Archive for the ‘Nuclear Proliferation’ Category

Trump’s nukes…

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

With Il Duce Trump, there are many things to worry about, but none more serious than an arms race. Nukes were and are in every fascist’s wet dreams. Think of what the world would become if Hitler’s atomic program had gelled. Think of what the Cuban Missile Crisis might have become if Nikita’s shoe tantrum had led to nuclear Armageddon. Every time a two-bit fascist shakes the nuclear club, that Doomsday Clock approaches closer to midnight.

Trump argues we can build more and better bombs than anyone else. This crazy policy isn’t the dandy’s game of an old-fashioned duel between Burr and Hamilton with old pistols, yet our dandy Il Duce is challenging the rest of the world’s fascist leaders to a duel (and maybe anyone else he doesn’t like?), and everyone else in the world will be innocent bystanders for the duelists. Potential candidates for Il Duce’s wrath? Leaders of France, Great Britain, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia—have I left anyone out?—are either fascists like Trump waving this dueling pistol or potential fascists who will do the same if the world continues to turn to fascism. It’s like a game of musical chairs: round and round we go, and, when Berlioz’s “March to the Gallows” stops, someone will shoot the first missiles. Given Il Duce’s thin skin, the first one will probably be Trump.

He’s so thin-skinned he’d like to censor SNL and ship Alec Baldwin off to Gitmo. Let’s hope he doesn’t confuse the nuclear codes with his Twitter account! Of course, most fascists are thin-skinned and raging paranoid hotheads, so that’s not surprising. What’s surprising to many of us and a large part of the world is that U.S. voters can elect a hot-headed fascist to be their president. Whatever popularity he has is beside the point. Hitler was popular. Stalin was popular. Castro was popular. Franco and Mussolini were popular. Putin is popular. Their attraction stemming from carefully cultivated cults of personality still exists in their respective countries. Once in Madrid I wasn’t almost trapped in a pro-Franco demonstration. Weeping crowds in Cuba over Castro’s ashes on tour is yet another example. People can love fascism…until it bites them in their butts.  Trump, if tweets are any indication, has enormous mandibles (made larger by his foot in his mouth, of course), so he will be biting us sooner than later (his cabinet is a big intolerable bite already).  The monster is loose and will soon be in the White House.

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Irish Stew #59…

Monday, January 9th, 2017

International

Classic Putin? His refusal to expel U.S. diplomats in response to Obama’s retaliation for Russian hacking and inviting the diplomats’ kids to a Christmas party made me wonder if a bare-chested Putin would ride in to the party on a reindeer sporting the rest of Santa’s costume. Even without the latter, Putin’s response makes Putin look like a PR genius (can I hire his PR people for my books?) and Obama look like a chump. McCain rightly states that Putin is a murdering thug, though, and certainly not on Santa’s “nice list,” so maybe Trump’s chump for SecState won’t be approved by the Senate. Trump is swimming in dangerous waters! No one likes Putin except Trump and the narcissistic despot himself.

I’ve been very careful to separate the sleazy practices at the DNC exposed by the Russian hackers from the criminal actions of the hackers and the man who commands them, Vladimir Putin. Obama is right to say that we should be on the same page about Putin’s nefarious attempts to undermine the American election, now established by U.S. intelligence leaders—Putin is the enemy here. But I’m not alone in wondering if Obama and other Dems would give a rat’s ass about this if it had been the RNC that was hacked, or if HRC had won. Those who would say HRC lost because of the hack in spite of the findings from the intelligence community, and the continue to blame the FBI director, should just move on. Trump won, figure out why, and never let it happen again. Moreover, let’s work our butts off to keep this psycho Il Duce from destroying the world!

The art of the deal? To many one-percenters, war is a business. Either Trump wants to pander to these ghouls, or he wants a piece of the action. The U.S. sells more arms to the rest of the world than any other country and, of course, the Pentagon still wants their new and improved toys too. People get rich off war. Il Duce Trump, not content with the endowment Nature gave him, wants to extend it by forging new swords to brandish internationally. “Let’s have another arms race,” he says, “because we’ll have bigger and better bombs.” (OK, I couldn’t find the direct quote, but that’s the idea!). We have a recipe for disaster on an international scale. At the very least, I can see international conflagrations occurring as more bodies, Americans and others, are poured into the maws of Mars. Insane!

National

What’s with deifying Elizabeth Warren? This faux-progressive is becoming Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc for all HRC’s liberal faux-progressives licking their wounds after the presidential election. I can imagine “liberal Catholics” (now there’s an oxymoron!) proposing her for sainthood. Just remember, ye true progressives across the land, she campaigned for HRC in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the primaries instead of Bernie Sanders. Remember that guy, the one who could have beaten Il Duce Trump? Warren and the rest of HRC’s sleaze-team got what they deserved. And Warren is part of that crowd! She just announced she will run in 2018. I’m hoping there’s a true Massachusetts progressive candidate who will run against this faux-progressive in the primary.

Healthcare. Mitch McConnell says the first item on the agenda for the new Congress is to end the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. McConnell, Ryan, and others in the GOP are already talking about slashing Medicare and Social Security, and Medicaid is on the way out. Do the American people really want to turn back the clock to when health insurance meant insurance that you would die young? When insurance companies dropped you as soon as you contracted something serious? When millions of people’s insurance reduced to emergency visits to ERs?

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Nuclear hypocrisy…

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in Mr. Obama’s trip to Hiroshima? Or, at least the irony? OK, as a guy who wordsmiths full-time now, what the president said is both ironic and hypocritical. His basic message was that everyone has to work toward a nuke-free world. No apology for dropping the bomb (more on this later), but that message was clear. It was hypocritical because the U.S. isn’t doing that, and it’s ironic if Mr. Obama really knows he’s being hypocritical.

The nuclear powers of the world—and they include Israel—don’t want others to join that exclusive club. Their nukes allow them to strut and posture instead of walking softly, and to wave a very big stick to the rest of the world. If you assume that their arrogance is accompanied by restraint, that’s OK, but that’s quite an assumption. The Cold War avoided nuclear Armageddon only because the sticks of the two parties guaranteed a no-win situation—both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. would have been destroyed.

That was a precarious situation, as the Cuban Missile Crisis showed. While that balancing act still continues with a shriveled Russia taking the place of the U.S.S.R., there are other states who can shake the stick—Israel, in spite of denials, has nukes, and that psychotic despot in North Korea is starving his people so he can shake that stick too. Iran was going down that road. It’s not clear that a détente between two theocracies in the Middle East, Iran and Israel, would be a good thing—Israel has shown some restraint, but Iran is unpredictable.

The Iran/Israel case also reflects U.S. hypocrisy. Jump on Iran for the good of peace in the Middle East? What about jumping on Israel? They’re both theocracies, and the current leaders of Israel often seem just as conservative as the Ayatollahs. There’s probably a guilt trip lurking in the background here. The predominantly Christian West, sitting between Judaism and Islam historically for the most part, would just toss a coin—again from the religious point of view—if it weren’t for guilt about the Holocaust.

Of course, I’m even wrong treating the Jewish Holocaust as unique. The Armenian Holocaust occurred earlier (World War One era, not World War Two–Germany just incurred the wrath of the Turks by calling it a holocaust) and others have occurred too—Cambodia and Yugoslavia, to name a few. Even the U.S. interned presumed enemies, Japanese-Americans during World War Two. All this was terrible; none of it is unique because human beings do terrible things to other human beings en masse on a regular basis.

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Irish Stew #43…

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

[Note from Steve: Lots of news to comment on, mostly of the political sort, both national and international.  Cherry pick what you like.  You won’t see comments like this anywhere else—I don’t have anyone telling me what I can or can’t write.  Caveat emptor.  Supportive or angry comments are always welcome if PG-13, though—no foul language, please.]

Item. Iran deal.  Remember when JFK ran for president and was attacked because people thought his religion would make him the slave of the Vatican?  Sen. Chuck Schumer is now actually committing that sin.  He’s letting Netanyahu tell him how to vote on the Iran deal.  Anyone with this kind of allegiance to a foreign power should lose their citizenship.  In his case, it probably won’t happen, but he should at the very least recuse himself because he’s letting his religion bias his decisions.  I’ll say it again: Israel is a theocracy.  Recent events with fanatical Jews in Israel show the country has as many fanatics as Iran; and Netanyahu panders to his conservative base (sound familiar?), the Orthodox Jews, who are the Ayatollahs and fanatics of their faith.  Letting religion dictate politics has no business in a multicultural and secular world.  Religion has no business in political decisions, period.

Schumer’s feeble argument as he tries to weasel out of this one?  He has a problem with the deal because Iran could have the bomb in ten years.  Huh?  Israel has the bomb now!  The atomic imbalance in the Middle East with its ensuing threat of nuclear Armageddon already exists because of Israel.  Is Schumer such an idiot that he thinks Netanyahu won’t turn Teheran into nuclear glass if he thinks they’re about to wage nuclear war against Israel?  We have to learn to let all the factions in the Middle East duke it out and NOT get involved in these ethnic, religious squabbles.

Item. GOP stupidity.  Stupidity’s a chronic disease in Washington these days—or maybe it’s a requirement to be a pol?  During the GOP debate in Cleveland (this could have occurred in a Dem debate too), someone said (was it that sourpuss Rand Paul who looked like he needed a Nazi uniform?) that Iran and ISIS were the same thing.  This is a chronic and common misunderstanding among the general population.  Many people lump all Islamic terrorists together, but they’re not all the same.

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The Iranian-U.S. accord…

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Israel won’t like it.  The U.S. Congress won’t like it.  It’s not perfect.  But what do we have to lose?  There will be naysayers—many congressional Democrats and Republicans will fall in line behind Netanyahu.  There is a worry that ending the conventional arms embargo will lead to new saber rattling on the part of Iran.  Maybe they can do more than rattle sabers against ISIS, right now the biggest danger in the Middle East—the Iraqis and U.S.-led coalition’s efforts are anemic.

Israel has been a destabilizing influence in the Middle East since its rebirth, but everyone should remember that Israel has nukes, so they have nothing to say in this matter—not even a right to express an opinion.  Besides, Israel is just another theocracy and prone to its own saber rattling—Netanyahu has already threatened that they’ll just have to go their own way (many Israelis don’t agree with that opinion, by the way).  The continued construction on the West Bank and resistance to a Palestinian state doesn’t add to their popularity.

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Neocolonialism in the 21st century…

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

You’d think the world is beyond colonialism.  The break-up of the British, German, and Japanese empires after WW II, and the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 90s, were all historically significant and geographically painful in the sense that these break-ups left bitter memories among the populations affected.  Fighting in Northern Island, Yugoslavia, and lingering skirmishes in the Middle East and Africa can all be traced back to serious mistakes made in creating or carving up old colonies.  After three centuries where colonial land- and power-grabbing countries tried to dominate their colonies and swallow up smaller nations, you’d think human beings would have learned that colonies are a bad idea.

Historically, the Brits were the worst offenders.  The famous adage, “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” pretty much describes what went on.  Prince William’s current trip to New Zealand and Australia aside, the Malvinas represented the Brits last stand in the 20th century (I use Argentina’s name) and still might become a problem for the Brits in the 21st.  The British Commonwealth countries might give a wink and a nod to the monarchy, but they mostly ignore the British government.

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Irish Stew #28…

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Item: Russia IS only a regional power.  The Russians weren’t happy with Obama’s statement.  Tough!  If Putin had a brain aneurysm somewhere in that KGB mind, he would have blown it (that would probably be a good thing for the future of the human race).  He talks tough to the West; we should talk tough back.  The Russian newscaster stated that Russia can turn the U.S. into nuclear slag.  That works both ways.  But let’s tone that down a bit, boys.  The Russian mafia—Putin is its godfather—can’t oppress and scam the Russian people anymore if they’re nuclear ash.  Monsanto, Exxon-Mobil, and Wall Street can’t transfer wealth from the middle class to themselves anymore (shall we call it raping the middle class?) if they’re radioactive waste floating in Earth’s atmosphere.

Yes, Russia IS only a regional power, a two-continent-wide bully picking on smaller countries and shaking its neo-colonial big stick at all of Western Europe.  They’ve always been that way, from the Tsars to Putin.  Their country-grabbing after World War II was worse than anything Hitler accomplished if you add non-Jewish Russians murdered by Stalin to Stalin’s many Jewish pogroms.  The difference between Hitler and Stalin?  The latter dictator survived World War II.  Putin is the son of Stalin.  He survived the breakup of the Soviet Union and is now out for revenge.

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A resurgent Russia…

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I’ve heard that phrase from various media pundits.  It’s comical.  Resurgence is what Godfather Putin would like Sochi to signify, but the only thing resurging in Russia is this narcissist strongman’s egotistical delusion.  Russia is spiraling down to insignificance.  For nearly a century, it has been ruled by mafiosos whose only interest is to ensure that Russian workers make them rich.  In the Soviet era, they hid all this under the cloak of ideology.  Now it’s clear that the only ideology is greed and exploitation.

Russian people are worn out and angry, except for those who participate in the corruption, of course.  A recent Sixty Minutes episode showed how extensive and lethal this can be, and that’s probably only the tip of the iceberg.  Persecution of singing groups and other protestors make the news here, but you can be sure that what goes on behind the scenes is worse.  Journalists, industrialists, and opposition leaders who don’t play by Putin’s rules are jailed on trumped-up charges, or simply killed.  A Russian gangster, a confident of Putin, bribes and threatens to bring the Olympics to Sochi and then scams the Russian people.

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Nuclear proliferation and nuclear responsibility…

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Nuclear technology is with us to stay…well, as long as we don’t destroy the Earth!  On one hand, we have the frightening scenario of a nuclear exchange; on the other, we have the possibility that nuclear power plants can contribute as alternate energy sources.  Somewhere between these polar opposites, one finds nuclear medicine.  I’m a person that believes that nuclear technology is not inherently good or bad, but human scientists and engineers who handle it need to ensure its safety.  More than most technologies, human error can have devastating consequences.

The reactor problem in Japan is one egregious example.  That region might require millennia to recover.  The same can be said for Chernobyl.  Estimates are all over the board.  Both cases are examples of human complacency, stupidity, and terrible miscalculations.  For Japan’s case, one can ask: Who would build a reactor close to a fault line?  We do!  California is one of the most active earthquake areas in the world, yet there are reactors on the California coast.  The one on the Hudson in New York State only seemed to have the problem that the river provides an easy access.  I rode by it on a tour to West Point—I didn’t see any special security arrangements.  Moreover, an earthquake did occur not long ago.  I was writing when the room started swaying and felt like I had returned to my youth in Santa Barbara.

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Afghanistan, Iraq, and all that…

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

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After two lengthy wars in these countries, it’s time to step back and analyze what we’ve gained.  It’s clear what we lost: war casualties—our combatants, their combatants, and innocent civilians; national wealth—billions and billions of dollars; good will in the Middle East; and good feelings among present and former allies.  Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo showed an ugly side of the war on terror that seems to contradict our worship of democracy and democratic institutions—whether you think that non-U.S. enemy combatants can be tortured or not, the fact that we did doesn’t sit well everywhere in the world.

Many Marines who participated in the battles of Fallujah were distraught when al Qaeda in Iraq (or are they from Syria?) captured the city.  They saw compatriots fall there.  The survivors brought home physical and mental wounds from the battles.  They have a reason to ask, “What did we do that for?”  This is a common theme in the Middle East.  No matter the national sacrifice in personnel and wealth, no matter the diplomatic overtures, and no matter the good will of many civilians living in the region, extreme elements come back to haunt us like antibiotic-resistant bacteria reinvading the body politic of the region.

Karzai in Afghanistan is showing his true stripes.  He and his corrupt family and friends have no real interest in turning that country into something beyond an opium-producing state.  Noises are being made about deals with the Taliban.  You can expect that any advances made during our time there will disappear, leading to the horrendous treatment of women and the slavish following of sharia law once again.  This is a tribal society—a collection of warlords and their fiefdoms, not a modern state.  There’s little chance it will ever become one.  Moreover, we might see this relic of the Dark Ages corrupting Pakistan in the future in a major way, leading to terrorists with nukes.

Whatever you have against Joe Biden (ex-SecDef Gates in his new book expresses no love for the man), you’ll have to admit he was right about Iraq (Gates is too stupid to do so).  There are three Iraqi states at least—Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd—and possibly four now with the incursion of al Qaeda from Syria.  The absurdity of this situation is that the Shiite Iranis possibly feel threatened by the al Qaeda Sunnis and other Sunnis in Iraq, which might explain somewhat their recent diplomatic overtures.  But, like in Afghanistan, Iraq’s central government is corrupt and inept and completely incapable of holding all the different factions together.  Syria, Iraq, and Kurdish Turkey are like the old Yugoslavia.  To hold them together, you need a tyrant.  With the tyrant gone, you need multiple nations, one for each ethnic group.

The whole Middle East is like quicksand—even when the situation seems favorable, you can start to sink.  Israel isn’t helping either.  Their resistance to a Palestinian state is always a sore point for the most tolerant of Muslims and offers a rallying point for the most bellicose.  Pakistan, long at odds with India, has gone its own way, and the Indian government is showing its backward ways in their unreasonable support of an exploitative diplomat.  Turkey, the only NATO member in the area, isn’t stable and also a fair-weather friend, for both EU and US.  From Istanbul and the SSR Muslim republics to Sri Lanka, the Middle East and from Morocco to Bangladesh, you have unstable governments whipping up ethnic and anti-US sentiments.  It’s hard to find a friend anywhere.  No wonder “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has been the corner-stone of American foreign policy in the region.

Europe doesn’t help.  European governments love to see the US spending money fighting terrorism that they don’t have to spend.  They love to see the US take the foreign policy hits.  The US is the EU’s biggest competitor, of course.  What Europe doesn’t see is that their myopic policies for treating the ethnic minorities providing their cheap labor will become their Achilles heel in the future.  Many of these minorities are poor Muslims—they have no love for the rich Europeans in charge of the economies throughout the EU.  They will place demands on the great socialist democracies of Europe and, if not met, there’ll be hell to pay.

Putin’s Russia is a loose cannon.  While the US and EU are debating same-sex marriage and human rights, homophobic Russia is heading in the opposite direction.  Led by Putin, that dark nation is returning to Stalinism, making a farce out of any democratic inclinations.  There are worse tyrants (the spoiled brat in North Korea is one), but narcissistic Vladimir rules the old land of the czars with an iron hand too.  He’s like the Godfather.  He and his friends form a mafia that is much stronger than any found in the old USSR, and they hide under the cloak of democracy.  Putin and therefore Russia deal with the Middle East erratically, as the contradictions between their support of Syria and their criticism of Iran show.  Again, there’ll be hell to pay because those former SSR Muslim republics haven’t forgotten the heavy boot of Stalin and his successors.

Given that the Middle East is so problematic in general and Afghanistan and Iraq in particular, what are we doing there?  The region won’t ever amount to anything.  Taking the region as a whole, you have a huge, mostly uneducated population that has never learned to get along.  I’m counting Israel here—if not the former (Bibi’s emotional responses don’t show much education, in my opinion), at least the latter.  It’s a strong argument for isolationism, by which I mean isolating the region and letting them settle their differences without our interference.  Becoming embroiled in the disputes in the region hasn’t proven to be a good idea historically.  One can say that “hands off!” should be our foreign policy mantra.

On the other hand, that huge population is a huge market and certain countries in the region provide oil, more to the EU than the US.  I’d suggest that we let the European countries assume the peace-making role.  Let them try to broker the diplomatic deals that might win peace in the Middle East.  They have more to lose.  Unfortunately, Europe has shown that they’re inept in most things diplomatic.  We’ve more or less taken the attitude that it’s a dirty job, but someone has to try to make the different parties sit down and make peace.  I don’t see that ending well.

And so it goes….