderful, very Spanish, bring the family and spend the day, type of enormous fiestas, with lovely, 1960ish, hippy vibes, very well and spontaneously organized by the kids themselves. We went to the Puerta del Sol yesterday twice. Once in the morning and then later in the evening and it was beautiful... the kids are really lovable.

The rightwing is baying to have the riot police clear the square, but the government are behaving very intelligently... As I say, if this significantly affects the voting in any way. Then we we would be looking at a really meaningful protest.

It would seem logical that if people of the left wanted to send a message to the Socialists they would vote for Izquierda Unida, the Communist led coalition of the left,  which would force the Socialists to move more to the left. However, if everybody just stays home and doesn't vote, they will  have four years to regret so doing at their leisure, because the rightwing people always vote. They only win elections in Spain when there is big abstention. So lefties staying home would be cutting off their nose to spite their face. DS

If you'd like to follow all of this live, here below, is the video stream direct from the center of downtown Madrid.

Video clips at Ustream

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Tribute to New York's Finest

In some ways, last weekend was not especially remarkable for the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Squad. About 30 new cases came in, typical for the citywide unit of 190 specially trained investigators and supervisors.

But of those cases, among the 6,000 sex-based cases that the squad handles each year, none carried the notoriety of the one that accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of sexually attacking a housekeeper at a Manhattan hotel. New York Times
David Seaton's News Links
Anybody who reads my blog knows that I am no great admirer of American foreign policy or American militarism and especially not an admirer of the father and mother of  the above mentioned, America's economic system. However, the Strauss-Kahn case has given me a pleasant twinge of patriotic nachus schlepping, something this expat hasn't felt for a long, long time.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the world's most important and powerful men, sexually attacked Nafissatou Diallo, a poor, black, immigrant, single-mother, a  working woman struggling to support her young daughter, and the NYPD went and nailed his bitch ass. Hats off to "New York's Finest"... Sincerely, I get choked up with pride just thinking about it. DS

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Strauss-Kahn - an alternative narrative

Warning: speculation in progress

David Seaton's News Links
If ever, bored with reality, I decide to write political thrillers, this is how I would break down the Strauss-Kahn case.

The hotel is French owned... when I heard that my antennae went all aquiver... I was  invaded by the spirits of Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Len Deighton and John LeCarré... this has all the ingredients for one of their tales.

When we talk about the the New York Sofitel, we are talking about a little piece of France in the middle of Manhattan, a little piece of France, which comes under American legal jurisdiction, which is something that has both advantages and disadvatages, depending on how you play them.

New York in case you weren't aware of it, is a spook's paradise, it being simultaneously America's financial center and the home of the United Nations. Imagine the goodies available for the diligent gleaner. Think how convenient it would be for the French intelligence establishment to be able to listen to all the conversations, make video recordings of all the amorous liaisons in a luxury hotel... especially those of the most wealthy and influential French guests. It would seem probable to me that French intelligence has assets of theirs working in the hotel... microphones and video cameras installed or removed along with the dirty towels. To do this they would have to have the tacit permission of the hotel's French owners, if an appeal to their patriotism were not enough to convince them, it would not be difficult to make them an offer they couldn't refuse. So I think it would have been very easy for French intelligence to have organized the downfall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Why in the world would they want to do that?

Do I think Sarkozy is behind all this?

No, I don't, I don't think they would do this for Sarkozy, I think that they are doing it precisely because of the weakness of Sarkozy.

Most Americans reading about this affair think it is about the IMF, but in fact, true or false, it is about France.

And American readers who have understood that much may think that the coming French election was going to be between Sarkozy and Strauss-Kahn, when in fact Sarkozy's popularity has sunken so low that it is quite possible he won't even make it to the second round of those elections.

So again, imagine if a scandal like this were to break during the campaign, or was staged by people close the French far-right, it would, in the case of DSK still winning, leave France in the hands of a totally disgraced and crippled politician or hand the election to Marine Le Pen... This might lead to the break-up of the European Union, the collapse of the euro... either result would be a Pandora's box... a disaster for France and for its establishment. The merest possibility would be too terrible to contemplate.

In my alternate scenario, the downfall of DSK could be seen as the controlled demolition of a building in ruins, before it collapsed on its own, killing innocent pedestrians passing by. Doing it in New York would be simply be using America's implacable legal system to do their dirty work for them.

Happy ending. It gives the Socialist party time to recover from the shock and choose a candidate. Like him or not the French establishment can live with Sarkozy if he survives and wins again and the Socialist contenders: Aubrey, Hollande and Royale are all solid, clean, members of the French establishment and any of them could trounce Marine Le Pen in the run-off.

Is any of this political thriller true? Probably not, but, se non è vero, è ben trovato, it would make an entertaining read on a long flight. DS

PS: In an interview in the Spanish Newspaper El País, the pioneer of  America's "New Journalism", Gay Talese said that in his opinion the leading character of the Strauss-Kahn drama isn't the head of the IMF, but the chambermaid.

Who is the maid?
She is reported to be 32, and an immigrant from Africa, living with a teenage daughter. Investigates the Times: ““They’re good people,” said one neighbor, another African immigrant. “Every time I see her I’m happy because we’re both from Africa. She’s never given a problem for nobody. Never noisy. Everything nice.” Business Insider
Africa is a big, place, I would want to know if she is from francophone Africa, and if she is, does she have family in France, and if so would she or they be interested in obtaining French nationality?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The bigger they are the dumber they fall

David Seaton's News Links
Until this incident, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was favored to take the presidency of France away from Nicholas Sarkozy. Maybe he was set up... Sarkozy would be perfectly capable of that. 

But whether the chambermaid's story is true or not, I can't believe how dumb the head of the IMF is... He was in such a hurry to get away, he even left his cell phone... Not to mention samples of DNA.

I thought that only presidents of the USA did this kind of thing.

The way he behaved was panicky and dumb. A president may be required at times to be criminal, but to be panicky and dumb is unforgivable. DS

Saturday, May 07, 2011

"Geronimo"?... A Freudian slip?

David Seaton's News Links
The code name the SEALs gave Osama bin Laden, "Geronimo", gives the game away... Freudian slip, I guess. This is a story that goes way way back... really it is just the dark side of the new technologies that makes it different. 

As we hear all the time, these are tools which "empower" people. If the technologies had existed back then, Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse would probably have attacked New York and Washington and the Zulus might have trashed London. 

Today we live 21rst century imperialism and it reads a little bit like a cross between Arthur C. Clark and Rudyard Kipling... on LSD. The only thing that gives this all a special taste is America's endless hypocrisy... like Al Capone nattering on about "values" and "that's not who we are".... Yes, in fact, that is "who we are" and we must schlepp the karma. Al Qaeda is just  part of that karma.

There are all sorts of "natives" that have resisted imperial oppression, we could as easily speak of Tipu Sultan as Crazy Horse, but Native-Americans like Sitting Bull and Geronimo are better known to Americans than the Fuzzy-Wuzzys. Most of them were killed or imprisoned and the people who did so were sure they deserved to be. Osama bin Laden was simply -- up till today -- the most wildly successful "native" in history in inflicting pain on his imperial adversaries and probably over time, that is how he will be seen. He showed it could be done... he could be called the Wright Brothers of anti-imperial terrorism.

What will the future bring?

If we keep sticking our noses into other people's affairs, economies, religious practices and local arguments, you can be sure that sooner than later, much, much, worse things than 9/11 will occur on American soil. DS

Friday, May 06, 2011

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us...

 "Torture the one who knows nothing to make him talk, kill the one who knows everything to make him shut up."
David Seaton's News Links
I'm proud to say that Andrés Rábago, who signs, "El Roto" ("the broken one"), is an old friend of mine and it is no stretch to affirm that he is one of the world's finest political cartoonists, able to sum up a complex policy or even a philosophy with only a few words and some shadows. Here is his take on Obama's fine adventure. His email is on the drawing if you'd like to congratulate him.DS

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why Obama won't release the photo of bin Laden. A wise decision

Bullet wound to the head: entry-exit
"I think that, given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk," Mr Obama said.(...) "It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are." BBC

In general, exit wounds are larger than entrance wounds. They are also more irregular in outline, and their edges are everted. They exhibit no abrasion collar, and they do not have any features of secondary muzzle product projectile impact, such as soot soiling, or powder tattooing (Besant-Matthews 2000; Knight 1996).  www.forensicmed.co.uk

Osama bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter watched as her father was shot dead by American special forces, a senior Pakistani intelligence official has told the Guardian.
David Seaton's News Links
Obama's decision not to publish the photo of the dead bin Laden is wise decision albeit a rather desperate one.

People who have been allowed to see the photo all report that there is a large wound over bin Laden's left eye, large enough to have a clear view of his brain. This means that he was shot in the back of the head.

On viewing the photo thousands of forensic surgeons all over the world could quickly calculate the type of bullet and the distance it was fired from.

Before too many days have passed Osama bin Laden's twelve year old daughter will be interviewed by the Arab media. In the interview she will tearfully profess that her father was unarmed and captured when he was summarily executed by America's "A-Team", the highly trained Seals.

The photograph of bin Laden would be physical evidence that her story is true.

This of course would inflame public opinion and not only in the world of Islam.

Thus, at this point, the president's decision is a wise one. However, one must ask if the decision to not bring bin Laden to trial and to summarily execute him in front of witnesses after capturing him, and then showing the photograph around, after leaving the witnesses behind, were wise decisions. DS

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Et Maintenant?

"There are a lot of doubts," echoed Magdy Suleiman as he was fixing falafel sandwiches for a lunch-hour crowd in Cairo's middle-class Agouza neighborhood Tuesday. "Why did they catch him now?"(...) In cafes in downtown Riyadh, bin Laden's birthplace, men Tuesday repeated another long-standing belief among some Arabs: that the terrorist mastermind never existed. "To be honest, I've never been convinced that there was such a person as Osama bin Laden," said Osama al-Obeid, a Saudi banker.  Wall Street Journal 

By midday yesterday, I had three phone calls from Arabs, all certain that it was Bin Laden's double who was killed by the Americans – just as I know many Iraqis who still believe that Saddam's sons were not killed in 2003, nor Saddam really hanged. In due course, al-Qa'ida will tell us. Of course, if we are all wrong and it was a double, we're going to be treated to yet another videotape from the real Bin Laden – and President Barack Obama will lose the next election. Robert Fisk - Independent

In reality, Bin Laden's death changes nothing, except perhaps to ensure that, economy permitting, Barack Obama is re-elected. The occupation of Iraq, the Af-Pak war and Nato's Libyan adventure look set to continue. Israel-Palestine is stalemated, though the despotisms in the Arab world that Obama has denounced are under pressure – except the worst of them all, Saudi Arabia. Tariq Ali - Guardian
David Seaton's News Links
You have to hand it to Obama he took the chance to win the prize. But he may yet have cause to regret his triumph.

There seems to be a sour feeling hanging over the whole thing. The disturbing story bin Laden's daughter tells from Pakistani custody and the conflicting and confused response(s) from Washington have taken a bit of the glowing edge off the whole thing.

We now wait for the other shoe to drop.

If Al Qaeda, or what is left of it, cannot produce anything spectacular in response to the death of their icon, something, if not as grandiose as 9-11, at least as professional... not a schoolboy wearing exploding diapers, but something stunning, then we will have come the end of an era and we will have to hunt around to find the beginning of a new one

Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists and Osama bin Laden is dead, who will take on the indispensable role of the "official villain" or "bad guy", so the "indispensable nation", can be "indispensable"? Who will be the Hitler du jour, without whom it will be difficult or impossible for the USA to justify its serial invading of small countries which is what justifies in turn its massive military expenditures?

Osama bin Laden, who began his career fighting the USSR in Afghanistan was about the last relic of the Cold War left standing, unless you count the ancient Fidel Castro... What will they find to keep the military-industrial complex up and running... You can be sure that they will find something.

As Gilbert Becaud put it... What now? DS

Monday, May 02, 2011

Now what? (heavily updated)

Update: I get the strange feeling that Osama bin Laden was like a bottle of champagne that people keep in the refrigerator to open on some future, unspecified "special occasion". Since he was obviously under Pakistani surveillance and probably has been for years, I'm interested in understanding the timing of this great day.

The "mysterious force" that seems to be at work here is the collapse of supply side economics, otherwise known as "voodoo" economics or Reaganomics, which has led to a situation where the USA must cut costs and raise taxes or go the way of the Wiemar Republic. This is very upsetting for those few who have enough money to influence public opinion, such as the Koch brothers, Murdoch and of course Trump, plus many other less conspicuous billionaires. Nothing more mysterious than that.

Recently added to this poisonous brew is the slow motion collapse of America's position in the center of the world's oil production, the Middle East, otherwise known as the "Arab Spring", which is being sold as a triumph of our "values", but which is, in fact, an unqualified disaster for the USA both economically and geopolitically.

My tentative reading of the bin Laden "job" is that Obama was looking weak and now needed some of what Dubya called "political credit" in order to raise taxes, cut entitlements and declare "victory" in Afghanistan and Iraq and get out ASAP, because the USA is broke.

Bin Laden had been located for quite some time and like the bottle of champagne kept in the fridge for special occasions that I mention, now was the time to uncork it and drink it... get people feeling good before major surgery.

David Seaton's News Links
Nearly ten years after the attack on the Twin Towers, it is reported that Osama bin Laden has been killed in a military town in Pakistan by American commandos and his body quickly dumped into the ocean. At this writing there is no photograph of his corpse.

The question that immediately springs to my mind is that, although Americans will feel a lot better, what will  be the real impact  of bin Laden's death (in battle) in an Islamist culture of martyrdom, a culture of countless suicide bombers? Are they expected to pack up and go home on hearing the news. To be killed in jihad was presumed to be bin Laden's heart's desire. To have captured him and brought him to trial would have certainly been more demoralizing.

Do Al Qaeda still have the capacity to retaliate significantly? That is the real question in the coming days and weeks. DS