Russia, Israel, Iraq, Goldman, Sex and More

(The following is one of my “classics” that was written in July of 2014.  I post it now as a testimony to our government’s inability to fix the world since most of it reads like it could have been written today. See what you think.)

I feel compelled to write to you tonight. But on what topic shall I write? I’m pulled in so many directions. I try to avoid being classified as “doom enthusiast,” but it’s tough to ignore the things that are going wrong world-wide. Some of them might very well smack us right in our tail-ends. Let’s take a brief inventory and see if I can pick something out on which I can focus my meager analytical abilities.

  • Iraq is deteriorating into just about what one would expect: a failed state. Now this ISIS outfit seems to have reached Baghdad, and unconfirmed reports claim it has either taken or is shelling Baghdad International Airport. So much for trillions of dollars and a whole lot of injured or dead U. S. soldiers over the years. Not to mention the horrible conditions the people of Iraq have had to endure. The area is no stranger to religious wars, so what did the fools who started and perpetuated all this Iraq war stuff expect? World improvement is not a discipline in which governments have had many successes. But persist they will. Blockheads.
  • Closer to home, our southern border with Mexico is solid as a sieve. If there’s a policy for handling those streaming into our country, I sure cannot discern what it is. It’s not even clear who is responsible for dealing with the situation. I’m all for people having the opportunity to pursue a better life. In fact, I happen to be in that category. But this is out of control. And shouldn’t the leadership of Mexico be embarrassed by the fact that so many want to get out of their country?
  • Hamas is launching its notoriously poorly-directed rockets into Israel. I’ve never seen one of their rockets, but they must sort of be like jumbo-sized bottle rockets. You set the thing off and are just happy it doesn’t turn around and hit you in the butt. Israel has no such limitations. They have plenty of munitions that can hit the target. And they’re not afraid to use them. For some strange reason each fool who takes over the White House makes a magnificently futile effort to fix this problem between Israel and the Palestinians. It’s like some ritual they have to follow. Lemmings, the bunch of them.
  • President Putin made some remarks in the last day or so that could be considered to be distinctly uncharitable to the U. S. government. I recommend you read those remarks. I also recommend caution in dealing with him. Unlike Hamas, Mr. Putin’s weapons are unlikely to miss their targets. I actually have respect for Mr. Putin. Not that I’d want him as our leader, but he actually makes statements that sound like they make sense. And he hasn’t invaded Ukraine yet, and that makes me happy. So, at great risk to my reputation, I’m prepared to accept that he might not be a blockhead. Perhaps he’s being sincere. Or perhaps he’s just playing a very carefully planned game of chess. But I’m pretty sure he should not be ignored.
  • While on the subject of Mr. Putin, reports are that he’s trying to create an anti-U.S. dollar alliance of countries. Not that I blame him. Anyone who wants to sit on a pile of federal reserve notes or US treasuries is a lunatic in my opinion. The monetary and fiscal policies being pursued in the US are certainly not dollar positive. The great masses of US citizens are blissfully unaware of all of this. Although they are starting to figure out from their visits to the grocery store that something’s not right with the economy. I suspect they will be given plenty of additional evidence of the weakness of our economy in the near future.
  • I know very well what hyperinflation is. It’s not just jumbo-sized inflation, but rather a repudiation of the currency itself. The value of the currency drops so dramatically in so short a period of time that it collapses into worthlessness, devastating the country. I’ve been listening to well-educated and well-informed economists and investors predict hyperinflation for the US for some time. It seems like the date of its predicted inception keeps getting pushing into the future by these economists making us wonder how serious the threat really is. Since I’ve been accused of being a “doom enthusiast” I’m not going to declare the threat of hyperinflation to be just a phantom. I’m prepared to believe the threat is real — it’s just that timing problem again. Why do I believe the threat is real? Because many of the factors that have lead to hyperinflation in other countries are firmly in place here. John Williams seems like a level-headed and very bright economist. His site can be a big help for those exploring this disturbing topic.
  • Another disturbing topic is the current news about Goldman Sachs. They stand accused by a group of former female employees of, well, I’ll let you read an excerpt from the Bloomberg news story yourselves: “Women report a ‘boy’s club’ atmosphere, where binge drinking is common and women are either sexualized or ignored,” according to the [court] filing. While I abhor this behavior, if it did indeed happen, the lunacy of this is that of all the things Goldman could be accused of… You can finish that sentence yourselves.

See? Look what happens. I don’t even scratch the surface in making a list of the things gone haywire only to find that this blog post has gone on long enough. I clearly need to do a better job of planning what I want to say to you. I recognize the struggle it must be for you to plow through my musings. I only hope you are rewarded in some way or another for considering what I’ve laid out before you.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

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Merkel Makes Sense, for Once. Obama Makes Us Nervous.

It doesn’t take much effort these days to find crises in the world. In fact, it takes no effort at all. Just off the top of my head I could come up with several catastrophes already in progress or ready to blow. However, I’m  going to restrain my natural tendency or compulsion to start making another depressing list and get to the point.  I only wish the US government would restrain its compulsion to get involved in the majority of those crises.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel just took a swipe at Washington’s continuous efforts to achieve world hegemony with the statement, “Even a superpower can’t solve all of the problems alone anymore.” Correct. I  might almost find myself respecting her. And to further endear her to me, she made a list. A list of places that US government interference is neither needed nor wanted. Bravo! The only thing I can think of that would have improved her statement is to modify it to say that not only can a superpower not solve all the world’s problems, but that it should not even try.

The only argument I would have with Mrs. Merkel is that her list is way too short. I find it almost impossible to make an exhaustive list of places and conflicts in which Washington has no business involving itself. Yet I’ve got a hunch that list will eventually be made — if nowhere other than in the history books detailing Washington’s foreign policy failures.

I’ve got no particular love for Germany over, say, New Zealand or Canada. And Mrs. Merkel is a politician which automatically puts her on my list of potentially dangerous people. But, being the fair-minded soul that I am, I will admit when I agree with a politician, as painful as that is for me.

On the other side of the ocean from Germany, I find another politician babbling away, making a complete jackass of himself. Yes, sadly, it’s our own Mr. Obama. He’s still reading from the same playbook as his predecessor, Mr. Bush. While Merkel is making some sense, Obama just nauseates me with this zinger, “The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world.” Ugh. An open door to an interventionist foreign policy without any limits. Hubris gone wild. And an acceleration of our drive to utter financial ruin. And the man might actually get us into a real war with thinking like that.

No, Mr. Obama, the US government is not indispensable. And it is only someone consumed with arrogance who would stand up and make such an asinine comment. And if you’ve made the jump from the idea of indispensability to thinking that the government you lead is also virtually omnipotent in world affairs, then things just got really dangerous. Repeat after me, “We do not need nor want another war.”

Mrs. Merkel, would you please telephone Mr. Obama and ask him to take another vacation? If we can find a way to get the poor man to do absolutely nothing for the next couple of years, it would be a big help. And not just for America.

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Connecting the Dots in a World Gone Mad

I wish to write to you on economic issues which really is my forte, yet I’m  inundated by news of wars and political dislocations that are bad enough in themselves, not to mention their potential to escalate into something far worse. And, anyway, much of this insanity is either driven by, or will result in, considerable economic dislocations. So perhaps I’m accomplishing my goal of writing on matters economic anyway as I sound the alarm.

So let’s have a look at some of the more relevant stories I’ve gleaned from the internet.

  • The government of Ukraine has collapsed, ostensibly due to parties withdrawing from the governing coalition, and due to the failure of the parliament to pass what is touted as critical legislation.  I give you this link for reporting on this story, partly because I don’t know much about those behind that apparent news site. Perhaps you can figure them out. Oh yeah, didn’t somebody run the previously elected prime minister out of town? Not that I’m opposed to deposing a politician every now and then. It’s just that in this case the replacement was a flop. And the economy has gone to hell.
  • The perpetual war involving Israel and its neighbors is in progress in its latest permutation and on its way to setting some new records. Mr. Kerry is meeting with typical frustration. Will the war expand to include Iran? No predictions from me.
  • There’s this group called ISIS that has burst on the world stage. The impotent government of Iraq is crying for help before the country is taken over by this militant group. Some even claim they are more virulent than al-Qaeda. All the millions of lives lost and the billions (trillions?) of dollars spent, and this is the result. It’s enough to discourage even the most ardent believer in the benevolent power of governments. Surely the US government isn’t going to put troops back there?
  • The US State Department, via a spokesperson named Marie Harf, has accused Russia of shelling Ukraine, although Ms. Harf was unwilling or unable to produce any evidence when questioned by reporters. I understand she left the press conference in a huff – and that’s encouraging. What I don’t understand is why Ms. Harf could not produce supporting evidence. Have they no digital cameras or iPhones in Ukraine?
  • I’m pretty sure things have not settled down in Syria with a civil war still underway. The US government has failed to achieve its stated goal of regime change. Now what’s the plan and goal, Mr. Obama?
  • Iran is still there. Depending on the party you wish to believe, its nuclear weapons program still does or does not exist. There are claims that chess was invented there. Whether that’s true or not, it’s believable as the Iranians are superb at the political version of the game. And their stalling tactics are equally impressive. Washington’s efforts have been frustrated once again.
  • Identifying those responsible for the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine remains illusive as much finger-pointing and accusations continue.
  • I haven’t heard much from that little guy who runs North Korea lately. Makes you wonder what he’s up to.
  • I also haven’t heard much lately about China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors concerning control of various islands and the surrounding waters of the Pacific. I’m pretty sure they’ve settled nothing. And I’m pretty sure with all the oil that’s supposedly under those disputed waters that nothing will be settled for some time.
  • Germany remains thoroughly irritated with Washington over CIA spying and phone tapping, tricks that are considered distinctly impolite to play on a supposed ally.

What do all of the above have in common? Several things. Two of the most prominent are US governmental involvement and the possibility of being tripwires for more catastrophic conflicts.

Let’s look back to both world wars for illumination.

In 1914 an archduke got assassinated in Europe. Big deal, huh? Yet before long, due to a web of alliances, World War I was underway. Three years later the United States entered the war in spite of its president’s promise to keep the nation out of it. We look back at 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, and World War II was on. A bit over two years later the United States officially entered that war. This is all common knowledge. What isn’t common is an understanding of the events leading up to both of those wars.

Don’t worry, dear friend, I’m not going to go through a formal history lesson here. It’s neither the time nor the place. And far better historians than I have already done a magnificent job. Even a simple search of Wikipedia can put you far ahead of the crowd.

Then what’s my purpose here?

First, to remind you that neither of those world wars started on the official dates found in the history books. They were in their incipiency for years before.

Second, both wars were preceded by destabilizing actions on the part of numerous players well prior to the commonly accepted starting dates for those wars. Like the lock on a safe, once the tumblers were lined up, the door opened and the wars were underway. By the time the doors were closed on those two wars there were 16 million dead from World War I and 60 million dead from World War II.

Third, and most importantly, there are plenty of conflicts in progress now, a sample of which was offered at the beginning of this article.

I’m not a prophet of doom necessarily predicting a third world war. In fact, I’m making no predictions at all. I’ll leave that to the professional journalists, the politicians, and the wild-eyed denizens inhabiting countless internet forums and blogs. I’m not sure which of those are the most dangerous to believe. Trust any of them at your own peril.

I’m sounding the alarm because I do see such striking parallels between the world then and now. Local conflicts ready to expand. Economies in serious trouble and likely to get worse. Leaders claiming the responsibility for championing the causes of their countrymen living in other nations. Threats of more wars. Old alliances strained and new ones forming. Nations competing for financial domination.

Yet I soldier on here, writing  missives to you in the sincere hope that you, my friend, will find a mental template for assigning meaning to world events. A grid-system, if you like, for filtering conflicting reports and downright propaganda. To the extent that I achieve that goal, at least in part, will be our reward for my efforts.

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US Government Hubris Knows No Limit

Just when you think Washington has reached the theoretical maximum in hubris, those miscreants have found a way to push the envelop even further. This time their fanatical predilection for international meddling has manifested itself in two obscene actions, one by Mr. Obama and one by the US Senate.

The July 16th issue of the New York Times reports that Mr. Obama has taken it upon himself to tighten the vise on Russia. The article, Raising Stakes on Russia, U.S. Adds Sanctions, details his latest attempt to provoke Mr. Putin in gloriously depressing detail.

Not to be outdone, the US Senate has a bill pending called — and we’re not making this title up — the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014“. And it gets worse. I read in the beginning of the act its stated purpose: To prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.  I’m speechless.

Naturally such a noble undertaking requires some money. Paging to the bottom of the bill we find the words, There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State $7,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2017 to carry out the activities required by subsections (a) through (c) . At the moment I don’t even want to know what subsections (a) though (c) contain. There is a limit to my ability to ingest such vast quantities of stupidity and arrogance. “To prevent further Russian aggression,” indeed. You guys in Washington really think you can and should do that, huh?

In an effort to find a bright spot, however, I note that the bill is not law – yet.

Those of you who have been with me for a while can probably almost write the rest of this article yourselves. You know how I abhor meddling in the affairs of other nations. Unlike Washington, I’d prefer our government not sponsor another Cold War. The last one did enough damage — economically and politically. Unfortunately, Cold War II seems to be getting underway.

Time for some of my trade-make bullet-points:

  • Does the US Government really think it can prevent any potential “Russian aggression” from occurring as the expressed purpose of this bill states? Seems to me that “prevention” means taking action when you believe aggression is about to occur. In other words, you act preemptively. If that doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.
  • I wonder if the following tidbit has anything to do with recent US sabre-rattling and sanctions against Russia: Russia ‘to reopen Cold War Cuban listening post used to spy on America’. I am just old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis, although I was not old enough to apprehend what was happening at the time. So nice that we will apparently get a chance to hear a similar tune played now that I’m old enough to understand and appreciate the lyrics.

As I’ve often pointed out, I am regularly reminded of my shortcomings. And I’m troubled that Washington continues to demonstrate that it has no concept of its own shortcomings. This conflict with Russia is wrong on so many levels that I believe our leaders must be beset by willful blindness. Or they are from another planet. From the point of the political philosophy on which the nation was founded, this action is condemned. From the point of the state of the US economy, this action is condemned.

And with the US dollar in a perilous situation, this is insanity. It is perched precariously in its position as the reserve currency of the world. Precariously due to mismanagement of the US governmental finances by Washington, and by the desire of nations such as Russia and China to knock the dollar off the lofty perch it has enjoyed since the end of World War II in their own good time.

For those who do not know what a full blown currency crisis looks like, I believe you are about to get a real-life education. For those who think the Federal Reserve Bank can control things before they get out of hand, you are about to get an education in the impotence of central banks in such dire circumstances.

In spite of what some self-appointed sages might say, it is difficult to predict when the economic dam will break. There are a myriad of factors at work, many of which are not apparent. Few of which can be accurately measured. And remember our good friend, the Law of Unintended Consequences. I’m just going to say I’ll be surprised if the currency crisis doesn’t get underway within the next twelve months. I won’t be surprised if it gets underway yet in 2014.  On the other hand, the day of reckoning might be postpones a couple more years.

Everywhere I look I see governmental hubris and misplaced confidence. When the education begins, I hope enough citizens understand the lessons correctly.

It is my desire, dear friends, that I will be able to share some guideposts with you that might help you formulate your own views and actions. With that it mind, it’s a privilege to have you as readers.

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The Land of Perpetual Conflict

As I consider what I’d like to share with you this Saturday night I find ourselves torn in several directions. Tonight I’ve decided to look at the Middle East. To be specific, the latest spat between the Israeli government and Hamas.

I watch with a sense of frustration and horror at the continuing hostility in the Middle-East as Israel and various Arab groups have at it again. Trying to find something good in all of that seems impossible, yet I might have just done so. I do not see any US politicians or bureaucrats over there meddling in the affairs of those peoples and nations, yet. That said, I am distressed to see that Mr. Obama has made some sort of offer to help out. Hopefully Mr. Netanyahu will be wise enough to decline that offer.

It’s not that I’m opposed to peace — I’m all for it. I just have precious little confidence in the ability of Western leaders to foster it, especially in cultures vastly different from ours. Didn’t the Obama administration try to negotiate a peace between Israel and Hamas in 2012? And here they are, back at it.

Anyway, the US is not seen as an honest, impartial broker. The Palestinians certainly don’t trust the US administration. I’m not sure the Israelis do either. Hamas is considered to be a terrorist organization by the US government, so US officials can’t really negotiate with Hamas even if they wanted to. And there seems to be considerable friction between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu. Given that set of facts, how in the world could anyone of sane mind think the US government has any chance of really helping out in negotiating peace?

Of course there’s another Western politician, Mr. Tony Blair, who is some kind of special envoy from somewhere to the Middle East. I wonder what his job is supposed to be? In any event, he appears to be missing. I can be thankful for small mercies. Maybe he’s not as big of a blockhead as I’ve thought, and realizes he can do no good there. Or maybe it’s just self-interest – not wanting to jump into the mess and get tarred with the inevitable failure. My suggestion? Tony, take a nice long vacation somewhere.

Did you ever notice how many of the problems in the Middle East can be traced back to Western imperialism? Or at least Western meddling? I  recently wrote on the history and problems experienced by the people of Iraq. That’s not the only place where Western nations or institutions carved things up. Many of the borders of nations in the Middle East were created by Western powers over the past 100 years. This means that many of the borders are artificial and ignore cultural, tribal, and religious differences. And that yields just what we find. Continuous conflicts.

The modern State of Israel came into existence in 1948 when World Zionist Organization head David Ben-Gurion made his famous declaration of the establishment of the Jewish state. That followed the recommendation in 1947 by the United Nations General Assembly of the implementation of a partition plan for Palestine. This, as the British Mandate established by the League of Nations terminated. The Arabs, unimpressed with this arrangement, immediately went to war with Israel. The Arabs lost. Badly. Almost 70 years and several wars later the place is still in turmoil.

Why should the US stay out of the Israel-Palestine conflict? There are a number of reasons, but I’ll focus on just this one. The US government clearly favors one side over the other. From financial and military support, to the use of its veto in the United Nations Security Council, the US leadership cannot in any sense be seen to be impartial. It has forfeited any pretense of being unbiased.

The United States has much to offer the world — trade in technology, agriculture, advanced medical discoveries, education, and far more. Its humanitarian organizations can do magnificent work worldwide. I could go on. But fixing other nations’ political problems is not an area in which the US government has had undiluted success. We cannot even fix our own. “Physician, heal thyself”, comes to mind.

And I’m not so sure all of our politicians are operating from the most pure motives. Could it be that the so called desire to help or peacemaking efforts might just be a way for said politicians to try to control other countries under the guise of peacemaking?

Say it isn’t so.

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What Have We Wrought in Iraq?

Good evening, dear friend. I’m going take a break from examining our economy to go on an imaginary trip to another land, another culture. One that we in the West really don’t understand very well. A fascinating and vastly older culture. Where? Ancient Mesopotamia. And I’m going to use this virtual trip to make a point — hopefully.

The land is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”, it’s thought to be the birthplace of the world’s most ancient civilizations. Inhabited for at least 8,000 years. Home to what was one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”. Figures prominently in the Holy Bible.

Sounds like a wonderful place to visit or for archeological study, doesn’t it? Except for one problem — it’s Iraq.

Although the place has had more than its share of invaders and massacres over those 8,000 years (see Tamerlane, for example), it remains a land of chaos and bloodshed today. If you’d like to study the history of this land, of all the invaders who have swept through it over the millennia, you’ll find it to be fascinating. I’m more interested in the past 100 years right now.

Shortly after the end of World War I, with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations carved out the borders of what we now know as Iraq, and placed it under the governance of Great Britain as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia.

If I stopped right there you should already see a big problem. People from the West, obviously with western culture, religion, and political structures, barged in and set up a political entity which shared none of those western characteristics. This is a splendid example of western hubris. Here’s a land with a people with 8,000 years of history and culture, and western governments think they have the ability and right to dictate not only political structures, but also the boundaries of these countries. Lunacy.

So Britain took the ball and ran with it. A monarchy was set up which lasted in one form or another (with considerable British involvement) until 1958 when a revolution established the Republic of Iraq. The rest you probably know, so I’ll just hit the highlights.

  • The Baathist party came to power (violently) in 1968.
  • Saddam took power (violently) in 1979 and attacked Iran, fighting for eight years to a stalemate. The US government supported Saddam during this time.
  • Not satisfied with just killing Iranians, Saddam conducted a campaign of genocide against the Kurds in the northern part of Iraq, killing over 50,000.
  • The US government led invasions of the country twice, once under each Bush. The first was to boot Saddam out of Kuwait which he invaded in 1990. The second invasion, in 2003, was for reasons that still confound. The explanation given at the time regarding alleged weapons of mass destruction was later found to be invalid. But that’s a conversation for another time. Oh yes, and Saddam was captured, tried, and hanged.
  • The US government involvement in Iraq continued from the conclusion of the second war, through the writing of a constitution and the election of a government, to 2011 when most of the US military departed. Still in place, however, is the world’s largest embassy, the heavily-fortified US embassy in Baghdad. And also in place is a very fragile and weak Iraqi government. And a weak economy. Not much of a legacy.

What are the common features over the past 100 years? Continual western involvement, occupation, and military intervention. No living Iraqi knows anything other than being under the rule of western governments or their puppets, being occupied by western governments, or staring down the barrel of a western government’s gun. I’ll bet that there are a lot of Iraqis who have studied their history and the glories of millennia past, reflected on their culture and religion, and wish the West would get the hell out of their land. I don’t blame them.

To my simple mind, Iraq stands as exhibit one of why western governments should not meddle in the affairs of other nations. Sure I ache when I see the suffering that wars bring to foreign lands and peoples. But where is the evidence that western involvement has helped? Certainly not in Iraq.

My mouth gaped open as I observed that the leadership of Iraq recently asked the US government to bomb their country to put down a rebellion. Surely I was imagining things. Not so. Such is the desperation of a failed regime.

And in a hideous twist of irony, the nation we went to war with in 2003 to supposedly rid it of weapons of mass destruction which were never found, now has a rebellion in progress with the leaders of that rebellion having just stolen 88 pounds of uranium from an Iraqi university. A group called ISIS. Perhaps we’ll here more from them in the future.  So there are now a bunch of renegades loose in the country who could build some of those very weapons of mass destruction that were not found during the US invasion of 2003.

Dear reader, I so appreciate your suffering through my articles that I’d never ask you to read them a second time. But if you do gaze back over this article, do you come to the same primary conclusion that I have? After trillions of dollars spent, and when you combine all losses, over a million deaths, Iraq is no better off for western support, involvement, benevolence, good wishes, interference, aggression, or whatever you want to call it than it would have been if it had just been left alone.

With all that oil, the people of Iraq should have a fine standard of living. They don’t. With all the history it should be a magnet for tourism. Due to the violence, it isn’t. For all the money and other “help” from western powers, it should have a stable government. It doesn’t.

Call me simple-minded if you want, but I’ll wind-down this article with additional conclusions that seem to me to be obvious. Western intervention in the Middle-East is counter-productive — it only makes things worse. The Law of Unintended Consequences cannot be dismissed as this latest uranium calamity has demonstrated. Foreign military expeditions will only hasten the day of US economic collapse.

I am saddened by the losses sustained by US military personnel and their families. I don’t want to think of the trillions of dollars wasted in Iraq. And I am heart-broken when I think of how the Iraqis have suffered.

As the current occupant of the White House moves five hundred military personnel back to Iraq at its government’s request, all I can think of is, surely, not a third Iraq war. The first two were enough. Far more than enough.

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Can “Fanatical Ignorance” Be Overcome?

Last night I poured out my heart to some folks as I reflected sadly on the indifference and ignorance that has infected our nation. Worse, I was astonished when I was castigated by so-called friends for even bringing up the U.S. government’s involvement in Iraq. “We don’t want to know about that sort of stuff,” I was told. It’s not that they supported or opposed what the U.S. government is doing. They were just pursing what I am going to call “fanatical ignorance” — in other words, not only are they determined to be ignorant of world affairs, but they are going to take steps to make sure no one intrudes on that ignorance.

Are we destined to become a nation of the obtuse? What kind of future is there in that? And when the results of current policies smack these folks right in their faces, I wonder how they will react. Probably nonsensically. Probably with bewilderment. They might even get mad. Especially if any future Social Security and private pension checks they hope to receive will at best support a third-world lifestyle.

But perhaps I was wrong in being so pessimistic. Perhaps the ranks of the “fanatically ignorant” are not as large as I fear. I’ve read that the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows 58% of Americans disapproving of how Mr. Obama is handling foreign policy. Of course I don’t know why they disapprove, but I’m encouraged by that number nonetheless. Someone is aware and is possibly doing some actual thinking. Let’s pursue this piece of good news a bit and see where it goes.

The first thing that comes to mind is to ask the 42% who apparently approve of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy what it is of which they approve. I can think of nothing salutary about it at all. Well, I will confess that at least he hasn’t started a nuclear war, and that’s something for which to be thankful. But aside from the fact that he has not initiated a world-wide conflagration, what pleases them about the trillions of dollars spent and the millions of lives, both ours and theirs, that have been disrupted by an aggressive foreign policy?

All of this begs the question of what our foreign policy should be. That’s easy. George Washington answered that for us a while ago. “No foreign entanglements.” Our old pal Thomas Jefferson chimes in with the observation that the U.S should not get involved in alliances with European nations for, “[T]hey are nations of perpetual war. Their interests are not our interests.” I suspect Mr. Jefferson would apply that to nations in other parts of the world as well.

Whether the U.S. is led by do-gooders  or tyrants, the result of U.S. foreign policy is the same — devastation abroad and impoverishment at home. And the Law of Unintended Consequences will surely be at work.

I am deeply saddened by the tragedies of violence, impoverishment, and wars abroad. If confronted with the totality of human suffering all at once, we would no doubt have complete mental breakdowns. But adding the U.S. to the list of nations so suffering will help no one. And that seems to be the way we are going.

So I ask that 42% again what pleases them about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy? What are the purposes of those policies, and how is this helping anyone, including the U.S.?

I await their reply.

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Iraq Wants to be Bombed?

Poor President Obama. He surely must be wondering why he gave up that cushy senate seat to wind up on the hot seat.  His approval ratings hover around 40%. His Nobel Peace Prize is looking sillier by the day as he leads the nation — well, I’m not sure if he is even leading the nation — to something certainly not consistent with peace. The poor guy is stuck with Iraq again.

You remember Iraq? It’s that country that was Dubya’s problem — after it was Clinton’s problem — after it was Bush Senior’s problem. Before that we were pals.

Now Iraq is boiling over again, just as Obama is trying to deal with the supposed withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the problem with Syria, and the problem with Ukraine, and the problem with North Korea, and the problem with — well, you get the idea. And while each of these teeter on the brink of chaos — or are already in chaos — we get news that the US economy contracted in the second quarter.

I think we’re hearing the ghost of George Washington whispering, “No foreign entanglements.” Too bad none of the blockheads in Washington are listening.

Iraq is a perfect example of why we should not being pursuing any sort of interventionist foreign policy. One cannot invade a country that has no experience with representative government, is filled with warring factions, practices a religion that is not supportive of western-styled democracy, and expect a bunch of Thomas Jeffersons to emerge and lead the place to political paradise. And if the people don’t want a western-styled democracy, who are we to force feed it to them?

As a result of decades of foreign intervention, Iraq’s military and security services are relatively weak. Hence it’s no surprise to see outside forces taking control of vast areas of the country. It was bound to happen, especially in their neighborhood. The country remains in chaos. Can you blame them for looking back fondly at the time of Saddam?

So now what? Again, Mr. Obama has a number of choices, but only one good one. And that’s the one he’s certain not to select. What is that choice? Admit that we’ve got no business in Iraq, and furthermore that we’re powerless to take action that would really help the country. Don’t worry, though. He will not choose that option.

I hear the president of Iraq is actually asking the US government to bomb his country because these ISIS fellows are taking over cities and oil production facilities. Mr. McCain must be rubbing his hands with glee. Nothing he likes better than a good bombing campaign! And here’s one where the lunatics running the place are actually asking to be bombed.

Will the US military bomb Iraq again?  I don’t profess to know for sure, but weI hope not. Obama has already sent about 300 troops there as some sort of advisers. That’s never an encouraging sign as it often portends further entanglement in matters that are none of this country’s business — and where the US government doesn’t have the best scorecard.

It’s enough to make you think the world is run by lunatics.

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