Putin and the Balance of Power

Putin is back in the 20th Century on this one: "We think it would be harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a tinderbox and fill it with new types of armaments," Mr Putin said.

Russia has test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile and claims to have fired it almost entirely across its northern air space to eastern Siberia. That means they could hit Europe if they wanted to.

So if Eastern Europe gets a missile shield, Russia will up the ante with showing off its new missiles. Whee! Haven't we been here before? It's a new arms race.

Remember Kissinger's balance of power politics that got us into Vietnam? That's where Putin's head is at. He is threatening Europe with fire if they install missile defense shields in Eastern Europe. Why would Russia feel threatened by that anyway? It's not as if they are planning on sending missiles into Europe, right? Or do they just want the option?

Putin should instead worry about the other rising powers of the 21st century: Brazil, China, India-Pakistan, Indonesia. He's fighting some kind of self-esteem war over the losses of the Soviet Empire. Get over it, dude. Europe won't be cowed so easily again.

Click on the title to this post for the story in the The Sydney Morning Herald.

Cindy Sheehan Quits

Good for her. She had banged her head against the wall long enough. She sacrificed her life and health and marriage and now realizes nobody meant what they said, even Democrats.

I'm waiting for the tell-all book. That would be great.


Litvinenko Will Never Die

So Putin thought, "Hey, if Britain won't hand over Litvinenko, we'll just kill him in Britain!" Of course Britain is understandably outraged and now wants former Federal Security Service officer Lugovoi back in Britain to answer charges of murder. Russia is dragging its feet and is talking about a trial in Russia instead.

What were you thinking, Vladimir? What would you do if Russia was offering protection to someone and another country came in and killed him on your soil? You were supposed to learn this kind of thinking as a child. Remember? If you don't like being hit, don't hit others.


Foreign Perspectives on the Dollar

"They are getting rid of the dollar to,but slowly slowly.So in the end no one will pay you interests for the green paper,will get rid of it,and then you'll end up trillionaires: in worthless paper." Comment on Econo-Girl

At 9:12:00 AM, vader said...

"It is strange that no one in the usa dares to talk about this.To warn the people that HEY maybe in a few years your savings will worth nothing..."

Your ideas are interesting, but a little lacking.

Yes, other countries are conducting international business in Euro. Yes, some of that business used to be conducted in Dollars. But that is only part of what supports the value of the dollar.

The United States is an extremely stable country that is also a huge marketplace. We allow and encourage innovation like no other country, and don't place impediments in the way of instant success. You can get as rich as you want, as fast as you want, if you are smart enough.

Another factor supporting the value of the Dollar is that people all over the world NEED the dollar to have value. First, many non-Americans put their money in Dollars in the United States because they know it will be safe.

Second, you mention the exchange of goods and services in exchange for Dollars. Remember the end results of that exchange: we have their goods, they have the Dollars. If the bottom falls out of the value of the Dollar, it is the the trading partners who will be hit hard, not the U.S. After all, we are not holding those Dollars. China et. al. is. Even China's recent diversification won't change the billions in Dollar assets that make up their wealth. It is China at risk, not the U.S.

Third, the U.S. population has a horrible savings rate. To answer your question, what savings?


Wake Up!!

Be prepared this summer for yet another baby boomer self-indulgence in the form of yet another movie about Vietnam. Ummm, we're fighting a war now guys. Unlike the 60's however, the class divide has separated those fighting from the rest of the U.S. So the outrage is muted.

I have an idea. You don't need to go back forty years for a dose of invigorating anger. Just live in the moment. The outrage is right now.

The United States, your government, is torturing people. It is torturing teenagers.

The United States, your government, handed the reconstruction of Iraq over to political incompetents who were talked into massive, useless expenditures by contracting companies.

The United States, your government, is run by people who wait for the bureaucracy to feed them problems instead of thinking and asking the right questions.

The United States, your government, is sending our citizens into war without protective equipment they need.

The United States, your government, is shielding the children of the middle class from paying any cost for the debacle in Iraq.


Hamas and Fatah and the Palestinian Authority

Is anyone surprised that Hamas and Fatah are killing each other? Not me. And that tenuous cease-fire they've got going on is not going to last. Hamas and Fatah are fighting for control of the Palestinian Authority. It is a natural outgrowth of Hamas winning electorally.

Because, again, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Hamas has expressed itself politically through violence for years. Now it has the chance to govern and it can't do it. Not without killing people. Its only political expression is violence and wild-eyed rhetoric. To be more balanced, Hamas also has many charities and feeds the poor, etc. But it is how you communicate and negotiate with your enemies that makes you a leader.

The worst possible denouement would be Israel's involvement in this fight. Let them kill each other or learn how to talk themselves. It is a struggle they are going to have to resolve.


Peace in the Middle East

It all starts with chitchat. That's right. Just talking to someone. So the United States finally decided to talk to Iran. At last! Denouncing someone from a pulpit, calling them "evil" and then expecting them to cooperate with you is not a strategy. Chest-thumping may feel good for a little while but does not get results.

The large, next-door neighbor of Iraq needs to be listened to right now, especially since they have some Americans in custody and are not letting them go. See? We should have thought before doing the same thing to Iran a few months ago. But then thinking was never a Bush Administration strong suit.


Cult Characteristics and Radical Islam

Click on the title to this post to see a very interesting video about operating a cult. While watching this video, I was wondering how many of these tactics were used by radical Islamic terrorist groups.

Certainly you can see some of the group process of indoctrination in their recruiting techniques. Exceptions might be in demonizing the past and isolation from family. Although certainly Zarqawi had those. Often terrorists will talk about their earlier lives of drinking and using drugs. But not all are isolated from their families.


The Pope Allies With Iran

Pope Benedict supports Iran's right to use nuclear energy. Not nuclear bombs, mind you, but nuclear energy. Pope Benedict met with Khatami, former leader of Iran. The Pope also mentioned the "freedom of religion" in Iran. Except if you are Jewish. He didn't think of that part, I guess.

"Meanwhile, Khatami said, 'Today, Muslims, Christians and followers of other religions should stress on their commonalities and strive to maintain unity in the face of insecurity and violence.' The former president regarded lack of kindness and justice as the root cause of main problems for mankind."

He's joking, right? Like calling for the destruction of Israel is kindness and justice?

I appreciate what the Pope is trying to do. He is trying to get a dialog going with Iran when the U.S. is failing to do this. The Pope is trying to get Iran talking and getting applause for nonviolent actions. That is a good thing. He is getting Iran engaged in positive constructive rhetoric which will be mentioned in the future, believe me.

Basically, Popes are forced to do things like this when the leader of the free world acts like a high school bully and snob all rolled into one. Bush senior was known for treating world leaders like they were all in some exclusive club. Bush junior acts the same, only he won't let everyone into the club and won't talk to those who don't belong. Not a mature way to handle foreign policy.


Easter Island Gets Its First Taxi !

The article from Easter Island's newspaper is fun, upbeat and optimistic to the point of sounding like propaganda. It describes with pride the advent of taxicabs on Easter Island, one of the most remote places on Earth. Anything that isn't made on the island has to be shipped from at least 2,300 miles away.

Continuing down the page, you can see a snapshot of daily life on Easter Island by the listing of recent accomplishments. A new paved road is called a "marvel." An historical site was seized by the family that used to own it and trespassers are chased off with a spear gun. It seems the family never got the land they were promised in exchange. The canoe race at the annual Tapati Festival was canceled because one of the canoes was destroyed in the ocean. Only one canoe is left on the island.

But the lasting impression one gets is the joy and optimism of the people on the Island. It's uplifting to read.