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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Imperial Fatigue and an Age of Uncertainty


"America's ability to bring a modicum of order to the world is simply fading in slow motion."


Where's the American empire when we need it?

By Robert D. Kaplan
Washington Post
Friday, December 3, 2010; 8:00 PM

Currency wars. Terrorist attacks. Military conflicts. Rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons. Collapsing states. And now, massive leaks of secret documents. What is the cause of such turbulence? The absence of empire.

During the Cold War, the world was divided between the Soviet and U.S. imperial systems. The Soviet imperium - heir to Kievan Rus, medieval Muscovy and the Romanov dynasty - covered Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and propped up regimes in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The American imperium - heir to maritime Venice and Great Britain - also propped up allies, particularly in Western Europe and East Asia. True to the garrison tradition of imperial Rome, Washington kept bases in West Germany, Turkey, South Korea and Japan, virtually surrounding the Soviet Union.

The breakup of the Soviet empire, though it caused euphoria in the West and led to freedom in Central Europe, also sparked ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and created millions of refugees. (In Tajikistan alone, more than 50,000 people were killed in a civil war that barely registered in the U.S. media in the 1990s.)

The Soviet collapse also unleashed economic and social chaos in Russia itself, as well as the further unmooring of the Middle East. It was no accident that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait less than a year after the Berlin Wall fell, just as it is inconceivable that the United States would have invaded Iraq if the Soviet Union, a staunch patron of Baghdad, still existed in 2003. And had the Soviet empire not fallen apart or ignominiously withdrawn from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden never would have taken refuge there and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, might not have happened. Such are the wages of imperial collapse.

Now the other pillar of the relative peace of the Cold War, the United States, is slipping, while new powers such as China and India remain unready and unwilling to fill the void. There will be no sudden breakdown on our part, as the United States, unlike the Soviet Union, is sturdily maintained by economic and political freedom. Rather, America's ability to bring a modicum of order to the world is simply fading in slow motion.

The days of the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency are numbered, just as our diplomacy is hobbled by wide-ranging security leaks that are specific to an age of electronic communication, itself hostile to imperial rule.

Then there is America's military power. Armies win wars, but in an age when the theater of conflict is global, navies and air forces are more accurate registers of national might. (Any attack on Iran, for example, would be a sea and air campaign.) The U.S. Navy has gone from nearly 600 warships in the Reagan era to fewer than 300 today, while the navies of China and India grow apace. Such trends will accelerate with the defense cuts that are surely coming in order to rescue America from its fiscal crisis. The United States still dominates the seas and the air and will do so for years ahead, but the distance between it and other nations is narrowing.

Terrorist acts, ethnic atrocities, the yearning after horrible weaponry and the disclosure of secret cables are the work of individuals who cannot escape their own moral responsibility. But the headlines of our era are written in a specific context - that of one deceased empire that used to be the world's preeminent land power and of another, the world's preeminent sea power, that finds itself less able to affect events than ever before, even as it is less sure than ever of the cause toward which it struggles.

This is no indictment of President Obama's foreign policy. There is slim evidence of a credible alternative to his actions on North Korea, Iran and Iraq, while a feisty debate goes on over the proper course in Afghanistan. But there is simply no doubt that the post-imperial order we inhabit allows for greater disruptions than the Cold War ever permitted.

Husbanding our power in an effort to slow America's decline in a post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan world would mean avoiding debilitating land entanglements and focusing instead on being more of an offshore balancer: that is, lurking with our air and sea forces over the horizon, intervening only when outrages are committed that unquestionably threaten our allies and world order in general. While this may be in America's interest, the very signaling of such an aloof intention may encourage regional bullies, given that rogue regimes are the organizing principles for some pivotal parts of the world.

North Korea already plows onward with its nuclear weapons program, even as it lobs artillery shells on a South Korean island, demonstrating the limits of both U.S. and Chinese power in a semi-anarchic world. During the Cold War, North Korea was kept in its box by the Soviet Union while the U.S. Navy dominated the Pacific as though it were an American lake. Now China's economic dominance of the region, coupled with our distracting land wars in the Middle East, is transforming the western Pacific from a benign and stable environment to a more uncertain and complex one.

China's navy is decades behind America's, but that should offer little consolation. The United States, having just experienced asymmetric warfare on land, should now expect asymmetric challenges at sea. With its improving mine-warfare capability, seabed sonar networks and cyber-warfare in the service of anti-ship ballistic missiles, not to mention its diesel-electric and nuclear submarines, China will make U.S. Navy operations more dangerous over the coming years.

As for Taiwan, China has 1,500 short-range ballistic missiles pointed at the island, even as hundreds of commercial flights each week link Taiwan with the mainland in peaceful commerce. When China effectively incorporates Taiwan in the years to come, that will signal the arrival of a truly multipolar and less predictable military environment in East Asia.

In the Middle East we see the real collapse of the Cold War imperial order. The neat Israeli-Arab dichotomy that mirrored the American-Soviet one has been replaced by a less stable power arrangement, with a zone of Iranian influence stretching from Lebanon to western Afghanistan, pitted against both Israel and the Sunni Arab world, and with a newly Islamic, and no longer pro-Western, Turkey rising as a balancing power.

Yes, empires impose order, but that order is not necessarily benevolent, as Iran's budding imperial domain shows. U.S. threats against Iran lack credibility precisely because of our imperial fatigue resulting from Iraq and Afghanistan. Out of self-interest we will probably not involve ourselves in another war in the Middle East - even as that very self-interest could consign the region to a nuclear standoff.

One standard narrative is that as we recede, China will step up as part of a benign post-American world. But this presupposes that all imperial powers are the same, even when history clearly demonstrates that they are not. Nor does one empire sequentially fill the gap left by another.

While the Soviet Union and the United States were both missionary powers motivated by ideals - communism and liberal democracy - through which they might order the world, China has no such grand conception. It is driven abroad by the hunger for natural resources (hydrocarbons, minerals and metals) that it requires to raise hundreds of millions of its citizens into the middle class.

This could abet the development of a trading system between the Indian Ocean, Africa and Central Asia that might maintain peace with minimal American involvement. But who is to fill the moral void? Does China really care if Tehran develops nuclear weapons, so long as it has access to Iran's natural gas? And Beijing may not be entirely comfortable with the North Korean regime, which keeps its population in a state of freeze-frame semi-starvation, but China props it up nevertheless.

It can be argued that with power comes moral responsibility, but it will probably be decades before China has the kind of navy and air force that would lead it to become an authentic partner in an international security system. For the moment, Beijing gets a free ride off the protection of the world's sea lanes that the U.S. Navy helps provide, and watches us struggle to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan so that China can one day extract their natural resources.

If the Cold War was an epoch of relative stability, guaranteed by a tacit understanding among empires, we now have one waning empire, that of the United States, trying to bring order amid a world of rising and sometimes hostile powers.

Looming over all of this is the densely crowded global map. Across Eurasia, rural populations have given way to megacities prone to incitement by mass media and to destruction by environmental catastrophe. Lumbering, hard-to-deploy armies are being replaced with overlapping ballistic missile ranges that demonstrate the delivery capabilities of weapons of mass destruction. New technologies make everything affect everything else at a faster and more lethal rate than ever before. The free flow of information, as the WikiLeaks scandal makes clear, and the miniaturization of weaponry, as the terrorist bombings in Pakistani cities make clear, work against the rise and sustenance of imperial orders.

The American empire has always been more structural than spiritual. Its network of alliances certainly resembles those of empires past, and the challenges facing its troops abroad are comparable to those of imperial forces of yore, though the American public, especially after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in no mood for any more of the land-centric adventures that have been the stuff of imperialism since antiquity.

Americans rightly lack an imperial mentality. But lessening our engagement with the world would have devastating consequences for humanity. The disruptions we witness today are but a taste of what is to come should our country flinch from its international responsibilities.

Robert D. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a correspondent for the Atlantic. He is the author of "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power."

145 comments:

  1. I suppose it was inevitable. When we won the Cold War, we created billions of people capable of pursuing the good life, achieving some degree of freedom and increasing material wealth.

    To a degree, these people became competitors, hungry competitors, and the societies to which they belong have increased in wealth and power.

    With wealth and power comes influence.

    During the Cold War the American and Soviets both had military and economic power but they also had an ideology, opposing but ideologies all the same.

    The Soviets are gone and the US no longer has the economic base and currency to satisfy the insatiable needs of a truly global military force.

    We do not yet know what the ideology of China is other than doing what is best for China.

    Rather than wait, it is best that the US firstly brings its economic house in order.

    A strong economy, a sound banking system, energy independence, modern industry and infrastructure, all make for the working capital of great nations from which all else flows.

    With that we can maintain our ability to somewhat control a messy world and assure our independence and influence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The US also suffers from being a nation that no longer shares a common ideology. That is the one component most difficult to restore.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "(CNN) -- Iran now produces everything it needs for the nuclear fuel cycle, making its nuclear program self-sufficient, the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization told state media Sunday."

    Too bad we hanged the only leader in the Middle East who could have contained the Persians.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ALBANY - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a blunt message yesterday for New Yorkers: Buzz off!

    Christie blasted Gov. Paterson's proposal to split the cost of rebuilding the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge - even though it doesn't extend into the Garden State.

    "I can't make this any clearer to New York than this: Stop screwing with us," Christie told reporters. "You're not going to come and pick our pockets. New Jersey is not going to permit it anymore."

    Under Team Paterson's proposal, responsibility for the bridge would be taken from the state Thruway Authority and transferred to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

    No dice, Christie cried.

    "I'm not inclined to extend the port region further into New York just to bite off a monstrous expense," Christie said.

    The Paterson administration was "simply offering" an idea, a spokesman said.

    The construction work is estimated to cost up to $16 billion.

    He said New York officials years ago deliberately kept the bridge out of the Port Authority's control so the Empire State could keep the toll revenue.

    "You want to keep all the money to yourself, then you pay for the cost yourself," Christie quipped.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To the shit for brains members of the bar...

    Your concern for Gaza and the fake national goals of the people the west bank make me vomit..

    I notice that you ignore this:

    Some 1,900 Haitians have died of cholera in the current outbreak in Haiti and 84,000 more people are infected reports Greta van Sustern.
    The numbers of cholera victims in Haiti is staggering ! Right now the estimates exceed 1,900 deaths and 84,000 + are infected. I will spare you the details sent to me in an email a few hours ago...but this is a crisis...a life and death crisis.

    After the earthquake last January, about 11 billion from citizens around the world was pledged to help rebuild Haiti and just save lives. Most of that money has not been delivered to Haiti. Haitians living in unsanitary camps has fueled the spreading of the cholera epidemic.


    Can you say double standard?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another fine example of the shit for brains crowd at the bar has..

    the decry Gaza and the West Bank as "occupied by Israel..

    and yet...

    they ignore this lovely racist place....

    The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Zimbabwe, Alain Noudehou, has issued an appeal to donors for $415 million for 2011, saying an estimated 1.7 million Zimbabweans face hunger from January through March when the annual maize harvest begins.
    Noudehou said one in three children in Zimbabwe is chronically malnourished. He said malnutrition is a factor in nearly 12,000 child deaths a year.
    Zimbabwe has experienced a decade of food shortages due to drought and – say experts – as a result of the land reform program launched in 2000 by President Robert Mugabe, which severely disrupted the agricultural sector as white operators were ejected.


    that's 12,000 KID a year DIEING from lack of FOOD...

    What no outrage?

    No calls for sanctions?

    No treads?

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  7. Here is an example of how arabs are treated in Iran:

    Friends,

    Trust me, there are no 'aid flotillas' heading towards the Balochistan coast of Iran to help the persecuted Baloch people. There is a zero likelihood of any protest march outside the Iranian Embassy anywhere in the world by the permanently outraged Islamist groups and their leftist allies.

    After all the lives of these Baloch activists, killed by the Iranian state, are not of the same value as the nine Turks who died in the shootout with Israeli guards.

    When the Islamic state kills Muslims, Islamists feel no outrage. When the Arab Janjaweed commit a genocide of fellow Muslim Black-skinned Darfuris, all they do is shrug their shoulders. But if someone associated with Hamas or Hezbollah dies, the entire Muslim world is expected to erupt into an orgy of anger

    Some of us are unwilling to buy into the double-standard that puts the lives of some Muslims as unworthy, while other fairer-skinned Muslims are considered priceless. This racist hierarchy of rating the value of Muslim lives based on their ethnicity must end.

    Sadly, it won't, because internalized racism within the Muslim world has convinced many Muslims that they are of second-class status in Islamdom by God's own will.

    Here is a list of the Baloch youth hanged by Iran and whose death is never mourned, let alone recognized by any Arab, Pakistani, Turk or screaming Ayatollah of Iran.

    Tarek Fatah

    A
    list of CIVILAN Baluch Arabs HUNG and or Killed by iran in the last 6
    years

    ReplyDelete
  8. more real issues we ignore..

    POVERTY IN AFRICA: FACTS - HUNGER AND HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA
    "As a consequence of the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa," one report stated, "it is estimated that more than 18 million people have died to date, of which over 3 million were children. Additionally, more than 25 million adults are currently infected which will result in the continued increase in the number of orphaned children. To date, more than 15 million children have already been orphaned as a result of the epidemic. Another 1 million children are currently infected with the disease."Help fight child poverty in Africa.

    "As a consequence of the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa," one report stated, "it is estimated that more than 18 million people have died to date, of which over 3 million were children. Additionally, more than 25 million adults are currently infected which will result in the continued increase in the number of orphaned children. To date, more than 15 million children have already been orphaned as a result of the epidemic. Another 1 million children are currently infected with the disease." Help fight child poverty in Africa. Help save Africa



    Children of Africa...

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  9. There has been much outrage and threads about Rhodesia.

    It unlike the Middle East is not an area of US National Interest.

    The US is not a moral crusader, out to right the wrongs of the whirled. It operates in what it perceives to be its National Interests.

    What we argue is the degree that the Middle East is an area of US national interest, and depending upon that answer, the proper course of action for US to take, there.

    Most of us argue that the US has no pressing national interest in Palestine or Israel.
    That US funding to the combatants in that Civil Conflict should be cut, on both sides.

    That the US has no pressing national obligation to Israel, that their foreign support should come from their population's "Motherland", which is Russia.

    That being the originating locale for well over half of Israel's imported, migrant population.

    That the land that was taken, by Israel in 1967, and administrated in violation of the Geneva Accords since, Article 4 of those to be precise, and has put Israel outside the realm of civilized nations.

    That those that live within the areas controlled by the Israeli Security Forces find this fact to be objectionable and that the Israeli have created a Jim Crow society there, duly noted and considered.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yesterday at the Bar, our resident Palestinian Cheerleader, the Rodent, applauded Brazil's recognition of Palestine...

    and let's look at brazil and it's kids

    Brazilian Street Children

    here is one small part of the report: 3.3 Death by Preventable Disease
    According to UNICEF, without an effective immunisation programme 320 000 children under
    the age of five die every year from preventable causes, that is:
    877 per day … 36 per hour … 3 every five minutes

    No cries from the shit for brains,,,,,

    Children of Brazil...

    ReplyDelete
  11. .

    The American empire has always been more structural than spiritual. Its network of alliances certainly resembles those of empires past, and the challenges facing its troops abroad are comparable to those of imperial forces of yore, though the American public, especially after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in no mood for any more of the land-centric adventures that have been the stuff of imperialism since antiquity.

    Americans rightly lack an imperial mentality. But lessening our engagement with the world would have devastating consequences for humanity. The disruptions we witness today are but a taste of what is to come should our country flinch from its international responsibilities.




    There are things to be said for Empires. Under Pax Romana wars tended to be pretty short lived (just throwing that out there from memory so don't bother Wikiing just to shoot me down).

    More importantly, if you were a Roman citizen, even though you gave up the concept of political 'democracy' your 'individual rights' were far greater than those you had under the Roman Republic.

    Commerce flourished and taxes were about 2%. Of course, under the Roman Empire all the resources flowed inward towards Rome; whereas in our case, that flow is outward away from the US.

    After a few hundred years, the Roman Empire fell and was gradually replaced by the Dark Ages in Europe.

    Few of us will be around to see how the current situation plays out but it should be interesting.
    Hopefully, not interesting as in the Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".

    .

    ReplyDelete
  12. Our rodent writes...


    That the US has no pressing national obligation to Israel, that their foreign support should come from their population's "Motherland", which is Russia.


    Interesting lie...

    Distortion, outright lies and nonsense from the cheerleader of the terrorists...

    If you read his screed over the months and years you will find that our own rodent is a liar.

    He takes calm rational moments to sound reasonable, but the truth is he is the same as a polite rapist...

    SO I reject going point by point of his screed, he and his garbage is just that, trash...

    ReplyDelete
  13. What I have long advocated is that the US abandon most of its foreign commitments, in Asia and Europe and concentrate on a Americas centric foreign policy.

    One where we would be addressing the needs of the children in Brazil, rather than those of Russian immigrants to Israel.

    That the Story of "o" seems to agree, a blessing, to be sure

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Story of "o" invents positions for others, and then attacks those.

    Comical, to be sure.

    Not at all rational.

    I have things to do, have a nice day.

    ReplyDelete
  15. .

    Your points are well taken and valid WiO. But you are arguing about a expectations in a perfect world. One we don't have.

    When I first came to the EB, I was posting quite a few about Darfur, US actions in Chad, Somalia, etc. I've posted about the fact that none of the money that was pledged for Haiti seems to be getting there. And also the fact that the money pledged to Haiti is miniscule compared to what the UN is providing the PA and Gaza.

    However, rat's points about US interests is also correct. The US unlike the idealized 'City on the Hill' picks and chooses where it's national interests lie. Many times the actions don't match the rhetoric.


    .

    ReplyDelete
  16. .

    Under the heading of "How friggin stupid are these people?"


    Government Workers Ordered Not to Read Cables

    WASHINGTON — In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.

    “Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority,” said the notice sent on Friday afternoon by the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to agency and department heads, urging them to distribute it to their staff...


    1984 Redux - The Department of Truth

    This calls to mind the practice
    instituted under the Bush administration to begin taking certain information that had been released into the public domain for years, reclassifying it as confidential or secret, and then purging it from the public records.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Oh, that's right. George Orwell already did.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  17. .

    With regard to a previous post, were you aware that Chinese curse mentioned was actually part of a serious of three curses each having more serious consequnces that the last.

    "May you live in interesting times."

    "May you get what you wish for."

    "May you come to the attention of those in authority."

    .

    ReplyDelete
  18. .

    Interesting. I just posted comments on the government's letter to all federal workers not to read the Wiki leaks because the information is clasified.

    And shortly after posting my comments disappeared.


    :)

    or should I say

    :0

    .

    ReplyDelete
  19. .

    Try again...

    Under the category of “How friggin stupid are these people?”

    Government Workers Ordered Not to Read Cables

    WASHINGTON — In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.

    “Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority,” said the notice sent on Friday afternoon by the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to agency and department heads, urging them to distribute it to their staff…


    1984 Redux – The Department of Truth

    This calls to mind the practice instituted under the Bush administration to begin taking information that had been declassified and released into the public domain for many years, reclassifying it as confidential or secret, and then purging it from the public files.

    You cannot make this stuff up.

    Oh, that’s right George Orwell already did.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  20. The title of the post is:


    "Imperial Fatigue and an Age of Uncertainty"

    ...and that is the issue. We cannot solve every problem. Israel and Palestine have been at each others throat for 40 some years. There are 5X more people unemployed in the US than there are in that area.

    Collectively or individually they will not solve their own problem. Neither can we.

    ReplyDelete
  21. .

    Senate blocks legislation to extend Bush-era tax cuts

    The Senate on Saturday rejected two Democratic proposals to let tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, a symbolic but bitter defeat that now forces the Democratic majority to compromise with Republicans or risk allowing tax breaks to lapse for virtually everyone at year's end…

    Dems Fail, Obama Will Fold

    It’s expected Obama will fold on the tax issue.

    Congress has much to do before its self-imposed deadline of concluding the session by Dec. 17, including passing a funding resolution to keep the federal government operating into next year, renewing jobless benefits for millions of Americans and ratifying an arms treaty with Russia, a top priority for President Obama...

    Wouldn’t want to be late getting home for Christmas.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  22. .

    Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque

    Con Sues FBI Over Con He Was Paid to Pursue

    The story of the ex-con informant who was paid by the FBI to infiltrate a mosque and then subsequently turned in by the mosque as a terrorist is informative (and humorous) if it is at all indicative of how the FBI operates.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  23. .

    This may interest some of the patrons of the EB.

    Unabomber's Montana land for sale; 'very secluded'

    When the EMP Attack Hits Montana is the Place to Be

    .

    ReplyDelete
  24. Collectively or individually they will not solve their own problem. Neither can we.


    I agree...

    maybe the point I was making is that the attention to the fake nationalistic people called palestine is poison.

    why to much attention by the USA, the UN and others meddling in what they really know nothing about is the issue.

    if America (and the world) put 1/10 the effort into any one of a dozen other issues as it does for the fake victimhood of the palios the world could be a much better place.

    misplaced priorities.

    Israel is in America's interest.

    The palestinian people are not...

    ReplyDelete
  25. The unemployment issue in America should be addressed in many ways...

    One: America should adapt Boone Pickens plan and convert our trucks from gasoline to LP/natural gas.

    This would allow money to be spent in the USA for USA energy. Create infrastructure jobs and allow 50% of our energy dependence to evaporate.

    TWO: Made in America/ Made in USA, these world need to be promoted and featured in retailers across the nation.

    THREE: America needs to understand who it's allies are and who it's enemies are and WHAT is in America's interest.

    You want jobs?

    Stop giving billions to China and OPEC.

    If the Chinese were not allowed to manipulate the yuan the way they have their 20% advantage over the entire world would evaporate.

    Crashing the dollar actually makes sense in the long term if you are trying to get china off your back.

    But in order to make this work, America needs to ramp up energy and manufacturing.

    ReplyDelete
  26. WASHINGTON — Nine years after the United States vowed to shut down the money pipeline that finances terrorism, senior Obama administration officials say they believe that many millions of dollars are flowing largely unimpeded to extremist groups worldwide, and they have grown frustrated by frequent resistance from allies in the Middle East, according to secret diplomatic dispatches.

    Frustrated are we?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Credit Crisis and the resulting Federal debt will probably do more to shrink the Federal Leviathan than any political party could ever do.

    Debt must be paid and spending must be cut. Now is not the time to raise taxes rather cut spending.

    Does anyone think that Federal Spending can continue at current and projected levels?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Deuce is right about the inevitability of global trade and commerce. It is better for the whirled if billions rise out of poverty. Our challenge over the coming century is to compete in the whirled market.

    In some ways, it could be a blessing if we are no longer the lone superpower despised by all yet always looked to in time of crisis.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue nations is another matter:
    TEHRAN, Iran – Iran claimed Sunday it could now use domestically mined uranium to produce nuclear fuel, giving the country complete control over a process the West suspects is geared toward producing weapons.
    Tehran made the claim a day before a new round of nuclear talks with world powers that want to rein in Iran's uranium enrichment — a process that can be used either to make fuel for nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Quirk linked to this article Measuring Worth on the previous thread.

    This is an important article. It is the type of thinking that Must be engaged in if we are going to understand how we are to fund our present government.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The Cold War was a period of relative stability?

    Oh, how soon we forget.

    "The US also suffers from being a nation that no longer shares a common ideology."

    I'm pretty sure this has been asserted, or duly noted, since the founding.

    ReplyDelete
  32. An example: Our government has never managed to corral much over 20% of GDP, no matter the makeup of the tax regime.

    Eisenhower presided over a top tax rate of 90%. Reagan dropped it all the way down to 28%. The take for the Gov. as percent of GDP was almost identical. A bit less than 20% IIRC.

    However, Bill Clinton was able to collect 22%. Was this merely a temporary aberration that would have self-corrected? We'll never know. Bush dropped the Top Tax Rate, and we've been somewhere South of 19% ever since (I think there might have been one yr that we took in a little less than 20%.

    I always assumed that Bill Clinton's 22% was a temporary aberration caused by the dot.com bubble. There is some possibility that I was wrong, though.

    Times change. The Country has changed. The Government has changed. The Government provides more "Services/Welfare" than it did before. The Nature of our GDP has changed.

    Could 22% have been sustained if Bush had left the top rate at 39%? That is, actually, a hugely important question. Can a Government (U.S. Government) that provides "Healthcare" collect a higher % of citizens income?

    What does the value of the currency have to do with all this. The Dollar was ridiculously strong when Clinton was getting 22%. (ie, the dollars you had left over after paying taxes were more valuable.)

    I, honestly, don't have a clue, but both of my remaining brain cells are screaming that these are questions of paramount importance.

    ReplyDelete
  33. It would be best if there were no nuclear weapons. That ended in 1945.

    It would be best for the US if we were the sole possessor. That ended in 1949 and with significant Soviet help, China set off its first bomb on October 16, 1964 at Lop Nor and detonated its first hydrogen bomb three years later.

    After Pakistan and India became nuclear powers in 1998, the game was over.

    We have know Iran was seeking nuclear weapons since at least 2003, probably earlier, the same year we attacked Iraq and eliminated the one man, Saddam Hussein, that had the will and the power to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

    Saddam was worth more to us alive than dead but common sense and clear strategic political thinking was suspended for wishful thinking.

    Foolish talk and foolish thinking talks about eliminating Iran as a nuclear power. That will not happen unless our political leaders, with the help of others does something far different.

    Start killing and assassinating those in Iran that make the bomb possible and those that are calling for the development. The next time Ahmadinejad takes off in an airplane, make it have a very unfortunate accident.

    Clip a mullah or ten and pop a few top nuclear scientists. Spread some paranoia, admit nothing and if some wikileaks wannabe leaks anything out, leak them.

    If we do not have the stones to do that, forget it.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Red sed:
    The Cold War was a period of relative stability?

    Oh, how soon we forget.


    Relative to what happened before, WWI and WWII.

    We lost a few armed guards in Berlin and did a few proxy wars that cost over 100,000 KIA.

    That was a walk in the park compared to over 50,000,000 killed, between Russia, Germany, China, Poland, Japan and the US alone.

    That is relative stability.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Eisenhower presided over a top tax rate of 90%. Reagan dropped it all the way down to 28%.

    Those were the days. You could structure coal mining deals, timber deals, historic restoration deals, and movie deals and come December 1 have those rich bastards frantically chasing you down to give you a check.

    Do the deal right and you would have the government sending them a check. The investors didn't care if the movie flopped, the timber burned or the coal mine flooded. How sweet it was.

    ReplyDelete
  36. And, the country "boomed." The economy boomed, and the "Great American Middle Class" was born.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Any chump can make big bucks if they have a stash and take little risk like buying distressed assets and pay the smart guys.

    You want wealth creation, make them hustle for those after-tax dollars:

    The moneyed class loves creative destruction. They love the hunt. They love the game.

    Separate the men from the boys, the punters from the chargers. Get the adrenalin juices pumping.

    Bump the rates up to create some lethargic destruction. Let them know we still care.

    You'll be amazed what the boys can still make.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Right now, we need to do something about the Billion Dollars/Day that we're shipping out of country for oil, and we need to put people to work in "real" jobs (and, it would help if we could find something to do for all those unemployed Construction workers.)

    We need to get to work, immediately, building an ethanol refinery/electric power station in every county.

    We built Hoover Dam, the Empire State Bldg, and a Courthouse in every county during the Great Depression; I know damned well we can build an ethanol refinery in every county, Now.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Make things too easy and you get flabby. We need lean and mean entrepreneurial millionaires, not chubby metro-sexual coupon clippers.

    ReplyDelete
  40. We caught kind of a bad break getting Obama. We needed a Democrat; but we needed a "White" one that the country could rally around. Hate to say it, but it's the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hillary would probably been better.

    (And, I hate the fucking Clintons.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm obviously reading this all wrong.

    Every Swinging Dick that can get to a microphone is "Sure" that Obama, Now, has to "Give in" to the Republicans on taxes.

    Perhaps, but he could sure put the Republicans' tails in a knot if he doesn't. If he let All of the tax cuts expire, and then announced on Jan 2 that he wants Congress back, Immediately, to pass a tax cut for the Middle Class, it looks to me like the Republicans would be screwed, blued, and tattoed.

    ReplyDelete
  43. That bit about the country not rallying around Obama because of his color is nonsense. Total!

    You're totally discounting Pelosi, Reid and the statist agenda that went too far.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Advocating for more taxes on the other guy is dangerous because:
    1. It encourages the politicians to tax more.
    2. More taxes equal more entitlement spending.
    3. More entitlement spending equals more taxes on increasingly lower income brackets.
    4. The public becomes conditioned to a nanny state.

    Look at Europe. The public care little what a ruling elite does as long as the benefits continue.

    ReplyDelete
  45. The fact that Obumpkis, and his wife are arrogant assholes didn't help of course.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Don't worry Whit. The ones that have to pass the "taxes on the rich" ARE the "rich." They won't get "carried away."

    As for Europe, They are financed by the Value Added Tax, a tax on the middle class. And, here's the bottom line: Taxes are going up. They're either going up on "Them," or "Us."

    I vote for "Them."

    ReplyDelete
  47. If you'll listen "Real Closely" you'll hear the Republicans starting to whisper about the "inevitability" of the VAT, "considering the increase in spending (that they voted for.)"

    The Rich know that it's either higher taxes on them, or a VAT (higher taxes on Us.)

    They're trying their damnedest to figure out how to support it, w/o supporting it - if you catch my drift.

    ReplyDelete
  48. "Too bad we hanged the only leader in the Middle East who could have contained the Persians."

    Without defending that lamentable war, what if the Persians, or rather elements of the regime, are contained anyhow by others who retain an interest in the matter?

    I don't think Saddam Hussein was the end-all, be-all of Persian frustration, just as he was not the
    dictatorially efficient uniter of his own nation for which some foreign observers expressed mistaken nostalgia in the bloody aftermath of regime removal. (I might be in that category. I forget.)

    ReplyDelete
  49. I'm not advocating here but a VAT or a national sales tax is a more transparent way to control Federal Spending. John Q. Public will see how he is being "robbed" on every transaction.

    The Payroll tax along with the ridiculous tax code now is perfect for stealing from some and giving to others.

    The ultimate question is: "How much of your money is the government entitled to take?"

    A flat tax or a VAT might be preferrable to the so-called
    "progressive" income tax.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Korea, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis...

    Soviet infiltration.

    Duck and cover, duck and cover.

    C'mon, Blue.

    You need to listen to that Billy Joel song.

    ReplyDelete
  51. "Relative to what happened before, WWI and WWII."

    The author is contrasting the Cold War era and our own, not that of the World Wars.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Taxes are going up. They're either going up on "Them," or "Us."

    I vote for "Them.


    Yeah well, what about tomorrow when the choice is between you or someone else and they vote for you?

    When a majority of voters pay little or no taxes and are on the receiving end of government largesse, they have less incentive to control spending.

    "Sure, I'll take it, why not?"

    We don't need to be talking about raising taxes, we need to talk about cutting spending first. Just as immigration requires border control first before we discuss regularization or amnesty.

    ReplyDelete
  53. What do you, honestly, think they are going to cut, Whit - That would add up to anywhere close to $1,000,000,000,000.00?

    ReplyDelete
  54. I've spent most of my life paying twice the percentage of taxes on my income as has Warren Buffet.

    Twice the Percentage!

    As Warren Buffet!



    Now, the powers that be tell me that I have NOT been paying into a "Retirement Plan."

    That means I've been paying even "More TAXES" than I thought.

    Which is it? Have I been paying 13% into a "retirement" plan, or have I been paying over 50% in Federal "Taxes?"

    This Inquiring Mind wants to know.

    ReplyDelete
  55. As interest on the debt piles up, the budget is going to get cut. That you can count on.

    What we don't want is the Feds thinking all they need to do is raise taxes on "those who can afford to pay."

    I hate it when I hear people say, "he can afford it" because most of the time, they're saying "you can afford it."

    ReplyDelete
  56. You paid twice the percentage, but in real dollars, how much did Warren Buffet pay? Another question is how much wealth did Warren Buffet create?

    ReplyDelete
  57. Now, the powers that be tell me that I have NOT been paying into a "Retirement Plan."

    I assume you mean the government powers. Seems to me that the 'powers' have made quite a mess of things. I don't understand why anyone would advocate for sending more money to the incompetents in DC.

    ReplyDelete
  58. The tax burden from all levels, Federal State and Local, is already a travesty. And for what? Because some politician, bureaucrat, regulator or fellow citizen thinks he knows better than you what is best for you.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Whit, you need to put down the koolaid. They're not going to "come for you," Bubba.

    They done "Came, and Got" you.


    The 400 Top Earners in the U.S. (over $450 Million/yr) paid, on average a touch over 17% to the Government.

    Whit, the worst year I ever had I sent more than 17% to the Government.

    On average, I guess I sent over twice that.

    I'm not interested in discussing "right or wrong," or general philosophy, but I am interested in what is "going to happen." And, what is going to happen is: Somebody's taxes are going to get raised.

    I agree with Warren Buffet; it should be HIS.

    ReplyDelete
  60. No, the question is: Did Warren Buffet, Dollar for Dollar create "more wealth" than I did?

    I seriously, seriously doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  61. .

    I don't understand why anyone would advocate for sending more money to the incompetents in DC.

    It's the same meme the "conservatives" have used since Reagan. You get a smaller government by cutting taxes and starving the beast.

    Only problem is that it doesn't happen. Under GOP leadership, taxes are cut (and under Bush for the top brackets much more so than for the poor slumps in the middle) and then spending continues to accelerate.

    What's wrong with this picture? How do they get away with it?

    They offer to cut taxes and increase entitlements. They offer the American people all gain and no pain. Who can turn down a deal like that?

    It's the same thing with our wars. Iraq and Afghanistan weren't even on the radar as issues in the last election. Why? Because we have an all volunteer army. It's someone else's kid over there. Hell, under Bush we didn't even budget for the wars. Why should the public complain?

    Maybe if people saw there taxes going up to pay for the BS going on in Washington they would have some kind of incentive to say "Enough".

    Maybe if we had a draft and your kid was sent to Afghanistan rather than some nameless 'other guy', you might be pissed off enough to demand that the troops be brought home.

    You talk about people being on the dole. Heck, this whole country has been on the dole for at least a decade.


    .

    ReplyDelete
  62. When the Republicans say "the Social Security System is Broke" they are denying the existence of the $2.6 TRILLION Soc. Sec. Trust Fund.

    I've been paying into this fund my entire life. I was forced to by "Guys with Guns." They took my money, paid the past recipients, and, I was told (by the Republicans) deposited the Rest (now, $2.6 Trillion) in my Retirement Trust Fund.

    Now the truth comes out; it was all an elaborate canard. Just another way to fund the government. It was just a tax.

    I'm not going to start drawing Soc Sec next year; I'm going to start drawing "Welfare." How about them apples, huh?

    Whit, you need to understand something. The Republicans Are Not your "Friends." The Democrats are Not your Friends. A few of us have kids, and family that will claim us. Everyone else needs to get a dog.


    Those people that sent the Guys with Guns to take twice the money from me that they took from Warren Fucking Buffet sure as hell ain't MY friends. An R, or a D after their names makes no difference whatsoever.

    ReplyDelete
  63. .

    Spending cuts?

    Do you read the papers at all?

    Do you see anything about spending cuts mentioned lately? I mean specific spending cuts other than ending unemployment benefits?

    No, the only thing you see is talk of extending the Bush tax cuts.

    More trinkets for the natives (and more importantly for the capos).

    Had the Deficit Commission the required votes it would have forced Congress to have voted on their recommendations. Not necessarrily to pass them but to at least vote on them. It didn't even get enough votes for that.

    As far as I know Paul Ryan is the only one who has laid out a plan to attack the current fiscal crisis. I don't much care for the plan but I give the guy credit for putting one out there. As I recall, it got something like 13 GOP votes.

    The rest of them, the same old de jevu. "We need to spending and waste."

    Details?

    "Well, we are pulling those together as we speak."

    Bushwa.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  64. "It's the same thing with our wars. Iraq and Afghanistan weren't even on the radar as issues in the last election. Why? Because we have an all volunteer army."

    It was THE issue a handful of years ago - during which, as I recall, we had an all volunteer army.

    ReplyDelete
  65. You guys want to see what a "Low-Tax" State looks like? Just turn on the Evening News. It's called MEXICO.

    Mexico collects 9% of GDP in Taxes. Works Good for the Rich. How is it working for the "Other 99.99%" down there?

    You want to move down there, and take your chances?

    ReplyDelete
  66. "We need lean and mean entrepreneurial millionaires, not chubby metro-sexual coupon clippers."

    I don't think we need either.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Oh Lord, no, Trish. We need Millionaires. Millions, and Millions of Millionaires.

    They is what makes the Mare run. They are the lifeblood. They Do make the investments that create the jobs.

    We gotta hav'em; we just can't believe everything they tell us.

    ReplyDelete
  68. .

    It was THE issue a handful of years ago - during which, as I recall, we had an all volunteer army.

    And have things improved much there over the past few years?

    When people are fat, dumb, and happy and things are going fairly well they need something to bitch about. And a few years ago the wars were a signature Bush issue, one more thing to blame him for.

    Today you're lucky if you see anything on the news about either war, at least, anything that would take the 'average' citizen's mind off the fact that he doesn't have a job.

    Even here at the EB when we complain about the wars it has at least as much to do with the costs of the war as the people involved.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  69. .

    Also,

    Hi Trish.

    It's good to see you back.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  70. Costa Rica is the same. Most of the rich, probably less than 30 families own 95% of the wealth. There is effectively no carrying cost to holding real estate. A piece of property that in Pennsylvania would have a burden of $15,000 per year in real estate taxes would be $150 in San Jose, the capitol.

    The accumulation of wealth is almost complete at the pinnacle of society with very low taxes. That is not a policy statement. That is reality for everyplace on the planet.

    ReplyDelete
  71. To say you don't need millionaires is to say you don't need smart, aggressive risk-takers.

    They are the single "indispensible" element of our economic system. W/O them you have Zimbabwe, or the old Soviet Union.

    You just have to be able to keep'em under control (no mean task, that.)

    ReplyDelete
  72. "To say you don't need millionaires is to say you don't need smart, aggressive risk-takers."

    I don't think millionaires are our fundamental need, or lack.

    Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
  73. "They are the single 'indispensible' element of our economic system."

    No.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Now, you've changed the wording. No fair.

    ReplyDelete
  75. There is no economic reason to put an income cap on social security taxes. None, and that would solve the deficit in the social security system.

    You could make an argument for one tax rate for income made off-shore and a lower rate for on-shore.

    ReplyDelete
  76. And, no, I'm not anti-millionaire.

    ReplyDelete
  77. China is a good example. The government is awash in revenue from many sources. Has that diminished their wealth? Hardly.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Eh, I do think you have to be careful making comparisons to China. A lotta "apples, and oranges" stuff going on there.

    And, they do have several hundred million people living in abject poverty.

    Of course, hell, I can't understand "Japan," much less China.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Actually, it wouldn't matter if they lowered the Corporate Tax Rate some. No one pays it, anyway.

    The biggest (huge) problem with the Corporate Tax scheme isn't how they tax overseas profits; it's the Fact that they don't have to pay Until they bring the money back, onshore.

    I mean, that's just Inane. Who in the hell would bring money back under those circumstances?

    Worse yet, you're telling the Corps that if they can just, somehow, get their profits assigned to an offshore subsidiary those profits are Tax-free Forever.

    ReplyDelete
  80. When GE, or Exxon, or Halliburton manages to get their profits transferred to an offshore subsidiary that money becomes available for Investment Everywhere in the World, Except the United States.

    That is incomprehensible.

    ReplyDelete
  81. McConnell was, evidently, on tv this morning talking about trading an extension of the Top Rate tax cuts for an extension of unemployment benefits to 1,868 gazillion wks, or somesuch.

    So, there ya go, Whit. How's them cuts doin'?

    An extra $26 Billion in Unemployment for those that have spent, it seems, half their adult life on it, but the Bazillionaires are safe.

    Cuttin' away, ain't they?

    ReplyDelete
  82. It sure was festive driving through Springfield on this unusually brisk Sunday evening.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Shh…I bought another pair of boots…and a jacket.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Money is not capital. This computer is.

    Money is the means of measuring the value of capital and its output.

    “The distinction is important if you consider that money can be created or destroyed through the expansion or contraction of credit, but this does not create or destroy any real capital.”

    An economy in which capital is freely owned is one in which should be expected a swarm of millionaires and a vastly larger swarm of would-be millionaires.

    ReplyDelete
  85. .

    Shh…I bought another pair of boots…and a jacket.


    Makes my night.


    .

    ReplyDelete
  86. ( :

    This is becoming a fine holiday season…for me anyway. Although, I did do a lot of stimulating today.

    ReplyDelete
  87. .

    Well it was a fairly good stream before Anon showed up.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  88. It was cool here today and with the wind chill felt even cooler. It's chilly and windy tonight. We've had two heavy frosts so far this season. Forecast lows this week in the 20's.

    Last night the city "lit off" the "Winter Festival" complete with a parade and lighting of the Christmas lights (my words, not theirs. They call them the festival lights).

    It's hard to believe another winter is upon us. But since Mel is still out 'stimulating' and Trish is back at the EB, all is right with the world.

    I hope all is well Trish. We missed you, really.

    ReplyDelete
  89. I have mixed feelings about the WikiLeaks business

    Cables Suggest Mideast Resists U.S. on Cutting Terrorists’ Cash

    On one hand, I am disgusted by Assange but also at the State Department for being so lax with sensitive information.

    On the other hand, as long as no one's life is in jeopardy, I kinda enjoy seeing the elites squirm.

    Don't hate me.

    ReplyDelete
  90. For instance from the linked NYTimes article:
    The government cables, sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and senior State Department officials, catalog a long list of methods that American officials suspect terrorist financiers are using, from a brazen armed bank robbery in Yemen last year to kidnappings for ransom, drug proceeds in Afghanistan and annual religious pilgrimages to Mecca, where millions of riyals or other forms of currency change hands.

    This particular piece of information may actually be a service to mankind as it reveals what the Diplomats really think about the double dealing and treachery of our Arab/Muslim allies.

    ReplyDelete
  91. I've made up my mind, Whit; I'm with you. Give the bastard a medal.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Don't leave out the "then hang him." part.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Nah, I want him alive, and doing just what he's doing. He's the only way we'll ever get the "truth" about a lot of what's going on.


    By the way, kiddos, Oil Futures are in Backwardation.

    The last time they were in Backwardation was during the run-up in late 2007, and 2008 (before the Crash.)

    I read this as the Big Banks, Hedge Funds, and Oil Companies (the major players) believing that oil prices are at, or will soon be at, a level that will ultimately result in "The Great Recession: Act II.

    ReplyDelete
  94. That is just my opinion; your mileage may vary.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Here's an interesting tidbit: Karzai discounting cables about his corruption and talking about the US:

    “The American government has been talking to us every day about corruption, every day they give us examples, every day they bring a case of $5,000, how come no report was given of this?” he said.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Rufus' link -

    The gasoline chart has prices steady, or what it is today, out through '13.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Good observation, Sam. One thing people should be aware of when looking at the "Gasoline" chart is there is, naturally, a little less demand for gasoline in the winter, and, also, the "Winter Blend" is a dime, or so, cheaper to mix. That gives the gasoline chart that "snakey" appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  98. But since Mel is still out 'stimulating' and Trish is back at the EB, all is right with the world.

    - whit

    All is not right with the world.

    But when has it ever been?

    I believe it was allen who said that war is the normal state of things. After Hobbes, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  99. FORT BLISS — Nestled in the sandy dunes of Texas' western fringe near the Rio Grande, this post is enjoying a growth spurt unlike any other installation in the Lone Star State, thanks to the 2005 base-closure round.

    ...

    Texas fared well after the recommendations from the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, commonly called BRAC, but El Paso and San Antonio scored astonishing gains.

    ...

    BRAC has been a dreaded abbreviation for good reason. Cities around the state have lost installations, from Reese air base in Lubbock to San Antonio's Kelly air base.


    Base Closings

    ReplyDelete
  100. Don't leave out the "then hang him." part.

    - whit

    This reminds me of McCain and his notion that it would be okay morally - expected, even - for interrogators to torture EPWs in extraordinary circumstances, but then take the legal fall.

    Something about "check your premise" comes to mind.

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  101. Trish, if I had any respect for, or trust in, my government I might feel differently.

    However, as things now stand, I feel as if "Assange" is more on my side than are the crooks, and thieves in Washington, DC.

    I feel like I've been lied to, and fucked with long enough.

    Go Julian.

    ReplyDelete
  102. That $5000 daily deposit is interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  103. "...as things now stand, I feel as if "Assange" is more on my side..."

    Okay, I think back to my time in Bogota. I think about our (their) successes there, and I think about the terrible damage that could be wrought by one person with access and an axe to grind.

    Where do you draw the line?

    ReplyDelete
  104. $5,000.00 is awfully small potatoes. I wonder if that was a misprint?

    ReplyDelete
  105. What "terrible damage" could be done Trish? It's Colombia for Cris'sake.

    Maybe I want to know what kind of "deals" my government is putting my name to.

    ReplyDelete
  106. "It's Colombia for Cris'sake."

    It's Latin America, for Cris'sake and we have enough trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  107. It's an interesting question: To what extent does our foreign policy success depend upon information withheld from the general public?

    I get the whole cult of secrecy critique. I do.

    I also see the other side of it.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Trish, I don't believe that ANYTHING that is done "in secret" in Latin America can possibly have any important consequences.

    Is Hugo Chavez going to cancel his oil deals with China? His Arms deals with Russia, and Iran?

    I mean, "What?"

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  109. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  110. "Trish, I don't believe that ANYTHING that is done 'in secret' in Latin America can possibly have any important consequences."

    Well, of course it can.

    Of course it does.

    But, hey, we all plod along in our particular beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  111. Speaking of rivers, where's bob?

    ReplyDelete
  112. What kind of consequences? In a "general" way of course. We know you would never give away "State" Secrets.

    I can't help it Trish. Nothing personal, but Diplomats, in general, seem to me like the fan who becomes convinced he needs to wear his "lucky socks" for his team to have a chance at winning.

    Cute, at first; spooky, after awhile.

    Sometimes it seems to me that the typical American Diplomat holds me in the same esteem that they typical Soviet Diplomat held the "citizens" of his country.

    Somewhere way below whaleshit.

    ReplyDelete
  113. Years ago I had a dream in which I was shown the ruins of a civilization. The walls were standing. The roofs were gone.

    A people whose habitations were left in outline.

    Your standard remains.





    We need better roofs.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Don't go picking on diplomats.

    We need 'em.

    ReplyDelete
  115. Yeah, I s'pose we do, Trish. I'm just getting grouchy. Time to hit the sack. G'nite.

    ReplyDelete
  116. Sometimes it seems to me that the typical American Diplomat holds me in the same esteem that they typical Soviet Diplomat held the "citizens" of his country.

    - rufus

    I'm not sure where this belief comes from.

    On the one hand, (career) diplomats live off of and away from the everyday island that is us. They know more about the world out there, wherever there is.

    In that respect, you and I are ignoramuses.

    They are in the know.

    On the other hand, they are diplomats and still within the close orbit of home.

    Mostly, they don't give you, rufus, any thought at all.

    : )

    ReplyDelete
  117. .

    Diplomats are merely technicians. Eyes on the ground who know which fork to use for the salad.

    Useful but hardly extraordinary.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  118. I say that as someone who never knew which fork to use, nor when.

    ReplyDelete
  119. .

    It was merely my opinion.

    We will have to agree to disagree.



    Again.



    (I would have put in a smiley face but I noted that has come to annoy you.)

    .

    ReplyDelete
  120. That's actually a very funny story.

    ReplyDelete
  121. .

    Want to share?

    Or just answer a couple questions?

    .

    ReplyDelete
  122. On the other hand, technicians are worth their weight in gold.

    ReplyDelete
  123. "Want to share?"

    It was a most pleasant - no, merciful - evening with my table neighbor.

    A soon-to-be general. I think.

    "Now you can eat."

    ReplyDelete
  124. But it's not really about the table etiquette or genteel, gentle manner.

    I think that's a stereotype.

    ReplyDelete
  125. .

    No denying that.

    At least they can be.

    That's why I never understood the argument for pulling your diplomats and breaking off diplomatic relations with a country you have a dispute with.

    Naturally, you have to do it if your people are in danger al a Iran in 1979. But generally I think we need diplomats in every country in the world. Even if the relationship is such that they rarely talk to the host country, you still have eyes on the ground and don't have to go through third parties. Less chance of making silly mistakes. Better chance of getting good intelligence.

    Why don't we have diplomats down in Cuba?

    .

    ReplyDelete
  126. .

    No denying that technicians are valuable that is.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  127. .

    I think that's a stereotype.

    That was not a slam.

    You do what you've got to do or what's required of the job.

    I'd eat spagetti with a spoon if it was easier for me. Just probably not in public.

    .

    ReplyDelete
  128. "Why don't we have diplomats down in Cuba?"

    I guess that's your homework.

    ReplyDelete
  129. .

    Well since you don't appear interested in answering any questions and your last response wasn't real helpful ( I have been working 24/7 on the script for the Bosco Awards and can't take on any additional homework right now) I will say

    Good Night.

    (It is good to have you back though.)

    .

    ReplyDelete
  130. .

    By the way the questions I had were related to fashion.

    I need a little background for the Bosco Awards. We will be broadcasting out on the red carpet around 6:30 pm and I'd like to get my details right.

    .

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  131. This comment has been removed by the author.

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