The Muddled Middle East
We start today with the news that one more repressive government, this time in Libya, is gone – well more or less. So far it seems as though The National Transition Council (NTC) spokesperson Mustafa Adel Jalil, is in control control and saying all the right things about equality, peace, justice and “a nation of law.” I hope that the West supports them in doing it creating the country they want themselves.
Next in line seems to be Syria. The US Administration has made it official. The Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad must step down. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that the Arab people are doing it for themselves. Question is what’s the best way for the US to help without interfering directly at their expense.
Historically, overthrow by the US just doesn’t do the trick. Most recently Afghanistan and Iraq come to mind. See if the US had been patient, Saddam would have been part of the Arab Revolution and the government would have saved a trillion dollars – about the same as the national debt (what a coincidence).
Now in fairness I heard Clinton say that the US is using “Smart Power.” I’m a bit confused as to what this means though. Smart power seems to be a bit less on the Smart and a bit more on the Power. I’d say about 10% to 90%, if that.
Clinton is right on the money though, the US does need smart power and we cannot do it alone, at least the smart part. This is because the US has a basically defunct diplomatic corps. You see after two ten year wars, the Congress feels that there no longer needs to be a diplomatic service and keep cutting its funding so Clinton has to do it herself. Of course, she had a bit of a chance to change things in the State Department, but pretty much gave that up as a lost cause. I don’t blame her either. It seems that it is more important to fund a plane that might never be used instead of diplomatic corps that should be used much more often. Of course it needs a bit updating and reorganization, which there are plenty of good plans for, but remain on the shelf. If the power part needs money and updating, that of course is never a problem. It is much more fun to spend the big bucks on big toys than someone learning how to win hearts and minds in say Afghanistan, where by the way all those ‘gains’ the US is making are well just not there. The whole place looks like a police state not a budding new democratic nation.
As, what we in the West call the Arab Spring continues to progress, the US government still has no idea how to help I might add in moving toward democracy. Should we be surprised? Can you say Iraq or Afghanistan?
This is because the U.S. has no problem backing a bunch of thuggish rebels in Libya, but is clueless when it comes to countries like Egypt or Tunisia, unless of course it is selling arms or meddling in the politics of a new and brutal dictator, which of course is not democracy. So it is meddling and trying to pick the next leader because all of DC is still shocked that the Arab world wants democracy. This would in fact mean a policy change and since there hasn’t been one in over 50 years, no one knows what to do, except sit there, watch and, of course, support Israel.
And speaking of Israel, despite yet another chance to move with its Arab neighbors away from oppression, and defunct governments, the Israeli government continues to prefer occupation and war. More settlements are announced and two States just moved further away. I already argue that there is no chance for two States, but I am looking forward to what happens once the Palestinian Authority unilateral declares Statehood, which is exactly what Israel did in 1948.
The recent shooting of Israeli soldiers in Southern Israel. Since then, they bombed Gaza and Gaza bombed back. Eight Israelis dead and fifteen Palestinians. A vicious circle. The Israelis also killed two Egyptian soldiers on its rampage in Gaza with drones, F-15s and attack helicopters – all before they verified who the attackers really were. The response: large demonstrations against Israel in Egypt. Israeli too needs to start using Smart Power. The smart part or they are going to continue to live in a state of war forever.
In a final note on the Middle East, I just returned from Lebanon and Beirut is booming. Lots of new restaurants, hotels, and housing going up. Regrettably the new is at the expanse of the very beautiful city landmarks and Beirut is changing from a beautiful old style Eastern city to an unfortunate miniature version of Dubai. Sadly, the government is cares more about anything other than their own monetary gain in this so-called progress to even contemplate saving the city’s allure. I hope it wakes up before its too late. Nonetheless, it is still one of the most inviting and wonderful countries on earth. I hope it will stay that way for years to come.
In my next TRICIA’S TAKE, stay tuned for a brief review of my visit to the Hezbollah museum.
In the good ‘ol US of A
Next Sunday the Martin Luther King memorial will be unveiled. Poor guy he is probably turning over in his grave watching the first black President not know what to do with all the Washington stonewalling he has to put up with from his colleagues in the Congress. From day one, they have been looking for ways to make him fall and are mighty successful at it. MLK’s dream has become one big nightmare and the American people, black, white and every shade in the middle, are the only ones suffering from the Congressional finger pointing and cry baby antics in what is suppose to be a grown up legislative authority.
I personally like the way the people (ie. Congress) who control the money are blaming the worldwide debt and US predicament on the President. It is kind of like my mom giving me her credit card then blaming me for using it. It is Congress that failed on oversight of two major and very expensive wars. It is Congress who allowed the tax cuts and it is Congress who looked the other way while Banks were bundling your mortgage. They actually can say no, put provisions on monies, and stop funding.
The bottom line is I think that all this taxed, debt, revenue, spending and the like is just too complicated for Congress and no self respecting millionaire is going to change the way things are working for them. Instead, we are all moving from AA- to AA and I do not just mean the U.S. rating because this Congress is going to drive us all to drink. I mean really the GOP keeps talking about how bad trickle down is, but they keep forgetting to mention that was the foundation of the Party of Reagan. Let’s face it no government these days is really apt at delivering anything so the people really need to get a grip and start finding out how to fix things in their own backyard.
The President, well, where is his leadership – I’m hard pressed to see where it is. He needs to present his jobs plan, his healthcare plan, his economic plan and then negotiate with those on the Hill who obviously need hand holding. Where is the plan and frankly, I don’t’ really want to wait until he’s back from vacation to see it!
Did you all know that several democrats have been holding town hall meetings across the country all summer? Speak out for good jobs now is an initiative giving Americans the chance to speak out about how the economy is affecting them. Well, it’s about time our representatives get out of the dome and find out what we want. In watching video from some of these town halls, I actually see some of our representatives looking reconnected with constituents. This reminds me of something my good friend Lorelei Kelly says, that Congress needs to get back to their districts and spend less time in the beltway. Maybe then they can finally see first hand what needs to be done by giving the very people who elected them access way before special interests can get their claws into policy making while enabling them to get some input in creative ways to solve local problems. Further, representatives can also spend more time helping to educate constituents. This may actually help Middle America to understanding that the world is globalized and it is way too late for isolationism. Time we get on with the ride and figure out how to participate instead of fighting the reality of what is long done. You’re in the world, welcome to it and get to know it. Denial is only making this country worse.
Oh Lordy, it’s GOP primary time
People it’s all about gods this time around. Since the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the second amendment we no longer need to debate your right to shoot people – in self defense of course : ) Apparently we do however need to debate your right to freedom of religion. The GOP elections is being influenced by “an extensive 50-state “prayer warrior” network, organized by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). A religious-political movement whose leaders call themselves apostles and prophets.” I am not making this up. The massive prayer rally recently hosted by them to anoint Governor Rick Perry as the new all around prophet and candidate for the GOP and was duly covered by the drama led regular media and aired on, you guessed it, GOD TV (who knew?).
Others who hob nob with these religious fundamentalist, who believe the end is coming, sooner than later I might add, are of course Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Rich Santorum and plenty of others. “The “prophets” of the NAR claim to be continuously receiving direct revelation from God and these messages and visions are broadcast to the prayer warriors through various media outlets.” writes Rachel Tabachnick. These “prayer warriors, who believe in real live demons, which are apparently behind the democratic party and the Catholic Church, collectively pray them away. The 1997 big prayer kick off that brought in masses of converts now warriors was when they prayed away the demon of Catholicism, the Queen of Heaven. As someone who suffered through Catholic high school, I wish they did this much earlier.
Basically, I think the most freighting thing is that they are afraid of Harry Potter, a children’s book, because it talks about wizards and witchcraft. Really? Fear comes from not being able to understand, discern or think. I for one have tried all the spells in Harry Potter and none of them work, so I am now convinced that it is completely fiction. Alternatively, I’m starting to rethink my stance on demons and where they really are hiding. The way people behave today grabbing on to non-realities supported by so much war, violence and praying for people like mother Theresa to die; which shocked me too, I believe there might be a lot of demons hidden in all too many rarely used brains. : )
Until next time, think before you parrot.